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Dec 28 2011

“We’re meddlesome”

First it was Chris Stedman, now it’s Massimo Pigliucci. Everyone loves to sit back and carp about the New Atheists, because they’re the most prominent subset of the atheist movement, the ones getting the most press, and the ones getting the most criticism from theists…so of course the armchair philosophers have to take a whack, too. I’m not entirely sure why; Stedman should have his kinder, gentler, gooey-er faitheism to promote, and Pigliucci ought to have his philosophy-er, hoity-toity-er, rational-er atheism to peddle. I assume that some people just like to meddle — they just can’t bear the thought that someone else’s strategy, even if it is working towards a similar goal, is actually working and making progress, so they’ve got to announce their dissatisfaction and tinker. It’s only natural, I suppose, that a growing movement would find itself surrounded by not only opponents, but also obnoxious kibitzers.

Massimo Pigliucci was inspired by two recent posts, one from Greta Christina and another by Chris Stedman, to write an article on the goals of atheist activism, and unfortunately he seems to have understood neither. He seems to think they’re largely in agreement, which is a rather shocking misread; Greta wrote about two kinds of goals, but wasn’t trying to limit it at all to just those two, while Stedman was mainly oblivious to her message and was trying to argue about how bad the New Atheists are. Pigliucci similarly fails to comprehend the message, and instead, like Stedman, ignores the different goals of different subsets of the movement to, again, complain about the goddamned New Atheists.

You know, if I had assigned readings to students and they came back with such egregious failures of comprehension, I’d flunk them.

Let me make it simpler, with little words. Different groups have different goals, and that’s fine. The problems come when members of Group A with Goal A’ criticize Group B with Goal B’ for not achieving A’. A should work for A’, and B should work for B’, and A is not going to impress when they tell B to abandon their goals. Because B will tell A to go fuck off for being clueless meddling twits.

Greta was very clear about that. She even ended the article that way, with the importance of asking a simple question: “Which cause, exactly, are you talking about? Because we may not be talking about the same one.” Pigliucci did not bother to ask that question. He just assumes that his goals are everyone else’s goals, and therefore he’s justified in complaining about how we’re doing everything wrong.

Sorry, Massimo. You fail. Go back and re-read Greta’s post until you actually comprehend it.

Failing to understand that different atheists have different goals, Pigliucci then deploys a series of familiar complaints that we’ve heard many times before from the most mealy-mouthed accommodationists. He sounds just like Chris Mooney from three years ago or so.

First off, Christina makes an argument at the beginning of her post for in-your-face atheism coupled with a nicer and gentler approach, claiming that this good cop / bad cop strategy “works.” How does she know? To quote: “hey, there’s a reason cops use it!” Interestingly, no source is provided as to the extent to which said technique is in fact used by the police, whether it works (outside of movies), and why it would be appropriate to social discourse, as opposed to dealing with criminals.

How do we know it works? Because atheism is booming — new groups popping up all over the place, meetings with record attendance, lots of press, lots of new activists. The “good cop/bad cop” story is actually us being nice, and making room for other strategies — it was a chance for other views to save face, if they were smart enough to take it.

Also, while we know events are going in the right direction for us now, we make no pretense that we are following the optimal path. We’re quite serious when we say other activists — even Stedman — should be out there pushing their own way.

That would be that the dual nice/in-your-face approach worked in the past, for instance with the civil rights movement, or concerning gay rights. There are two things I think we should be clear about in this context. First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination. Yes, it may not be politically correct to tell your co-workers or family that you are an atheist, and I’m sure some people suffer psychological consequences as a result. But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

Smooth move, guy. First, complain that we have no evidence that what we’re doing works; second, tell us that we aren’t allowed to model our activism after known successful movements. That’s the kind of underhanded maneuver that might make a fellow doubt your sincerity.

No one argues that atheists suffer anywhere near the magnitude of the discrimination blacks and gays have confronted. But the tactic of decrying the struggle against smaller offenses because there are greater problems elsewhere is a standard suppressive effort to maintain the status quo. If the status of atheists is so much less extreme than that of blacks or gays, it ought to be easier to soften the lesser problem while making a simultaneous effort elsewhere. This is not a serial world, but a parallel one.

Pigliucci is making a particular contemptible argument: it’s the idea that no injustice should be opposed if there is a greater injustice elsewhere. Would you tell a black man that the prejudice he faces is unimportant, because if you want to see real oppression, you need to look at Native Americans? For that matter, as long as disabled Native American lesbian atheists exist, no one else should be fighting for equality for any other cause.

Moreover, the “bad cops” of the civil and gay rights movements rarely went around insulting the other side, they were simply vocal about their own rights. There is a huge difference between being in-your-face in the sense of taking to the streets and loudly complaining about rights you are unjustly denied and being in-your-face in the more basic sense of hurling insults at other people.

Right. So in the last 50 years or so of history, everyone’s approach has been to say nothing but kind words to, say, Lester Maddox, George Wallace, David Duke, the KKK, or George Lincoln Rockwell. No one objected to the overt racism of the policemen who turned fire hoses on black crowds; no one had rude names for the bigots who abused the students who led the way in desegregation; no one ever insulted the members of a lynch mob.

That’s total nonsense. An important part of making racism and sexism and homophobia socially unacceptable has always been labeling and mocking and denigrating the perpetrators of such evils. You don’t make progress by pretending that Fred Phelps is a nice guy, and not making him pay the price of public stigma for being a hateful scumbag, by calling him a hateful scumbag.

Which reminds me. Many of my fellow atheists are nice and smart people, but there is also a tendency within the community to think that one is automatically smart just for being an atheist, as opposed to all those deluded idiots who believe in things for which there is no evidence. I don’t know about your personal experience, but I can point to a lot of religious people who are a lot smarter — by any reasonable definition of “smart” — than several atheists I have encountered. And the same goes for being ethical (or not). So, let’s tone the self-righteousness down a few notches, it is unbecoming and smells too much of religious bigotry.

I think I smell…sanctimony.

You can find scattered idiots within atheism who say that, but not one of the big name leaders or organizations within atheism make any such claim. And further, many atheists were once religious, sometimes recently, and all of them have numerous friends and family who are religious (we’re a minority, remember?) Pigliucci is simply making a ludicrous claim to make himself look like the wise and sensitive guy.

Once he’s finished sniping at the New Atheists, Pigliucci then lists four reasonable goals for atheists: separation of church and state, acceptance of atheism, combating dogma, and elimination of irrationalism. They’re fine; I can support them, and encourage Pigliucci to continue his efforts to promote them further. They’re part of my goals, too, and I imagine other New Atheists will have no objection, either.

But it’s not enough for me. I have other goals as well, and what I do is work towards my objectives, not Massimo Pigliucci’s. If only he could understand that…

Later, I’ll aim to post something on my goals that I trust will be different from other people’s…and why I don’t complain if Pigliucci and other people don’t serve my will.

373 comments

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  1. 1
    Aquaria

    Piggie is just jealous that atheist activists like Dawkins, Hitch, and you are getting all the attention, rather than him.

    It’s always the same problem. These fuckfaced wankers think they should have all the glory–they’re “nice guys” after all.

    It has an eerie similarity to the “nice guys” who complain about the “mean guys” getting all the girls.

    And I imagine it’s just as deluded, just as stupid and just as much evidence of these idiots not being as nice of guys as they thought.

    You’re not nice, Piggie. You’re a fucking jerk.

  2. 2
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.

    I just went from liking Massimo Pigliucci to wanting to punch him in his privileged face. Hard. If he wants some real discrimination he can toddle his ass down to Louisiana or Alabama or Texas and try his “nice” atheism. A hundred bucks says he won’t make it past “atheist”.

    Now to read the rest of the post. That simply made me want to puke.

  3. 3
    Dick the Damned

    So long as there’s no actual evidence to support religious claims, & so long as there’s no evidence against the understanding that the Abrahamic religions are nothing more than Bronze Age inspired, Iron Age consolidated, Dark Ages redacted, Medievally schismed superstition, & so long as their followers indoctrinate innocent children & seek to influence public policy in irrational ways, then we damned well should criticize them loudly.

  4. 4
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    No one argues that atheists suffer anywhere near the magnitude of the discrimination blacks and gays have confronted.

    Ehh. Given the statistics that have been out this year that put atheists about as trusted as rapists and slightly more than teabaggers, I’d say this is surprising.

    Or perhaps not, considering that we have morons like Pigliucci trying to tell us that we’re not a marginalized group or viewpoint — never mind, of course, that admitting to being an atheist or arguing for atheism tends to cause one’s opposition to throw their logic out the window and look flabbergasted when asked to go retrieve it, and that’s only in the best of cases.

  5. 5
    Skepbo

    I guess this guy is trying to expand on the claim that some atheists are much less smart than some religious people. By showing how irrational he himself can get by taking every new atheist claim and turning it to a Straw man.

    Surely, I don’t think people claim that being an atheist instantly means you are smarter or more ethical. However, believing in things without evidence is still quite irrational. Also, if you are using that irrational belief to promote discrimination or violence then you really are less ethical.

    And I don’t think that when new atheists claim to be discriminated they claim to be discriminated as much as black people or homosexuals. But I think that the anti-atheist prejudice and discrimination really exists and as I live in a country where people will assume that you are a very , very bad person when you tell them you are an atheist I will say that maybe he is just enjoying the privilege of living in the US where it is not as extreme.

  6. 6
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    … maybe he is just enjoying the privilege of living in the US where it is not as extreme.

    Not as extreme?

  7. 7
    raven

    But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist.

    This is just a lie. Atheists can’t be elected dog catcher in the USA. In parts of the country, atheists have been fired for being atheists. A teacher in Texas was fired for “suspected atheism”. Not for being an atheist but because he might be an atheist.

    In some of the weirder cults, leaving has major consequences. You leave your whole life behind, all your friends and family, everything.

  8. 8
    ibyea

    Why are accomodationists telling us to be nice or whatever, and yet when they speak to us, people who are on their side, they like to be as rude as possible?

  9. 9
    raven

    Smooth move, guy. First, complain that we have no evidence that what we’re doing works; second,…

    This isn’t true either. US xianity is dying. Various statistics come out periodically and they usually show this. Surveys, polls, churches with budget crisises, layoffs among their organizations, reports of declining memberships, and on and on.

    To be sure, most of it is US xianity choking to death on the lies, hate, hypocrisy, and ignorance of the fundies. But the atheists can cheer them on and give them a little help here and there.

  10. 10
    raven

    You can find scattered idiots within atheism who say that, but not one of the big name leaders or organizations within atheism make any such claim.

    Actually there is data on this point, atheists being more intelligent and educated than theists.

    1. On average, atheists score a whole lot higher than fundies on educational achievements.

    2. On average, atheists score higher on IQ tests than fundies. This is referenced in Dennet’s book, Breaking the Spell. He cites the results of IIRC, 28 different studies.

  11. 11
    jjgdenisrobert

    I’ve given up on Pigliucci a while back. I find his podcast insufferable (as a philosopher, he’s weak, and as an atheist, he has nothing to add to the conversation), being nothing but a bootlicking exercise by his panting groupie Julia (who either is boinking him, or has a crush on him the size of Mount Everest; it’s actually painful to hear her giggle at every single statement he makes). He exemplifies the self-congratulating attitude of modern philosophers to a tee: all they ever do is come up with definitions, and they always seem to believe that their new, slightly altered definition of a term is the greatest intellectual achievement of the age.

    He’s best ignored.

    [I know Julia Galef, and your insinuations about her are repulsive and demeaning; even if I were to agree with your assessment of Pigliucci, tying it to that disgraceful slander of Galef discredits you completely. Do not do it again. --pzm]

  12. 12
    Sour Tomato Sand

    No one argues that atheists suffer anywhere near the magnitude of the discrimination blacks and gays have confronted.

    I have met a few atheists that actually complain about being discriminated against more than other minorities. Ironically these are the same atheists who support Ron Paul and other Libertarian douchenozzles who claim that “groups don’t have rights, only individuals have rights” and therefore people shouldn’t identify as a minority group. Then they go on to scream about how they’re being persecuted for their Libertarian or atheist beliefs (depending on who they’re arguing with– to these people disagreement=persecution).

  13. 13
    ibyea

    @raven
    But what if the person is not a fundie, but religiously moderate?

  14. 14
    rickk

    “Yes, it may not be politically correct to tell your co-workers or family that you are an atheist, and I’m sure some people suffer psychological consequences as a result. But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. ”

    Interesting that just a few Pharyngula posts earlier we find this quote:

    ” I grew up in a war-torn country where questioning religion was a death sentence. ”

    The only reason atheists may have had an easier ride is because it is easier for us to “pass” than it is for blacks and gays.

    PS/OT: Why can’t I type directly into the text box to enter a comment? I type, but only bits of what I type shows up in the text box. So the only way to enter a comment is to type it in a different app and paste it in to the FTB textbox. Running Windows and IE.

  15. 15
    DLC

    Wait. . . Meddlesome ? I thought it was Meddling ?
    Shaggy, Scooby, it’s Meddling, isn’t it ?
    http://youtu.be/wTTxDWZcbxI
    [in which I play Good Cop™]
    Look, Pigliucci, I know you mean well, at least you think you do. But the truth is, you’re wrong. No one in the “new Atheism’s” top echelons is out trying to sell an “Atheists are smarter” meme.
    Second — I’m being “confrontational” now. Not in-your-face, but nonetheless I am opposing your ideas. Religion is nothing more than codified superstitions; it’s adherents nothing more than people who delude themselves with magical thinking, and it’s clergy fulfill the same role in society as ancient tribal witch-doctors. You know all this. You’ve studied it, learned about it from others, and had plenty of time to think it over. Isn’t it time to stop the mealy-mouthed weak-sister act atheism and actually confront the religious ? It can be done politely, rationally and without rancor. Besides that, you don’t really want to have The Bad Cop in here yelling in your face, do you?
    [/good cop™]

  16. 16
    New England Bob

    I guess Pigliucci’s Dr., Dr., D.r degrees are not enough for comprehension. He should go back and get another half dozen or so, then he might be able to join the real world.

  17. 17
    raven

    @raven
    But what if the person is not a fundie, but religiously moderate?

    I don’t really remember. I would have to look at the original studies again and that is a nontrivial effort.

    IIRC, the religious moderates fell between the atheists and the fundies.

    Some of this data might be generally accessible. For example, the percentage of scientists and college professors who are atheists is much higher than the general population. The percent who are fundies is much lower.

    The fundies got all medieval when a study showed that 92% of the elite scientists in the USA, the National Academy of Science, were either atheists or agnostics. The idea being that it was outrageous to support science when it was being done by heathens and pagans. Never mind that our entire civilization is build on science and it isn’t a pasttime, it is a necessity.

  18. 18
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    “No one argues that atheists suffer anywhere near the magnitude of the discrimination blacks and gays have confronted. But the tactic of decrying the struggle against smaller offenses because there are greater problems elsewhere is a standard suppressive effort to maintain the status quo. If the status of atheists is so much less extreme than that of blacks or gays, it ought to be easier to soften the lesser problem while making a simultaneous effort elsewhere. This is not a serial world, but a parallel one.”

    Moreover, why shouldn’t vocal atheists in the USA and other Western countries use their tribunes to support the rights of atheists in other, more religiously controlled countries? I remember reading last year about a man in the Maldives who tried to “come out” as atheist but had to quickly make a retraction because his life was being threatened by the “devout” Muslims who are the majority in this country. And let’s not forget that people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Maryam Namazie or Taslima Nasreen don’t only fight for women’s rights, but also for freedom of thought.

  19. 19
    Brother Yam

    @raven

    But the atheists can cheer them on and give them a little help here and there.

    I just happen to have a stack of anvils right over here…

  20. 20
    Loqi

    Yeah, PZ, if you were just nicer to the religious, you’d have as many readers as…what was his name again?

    I like how he points out that being an atheist doesn’t necessarily make one intelligent. I can’t help but think he wrote this in an attempt to prove it. He’s being a martyr for idiocy.

  21. 21
    raven

    Are Scientists Atheists? : Discovery Newsnews.discovery.com › Tech and Gadgets NewsCached – Similar
    You +1′d this publicly. Undo

    23 Nov 2010 – The study found that 51 percent of members polled expressed such a faith, compared to 95 percent of the American public. Additionally, the National Academy of Science charted belief in God as low as 5.5 percent among …

    Here is one data point. The Dishonesty Institute is a fundie dumbtank that promotes hatred of science and scientists and tries to advance creationism, fundied by xian Dominionist money.

    Fundies hate science and scientists and try to do anything they can to them when they think they can get away with it. In this case, they are merely calling them atheists, which to them is a major insult.

  22. 22
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Ahem. From the files of “oh, noes, US atheists don’t really suffer much discriminations today”, let’s see this post from Rock Beyond Belief, fresh from the press: “For over 5 years, soldiers punished for not attending evangelical concerts”.

  23. 23
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    One thing that struck me in Stedman’s response to Greta Christina was his arrogant lecture about how criticism should be “rooted in compassion.” First, because his haranguing criticism of gnus is about as lacking in compassion as can be: despite talking about how an alleged goal is the acceptance of atheism, this doesn’t seem to come with an appreciation of the fact that atheists are in fact marginalized; his relentless public criticism, which could as easily be made (and rejected) privately, his misrepresentations, and his very public attempts to distance himself from atheist activists, serve to promote negative stereotypes of atheists (and positive ones of religious people) and to blame our marginalization on our own actions. How is this supposed to show compassion?

    Second, because I’m just not seeing any real compassion for the victims of religion. An eight-year-old girl is spat on, insulted, and pelted with rocks for going to school. She has my compassion. Criticism of the people who are doing this to her and of the false belief system on which they base their actions (and, it’s important to say, of bullshit belief as a general practice) is deeply rooted in compassion.

    ***

    Pigliucci:

    Which reminds me. Many of my fellow atheists are nice and smart people, but there is also a tendency within the community to think that one is automatically smart just for being an atheist, as opposed to all those deluded idiots who believe in things for which there is no evidence.

    This doesn’t really make sense if you’re talking about gnus. If we thought all religious people were stupid, we wouldn’t bother with our movement. A social movement is not going to make stupid people less stupid.

    ***

    PZ:

    Pigliucci did not bother to ask that question. He just assumes that his goals are everyone else’s goals, and therefore he’s justified in complaining about how we’re doing everything wrong.

    Stedman can’t do that anymore. He’s (finally) explicitly acknowledged that he doesn’t share some goals, so he can’t play ignorant any longer.

  24. 24
    Gregory Greenwood

    Why is it that supposedly ‘moderate’, accommodationist atheists like Massimo Pigliucci seem to spend so much time going after other atheist rather than trying to make their case for godlessness? As an example;

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination. Yes, it may not be politically correct to tell your co-workers or family that you are an atheist, and I’m sure some people suffer psychological consequences as a result. But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

    Wasn’t the self-same argument deployed against feminists by ‘allies’ who felt that it would ‘hurt the cause’ if feminists drew comparisons between sexism and homophobia or racism? And equally, weren’t gay rights activists told that by comparing their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement they were ‘belittling’ the struggle for racial equality, again by supposedly concerned ‘allies’ who were anything but?

    There seems to be a pattern here – people who want to silence a (relatively) new movement for equality, but don’t want to come out as straightforward bigots, instead present themselves as ‘allies’ while assiduously working to sabotage the movement from within by trying to shift attention onto other issues or citing (what they at least consider to be) greater injustices as a means of arguing against taking a stand against these ‘lesser’ wrongs. It is possible that they are merely deluded, and actually believe that they are genuinely pursuing the ‘greater good’ of the movement by their actions, but it is equally possible that they are simply employing a new tack in pursuit of upholding the status quo and defending unearned privilege, and I think that Pigliucci is rapidly burning through his dwindling stocks of Colonel Pepper’s finest benefit of the doubt here…

  25. 25
    simonsays

    Greta also said:

    Now. If you disagree — either about the best tactics for reaching any of our goals, or about whether persuading people out of religion is a worthwhile goal in the first place — then by all means, let’s have that conversation.

    All Massimo is doing is taking a part in the conversation-by disagreeing. I’m not sure where his foul lies in this respect. As it happens, even Christopher Hitchens did not want the abolition of religion per se (though for different reasons). My recollection is that in the Four Horsemen discussion video Dennett, Dawkins, and Harris all where rather surprised that even if religion could be abolished, Hitchens would not want it so.

    Massimo’s objection with the abolishing religion goal seems to boil down to this (emphasis mine):

    If we manage to work (together with as many other reasonable people as possible) toward a world with more critical thinking, less dogmatism, and less irrationality, the problem of religion will take care of itself, since religion is a symptom, not the root, of human evil.

    It seems like this premise is where a lot of disagreement lies for a lot of folks. Myself, I think religion can be both a symptom AND a root of evil. There are bad actions motivated by faith. On the other hand faith is often also used to justify and legitimize bad actions.

  26. 26
    nmcc

    “Pigliucci is making a particular contemptible argument: it’s the idea that no injustice should be opposed if there is a greater injustice elsewhere.”

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Richard Dawkins described as ‘contemptible’.

  27. 27
    klatu

    @jjgdenisrobert

    I find his podcast insufferable (as a philosopher, he’s weak, and as an atheist, he has nothing to add to the conversation), being nothing but a bootlicking exercise by his panting groupie Julia (who either is boinking him, or has a crush on him the size of Mount Everest; it’s actually painful to hear her giggle at every single statement he makes)

    You don’t like her? Fine. However, you sexualizing her to slut-shame her while going off on a tangent? Kindly go fuck yourself.

    Anyway, I agree with PZ that all this goal-making-for-the-community-because-I-know-what’s-best-for-everyone humbug is presumptuous at best and privileged ivory-tower wankery at worst.

  28. 28
    Sastra

    Everyone here has probably seen that popular “COEXIST” bumper sticker and t-shirt. It’s the one where each letter consists of a different religious symbol. I have a shirt that’s very similar — but it uses the same imagery to say “NOEXIST.”

    How crass and intolerant.

    Right there I think you’ve got an example of the difference in goals among atheists. Gnu atheists classify religion as a form of pseudoscience. If this is the frame then critical thinkers are not going to be eager to compromise. We won’t want homeopathy accepted as “complimentary” to science-based medicine or astrology sitting happily at the same table as astronomy while everyone falls all over themselves agreeing that everyone has the same right to exist and believe what they believe. Sure — but that’s politics.

    It’s not all politics. It’s probably bad politics to think it is.

    Instead, we gnus want religious disputes taken out of the domain of politics and placed into the fact-finding process. And this isn’t going to happen if we atheists continually accept the religious frame that tolerance of atheism all comes down to co-existence — having and recognizing everyone’s political right to believe whatever they want. Of course that’s their frame.

    They don’t have anything and know it. Faith is a cop-out. Epistemically, they will lose a fair fight. So we need to have that fight. We need that intellectual battle or the religious will graciously accept us to our faces and then speculate about why we don’t believe behind our backs — and it will never be because we have better reasons than them. The atmosphere of faith-as-a-virtue and religion-as-identity is too thick.

    Blow it away. Atheists are less like gays and blacks and more like scientists trying to cut through a cult which has made a fetish over pseudoscience in order to turn nonbelievers into an outgroup and change the focus of the issue.

    Critics of gnu atheism concentrate too much on tone over topic and style over substance. Gnu atheism isn’t about saying naughty words: it’s about calling a spade a spade.

    Pigliucci is a debater. He ought to understand this.

  29. 29
    PZ Myers

    Richard Dawkins is now an argument? Can I then say that nmcc is an absurd confusion?

  30. 30
    seanwills

    For that matter, as long as disabled Native American lesbian atheists exist, no one else should be fighting for equality for any other cause.

    That’s not what he’s saying. Read the excerpt again – he’s saying that atheists shouldn’t explicitly compare themselves to groups that have suffered greater discrimination, NOT that discrimination against atheists is trivial because there exist groups who have suffered greater discrimination. It’s kind of depressing that none of the commenters jumping down Pigliucci’s throat seem to grasp the distinction.

  31. 31
    PZ Myers

    OK, then – by Pigliucci logic, disabled native American lesbian atheists have nothing to learn from the civil rights movement.

    It’s still stupid.

  32. 32
    jjgdenisrobert

    @klatu: I’m not sexualizing her: she does that all by her lonesome with her panting and idiotic, shameless pandering at Pigliucci in the podcast. She’s acting like a groupie, not like an independent woman. She never (but I mean EVER) stands up for her own ideas when they differ from those of Pigliucci (always deferring to his greatness), which is very rare indeed.

    I’m sorry: when someone acts like a groupie, I have a right to call it out. As for “sexualizing” her: she’s an adult woman; to assume that she has sex is not out of the norm. I would assume you have sex as well. And when you see fawning on that order, it’s safe to assume that there’s a sexual connection there, whether it be two way or just one way. I never called her a slut. You did that in your own mind. I called her a groupie. There’s a big difference (ask any groupie).

  33. 33
    seanwills

    Yeah, that’s pretty silly, but it’s a completely different point. I’d also argue that it’s not as bad, since he’s talking tactics (poorly) rather than trying to be one of those people who argues that atheists have it just rosy because we’re not fighting for basic civil rights.

  34. 34
    Brother Yam

    @nmcc

    “Pigliucci is making a particular contemptible argument: it’s the idea that no injustice should be opposed if there is a greater injustice elsewhere.”

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Richard Dawkins described as ‘contemptible’.

    “Contemptible,” in this case, is an adjective modifying the noun “argument.”

  35. 35
    redmcwilliams

    The problem I have with all this is that we really don’t know the best way to achieve our goals. We all have preferences, but not much hard data to support a particular tactic. Yes, religiosity seems to be in decline but we can’t say for sure why. It may have nothing at all to do with PZ and Richard Dawkins and Julia Sweeny.

    It could be that religious belief is in a lull but will come back stronger than ever in a generation. What we should be doing, instead of bickering over who has the best approach is doing some real, actual science to figure it out. Maybe if we had a short list of goals and then had some behavioral science types conduct a ton of experiments, we could have hard data on how best to proceed. In the US at least life has never been better for non believers. We should use that bit of breathing room to focus ourselves on the definitively best ways to continue the momentum. You know, make hay while the sun is shining.

    Iran had a secular government in the 1970′s. I bet a lot of people thought that they would continue moving away from religiously-led leaders.

  36. 36
    Glen Davidson

    Many of my fellow atheists are nice and smart people, but there is also a tendency within the community to think that one is automatically smart just for being an atheist, as opposed to all those deluded idiots who believe in things for which there is no evidence.

    This is so stupid, and I know where it comes from, it’s from our saying that stupid claims are stupid.

    No, most of us don’t pretend that being atheist is smart, and indeed, we consider it “deluded” to believe in evidence-free crap. He even writes the actual distinction that most of us do make, he just acts like we’re playing smarties because we call stupid shit stupid.

    Sorry, we can hardly pretend that it’s not “smarter” to be consistent than to hold to credulous nonsense.

    Just another whiny jerk who wants to be the alpha.

    Glen Davidson

  37. 37
    mpigliucci

    PZ,

    thank you, yet another splendid example of caricaturing people who disagree with them, ignoring their actual arguments, and adopting the most irritating condescending tone you can muster. Another great moment in intellectual atheism.

  38. 38
    Sastra

    SC OM #23 wrote:

    If we thought all religious people were stupid, we wouldn’t bother with our movement. A social movement is not going to make stupid people less stupid.

    Exactly. Accomodationists seem to think “live and let live” is the only kind and reasonable option, given that religious folks are simple, weak, and need to cling desperately to their faith identities. We are thus obligated to give them some better and more appealing “option.” They may call that respect; I call that forbearance — and it’s condescending.

  39. 39
    jjgdenisrobert

    @redmcwilliams: A few things:

    1. Iran never had a “secular government”. It had a monarchy in the 1970s, which although “secular” on paper (it was also “democratic” on the same paper), was as intolerant of truly secular movements as the mullahs have been since his overthrow.

    2. “the best way to achieve”: This assumes that there is such a thing as a “best way”, or that a single approach could even have a chance of success. It also assumes that we all have the same goals. All of those assumptions are likely false.

  40. 40
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Massimo, if you want your ideas to be respected then you should take care to make them cogent and appropriate. Your uncharitable misreading of Greta Christina—and your offensive dismissal of atheist discrimination—was condescending hobby-horse-riding in the extreme. Your writing, both in content and tone, fairly drips with condescension and academic prissiness whenever you write about this topic. You’ve got a metric fuckton of nerve complaining about pushback.

  41. 41
    seanwills

    Massimo, if you want your ideas to be respected then you should take care to make them cogent and appropriate. Your uncharitable misreading of Greta Christina—and your offensive dismissal of atheist discrimination—was condescending hobby-horse-riding in the extreme.

    He did not dismiss discrimination against atheists. He only pointed out that atheists don’t have it as bad as the groups whose movements we’re often accused of co-opting for our own use. Agree or disagree with that if you like, but don’t accuse him of things he never said, particularly not when you’re also accusing him of performing an ‘uncharitable misreading’.

  42. 42
    jjgdenisrobert

    @mpigliucci: I read your post, and I don’t think PZ is caricaturing anything. I think, in fact, that he’s done a pretty good job of distilling your post. You have an image of yourself as some sort of arbiter of good taste, which is itself in the worst of taste, since no one ever asked you to be that. You have the right to your opinion, but don’t be surprised when your views are challenged. You don’t get to sit out the game, and play color-commentator, Massimo.

  43. 43
    seanwills

    @redmcwilliams, this is completely off topic, but are you the same Red McWilliams from the Why Won’t God Heal Amputees forum? I used to post their as Monik way back in the day :)

  44. 44
    redmcwilliams

    jjgdenisrobert,

    You’re correct about Iranian government, but I think my point still stands. Just because religiosity is on the decline right now doesn’t mean it will continue to be. If we think that we should just keep on doing what we’re doing, without really knowing what kind of effect we’re having, we can’t expect to achieve the outcomes we desire.

    Yes, I know we don’t all have the same goals, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a scientific approach to addressing a few specific goals. I mean, we’re supposed to be scientific minded people, right? You say my assumptions are likely to be false, but you have no data to demonstrate that. Why? Why can’t we come up with a scientific plan to deal with the problem of religion? Why can’t we identify 5 or 6 goals and the science the crap out of them until we have a clear path on which to proceed?

    It seems as though we’re all still arguing our personal temperaments and preferences. For the record, I like PZ’s approach very much and tend to be that way myself, but it’s at least possible that the Stedmans of the world actually have a more effective way of pushing back against magical thinking. The problem is we just don’t know. And that’s a sad state to be in for people who value evidence and reason.

  45. 45
    Gregory Greenwood

    jjgdenisrobert @ 32;

    You’re not helping yourself here. You assumed a sexual component to a relationship (whether consumated or not) when there was no reason to do so in order to take a pot shot at her and by extension Pigliucci – there are any number of other approaches to tearing Pigliucci a well deserved rhetorical new one, but you chose this.

    I’m not sexualizing her: she does that all by her lonesome with her panting and idiotic, shameless pandering at Pigliucci in the podcast.

    There you go again – in what way is she ‘sexualising herself’? Why is it not possible in your mind that she is simply a fan who agrees strongly with Pigliucci’s blather, without any sexual subtext? Why do you feel the need to drag her gender into this at all? You don’t even know if she is heterosexual or bisexual, you simply assume so in order to further your unevidenced construct of some dalliance with Pigliucci.

    She’s acting like a groupie, not like an independent woman.

    So what if she is? In what way does this act as evidence that there is any sexual component to their relationship? And even if there is, why is that relevant to this thread?

    She never (but I mean EVER) stands up for her own ideas when they differ from those of Pigliucci (always deferring to his greatness), which is very rare indeed.

    This could be a description of any devoted fan of any public figure – it still doesn’t speak to your assumption of a sexual component to their relationship.

    I’m sorry: when someone acts like a groupie, I have a right to call it out.

    But that is not what you are doing – you are assuming that she treats with Pigliucci the way she does because she is having a sexual relationship with him, or at least aspires to such a relationship – that she is behaving the way she is essentially because she is merely a ‘silly woman’ thinking with her ovaries, not her brain.

    As for “sexualizing” her: she’s an adult woman; to assume that she has sex is not out of the norm.

    But assuming that a behaviour of hers that you have attached a negative value to is being caused by her sexuality is out of order.

    And when you see fawning on that order, it’s safe to assume that there’s a sexual connection there, whether it be two way or just one way.

    Is it? There are such things as cults of personality, and even the most fawning adulation can be entirely platonic – there was no need to assume a sexual component, or to try to insinuate that her behaviour had its root in her genitalia.

  46. 46
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Yes, seanwills, he did dismiss such discrimination. He didn’t merely say it wasn’t comparable. In the thread at his place Jeffrey Shallitt pointed out actual examples of violence and legal thuggery against atheists, and Massimo merely said it was “rare.” That was his response.

    No, as a veteran of the gay rights movement and now an atheist activist, I’ve been on this merry go round before. I’m not going to let Massimo’s dishonest ploy (it isn’t about any high principle, it’s about how he doesn’t like vocal atheism) pass. You don’t get to tell any minority group they don’t have it as bad as someone else, and therefore they have no legitimate claim to kinship with other struggles for rights. Fuck that. Again, I was there when it happened to gay people. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now.

  47. 47
    redmcwilliams

    Hey Monik, that’s me!

  48. 48
    Aquaria

    thank you, yet another splendid example of caricaturing people who disagree with them, ignoring their actual arguments, and adopting the most irritating condescending tone you can muster. Another great moment in intellectual atheism.

    Shiny, shiny mirror…

  49. 49
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    And another thing, seanwills: it’s offensive to characterize atheists as “co-opting” the struggles of other minority groups. Why the hell don’t you get mad at that accusation instead of treating it as if it had credence? Moral grievance isn’t a zero-sum substance. I don’t diminish the struggles of black people or take away recognition of the problems faced by LGBT people when I complain about religious discrimination. Or when I note that the very same fucking arguments (and the very same excuse-making from alleged “allies”) are used to demonize and Other atheists.

  50. 50
    Sastra

    “Now, if one’s goal is to be accepted (not just tolerated) in a society, one is more likely to achieve that goal by playing social and nice (which does not at all mean to capitulate or compromise on principles), as opposed to constantly jeering or hurling insults at other members of said society.”

    There may be a difference between the goals of

    1.) getting atheists accepted in a society
    and
    2.) getting atheism accepted in a society

    A tactic that seems to work for that first one may not work for the second — which will then undermine the first. I have little interest in being socially accepted as someone who believes something socially unacceptable. I’m not sure how that works, ultimately.

    Religion and spirituality operate under a haze of privilege, a smoke screen of respect and deference and reverence. If we’re going to have any chance of real acceptance, that has to be blown away.

    And, Massimo, nobody is arguing for “constantly jeering or hurling insults.” Stop that.

  51. 51
    seanwills

    @Josh, I went to a homophobic-as-all-hell secondary school in a still-very-homophobic society (in Ireland), so I also know what I’m talking about. Coming out in secondary school would probably have been literal suicide for me; being an open atheist was only once an issue. I’m not saying that atheists aren’t discriminated against or that it isn’t a serious issue, and I don’t think Pigliucci is saying that either. But I AM saying that it’s possible to say, objectively-speaking, that one group has it worse than another.

    (And for the record, I agree that atheists should be building a sense of kinship with gay rights campaigners in particular, given the dominance of religious groups in anti-gay politics in the USA. I was clarifying Pigiliucci’s position for the many people who seemed to be intent on reacting to a caricature of it, not throwing my lot in with him.)

  52. 52
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    redmcwilliams #44:

    “It seems as though we’re all still arguing our personal temperaments and preferences. For the record, I like PZ’s approach very much and tend to be that way myself, but it’s at least possible that the Stedmans of the world actually have a more effective way of pushing back against magical thinking. The problem is we just don’t know.”

    And this is why PZ and Greta Christina are right to defend the coexistence of different goals and different styles (including the vocal, in-your-face, GNUs) within the atheist/rationalist/secular humanist movements, where Steadman or Pigliucci argue as if they thought there was one right approach and only one. Maybe they don’t really believe that, but they sure don’t show it.

  53. 53
    jjgdenisrobert

    @Gregory Greenwood: Ignoring that relationships between male professors and female students in universities are quite common (the opposite also happens, but since the ratio of male to female professors is still strongly skewed in favor of the former, is much rarer), and that this kind of eye-batting fawning is often a symptom of such (or at least a precursor), and that attention seeking and “fandom” by the female student often carries a sexual component is simply being blind to the facts. Have you ever been to a University? Are you really that naive about what goes on there? Sorry if I assume that she’s a groupie when she acts like a groupie. I’ve seen that pattern too often to ignore it. And again: I’m not accusing anyone of being a slut, and I have no idea if they are having an active relationship. All I know is that she acts like a 20 year old with a massive crush.

    And I was stating a reason why I can’t stand the podcast, not why Pigliucci himself should be ignored. The reason why he should be ignored is contained in the other argument I made in the same comment (the one you and another commenter ignored), that Pigliucci is a weak philosopher who, while doing nothing but coin new, slighly altered definitions of common terms, believes himself to be a genius.

  54. 54
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Meanwhile Massimo keeps playing Peter Prissypants on his blog:

    I am disappointed that so many atheists actually think this is intellectualism.

    Babycakes, you’re the one treating this an an intellectual academic parlor game. That’s you. Not us. We have goals other than meeting your standards of intellectual correctness and decorum. We also don’t agree that our actions are counterproductive or irrational because they don’t meet your standards. Which, really, are all about taste no matter how diligently you rationalize them academically.

  55. 55
    seanwills

    @Josh,

    And another thing, seanwills: it’s offensive to characterize atheists as “co-opting” the struggles of other minority groups. Why the hell don’t you get mad at that accusation instead of treating it as if it had credence? Moral grievance isn’t a zero-sum substance. I don’t diminish the struggles of black people or take away recognition of the problems faced by LGBT people when I complain about religious discrimination. Or when I note that the very same fucking arguments (and the very same excuse-making from alleged “allies”) are used to demonize and Other atheists.

    I only said that we’re accused of co-opting civil rights movements, to clarify where I think Pigliucci is coming from. I do get angry when people try to dismiss our grievances with the ‘co-opting’ argument, but that’s not really relevant here.

  56. 56
    micheltrottier-mcdonald

    I’ve been increasingly disappointed by Pigliucci these past few days exactly because of this discourse of his. I’ve even been defending PZ a bit on G+, only to have Massimo miss my point too. Off you go Massimo, I can find the interesting stuff you were sharing elsewhere.

    Actually, the thing that really turned me off from Pigliucci is when he says that scientists like Dawkins overstep the epistemological boundaries of science. Here’s my rebuttal.

    There are epistemological boundaries only because there are words so poorly defined that their consequences in the real world cannot be worked out. If these consequences cannot be worked out, no testable claims can be made. Take “god created the Universe”. Universe is easy enough to define, it’s everything that exists. We can easily agree on this one. The action of creation is equally unambiguous. It is a combination of intent and cause. However, god is really poorly defined. You cannot do science with poorly defined concepts, but neither can you have meaningful discussions (in your teeth, philosophers).

    The reach of science in its quest for knowledge is determined by three things. Clarity of definitions, Occam’s razor and Bayes’ theorem. Even if hypotheses cannot be refuted with certainty, Bayes’ theorem and Occam’s razor will point the way to the most likely explanation. This is the basis behind the scientific argument for the non-existence of gods. (Notice I said gods, because you can define very well the gods that pop up in the world’s religions, and rule them out one by one).

  57. 57
    seanwills

    @redmcwilliams, awesome, glad to see you’re still fighting the good fight! I finally got an account to comment on Free Thought Blogs, so I guess I’ll be seeing you around.

  58. 58
    redmcwilliams

    Irene, #52

    I agree completely. I just wish we could get some real data to help direct our efforts, but it seems that very few people are actually doing that.

  59. 59
    nmcc

    PZ Myers

    “Richard Dawkins is now an argument? Can I then say that nmcc is an absurd confusion?”

    Well, you can if you like. As you’ve pointed out before to me, it’s your blog and you can do what you like. Proprietorial privilege, is how you characterised it, if I remember correctly. That’s exactly how Murdoch would put it, quoth I in response.

    Whether it’s the person or the argument that is the ‘contemptible’ thing is, of course, a matter of personal interpretation. I tend to think that if someone says something contemptible, then that, for all useful purposes, makes them contemptible. I can, of course, see your semantic point.

    Incidentally, a capitalism supporting ‘socialist’ like you is in no position to throw around insults like ‘absurd confusion’. You couldn’t be more absurdly confused.

  60. 60
    Aquaria

    osh, I went to a homophobic-as-all-hell secondary school in a still-very-homophobic society (in Ireland), so I also know what I’m talking about. Coming out in secondary school would probably have been literal suicide for me; being an open atheist was only once an issue.

    Then try coming out in Louisiana.

    Do you realize, dumbfuck, that we can show you examples from this year where people who did that were tormented and run out of town?

    Just because you live in a place where it’s “no big deal” doesn’t mean everyone else does.

    Maybe if you weren’t such a selfish shit-for-brains you might have some compassion for people who don’t have it so easy as you do.

    Let me give you an example of what can happen in America to atheists. This is from my life. It happened to my sister-in-law. So I know what the fuck I’m talking about in a way a moronic douchebag like you never will:

    During the custody phase of my SIL’s divorce, the judge ruled that her christarded husband was the better parent because he could provide a “more moral” home to their daughter than my atheist SIL could.

    Within a year, her beautiful daughter, my niece, was dead, because her husband’s christarded family beat her to death trying to make her “right with Christ.”

    That little girl would be alive now if my SIL hadn’t been fucking discriminated against because she was an atheist.

    Fuck you for thinking atheists aren’t discriminated against. Fuck you for thinking there aren’t tragic consequences that result from that bigotry.

    Go die in a fire, you hateful piece of shit.

  61. 61
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    seanwills:

    But I AM saying that it’s possible to say, objectively-speaking, that one group has it worse than another.

    I think I see where we’re rubbing against each other, Sean. Let me explain. Whether one group has it “worse” than another isn’t the point. When people start complaining about how one group doesn’t have the right to feel As Oppressed as another, it’s always, always, always, always a de-railing tactic. It’s not a legitimate point, and I refuse to treat it as if it were. Because (and I’m being honest, not trying to sound like some weighty authority) I’ve seen this game played for decades and we come out losing if we indulge it.

    The only people interested in comparing oppressions are people who want to distract from the very real problems facing the group in question. Massimo is doing this. I won’t help him. It’s not an ethical way to act. It serves no purporse, it furthers no just cause. It’s nasty policing of who gets to speak and when.

    If you find that harsh or unfair, I ask you to please think about it for a while and consider that I might be right about the function of that rhetorical ploy. You may not have experienced how it’s used in equal rights struggles, and that’s OK. But it really is less benign than it appears to you.

  62. 62
    seanwills

    @Aquaria, again, I never said that atheists aren’t discriminated against, and I’m well aware that the kind of things you just described happen all too often.

  63. 63
    Gregory Greenwood

    mpigliucci @ 37;

    thank you, yet another splendid example of caricaturing people who disagree with them, ignoring their actual arguments, and adopting the most irritating condescending tone you can muster. Another great moment in intellectual atheism.

    Didn’t your own article do the very thing you are complaining about here? You certainly caricatured the so called ‘new atheists’ while paying little attention to why we do what we do. As an example;

    There is a huge difference between being in-your-face in the sense of taking to the streets and loudly complaining about rights you are unjustly denied and being in-your-face in the more basic sense of hurling insults at other people.

    (Emphasis added)

    If this isn’t ignoring our actual arguments and engaging in a crass caricature of ‘shrill’ new atheism, then I would be very interested in how you would characterise the remark.

    And as for condescension, your entire post fairly dripped with it. After all, did you not write it to attempt to tell us how atheist activism should be done, as if it is some unitary movement with a singular set of goals set by your good self?

  64. 64
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s not what he’s saying. Read the excerpt again – he’s saying that atheists shouldn’t explicitly compare themselves to groups that have suffered greater discrimination, NOT that discrimination against atheists is trivial because there exist groups who have suffered greater discrimination.

    This is quite bizarre. Stedman and Pigliucci both argue that “acceptance of atheists” is a major goal. This would seem to rest on the understanding that atheists are not in fact accepted. This is true, though of course the level of discrimination varies geographically. From this follows that strategies used by other groups fighting discrimination and marginalization might well be effective for atheists. This seems obvious. It’s very strange to keep harping about how atheists should act so that they can be more accepted and then turning around and claiming they shouldn’t talk about themselves as marginalized.

    ***

    There seems to be a pattern here – people who want to silence a (relatively) new movement for equality, but don’t want to come out as straightforward bigots, instead present themselves as ‘allies’ while assiduously working to sabotage the movement from within by trying to shift attention onto other issues or citing (what they at least consider to be) greater injustices as a means of arguing against taking a stand against these ‘lesser’ wrongs.

    And of course Stedman’s willing to sacrifice even groups to which he belongs to the religious bigots.

    ***

    Pigliucci on one of his four goals:

    Elimination (or at least reduction) of irrationalism. In a sense, of course, all religions are irrational, to the extent that they foster beliefs that are not based on evidence, or that in some cases even flatly contradict evidence. But, again, irrationalism comes in a variety of degrees and shapes, and not all of them are equally worthy of counter-efforts or even public scorn. No human being is likely capable of holding completely coherent evidence-based beliefs, so let us be reasonable and cut some slack to the mild offenders while joining forces with them against the really dangerous ones.

    Ah, see, I disagree with this fundamentally. Bad epistemic practices do not come in a variety of degrees and shapes (though of course they can have various motives). Of course, no individual or organization or society can ever achieve epistemic perfection, but that should be the ideal if the goal is the elimination of irrationalism. Truth, reason, evidence, and critical thinking should be prized, and their opposites rejected. This means that the formation and maintenance and protection of beliefs that seem harmless content-wise is every bit as dangerous and unethical in terms of this goal as is the formation and maintenance and protection of those that are reprehensible. While some particular beliefs or belief systems might be prioritized in terms of other goals, in terms of the epistemic goal they are equal.

  65. 65
    seanwills

    @Josh,

    The only people interested in comparing oppressions are people who want to distract from the very real problems facing the group in question. Massimo is doing this. I won’t help him. It’s not an ethical way to act. It serves no purporse, it furthers no just cause. It’s nasty policing of who gets to speak and when.

    And I agree with you on that. What I should have said earlier, but didn’t because I was avoiding getting too long-winded, is that while it’s possible to say that one group has it worse, we shouldn’t be drawing conclusion from that.

    Or to put it more simply: I agree with Pigliucci when he says that gays and African-Americans (generally) have had it worse than atheists. I’ve never seen the statistics on any of this, and I’m not sure they exist yet, but I think that’s a fairly safe bet to make. I disagree, however, that we should therefore minimise discrimination against atheists and/or fail to draw valid parallels between our movements. Again, I’ve been clarifying Pigliucci’s points here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with them all.

  66. 66
    myeck waters

    DLC #15

    Wait. . . Meddlesome ? I thought it was Meddling ?
    Shaggy, Scooby, it’s Meddling, isn’t it ?

    Wrong show. It’s a quote from the movie Serenity.

  67. 67
    Nick Gotts

    So, let’s tone the self-righteousness down a few notches, it is unbecoming and smells too much of religious bigotry. – Massimo Pigliucci

    You first, Prof. Pigliucci.

  68. 68
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Sean, OK, but just know that regardless of what you mean to do, it appears to propping up an illegitimate silencing tactic. Again, I know you don’t mean to do that, and I’m not trying to be nasty to you. But unwittingly, you are. Don’t let people play you like that. Don’t indulge them as if they’d made a clear, reasonable, stand-alone point. It’s never about that. It’s about silencing.

  69. 69
    seanwills

    @Josh, I will bow to your greater experience on this one, then, and tread more carefully the next time this comes up.

  70. 70
    den1s

    Pigliucci was on the infidelguy internet radio show a couple years ago. I developed a dislike for his accomodationism then, similiar to my dislike of Phil Plait’s. This being nice to theists thing is nothing short of suckholeism. Both of them are brilliant brilliant men; go figure. I very much used to look up to both of them. Now, they aren’t even on my radar.

  71. 71
    Ing

    He did not dismiss discrimination against atheists. He only pointed out that atheists don’t have it as bad as the groups whose movements we’re often accused of co-opting for our own use. Agree or disagree with that if you like, but don’t accuse him of things he never said, particularly not when you’re also accusing him of performing an ‘uncharitable misreading’.

    Ah yes. He didn’t dismiss discrimination, he just pointed out that talking about the discrimination is insulting to real discrimination.

    Completely different.

  72. 72
    Ing

    Pigliucci was on the infidelguy internet radio show a couple years ago. I developed a dislike for his accomodationism then, similiar to my dislike of Phil Plait’s. This being nice to theists thing is nothing short of suckholeism. Both of them are brilliant brilliant men; go figure. I very much used to look up to both of them. Now, they aren’t even on my radar.

    Now now, let’s not be so harsh on Mr. Plait.

    If there is a split between accommodation and not he is at least working towards the same goals rather than just attacking other atheists.

  73. 73
    Gregory Greenwood

    jjgdenisrobert @ 53;

    Ignoring that relationships between male professors and female students in universities are quite common (the opposite also happens, but since the ratio of male to female professors is still strongly skewed in favor of the former, is much rarer), and that this kind of eye-batting fawning is often a symptom of such (or at least a precursor), and that attention seeking and “fandom” by the female student often carries a sexual component is simply being blind to the facts.

    Here’s a pro-tip – your assumptions about people’s relationship =/= a ‘fact’.

    And ‘eye-batting fawning’? You seriously don’t see that terminology as sexist?

    Have you ever been to a University? Are you really that naive about what goes on there?

    Not that it is relavant, but I did go to University in the United Kingdom. Oddly, I did not feel compelled to assume that any female student who admired a male member of faculty was having sex with him or even intended to do so. Maybe I am just weird that way…

    And again: I’m not accusing anyone of being a slut, and I have no idea if they are having an active relationship.

    I never said that you were accusing anyone of being a ‘slut’ in as many words. I was taking you to task on your assumption that her behaviour was the product of a sexual relationship with Pigliucci or her alleged desire to initiate one which you made without any evidence. A knee-jerk tendency to dismiss a woman’s behaviour based upon the assumption she is motivated by her sexuality makes me suspicious of the poster’s motivations.

    And I was stating a reason why I can’t stand the podcast, not why Pigliucci himself should be ignored. The reason why he should be ignored is contained in the other argument I made in the same comment (the one you and another commenter ignored),

    Your other arguments do not address or mitigate the sexism inherent in the assumptions you made about the woman in question.

  74. 74
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    It’s worth pointing out, too, that to the extent that we’re accused of co-opting the civil rights struggles of The Real Oppressed, that criticism is almost always leveled by other atheists. Not universally, but certainly the great bulk of it. That should be troubling to any observer.

  75. 75
    seanwills

    Ah yes. He didn’t dismiss discrimination, he just pointed out that talking about the discrimination is insulting to real discrimination.

    Completely different.

    Could you quote me the sentence(s) where he said that? NOT where he said that we shouldn’t compare our struggles to those of the civil rights movements, mind, but where he said that just talking about discrimination against atheists is insulting to those movements.

  76. 76
    Ing

    Or to put it more simply: I agree with Pigliucci when he says that gays and African-Americans (generally) have had it worse than atheists. I’ve never seen the statistics on any of this, and I’m not sure they exist yet, but I think that’s a fairly safe bet to make.

    See I disagree. I think the overlap is great because it’s the same sort of bigotry, but I think anti-atheism in at least an endemic form is more wide spread because even many liberal and moderate religions are virulently anti-atheist and spend time in their masses bashing them I saw Methodist (amoungst the weakest of xianity) sermons go on about how Nietzsche was a horrible person for abandoning God so he could sin, lived a miserable life, died unloved and is unsaved.

    Racism and Homophobia are at least considered bad things by liberal xianity. Not so for Atheism.

  77. 77
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Sean, you’re parsing this way too fine – why are you working so hard to let Massimo off the hook? He DID say it was insulting for atheists to compare their struggles with those of other groups. One can’t help but “compare” when one “talks about” a thing in the same topic. Jesus – this guy isn’t your pal, Sean, he’s not your ally, and he’s not waging an honest intellectual fight. Maybe you’ll have to get batted around by the likes of him a few more times before you see it.

  78. 78
    seanwills

    I think that’s symptomatic of the widening gap within the atheists movement. LGBT activists, for example, are accuse of co-opting the civil rights movement by the religious right, not by people within the LGBT movement. Obviously, the gap between the two atheist ‘factions’ isn’t as wide as that between LGBT activists and the religious right, but it’s disturbing to see the same kind of tactics being used in both situations…I can’t shake the feeling that it doesn’t bode well.

  79. 79
    Snoof

    Pigliucci is making a particular contemptible argument: it’s the idea that no injustice should be opposed if there is a greater injustice elsewhere.

    That’s the first time I’ve seen Richard Dawkins described as ‘contemptible’.

    Whether it’s the person or the argument that is the ‘contemptible’ thing is, of course, a matter of personal interpretation. I tend to think that if someone says something contemptible, then that, for all useful purposes, makes them contemptible.

    You know, it’d be much simpler if you just said something like, “Richard Dawkins made that argument and you didn’t have a problem with it” or something. It also helps if you actually include a reference to where he made that argument, rather than assuming everyone who reads these comment threads is immediately familiar with everything anyone has ever said.

    Of course, that’s assuming you’re interested in addressing the substance of PZ’s post, rather than being deliberately obscure and then feeling all superior when people aren’t able to read your mind.

  80. 80
    Aquaria

    That’s not what he’s saying. Read the excerpt again – he’s saying that atheists shouldn’t explicitly compare themselves to groups that have suffered greater discrimination, NOT that discrimination against atheists is trivial because there exist groups who have suffered greater discrimination.

    Bullshit.

    Every minority group has their own unique set of circumstances that makes their lives with the dominant social group difficult. No two minority groups are alike. The bigotry that women face is different from that African-Americans face which is different from what Hispanics face which is different from what GLBT/Qs face, which is different from what Jews face.

    But that doesn’t mean that women, African-Americans, HIspanics, GLBT/Qs and and Jews face. None of it is “worse” than what anyone else faces. ALL discrimination is bad. Period.

    That’s what Massimo doesn’t get, and that ignorance of how discrimination works is what you are excusing.

    Knock it off.

  81. 81
    Ing

    Co-opting implies a malicious and callous exploitation of someone elses suffering.

    When you make a comparison it is either apt, understatement, or hyperbole. When talking about suffering hyperbole is almost always an insult to the greater crime because it’s dragging it down to the pettiness of the former.

    The Tea Party saying that Obama is just like Hitler IS insulting to actual Holocaust survivors and their families. The book Pink Swastika, the same.

    Saying that hiring practices so unfairly weigh against whites that it’s now just as bad as racism, and now is REVERSE racism IS insulting to everyone else.

    Saying that male circumcision is as bad as FGM is insulting. (back draft opened sorry)

  82. 82
    Ing

    I think that’s symptomatic of the widening gap within the atheists movement. LGBT activists, for example, are accuse of co-opting the civil rights movement by the religious right, not by people within the LGBT movement. Obviously, the gap between the two atheist ‘factions’ isn’t as wide as that between LGBT activists and the religious right, but it’s disturbing to see the same kind of tactics being used in both situations…I can’t shake the feeling that it doesn’t bode well.

    Except these people are not part of the ‘movement’. If anything they’re the GOProud. People who make their living branding themselves as The Gooduns. They are valued by those in power because they are a guilt anesthetic. They are the shoulder devil saying “no, no, everything’s ok. Keep the course. I am part of the group…if it was bad *I* would tell you because I’m nice and your friend!”

  83. 83
    seanwills

    Yes, I know that he said it’s insulting for atheists to compare their struggles with those of LGBT people or POC. But this is what Ing accused him of:

    Ah yes. He didn’t dismiss discrimination, he just pointed out that talking about the discrimination is insulting to real discrimination.

    Those are two different things. I don’t care if Pigliucci isn’t my ally. I’ve seen far too many examples of we ‘rational’ atheists tearing somebody apart for something they never said. It happens everywhere, and we’re as susceptible to it as anybody else, but we shouldn’t be. Not if we’re trying to hold ourselves to as high a standard as possible.

  84. 84
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Actually, Sean, (I say from my perch on Mount I Know It All Because I’m Older:), this is precisely the same dynamic as has happened to all equal rights struggles. It happened in the black community and it happened in the gay community. There’s always a division between the go-along-to-get-along contingent that’s willing to sell out their brothers and sisters for political expediency, and those who aren’t about to shut up even if it makes people wring their hands.

    I remember it well from the time I came out as a young teenager. I became a minor local celebrity at 16 when I tried to launch a case (it aborted) against my employer for failing to protect me from workplace bullying and bashing. Since I was loudly out and obviously gay, some older, fussier, timid queers accused me of being “bad for the movement.” One man even wrote a letter to the editor of the paper accusing me of shamelessly flirting with all the men who came to my place of employment, and how I brought it on myself. Basically, he called me a slut and a blight on the image of Respectable Gay Men like him.

    You can’t avoid these divisions, but it’s crucial to recognize them and to fight against the silencers. Don’t think they’re your allies —that’s a dangerous naivete you can’t afford. No, everyone who disagrees on tactics isn’t an enemy, of course. But never turn your back on the silencers.

  85. 85
    Gregory Greenwood

    SC (Salty Current), OM @ 64;

    I just read the link. Stedman is quite the charmer isn’t he? Acting as an apologist for theistic homophobes – I wonder if he counts himself as one of the ‘cool’ gay guys who totally finds gay jokes funny and doesn’t know what all the fuss is about?

    From the link;

    At first blush, anger and disbelief at Sojourners’ decision not to run the advertisement seems is more than justifiable. After all, what decent human being could oppose welcoming a lesbian couple and their son into a church society at large — on Mother’s Day no less? By declining the ad, it follows, the historically progressive Sojourners must have adopted a stance against welcoming gay people into churches society. Furthermore, they clearly do not support LGBTQ rights. Right?

    There, I have fixed that paragraph for him, free of charge. Just dump the rerst of the article like the apologist swill it is, substitute this, and maybe people will mistake Stedman for someone who actually has a conscience…

  86. 86
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    It happens everywhere, and we’re as susceptible to it as anybody else, but we shouldn’t be. Not if we’re trying to hold ourselves to as high a standard as possible.

    Reasonable people disagree with your reading of Massimo’s statement. I absolutely do think he said what you think he didn’t say. I think you’re working too hard to exculpate what was a nasty (and clever-it got you) rhetorical move. Massimo is not a good-faith interlocutor on this point, Sean. We’re not mischaracterizing him.

  87. 87
    seanwills

    Actually, you’re right, the comparison with GOProud is a good one. I was going to say that I’d hate to see a similar group form within the atheist community, but I suppose that’s already happened :/

  88. 88
    Aquaria

    Could you quote me the sentence(s) where he said that? NOT where he said that we shouldn’t compare our struggles to those of the civil rights movements, mind, but where he said that just talking about discrimination against atheists is insulting to those movements.

    Good grief. Read the FUCKING POST!

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.

    Black people suffer “real” discrimination. So he’s saying atheists don’t, that whatever they face isn’t “real discrimination”, you dumbfuck.

    Here’s what he considers “real” discrimination”:

    But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

    So you’re only being discriminated against if you’re sitting in the back of buses, hanging from trees, put in prison and denied voting rights.

    Congratulations, Massimo, you dumb ass piece of shit: You just declared that women haven’t been discriminated against since they got the vote! I’m sure all the women who are being discriminated against right fucking now are relieved to know that they’re now fully equal members of society! /sarcasm off.

    That’s how stupid what he’s saying is, sean. Jesus tapdancing Christ, learn to read for fucking comprehension!

  89. 89
    klatu

    @Gregory Greenwood, thanks for pitching in.

    @jjgdenisrobert, #53
    Personal prejudices do not constitute facts. Nor do anecdotes. Nor would they be relevant to the discussion if they were.
    And yes, you were attempting to slut-shame her by trying to dismiss her (which wouldn’t be necessary had you not brought her up) based on her sexual activities, which you felt neccessary to speculate on.
    Gregory Greenwood did a fine job spelling it out for you. Re-read his post.

  90. 90
    Aquaria

    Shit–let me try again:

    Could you quote me the sentence(s) where he said that? NOT where he said that we shouldn’t compare our struggles to those of the civil rights movements, mind, but where he said that just talking about discrimination against atheists is insulting to those movements.

    Good grief. Read the FUCKING POST!

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.

    Black people suffer “real” discrimination. So he’s saying atheists don’t, that whatever they face isn’t “real discrimination”, you dumbfuck.

    Here’s what he considers “real” discrimination”:

    But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

    So you’re only being discriminated against if you’re sitting in the back of buses, hanging from trees, put in prison and denied voting rights.

    Congratulations, Massimo, you dumb ass piece of shit: You just declared that women haven’t been discriminated against since they got the vote! I’m sure all the women who are being discriminated against right fucking now are relieved to know that they’re now fully equal members of society! /sarcasm off.

    That’s how stupid what he’s saying is, sean. Jesus tapdancing Christ, learn to read for fucking comprehension!

  91. 91
    Ing

    Yes, I know that he said it’s insulting for atheists to compare their struggles with those of LGBT people or POC. But this is what Ing accused him of:

    Ah yes. He didn’t dismiss discrimination, he just pointed out that talking about the discrimination is insulting to real discrimination.

    He said it’s insulting for atheists to compare their struggles to LGBT people or POC….

    Ing says: “he says that talking about the discrimination of atheists is insulting to real discrimination”

    ….

    Ok, fuck me. What the hell is any real difference? Unless you’re being a pedantic shit head it is a perfectly valid inference from YOUR defense of him.

  92. 92
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ snoof:

    You know, it’d be much simpler if you just said something like, “Richard Dawkins made that argument and you didn’t have a problem with it” or something. It also helps if you actually include a reference to where he made that argument, rather than assuming everyone who reads these comment threads is immediately familiar with everything anyone has ever said.

    Of course, that’s assuming you’re interested in addressing the substance of PZ’s post, rather than being deliberately obscure and then feeling all superior when people aren’t able to read your mind.

    Indeed. Had nmcc taken the time to check for a reference, he or she would have seen that PZ wasn’t OK with Dawkins making the same kind of argument:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/oh_no_not_againonce_more_unto.php

  93. 93
    Nick Gotts

    So, let’s tone the self-righteousness down a few notches, it is unbecoming and smells too much of religious bigotry. – Massimo Pigliucci

    You first, Prof. Pigliucci.

    I tend to think that if someone says something contemptible, then that, for all useful purposes, makes them contemptible. – nmcc

    That’s idiotic. From which, by your reasoning, I could deduce that you’re an idiot.

  94. 94
    seanwills

    Aquaria, you’re right, I was forgetting about the ‘real discrimination’ part of his post. Sorry, I did read that, but forgot about it when I got entangled in the ‘comparison/just talking discrimination’ issue’. In light of that, I think he probably is dismissing discrimination against atheists wholesale, whether he means to or not. I retract my earlier defence of him. (Although I do still think people were misreading him earlier, but that’s neither here nor there at this point.)

    Also:

    That’s how stupid what he’s saying is, sean. Jesus tapdancing Christ, learn to read for fucking comprehension!

    I’m really not trying to start a fight here, but could we cool it with the invective? I was, like, 80% in agreement with you even before you proved that I was being too charitable to Pigliucci.

  95. 95
    seanwills

    I’m not being any sort of shithead, I’m saying that I thought you were putting words in his mouth.

  96. 96
    seanwills

    Blegh, that was supposed to be a reply to Ing. I don’t know why it’s not working the way WordPress keeps telling me it will.

  97. 97
    Ing

    I’m not being any sort of shithead, I’m saying that I thought you were putting words in his mouth.

    And you were wrong.

  98. 98
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Maybe if we had a short list of goals and then had some behavioral science types conduct a ton of experiments, we could have hard data on how best to proceed.

    Oh, dear. Speaking as a Behavioral Science Type, I can tell you that experiments will take you pretty much nowhere here. We gain knowledge primarily by studying movements of the past (note that this is what Pigliucci seems to find so presumptuous), including those whose goals were very different.* But we always have to keep in mind that movements are different – the people, the goals, the historical context,… – and that people can always creatively develop or stumble upon new actions that are effective for their movement in its context. And we need to keep in mind that our tactics and strategies have to be in accordance not only with projected effectiveness but with our goals and therefore our values. So, for example, some of the manipulative tactics espoused by people like Nesbit could be effective in getting people to “accept” evolution. But they’re not ethical, they’re ineffective in developing critical thinking and good epistemic practices, and they lead to people being more manipulable generally, which is the opposite of what we should want.

    *This doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t also analyze movements, including our own, as they occur, but that has the obvious drawbacks.

  99. 99
    Gregory Greenwood

    klatu @ 89;

    @Gregory Greenwood, thanks for pitching in.

    You’re welcome, but in truth I didn’t have a choice. My doctors have diagnosed me with chronic SIWOTI syndrome

  100. 100
    nmcc

    Comment 93:

    “‘I tend to think that if someone says something contemptible, then that, for all useful purposes, makes them contemptible. – nmcc’

    That’s idiotic. From which, by your reasoning, I could deduce that you’re an idiot.”

    But only if you’re an idiot.

    I did say that it was a matter of personal interpretation. And also, that I recognised PZ’s point.

    Am I to conclude that when the good professor describes all and sundry as ‘wanker’ that he is by no means referring to anything other than their masturbatory habits? How would he know, for a start?

    “And strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
    Some could articulate, while others not:
    And suddenly one more impatient cried–
    “Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

  101. 101
    Ing

    “And strange to tell, among that Earthen Lot
    Some could articulate, while others not:
    And suddenly one more impatient cried–
    “Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

    What.

  102. 102
    Ing

    Argumentum ad Malopoetica?

  103. 103
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s idiotic. From which, by your reasoning, I could deduce that you’re an idiot.

    Or a dedicated troublemaker.

  104. 104
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

    There are two reasons for this. 1) you can’t tell if someone’s an atheist by looking at them and 2) atheists aren’t disproportionately poor.

  105. 105
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    So, let’s tone the self-righteousness down a few notches, it is unbecoming and smells too much of religious bigotry.

    “After you, sir.”

  106. 106
    robro

    The civil rights “movement” is actually a good example for this ongoing debate between the different factions of atheism. The civil rights movement was actually many movements, some of them religio-pacifist (Martin Luther King), some of them legalistic, some of them violent (Black Panthers), and so on. The leadership of these factions often argued with one another about the best approach to take with the assumption that a single strategy was necessarily the best. Perhaps it took all of the above to budge American racism even the slightest.

    As for atheists experiencing discrimination, Dr. Pigliucci should read the news. Violent attacks on atheists occur in many parts of the world, particularly the poorer parts, without consequence to the perpetrators. Perhaps he was only thinking here in the US, but again he would be wrong. While atheists may not be strung from trees, physical attacks are not unheard of. Also, we have atheist soldiers punished for not attending base religious gatherings and denied holding their own, as well as children ridiculed and shunned in class for not participating in religious practices held on public school campuses. There are other examples, I’m sure, if you’re willing to do a little googling.

    And, I’m willing to bet, based on comments I’ve seen here at Pharygula and elsewhere, that there are some dangerous people out there in the good ol’ USofA who would happily send some of these damned atheists, new or otherwise, to hell for god if they got just a bit of a “go for it, dude” kind of feeling.

    The funniest thing about this: I’ve read that early Christians were accused and persecuted by the Roman government for being…wait for it…atheists!

  107. 107
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Wasn’t the self-same argument deployed against feminists by ‘allies’ who felt that it would ‘hurt the cause’ if feminists drew comparisons between sexism and homophobia or racism? And equally, weren’t gay rights activists told that by comparing their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement they were ‘belittling’ the struggle for racial equality, again by supposedly concerned ‘allies’ who were anything but?

    What I want to know is, what injustice was the racial civil rights movement told they should focus on instead?

  108. 108
    Ing

    @Azkyroth

    Slavery I believe. Don’t rock the boat! Things are much better now!

  109. 109
    consciousness razor

    I had trouble with the login, but I noticed the point flying over Pigliucci’s head several times in the comments over there. An example:

    About the good cop / bad cop,

    interesting links, I’ll take a look. The point remains that: a) Christina did not provide evidence for her claim; b) theists are not criminals.

    Right. Theists are not criminals — well, some are, some aren’t. But these are “the point”? Seriously?

    I thought this was about what are effective strategies for interacting with other human beings to modify their behavior. It’s not about whether theists are like criminals or should be treated like criminals, except in the sense that criminals should be treated like human beings. You’d have to commit to the idea that people can only be conditioned with what you deem to be “positive” approaches, or else a claim that “negative” approaches don’t work would be meaningless. The other options don’t help: 1) people can’t be conditioned at all, so a “positive” approach doesn’t work either, or 2) the concept of “positive” and “negative” approaches are themselves poorly-defined, so they are in some sense neutral or equivalent, and objections to the “negative” ones are based on a misrepresentation. Or you can pick what’s behind door number 3: we don’t have the same goals, and my approach simply doesn’t work for you.

    If it’s the last, then that’s just too bad for you. Many people aren’t going to be persuaded of something simply by being nice and working with them on some unrelated project. Sometimes you have to confront them and their problem directly by getting more of their emotions to do part of the work, other than just their positive emotions. If I cause someone to feel anger, fear, insecurity, etc., they can end up focusing on it more, thinking it through and coming to the right conclusion. At the very least they can have more doubts about their position.

    If we go back to the good-cop/bad-cop analogy, this much is apparent: neither a good cop nor a bad cop should undermine the cause of justice or protecting individuals when using their “good” or “bad” strategies, because they’re cops, and that’s not the sort of thing cops should do. One problem with the analogy is that it implies both have the same goals and are trying to do the same job, which is not necessarily the case for all atheists, whether they are new, old, accommodationist, Buddhist, Marxist, capitalist, etc. But to whatever extent some atheists do have common goals, we should use whatever works to achieve them. Even when we don’t share them, we should be honest enough to recognize those that do work for what they are: methods that are undermining your goals but effective for achieving mine, or vice versa. That’s assuming you think honesty is important of course. If not, then fuck you.

    But if you believe confronting religious idiocy with rabid contempt isn’t effective in achieving my goals, you’ll have to explain what the hell you think you’re talking about, because I see plenty of evidence that it is. As an anecdote, that sort of open confrontation and ridicule is part of how I became an atheist decades ago, when it seemed atheism wasn’t so “new” and accommodationists weren’t so dissembling. Unless I’m wrong about what caused my thoughts and behavior to change (as well as many others), that would be evidence that a “negative” approach isn’t ineffective.

  110. 110
    Ing

    Good Cop Bad Cop works on EVERYONE. False confessions are legion. That’s why even if you’re innocent you do NOT talk to the cops without representation.

  111. 111
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Didn’t your own article do the very thing you are complaining about here? You certainly caricatured the so called ‘new atheists’ while paying little attention to why we do what we do.

    Of course not. Massimo is a Very Serious Intellectual so he gets to define what is and isn’t a caricature.

  112. 112
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I so want to be the worse cop in an Bad cop/Worse cop atheist scenario.

  113. 113
    strange gods before me ॐ

    How do we know it works? Because atheism is booming

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    Anybody got any scientizical studies?

  114. 114
    screechymonkey

    For accomodationists, life is just one Sister Souljah moment after another.

  115. 115
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    Anybody got any scientizical studies?

    One more link between civil rights struggles. I see this “yeah, but that’s ANECDOTE, do you have any DATA?” thing used constantly to dismiss women’s concerns about sexism.

  116. 116
    strange gods before me ॐ

    The good cop / bad cop stuff I would expect to be an unwelcome comparison around here, anyway. As Ing points out, its purpose is to coerce a false confession.

    The analogy would be to coerce theists into publicly proclaiming that there is no God, even though they continue to believe otherwise.

  117. 117
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    love moderately says:

    How do we know it works? Because atheism is booming

    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    Anybody got any scientizical studies?

    Are you new on Pharyngula or other atheist blogs? Do you know how to use Google? Because there definitely is demographical data showing that, yes, the number of people who identifier as non-believers is on the rise.

    http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2011/08/is-america-becoming-less-religious.html

    This is just one recent example of decrease of religious belief in the USA. The same can be seen in many developed countries.

  118. 118
    Aquaria

    Sean: Pharyngula has a three post rule for people who say stupid things so that they can either realize how stupid they were, or demonstrate a willingness to be educated in reality.

    You were past three posts and still being an idiot. We’re not kind to stupid here.

    Welcome to Pharyngula.

  119. 119
    anteprepro

    Irene Delse, I’m fairly certain that love moderately was asking about the evidence for the claim that the atheism boom is due to a good cop/bad cop strategy (hence the reference to the “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” fallacy), not for evidence that there was an atheism boom.

  120. 120
    strange gods before me ॐ

    One more link between civil rights struggles.

    Then:

    1) where is the evidence that effective promotion of atheism proceeds according to the same contours as any particular civil rights struggle?

    2) has anyone done any more detailed study than noting “Malcolm X came off like a jerk too!” Despite the dumbing down of history education, civil rights struggles involved many organizational questions. What precisely can we learn from, say, the Black Panthers patrolling the police, why they did that at a particular time, rather than something else or at a different time, and did every action they ever took effectively advance their goals?

    I see this “yeah, but that’s ANECDOTE, do you have any DATA?” thing used constantly to dismiss women’s concerns about sexism.

    There’s lots of data about sexism today. Your analogy is right out of the 1950s, when anecdotes were just about the best anyone could do about sexism. We can and should rely on data now whenever we can; anecdotes are useful for only two things: suggesting where we ought to look for data, and convincing someone that the personal is political.

    Do you mean to say there’s no scientific evidence about persuasion in general today, or no scientific evidence about persuasion in regards to atheism?

  121. 121
    consciousness razor

    The good cop / bad cop stuff I would expect to be an unwelcome comparison around here, anyway. As Ing points out, its purpose is to coerce a false confession.

    I agree. I just think it’s bizarre that Pigliucci said the problem with it (or at least one of the problems) was that theists aren’t criminals, as if that has any relevance. If it does, it isn’t obvious to me how.

    I mentioned other reasons, but maybe we should play a game of good analogy / bad analogy. Theists are criminals like atheists are juries (not cops). Comparing gnus and faitheists is like comparing apples and oranges. Not believing in gods is like not collecting stamps.

  122. 122
    strange gods before me ॐ

    1) where is the evidence that effective promotion of atheism proceeds according to the same contours as any particular civil rights struggle?

    As opposed to, for instance, a successful commercial marketing campaign?

    I, for one, think the “there’s probably no God, now relax and enjoy your life” bus ads and billboards are excellent.

  123. 123
    Aquaria

    The civil rights “movement” is actually a good example for this ongoing debate between the different factions of atheism. The civil rights movement was actually many movements, some of them religio-pacifist (Martin Luther King), some of them legalistic, some of them violent (Black Panthers), and so on. The leadership of these factions often argued with one another about the best approach to take with the assumption that a single strategy was necessarily the best. Perhaps it took all of the above to budge American racism even the slightest.

    The problem is that the accommodationists like to style themselves as MLK, when they’re actually closer to Uncle Tom. MLK had no use for wishy-washiness or kowtowing to the powerful to benefit himself or his in-group. He would have written something like this for them:

    First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

    I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

    –MLK, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

    The New Atheists are closer to MLK than any accommodationist nitwit is. By far.

  124. 124
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Do you mean to say there’s no scientific evidence about persuasion in general today, or no scientific evidence about persuasion in regards to atheism?

    I mean to say that like Josh, I recognize a silencing tactic I’m already familiar with at work here in a new context: IE, gerrymandering what counts as “evidence” for a claim.

  125. 125
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I, for one, think the “there’s probably no God, now relax and enjoy your life” bus ads and billboards are excellent.

    Do you have any scientific studies showing you think that?

  126. 126
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I mean to say that like Josh, I recognize a silencing tactic I’m already familiar with at work here in a new context: IE, gerrymandering what counts as “evidence” for a claim.

    Well, that’s because you’re incompetent, Azkyroth. In other threads, better gnus than you have attempted to give scientific evidence for the usefulness of certain tactics.

    Aquaria for some time suggested that Zuwerink and Devine’s 1996 study was good evidence. This is the kind of stuff I’m interested in.

    Now, if you don’t care about scientific evidence, that’s your call. But I know that PZ does, I know that Aquaria does, and I know that I do. If you can’t keep up, then you’re welcome to stick with what you know.

    Do you have any scientific studies showing you think that?

    Again, not a smart comparison, since I didn’t ask for any scientific studies showing that so-and-so believes X. I’ll take “I believe X” claims at face value; there’s usually no compelling reason not to.

  127. 127
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Hi. Read my posts, then respond to them, plzthx.

  128. 128
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I checked your other posts, none of them deal with the post hoc ergo propter hoc problem.

  129. 129
    consciousness razor

    I’ll take “I believe X” claims at face value; there’s usually no compelling reason not to.

    Sure, but you still have to distinguish between the belief and the fact. I believe exposure to religious beliefs being mercilessly ridiculed caused me to be an atheist. But was that really the cause? One could still retort with post hoc ergo propter hoc, except I think the order of the events isn’t the only thing we’re using as evidence of causation. People have to deal with that sort of confrontation somehow. There are lots of possible responses, but some probably will involve discarding the belief being ridiculed, because the subject likewise begins to believe they are ridiculous. I’d be much more surprised if that didn’t work at all.

    Instead, I think we’re actually talking about a matter of degree — which methods are more effective than others for achieving a particular end — or else we’re disagreeing about what the desired outcome is in the first place.

  130. 130
    Ing

    I’d argue that the goal of Goodcop/Bad Cop is to get a false confession. I think the goal is just to get someone talking and is a problem because our legal system isn’t really empirically based. Still better an alternative than ‘enhanced interrogation’.

  131. 131
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    love moderately:

    While you’re right that the correlative or causative relationship between tactics and outcomes needs evidence, why does it seem you’re throwing in with Pigliucci’s idea that this is a legitimate question in controversy? That really isn’t the point of what’s going on here, in my view. He wants to distract, he finds atheists distasteful, so he tells us we’re being insulting to compare our plight to XYZ Movement.

    It’s not per se ridiculous or controversial to assert that aggressive tactics can have positive outcomes. It really isn’t. And it doesn’t require citation of a study every time it’s uttered. So, it frustrates me that you seem to think it does. You’re not obligated to talk about anything that pleases anyone but you, of course, but it’s puzzling and irksome that you seem to be propping up the de-rail. Doesn’t Pigliucci’s nonsense bother you at all?

  132. 132
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Sure, but you still have to distinguish between the belief and the fact. I believe exposure to religious beliefs being mercilessly ridiculed caused me to be an atheist. But was that really the cause?

    I agree with you that this is a more useful question, but it’s not what Azkyroth was getting at:

    Do you have any scientific studies showing you think that?

    He is actually saying that my request for evidence about efficacy is comparable to demanding that a person who says “I believe X” also provide scientific evidence that they do in fact believe X.

    Instead, I think we’re actually talking about a matter of degree — which methods are more effective than others for achieving a particular end — or else we’re disagreeing about what the desired outcome is in the first place.

    In this case, regarding the outcomes that PZ mentioned — new groups popping up all over the place, meetings with record attendance, lots of press, lots of new activists — I think those are great outcomes and I’m in agreement that they ought to be desired.

  133. 133
    bcskeptic

    @60 Aquaria,

    Holy shit! holy shit! HOLY SHIT!

    Your story moved me to tears. It is one example of why PZ’s approach is necessary and urgent. Its not all fucking fun and games and playing “namby-pamby” with religionists’ sensitivities.

    Hit ‘em with both barrels…tear into their sensitivities…mock the fuck out of them…demolish their bullshit ideologies.

    The recent religious craziness in Israel is also ample reason for a no-holds barred approach.

    Thank-you Aquaria for that stark dose of reality. I am deeply saddened by your family’s loss. I trust the perps are going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law(?) They CAN’T get away with it!!!

  134. 134
    strange gods before me ॐ

    While you’re right that the correlative or causative relationship between tactics and outcomes needs evidence, why does it seem you’re throwing in with Pigliucci’s idea that this is a legitimate question in controversy?

    It probably seems that way because you’re more familiar with what Pigliucci is saying than I am. I haven’t read anything but PZ’s quotes and replies. I’m just responding to what PZ said.

    It’s not per se ridiculous or controversial to assert that aggressive tactics can have positive outcomes. It really isn’t.

    But it would be ridiculous to assert that aggressive tactics always have positive outcomes. The challenge before us, at this late date in the controversy, is to actually find out when aggressive tactics are best.

    And it doesn’t require citation of a study every time it’s uttered. So, it frustrates me that you seem to think it does.

    I think it does, because 1) I’ve never seen a study cited in favor of aggression which actually supported the claim it was cited in favor of; 2) these claims are made so generally, not in the more reasonable form of “if someone believes A and B, you should respond with X, while if someone believes B and C, then Y is a better response”; 3) it was years ago now that PZ and Mooney started saying each side doesn’t have evidence for their claims, and I haven’t seen any advancement of the evidence in the meantime — it’s very frustrating and I am now continually in the tired of waiting mode.

    You’re not obligated to talk about anything that pleases anyone but you, of course, but it’s puzzling and irksome that you seem to be propping up the de-rail.

    Hey, PZ made a claim in the original post. I asked for evidence. It is not a derail to ask for evidence of a claim in the OP.

    Doesn’t Pigliucci’s nonsense bother you at all?

    Some of it. This is an empirical claim which he has not cited evidence for: «Moreover, the “bad cops” of the civil and gay rights movements rarely went around insulting the other side, they were simply vocal about their own rights.»

  135. 135
    A. Noyd

    “[A]theists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.”

    Oh, really? Really?? What about the black atheists? What about the gay atheists… like, you know, Greta Christina? Is it really “unseemly” for people who are those things to make those comparisons? Yeaaah, I really don’t want to take lessons on avoiding self-righteousness from you, Dr. Smugliucci, thanks all the same.

    “[T]here is also a tendency within the community to think that one is automatically smart just for being an atheist…”

    I have encountered people who claim to be smarter and better than everyone just because they’re atheists. That is, I came across one guy who was open about believing that. And I called him out for it on a religious blog where he was asserting his supposed superiority and harassing the religious commenters. While I don’t doubt there are more like him, any “tendency” for that type of thought is not apparent on Pharyngula, Greta’s blog or the FTBs in general.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Aquaria (#80)

    None of [that bigotry] is “worse” than what anyone else faces. ALL discrimination is bad.

    Well, I do think some forms of bigotry are worse than others, but at the same time, it’s self-defeating to have this idea that lesser discrimination somehow isn’t “real.” The goal of anti-bigotry activism is to eradicate discrimination, but bigotry won’t disappear overnight; at some point, even the people working against the “worse” forms are going to be successful enough that they’ll start facing only the relatively mild forms of discrimination and what then? Do they have to give up calling what they face “real” discrimination because it could be much worse? That’s bullshit.

  136. 136
    simonsays

    @Josh #131:

    he finds atheists distasteful

    How do you reconcile this with the fact that Massimo is proud to be a lifetime member of American Atheists and regularly speaks for them as well as other atheist organizations?

  137. 137
    imthegenieicandoanything

    I follow atheist and evolution news pretty darn close, and for a long time now, but am still confused why I should give a mouse-sized turd about the views of whoever the fuck these people are] they don’t even turn up in the ghastly, offensive, but entirely meaningless commentary articles about “religion” in the Guardian or anywhere.

    These controversies make the “atheist movement” sound as silly as teenagers arguiung over the sexual habits of the Smurfs.

    So, whoever these guys are said stupid and pointless carping things about someone I hav read a couple posts by and generally agree with. Who cares? Since it does less than zero harm (unlike, say, the harassment by those sexist pigs in the “elevator incident”), it’s actually a sign that these tiresome jerks are being pinched hard enough they are unable to feign sleep.

    Can’t you just post “more assholes sighted spewing shit” and provide a link for anyone weird enough or bored enough to confirm the fact for themselves?

  138. 138
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    simonsays:

    he finds atheists distasteful

    That was a typo on my part. I meant to type “vocal/gnu atheists.” It would indeed be silly to say he finds atheists distasteful.

  139. 139
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    love moderately:

    I think it does, because 1) I’ve never seen a study cited in favor of aggression which actually supported the claim it was cited in favor of;

    If someone claims to have a study supporting their view, it’s reasonable for you to demand to see it. It’s not, however, reasonable to claim (as you did above) that yes, every time someone says aggression can (notice ‘can,’ not ‘always does’) lead to positive outcomes that they need to cite an actual study. If you think about that for a minute I don’t think you’d really get behind that. I don’t need to cite a study to mention my experience that loud aggressive queers in ACT UP actually put AIDS funding on the map and got some results. I really don’t. It’s not an extraordinary claim and I’m sure you see that.

    Don’t let your frustration with waiting for evidence you feel someone else promised you (and they may well have) spill over into making unreasonable demands across the board.

  140. 140
    bcskeptic

    @109, consciousness razor,

    Right. To add another anecdote…I became atheist ~17 yrs ago when a colleague essentially called me out on my intellectual hypocrisy of believing in fairy tales in my private life, while subscribing to the scientific method in my professional life. He made me think for once about the issues head on.

    Had the more accomodationist approach been used, I think I might still be wasting my time and effort engaging in religious nonsense and intellectual slavery.

  141. 141
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I checked your other posts, none of them deal with the post hoc ergo propter hoc problem.

    I don’t think this is a problem. The connection between the two needs to be considered in light of the totality of the evidence. In this case, we see many, many atheists (especially young people) in the growing movement talking about how they’ve been influenced by gnus and the atheist blogosphere. We’ve seen connections made and organizations formed directly as a result of this blogosphere. Many of the leaders in the student movement clearly come out of this milieu. The books and blogs of gnus are very popular. (In fact, the attention to people like Stedman stems largely from their scribblings about gnus.)

    I think it would be a stretch to claim that the growth of the movement occurred or would have occurred independently of gnu actions. I think it would be even more of a stretch to claim that it did and would have been even larger had not the gnus gotten in the way. So at the very least, the gnus’ style hasn’t harmed the movement’s rapid growth.

    1) where is the evidence that effective promotion of atheism proceeds according to the same contours as any particular civil rights struggle?

    The fundamental similarity lies in the fact that all are fighting prejudice and discrimination. For any particular set of actions, of course, a case could be made that what worked in one movement isn’t broadly transferable to others because of differences, but the basic similarities shouldn’t simply be dismissed. (The atheist movement also has similarities with struggles that aren’t as focused on rights, and we can learn from them as well. In fact, we can learn something from probably any movement, but that doesn’t mean we’ll find their tactics palatable or conducive to our specific constellation of goals.)

    What precisely can we learn from, say, the Black Panthers patrolling the police, why they did that at a particular time, rather than something else or at a different time [no idea what this means],

    Quite a bit, to the extent that our countermovements or opponents prefer to operate in the shadows. Of course, not all tactics are applicable in whole, but the general themes of direct action policing of authorities, exposure of (local, national, and international) abuses, and educating and supporting people from within a framework of their rights are very useful to us. I think atheists are making use of a lot of this.

    and did every action they ever took effectively advance their goals?

    Of course not. We can learn from their mistakes as well, as they have.

    As opposed to, for instance, a successful commercial marketing campaign?

    I, for one, think the “there’s probably no God, now relax and enjoy your life” bus ads and billboards are excellent.

    I don’t see the opposition, especially given that they’ve been largely funded and promoted by the RDF and gnus, who have also called attention to the violations of rights that have occurred surrounding them. Moreover, they probably wouldn’t exist in the first place without the momentum created by the gnus.

  142. 142
    strange gods before me ॐ

    “[A]theists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.”

    Oh, really? Really?? What about the black atheists? What about the gay atheists… like, you know, Greta Christina? Is it really “unseemly” for people who are those things to make those comparisons?

    That depends on just what the comparison is. I’m not sure that Pigliucci is cognizant of the distinction, which PZ notes, between comparisons of activism and comparisons of the magnitude of discrimination.

    There ought to be nothing unseemly about suggesting that activist tactics which worked for Group A may also work for Group B. Such suggestions may turn out to be unevidenced or even incorrect, but not unseemly.

    On the other hand, there is something morally wrong with comparisons like Setár makes above at #2, that the “real discrimination” faced by atheists in Alabama is really like the discrimination faced by gay people in Alabama. All the evidence I’ve seen shows that anti-atheist hate crimes, of any severity, are orders of magnitude less common than anti-gay hate crimes of comparable severity. I resent the implication that atheists in America generally have suffered like gay people in America.

    So there ought to be nothing unseemly about suggesting that activist tactics which worked for Group A may also work for Group B.

    But because there are a lot of stupid atheists in the world, folks who compare tactics should discourage misinterpretation by people like Setár, and preface their comparisons by making clear that no, atheists in the USA really do not suffer for being atheists like gay people have suffered for being gay, or like black people have suffered for being black.

    When we see people make statements like Setár’s, we should take his misunderstanding as an indication that we are not making this distinction clear often enough.

  143. 143
    Gregory Greenwood

    imthegenieicandoanything @ 137;

    If you feel that this thread is so pointless, then why bother coming here to comment on it? Many of us feel that the discourse on atheist activism and the best way to proceed is important, and I think I speak for several others here when I say that sentiments like those expressed by Pigliucci;

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination. Yes, it may not be politically correct to tell your co-workers or family that you are an atheist, and I’m sure some people suffer psychological consequences as a result. But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

    That would cast discussions of the discrimination against atheists as insulting to those who suffer ‘true’ discrimination should not go unanswered. If you need a truly horrifying real world example as to why, read Aquaria’s post @ 60.

    But if all you have come to do here is complain about what you see as the unimportance of the concerns of ‘carping’ atheists, then feel free to go elsewhere. I am sure there are plenty of other atheist sites whose discourse would be more to your liking.

  144. 144
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Here‘s the founder of the bus campaign, Ariane Sherine, talking about it in 2008. The last sentence: ” God knows how far we’ll get with it, but we could be Dawkin ’bout a revolution.” I hardly think the connection needs to be made any more explicit.

  145. 145
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I checked your other posts, none of them deal with the post hoc ergo propter hoc problem.

    Of course they didn’t. Your hoc-waving is irrelevant to my point. :P

  146. 146
    strange gods before me ॐ

    If someone claims to have a study supporting their view, it’s reasonable for you to demand to see it. It’s not, however, reasonable to claim (as you did above) that yes, every time someone says aggression can (notice ‘can,’ not ‘always does’) lead to positive outcomes that they need to cite an actual study.

    And if you’ll look at the claim by PZ which I replied to,

    How do we know it works? Because atheism is booming

    you’ll see it is of the form that we know this did work because of something that came after. It is post hoc ergo propter hoc, and it is reasonable for me to ask for evidence.

    Now, to be clearer, I have never seen a single study which supported gnu atheist claims about tactics. Not one. And I have seen people try to find such studies. If they exist, then these debates could be much more interesting if they were cited up front. If they do not exist, then that should be understood by all parties.

    Can aggression work? It depends. But no one has even shown that what it depends on is present in the advancement of atheism.

    I don’t need to cite a study to mention my experience that loud aggressive queers in ACT UP actually put AIDS funding on the map and got some results. I really don’t. It’s not an extraordinary claim and I’m sure you see that.

    All claims need evidence. It is extraordinary claims which require extraordinary evidence. I don’t find that particular claim extraordinary, so the evidence I’ll accept in favor of it need not be remarkable.

    But it’s also not unreasonable for me to wish that someone could provide much stronger evidence in favor of that same claim. Such would be useful to have in any debate about it.

    Don’t let your frustration with waiting for evidence you feel someone else promised you (and they may well have) spill over into making unreasonable demands across the board.

    My original comment is a reasonable demand.

  147. 147
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Of course they didn’t. Your hoc-waving is irrelevant to my point.

    Your point is that I shouldn’t have asked for evidence of PZ’s claim.

    Whyever you think your complaint is compelling, it’s not compelling to me.

  148. 148
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    you’ll see it is of the form that we know this did work because of something that came after.

    Correct, if you read it in the most simplistic manner possible. Which you’re determined to do, so I’m again going to take my leave of you.

  149. 149
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    And here we go again. Gnu atheists are criticised for being too “aggressive” and accused of being counter-productive to the atheist movement. PZ and others point out that a diversity of styles and tactics are useful in the real world, that there is a place for both the loud, unapologetic, in-your-face atheists as well as the polite, willing-to-compromise ones. As justification for this position, they show many stories and personal testimonies of people who were shaken out of religious complacency by the books, blogs and lectures of vocal atheists. They remind us of the rise in numbers of people who identify as non-believers in several industrial countries. They give other examples in history of movements who were successful while employing a diversity of tactics and explain that atheists should take a hint from these. And so on.

    But then a few critics go on to nitpicking, asking “what’s your proof” that this “good cop bad cop” is useful for the atheist movement, and isn’t it some post hoc fallacy, etc.

    Please. Like evolution or the link between tobacco and cancer, it’s not one absolute, definitive proof that gives credence to what Gnu atheists advocate here, it’s a conjunction of several lines of evidence going in the same direction.

  150. 150
    'Tis Himself

    mpigliucci #37

    thank you, yet another splendid example of caricaturing people who disagree with them, ignoring their actual arguments, and adopting the most irritating condescending tone you can muster. Another great moment in intellectual atheism.

    Notice that Pigliucci doesn’t even try to rebut anything PZ or any of the commentators say. All he does is whine about being condescended to.

  151. 151
    PZ Myers

    mpigliucci in #37 seems to completely lack any self-awareness of sense of irony. The post I linked to was as condescending as anything I’ve ever written!

  152. 152
    A. Noyd

    love moderately (#142)

    All the evidence I’ve seen shows that anti-atheist hate crimes, of any severity, are orders of magnitude less common than anti-gay hate crimes of comparable severity. I resent the implication that atheists in America generally have suffered like gay people in America.

    You, like Pigliucci, are way too focused on whether something is perfectly analogous. Stop it. As Josh and others are pointing out, it’s a silencing tactic. But my point is that it’s stupid to defend gay people’s struggles from comparison with atheist ones while responding to a gay atheist activist. Not that all gay atheists see things the same way, but how dare Pigliucci set himself up as the arbiter of what is or isn’t seemly and then try to police how the members of groups he doesn’t belong to speak up for themselves.

    On the other hand, there is something morally wrong with comparisons like Setár makes above at #2, that the “real discrimination” faced by atheists in Alabama is really like the discrimination faced by gay people in Alabama.

    The only comparison that Setár made in #2 is that both types of discrimination are real. He’s saying the discrimination atheists in Louisiana, Alabama or Texas face is more obvious and accepted, thus less easy to deny (which Pigliucci did). That’s the only thing you should be able to pull from his comment if you’re being honest.

  153. 153
    strange gods before me ॐ

    In this case, we see many, many atheists (especially young people) in the growing movement talking about how they’ve been influenced by gnus and the atheist blogosphere.

    There appears to be a couple of conflations here. First, there’s a lot more to the atheist blogosphere than gnus. Second, there’s a lot more to what self-described gnus do than what is here characterized as “bad cop”.

    Was Dawkins just as effective at spreading atheism when he said “Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side” as when he said “be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one”?

    Probably not, as it’s rare that anything is ever precisely as effective as anything else. So, was the expansion of atheism more attributable to one of these statements than the other, if either?

    We’ve seen connections made and organizations formed directly as a result of this blogosphere.

    And we’ve also seen this result from interfaith work.

    I think it would be a stretch to claim that the growth of the movement occurred or would have occurred independently of gnu actions.

    And I wouldn’t claim that, since as I see it, more atheists is more atheists. If gnu atheists weren’t atheists, then there would be less atheist activism, and I’m sure this would be less successful.

    But if they were still atheists and weren’t doing what is here characterized as “bad cop” behavior, then it’s not clear that this would be any loss for atheist activism of the sort that results in “new groups popping up all over the place, meetings with record attendance, lots of press, lots of new activists”.

    “Bad cop” activism is probably better than no activism. Is it better than all other activism?

    I think it would be even more of a stretch to claim that it did and would have been even larger had not the gnus gotten in the way. So at the very least, the gnus’ style hasn’t harmed the movement’s rapid growth.

    But that’s exactly what you can’t know without empirical study of different tactics. It is entirely possible that the movement is growing slower than it otherwise could. It’s entirely possible that “bad cop” tactics have been the very best possible tactics.

    Without empirical comparisons of tactics, it is no more rational to say “the gnus’ style hasn’t harmed the movement’s rapid growth” than to say “the gnus’ style has harmed the movement’s rapid growth”. Both of these claims are just blowing smoke.

    1) where is the evidence that effective promotion of atheism proceeds according to the same contours as any particular civil rights struggle?

    The fundamental similarity lies in the fact that all are fighting prejudice and discrimination.

    So there’s still no evidence that they’re similar according to what I asked about.

    For any particular set of actions, of course, a case could be made that what worked in one movement isn’t broadly transferable to others because of differences, but the basic similarities shouldn’t simply be dismissed. (The atheist movement also has similarities with struggles that aren’t as focused on rights, and we can learn from them as well. In fact, we can learn something from probably any movement, but that doesn’t mean we’ll find their tactics palatable or conducive to our specific constellation of goals.)

    I agree with all this.

    What precisely can we learn from, say, the Black Panthers patrolling the police, why they did that at a particular time,

    Quite a bit

    So, not any kind of answer to my question.

    I don’t see the opposition,

    One is a bus advertisement, the other is not.

    especially given that they’ve been largely funded and promoted by the RDF and gnus, who have also called attention to the violations of rights that have occurred surrounding them.

    So your glaring error in this case is treating everything done by one group as though it was the same kind of action.

    The opposition, thus, is between a bus advertisement promoted by the RDF, and something else promoted by the RDF.

    Well, there are always opportunity costs, and one of these is more effective than the other. So, are more bus advertisements better than whatever else the money would be spent on? Or are fewer? I don’t know for sure, but there are opportunity costs, and actions are different than other actions.

    Moreover, they probably wouldn’t exist in the first place without the momentum created by the gnus.

    Perhaps this explains your glaring error. If you think I’m saying the world would be better without gnus, then you’d find it reasonable to lump all actions by gnus together as one defense of their existence. That would be a reasonable response if I were saying anything like that, but I’m not, so it isn’t.

  154. 154
    strange gods before me ॐ

    you’ll see it is of the form that we know this did work because of something that came after.

    Correct, if you read it in the most simplistic manner possible.

    Ah yes, I suggest you should also berate anteprepro for understanding my request.

  155. 155
    PZ Myers

    I should have pointed out something else: the only new change in atheism that can be correlated with the recent boom is the emergence of the New Atheism, the loud and proud version of atheism fueled by a series of books by various authors. We also know that huge numbers of small-n new atheists attending conferences will testify that what has motivated their emergence and activism in the last decade has been, in order of the frequency I’ve encountered, 1) The God Delusion, 2) Hitchens’ and Harris’s books, and 3) Breaking the Spell. They also cite the videos from the RDF, and blogs like mine and Coyne’s and Ophelia’s.

    Seriously, the response to New Atheist literature has been overwhelming. To deny that it has had a positive effect would be perverse.

    There could be other factors; we all concede that. However, it’s much harder to find evidence for those, or even people willing to advance an alternative hypothesis, than to find testimonials and increased participation in atheist events that can be credited to strong New Atheist activism. Try talking to conference organizers: they know that what best helps fill the seats are the firebrands of the movement, not the milquetoasts. Read the newspapers; Dawkins and Hitchens get attention, Haidt or Mooney…not so much. This whole movement would not be in the public eye at all if it weren’t for the New Atheists.

  156. 156
    'Tis Himself

    love moderately seems to think that since gnu atheists can’t produce the paper “The Effectiveness of In-Your-Face Arguments In Converting Theists To Atheism”¹ then we should stop claiming that being “militant” and “shrill” and “out of the closet” are actually effective.

    ¹Pickelheimer, J et al, Journal of Gnu Atheist Studies, pp 1157-1284, 2009.

  157. 157
    strange gods before me ॐ

    As justification for this position, they show many stories and personal testimonies of people who were shaken out of religious complacency by the books, blogs and lectures of vocal atheists.

    One thing I really like about the standard line of gnu atheist apologetics is how it’s always phrased as if all any gnu atheist has ever done is be “vocal” about atheism.

    This is amusing. Every atheist who publicly self-declares is being vocal about it.

    They remind us of the rise in numbers of people who identify as non-believers in several industrial countries.

    Oh? Has there been a significant rise in non-belief in most of Europe during this same time period? I think you’ll find that most of Europe went atheistic several decades earlier, and it wasn’t easily attributable to an atheist movement there, but more obviously to a rise in living conditions after WWII.

    They give other examples in history of movements who were successful while employing a diversity of tactics and explain that atheists should take a hint from these. And so on.

    Hey, if any “diversity of tactics” is equally useful, then as long as gnu atheists make up only 0.001% of the movement, that would be equally good.

    But if ratios actually matter, then a generic appeal about “diversity” is pretty useless, and the relevant questions are still about whether there’s too much of this and not enough of that.

    (Which, of course, you recognize, when you’re complaining that there’s too much accomodationist bashing of gnus.

    For all we know from the lack of evidence one way or the other, accomodationist bashing of gnus might be the most effective tactic today for promoting “new groups popping up all over the place, meetings with record attendance, lots of press, lots of new activists”, especially if other tactics have peaked in efficacy. Who knows? None of us, without evidence.)

  158. 158
    Kel

    I just went from liking Massimo Pigliucci to wanting to punch him in his privileged face. Hard. If he wants some real discrimination he can toddle his ass down to Louisiana or Alabama or Texas and try his “nice” atheism. A hundred bucks says he won’t make it past “atheist”.

    For a long time, Massimo Pigliucci was a professor at the University of Tennessee. Or is that still to privileged for you? ;)

  159. 159
    Kel

    *too

  160. 160
    frankstonehouse

    As long as defenseless children are being indoctrinated into a lifetime of superstition, all of us should be ashamed of sitting in our armchairs and just talking!

  161. 161
    strange gods before me ॐ

    All the evidence I’ve seen shows that anti-atheist hate crimes, of any severity, are orders of magnitude less common than anti-gay hate crimes of comparable severity. I resent the implication that atheists in America generally have suffered like gay people in America.

    You, like Pigliucci, are way too focused on whether something is perfectly analogous. Stop it. As Josh and others are pointing out, it’s a silencing tactic.

    You should stop it, because you’re using a silencing tactic now to stop me from saying that I resent the implication that atheists in America generally have suffered like gay people in America.

    I am allowed to resent that implication, and I am allowed to say that I’d prefer that when comparisons of activism are made — which I agree can be made without being hurtful and disrespectful to gay people — they ought to be made with a clear preface that the magnitude of discrimination is not the same.

    I’m fine with the way that PZ worded it in the OP, by the way; that’s a sufficient example of what I’m asking for.

    But there is a problem with what Setár said.

    But my point is that it’s stupid to defend gay people’s struggles from comparison with atheist ones while responding to a gay atheist activist.

    It isn’t necessarily, if the gay atheist activist is making a very stupid claim. (And no, I’m not saying that any have. But you’ve presented this as though it would be impossible to legitimately disagree with any gay atheist activist making any comparison between gay activism and atheist activism. That’s too strong a statement.)

    The only comparison that Setár made in #2 is that both types of discrimination are real. He’s saying the discrimination atheists in Louisiana, Alabama or Texas face is more obvious and accepted, thus less easy to deny (which Pigliucci did). That’s the only thing you should be able to pull from his comment if you’re being honest.

    Let’s play this game. If you were honest, you’d admit that Setár’s #4 casts your interpretation about his #2 into some doubt.

    Don’t like that game? Then we can treat each other decently instead, and you can admit that people can honestly read Setár differently than you do.

    He’s saying the discrimination atheists in Louisiana, Alabama or Texas face is more obvious and accepted

    Really? Where did he say that? Are you sure you didn’t pull that out of thin air?

  162. 162
    'Tis Himself

    You should stop it, because you’re using a silencing tactic now to stop me from saying that I resent the implication that atheists in America generally have suffered like gay people in America.

    Fine, you resent that implication. Big fucking deal. You’ve said so and nobody else seems to give a rat’s ass about your resentment. You can continue to resent it all you want, I certainly won’t stop you. However I certainly won’t care about your resentment.

    Do you have any other resentments you want to get off your chest? Do you resent how Farscape was cancelled before you found out if John made it back to Earth? Do you resent that Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” gets airplay? Do you resent that Borders went bankrupt due to managerial incompetence? Let your resentments hang out.

  163. 163
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    There appears to be a couple of conflations here. First, there’s a lot more to the atheist blogosphere than gnus.

    True. I’d used the word “gnu” so many times, I guess I thought I could neglect it once.

    Second, there’s a lot more to what self-described gnus do than what is here characterized as “bad cop”.

    This is where you’re confused and vague. Is where characterized? I think this may be because you’re not entirely familiar with the history of these discussions. The “bad cop” tactics people are talking about constitute, for people like Stedman, an enormous portion of gnu actions. You might have a legitimate question if they were only talking about a handful of extreme statements (well, no, you wouldn’t actually, since we’re not obliged to defend every word that comes out of every gnu’s mouth), but they’re not.

    This is what I’m trying to explain to you. This discussion isn’t about bad cop confrontations vs. “marketing campaigns” (a strange and inaccurate characterization). Stedman opposed the AA myth billboards though these were as much a marketing campaign as the “There’s probably no god” ones. These were “bad cop” to him. Read Karla McLaren’s description at Stedman’s blog of the “Four Horsemen” books:

    The Fractious Four have put forward some very attention-grabbing ideas in a post-Twin Towers world, where many of us have seriously questioned the purpose and limits of faith and supernaturalism. However, the Four (Dennett excluded) have put those ideas forward at the end of a fist, and in a way that questions the sanity and morality of anyone who disagrees with them. But see, that’s the point of a polemic … you put forward the most extreme version of your argument, and you don’t make any room for moderating views.

    A polemic is a deeply emotional appeal made not just with anger, but with rage; not just with sadness, but with despair; not just with fear, but with gut-wrenching terror.

    …I understand and honor that rage, and the despair, and the terror that go with it, but now it’s time to dial it back and do the hard work it takes to create a workable, inclusive community for old atheists, new atheists, secularists of every stripe, and all refugees from religion and superstition.

    …No one is suggesting that we burn New Atheist books or silence their authors. Those bells have been rung. We can’t un-ring them, nor should we. The Four Horsemen of New Atheism did their work well, but they cannot help us clean up the battlefields they created. That’s not their job. The clean-up, the strategizing, the community rebuilding, the future imagining, and the alliance-making — this is not a job for bomb makers.

    Let’s leave aside that this is his is bizarrely, wildly inaccurate (to the point that I sincerely doubt she’d read the books in question when she wrote it). She’s (while, amusingly, recognizing the influence of these books) characterizing writing the books themselves as the equivalent of destructively throwing bombs and telling people to dial back the “rage, despair, and terror” that characterize The God Delusion. That’s how they define “bad cop” tactics: something like Dawkins writing his book. So if you’re acknowledging that these sorts of actions (writing books like TGD) are effective, then you’re not talking about the same thing as Stedman.

    You can come up with your own precise definition of “bad cop” tactics (and need to in order for any discussion to be had), but it will be perpendicular to the discussion about Stedman.

  164. 164
    PZ Myers

    Like I said, perverse.

    Do you have a point to make in all your longwinded blithering, love moderately, or is it just to be an asshole?

    Like, say, turning your complaints about lack of evidence for a complex sociological phenomenon around, and telling us what your evidence for any other hypothesis might be? We don’t have robust empirical evidence that the New Atheism has been a magic bullet, nor do we claim it is. We know definitely that many people respond positively to it, and we’ve got the experience of people working in the movement that it has been a major instigator in promoting more members and more participation.

    But, oh, right, none of that counts. Well, then, nothing counts, and you’re just babbling counterproductively and pointlessly for the sake of argument. What shall we do? Stop and wait for a major research study to be designed, funded, and executed? Sit down, shut up, and turn the atheist promotion business over to interfaith workers entirely, where we have even less evidence of success? (You give the impression that you’ll simply surrender to any fuckwit idea that isn’t the New Atheism, after all, and will suspend your whining for evidence for them).

    And just a warning: repeatedly posting comments that say nothing more than “Who knows?” verbosely is fucking boring. See my rules about banning, and what the cardinal sin might be.

  165. 165
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    For a long time, Massimo Pigliucci was a professor at the University of Tennessee. Or is that still to privileged for you? ;)

    Possibly. University campuses in illiberal areas of the US are generally far more progressive than surrounding communities.

  166. 166
    strange gods before me ॐ

    I should have pointed out something else: the only new change in atheism that can be correlated with the recent boom is the emergence of the New Atheism, the loud and proud version of atheism fueled by a series of books by various authors.

    Now, this certainly is suggestive. But it’s possible that you’ve got causality backwards here. It’s possible that atheism was demographically due for another boom in the 2000s, and New Atheism is a response to this, mostly a marketing of products to a newly expanding demographic.

    I’d also like to see evidence against the alternative explanation of demographic inevitability, but in the meantime I will concede that yours is a plausible interpretation of events.

    We also know that huge numbers of small-n new atheists attending conferences will testify that what has motivated their emergence and activism in the last decade has been, in order of the frequency I’ve encountered, 1) The God Delusion, 2) Hitchens’ and Harris’s books, and 3) Breaking the Spell. They also cite the videos from the RDF, and blogs like mine and Coyne’s and Ophelia’s.

    That’s great, but it conflates gnu atheism with “bad cop” tactics. Dennett’s work seems to be the former but not the latter.

    love moderately seems to think that since gnu atheists can’t produce the paper “The Effectiveness of In-Your-Face Arguments In Converting Theists To Atheism”¹ then we should stop claiming that being “militant” and “shrill” and “out of the closet” are actually effective.

    :) No, I’ve seen the evidence which indicates that being openly a self-declared atheist is probably effective. I’ll try to dig it up for you if you want it.

  167. 167
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Oh, if I’ve got red text aimed at me, it’s a good idea to bow out at least until PZ moves on to other annoyances. Good night.

  168. 168
    PZ Myers

    And maybe you should consider that your obtuseness might warrant moving on before I drag out the red text.

  169. 169
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    It is entirely possible that the movement is growing slower than it otherwise could.

    But I doubt that you believe that this is the case, given the evidence. I think you’re trying to be contrarian, for some purpose I don’t know about.

    I’ve recommended Sikivu Hutchinson’s (again, terribly disorganized but otherwise very good) book more than once. She’s critical of the narrowness of emphases of the movement, and makes an excellent case. But the suggestion that gnu (“bad cop”) actions have been detrimental to their goals is manifestly implausible given the state and character of the movement.

  170. 170
    Kel

    Possibly. University campuses in illiberal areas of the US are generally far more progressive than surrounding communities.

    He did debate with creationists and theists down there, so it’s only fair to cut him some slack in what he has or had experience with.

  171. 171
    consciousness razor

    Without empirical comparisons of tactics, it is no more rational to say “the gnus’ style hasn’t harmed the movement’s rapid growth” than to say “the gnus’ style has harmed the movement’s rapid growth”. Both of these claims are just blowing smoke.

    Who’s blowing smoke here? I think you can find a lot of people on the gnu side agreeing that we should welcome lots of different styles, let a thousand flowers bloom, and so on. I’m a bit tired of hearing it only because one of the faitheists’ tactics is just the opposite: throwing gnus under the bus, claiming we’re hurting the cause, incessant whining and dishonesty in general. Part of the problem is also that my cause has nothing whatsoever to do with going to fucking Interfaith conferences, in the hope that one day I too can blend in with a bunch of bullshit artists and sermonize to my fellow heathens about the god-shaped holes in our lives. If they think we have that in common, they can kiss my ass.

    Anyway, you must think something caused lots of people to be gnu atheists, so what’s your explanation? Do “gnu atheist tactics” tend to have any effects, and if so, what are they?

    Short of scanning someone’s brain, I don’t know how we could know for sure what caused a change in thought or behavior. So we’re stuck with a lot of possible explanations, trying to sort out which are most likely. You might say it’s just because we think PZ is a nice, cuddly teddy bear. Or it’s because Dawkins is charming and eloquent. Or maybe some just identified with Dennett or Hitchens or Voltaire or whoever as decent human beings. Whatever it was they were doing, it certainly wasn’t because they were respectful, accommodating, and didn’t make people question their dearly-held beliefs. They used biting sarcasm and ridicule, and I do think it’s likely that that did have something to do with how persuasive their arguments were.

  172. 172
    strange gods before me ॐ

    And maybe you should consider that your obtuseness might warrant moving on before I drag out the red text.

    I find myself incapable of considering that. Inside my own mind, I am not particularly obtuse.

  173. 173
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s great, but it conflates gnu atheism with “bad cop” tactics. Dennett’s work seems to be the former but not the latter.

    So you agree with McLaren and Stedman that writing TGD is an example of destructive “bad cop” tactics.

    Like them, you’re half a bubble off plumb.

  174. 174
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    He did debate with creationists and theists down there, so it’s only fair to cut him some slack in what he has or had experience with.

    The experience of debating from the position of a professor at the U. of Tennessee with multiple doctorates is quite different from, say, being a poor black atheist housewife in rural Tennessee, is all I’m saying. He’s in a privilege bubble of profession, environment, sex, race, class.

    Look at the difference between, say, Aquaria’s story and his representation.

  175. 175
    strange gods before me ॐ

    So you agree with McLaren and Stedman that writing TGD is an example of destructive “bad cop” tactics.

    An alternative explanation which the context of this thread favors:

    Greta Christina used “bad cop” to describe her own tactics, and I accept her own characterization.

  176. 176
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Funny thing, how @love moderately’s angry answer to my civilly worded and rationally argued comment end up making PZ’s point for him. Mr Pigliucci, I’m afraid the politeness is not all that it’s cracked up to be! /snark

    Oh, and on a more serious point:

    Has there been a significant rise in non-belief in most of Europe during this same time period? I think you’ll find that most of Europe went atheistic several decades earlier, and it wasn’t easily attributable to an atheist movement there, but more obviously to a rise in living conditions after WWII.

    Much too simplistic. I happen to be a European, I live in Europe, and I’ve learned a thing or two, in school and through personal reading, about our continent’s history. More specifically, I’m French, and if you know anything about this country, you’ll be aware that long before WWII, there was a very loud, angry and confrontational movement against organised religion. Its origins can be traced to the Enlightenment era philosophers (Voltaire et al.) and the French Revolution. This movement was exported throughout most of Western Europe with the Napoleonic Empire. It was at that time that the French astronomer Laplace answered a question of the place of God in the world by the quip: “I don’t need this hypothesis.”

    During the 19th Century, the secular movement faced periods of eclipse, but around 1848, Marxism gave it a new boost, leading up to the socialist and communist ideologies of nowadays. High points in the history of anti-religion ideas in Europe include the battle for the acceptance of Darwin’s ideas concerning the natural world (1859), the complete separation of Church and state in France (1905) and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

    After this, the secular movement in Europe were both helped and hampered in their progress by the presence of the Soviet Union, even though some independent voices, notably Bertrand Russell from the 1920′s onward, argued against the existence of God and other transcendental beings. (A critic described Russell’s 1927 essay Why I am not a Christian as “devastating in its use of cold logic”.)

    Right-wing dictatorships like Spain and Portugal got support through the Catholic Church till the mid-70s; on the other hand, the democratic movement in Poland in the 80′s found strength by tying it to the Catholic identity of their country. With the demise of the last European dictators and the fall the Berlin Wall, the air was cleared for the secular movement for a little time, until 9/11, the raising of consciousness about the danger of radical Islamism and the mess that is the “Clash of Civilisations”.

    As you see, Europe has seen fierce battles for and against religion for more than two centuries. It can even be argued that Dawkins has simply taken up the torch that Voltaire, Laplace and Russell have carried before him. Not bad, for a “new” atheist!

  177. 177
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Funny thing, how @love moderately’s angry answer

    Quote?

  178. 178
    abb3w

    Pigliucci seems mostly off target. However, I’d give his closing about “tone the self-righteousness down a few notches” as it “smells too much of religious bigotry” half credit. In particular, alluding to the work of Altemeyer, Hunsberger, Pratto and Sidanious (plus a note from yourmorals.org dataset results).

    Conventional bigotry (along with a lot of other traits I expect most atheists would consider “bad”) is impressively correlated to high-RWA and/or high-SDO outlooks. At least on RWA expression, Atheists (from an A&H study) tend to be lower than theists; but there is still a distribution, and the tendency may be stronger among atheists who actually form groups. While atheists tended to be relatively non-ethnocentric on race and sexual orientation, they had statistically significant degrees of religious ethnocentrism. Furthermore, there’s at least one piece on the web suggesting such INGROUP and AUTHORITY responses increase with higher SDO. I’ve only anecdata about relative distribution of SDO in the “New Atheists”, but it seems exceedingly unlikely that we’re all low-SDO compared to the baseline population. I suspect Randite Atheists tend higher than New Atheists, but I strongly suspect high-SDOs are not particularly rare among New Atheists, either.

    I’d also note that there’s data suggesting a plurality of RWA tendency is genetic (nature, not nurture). In the US, the Godless at this point are primarily deconverts (I’d guess 2:1, from the GSS). Since the tendency is higher among theists, and thus among those raised theists, increasing number of (de)converts from theist upbringing would tend to increase the degree of genetic predisposition. I’m not aware of any studies on SDO nature/nurture basis.

    The worry shouldn’t be what it smells like; that’s just a PR issue. The worry should be whether or not this IS the old tendencies to bigotry expressed in a new way. Granted, this is a relatively small problem compared to the degree that such tendencies tend to express among the religious. Contrariwise, as PZ notes: merely being lesser in degree is not sufficient grounds to ignore a tendency to injustice.

  179. 179
    Kel

    The experience of debating from the position of a professor at the U. of Tennessee with multiple doctorates is quite different from, say, being a poor black atheist housewife in rural Tennessee, is all I’m saying.

    Of course. But remember what Nick said: “If he wants some real discrimination he can toddle his ass down to Louisiana or Alabama or Texas and try his “nice” atheism. A hundred bucks says he won’t make it past “atheist”.” Massimo Pigliucci has lived and interacted with the communities there.

    Of course Massimo can never be a poor black atheist housewife, but how does that validate Nick’s point?

  180. 180
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Hey abb3w, while you’re here, let me ask you something off-topic.

    Do you mind if I add your fourteen point description of evolution to the Pharyngula Wiki?

    This means licensing it under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY-SA 3.0.

  181. 181
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Your point is that I shouldn’t have asked for evidence of PZ’s claim.

    My point was that when the concerns of socially marginalized groups are the topic of discussion, sudden demands for “hard statistics,” often but not exclusively in connection with dismissal of, say, people’s personal experience of discrimination or effective responses to it as “anecdote,” have been abused and deployed disingenuously often enough to be legitimately treated as a red flag.

  182. 182
    PZ Myers

    Oh, if I’ve got red text aimed at me, it’s a good idea to bow out at least until PZ moves on to other annoyances. Good night.

    Try sticking the flounce. You’re fulfilling some troll stereotypes rather effectively here.

  183. 183
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Notice that Pigliucci doesn’t even try to rebut anything PZ or any of the commentators say. All he does is whine about being condescended to.

    Here’s a visual aid.

  184. 184
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    An alternative explanation which the context of this thread favors:

    Greta Christina used “bad cop” to describe her own tactics, and I accept her own characterization.

    From above:

    We also know that huge numbers of small-n new atheists attending conferences will testify that what has motivated their emergence and activism in the last decade has been, in order of the frequency I’ve encountered, 1) The God Delusion, 2) Hitchens’ and Harris’s books, and 3) Breaking the Spell. They also cite the videos from the RDF, and blogs like mine and Coyne’s and Ophelia’s.

    That’s great, but it conflates gnu atheism with “bad cop” tactics. Dennett’s work seems to be the former but not the latter.

    The only thing you excluded from “bad cop” tactics here is “Dennett’s work.” The reasonable reading is that you include the rest.

    It’s possible that atheism was demographically due for another boom in the 2000s, and New Atheism is a response to this, mostly a marketing of products to a newly expanding demographic.

    I’d also like to see evidence against the alternative explanation of demographic inevitability, but in the meantime I will concede that yours is a plausible interpretation of events.

    Of course, you could make this silly claim about any movement whatsoever.* There’s no way to disprove that the movements that have been successful have been successful only because conditions made for their inevitability. Of course, for those who study movements, it’s ridiculous. It’s one thing to say that forms of activism take root in the fertile soil of historical conditions; it’s quite another to propose spontaneous generations, as it were. Demographic reductionism is especially silly in this case, since you haven’t made any case for it.

    *Stalinists would see us as historical vectors.

  185. 185
    Eurasian magpie

    @abb3w

    Would you care to explain what RWA, SDO and GSS stand for?

  186. 186
    nmcc

    “And just a warning: repeatedly posting comments that say nothing more than “Who knows?” verbosely is fucking boring. See my rules about banning, and what the cardinal sin might be.”

    Now, now, PZ, remember you’re a democrat (in the general sense, not in the American political party carve-up sense).

    Surely you wouldn’t want a North Korean/Jerry Coyne type blog on which only ‘The Hitch’ was saint-like, and only Julia Sweeny was funny?

  187. 187
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ love moderately #178.

    “Quote?”

    Try scrolling back to read what you posted. It helps.

  188. 188
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    …oh. Oops.

    abb3w: You are giving Pigliucci waaaaayyyyy too much credit here.

  189. 189
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Of course. But remember what Nick said: “If he wants some real discrimination he can toddle his ass down to Louisiana or Alabama or Texas and try his “nice” atheism. A hundred bucks says he won’t make it past “atheist”.” Massimo Pigliucci has lived and interacted with the communities there.

    Of course Massimo can never be a poor black atheist housewife, but how does that validate Nick’s point?

    In the sense that Nick was talking about the non-university-privilege-bubble experience of being an open atheist in some places. Toddling your ass down to a university campus where you’re a respected white male professor is quite different. He’s simply not experiencing anything like less advantaged people in those places are. It’s like how Barbara Eherenreich, in Nickel and Dimed, recognized the difference between her traveling as a professor and writer vs. traveling as an anonymous low-wage worker. The experiences are just vastly different. So it doesn’t validate Nick’s point if that point was that he should do this in the way he has, but it does in the sense that Pigliucci couldn’t ever really toddle his way into that experience, except to some limited extent if he went undercover. The larger point, I think, was that Pigliucci should recognize that his experience as an atheist is privileged and not generalizable.

  190. 190
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    …huh. [OT] Is Love Moderately not the latest incarnation of Strange Gods, then? O.o I could have sworn that weird “jth” thing at the end was also present at the end of whatever it was Strange Gods changed his display name to previously.

  191. 191
    Kel

    He’s simply not experiencing anything like less advantaged people in those places are.

    “A hundred bucks says he won’t make it past “atheist”.”

    I suppose the important thing is that no matter what someone like this says, we find a reason to find them being unreasonable…

  192. 192
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    mostly a marketing of products to a newly expanding demographic

    This is dishonest. Even if you honestly made the argument that gnu tactics have had an appeal to people in whatever demographic, you’ve produced zero evidence that gnus have marketed any products to anyone. Quite the contrary, a basic gnu argument for years has been against any sort of marketing approaches, and campaigns like “Rock Stars of Science” have been greeted by gnus with shrugs or outright derision. You should rescind this.

  193. 193
    'Tis Himself

    pj #186

    Would you care to explain what RWA, SDO and GSS stand for?

    RWA – Romance Writers of America

    SDO – Solar Dynamics Observatory

    GSS – Global Supply Solutions

  194. 194
    SallyStrange

    He explicitly said he was Strange Gods.

  195. 195
    Kel

    The question is, if he truly lived the life that he couldn’t possibly, what do you think that would change in his argument? Would what he considers reasonable tactics be changed because of his life experience, and would it be for the better? That seems to me the heart of Massimo’s criticism – what works. And Massimo has spent time researching the matter, he’s spent time arguing the matter, and he’s put forward what approaches he thinks work. Are those approaches wrong? Would experience show him a better approach?

  196. 196
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    “A hundred bucks says he won’t make it past “atheist”.”

    Subtext: “…in the case that he was not privileged as he is.”

    I suppose the important thing is that no matter what someone like this says, we find a reason to find them being unreasonable…

    Huh? The claim was clearly about Pigliucci not grasping the reality of discrimination in many atheists’ lives because he does not experience their reality, such that his dismissal of their experiences grates. (This is particularly egregious given that Greta Christina included in the post under discussion here, IIRC, a link to her earlier post about the ten worst places to be an atheist in the US, which documented prejudice and discrimination.) You can be literal about Pigliucci toddling down there and being atheist, but this misses the point about his failure to recognize other people’s atheist reality that he can’t access directly.

  197. 197
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    He explicitly said he was Strange Gods.

    Okay. I remembered that statement from someone with the “jth” bit and something different before it, but I wasn’t sure…

  198. 198
    consciousness razor

    Would what he considers reasonable tactics be changed because of his life experience,

    Yes. Different experiences, different reasons for behavior, different standards of reasonable behavior.

    and would it be for the better?

    It would be better to consider how they fit into the context of many different life experiences, especially those which aren’t privileged. People who tend to get shit on by society every day tend to have problems privileged people never take into consideration. So it would be better as long as you care about those people.

  199. 199
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    The question is, if he truly lived the life that he couldn’t possibly, what do you think that would change in his argument?

    If he appreciated the experiences of people who are not him, what I would hope would change is his lack of appreciation for and dismissal of what many atheists are facing. So he would rethink, for example,

    [A]theists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination. Yes, it may not be politically correct to tell your co-workers or family that you are an atheist, and I’m sure some people suffer psychological consequences as a result. But atheists are not being made to sit at the back of buses, hanged from trees, put in prison, or denied voting rights qua atheist. So let’s not make unseemly comparisons.

    Do you not think this might (and should) change if he had to acknowledge the lived reality of, for example, people like Aquaria’s family?

  200. 200
    Kel

    You can be literal about Pigliucci toddling down there and being atheist, but this misses the point about his failure to recognize other people’s atheist reality that he can’t access directly.

    So the question is, how should that change Pigliucci’s approach?

  201. 201
  202. 202
    John Morales

    Kel, what?

    It should change his perception that atheists don’t experience real discrimination.

  203. 203
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    (This is particularly egregious given that Greta Christina included in the post under discussion here, IIRC, a link to her earlier post about the ten worst places to be an atheist in the US, which documented prejudice and discrimination.)

    Oh, I guess she didn’t, though she did provide several other links Pigliucci ignored. Here it is.

  204. 204
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    So the question is, how should that change Pigliucci’s approach?

    Perhaps a prescription might be in order?

  205. 205
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Jesus Christ. Pigliucci’s arguments were so bad and so condescending, and so shopworn!, and yet he still managed to hook some smart commenters here into taking his points seriously. As if he were talking in good faith. I feel like I’m at a meeting of Unitarians where everyone’s so busy debating whether the firefighters had a good reason to arrive as late as they did that they can’t get out of the way of burning timbers. Some of you got played.

  206. 206
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    So the question is, how should that change Pigliucci’s approach?

    Are you being intentionally dense? First, it should change his approach in that his approach includes making claims about atheist experiences that are ignorant and false, so he’d have to stop doing that. This means changing his understanding of the situation and, in turn, his understanding of what goals and tactics are best suited to the situation.

  207. 207
    Kel

    If he appreciated the experiences of people who are not him, what I would hope would change is his lack of appreciation for and dismissal of what many atheists are facing.

    That’s always an important issue, empathy is a hard trait to offer.

    Do you not think this might (and should) change if he had to acknowledge the lived reality of, for example, people like Aquaria’s family?

    It might. But that’s a question for him; I have a hard enough time trying to comprehend a society where being atheist is anything beyond accepting that astrology doesn’t exist.

    Perhaps someone should make a comment on his blog informing him about instances of persecution for being atheists. See what he says, or if that’s reason to change his position. I don’t know what Aquaria went through, but beyond more of an appreciation of what some have to suffer, would it detract from the points he otherwise made about the approach? A wider appreciation for the problem doesn’t necessarily mean that the approach of the gnu atheists is going to be the solution (not saying it isn’t either).

  208. 208
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Perhaps someone should make a comment on his blog informing him about instances of persecution for being atheists. See what he says, or if that’s reason to change his position.

    And maybe you should read that thread, goddamnit. And this one. People pointed out real instances of physical and legal harm. Right on Massimo’s thread. And he handwaved them away. I pointed that fact out on this very thread.

    Do your fucking homework before you start giving advice to others about what they ought to do.

  209. 209
    Kel

    Are you being intentionally dense?

    Never intentionally. If you could only live in my brain, then you might have more empathy for why I’m asking such questions…

    This means changing his understanding of the situation and, in turn, his understanding of what goals and tactics are best suited to the situation.

    So can you substantiate this more? What tactics specifically do you think that Pigliucci is neglecting on the basis of him not appreciating a wider range of experience?

  210. 210
    Kel

    Do your fucking homework before you start giving advice to others about what they ought to do.

    Then obviously they aren’t changing his approach. Now make the case for why they ought to change his approach and in what way…

  211. 211
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Then obviously they aren’t changing his approach. Now make the case for why they ought to change his approach and in what way…

    No. Fuck you. You don’t get to wiggle out of the fact that you simply assumed—without bothering to check—that no one had done the very thing you were advising them to do. You’ve got a lot of energy to bend over backward for Pigliucci and not enough to give people here the benefit of the doubt. And I ought to expend yet more energy dancing to your tune?

    At least cop to the fact that you were wrong.

  212. 212
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s always an important issue, empathy is a hard trait to offer.

    Simple recognition of reality would be a start. Recognition of privilege would be a start.

    I have a hard enough time trying to comprehend a society where being atheist is anything beyond accepting that astrology doesn’t exist.

    Here’s one from my link above:

    And the story that happened in Louisiana made me sad, and enraged, more than almost any other.

    I’m talking about Damon Fowler.

    I’m talking about the atheist high school student who opposed his public school having a school-sponsored prayer at his graduation. Whose name was leaked. And who, as a result, was hounded, pilloried, and ostracized by his community; publicly demeaned by one of his teachers; physically threatened; and thrown out by his parents, who cut off his financial support, kicked him out of the house, and threw his belongings onto the front porch. Whose public school went ahead and had the graduation prayer anyway. Who has had to leave his home and move in with his sister near Dallas, Texas.

    You know things are bad when your atheist safe haven from extremist religious persecution is in Texas.

    That’s Louisiana.

    Worst. State. Ever.

    Pigliucci lives in the country where this is happening. This story has been all over the atheist blogosphere (and almost $40,000 was donated to the kid). He has no excuse for not being aware of this. And that’s just in the US! Your and Pigliucci’s failure to comprehend this reality when it’s presented to you is morally problematic.

  213. 213
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Your and Pigliucci’s failure to comprehend this reality when it’s presented to you is morally problematic.

    This.

    Also morally problematic is the clear emotional/dispositional bias toward extending every charity to Pigliucci’s outrageous statements while avoiding acknowledging very clear and very easy to understand rebuttals from the other side. It’s telling.

  214. 214
    Kel

    At least cop to the fact that you were wrong.

    Fine, I was wrong to assume that no-one has pointed it out to Massimo.

    Now, can you answer the meaningful discussion that should follow from this criticism. Since Massimo did not understand it, how should have that understanding changed his approach? It doesn’t seem like an unfair question to ask.

    Your and Pigliucci’s failure to comprehend this reality when it’s presented to you is morally problematic.

    Okay, then what can I do about it? What would be the morally unproblematic approach? This is what I’ve been asking for several posts now – what is it that facts like this do?

    It seems odd that you’re claiming I’m denying that reality. I’m sure that such realities exist, even if I have trouble comprehending what it’s like to be in such a situation. But what does that say for the approach that we ought to take? Come on, be substantial here. Such incidents like that make me outraged, they should make people outraged, but in what non-morally-problematic way should that outrage be expressed into a productive means to help combat travesties like that?

  215. 215
    Kel

    SC@213

    Recognition of privilege would be a start.

    Me@208: “I have a hard enough time trying to comprehend a society where being atheist is anything beyond accepting that astrology doesn’t exist.”

    Subtext: “I’m in a much more privileged position, in this circumstance, than Pigliucci.”

  216. 216
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Kel:

    Perhaps someone should make a comment on his blog informing him about instances of persecution for being atheists. See what he says, or if that’s reason to change his position.

    Better: why don’t you go there and see for yourself? Before assuming that nobody did offer examples…

  217. 217
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Let me be clear, Kel – I’m done “educating” and “helping” people like Pigliucci. I’m not going to take any of your advice and I’m not going to do any more work to satisfy those who cannot be satisfied. I’m old enough now, and have enough experience under my belt, to know when I’m dealing with a bullshitter whose primary effect is to derail and dilute the efforts of people who want rightful change. I’m no longer willing to expend energy on people who are not ever going to be allies, and who are actual impediments and sometimes enemies. That’s Pigliucci.

  218. 218
    Kel

    It should change his perception that atheists don’t experience real discrimination.

    If he doesn’t think that atheists experience real discrimination, then he’s wrong.

  219. 219
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Also morally problematic is the clear emotional/dispositional bias toward extending every charity to Pigliucci’s outrageous statements while avoiding acknowledging very clear and very easy to understand rebuttals from the other side. It’s telling.

    It sure is. Much like de Dora’s “Well, I think Stedman’s criticisms might be justified if he wasn’t quotemining.” What the hell is going on?

  220. 220
    A. Noyd

    love moderately (#162)

    You should stop it, because you’re using a silencing tactic now to stop me from saying that I resent the implication that atheists in America generally have suffered like gay people in America.

    You can say that you resent it as much as you like as far as I’m concerned, but that’s not all you’re doing and that’s not what I was telling you to stop. You’re the one who is arguing we need to slap disclaimers on every analogy that just might be misinterpreted as drawing too close of a comparison. You’re the one who thinks such precision even matters. And in dragging the focus onto your preferred bit of pedantry, you’re trying to get people to be quiet or only say things the way you want to see them said. It’s perfectly justified to tell you to knock that the fuck off, especially since the example you raise as being “problematic” (Setár’s #2) is only “problematic” because you’re reading something into it that isn’t there. So not only do I disagree that there is a problem, I don’t have any confidence in your ability to spot what you’re claiming to talk about!

    But you’ve presented this as though it would be impossible to legitimately disagree with any gay atheist activist making any comparison between gay activism and atheist activism. That’s too strong a statement.

    Good thing that’s not the statement I made. It’s one thing for you (in the general sense) to argue with a person and another thing altogether to act as though you can better represent the interests of a group that person belongs to but that you, yourself, do not. Keep in mind I originally quoted Pigliucci saying, “[A]theists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.” It’s an absurd statement. Pigliucci simply doesn’t get to decide for gays and blacks what is insulting. The best he can do is quote those who are insulted and try to argue for why their offense is more justified than the opinions of the black or gay atheists who feel comparisons are legitimate.

    Let’s play this game. If you were honest, you’d admit that Setár’s #4 casts your interpretation about his #2 into some doubt.

    I direct your attention to this little sentence in #2: “Now to read the rest of the post.” You’re trying to use #4 to interpret #2, but #2 was written before Setár finished PZ’s entire OP. Going by what Setár quoted, it’s perfectly honest to assume that he wasn’t speaking to magnitude in #2 but that he was in #4 (and #6). I suggest if you want to criticize what someone said, you point only to the relevant bits instead of trying to get everyone else to see fault in unrelated statements through the lens of your own suspicions. But then, you’re the one who thinks being exact about magnitude is so damned important in the first place, which is just bullshit derailing.

    He’s saying the discrimination atheists in Louisiana, Alabama or Texas face is more obvious and accepted

    Really? Where did he say that? Are you sure you didn’t pull that out of thin air?

    Yes, I’m sure. What the fuck is your point?

  221. 221
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    If he doesn’t think that atheists experience real discrimination, then he’s wrong.

    Holy Jesus on rye.

  222. 222
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    It sure is. Much like de Dora’s “Well, I think Stedman’s criticisms might be justified if he wasn’t quotemining.” What the hell is going on?

    I wish I knew. The only thing I’m certain of is that the folk psychology under which I operate is often wrong—I can’t figure out the motivations of such people.

    The important thing, to me, has been the recognition that they’re not just useless or dead weight, they’re actually active adversaries. That took me a long time to get to, but it’s crucial to recognize. That’s why I get frustrated with people who keep extending them the benefit of the doubt.

  223. 223
    Kel

    Let me be clear, Kel – I’m done “educating” and “helping” people like Pigliucci.

    I’m asking for my own benefit. I’m honestly curious, because there’s a lot of talk about what approaches one should take which is mostly just criticising other people for doing it wrong. I want to know what’s right.

    I’m no longer willing to expend energy on people who are not ever going to be allies, and who are actual impediments and sometimes enemies.

    I’m someone who has posted for years on this site, spent time arguing with theists and creationists about a whole range of issues. I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my effort, so I would like to know what approaches I ought to take and why.

  224. 224
    Kel

    Holy Jesus on rye.

    I’m not sure what you want me to say here, SC.

  225. 225
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Kel – I didn’t mean to imply that you were an enemy. I meant that only about the Pigliuccis, the Stedmans, and the Mooneys of the world.

    What should you do? It depends on your goal. What, specifically, are you trying to accomplish and why? Is it worth your time? Is the person worth your effort. We all need to think about these questions before we decide how to act.

    I don’t think Pigliucci is worth any effort except loudly decrying his bad faith argumentation. When it comes to his peeves about gnu atheism his only effect is shoring up support for the smear campaign against vocal atheists. He needs to be resisted for that. He’s done this so many times, and he’s been rebutted so clearly (with more and yes, sometimes less rancor) that it’s reasonable to conclude he’s irredeemable on this topic. He’s got some great ideas on many issues, but on this one he’s stubborn, intellectually dishonest, and shot through with emotional and aesthetic prejudice against gnu atheists. I don’t see that there’s anything to do with that other than to point it out and push back.

  226. 226
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Kel #215:

    I was going to apologise for repeating at #217 something that Josh #209 had already pointed out to you, but then I saw this:

    Fine, I was wrong to assume that no-one has pointed it out to Massimo. Now, can you answer the meaningful discussion that should follow from this criticism. Since Massimo did not understand it, how should have that understanding changed his approach?

    Er, are you serious? Why ask Josh or SC a question that only Massimo Pigliucci could answer (if only he paused to consider it, of course)? This is tantamount to holding a debate on how many angels could dance atop a pinhead.

  227. 227
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    It’s an absurd statement. Pigliucci simply doesn’t get to decide for gays and blacks what is insulting. The best he can do is quote those who are insulted and try to argue for why their offense is more justified than the opinions of the black or gay atheists who feel comparisons are legitimate.

    It’s even worse than that!

    ***

    But what does that say for the approach that we ought to take? Come on, be substantial here. Such incidents like that make me outraged, they should make people outraged, but in what non-morally-problematic way should that outrage be expressed into a productive means to help combat travesties like that?

    I think the approach we ought to take is the approach we’re, collectively, taking. If I didn’t I would not be taking it and would be criticizing it. I’m responding to unwarranted criticisms of that approach. I think that if Pigliucci appreciated reality and our goals, he would stop slamming us. Even if he wouldn’t, some of his current slams are based on false claims which he should stop making in light of the evidence that’s been presented.

  228. 228
    Kel

    Kel – I didn’t mean to imply that you were an enemy.

    Fair enough. I wasn’t sure after #212 and #214. I’m not quite sure what I’m denying or how it’s morally problematic.

  229. 229
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Holy shit, but that was an excellent post on your blog, SC. Not only crisply argued but really well written. I’m sorry I didn’t see it earlier.

  230. 230
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I think the approach we ought to take is the approach we’re, collectively, taking.

    And no, of course I don’t think every person has to do the same thing. I want the people who don’t share my goals and don’t appreciate reality to stop bashing our actions and misrepresenting us. So what I primarily want to change in Pigliucci’s approach is to a) STFU about gnus and b) try to recognize his ignorance and to educate himself.

  231. 231
    Kel

    Er, are you serious? Why ask Josh or SC a question that only Massimo Pigliucci could answer (if only he paused to consider it, of course)? This is tantamount to holding a debate on how many angels could dance atop a pinhead.

    I don’t see how I was asking them a question for Pigliucci. Rather I was asking how they see such discrimination as how it ought to compel people to act.

  232. 232
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Holy shit, but that was an excellent post on your blog, SC. Not only crisply argued but really well written. I’m sorry I didn’t see it earlier.

    Thanks! Coyne linked to it, before I became hersona non grata. :)

  233. 233
    'Tis Himself

    Good blog post, SC.

  234. 234
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Rather I was asking how they see such discrimination as how it ought to compel people to act.

    Honestly.

    How do you think? Not acting like Pigliucci did would be a good start. Not dismissing the experiences of discrimination atheists face. Not scolding them for drawing parallels to other civil rights movements. Not accusing them of insulting other minority groups. Not characterizing their experiences of discrimination as “not real.” And not playing Behavior Cop in such a way as to add fuel to the fire for the majority of the public who’s already shitting all over atheists for merely existing.

    You couldn’t imagine that without my help?

  235. 235
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    hersona non grata. :)

    Snorfle!

  236. 236
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    I think that if Pigliucci appreciated reality and our goals, he would stop slamming us.

    And the sad fact is that so far as I can tell, he doesn’t appreciate these goals. I was one of the commentators on Pigliucci’s blog who contended that many approaches can be useful, including the confrontational, in-your-face style that he condemns. What did he reply? That “our focus” should be the middle ground believers and that we wouldn’t convince them by being confrontational. Hello? What about moving a Overton window a notch or two? Or calling out the fundamentalists who try to write their lunacy into the law?

    Once again, Pigliucci felt entitled to decide what was and wasn’t a valid approach for atheists, patronising the rest of the movement.

  237. 237
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Irene, you did yeoman’s work on Pigliucci’s blog. You moved heaven and earth to tip-toe around his overly sensitive insult detector, too. And he’s unmoved.

    This is why I characterize him as an adversary, not merely useless. He’s impervious to the real experiences of others, and he cares far more about his standards of taste and etiquette—and how they keep him ingratiated among people whose approval he values—then he cares about being intellectually or morally consistent on this topic.

    So fuck him.

  238. 238
    'Tis Himself

    Many faitheists are quite willing to be accommodating to goddists but have a strong aversion to being accommodating towards gnu atheists. Apparently we’re keeping people believing in gawd, not Pope Palpatine or Pat Robertson.

  239. 239
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Josh: Thank you, kind sir. ^^

  240. 240
    John Morales

    [semi-OT]

    Over at Massimo’s blog:

    Michael De Dora said…

    Why do so many commenters at Pharyngula use such vulgar language? It seems like every other comment is “F this, F that.” Jeez. I never see that kind of thing here or on many other blogs. Does PZ create that kind of atmosphere?
    December 28, 2011 12:23 PM

    <snicker>

  241. 241
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    than he cares.

    Ugh. I can’t believe I made that mistake. I’m furious with myself. :) Next thing you know I’m going to start writing, “You would of.”

  242. 242
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Good blog post, SC.

    Thanks to you, too!

    ***

    Over at Massimo’s blog:…

    Oh, F De Dora. :P

  243. 243
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh, I know John, isn’t De Dora’s tone trolling a scream? He knows full well what the score is here. He’s just sucking up to Massimo.

  244. 244
    Ing

    Why do so many commenters at Pharyngula use such vulgar language? It seems like every other comment is “F this, F that.” Jeez. I never see that kind of thing here or on many other blogs. Does PZ create that kind of atmosphere?

    I would propose, dear sir, that it is Massimo who creates that kind of atmosphere. And do go fuck yourself.

  245. 245
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Oh, I love it, “F this and F that.” As if he’s too delicate to say the word fuck. Jesus Christ. The world is full of Stepford People.

  246. 246
    'Tis Himself

    If De Dora doesn’t like the swearing at Pharyngula then he doesn’t have to come here. Nobody is holding a gun to his head and ordering him to read one of the most popular atheist blogs.

  247. 247
    Kel

    How do you think?

    That’s the problem, when it comes to a matter of privilege, the problem is a lack of appreciation for the circumstances. I don’t think that saying Pigliucci is privileged is sufficient reason to realise his whole approach is wrong and that he should STFU; I think as critical thinkers we owe more to reasoned discourse than that. And in what approaches work and what don’t, and to what extent the atheist movement has in parallel in the fight for black and gay rights are questions that should be up for substantiated and reasoned argumentation. That some people experience problems doesn’t necessarily mean these problems are so widespread that only a fool would deny it, or that the fights for atheist movements are going to be the same or play out the same way.

    For the record, I loved The God Delusion and The End Of Faith and I think that they have put strong voices for rationalism into the public arena and done a good job of consciousness raising. And, for the record, I think there’s far too many people whose contribution is little more than telling others they’re doing it wrong (Chris Mooney and Michael Ruse come to mind). And, heck, I’ve been a frequent poster here for years and defended this place more than enough times when the tone is criticised. Though I do worry that reasonable criticism of the new atheism is being dismissed along with the vast amounts of unreasonable criticism too. Of course there needs to be dissenting voices!

  248. 248
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Kel:

    Though I do worry that reasonable criticism of the new atheism is being dismissed along with the vast amounts of unreasonable criticism too. Of course there needs to be dissenting voices!

    What in bleeding hell does that have to do with Pigliucci? You think his criticism is reasonable?

    I explained at length above why I think he’s a lost cause. I gave you my reasons for writing him off, and for treating him as an adversary. He’s incorrigible. He’s had this stuff pointed out to him for years and yet he persists. What about that isn’t clear to you? What about that seems reasonable to you? What about that indicates to you that this is a good example of reasonable internal criticism being ignored?

  249. 249
    'Tis Himself

    Though I do worry that reasonable criticism of the new atheism is being dismissed along with the vast amounts of unreasonable criticism too. Of course there needs to be dissenting voices!

    The problem is the criticism seems to be “you’re doing it wrong” and “you’re not helping.” Recently there was an accommodationist at Greta Christina’s blog complaining that the “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” billboards were too confrontational. Apparently doing anything more than singing “Kumbaya” with the goddists is too confrontational for some of these folks. That’s not reasonable criticism.

  250. 250
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Massimo:

    Does PZ create that kind of atmosphere?

    Can I get a Fuck Yeah?

    What?! You tryin’ to say there’s something wrong with that?

  251. 251
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Hilarious:

    ay caro massimo, You took us (me) back to french revolution times. It is not hard to imagine Greta Christina, or Benson as females Fouches, and Dennett and Hitchens, posthumously (RIP) as enforcers of the Culte de la Raison, with advice from Harris (in the background) and Dawkins as a new Berthier leading an atheist comando to capture the Pope (not likely though as Dawkins missed his chance when the Pope visited England).

    Oh, totally. That’s not at all hard to imagine. If you’re…a person with a strong imagination.

    ***

    I don’t think that saying Pigliucci is privileged is sufficient reason to realise his whole approach is wrong and that he should STFU;

    Are you really this confused? If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was an intentional strawman. I get that it isn’t, but all I can say is that maybe you should read some of the prior threads on this, here and at B&W.

  252. 252
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    ‘Tis Himself, OM:

    The problem is the criticism seems to be “you’re doing it wrong” and “you’re not helping.”

    But we’re not helping.

    I mean, not intentionally.

    Our goals are different. Our goals are partly selfish (in that we’re simply amusing ourselves at the expense of theists) and partly not-selfish (in that we hope to help dismantle the aura of mysticism around religion).

    We’re not trying to help those who just want to get along. Because that’s not what we want.

    So in that case, their criticism is correct.

    It’s also just stupid.

  253. 253
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    “Does PZ create that kind of atmosphere?”

    You think? Must be good for traffic and ads revenues. (This isn’t a slur, btw, PZ is on record as saying that he makes a substantial amount of money from his blog.)

    He is?

    PZ’s profiting from our Fing! He’s a cyberpimp!

  254. 254
    'Tis Himself

    That’s a good point, nigel. We’re not helping them, they see us as hindering them, so they want us to STFU so they can play nice with the goddists.

    You’re also right in pointing out our goals aren’t their goals. They want atheists to be accepted by goddists. We’d like that too, but more importantly we want goddism to lose its privileged position in society. At least that’s what I want.

  255. 255
    'Tis Himself

    PZ’s profiting from our Fing! He’s a cyberpimp!

    From each according to his abilities (forget about the rest).

  256. 256
    Kel

    You think his criticism is reasonable?

    A lot of the time, yes! I don’t think he’s always right, indeed I’ve made points of criticism on his blog before. But he does have substance in his criticisms and people would do well to take them seriously. Do you think his critiques of Sam Harris’ book The Moral Landscape, for example, are confused beyond redemption? Do you think that his critiques of Dawkins’ use of science to answer the God hypothesis are so fundamentally flawed that he’s just another distracting voice?

    I don’t agree with Pigliucci on everything, but to write him off entirely is a big mistake in my books.

    Are you really this confused? If I didn’t know better, I’d think this was an intentional strawman. I get that it isn’t, but all I can say is that maybe you should read some of the prior threads on this, here and at B&W.

    I’m more than familiar with Pigliucci’s point of view and criticisms of the new atheism. The fact that Pigliucci often gets branded an accomodationist, for example, suggests that people should spend more time trying to understand what he’s saying.

  257. 257
    PZ Myers

    PZ’s profiting from our Fing! He’s a cyberpimp!

    F harder! How will I make the payments on my Porsche if you don’t F more?

    <cracks whip>

  258. 258
    Ing

    Do you think that his critiques of Dawkins’ use of science to answer the God hypothesis are so fundamentally flawed that he’s just another distracting voice?

    Uh yeah?

  259. 259
    Kel

    So where does he go wrong in that, Ing?

  260. 260
    'Tis Himself

    The fact that Pigliucci often gets branded an accomodationist, for example, suggests that people should spend more time trying to understand what he’s saying.

    Okay, how does Pigliucci differ from a common or garden accommodationist? He doesn’t know the words to “Kumbaya”?

  261. 261
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    A lot of the time, yes! I don’t think he’s always right, indeed I’ve made points of criticism on his blog before. But he does have substance in his criticisms and people would do well to take them seriously

    Jesus fucking Christ, Kel. It was soooooo obvious that I was restricting my question to whether you thought this particular criticism of gnu atheists by Pigliuicci was reasonable. Not whether you thought the universe of possible critiques by M. Pigliucci was reasonable. I even spelled it out:

    He’s got some great ideas on many issues, but on this one he’s stubborn, intellectually dishonest, and shot through with emotional and aesthetic prejudice against gnu atheists. I don’t see that there’s anything to do with that other than to point it out and push back.

    There. I bolded it for you. Is that clear enough?

    I’m getting really pissed at you. You’re not even reading what I write and you’re attacking me for shit I didn’t say, and calling me up short for “missing” points I actually made. What’s your problem?

  262. 262
    Ing

    Not reading it I find it hard to imagine what criticism you can label someone for wanting to use science to answer the god hypothesis. It seems right off the bat a silly and special pleading argument.

  263. 263
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    And don’t even pull anymore bullshit excuse-making before you respond to the substance, Kel. Don’t. Even. You’ve been given more than enough and you’re not reciprocating.

  264. 264
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    F harder! How will I make the payments on my Porsche if you don’t F more?

    I must escape this horror! I know – I’ll embrace the pure, the inFable!

  265. 265
    chigau (違う)

    I still read Skeptical Inquirer.
    It’s been years since I’ve read one of Pigliucci’s articles.
    Unless I have insomnia.

  266. 266
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Do you think that his critiques of Dawkins’ use of science to answer the God hypothesis are so fundamentally flawed that he’s just another distracting voice?

    It’s completely tangential to this discussion, of course, but I don’t believe there is such a thing as the God hypothesis. The idea that there is rests on an exceedingly broad and silly use of the word “hypothesis” which I don’t accept. There’s no coherent notion of any god about which any scientific hypotheses could be formed.

    So his critique is fundamentally flawed from prior to the outset.

  267. 267
    Kel

    So his critique is fundamentally flawed from prior to the outset.

    Funnily enough, that’s roughtly what Pigliucci argues about it.

    that I was restricting my question to whether you thought this particular criticism of gnu atheists by Pigliuicci was reasonable

    Sorry, I got confused by comments like: “I meant that only about the Pigliuccis, the Stedmans, and the Mooneys of the world.”, “I don’t think Pigliucci is worth any effort except loudly decrying his bad faith argumentation.”, “He’s got some great ideas on many issues, but on this one he’s stubborn, intellectually dishonest, and shot through with emotional and aesthetic prejudice against gnu atheists.” I thought you were talking about Pigliucci’s criticism of the new atheists, not just this particular example.

    I’m getting really pissed at you.

    Only now?

  268. 268
    articulett

    My guess is that, because Pigliucci lacks a sense of humor, he doesn’t seem to understand the power it has to change minds.

    Greta, however, does:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2009/05/28/is-it-okay-to-mock-religion/

    Therefore, I think we can all agree that the accommodationists should not attempt to use humor, wit, or sarcasm in trying to achieve whatever it is they are trying to achieve. It’s not a tool they seem to understand.

    But, from a historical perspective, it seems to be one of the most persuasive and kindest ways to bring about change. Yes, people might get their feelings hurt by having their sacred beliefs giggled at– but one day, if they are lucky, they may join in the merriment and be able to laugh at the superstitions that once caused them so much angst.

  269. 269
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Fuck you Kel. I engaged you in good faith, and I was clear and explicit.

  270. 270
    Kel

    So his critique is fundamentally flawed from prior to the outset.

    That’s not his critique, you’ve just argued one huge straw man, yourself (funnily enough, your criticism of the God hypothesis is close to what Pigliucci’s criticism of the use of the God hypothesis).

    Thanks for illustrating my point, SC. ;)

  271. 271
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Funnily enough, that’s roughtly what Pigliucci argues about it.

    I don’t think so. But feel free to provide a link or quotation if you believe this is the argument Pigliucci’s making.

  272. 272
    Kel

    Fuck you Kel. I engaged you in good faith, and I was clear and explicit.

    Bullshit, Josh. If one can’t ever be mistaken in my interpretation of another without it being a personal insult, then you’re not engaging in good faith. You’re just looking for the moment to get outraged and claim misrepresentation. There’s what I perceived you to be saying, and what you thought you were saying. I can be mistaken, just as people have with me multiple times in this thread. The difference being is that I don’t feel that’s justification to throw insults and write off everyone else as being intellectually dishonest.

    People get stuff wrong, people sometimes misunderstand what others are saying. This is why we have the principle of charity; smart people can get things wrong and not quite get the point without it being intellectual dishonesty. If we can’t give others the benefit of the doubt or try to work our way towards an understanding, what the fuck are we doing with the pretence of a debate? Might as well be a sermon!

  273. 273
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That’s not his critique,

    Wait, didn’t you just say it was?

    you’ve just argued one huge straw man, yourself

    WHAT?

    (funnily enough, your criticism of the God hypothesis is close to what Pigliucci’s criticism of the use of the God hypothesis).

    Wait, didn’t you just say it wasn’t?

    Thanks for illustrating my point, SC. ;)

    Uh… OK, Kel.

  274. 274
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I gave you the benefit of the doubt, Kel. I even explained it to you explicitly. I bolded my goddamn post. Even if I was unclear in my signals (which I might have been, of course), I took the time to clarify.

    And yet you still pulled bullshit on me. What the hell do you expect me to think? What would you do if you were in my place?

  275. 275
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Sigh. For the benefit of Kel, let’s not only dot our I’s, but bar our T’s and tilde our N’s, shall we?

    “I thought you were talking about Pigliucci’s criticism of the new atheists, not just this particular example.”

    No, what a few of us are disgusted of, here, is not just this particular example, but the whole of Pigliucci’s angry, irrational stance on the subject of the so-called New Atheists. It doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate what he has to say on other subjects — when he criticises the religionists instead of trying to lecture other atheists, he has some very interesting things to say.

  276. 276
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Jeezis. Thank you Irene. But I think that was pretty damned clear even before you took the time to explain it yet again. For pete’s sake, this isn’t that difficult. And Kel wonders why I’ve lost my temper.

  277. 277
    Kel

    I don’t think so. But feel free to provide a link or quotation if you believe this is the argument Pigliucci’s making.

    I didn’t say it is the argument, I said close to the argument. But anyways: “because gods don’t make for hypotheses, they are too vague and vacuous for that.”

  278. 278
    Kel

    And yet you still pulled bullshit on me.

    Don’t get so indignant about it. After all @212: “No. Fuck you.”
    #214 “SC: Your and Pigliucci’s failure to comprehend this reality when it’s presented to you is morally problematic.” You: “This.”

    I’m finding it hard to think that you were truly arguing in good faith when you tell me you think I’m denying reality, and doing so in a morally problematic way. Go on, show me what it is I’m denying and how it’s morally problematic. Show me that I’m the one who is arguing in bad faith here. People can miss the point and be wrong, but that’s no reason to get righteous about it. Just put me down as one of those irredeemable people, it would be easier than having to put up with the pretence that your engaging me in good faith.

  279. 279
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    “because gods don’t make for hypotheses, they are too vague and vacuous for that.”

    That’s correct, if I’m reading him right. Therefore dismissable as nonsense – a vague and vacuous proposition is not a meaningful proposition. If Pigliucci is saying more generally that Dawkins is too gentle and generous with god claims, I agree, but this hardly helps the accommodationist cause. But then I don’t understand your charges in #271, especially that of strawmanning, when I hadn’t manned at all, straw or otherwise.

  280. 280
    Kel

    If Pigliucci is saying more generally that Dawkins is too gentle and generous with god claims, I agree, but this hardly helps the accommodationist cause.

    He’s not saying that Dawkins is too gentle and generous, but he’s going at the question with the wrong tools.

    And when is Pigliucci an accomodationist? He’s very strong in his critiques of religion and the God question.

    But then I don’t understand your charges in #271, especially that of strawmanning, when I hadn’t manned at all, straw or otherwise.

    “his critique is fundamentally flawed” <- that was what I thought was the strawman as what you said was not his critique. But if I misread you, I apologise.

  281. 281
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Go on, show me what it is I’m denying and how it’s morally problematic.

    What’s happened to you, Kel? You asked:

    For a long time, Massimo Pigliucci was a professor at the University of Tennessee. Or is that still to privileged for you? ;)

    The point had already been made by GC in her post and by numerous links on this blog and comments in this thread that yes, his experience has been marked by privilege and that he’s been obstinate in his cluelessness while cluelessly criticizing. It had also been made by Irene and others to him in his own thread and dismissed by him. Dismissing, minimizing, and trivializing people’s experiences in the face of the evidence to try to score a point against gnus is wrong. Then you suggested that it was our responsibility to somehow drill this into your privileged heads. Arrogant and wrong. Recognize your privilege and do the research. Read, at the very least.

  282. 282
    chigau (違う)

    “jth” thing
    “jth” bit
    priceless

  283. 283
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    He’s not saying that Dawkins is too gentle and generous, but he’s going at the question with the wrong tools.

    At what question? This is not a scientific question. There is no question. There is no proposition. There’s just nonsense.

    Dawkins is being too gentle and generous in humoring a “god hypothesis.” It appears that Pigliucci is agreeing with me here, as you’ve said.

    “his critique is fundamentally flawed” <- that was what I thought was the strawman as what you said was not his critique.

    Look, if he’s saying that notions of “god” are conceptually vacuous and therefore not amenable to hypotheses or evidence, I agree with that. He should say it more often. You talked about “the God hypothesis” as though it was something to which he’d stipulated, and I was responding to that. But it seems you misrepresented him.

  284. 284
    Kel

    My post was to show that Massimo had indeed been to those areas.

    Dismissing, minimizing, and trivializing people’s experiences in the face of the evidence to try to score a point against gnus is wrong.

    Show me where I am doing this…

    . Then you suggested that it was our responsibility to somehow drill this into your privileged heads. Arrogant and wrong. Recognize your privilege and do the research.

    In #208 I point out that I’m lucky enough to live somewhere where the question is to the point of being trivial to a lot of people is surely me recognising my privilege. Do I have to say it, I live in a society where for a lot of people it doesn’t fucking matter. 9% of people in Australia go to Church on a regular basis. Less than one in 10! The extent to which religion in thrust upon me is that I occasionally get church flyers for a local church in with restaurant menus and pages advertising meditation groups. I realise I’m very lucky, and I’m very aware of many of the horror stories that people have with religion.

    So I would really really really like it if you would show me where I’m denying that these cases exist. If pointing out that Massimo lived and worked in Tennessee is the best you have to show me that I’m denying reality in a morally problematic way, then I don’t think you have much of a real case. Show me where I’m saying that religious intolerance is not an issue, other than it’s not really an issue for me (which again, to me, sounds like a recognition of my personal privilege).

  285. 285
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Just put me down as one of those irredeemable people,

    So you can’t learn?

    And when is Pigliucci an accomodationist?

    Is that a joke?

  286. 286
    Kel

    He should say it more often.

    I didn’t think he’s kept his views on the matter secret.

    You talked about “the God hypothesis” as though it was something to which he’d stipulated, and I was responding to that.

    No, I meant that Dawkins is the one putting forward the God hypothesis, and Pigliucci’s critique is of Dawkins talking about the issue.

    But it seems you misrepresented him.

    Really?

  287. 287
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    “Perhaps someone should make a comment on his blog informing him about instances of persecution for being atheists. See what he says,…”

  288. 288
    Kel

    So you can’t learn?

    I like to think I can, but I don’t see the point of even bothering to try if I’m going to be accused of arguing in bad faith any time I don’t get something.

    Honestly, I really don’t like the idea of making other people angry. I’m going to be wrong and I’m going to try to argue my case even when I’m wrong because if I think I’m right then of course I’m going to argue my case, and because I’m human with biases and sometimes not being able to grasp where people are coming from that sometimes I’ll inevitably misrepresent other people and miss the point. If in my humanness and my limited capacity I’m going to cause people to get angry with me, I’d prefer them not to be the ones who I argue with. I’ve lost friends over arguments that went too far…

    Is that a joke?

    I think it’s a joke that people put the word accommodationist anywhere near Pigliucci’s name.

  289. 289
    Kel

    “Perhaps someone should make a comment on his blog informing him about instances of persecution for being atheists. See what he says,…”

    So my morally-problematic denial of reality is not keeping track of the comments on Massimo’s blog?

  290. 290
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I didn’t think he’s kept his views on the matter secret.

    His view is: There is no coherent concept of any deity. The vacuous notion cannot form the basis for hypotheses and we can’t adduce evidence in its favor because there’s no “it.” It’s nonsense. So to speak of a “god hypothesis” is humoring and dignifying nonsense.

    Correct or not?

    No, I meant that Dawkins is the one putting forward the God hypothesis, and Pigliucci’s critique is of Dawkins talking about the issue.

    I’m not sure what this means. If it’s something other than Dawkins too-gently humoring believers in vague and vacuous nonsense by characterizing their nonsense as a “hypothesis,” please explain.

    Really?

    Yes. Does he recognize a meaningful “god hypothesis” or not? You suggested he does, but then quoted from him suggesting he doesn’t.

  291. 291
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Kel, you are dicing this so finely that it’s not discernable any more what you are arguing for or against. If what you are saying is that Massimo Pigliucci has some valid points in his criticism of New Atheist, please, enlighten us. Give us relevant quotes in his posts, if there are any.

    If however you are merely asking that others take the time to educate you on the subject of discrimination against atheism because, as you yourself recognise, you don’t get to experience discrimination, then the only answer possible is are you joking?

  292. 292
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    So my morally-problematic denial of reality is not keeping track of the comments on Massimo’s blog?

    Your problematic and questionable behavior has to do with your assumption that no one had done that on Massimo’s blog while you were perfectly content to pass judgment and snark at people here. When, in fact, they had made such comments.

    I pointed this out to you before. Your reflexive, knee-jerk charity to Pigliucci, with no charity at all to the other side. I don’t believe for a moment that you don’t understand this.

  293. 293
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    So stop bullshitting us Kel.

  294. 294
    Kel

    I’m not sure what this means. If it’s something other than Dawkins too-gently humoring believers in vague and vacuous nonsense by characterizing their nonsense as a “hypothesis,” please explain.

    Dawkins in The God Delusion put forward what he called “The God Hypothesis” (p31). I was referencing Pigliucci’s critique of that notion, not that Pigliucci believed in “the god hypothesis” but that one of his critiques of the “new atheism” was that of Dawkins and The God Hypothesis

    You suggested he does, but then quoted from him suggesting he doesn’t.

    I didn’t suggest he does, I mentioned his critique of Dawkins for suggesting one.

  295. 295
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    So my morally-problematic denial of reality is not keeping track of the comments on Massimo’s blog?

    It’s refusing to acknowledge Pigliucci’s stubborn denial of reality until this was virtually impossible.

    I think it’s a joke that people put the word accommodationist anywhere near Pigliucci’s name.

    From the post under consideration:

    …Now, if one’s goal is to be accepted (not just tolerated) in a society, one is more likely to achieve that goal by playing social and nice…

    …so let us be reasonable and cut some slack to the mild offenders while joining forces with them against the really dangerous ones.

  296. 296
    Kel

    Kel, you are dicing this so finely that it’s not discernable any more what you are arguing for or against.

    It’s easier to divide the world into black and white?

    If you want me to be clear, here it is: I think Pigliucci is an important voice for atheism and scepticism, and I think his critiques of the new atheism, both in arguments and substance are to be dismissed at one’s own peril. Furthermore, that if Pigliucci, or anyone else for that matter, is talking from a position of privilege, then it’s what that lack of perspective means for the arguments that’s important. The former is recognition, that we can all get together and look at our waistlines and say how privileged we are that we got to eat tonight isn’t going to make the poverty go away. So in these discussions where we are talking about strategy and how to advance our goals, privilege is only important insofar as it blinds us from seeing the efficacy of diminishing or erasing those problems.

    If what you are saying is that Massimo Pigliucci has some valid points in his criticism of New Atheist, please, enlighten us.

    I already mentioned two: Dawkins on The God Hypothesis, and Harris on The Moral Landscape. On the latter, he had a review in Skeptic a few issues back, though a truncated review exists on Amazon.com. On the former, his book Nonsense On Stilts lays out the problem with such a hypothesis.

  297. 297
    abb3w

    @156, PZ Myers:

    Seriously, the response to New Atheist literature has been overwhelming. To deny that it has had a positive effect would be perverse.

    Sorry, PZ, this is one of the subtle points I’m apparently more cynical in my assessment on. I think the New Atheist literature and the responses are only proportionate expression of pre-existing trends. This is an effect, and positive from the preference of decreasing religious identification; but not a fundamentally novel/deep shift. So, positive, but unimpressive.

    You want to convince me you’ve a historically significant impact, rather than merely being an expression of an ongoing trend? Show the trend to unaffiliation has had a cut in the logistic curve time constant down from the historic ~27 years of the three decades before you showed up, or start increasing the fraction of atheists/agnostic/deists within the unaffiliated well above their historic ~12/17/22% levels.

    Or in harsher terms: the New Atheists may be the Ingersols, Darrows, and Sagans of this generations, and apparently nothing less– but thus far, also nothing more. (Also granted: I’m certainly not even that.) That doesn’t mean that I think you should stop trying; it merely means that I think you’ve harder work to face. Where’s the godsforsaking curve’s inflection point?

    @186, pj:

    Would you care to explain what RWA, SDO and GSS stand for?

    @194, ‘Tis Himself, OM:

    RWA – Romance Writers of America
    SDO – Solar Dynamics Observatory
    GSS – Global Supply Solutions

    Heheheheh. No. Right Wing Authoritarianism, Social Dominance Orientation, and the General Social Survey. The keyword “Altemeyer” might have allowed turning up two of the three via Google. Note, the acronyms are sociological jargon, and should not be assumed exactly congruent to conventional use. In particular, the sense of “Right Wing” is discongruent to usual conventions, as Communism is usually considered “Left Wing”. For an introduction to RWA/SDO, see Altemeyer’s free PDF book. The Hunsberger/Altmeyer study of atheists is not free, but makes both hopeful and sobering reading. For an introduction to the GSS, see the Wikipedia entry, Razib Kahn’s blog entries, or start playing with it yourself at Berkeley’s Survey Documentation and Analysis website.

    @189, Azkyroth:

    You are giving Pigliucci waaaaayyyyy too much credit here.

    Probably. But grazing the edge of the zone with an accidental discharge while drunk and blindfolded still counts toward scoring.

    That said, yes, I regard his theses with deep doubt. That doesn’t prevent stopped clock accuracy, nor recognition of same.

  298. 298
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Dawkins in The God Delusion put forward what he called “The God Hypothesis” (p31).

    I’m aware of this. Again, my criticism of this is that it is too generous to believers: god notions are vague and vacuous and can’t form the basis for hypotheses / be amenable to evidence. They should simply be dismissed, with prejudice.

    I was referencing Pigliucci’s critique of that notion,

    Which you’ve now suggested more than once is roughly the same as mine. Is it the same or not?

    not that Pigliucci believed in “the god hypothesis” but that one of his critiques of the “new atheism” was that of Dawkins and The God Hypothesis

    Again, is this critique the same as mine or not? You asked:

    Do you think that his critiques of Dawkins’ use of science to answer the God hypothesis are so fundamentally flawed that he’s just another distracting voice?

    This suggested that Pigliucci accepted the validity/existence of “the God hypothesis” but criticized Dawkins’ use of science to answer it. I then challenged the idea of a god hypothesis itself, and you replied that Pigliucci did the same (which the quotation you provided seemed to support). Which is it?

  299. 299
    Kel

    It’s refusing to acknowledge Pigliucci’s stubborn denial of reality until this was virtually impossible.

    Wait, what do you think the alternative is? I say something, I’m shown otherwise, and I change my position. Isn’t that what you wanted me to do? Or is it morally problematic that it took showing me to change my mind?

    I’m really confused here, SC.

  300. 300
    Kel

    Which you’ve now suggested more than once is roughly the same as mine. Is it the same or not?

    Roughly. My point was that by going after The God Hypothesis as if it was Pigliucci’s position was the straw man, and nowhere did I mean to suggest that was Pigliucci’s position. “his critique is fundamentally flawed” [ephasis added] was what I said was the straw man.

  301. 301
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I say something, I’m shown otherwise, and I change my position. Isn’t that what you wanted me to do?

    Honestly, I don’t think you should have to be shown this particular thing. Why have you expended no energy to learn? How could you have been so oblivious to all of the information presented on this blog over the years you’ve commented here? If you haven’t been paying attention, why would you weigh in?

    It should change his perception that atheists don’t experience real discrimination.

    If he doesn’t think that atheists experience real discrimination, then he’s wrong.

    This was @ #219. Your first (winky) comment was #159, and it suggested that Pigliucci was not ignorant about discrimination against atheists in this part of the US. This conversation should never have had to take place.

  302. 302
    John Morales

    [Datum] Read the comments on this opinion piece in Australia’s national broadcaster: The Bible deserves a place in the national curriculum, O USAnians, and envy Oz.

    (The times, they are a-changin’)

  303. 303
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Roughly. My point was that by going after The God Hypothesis as if it was Pigliucci’s position was the straw man, and nowhere did I mean to suggest that was Pigliucci’s position. “his critique is fundamentally flawed” [ephasis added] was what I said was the straw man.

    I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. You presented his critique on a way that suggested he accepted the reality/validity of said “hypothesis.” I said that the idea of a god hypothesis is wrong, so any critique of any means of “answering” such a hypothesis doesn’t get off the ground. I was responding to your characterization – if this was a straw man, you made him. And it seems from your later comments that you did. You haven’t answered my question, and I can’t be sure where Pigliucci stands on this. Nor do I care, particularly. I’m not impressed with the quality of his thought.

    Good night, all.

  304. 304
    Kel

    Honestly, I don’t think you should have to be shown this particular thing.

    And there’s the problem I have, what we assume as what people will take away isn’t necessarily so. So instead of getting righteous about it, sometimes it helps to explain things. If we’re not going to do that, then why the fuck do we even pretend to have discussions on the matter?

    Why have you expended no energy to learn? How could you have been so oblivious to all of the information presented on this blog over the years you’ve commented here?

    Are you saying I haven’t learnt? Saying that Massimo has lived in such an area doesn’t mean that I’m somehow ignorant of the discrimination that’s going on. Which is why I asked how the privilege should change his approach to the new atheism, that hypothetically how such information would discredit the notion that we should have a respectful dialogue. If answering that is beneath you, then pointing out the privilege is a waste of time. Of course it exists, so what?

    and it suggested that Pigliucci was not ignorant about discrimination against atheists in this part of the US.

    Now you’re reading more into it than was there. It was meant to convey that Massimo had done what Nick had demanded of him. I want my $100!

  305. 305
    Kel

    You presented his critique on a way that suggested he accepted the reality/validity of said “hypothesis.”

    That you interpreted me that way doesn’t mean that’s what I intended to say. Persisting with saying that I’m the one who misrepresented Massimo is laughable.

    What are you trying to prove? That you can enshrine your lack of reading comprehension as a product of some pernicious attempt by me to call you out on a straw-man? WTF?

  306. 306
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Before I go:

    Do you think that his critiques of Dawkins’ use of science to answer the God hypothesis

    It’s just occurred to me that you might be suggesting that Pigliucci is justifiably criticizing the use of science to “answer” something meaningfully classified as a hypothesis.

    But no, you couldn’t be doing that. That would be monumentally stupid.

    Good night again. :)

  307. 307
    Kel

    tbh, SC, I’m not sure what we’re arguing about anymore, it seems to be argument for the sake of argument.

  308. 308
    dale

    First of all I want to say that I’m a fan of the “Rationally Speaking” podcast. It’s not too flashy and the contents range from “interesting” to “rewind and concentrate on what’s being said” all the way to “What? Get a job!” It’s about what I’d expect from a good philosophy podcast. It may not be your cup of tea, but you should check out 2 or 3 random podcasts before decrying all that is Massimo Pigliucci.

    That being said, I think the first half of his blog entry is surprisingly bad.

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.

    This is probably the worst line in the article. First of all I don’t think that many atheists are claiming that they’re suffering at the same scale and scope as

    blacks were suffering in the South for a couple of centuries

    A couple of centuries ago blacks were property. How many atheists are claiming to be refugees from an atheist auction? He’s using a straw man and he won’t let it go, even in the comments.

    Also, not being allowed to advance in a company or losing custody of your children or getting beaten up in the parking lot is real discrimination. Denying that as a real problem is more ivory tower than you usually see out of him.

    It’s a shame that his first few paragraphs are so terrible because much of what he says has validity. It’s not gospel, but some of it warrants notice.

  309. 309
    consciousness razor

    I was referencing Pigliucci’s critique of that notion,

    Where can I find that? I take it that you have some idea what this critique is like, but I’d rather get it straight from the horse’s mouth. If words like scientism, scientistic, scientismicity, etc., are used even once, I promise not to chuckle too loudly.

    As for Harris’ ideas in The Moral Landscape, a criticism of it is as irrelevant to the gnu-bashing as a criticism of Dawkins on “the god hypothesis.” So I don’t understand why you bring that up now, but you could cite that too if you think it’s important.

  310. 310
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    And there’s the problem I have, what we assume as what people will take away isn’t necessarily so. So instead of getting righteous about it, sometimes it helps to explain things.

    If you are ignorant about a subject, ask questions or simply read and learn. Don’t make winky interventions and expect people to educate you patiently.

    Saying that Massimo has lived in such an area doesn’t mean that I’m somehow ignorant of the discrimination that’s going on.

    I can’t take this anymore. You’ve crossed the intellectual-dishonesty threshold. Or the stupidity threshold. Either way, good night.

  311. 311
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    That you interpreted me that way doesn’t mean that’s what I intended to say. Persisting with saying that I’m the one who misrepresented Massimo is laughable.

    Kel: “Do you think that his critiques of Dawkins’ use of science to answer the God hypothesis…”

    Pigliucci (quoted by Kel!): “gods don’t make for hypotheses, they are too vague and vacuous for that.”

    THESE ARE INCONSISTENT.

  312. 312
    Kel

    SC, if there’s an inconsistency, then the bare minimum of charitable interpretations would be that perhaps you’re misreading one – especially when I have explained multiple times what I meant by that sentence. I’ve explained multiple times that what I meant by that sentence what Massimo’s critique of Dawkins for using science to investigate God; that doesn’t imply that Massimo thinks God is a general hypothesis, but that he’s critiquing Dawkins on the matter.

    I could understand that you were unsure the first time, but that I’ve explained myself multiple times and that you accused me of being the one misrepresenting Massimo is pathetic. It’s the height of hubris!

  313. 313
    Kel

    Grow up, SC.

  314. 314
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I’ve explained multiple times that what I meant by that sentence what Massimo’s critique of Dawkins for using science to investigate God

    There is no meaningful God concept. A reasoned critique of using science to investigate these vague and vacuous notions is based on this recognition.

    that doesn’t imply that Massimo thinks God is a general hypothesis,

    Yes, from what you’ve quoted (as opposed to your initial question), it doesn’t appear that he thinks “God” is any sort of hypothesis or meaningful notion. And this, if I’m reading him right, is correct.

    but that he’s critiquing Dawkins on the matter.

    If he’s criticizing Dawkins, it should be for going along with the notion that this is a “hypothesis” or meaningful concept. If he could justifiably argue that it was, which he does not appear to be trying to do, science would naturally be the only means of evaluating it.

  315. 315
    Kel

    If he’s criticizing Dawkins, it should be for going along with the notion that this is a “hypothesis” or meaningful concept.

    His criticisms are two-fold, first that it’s impossible to have a meaningful God hypothesis. Second, that such questions are beyond the domain of science to answer – his charge is that it’s overextending the use of science into areas which are best served by other methods of inquiry, namely philosophy.

    Whether or not this is correct (I have some concerns, and I have raised them on the linked thread), it represents a reasoned and meaningful criticism of the new atheism.

  316. 316
    John Morales

    Kel:

    His criticisms are two-fold, first that it’s impossible to have a meaningful God hypothesis. Second, that such questions are beyond the domain of science to answer – his charge is that it’s overextending the use of science into areas which are best served by other methods of inquiry, namely philosophy.

    [...] it represents a reasoned and meaningful criticism of the new atheism.

    In your opinion.

    In mine, it’s a spurious (damn shitty) objection, given that “the new atheism” is basically just being an outspoken and unapologetic atheist, and that what he rails about is atheists not being circumspect enough for his taste.

    Bah.

  317. 317
    Kel

    In your opinion.

    Well, obviously. Who else could I write on behalf of? :P

  318. 318
    Kel

    A philosopher one night has a dream where he dreams up a refutation to Plato. He can’t believe his luck but in his excitement he forgets what that response is. The next time he has another dream, this time he dreams up the perfect refutation to Aristotle. Again, he wakes up thinking that he’s going to be hailed in history as the greatest philosopher but he forgets the response. Night after night this happens. He refutes Aquinas. He refutes Descartes. Hume. Kant. Mill. Wittgenstein.

    Fed up with not remembering this most perfect of refutations, he puts a pen and paper beside his bed, and resolves himself that as soon as he wakens he’ll write down this most ultimate of arguments. Sure enough, that night he again dreams of the most perfect refutation and this time he’s able to write it down the second he wakes up. The paper read “Well, that’s your opinion!”

  319. 319
    consciousness razor

    So I’ll assume the “critique” is all in the comments in that thread.

    Okay. Let’s start here. Pigliucci:

    Take Jerry’s famous statement that plumbing *is* science, for instance. Or Dawkins’ contention that it is *science* (rather than a combination of science and philosophy) that refutes “the God hypothesis.” Or Rosenberg’s claim that *science* tells us that the consciousness, free will and morality are illusions (while in fact these conclusions are highly contentious and simply cannot be settled scientifically). Or Harris’ bizarre idea that moral facts are scientific facts? Or the Churchlands’ eliminativism about mental states (pain *is* the firing of C-fibers). And the examples could go on and on and on.

    I have to wonder what (if anything) he thinks philosophy can determine which doesn’t depend on scientific facts. I doubt he thinks philosophy tells us how to be plumbers — I’m pretty sure he has a different sort of problem with that claim.

    As for “the god hypothesis,” there is no such thing, so he’s correct about that. He is claiming this is a case of “scientism,” and apparently that it should be a purely philosophical matter, which I think is wrong. Scientists don’t need philosophers to use basic logic, because if you aren’t thinking logically you aren’t doing science. However, the fact that meaningless bullshit doesn’t even merit scientific investigation doesn’t mean that it’s “scientism” to notice that existence claims require evidence. If you want to wait for a philosopher rather than a scientist to say it so it won’t be considered scientism, go right ahead.

    I’m unfamiliar with Rosenberg’s arguments, so I won’t comment on them; but those all pertain to empirical claims about physical phenomena, not something philosophers can reason upon without reference to empirical evidence. In other words, science will have to settle them if they’re worth settling (not meaningless as above), and this isn’t scientism.

    Harris’ claims are only “scientism” in the sense that he claims there are moral facts. If they exist, they can be studied scientifically. If Pigliucci has a different view of morality, that’s fine, but I don’t recognize this as “scientism” at all.

    I don’t know exactly what he’s talking about with regard to anything the Churchlands have said, but in any case explaining pain is fully within the realm of science even if they’re wrong about it being C-fibers or what-have-you. So again this isn’t a case of “scientism” as I understand it. Does he think pain is magic? Is pain a real physical phenomenon? How is it going to be explained? Should we look to philosophy rather than science? What will that accomplish? None of that is explained.

  320. 320
    John Morales

    Kel, there’s a difference between fact and opinion.

    The facts are Massimo’s writings, the opinion is your interpretation of them.

    How you see his criticisms as properly summed-up as (1) there is no meaningful god-hypothesis and (b) science cannot investigate this non-existent hypothesis, when discussing a post of his wherein he inveigles against the confrontationalist approach:

    How is not this quotation espousing a false dichotomy?

    There is a huge difference between being in-your-face in the sense of taking to the streets and loudly complaining about rights you are unjustly denied and being in-your-face in the more basic sense of hurling insults at other people.

    His stated goals are laudable, but his advocated approach is risible.
    Let me go over both:

    * Separation of Church and State.

    Here it seems to me that the proven strategy is to build bridges with ecumenical or even individually religious groups with similar interests

    * Acceptance of atheism.

    Now, if one’s goal is to be accepted (not just tolerated) in a society, one is more likely to achieve that goal by playing social and nice (which does not at all mean to capitulate or compromise on principles), as opposed to constantly jeering or hurling insults at other members of said society.

    * Combating dogmatism.

    Moreover, look me in the eye and try to seriously make an argument that you’ve never seen or heard a dogmatic atheist, and we’ll have a good laugh.

    (The irony is strong, in this one)
    * Elimination (or at least reduction) of irrationalism.

    No human being is likely capable of holding completely coherent evidence-based beliefs, so let us be reasonable and cut some slack to the mild offenders while joining forces with them against the really dangerous ones.

    (Fuckin’ dhimmitude, is what he advocates)

  321. 321
    John Morales

    PS We’re “being in-your-face in the more basic sense of hurling insults at other people”.

    (This is, of course, not meant to be insulting to us.
    Why, it’s just tut-tutting!)

  322. 322
    Kel

    Kel, there’s a difference between fact and opinion.

    Well, that’s your opinion… ;)

    How you see his criticisms as properly summed-up as (1) there is no meaningful god-hypothesis and (b) science cannot investigate this non-existent hypothesis, when discussing a post of his wherein he inveigles against the confrontationalist approach

    I’m not sure how you got that. I saw his criticism of Dawkins’ arguments as that, not that they were his only criticisms.

    His stated goals are laudable, but his advocated approach is risible.

    I don’t think his approach is so risible, it sounds reasonable at face value. But evidence is what’s needed, and I’d love to see some evidence on various approaches. At times I do think that some people need to tone down criticism, like at the GAC in 2010 one of the speakers said something along the lines of “if there are any religious people in the audience, I’ll… talk… slower.” Good for a laugh, but I’d like to see how effective such an approach really is.

    Yes, I know. My opinion…

  323. 323
    John Morales

    Kel:

    Kel, there’s a difference between fact and opinion.

    Well, that’s your opinion… ;)

    Do you dispute that, then?

    I’m not sure how you got that.

    I paraphrased you.

    At times I do think that some people need to tone down criticism…

    I can see that, imagine if you or Massimo were not toning it down, eh?

    … like at the GAC in 2010 one of the speakers said something along the lines of “if there are any religious people in the audience, I’ll… talk… slower.” Good for a laugh, but I’d like to see how effective such an approach really is.

    That ain’t criticism, that’s an unveiled insult, in the usual stand-up comic mode.

    (And you claim it got a laugh; clearly, it was effective)

  324. 324
    consciousness razor

    You folks and your opinions.

    Any response Kel?

  325. 325
    Kel

    That ain’t criticism, that’s an unveiled insult, in the usual stand-up comic mode.

    It wasn’t in stand-up comic mode, nor in delivery, and was met with both cheers and jeers.

  326. 326
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    Kel, what’s interesting is that you don’t dispute that it wasn’t criticism, but rather an insult.

    (I wasn’t there, but I did take it at your word: “Good for a laugh” – if it didn’t get one, it was not good for one, was it? :) )

    PS stand-up comic mode.

  327. 327
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Probably. But grazing the edge of the zone with an accidental discharge while drunk and blindfolded still counts toward scoring.

    Except, I’m pretty sure in this case “accidental discharge” is a euphemis.

    Speaking of which, what the fuck is going on here? *looks around*

  328. 328
    Kel

    Kel, what’s interesting is that you don’t dispute that it wasn’t criticism, but rather an insult.

    It was said in an incredibly condescending way and by someone who didn’t use any humour in his presentation (or if that was his attempt at humour, he’s probably not cut out for the world of comedy.); the good for a laugh was my way of saying that I don’t necessarily object to comments like that. It’s just I think that tone of overt superiority and condescension isn’t going to win many friends among the faithful. Has smug Catholic condescension turned you more in favour of Catholicism?

  329. 329
    Kel

    Any response Kel?

    Fuck, I love boobs.

  330. 330
    Kel

    In terms of the distinction between opinion and fact, there’s inevitably going to be value judgements when it comes to interpretations of what we would reasonably say as fact. To merely reduce fact to opinion is an unjustified reduction of a distinction that is otherwise meaningful, but all our conversations are littered with our own personal interpretation. So to point out that it’s my opinion that a particular thing is that way can’t be greeted in any sense other than to say “well, duh”. The hope is that we put enough substance into our claims that it’s not merely our opinion, but a considered one.

  331. 331
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Kel,

    It’s just I think that tone of overt superiority and condescension isn’t going to win many friends among the faithful. Has smug Catholic condescension turned you more in favour of Catholicism?

    Leaving aside that it’s ludicrous to imagine a Catholic could possibly be condescending to me about their faith (it’s hard to try to be superior, when one ain’t!), condescension is just chrome — irrelevant to someone’s claims.

    (Funny enough, I do have friends amongst the faithful)

    So to point out that it’s my opinion that a particular thing is that way can’t be greeted in any sense other than to say “well, duh”.

    Yeah, it can: in the sense that it’s opinion, not fact, and (specifically) that yours ain’t congruent with mine.

    (We can (at least in principle) argue each other out of opinions)

  332. 332
    Kel

    I’m outraged, John. Outraged! Words cannot properly express just how outraged I am, but if I had to try I would say that I’m very outraged. Now you’re entitled to your own opinion but that’s no reason to be so… so outrageous!

    I’m watching you, John.

  333. 333
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Kel,

    I read you as this:

    “Yes, I’m privileged. I’m outraged. I can’t understand so can’t empathize but sympathize. But seriously now tell me how this is supposed to change how I think? How is this supposed to change how we combat this issue? Tell me now in a detailed substantial answer. Otherwise, telling people they have privilege and recognizing your privilege does no good.”
    You reek of dismissing other’s differences with statements like “That some people experience problems doesn’t necessarily mean these problems are so widespread that only a fool would deny it, or that the fights for atheist movements are going to be the same or play out the same way.”

    The thing is you are privileged because you can ignore the discrimination that’s happening. Those who are being discriminated against do not have that option. This is why I’m a gnu atheist. Because fuck holding hands and patting the backs of the fuckers who try to brainwash my child, put her at risk by not getting vaccinated and who gladly make my life hell. I have had people cuss me out trying to get groceries for my family on food stamps. I am alienated from everyone I meet because I cannot express or reveal my identity as an atheist without far reaching consequences for my family. Fuck you for dismissing my experiences.
    You also say “That’s the problem, when it comes to a matter of privilege; the problem is a lack of appreciation for the circumstances.” But the part you aren’t getting is that there are plenty of privileged people here who understand the circumstances. Are they still privileged? Yes, but they get it. They don’t defend the accommodationists, they don’t dismiss me, they don’t pity me or look down upon me but fight and give me a voice when raising my own could mean the end of my life.*
    I’m in agreement with Josh on everything except one thing. Right now, as of now, I do not see you as my ally.
    With a hearty FUCK YOU. I’m done. Just understand, this is just my opinion, ok? ;)
    This thread has been completely exasperating with you and with Strange God’s argument that reeks of a silencing tactic.

    *Maybe, maybe not literally the end of my life but it’s hard to tell in AZ. It would certainly mean life has I know it. I’ve already had to defend my right to raise my child and would most likely lose my job.

  334. 334
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    His criticisms are two-fold, first that it’s impossible to have a meaningful God hypothesis. Second, that such questions are beyond the domain of science to answer – his charge is that it’s overextending the use of science into areas which are best served by other methods of inquiry, namely philosophy.

    Gah! That’s not two-fold. That’s contradictory. “[I]t’s impossible to have a meaningful God hypothesis.” This is correct. Stop there. The notion can be dismissed, and not only by scientists, because there’s nothing there – words, vague and vacuous. Like hipplekaseuvian. “Is there hipplekaseuvian?” is not a meaningful question.

    There is no method of inquiry appropriate to answering meaningless questions. There’s no point in trying to answer meaningless questions. “Does the homeopathic ant indigo nebula sing in the fog?” There’s another question on which we can’t use science. Because it’s incoherent. It’s not an area or a realm beyond science’s reach – it’s just words that together don’t form a meaningful thought.

    If “God” were a meaningful concept, then science would be perfectly appropriate and necessary to evaluating its existence. If Pigliucci wishes to claim philosophy’s territory as “the field for the investigation of vacuous notions,” that’s his privilege, but I doubt think that’s going to gain much popularity amongst philosophers.

    *See? No cheap shots at philosophy. :)

  335. 335
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    but I [doubt] that’s going to gain much popularity amongst philosophers.

    Though I could be wrong… :)

  336. 336
    abb3w

    @181, love moderately ॐ:

    Do you mind if I add your fourteen point description of evolution to the Pharyngula Wiki?
    This means licensing it under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY-SA 3.0.

    Missed that request earlier; it’s fine by me. It certainly could use some additional work, but my supply of round tuits has been directed to other things. Putting it into a wiki would facilitate that.

    If you’re feeling cautious, you might also check in over on Fark with FloydA, who developed an earlier ten-point version that I ripped off as a starting point. He’s never objected to my doing so, so I presume he’d also have no problem. He also might be amused to hear that new variants are continuing to be replicated….

  337. 337
    Ing

    Second, that such questions are beyond the domain of science to answer – his charge is that it’s overextending the use of science into areas which are best served by other methods of inquiry, namely philosophy.

    This is the standard theist bullshit. The scientism gamble is always stupid and frankly he’s stupid for propagating it.

  338. 338
    Kel

    The thing is you are privileged because you can ignore the discrimination that’s happening.

    What am I ignoring? Again, I’m being told that I’m ignoring something that no-one can show me that I’m ignoring, and bring up privilege without showing what that privilege would otherwise prevent me to see. Sorry, but calling me privileged when I freely admit it doesn’t do anything other than to show the poverty of how some people use the word. Yes, I am very privileged. I’m also very interested in how to advance my goals in trying to reduce the negative aspects of religion, and I would really like to know the best ways of going about it.

    I really have a hard time with that I’m the only one who is actually asking “what next” and not just using privilege as some sort of metadefeater. I’ll say it again: Yes, I am privileged! Now what? That was the question I’ve been asking through the thread, because that I am privileged doesn’t mean anything. That I’m privileged in that I didn’t go hungry last night isn’t going to change the global food problems whether or not I am accused of that privilege. It makes the word absolutely trivial to use it that way; especially if it’s going to be used in a disagreement about what tactics to be used.

    I’ll ask again, what is my denial of experience blinding me from seeing pragmatic things I should do? With the poverty example, perhaps it’s a reason I should give to charities that help more, or not complain about welfare or foreign aid. The mere recognition of the privilege without action is posturing, what matters is how that privilege is blinding to action.

    Fuck you for dismissing my experiences.

    Fuck you for saying that I’m dismissing your experiences. Show me where I am doing that. Come on, fucking show me where I’m saying this kind of thing is not happening. Because there’s a lot of people saying in this thread things I am not doing, reading into things I’m not saying and arguing against an imaginary me.

    Right now, as of now, I do not see you as my ally.

    Meh. I don’t see me as an ally either. Just what am I meant to be fighting for? Which, again, comes to what I’ve been asking but the best I’ve gotten is SC saying she believes she’s going about it the right way. What happens now? In other words, what would this information that you’re saying I’m privileged as to not to see it do to how I ought to behave? If all that’s going to be said is that I should stop “defend(ing) the accommodationists” then this has been a really fucking pointless conversation.

    With a hearty FUCK YOU. I’m done.

    Meh.

    This thread has been completely exasperating with you and with Strange God’s argument that reeks of a silencing tactic.

    The last person I’m going to defend on this place is Strange Gods, so I can only answer for myself. Now what silencing tactic? Because throughout this I’ve been asking, without any adequate reply other than to say I should read more, what it is we ought to do about the situation. Again, what happens now? Because as far as I can see, the only person who has told others to STFU about anything is SC. I want more voices out there, I like that there’s a range of voices and a range of different approaches. I want the people who have had negative experiences to talk about them, I think they highlight important issues. Asking about what happens now? seems to me the next logical step, not an attempt at silencing. I genuinely want to know what I can do, because posting on a comment section on a blog (or making outraged posts on my own) doesn’t seem like anything beyond mental masturbation.

  339. 339
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Kel, I’m ignoring the rest of your blather at this point. You’ve contradicted yourself so many times on this thread that it would be wrok merely to disentangle the contradictions. But this

    Because as far as I can see, the only person who has told others to STFU about anything is SC. I want more voices out there, I like that there’s a range of voices and a range of different approaches.

    Is really just too much. I said that I wanted them to “STFU about gnus. I meant, as I’ve said many times over the past several months/years, that I want them to stop misrepresenting us; to stop with the crazy hyperbole about our actions; to stop telling us to be quiet or tone it down or whatever; to stop couching their criticisms in that dishonest “we” and “our goals” when we’ve made it clear repeatedly, and some of them have explicitly acknowledged, that that we have different goals.

    I’ve also said several times that I think there should be a range of voices and approaches, and that some approaches are suited to particular circumstances. If you knew anything about the discussion in which you’re intervening, which has been ongoing for a very long time and with which I recommended you familiarize yourself, you have to know that implying that I was telling them to shut up in general misrepresents me. If you do know this, you’re being really slimy in insinuating that. Either way, you should acknowledge that it was not accurate.

    Because throughout this I’ve been asking, without any adequate reply other than to say I should read more, what it is we ought to do about the situation.

    You received perfectly adequate replies from me, Josh, and several others. Now what? What we’re doing. Honestly, Kel, I think you’ve lost the thread here. And now I really am done with this discussion.

  340. 340
    Kel

    I said that I wanted them to “STFU about gnus.

    Exactly. “only person who has told others to STFU about anything is SC.” You told someone to STFU about gnus. That’s what I was highlighting.

  341. 341
    consciousness razor

    I’m not sure if Kel’s will bother to respond to me, so this might be a waste of time. Maybe it’s scientism. I don’t fucking know.

    Sorry, but calling me privileged when I freely admit it doesn’t do anything other than to show the poverty of how some people use the word.

    What is that supposed to mean? When you say you are priviliged, are you impoverishing the word as well?

    I’ll ask again, what is my denial of experience blinding me from seeing pragmatic things I should do?

    You’ve answered your own question by saying you do not know what kinds of discrimination others face. There are numerous things you can’t understand by simply taking your own experiences into account. So listen to others and take their experiences as seriously as you would your own. If you’re not expecting an answer to this question, but using it rhetorically to insinuate that you aren’t blind to anything, then you are in fact in denial.

    Fuck you for saying that I’m dismissing your experiences. Show me where I am doing that. Come on, fucking show me where I’m saying this kind of thing is not happening.

    How about you ask them what their fucking experiences are instead of this defensive bullshit? Or since this isn’t an especially welcome environment at the moment, stop whining and give people a chance to relate them if they are willing to do so. Don’t fucking demand it from people like it’s your fucking right. It’s not your fucking right to compile all this information to make the right decisions on behalf of them either. Just drop the whole pretense and all the defensiveness, if that is possible. If you (or Pigliucci, or whoever) think they’re doing it wrong, whatever “it” is, then you have to understand their perspective first. If you haven’t even tried to do that, then don’t even fucking pretend to know what’s best for them.

    You said this earlier:

    Would what he considers reasonable tactics be changed because of his life experience, and would it be for the better? That seems to me the heart of Massimo’s criticism – what works. And Massimo has spent time researching the matter, he’s spent time arguing the matter, and he’s put forward what approaches he thinks work. Are those approaches wrong? Would experience show him a better approach?

    It doesn’t matter how much fucking time he’s spent researching or arguing the matter in his privileged little bubble. If this is an attempt to count him as some kind of authority, it fails. There aren’t any authorities, because we’re a big, diverse group with diverse interests. So the answer to your last questions are yes and yes.

  342. 342
    Kel

    <blockquoteSo listen to others and take their experiences as seriously as you would your own.How am I not doing that?

    How about you ask them what their fucking experiences are instead of this defensive bullshit?

    Consciousness Razor, what are your fucking experiences?

    It’s not your fucking right to compile all this information to make the right decisions on behalf of them either.

    Where am I doing this?

    If you haven’t even tried to do that, then don’t even fucking pretend to know what’s best for them.

    I’m not trying to tell people what’s best for them, I’m asking what I can do. There’s a difference, I’m not telling anyone to do anything, I’m not making decisions or even trying to make decisions on behalf of another.

    So the answer to your last questions are yes and yes.

    Just saying “yes” is fucking useless. If you say yes, you need to substantiate it as to how it should change.

  343. 343
    Kel

    I’m not sure if Kel’s will bother to respond to me

    I do object to this, because when you’ve got several responses coming in, it’s hard to get to everyone. There’s only so much time in the day, and there’s life to be lived beyond this blog. So if I don’t get to everyone or every response, it’s not that I couldn’t be bothered but that there’s a lot to get to.

    Not being bothered would be coming in posting incendiary shit, then doing nothing more than pointing out the outrage. I am taking the time and effort to respond to as much as I can, despite how many “fuck you”‘s I get, or how many times I’m called intellectually dishonest or contradictory. I’m trying, and I get a whole lot of shit thrown in my face for even trying.

  344. 344
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Exactly. “only person who has told others to STFU about anything is SC.” You told someone to STFU about gnus. That’s what I was highlighting.

    That’s NOT TRUE. The thread is about Pigliucci’s response to GC, who’s responding to Stedman, Stangroom, and crew who have spent months yammering about how we’re “not helping” and telling us to shut up. That’s what this is fucking about, Kel. I am telling them to stop bashing us and telling us to shut up. I even quoted McLaren on this thread in case you were (unethically) jumping in while totally ignorant of the context. For you to present my telling them to STFU about us as being the only one you’ve seen telling anyone to shut up about anything here is outrageous.

    Seriously, go to hell.

  345. 345
    consciousness razor

    Consciousness Razor, what are your fucking experiences?

    I need to remain pseudonymous. Even if that wasn’t an issue, do you want my life story or do you have a more specific question that you could reasonably expect me to answer? I’m privileged in many of the same ways you are, as far as I can tell, so it’s not as if you could expect to gain much from me about various other perspectives anyway.

    I’m not trying to tell people what’s best for them, I’m asking what I can do.

    Do whatever you think is right.

    How about what other people can do? Remember how gnus are constantly berated for being too rude and aggressive? What are your thoughts on that? Do you think maybe a lot of them have very good reasons for being rude and aggressive, and that maybe their detractors should shut the fuck up if they don’t know what they’re talking about?

    It’s not your fucking right to compile all this information to make the right decisions on behalf of them either.

    Where am I doing this?

    Well, above, it seems like you thought this was about what you should do, not what everyone should do, which lends itself to that interpretation. And you were apparently defending Pigliucci’s bullshit that atheists aren’t facing “real” discrimination, so we shouldn’t act as if we are. Why he thinks he can tell us what discrimination we’ve faced, what responses are in good taste, what’s good for “the movement,” etc., I have no idea. But his perspective (and yours and mine) isn’t authoritative in any way.

    Just saying “yes” is fucking useless. If you say yes, you need to substantiate it as to how it should change.

    It’s as if you immediately forgot everything that came before the “yes.” If you or Pigliucci or whoever believes his research and arguments and experiences are enough, then one thing which should change is that belief.

  346. 346
    Kel

    And now I really am done with this discussion.

    I thought you said you were done, SC.

    I am telling them to stop bashing us and telling us to shut up.

    So you’re telling people who ask us to shut up to shut up? In other words, you did tell someone to shut up… which is my point. I didn’t say that you did it unjustly, only to contrast it with the accusation that I’m telling people shut up.

    Seriously, go to hell.

    lol, silly atheist inconsistent in their beliefs. ;)

  347. 347
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I never would have believed that you would be capable of this behavior, Kel. You’re so far out of line and so disingenuous it’s shocking.

  348. 348
    Kel

    And you were apparently defending Pigliucci’s bullshit that atheists aren’t facing “real” discrimination, so we shouldn’t act as if we are.

    Well I’m not defending Pigliucci’s bullshit, though reading the comments I think that people are trying to make Massimo seem like more of a clueless fool than he is. He never said that there wasn’t any discrimination, he said the experiences don’t necessarily generalise to the kinds of problems that blacks and gays have faced. Now I’m not saying anything on whether or not that’s true, I don’t know and I’m not commenting on that. In terms of trying to use reasoned arguments and work together with moderates who share the same goals of a separation of church and state and more reasoned thinking, I’m all for Massimo speaking. They’re good points to be made; especially seeing as Massimo has worked to achieve this goal.

    Do whatever you think is right.

    I try, but I get condescended to and told “fuck you” for doing so. Whatever I think is right, it seems, is so morally repugnant that it’s okay to misrepresent what I’m saying and attribute horrible things to me that I’m not doing. All based off a few sentences, heavily laced with interpretation.

    Remember how gnus are constantly berated for being too rude and aggressive?

    At times, gnus are rude and aggressive. At times, it’s oversensitivity on the part of the critic. And at times, it’s pure ad hominem with no substance.

  349. 349
    consciousness razor

    I do object to this, because when you’ve got several responses coming in, it’s hard to get to everyone.

    Oh, I didn’t mean to suggest you never replied to my earlier comment. Of course, you probably remember this: after bantering with John Morales, you responded with a link to a Tim Minchin song about boobs. Very useful.

  350. 350
    Kel

    I never would have believed that you would be capable of this behavior, Kel.

    There’s only so much condescension, misrepresentation, and personal hostility I can take. But, whatever.

    You’re so far out of line and so disingenuous it’s shocking.

    Where am I being disingenuous?

  351. 351
    Kel

    Of course, you probably remember this: after bantering with John Morales, you responded with a link to a Tim Minchin song about boobs. Very useful.

    Yes, I do remember that.

    A discussion about fact and opinion… What are we, first-year philosophy students?

  352. 352
  353. 353
    Kel

    Never gonna give you up, Consciousness Razor. Though it seems I’ve already let you down. Sorry about that.

  354. 354
    'Tis Himself

    I’m quite privileged. I’m a white, cis-hetreosexual, educated, economically comfortable, adult, white male. Atheism is one of the few areas where I’m not privileged. Because I’m an atheist I’ve been snubbed by several people I thought were friends, I’m estranged from my brother, and I had a job offer withdrawn. None of these are earth-shattering. I have a good job, I get along well with my other brother and my mother, and I have other friends who couldn’t care less about my religious beliefs or otherwise. But there have been noticeable, unpleasant consequences to my atheism.

    Now go read Aquaria’s post #60. That’s what discrimination looks like.

  355. 355
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Kel,

    I genuinely want to know what I can do, because posting on a comment section on a blog (or making outraged posts on my own) doesn’t seem like anything beyond mental masturbation.

    You have been answered previously. Let’s repeat! If you can become an activist if you can. Donate if you can. Go to conferences if you can. Participate in anyway you can in any issue/front you want to.

    I want more voices out there, I like that there’s a range of voices and a range of different approaches. I want the people who have had negative experiences to talk about them, I think they highlight important issues. Asking about what happens now? seems to me the next logical step, not an attempt at silencing.

    First off, what I said about silencing was not about you. Can you read? Having your “argument” and Strange God’s argument, which I simply said reeked of it (because how often that same argument is used for silencing) in this same thread was frustrating as hell.

    Also, if you already know there different fucking approaches pick one!

    If all that’s going to be said is that I should stop “defend(ing) the accommodationists” then this has been a really fucking pointless conversation.

    By defending those that dismiss me, you dismiss me. You have been answered several different times with several different things for you to go fucking do. If you are asking for direct instruction like donate to place A, ask for places to fucking donate. Here’s the thing you don’t fucking grasp, privileged assholes like you can donate and contribute yet still shit on people like me or ignore us completely. Allies help and do not dismiss. If you are not looking to be a better person and learn to empathize then yes bringing up privilege with you is goddamn pointless.

    I really have a hard time with that I’m the only one who is actually asking “what next” and not just using privilege as some sort of metadefeater. I’ll say it again: Yes, I am privileged! Now what? That was the question I’ve been asking through the thread, because that I am privileged doesn’t mean anything. That I’m privileged in that I didn’t go hungry last night isn’t going to change the global food problems whether or not I am accused of that privilege. It makes the word absolutely trivial to use it that way; especially if it’s going to be used in a disagreement about what tactics to be used.

    It’s not a meta-defeater. Your obtuseness and dismissiveness of others is what’s defeating you here. Do you really need to be told to help starving children by researching charities/donating, volunteering, or supporting bills etc?

    Seriously, two different issues discussed here. One, his and your privilege is fucking irritating and people do not like such dismissive bullshit. Two, what is the best tactic to use for atheism. The two are separate issues raised about the article. You asked what difference does privilege make on ones tactic. Not the issue but people responded. You clearly didn’t understand. I think that not having privilege or being able to empathize makes one more gnu style. But that’s just me. It depends on the person. What the gnus have been saying do your thing accommodationist but don’t throw us under the bus. Both tactics are allowed. If you are looking for the best tactic ever, backed by peer reviewed papers its not going to happen. There isn’t just one thing or way you could help so you are going to get a bunch of different answers. Ever heard the saying about herding cats?

    I swear it sounds like you’ve never fucking been here before.

  356. 356
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Himself,

    Because I’m an atheist [...] I’m estranged from my brother

    Crying shame, that — but blood is thicker than water, and there is yet hope.

    For what little solace it may offer, here’s Peter Hitchens’ memoriam to his brother, Christopher.

  357. 357
    Kel

    If you can become an activist if you can. Donate if you can. Go to conferences if you can. Participate in anyway you can in any issue/front you want to.

    Do you think I’m not already doing these?

    By defending those that dismiss me, you dismiss me.

    Oh wow. Are you going to be this childish?

    I’m not dismissing what you go through, or that some people have it really tough. I’m well aware of some of the horror stories, and I’m more than happy to point them out when the occasion fits. But does that mean that as soon as someone is perceived to not take them seriously, all their points on the issue are void? No-one could have good points unless they personally bow down to your experience? What good does your experience have for the question of how to promote a positive image for atheists? What does it do about helping with the issue of separation of church and state? Do you think that your experience means that you know how best to fight for all atheist causes?

    Here’s the thing you don’t fucking grasp, privileged assholes like you can donate and contribute yet still shit on people like me or ignore us completely.

    How am I ignoring you? If all you have is I thought that Massimo makes some good points constitutes shitting on you, then bring on the scat.

    Your obtuseness and dismissiveness of others is what’s defeating you here.

    Again, who am I dismissing? If saying that someone has some good arguments constitutes dismissing others, then what point do we have to pretend to hold any intellectual merit to our position?

    I swear it sounds like you’ve never fucking been here before.

    At this stage, I’m taking this as a compliment.

  358. 358
    Kel

    If you see me as shitting on you, Just_A_Lurker, that’s a shame. I would hope that whatever horror stories there are that are that are caused, or protected, by religion and religious institutions need to be heard. I think they are important and should be told. If that’s not good enough for you, then so be it. Like you said, I’ll continue to fight for what I see as important, because that’s all I can do. To the extent that it fits with or diverges from your goals, I would hope that you would afford me the same right to stand up for what I think is important as I wish for you.

  359. 359
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Crying shame, that — but blood is thicker than water, and there is yet hope.

    Blood is thicker than water. but it does not mean that one will reconcile with family members. I spoke with my father once during the last decade of his life and did not go to the funeral. I have one brother that I barely speak to, he is one of the meanest persons I know of. In both cases, I am better off not being around them.

    Also, in case you are not aware of it, the brother that ‘Tis is speaking has commented here in the past. He went by the moniker of Fortinbras Armstrong. He liked to complain about how “nasty” atheists are. He also claimed to have an Aristotelian proof of god but that we were not prepared to accept it.

    There was much rejoicing when he finally stuck the flounce.

  360. 360
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    …I’m estranged from my brother,…

    I’m sorry. I knew it hadn’t gone well for him here, but wasn’t aware of that. Hope you guys can work it out in your way – maybe at sea.

  361. 361
    John Morales

    [meta]

    janine, I was there, I was involved, and I well recall — I wrote my previous in full knowledge of those facts.

    Nonetheless.

  362. 362
    Ing

    Fuck the blood is thicker than water thing.

  363. 363
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Ing: Blood viscosity.

    (Facts are facts)

  364. 364
    consciousness razor

    (Facts are facts)

    Metaphors are metaphors.

    I’m not sure what “water” is supposed to represent though. What if it would be more apt to use molasses or peanut butter or something?

  365. 365
    John Morales

    [way OT]

    CR, yeah, also (and primarily) a metaphor.
    Codified, symbolic folk wisdom, in this case addressed to Himself.

    Specifically, I here refer to blood brothership — a not-insignificant linkage, the which has been historically symbolised by various ceremonies.

    (Also: “The blood is the life”)

  366. 366
    consciousness razor

    Specifically, I here refer to blood brothership — a not-insignificant linkage, the which has been historically symbolised by various ceremonies.

    Indeed, like water, blood is a very meaningful symbol.

    Are you washed in the blood, John?

  367. 367
    Kel

    It would have been kinder to Rick Roll…

  368. 368
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Bloody oath, Kel!

    (Grr)

  369. 369
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Kel,

    He never said that there wasn’t any discrimination, he said the experiences don’t necessarily generalise to the kinds of problems that blacks and gays have faced. Now I’m not saying anything on whether or not that’s true, I don’t know and I’m not commenting on that.

    Bullshit. He said this:

    First, atheists really ought not to compare themselves to blacks or gays, as it is an insult to people who have experienced real discrimination.

    Real discrimination i.e. atheist discrimination is non existent or just not that bad so just shut the help about it. This reeks. How can you not see this? This has been pointed out so many times up thread. At this point I think you are deliberately misinterpreting this to fit you. There are a variety of degrees when it comes to discrimination but no one wins when you play the oppression Olympics. This was pointed out to him and he still doesn’t get it, doesn’t acknowledge it. Didn’t amend his statement to fit your interpretation and actually provided proof for our reading of it.
    Josh told you:

    The only people interested in comparing oppressions are people who want to distract from the very real problems facing the group in question.

    Pigliucci said

    There is a huge difference between being in-your-face in the sense of taking to the streets and loudly complaining about rights you are unjustly denied and being in-your-face in the more basic sense of hurling insults at other people.

    So first he says its nonexistent/nonimportant then says don’t hurl insults and since your rights are violated you shouldn’t protest. So play along dear friends, they will pass us the ball soon. Fuck this. Holding hands with the religious isn’t the only goddamn fucking tactic.

    How am I ignoring you? If all you have is I thought that Massimo makes some good points constitutes shitting on you, then bring on the scat.

    You think he brought up good points on the atheist discrimination point? You agree that it isn’t a big fucking deal and that we shouldn’t be protesting or fight loudly? What are we supposed to do? Beg them not to hate us or hide? Yeah that’s work sowell before. Do that if you want. They are free to do that if they want. Fight from all sides. I am just not on that tactic because the religious and the accomaditionist love to sweep under the rug the dirt they rub our faces in. You are currently defending them, whether you agree or not I’m not sure. That’s enough for me to say fuck you. I’m not saying that you or him don’t have other points right or have no right to use that tactic. I’m saying don’t tell me to shut the hell up about my reality when I’m drowning in religiosity and stupidity; fighting loudly and proudly does good at the very least for helping us survive it, together. You are not doing that. On this count I do not count you an ally. Like rape apologist are not allies. I mean after all, he’s an atheist and he doesn’t think there is discrimination
    /snort

  370. 370
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Kel,

    Do you think I’m not already doing these?

    Then what the fuck are you asking? And for what purpose?

    You defended the asshole who dismissed atheist discrimination about the point of dismissing it. I’m not talking about what you think about him personally or about other topics. In this thread you defended him for dismissing people.

    So listen to others and take their experiences as seriously as you would your own. How am I not doing that?

    Because you went from defending this man’s privilege, to asking what good/change would it do to further yours or his goals ( that don’t seem to care about helping those being discriminate against). That’s some bullshit move right there. You are defending yourself by saying prove to me in “substantial” ways how empathizing with other people would change a fucking thing about your perspective and tactics. Without helping us fight against it. After all fuck you, I just use you to further my own. That’s wrong. That is morally repugnant to me.

    But does that mean that as soon as someone is perceived to not take them seriously, all their points on the issue are void?

    No. I am discussing this one fucking point. That is all, he is wrong about the gnus in my opinion but that has nothing to do with privilege. YOU are the one conflating the issues and twisting it so far out of shape its hard to tell what the fuck is going on with you.

    No-one could have good points unless they personally bow down to your experience?

    Bowdown? How the fuck am I asking you to bow down? You were acting like a privilege ass and dismissing all atheist discrimination so I called you on it. I have not in anyway, shape or form said that my experience of discrimination should reign supreme. (How the fuck does that work anyways? So non-censical.)

    What good does your experience have for the question of how to promote a positive image for atheists?

    So If I can’t prove it does any good for the movement it doesn’t matter and should just shut up about it? Dismissive much? Judgmental much? You said you brought up discrimination in arguments and places, yet you ask this? Why would you bring it up at all, if you think its so pointless?

    What does it do about helping with the issue of separation of church and state?

    My experiences? Nothing. I have never said my experience was all fucking important or anything. I simply said its fucking real and I don’t appreciate asshole who dismiss discrimination, in any form, or their defenders. What the fuck does this have to do with anything? You are being absolutely dismissive since my experience don’t have a positive net value for you. I’m sorry you can’t use or see a way to sue discrimination to further your fucking goals, it must be so hard for you.
    Since when does sharing experiences, banding together, saying this is discrimination and its wrong. And fighting loudly and as viciously for that a bad thing? Since when does it have to be all fucking important for it to matter at all?

    Do you think that your experience means that you know how best to fight for all atheist causes?

    Nope. If you actually read for compensation you will see that I said I think feeling and seeing discrimination makes one more likely to take the gnu approach. But that is strictly based on how I feel. I told you to find a fucking approach/goal/tactic that worked for you and go for it. Just don’t defend someone who dismisses discrimination, and don’t do it yourself. You have straight up done both. That is what everyone has been trying to tell you. Go be an accomationist or what the fuck ever, just don’t diminish, dismiss and fucking backstab us. (Like accomadationist love to do, not a judgment on you. I don’t know what you would do. So far its just misinterpret and twist every fucking thing to make it about you. You keep asking “what does your experience do for me/the movement/etc.” because if it doesn’t fucking serve you it doesn’t matter. At least you admit it exist though, I will give you that much. But obviously you don’t give a fuck about others wanted to share and band to together, because fuck all that noise that doesn’t serve you and your goals. Whatever the fuck your goals are.

  371. 371
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Like you said, I’ll continue to fight for what I see as important, because that’s all I can do. To the extent that it fits with or diverges from your goals, I would hope that you would afford me the same right to stand up for what I think is important as I wish for you.

    So what the fuck is the point of all of this? To prove we don’t have sufficient evidence for you to change your views on discrimination based solely on what said discrimination can do for you? So behold you’ve done mental gymnastics and now can just continue on using others experience when it fits you but not empathizing with them? REALLY?
    I have no doubt some of our goals will overlap, I hope all tactics we take help. But seriously we have all been trying to fucking tell you since the post itself, is what PZ said:

    But it’s not enough for me. I have other goals as well, and what I do is work towards my objectives, not Massimo Pigliucci’s. If only he could understand that…
    Later, I’ll aim to post something on my goals that I trust will be different from other people’s…and why I don’t complain if Pigliucci and other people don’t serve my will.

    I’m done after this. I’ve expended myself and the only good its doing is allowing me to expel the frustration I’ve felt over this. That will just have to be good enough. I’m not going to allow myself to be get upset over your bullshit again.

  372. 372
    Kel

    You think he brought up good points on the atheist discrimination point?

    No. Where did I say that? The atheist discrimination isn’t the only thing Massimo covered…

    I’m not talking about what you think about him personally or about other topics. In this thread you defended him for dismissing people.

    No, in this thread, I am defending some of his arguments about how it is we should conduct ourselves in light of the goals we wish to achieve. You are saying that I’m defending something I’m not.

    If you actually read for compensation you will see that I said I think feeling and seeing discrimination makes one more likely to take the gnu approach. But that is strictly based on how I feel.

    This is the point I’ve been trying to highlight, that pointing out privilege doesn’t invalidate the question of what approaches to take.

    Just don’t defend someone who dismisses discrimination, and don’t do it yourself.

    People aren’t perfect, but they can still make good points. I’m defending the good points Massimo made, and I’ll do that whether or not he’s slaughtering baby seals in his spare time. If Massimo is dismissing your experience, then he’s wrong about it. I’m more than happy to say it. But I think he still has good points to make.

    To prove we don’t have sufficient evidence for you to change your views on discrimination based solely on what said discrimination can do for you?

    I still don’t know why you’re going on about whether or not I think discrimination exists or to what extent it does. I haven’t said anything on the matter.

    I’m done after this.

    Let’s see if you can stick to it.

    I’m not going to allow myself to be get upset over your bullshit again.

    My bullshit? You accuse me of doing all sorts of things to you which I didn’t do, accuse me of defending positions I’m not defending, yet I’m the one dealing in bullshit? Hah! Älykääpiö…

  373. 373
    Steersman

    frankstonehouse said (#161):

    As long as defenseless children are being indoctrinated into a lifetime of superstition, all of us should be ashamed of sitting in our armchairs and just talking!

    Absolutely; spot on. For chapter and verse on that indoctrination, if you haven’t read it yet, take a look at Nicholas Humphrey’s What Shall We Tell The Children which has this salient passage:

    Children, I’ll argue, have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas—no matter who these other people are. Parents, correspondingly, have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose: no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition, or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own faith.

    In short, children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.

    If you’re looking around for something do – once you’re out of your armchairs, :-) – you might also take a look at this Wikipedia article on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – which the US has not ratified yet, a rather “embarrassing” state of affairs – according to Obama – as that is a status that it shares alone with Somalia. There seem to be several organizations which are attempting to rectify that situation, although I notice that the Secular Coalition of America – both Dawkins and Pigliucci are on their Advisory Board – is not one of them, who could probably use some assistance, physical, moral or financial.

    But that Convention guarantees children the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” which adults have had since 1948 or so. Seems to me that if there were some teeth to that law the depredations of the religious might not be so pervasive or odious.

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