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And the hatchet strikes…

I’m sure you’re all wondering who the 5 most awful atheists are — are you on the list? You’re probably safe unless you are Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or S.E. Cupp. I think the criticisms offered in the article are all on target, but I refuse to believe that any of them are irredeemable…well, except for Cupp, who is just a right-wing fraud. But I also have to say that this comment is spot on, and is the source of a lot of conflict right now as the movement is growing.

The thing about the so-called “rationalist” movement in America is that disbelief in gods seems to be the only qualification to join the club. Disbelief in a supernatural creator, especially as the movement becomes more popular or “hep,” as I’m pretending the kids say, in no way guarantees rationality in matters of foreign policy or economics, for example. Many notable atheists believe in some powerfully stupid stuff—likely owing their prominence to these same benighted beliefs, lending an air of scientific credibility to the myths corporate media seeks to highlight, and thereby eroding the credibility of all atheists in the long-term. In other words: The crap always rises to the top.

But now I’d like to challenge the author, Ian Murphy, to write a complementary article that lists the five best atheists in America, and what makes them good. Give us something to aspire to and set as a standard, instead of just taking potshots at a few big names (and one Fox News nobody).

Just to be really annoying, I’d name Eugenie Scott, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Susan Jacoby, and Barry Lynn, because most of them would run away from the label and one would outright reject it (with good reason, too). Maybe Murphy could surprise us with some unusual suspects and different perspectives. (You know, Surly Amy’s growing list might also be a good place to start.)

Comments

  1. albertbakker says

    I’ve read the piece. And because I agree with everything in it I think it’s good, well written and well deserved.

  2. mythbri says

    @Caerie

    Cats make terrible atheists, because what would be the point in disbelieving in one’s own existence?

  3. says

    I had endured through the hatchet job of the piece by I. Murphy. Basically, anyone who does not agree with Mr Murphy 100% is an awful person, ignorant, illogical boor.

    I disagree with most of what he had to say (and on some subjects he is just plain too ignorant to air an opinion), does that make me an “awful atheist” as well?
    .
    There are always disagreements between people, can we be civil about that and not throw around labels like “awful”?

  4. says

    What exactly did you disagree with in the article? That Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been coopted by a neocon think tank? That Sam Harris sometimes advocates horrible things for Muslims? That Bill Maher is an asshole?

    Or do you not disagree with those assessments, but they simply aren’t awful? Clarity! Please!

  5. says

    leonardhebert:

    …does that make me an “awful atheist” as well?

    It depends. Do you advocate torture? Do you write books decrying atheism? Are you an anti-vaccination crackpot?

  6. jjgdenisrobert says

    @leonardhebert: How is it a hatchet job? Is it because you’re a libertarian yourself and you feel the burn? Maybe it’s you who spits on things just because you don’t agree with them.

    The problem with libertarianism is that it makes positive claims (such as: markets work, always), without any evidence to back it up, and despite mountains of contrary evidence (such as: people don’t make rational economic decisions, even when they have full access to information; economic exchanges almost never are between partners with equal access to information; tax cuts don’t grow the economy; markets, although efficient at distributing resources when they work, often fail, and fail spectacularly, in which case they usually don’t re-stabilize without some outside force’s intervention, whether that force is a government or an external entity such as the World Bank; etc…) The problem with libertarianism is that it’s an ideology disconnected from evidence. It’s as much of a dogma as that of the immaculate conception.

    So yes, a libertarian atheist is usually a dumb atheist; or at least one with as big an ability to compartmentalize as Francis Collins. This ability to protect some of one’s beliefs from the crucible of evidence was the very basis for the criticisms Murphy makes in this article. And I think that kind of intellectual dishonesty deserves to be called out.

  7. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    There are always disagreements between people, can we be civil about that and not throw around labels like “awful”?

    How about shitty?

  8. prtsimmons says

    I love Ian Murphy’s writing. If you aren’t familiar with the Buffalo Beast and the ongoing Dildogate legal sage (Ian Murphy interviewed fundamentalists with a dildo-shaped microphone and was charged with ‘interfering with a religious service’ or something… its disturbing and enlightening), you should hit the Buffalo Beaast website and read about it. I agreed with pretty much everything in this article. I also think it is worth noting that someone can be right about some things, and very wrong about many other things – Harris and Ali are good examples of this.

  9. says

    Libertarian policies aren’t fundamentally irrational. For example, letting someone die of cancer because they can’t afford the treatment may be profoundly evil, but such an act of omission doesn’t make any truth claims.

    On the other hand, many libertarian beliefs do stray into woo. For example, if someone claims that complete economic deregulation will create a society where hard work is a guaranteed path out of poverty, then they’re delusional. In this sense, antilibertarianism is a necessary part of skepticism.

  10. says

    @Art

    I’m presuming that he limited it to Living as Hitchen’s didn’t make it while he has all the same criticisms of Hitchens.

    I disagree PZ, people need to be criticized on the negatives, not accentuate the positive. The best get enough back pats as it is (and they deserve it) that we don’t need to rally for more as balance. If anything we should do more.

  11. palljansson says

    @jjgdenisrobert

    Libertarians have the obvious problem that markets are far from perfect. Most other political creeds have the problem that the government/expert committees etc., etc. are made up of the same, deeply flawed people.

    People too often skirt away from that basic problem that we are incompetents, governed by incompetents, and that absolutely nothing can be done other than trying to make the best of it.

  12. marinerachel says

    I might go as far as to say Cupp and Maher are irredeemable.

    I quite like that Harris, Ali and Jillette were chosen though because they’re such great examples of compartmentalisation. They’re obviously bright people capable of contributing positivity to the world and I’d argue all of them do. They’re just completely Epic Fail with regards to the things they’re so wrong about.

  13. StevoR says

    Ayaan Hisri Ali is an incredible person worthy of a hell of a lot of respect. One of my heroes.

  14. StevoR says

    @Art Vandelay :

    Joe Stalin breathes a sigh of relief.

    He does? What? From his grave? Yikes! Get the zombie shotguns ready!

  15. says

    @PZ Myers

    All righty then, here we go…

    Sam Harris:
    His piece oh torture was quite awful. His debate with Schneier was well argued and should be considered a draw. Just because you do not like the idea of profiling does not mean it does not work. The jury is still out on that, it is not a settled issue. Meanwhile Murphy says that “You’re four times as likely to die of a lightning strike than you are from a terrorist attack , and yet this constitutes the gravest threat to Western civilization” which show complete lack of understanding both of the situation and of Sam’s concerns. Terrorism is a police matter and is no more a threat than any other kind of criminal activity. Creeping islamization of the West is a grave threat and by denying the danger Murphy is not doing anyone of us a favor.

    Bill Maher:
    Bill can be obnoxious and crude and whatever else and his position on vaccination is sheer lunacy. He is also a comedian and not everything he says during his show (technically speaking, nothing he says during the show) represents his views. It is a shtick that he does. And I happen to agree with a lot that he has to say about American anti-intellectualism, the state of politics, education, healthcare in the US etc. Murphy picked one thing (ok, two things – Maher might be somewhat gynophobic) and on that basis proclaimed one of the most awful atheists!

    Hirsi Ali:
    The woman is a hero. Could we acknowledge that? Whatever she does or says that gives credence to neo-cons could be lamented but she has the courage to speak the truth about the oppressive nature of Islam that most westerners no longer can. We need more people like her lest our freedom of speech become an empty slogan. Hers is a complicated case and requires a bit more balance than Murphy’s drive by analysis.

    S.E. Cupp: whatever. I would be the last person to defend her.

  16. marinerachel says

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is incredible. She’s also a complicated person and very, very wrong about a lot of things.

  17. 'Tis Himself says

    I refuse to believe that any of them are irredeemable…well, except for Cupp, who is just a right-wing fraud.

    Cupp has said she wouldn’t vote for an atheist for President because religion gives a balance against power. While she may not believe in gods, she really likes religion. Perhaps she should get together with Alain de Botton or the Harvard Humanists to get a godless religion going.

  18. says

    Just because you do not like the idea of profiling does not mean it does not work. The jury is still out on that, it is not a settled issue.

    FFS no it is not!

    The woman is a hero. Could we acknowledge that?

    If a hero is allowed to preform actions that grossly harm others or act in willful disregard for them while maintaining that title than that title is meaningless. No she is not a hero.

  19. says

    @ jjgdenisrobert

    Did I so much as mention “libertarianism”? In fact, on that issue I agree with you completely, Somalia is a shining example of libertarian principle put into practice.

  20. 'Tis Himself says

    StevoR #20

    Ayaan Hisri Ali is an incredible person worthy of a hell of a lot of respect. One of my heroes.

    Why am I not surprised?

  21. mythbri says

    @leonardhebert

    Really? Nothing that Maher says on his program is reflective of his own views? Absolutely nothing? Or is that a convenient excuse to fall back on to explain away the things that he says that piss off the wrong (or right, depending upon where you’re coming from) people?

    Also, I’m pretty fucking tired of the “He’s a super-awesome guy, he’s just a little misogynistic!” excuse.

  22. iiandyiiii says

    I actually like four out of those five (I’ve never seen S.E. Cupp actually add any substance to any conversation she’s been a part of). There’s a lot I don’t agree with about them, but I generally like Maher’s show (though his views on nutrition, health, and medicine are absurd), I enjoyed Penn’s TV show and really enjoyed his live magic show in Vegas (though his economic views are absurd), I agree with Harris a lot on most things not related to Islam or terrorism, and I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a brilliant and fascinating woman, though one who has swung too far into authoritarianism against Islam- but considering the horrific physical trauma she’s endured in her life, I think it’s possible she’s suffering from PTSD.

  23. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Leonardhebert—you are the one having a hard time grokking that people can have both heroic and shitty qualities. PZ is not.

    Bill Maher, by the way, isn’t just “A little gynephobic.” He’s a shithead misogynist. And an anti-vax nutter. And a narcissist.

  24. jehk says

    This article touches on a problem I’ve had since recently coming to Atheism.

    Let’s take Richard Dawkins. I’ve learned a lot about why I’m an Atheist from his books and lectures. However, I hate his Dear Muslima rant and jabs at Rebecca Watson. He’s wrong and is making an ass out of himself. The same can be said for Sam Harris concerning Islam.

    I’m conflicted and not sure how to resolve it. I don’t want to condemn either but praise doesn’t seem appropriate.

    This feels way too much like the cognitive dissonance.

  25. says

    I have my own serious issues with some of the views expressed by the atheists on this list. But who ever suggested that atheists were perfect? Sam Harris has delivered some of the most thoughtful and devastating critiques of religion EVER, and in addition to the points raised on the author’s list I think Harris’ views on free will are childish twaddle. But putting him on the same list as S.E.Cupp? Seriously? That’s just ridiculous.

    Would it be mature for me to publish my own list of Worst Atheists with P.Z. on it, on the grounds that I disagree with him about George R R Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire books, or the eventual feasibility of uploading?

    By all means, if we disagree with one another on various issues, we should discuss those issues. But we hardly need the likes of S.S. Cupp to make us look bad if we’re going to eat our own like this.

  26. Gregory Greenwood says

    leonardhebert @ 28;

    Do people tell you that you have strong opinions? Take a chill pill.

    I think it only fair to warn you that this kind of comment is known as ‘tone trolling’ around here, and is very much frowned upon as a behaviour that privileges tone above content and is often used as a silencing or derailing tatic.

    Just a heads up.

  27. Paul says

    Just because you do not like the idea of profiling does not mean it does not work. The jury is still out on that, it is not a settled issue.

    The base rate fallacy isn’t just pretty words. The only reason people don’t recognize it as ruling out profiling of Muslims is that they honestly believe that “Jihadists” comprise anything other than a very small minority of the total Muslim population. Choosing to depart from reality might mean a jury of peers is “still out on that”, but any jury that actually deals with reality is not. It’s racism, plain and simple.

    He is also a comedian and not everything he says during his show (technically speaking, nothing he says during the show) represents his views.

    The same goes for O’Reilly. Chanting “Tiller Tiller the baby killer” is just meant for entertainment. Why are people so hard on O’Reilly when nothing he says necessarily represents his views? Oh, and the same goes for all blog authors, or indeed anyone who speaks in public. They’re all looking for viewers, so it would be trivial to form an argument that unless they have joined some sort of professional organization whose charter mentions dedication to truth and honesty (and even then, the argument could be made), they are in the end just entertainers and cannot be held to what they say.

  28. Quinn Martindale says

    Many notable atheists believe in some powerfully stupid stuff—likely owing their prominence to these same benighted beliefs, lending an air of scientific credibility to the myths corporate media seeks to highlight, and thereby eroding the credibility of all atheists in the long-term.

    The fact that Linus Pauling had some crazy ideas didn’t erode the credibility of chemists. We should absolutely criticize bad ideas, but we don’t need to lament the lack of qualifications to join the “‘rationalist’ movement.” (A term I haven’t encountered before.) Do you believe in the existence of a god or gods? If no, you’re an atheist. You don’t get any special powers, additional credibility or a membership card.

  29. Reginald Selkirk says

    Hirsi Ali: The woman is a hero. Could we acknowledge that?

    Sure, I an acknowledge that. Can you acknowledge that heroes are not flawless, and should not be exempted from criticism?
    .
    I agree with every specific criticism Murphy makes of those 5 persons.

  30. KG says

    Creeping islamization of the West is a grave threat – leonardhebert

    And leonardhebert shows that’s he’s a complete fucking shitheaded moron, just like StevoR. Nowhere in the “West” do Muslims have significant political power, everywhere in the “West” they are in practice a disadvantaged minority.

  31. 'Tis Himself says

    leonardhebert #22

    Just because you do not like the idea of profiling does not mean it does not work.

    The reason why many of us don’t like profiling is it does not work.

    The jury is still out on that, it is not a settled issue.

    Schneider, who unlike Harris actually is a security expert, says it doesn’t work.

    There are two kinds of profiling. There’s behavioral profiling based on how someone acts, and there’s automatic profiling based on name, nationality, method of ticket purchase, and so on. The first one can be effective, but is very hard to do right. The second one makes us all less safe. The problem with automatic profiling is that it doesn’t work. [emphasis added]

    Another security specialist, Rafi Sela, agrees:

    I would start by noting that the term “profiling” is made by politicians looking for headlines, and on its own can’t do much for security.

    Salam Al-Marayati points out a major problem with profiling:

    Profiling communities in counter-terrorism efforts is ineffective. Focus on one particular ethnicity or country of origin, and the terrorists will recruit from somewhere else. Many terrorism suspects came from within the United States and European Union countries. Profiling does not help against individuals with names and ethnic backgrounds like Richard Reid, Jose Padilla, David Headley and Michael Finton.

    Sorry, the jury is in on profiling and you and Harris lost.

  32. Doug Hudson says

    @37, using “retards” as an insult is despicable. So that link might not be making the point you think it makes.

  33. Quinn Martindale says

    This article touches on a problem I’ve had since recently coming
    to Atheism.

    Let’s take Richard Dawkins. I’ve learned a lot about why I’m an Atheist from his books and lectures. However, I hate his Dear Muslima rant and jabs at Rebecca Watson. He’s wrong and is making an ass out of himself. The same can be said for Sam Harris concerning Islam.

    I’m conflicted and not sure how to resolve it. I don’t want to condemn either but praise doesn’t seem appropriate.

    This feels way too much like the cognitive dissonance.

    Atheism isn’t a religion, and Richard Dawkins isn’t the pope.

  34. says

    To all of you dumping on Hirsi Ali, Maher etc.

    Do y’all know anything negative about yourselves? Are you that bloody perfect? Is it reasonable to expect of public figures that they would be unblemished and always agree with YOU?

    If you disagree with Harris or Maher or whoever else, who appointed YOU to decide who is right? (does not apply to PZ, he is beyond reproach and a total teddy bear)

    How about we accept other people’s foibles just as we accept our own?

  35. Paul says

    Would it be mature for me to publish my own list of Worst Atheists with P.Z. on it, on the grounds that I disagree with him about George R R Martin’s Song of Ice & Fire books, or the eventual feasibility of uploading?

    The fact that you consider someone holding a contrary opinion on a fictional book series to be in any way comparable to open misogyny, racism, authoritarianism, or anti-vaccination, all of which cause measurable real-life harm to millions/billions of people, speaks volumes about you.

    The internet has broken humanity.

  36. mythbri says

    @Quinn M.

    You don’t get any special powers, additional credibility or a membership card.

    But the problem is that people are under the impression that this does give them credibility. Either these public figures have the perception that “Hey, I’m smart enough to figure out that God doesn’t exist – I must be smart about everything else I hold strong opinions about!” or the people who admire them believe it.

    You’re saying the same thing as the author of the linked article, just from a different direction.

  37. Doug Hudson says

    “Profiling” is merely a cover for blatant racism. This is as true in “homeland security” as it is in law enforcement (though aimed at slightly different groups).

  38. Quinn Martindale says

    leonardhebert

    How about we accept other people’s foibles just as we accept our own?

    Opposing vaccinations and other effective medicine isn’t a foible.

  39. jehk says

    Atheism isn’t a religion, and Richard Dawkins isn’t the pope.

    Yeah, I know that. And?

  40. Doug Hudson says

    @46, the Internet didn’t break humanity, it just made the brokenness more obvious.

    On the other hand, it also makes it easier to challenge those who advocate harmful ideas.

  41. Doug Hudson says

    @50, so why are you conflicted? Dawkins is right about some things, and terribly wrong about other things. Its not like you have any obligated to agree with him on everything.

  42. says

    KG #41

    Maybe you should do some studying before you say something silly. I suggest you read up on the Lebanese history to find out what happens in countries when demographic balance shifts. And then learn about the demographic trends in Europe. And maybe listen to what the Muslims themselves have to say about their intentions.

    Then we can have a more informed conversation.

  43. mythbri says

    @leonardhebert

    How about we accept other people’s foibles just as we accept our own?

    What? What do you even mean by this? The specific criticisms of these five public figures are valid criticisms of ideas that are harmful one way or the other.

    If I have an ill-reasoned, harmful prejudice or idea, then I deserve to be called out on it. I then have the option to either re-evaluate my position, or start fortifying my intellectual castle so as to be impregnable to any opposing thoughts.

  44. Quinn Martindale says

    @jehk,

    Saying “coming to Atheism” sounds strange because atheism isn’t a set of beliefs. Evolutionary biology, which is something Richard Dawkins knows a lot about, is evidence against the supernatural origin of human life and thus consistent with atheism. The treatment of women at conventions, which is something Richard Dawkins is not an expert in, has little to do with the existence or non-existence of god.

    I fail to see why you experience cognitive dissonance (or anything close to it) when you agree with a person on one subject and disagree with them on another.

  45. Loqi says

    Do y’all know anything negative about yourselves? Are you that bloody perfect? Is it reasonable to expect of public figures that they would be unblemished and always agree with YOU?

    Reminds me of the Thunderfootians’ “you banned him because he disagrees with you!” It has nothing to do with disagreement. It has everything to do with how you arrived at your position. If the evidence points one way but you hold staunch on the other side, you are wrong and deserving of criticism. If you do that with a position that hurts billions of people, you are worse than wrong: you are awful.

    For the record, no, I’m not perfect. And when I’m not, I expect anyone with an ounce of decency to smack me down for it.

  46. recoveredcatholic says

    #43: You’re right, absolutely no excuse for that title, but it is a very funny read, there’s no other point intended to be made.

  47. says

    @ Gregory Greenwood #36

    I was called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” in this thread. Do you consider that an acceptable tone of voice or do you issue warnings only to those with unpopular opinions?

  48. Doug Hudson says

    @53, oh no teh ebbil mooslims are going to take over Europe!

    Give me a break. The main reason Muslims are having trouble settling in Europe is because Europeans have a tendency to be even more racist than Americans. (Check out what’s going on in Hungary right now as an example).

    Muslims have pretty much zero power in Europe, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

  49. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I was called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” in this thread. Do you consider that an acceptable tone of voice or do you issue warnings only to those with unpopular opinions?

    point successfully missed. Next serve.

  50. Doug Hudson says

    @58, yeah, “complete fucking shitheaded moron” is generally considered an acceptable tone of voice here.

    Well, maybe not the moron part. But otherwise, Pharyngulites don’t hesitate to call a shithead a shithead.

  51. mythbri says

    @leonardhebert

    And maybe listen to what the Muslims themselves have to say about their intentions.

    Almost every single religion I have heard of or come into contact with has expressed a desire for global conversion. Strangely enough, though, my Muslim friends have made no attempt whatsoever to convert or kill me. You are speaking in aggregate instead of specifics.

  52. says

    Yes! You can make your own list, and you can put anyone you want on it, and we could argue about it! I would be entertained by a list that included me on it; I might agree or disagree with the reasons.

    As I think is obvious, you can tell a lot about the author of such a list by their priorities.

  53. 'Tis Himself says

    Do y’all know anything negative about yourselves? Are you that bloody perfect? Is it reasonable to expect of public figures that they would be unblemished and always agree with YOU?

    I know lots of negative things about myself. But I’m a nobody whose 15 minutes happened twelve years ago. Also I’m not a misogynist, an anti-vaccer, a libertarian, an authoritarian, or a racist. My particular faults have little effect on other people and, hopefully, no effect on large groups of people. The same cannot be said for Harris, Maher, Jillette, or Ali.

  54. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It looks like this site is populated by a bunch of self-righteous teenagers.

    Funny how trolls always project their behavior unto us. Typical problem for thinking challenged.

  55. Doug Hudson says

    @62, Yeah, George Carlin was certainly a self-righteous teenager.

    Sometimes, its necessary to stop beating around the bush and call bullshit what it is.

    Like your post: tone trolling, holier-than-thou, “fainting couch” bullshit.

  56. says

    <blockquoteDo y’all know anything negative about yourselves? Are you that bloody perfect? Is it reasonable to expect of public figures that they would be unblemished and always agree with YOU?

    What? We can only be critical if we ourselves are perfect? Of course I have flaws and negative aspects about myself. People are free to be critical of me, they can disagree with me all they want. One thing I won’t do is complain that it is unfair because they are wrong sometimes.

  57. jehk says

    @52

    I think my conflict comes from seeing Sam Harris on this list. To label him as one of the worst Atheists seems unfair considering his contribution. I thought the Moral Landscape was a great book that presented some really interesting ideas. I feel the same way when people condemn Richard Dawkins for the Dear Muslima rant. Hell, I even feel this way about Thunderf00t a little bit.

    I just cannot join in condemning these people despite having some strong disagreements with them.

  58. Doug Hudson says

    jehk@70, you do realize that this isn’t just about disagreements? This is about people saying things that are actually potentially harmful?

    Thunderfoot’s blatant misogyny and support of rape culture, Sam Harris’ racism, Dawkins…well, he was mostly clueless.

    But words have power, and when people with influence use words against minority groups, they need to be called out for it.

  59. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    I am really sad that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has taken a swing to the right. Gadverdammen!

  60. Doug Hudson says

    @73, Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the Right..er, to the Darkside.

  61. jjgdenisrobert says

    @leonardhebert: Lebanon is not the West, never has been. Lebanese history might be indicative of something, but its certainly not what you imply; in fact, it may be a very good example of what happens when one group (the Maronites, allied with Western powers, including Israel) alienates, oppresses and massacres another (the Muslims).

    Terrorism is not limited to muslims; modern terrorism wasn’t even invented by them. The IRA was the originator of many of the tactics that today’s islamists use. In some cases, the IRA explicitly taught them those very tactics. Why aren’t we talking about the horrible dangers Catholics pose?

    Simplifying the question of Islamic terrorism to one of religion is as dumb as simplifying the question of Ireland to the same. The situation in Ireland was a mix of religion, history, economics and power structures, and the situation in the Middle East today is just as potent and as complex a mix as Ireland. To deny this complexity is to invite disaster, as decisions made without full understanding of the facts are highly likely to be catastrophically wrong.

    Harris and co. are guilty of dangerous oversimplification, and of mythologizing history (as if history was a matter of white hats and black hats).

    But it’s important to make the point that the oversimplification can cut both ways. One can’t just say: “Harris is an islamophobe” (although it’s quite true), and dismiss everything he has to say on every subject. But Harris does have a tendency of claiming great expertise in areas where he is nothing but a dilettante, and that ends up being damaging to his credibility in those areas he actually has some expertise in (such as the cognitive sciences).

  62. Loqi says

    @jehk

    I’m not sure where the “cognitive dissonance” comes from. It’s not cognitive dissonance to agree with someone on something (even praise them) and disagree with (or condemn) them on another. Your comment makes it sound like you’re looking for a someone to lead you – someone you agree with enough that you’re comfortable saying “this person represents my views.” That’s abdicating your reasoning to someone else. That’s Catholicism (hence Quinn Martindale’s #44).

    There are no atheist “leaders”, at least not in the same sense as there is in religion. There are people who give speeches, write books, blog, etc who are well-known and respected, but they speak for nobody but themselves. We agree with positions, not people.

  63. jehk says

    @Quinn Martindale

    Maybe saying “accepting atheist as a label” is a better way to put it.

    I have no problem agreeing and disagreeing with people. I explain my feelings better at post 70.

  64. says

    Jehk, I do not understand, how do good contributions do anything to erase the mistakes and stupid opinions? Vile opinions are not reduced because you happen do say some good things.

  65. vaiyt says

    We’re supposed to weigh the good with the bad in order to determine who’s being awful?

    How many contributions to science make up for being a racist scumbag?

    How many minorities you can throw under the bus for each time you stand up to creationists?

    Is that how it works at all?

  66. Paul says

    To label him as one of the worst Atheists seems unfair considering his contribution. I thought the Moral Landscape was a great book that presented some really interesting ideas. I feel the same way when people condemn Richard Dawkins for the Dear Muslima rant. Hell, I even feel this way about Thunderf00t a little bit.

    Your privilege is showing.

    Would it help to note that nobody is saying “excommunicate them from atheism!”. They’re pointing out bad examples of specific types of behavior and saying “don’t do that”. Few are even claiming that they are beyond helping, lost causes, etc, just that in certain ways they are very, very wrong (sometimes very clearly willfully so).

  67. says

    Sam Harris believes that torture should be in all cases illegal, and that the United States should maintain a policy of never torturing anyone. However, he thinks that there is a very narrow set of circumstances, very unlikely circumstances, where torture may be ethically appropriate. That contention is controversial, and for good reason. But reducing his position to “Sam Harris supports torture” is at best egregiously misleading.

  68. jehk says

    @72 Doug Hudson

    Good point. I’ll have to consider it some more. I’m trying to figure out what’s bothering me so much and why (and if its reasonable).

  69. lostintime says

    I loved reading this article, and I agree with I. Murphy that disbelief in god is not sufficient to call yourself a rationalist. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a tremendously courageous woman for example and I’ve literally just finished reading Nomad, which I thought was brilliant and very moving – until the last 50 pages. For some reason she starts sucking up to the Catholic church and presents an astonishingly stupid plan to convert the Islamic world to Christianity! It almost ruined the whole book for me. As for her current infatuation with libertarianism, that’s just sad considering how much the social servies in the Netherlands supported her when she arrived. It’s interesting how the lives of Ayn Rand and Ayaan Hirsi Ali have moved in the same direction (although of course Rand was an extremely nasty piece of work, whereas Ayaan is very pleasant in her writing and appearances). Maybe there’s something about escaping from totalitarianism that drives some people towards obsessive individualism.

    I’m also glad that the professional arsehole Penn Jillette is on the list. Having watched his god-awful embarassing Bullshit! programmes about the Endangered Species Act and global warming, I really never want to hear from him again on any subject.

  70. 'Tis Himself says

    jehk #70

    The problem with people like Harris, Dawkins and ThunderfOOl isn’t that we disagree with them. A couple of years ago, on the old site, I had an argument with PZ and neither of us convinced the other of our point. However the disagreement was about our interpretations of one person’s actions, not about how large groups of people should be treated. As a result, PZ and I still respect each other despite a disagreement.

    Harris is a racist. He supports racial profiling against Muslims. He has skirted making a first-strike nuclear attack on Islamic countries. He claims he hasn’t advocated such a thing, other reasonable people have reached a different conclusion about his views.

    Dawkins made a misogynist, privileged response to Rachael Watson’s “guys, don’t do that” statement. AFAIK he’s never withdrawn the Dear Muslima letter.

    ThunderfOOl is an outspoken misogynist and Islamophobe.

    All three of these men have written things to the detriment of large numbers of other people. This isn’t a minor squabble (you may like country music, I don’t, therefore there’s a possible disagreement between us, so what?). We’re objecting to the consequences of Harris’, Dawkins’ and ThunderfOOl’s opinions and prejudices.

  71. jehk says

    I do not understand, how do good contributions do anything to erase the mistakes and stupid opinions? Vile opinions are not reduced because you happen do say some good things.

    I’m not saying this at all.

    Would it help to note that nobody is saying “excommunicate them from atheism!”. They’re pointing out bad examples of specific types of behavior and saying “don’t do that”. Few are even claiming that they are beyond helping, lost causes, etc, just that in certain ways they are very, very wrong (sometimes very clearly willfully so).

    Then I guess its those few I have the problem with.

  72. feloniuspope says

    S. E. Cupp doesn’t belong on a list of atheists any more than Asimov belongs on a list of orthodox Jewish people.

  73. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    leonardhebert:

    Creeping islamization of the West is a grave threat and by denying the danger Murphy is not doing anyone of us a favor.

    In what way is this true?
    Do you have any evidence to back this up?

    Do people tell you that you have strong opinions? Take a chill pill.

    By the time you see this message, others will likely have chimed in, but it bears repeating:
    Many of the people who post here feel very strongly about many issues facing society today. The passion that some individuals feel about a certain topic manifests in different ways. No way is more right/wrong than any other way. When you tell someone to chill, you’re in effect telling them to sit down and shush; that their way is wrong and/or you can do it better. It strikes too much like trying to set the tone in a manner that you deem appropriate. Pharyngula provides a space for people to express their anger, frustration or outrage in a manner they as individuals deem necessary (obviously there are limits; you won’t find tolerance of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist slurs, no matter how angry someone is), without fear of being told to quiet down. Social justice movements benefit from people who have differing approaches, as no one approach works for everyone.
    If you’d like a blog where people are not allowed to speak in the manner than Ing does, you might want to check out Camels With Hammers, because Pharyngula is not the place for that.

  74. jehk says

    @85 ‘Tis Himself

    Some really good points. It’s a much larger and complicated problem then I first considered.

    Yes, I know my privilege is showing. Hence, asking questions. I do appreciate people pointing out what I was missing.

  75. Doug Hudson says

    jehk @90, fair enough. The thing is that this blog isn’t the best place to get basic information about privilege, feminism, etc. You might want to check out Feminism 101, “yo, is this racist?”, and “ill doctrine” by Jay Smooth, if you haven’t already.

  76. Doug Hudson says

    addendum: Because most of the time, people who post here “just asking questions” are usually trolls. So the reaction tends to be a bit more curt than perhaps you expected.

  77. tgriehl says

    Am I the only one who thinks that the Maher doesn’t belong on a list of atheists? People who oppose religion sure, but from what he has said, he’s more of a vague deist than an atheist.

    And yeah, Cupp showed up as a blip on my radar six months ago and hasn’t popped up since. She seems kind of useless.

  78. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    mythbri @30:

    Nothing that Maher says on his program is reflective of his own views? Absolutely nothing? Or is that a convenient excuse to fall back on to explain away the things that he says that piss off the wrong (or right, depending upon where you’re coming from) people?

    But he’s a comedian!
    /sarcasm
    I’ve watched enough of Bill Maher’s show to know that his opinions permeate everything he talks about.

    ****

    jehk @33:

    I don’t want to condemn either but praise doesn’t seem appropriate.

    This feels way too much like the cognitive dissonance.

    I’ve found that many people want to employ an either/or position when it comes to public figures. Dawkins is a viewed by many as a leader in the atheist movement, and because many people want to see this movement succeed, they will overlook some of his negative character traits. I don’t. When he says something I agree with, he’ll get praise. When he spouts BS, I’ll condemn him. There isn’t any cognitive dissonance to worry about if you don’t rationalize his negative comments away in an attempt to continue viewing him as an unassailable hero.
    Take a look at people you know in real life. Do you criticize them when they do wrong? Do you praise them when they do things you find helpful or beneficial? Does it bother you to do so?

  79. says

    To label him as one of the worst Atheists seems unfair considering his contribution.

    Maybe I just missed your point here but this seems to imply that his contributions elevate him in some way and make up for some of the bad. He did good so he can’t be on this list.

  80. mattand says

    I’ve mentioned this before, but for years, Maher went out of his way to deny he was an atheist. He claimed to be an “apathesit”, aka, don’t care whether there is a God or not. When he was promoting Religioulus, he told both Letterman and Jon Stewart that he considered atheism no different that religion.

    I’ve noticed he’s been labeling himself an atheist over the last few years. Just out of curiosity, has he ever said what changed his mind?

    PS: I had never heard of S.E. Cupp until about a month ago. She’s as much an atheist as her buddy Glenn Beck. It’s not a matter of if she converts to Christianity, it’s a matter of when.

  81. jehk says

    @91 Doug Hudson

    I believe I have checked those out. For sure, “Feminism 101″, “yo, is this racist?”

    They’re not magic wands that will automagically dispel every misconception I have.

    But whatever, I guess I’ll take my concerns else where.

  82. mythbri says

    @mattand

    You know, I actually enjoyed Religulous, despite my dislike of Maher in general. It was funny and irreverent. But Maher finds it convenient to use the subjugation of women to make a point (“Ooh, Lot gave his daughters to a crowd of people to rape, isn’t that awful) but seems completely unperturbed by criticism of the sexist remarks he makes himself.

    In short, he’s not an ally, just willing to borrow other people’s suffering to bolster his positions.

  83. Leo says

    I plead ignorance on Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I just don’t know a whole heck of a lot about her. (Maybe the reasons I have not heard much are the same as for why she is on this list? I guess I’ll have to read the piece.)

    Otherwise, I’m not sure I agree that Jacoby would run from the label. Though, I recognize that she probably prefers terms like “freethinker” (to reflect one of her book titles) instead. Tyson has run from the label; no surprises there.

  84. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Paul@38:

    The base rate fallacy isn’t just pretty words. The only reason people don’t recognize it as ruling out profiling of Muslims is that they honestly believe that “Jihadists” comprise anything other than a very small minority of the total Muslim population. Choosing to depart from reality might mean a jury of peers is “still out on that”, but any jury that actually deals with reality is not. It’s racism, plain and simple.

    I agree completely.
    When I was a child, my mother worked part time at a department stores (this was in the late 1970s in Louisiana). She learned firsthand how black people were secretly profiled by store employees. In fact, the employees were told to follow black customers around to make sure they didn’t steal anything. My mother, being a PoC didn’t care for that at all. She said there were times when thieves of another race got away with theft because the staff was too busy watching the black guests. Sure there are black people who steal. There are also members of just about every other race that steal too.
    Profiling is unfair and racist. It is based upon the idea that the actions of a few individuals reflect the actions of the whole group.
    BTW, thanks for referring to it as the base rate fallacy. I hadn’t heard that term before.

    ****

    leonardhebert:

    I was called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” in this thread. Do you consider that an acceptable tone of voice or do you issue warnings only to those with unpopular opinions?

    I take it you don’t think it is remotely possible that you were acting like a “complete fucking shithead moron”?
    Look at it from a different angle.
    What if you’re wrong about profiling?
    Are you open to the idea that you could be wrong?

  85. iiandyiiii says

    I wonder how much of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s anti-Islamicism is due to the violent physical trauma she’s endured. Not that that’s an excuse, and I’m all for criticizing her beliefs, but it’s hard (at least for me) to be critical of her as a person (or as an atheist) considering her life experience.

  86. says

    @ Tony #100

    I may have been wrong, ‘Tis himself in #42 presents a good case and I will have to think about it.

    Does not justify name-calling. It has been my observation that vulgarity in speech comes from vulgarity of character.

    This was my first post on this site and I got the impression that I am back in the USSR in the midst of a “purity of thought” investigation. Any deviation from the strict party line is immediately punishable by firing squad. Good job, guys!

  87. jjgdenisrobert says

    @leonardhebert: only if by “firing squad”, you mean “having my bs pointed out to me”. I personally don’t see the resemblance between the two.

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  88. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    leonardhebert:

    It looks like this site is populated by a bunch of self-righteous teenagers.

    Are you so attached to the idea that ‘Islamization’ is a big problem facing the west that you dismiss the points made by anyone?
    ‘Tis Himself back @42 provided a link to refute your belief. That information provided in that link comes from people who are authorities in that subject.
    Do you dismiss what they have to say?
    If so on what grounds?
    How have you arrived at your views?
    This is Freethought Blogs. That entails arriving at a conclusion based upon reason, logic, and/or evidence based science. Did you apply reason and logic to arrive at the conclusion that profiling is effective?

  89. says

    @ jjgdenisrobert #103

    With that kind of attitude you are going to end up with a very sparsely populated kitchen. Is it any wonder that with millions of atheist in the US there is no atheist movement? Everyone has to march to the same drum beat or else.

    I have not seen any argument pointing out my bs yet, just a lot of PC hand-waiving.

  90. Doug Hudson says

    @102, nice hyperbole there. Getting called nasty names is exactly like facing a firing squad. Except, y’know, not.

    Also, what the fuck is wrong with vulgarity? Some ideas are so vile that they deserve to be dismissed with vulgarity. The idea that “the muslims” are planning to take over Europe is one such dumbfuck idea.

  91. Loqi says

    With that kind of attitude you are going to end up with a very sparsely populated kitchen.

    Nevermind the fact that Pharyngula has been a hugely popular site for many years now.

    Is it any wonder that with millions of atheist in the US there is no atheist movement?

    Except that there is.

    I have not seen any argument pointing out my bs yet, just a lot of PC hand-waiving.

    Just because you didn’t bother to read them (or are unable to grok them) doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  92. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Does not justify name-calling. It has been my observation that vulgarity in speech comes from vulgarity of character.

    You must not get out much.

    This was my first post on this site and I got the impression that I am back in the USSR in the midst of a “purity of thought” investigation. Any deviation from the strict party line is immediately punishable by firing squad. Good job, guys!

    Yes this is exactly like that. And speaking of, please show us your papers.

    When you get a chance to step down off your high horse kindly get a grip.

    And this,

    To all of you dumping on Hirsi Ali, Maher etc.

    Do y’all know anything negative about yourselves? Are you that bloody perfect? Is it reasonable to expect of public figures that they would be unblemished and always agree with YOU?

    If you disagree with Harris or Maher or whoever else, who appointed YOU to decide who is right? (does not apply to PZ, he is beyond reproach and a total teddy bear)

    How about we accept other people’s foibles just as we accept our own?

    Is purely missing the fucking point coupled with a giant slice of strawman. No one expects anyone to be prefect but that in turn does not mean we should ignore their faults when they are glaring.

    The reason you may have been subjected to some “vulgar language” (OH NOES! will you ever survive?) is because you are acting like a twit.

  93. Doug Hudson says

    @105, not our job to prove your assertions, cupcake. Show proof that “the muslims” (not a small fringe group of Islamicists) are a threat to take over Europe.

  94. vaiyt says

    It has been my observation that vulgarity in speech comes from vulgarity of character.

    This is a place for adults, and we aren’t afraid to swear. We’re also tired of people who come here and dismiss other people’s arguments for showing passion. We don’t want the “civility” that demands the offended, and only the offended, shut up.

    You can take your phony “civility” and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    This was my first post on this site and I got the impression that I am back in the USSR in the midst of a “purity of thought” investigation.

    And your impression is mistaken. Being called on your bullshit is not the same as being persecuted. You’re doing just like the religiots now.

    Any deviation from the strict party line is immediately punishable by firing squad. Good job, guys!

    Stop comparing yourself to people who were shot for disagreement. It’s disrespectful to them.

  95. says

    #104

    ‘Tis Himself back @42 was only talking about profiling and if you read carefully what I just said, you will notice that I am willing to concede the point.

    As far as the issue of islamization is concerned, I have been studying this subject for a long time, I am familiar with all the PC “counter-arguments”. I got the same attitude from my acquaintances in Paris 10 years ago and then we had the riots of 2005. And then in 2007.

    It is easy to accuse Europeans of racism (they are xenophobic), that does not change the fact that France is a tinderbox that is going to explode in the next 10-20 years. If you cannot see that it is not a sign of tolerance, merely of nearsightedness.

  96. says

    it is somewhat obnoxious to me that this list is about the politics of the atheists involved, and not their articulation of their atheism per se. the implication is that atheists are not allowed to disagree on politics. except for the dig at harris’ imperviousness to evidence, none of the objections seem to have anything to do with rationalism, a commitment to evidence, or any similar topic.

  97. Art Vandelay says

    Yes! You can make your own list, and you can put anyone you want on it, and we could argue about it! I would be entertained by a list that included me on it; I might agree or disagree with the reasons.

    Alright…I’ll give it a shot.

    6. PZ Myers – Refuses to list things that he’s thankful for on the grounds that gratitude somehow implies that you must anthopomorphize the universe and henceforth will only list shit that he likes such as squids and his wife. Get over yourself, professor.

    - Once desecrated a copy of The God Delusion.

    - A huge catalyst for the backlash against cats while refusing to acknowledge their role in controlling the population of evasive, rabid rodents and just being really fucking cute.

    - Won’t debate creationists based on some weird principle about it legitimizing them while overlooking the fact that it’s amusing as hell and a valuable source of entertainment for us people with nothing better to do than watch him eviscerate creationists.

    - Never does speaking appearances in Southern New England.

    Man…that guy is just the worst.

  98. says

    it seems to me that a commitment to humanistic ethics is only moderately correlated with a commitment to evidence-based thinking. mystics of various stripes have long shown themselves to be exceedingly capable of admirable humanistic morality.

  99. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    leonardhebert:

    I may have been wrong, ‘Tis himself in #42 presents a good case and I will have to think about it.

    That is a reasonable thing to do.
    I hope that you read the link provided by ‘Tis. You have to be willing to accept the possibility that you’re wrong though.

    Does not justify name-calling. It has been my observation that vulgarity in speech comes from vulgarity of character.

    You may not like Pharyngula then. The level of discourse here does involve insults from time to time. That doesn’t mean anything bad about the character of the individual. Different people employ different means to get people to understand them. Sometimes a rhetorical 2×4 across the head works. Sometimes a pillow to the head works. Neither is better/worse than the other.
    When I first started posting here, I felt the same way you did. It took me a little while before I realized that most of the commenters also have a *lot* of substance to back up their occasional insults.
    My advice to you, if you choose to stick around is to lurk a while. That way you can get a feel for how things operate around here. I have come to respect a great many people here and I’ve learned quite a bit. You may as well.
    I would like to add that I don’t think your truism ‘vulgarity in speech=vulgarity of character’ is true. If you’ve never employed insults or vulgar words when discussing topics that you’re passionate about, then my hat is off to you. For many others, myself included, sometimes getting our point across is done more effectively by shocking people with vulgarity. In addition, I’ve found that people across all walks of life employ vulgarity at various times in various contexts. Applying your truism would mean that most of the people I’ve ever met, including my parents, virtually everyone I’ve worked with, a metric fuck ton of politicians and more have vulgar characters. I don’t believe that to be true. I think ‘vulgar speech=vulgar character’ is a crappy argument designed to get people who feel passionate about a topic to quiet down. It’s a silencing tactic. When you’re part of a minority group, be it homosexuals, people of color, women, or atheists, silencing tactics have long been an effective way for the majority to keep their power.

  100. Doug Hudson says

    @111, and if France does explode, is that the fault of the Muslims, or of the French xenophobes who oppress them?

    @112, the implication is that atheists shouldn’t be racist misogynist douchebags. And its not an implication, really, more of a straight up expectation.

  101. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    jehk:

    I just cannot join in condemning these people despite having some strong disagreements with them.

    I think you’re conflating criticism or their views with complete condemnation of them.
    Many people heavily criticized Christopher Hitchens for his views on Islam and the War in Iraq, but still acknowledged the tremendous good he was often capable of.

  102. vaiyt says

    With that kind of attitude you are going to end up with a very sparsely populated kitchen.

    Better than having a kitchen full of people that don’t want to cook.

    Everyone has to march to the same drum beat or else.

    As if we had any power to set the Party Line(tm).

    I have not seen any argument pointing out my bs yet, just a lot of PC hand-waiving.

    So you are one of those. The type who thinks it’s edgy to fight against social justice and privilege. Good! That way I know you’re a shithead and shall refrain from wasting any more time with you.

  103. Loqi says

    As far as the issue of islamization is concerned, I have been studying this subject for a long time, I am familiar with all the PC “counter-arguments”.

    Oh, well I guess if you’ve “been studying this subject for a long time,” we should stop looking for evidence of your claims and just take your word for it, right?

  104. Loqi says

    @neogeshel #112

    So rationality has nothing to say on politics? It’s all just a matter of opinion, right? Not subject to evidence or reason?

  105. vaiyt says

    @neogeshel:

    Well, you can interpret the list as being “people who say awful things and happen to be (prominent) atheists”.

    There’s little to derive from atheism anyway, because it’s a pretty low bar.

  106. Ze Madmax says

    neogeshel @ #112

    none of the objections seem to have anything to do with rationalism, a commitment to evidence, or any similar topic.

    Bill Maher’s anti-vax statements aren’t objectionable by rationalism or a commitment to evidence?

    Penn Jillette’s worshipping of libertarianism, despite the fact that is a pipe dream fueled by narcissist pseudo-intellectuals that think “fuck you I got mine” is valid economic policy isn’t objectionable on the grounds of a commitment to evidence?

    These are not disagreements regarding politics. These are factual issues in which these so-called “leaders” of the atheist movement have chosen (much like Harris’ and profiling) to ignore the evidence and push their pet ideology despite what the evidence says about them.

  107. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have not seen any argument pointing out my bs yet, just a lot of PC hand-waiving.

    Hitchens: “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”. Your unevidenced claims are *POOF* dimsissed as bullshit. Now, show some evidence or shut the fuck up…Evidence is third party, not your opinion.

  108. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    leonardhebert:

    Any deviation from the strict party line is immediately punishable by firing squad. Good job, guys!

    I’m going to admit, my desire to be polite is quickly reaching an end. When you talk like this, it gives the impression that you’re not understanding what’s going on at all.
    There are people who agree with one another on this blog.
    That does not mean there is a party line.
    It just means that a great many people have arrived at the same conclusion. Often independently.
    One of the many things commenters at Pharyngula have in common is their pursuit of social justice. That’s not a party line. No one, not even PZ dictates with authority what is allowed to be said and what isn’t (yes, for those lurking, this includes the Thunderf00t situation), but this would hardly be a movement if people didn’t agree with one another.
    Also, you’re not being attacked with a metaphorical firing squad. If you go reread all the responses to you, you’ll find an incredibly small number of people who have actually engaged you. Of those, not every one of them used the same tactics. Your comment above reeks of martyrdom.

  109. Doug Hudson says

    @121, exactly. Atheism, at its most basic, is simply the position that there are no gods. What PZ and others are trying to do is build an atheist movement that is about more than just having no gods; an atheist movement that will be (and is) a force for good in the world.

    Atheists who spout racist, misogynistic, or anti-science bullshit are the kind of people who give atheists a bad name.

  110. 'Tis Himself says

    Art Vandelay #113

    Never does speaking appearances in Southern New England.

    As an inhabitant of Connecticut, this forces me to the conclusion that hanging’s too good for him!

  111. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    neogeshel:

    none of the objections seem to have anything to do with rationalism, a commitment to evidence, or any similar topic.

    Did you learn to read recently? It doesn’t appear to be one of your strong points.

  112. jehk says

    @117 Tony •King of the Hellmouth•

    I think you’re conflating criticism or their views with complete condemnation of them.

    You’re right especially with the people who leveled harsh criticism.

  113. 'Tis Himself says

    Any deviation from the strict party line is immediately punishable by firing squad. Good job, guys!

    I was engaged in a rather heated argument with another Pharyngula regular. To keep my blood pressure down, I left this blog for a week because otherwise I’d probably say something that would make other people as angry as he got me.

    Sorry, no strict party lines here. Guess again.

    Oh, SG, I’m just ignoring you hateful comments. I still think you’re lower than whale shit, the nastiest, most slimy thing in the depths of the ocean.

  114. Doug Hudson says

    @130, hell, its the arguments between regulars that are the most vicious. Pharyngulites tend to treat annoying outsiders like chew toys more than anything else.

  115. simonsays says

    (emphasis mine)

    Since 1992, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn has served as executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution’s religious liberty provisions.

    In addition to his work as a long-time activist and lawyer in the civil liberties field, Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offering him a unique perspective on church-state issues.

    Source: http://www.au.org/about/people/lynn

  116. sambarge says

    These sorts of lists are the worst. They are nothing but a bunch of noise about nothing at all. The problem lies in their purported objectivity. This list is not objective and picking who will be on it or not is a subjective act. Do you agree with the list maker’s choices? No. So what? This list doesn’t mean anything except to the person who wrote it. Another illuminating example of this: note that the inclusion of Led Zepplin on every “Top Ten Bands of All Time” list does not mean that Led Zepplin is, objectively, one of the top ten bands of all time.*

    I could make a list of the 5 worst atheists and, while there would be some overlap with this list, it would be different and just as valid (ie. not very).

    That said I should come clean by admitting that, although I don’t particularly care for Bill Maher, I don’t get the flu vaccine either. I’m not an anti-vaccine nutjob. Quite the contrary, I’m a pro-vaccine nutjob, actually. But I don’t bother with the flu vaccine. It’s cool if others want to get the vaccine and I completely support the use of public funds to provide the vaccine to all who want it. But, personally, I have a generous sick leave plan and universal, publicly-funded health-care.

    *No, it doesn’t. Get over yourself.

  117. says

    I for one enjoyed the article, because I learned something new about a few well-known atheists. I don’t understand why this is wrong to talk about. Is it somehow better that I be left in the dark?

  118. Doug Hudson says

    @133, sambarge, you selfish ass, the main reason to get the flu vaccine is to help cut down on risk of infection for people who can’t get the flu vaccine.

    Enjoy your sick leave and free health care, hope you didn’t give the flu to any kids or elderly folk who can die from it.

  119. left0ver1under says

    Clearly, the “worst atheists list” was intended to cover only the living. But even so, the writer was poorly informed not to include Tom Metzger on the list. Either that, or he was doing a hit piece on selected people.

    I know it won’t please FtB readers to raise the name I gave above, but let’s not behave like christians who try to deny their own. They deny the christianity of many after crimes are committed: Jared Loughner, Jerry and Joseph Kane, James Holmes, James Kopp, catholic priests, etc.

  120. jjgdenisrobert says

    @leonardhebert:

    If you’ve studied the subject for a long time (by that, I suspect you mean googled it a few times), you would know that even in France, which has a very long history of repression and oppression of muslims in North Africa, muslims constitute less than 10% of the population. Most French muslims are between moderate and apatheistic; all the French muslims I’ve ever met drank (in some cases like fishes) and ate pork. There is a small minority of extremists, just like everywhere else (see the United States, where 40% of the population espouse extreme Christian views). There is endemic racism against people from North Africa, which pushes the youth into the open arms of Islamist groups ready to give them a “purpose” in life. Solve the youth problem, and most of the islamist issues disappear. The vast majority of the islamist movement in France (as opposed to, say, Egypt) is composed of unemployed youth. There is strong evidence that as they integrate into society (for example, when they get good jobs), most French muslims become nearly indistinguishable from non-muslims. In that they are just as misogynistic and racist as anyone else.

    So, for someone who has “studied” the situation, you don’t seem to know a lot. You don’t know anything about the history of French North Africa or about Lebanon, and you are yet to offer a single line of actual evidence for anything you advance. All you have to contribute is dismissive words like “PC”.

    “PC” is usually a term used by racist, homophobes, bigots and assholes to justify their positions. You really need to do better than that to stand toe to toe with us, dude. You at the very least need to come up with more creative insults.

    As I’ve said before, when you oversimplify things, you make

  121. Doug Hudson says

    @136 Who is Tom Metzger? Never heard of him. Wikipedia gives a musician, a sinologist, and a white supremicist, none of whom are cited as noted atheists.

  122. Shawn says

    The funny thing is I’ll bet theists would think higher of NDT for not labeling himself an atheist.

    As if he somehow thinks a god exists any more than say Dawkins.

  123. sambarge says

    Doug Hudson @ 136

    How did you know my ass was selfish?! You are so smart. And from one post.

  124. 'Tis Himself says

    Who is Tom Metzger? Never heard of him.

    I believe left0ver1under is referring to the White supremacist. He once denounced Christianity as being a mongrel offshoot of Judaism. Other than that, I know nothing about his religious views.

  125. says

    left0ver1under said:

    I know it won’t please FtB readers to raise the name I gave above, but let’s not behave like christians who try to deny their own. They deny the christianity of many after crimes are committed: Jared Loughner, Jerry and Joseph Kane, James Holmes, James Kopp, catholic priests, etc.

    I am just curious, why would people here not be pleased about that name being brought up? I am more than happy to denounce his idiocy and racism (I would actually enjoy it, I love to tangle with white supremacists and Holocaust denialists), like I would any other white supremacists. I am sure pretty much anyone else would as well. It is not as though people are trying to hide his existence like he is some sort of dirty little secret. The article might not have been well researched, or he was not included as many people do not know of him. He is a pretty fringe character whereas everyone else on that list is pretty well known.

  126. 'Tis Himself says

    sambarge #140

    How did you know my ass was selfish?! You are so smart. And from one post.

    He got it from your post where you bragged about never getting the flu vaccine because if you got flu then you’d get time off from work and free medical care. If you don’t recognize your selfishness then you’re not only selfish but an idiot.

  127. Ze Madmax says

    sambarge @ #140:

    How did you know my ass was selfish?! You are so smart. And from one post.

    It’s not hard to figure out, when you make it so clear yourself. From your post @ #133:

    It’s cool if others want to get the vaccine and I completely support the use of public funds to provide the vaccine to all who want it. But, personally, I have a generous sick leave plan and universal, publicly-funded health-care.

    (Emphasis mine)

    Now, the way I (and Doug Hudson, and probably others) read this is that you wouldn’t take a flu vaccine because you have resources available to take care of yourself if you get sick with the flu. The problem is that attitude means you are still capable of transmitting the disease, which means that while you may not be at risk, you’re putting other people who are unable to receive the vaccine themselves (e.g., young children, older adults, immunocompromised people) at risk for getting the flu.

    You don’t get the flu vaccine because it wouldn’t affect you all that much, while ignoring the impact it could have on others. That’s practically a textbook definition of selfish behavior.

  128. says

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center Tom Metzger is an atheist. I have no problem with that fact. Lots of atheists hold ignorant views or are just rather stupid. The evavatorgate and TF affairs have really made it clear to me that being an atheist is no guarantee that a person is rational, thoughtful, or in any way reasonable.

  129. ckitching says

    I know it won’t please FtB readers to raise the name I gave above, but let’s not behave like christians who try to deny their own.

    Well, if you want to raise the name of people, it might help to do so for people that someone might actually recognise. Travis has already done the research to find out that he’s a white supremacists, so there isn’t much to add there. My only question is, “What’s your point?”

  130. Eric O says

    I just finished reading Infidel and started reading Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    I have a lot of respect for her, and it bothers me that she’s been sucked in by right-wing thinking. I’m a bit more optimistic about her, though: of all the people on the list, she’s the only one who has demonstrated the ability to challenge her own deep-seated beliefs.

  131. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Now, the way I (and Doug Hudson, and probably others) read this is that you wouldn’t take a flu vaccine because you have resources available to take care of yourself if you get sick with the flu. The problem is that attitude means you are still capable of transmitting the disease, which means that while you may not be at risk, you’re putting other people who are unable to receive the vaccine themselves (e.g., young children, older adults, immunocompromised people) at risk for getting the flu.

    Not to mention adding an increased burdon to the health care system..

  132. clarysage says

    Although Barry Lynn is a staunch defender of separation of church and state and of atheists’ rights, I don’t think he has ever declared himself an atheist. In his podcast Culture Shocks he has alluded to a belief in Christianity.

  133. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    In addition to his work as a long-time activist and lawyer in the civil liberties field, Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offering him a unique perspective on church-state issues.

    Sigh

    Just to be really annoying, I’d name Eugenie Scott, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Susan Jacoby, and Barry Lynn, because most of them would run away from the label and one would outright reject it (with good reason, too)

  134. petejohn says

    Not really a huge fan of “Best/worst of” lists. With that said I agree with his criticisms of Harris, Maher, and Jillete. Profiling, misogyny, and uncontrolled libertarianism are bad ideas at the very core based on fundamentally wrong-headed thinking about the world. I don’t know enough about Ali to comment other than to say I have a lot of respect for her for her ability to get through and rise above some rather awful circumstances, and that it is sad she’s associated herself with some rather ridiculous groups and positions (assuming she’s been represented correctly. Again, I have to plead ignorance but I’m guessing the author didn’t just make some shit up). Don’t know much about Cupp either but it sounds like I’m not missing anything. Sounds rather odious.

    Now for @leonardhebert

    This was my first post on this site and I got the impression that I am back in the USSR in the midst of a “purity of thought” investigation. Any deviation from the strict party line is immediately punishable by firing squad. Good job, guys!

    Wow. Just wow. Some individuals didn’t like what you had to say and reacted in a harsh way (b/c that’s kind of how things work here…) and that’s similar to being investigated by Communist Party goons in Stalin’s USSR? And then being lined up against a wall and shot to death? What??? Did you really write that or do I need to get my eyeballs checked?

    I have not seen any argument pointing out my bs yet, just a lot of PC hand-waiving.

    You think teh muzlums are taking over. I won’t do any PC handwaving, but give me some time I may be able to make you a tinfoil hat.

    It’s not up for debate that there some dangerous ladies and dudes who bow down and pray to Mecca several times a day, but I’m old enough to remember Catholics and Protestants blowing each other up in Ireland, Muslims and Hindus posturing about nukes in Kashmir, and Christian fundamentalists trying to hijack American society and turn it into a Christian theocracy and rename it all the United States of Dumbfuckistan. Singling out members of one particular religious group as particularly dangerous and worthy of profiling is a profoundly discriminatory stance which does not fucking work (profiling wouldn’t have stopped Timothy McVeigh or the guy in Colorado!), and I think you know that, but are too stubborn or dishonest to admit it.

    I also got a kick out of how you initially defended all of these folks, then when called on it you said something to the effect of “Well, but… everyone makes mistakes,” (a total Dan Dennett deepity) basically acknowledging you had nothing to add, and that you fundamentally misunderstood why the original piece was written in the first place and what the author was arguing.

    In short, I disagree.

  135. jacobvfox says

    Well the conclusion seems to be that some smart people hold irrational beliefs adjacent to their other reasonable conclusions, and some irrational beliefs should preclude one from the claim of being a rational or reasonable person, despite th eir atheism. As an aside I do find it amusing when we use words like redemption in atheist circles. What I’d really like to hear from more of the outspoken and public faces in atheism and rational thought is an admission that they were wrong on a point and what evidence changed their mind, or at least an admission that their ignorance in a certain area precludes holding a strong position on highly debatable matters. (But ANYONE who buddies with Glen Beck is on my forever shytte list until they make significant acts of public contrition and seek the absolution and forgiveness of thinking people everywhere!)

  136. jimmauch says

    There is a fundamental difference between the irrationality that is found in our two groups. In one group you will find the irrational fringe subjected to scorn while in the other group you will find the irrational mainstream being venerated and promised a place in Heaven.

  137. says

    I am longing for the day when creating a list of atheists is as meaningless as creating a list of people who change their underwear every day.

  138. PatrickG says

    @leonardhebert

    Um, no. Some of us like the heat. I know I come here specifically because it is so hot. Another post clearly explained how this forum attracts a number of people who consider it their mission to derail this community or attempt to remake it into their own image.

    Someone above (too lazy to look, sorry) advised you lurk, and get an idea of what the community here is like. I did that. I don’t comment that often, but I lurked here for almost 3 months before I did.

    I’d go a step further and say that Pharyngula really isn’t for everyone. It’s not meant to be! It’s a community that has built itself up over years and attracts a very large number of people. Why the fuck (fuckity-fuck, for that matter) should they (we) change that because you came here and decided you didn’t like the language? There’s other places on the internet; this one is built for a specific purpose, and everybody here acknowledges some people won’t like it.

  139. PatrickG says

    Ok, unlazied — go reread the comment by Tony •King of the Hellmouth• (#115). Sorry for not attributing you in my previous post Tony. :)

  140. imthegenieicandoanything says

    What us atheists say proudly, that organizing us is like herding cats, may have a good degree of truth in it, in the general sense, and only if we don’t get into specifics of nearly any kind, but what we clearly excel at is cat-fighting!

    I feel like Cupp should suddenly die, just so’s I can forgive her and get another hundred shirty idiot comments by people who probably agree with me, on every substantive issue, completely.

    Twenty comments in, and I was embarrassed to be here!

    Feets! Gets movin’!

  141. kayden says

    I’m like PatrickG. Lurked for years and have only posted a few times.

    This is a great blog. Although PZ has views that I don’t share (for example, I’m not an atheist), he writes well, is not sexist, racist, anti-gay or any other “ist” that I abhor. He has created a safe space for peolpe who don’t want to read anti-women, anti-Black/minority, anti-gay diatribes. I am sure that I am one of many Christians who read and completely enjoy Pharyngula. I also love THE FRIENDLY ATHEIST blog.

    If you don’t like it here, move on. I gather that PZ is not trying to please everyone. And he doesn’t have to.

  142. AtheistPowerlifter says

    @ micheald # 83

    That’s it I’m adding PZ and Crom to my list of awful atheists for their lack of cat loving ;p.

    Noooo….not Crom! Praise be to Crom and his prophet CONAN(may rage be upon him).

    Maybe you mean Quezacotl?

    AP

  143. 'Tis Himself says

    AtheistPowerlifter #161

    Conan isn’t Crom’s prophet. Conan’s attitude is he’ll leave Crom alone and would appreciate the gesture returned. Generally it is.

  144. tomh says

    Doug Hudson wrote:

    Atheists who spout racist, misogynistic, or anti-science bullshit are the kind of people who give atheists a bad name.

    I don’t see this at all. They give themselves a bad name, but who says they speak for all atheists? Besides, people don’t need an excuse to give atheists a bad name.

  145. eleutheria says

    @leonardhebert

    I was called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” in this thread. Do you consider that an acceptable tone of voice or do you issue warnings only to those with unpopular opinions?

    Don’t expect people to give you respect here. It’s like “Oz.” If you disagree with them, just tell them to shut their gobfucking mouths. Or tell them to fuck themselves up their fucking asses. Something classy. The only way to get respect is to give disrespect. This is the way PZ likes it. Your complaining, it’s what’s called being a “tone troll.”

    Now, fuckers:
    WHY ISN’T De BOTTON ON THE FUCKING LIST?

  146. AtheistPowerlifter says

    @ Tis # 162

    Yah I know…it just seems funnier if it’s termed that way so I can add the “shades of Mohammed” – Rage Be Upon Him – whenever I say his name.

    Oh well, comedy fail.

    Plus the Conan the Barbarian remake was terrible.

    AP

  147. bartmitchell says

    I think it’s pretty awesome that of the 5 most awful atheists, at least four of them are pretty frelling awesome (if not slightly flawed). We all have our blind spots, and hopefully this article will help some of these people see it. But still, these people are bright, wonderful, well meaning, and pretty decent folks. Except for Cupp, but hey, 4 out of 5 aint bad.

  148. Doug Hudson says

    sambarge @140, while I was away several people kindly elaborated on why you are a selfish ass.

    @136, nice slur there, implying that the atheist community is trying to cover up links with white supremicists. But Tom Metzger is hardly well known as an atheist, so that’s bullshit.

    @163, Hard core religionists may not need an excuse, but frankly, I don’t care about what they think. I do care what various progressive groups think about atheists. Atheism as a movement is generally male and lily white, especially the leading figures. Atheism as a movement also has a serious problem with misogyny and racism. This list is trying to bring more attention to the seriously problematic views held by some of the leading figures in atheism.

  149. tomh says

    @ 167

    I do care what various progressive groups think about atheists.

    Progressive groups will tar atheists in general because Maher is anti-vax, or Jillete is a jerk, or Cupp is whatever? These are the leading figures of the “movement” that progressives will look at to decide what they think about atheism? Sounds silly to me.

  150. Doug Hudson says

    @168, “silly”? How nice of you to dismiss the very real concerns of these groups. Your privilege is showing.

    I’d go into more detail, but frankly, given the vicious battles being fought over feminism in the atheist community over the last year or so, you are either totally ignorant of the situation or you aren’t arguing in good faith. Either way, there isn’t much point in engaging you.

  151. schweinhundt says

    “[N]ot knowing things is not a good reason to be an atheist. Jillette’s profoundly illogical explanation defies deconstruction: What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist — I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe…”

    Um, from this agnostic’s point of view, that’s a completely accurate summation of atheist logic/thought. As opposed to: I don’t know and we humans *can’t* (at present) KNOW. Therefore, I’m an agnostic.

  152. carlie says

    I think it’s pretty awesome that of the 5 most awful atheists, at least four of them are pretty frelling awesome (if not slightly flawed).

    What is awesome about Penn, besides his ability to do magic tricks?

  153. tomh says

    @ 169

    Oh, please. The only thing I dismissed was your silly, hyberbolic statement, “Atheists who spout racist, misogynistic, or anti-science bullshit are the kind of people who give atheists a bad name.” They don’t give me a bad name. Or you. Or any other atheists. Just themselves.

  154. Sili says

    Joe Stalin breathes a sigh of relief.

    But generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

  155. says

    I started to take a moment to make a comment about the referent article by Ian Murphy. His broad generalizations early on were not a good sign and I thought it would be worthwhile to note the pattern throughout his essay.

    Oh, but, then I took a peek at Murphy’s, er, oeuvre and realized what a waste any comment would be: He condemns himself with his own ridiculous writing. He fits in with a larger group of trash talking, gonzo types who, using lots of passive tense and non-specific antecedents — count them, you’ll see what I mean — make use of no solid evidence, content to just make up reasons why they hate people.

  156. John Morales says

    jacobvfox:

    As an aside I do find it amusing when we use words like redemption in atheist circles.

    Is that because you imagine it can only be used in the religious sense?

  157. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Amateur Hour @175, either that was a fine exercise in irony, or you are clueless.

  158. ericatkinson says

    Pick any five on FFTB. Just as long as PZ Myers is at the top of the list. Ian Murphy might make the list of the five worst atheist writers.

  159. lpetrich says

    My favorite candidate would be Marxists, especially Communists. Marxism seems to me to be an irrational, quasi-religious belief system, and Communists go even further. Like have personality cults of their leaders and ruthlessly suppress anyone and anything they dislike. North Korea has even reinvented god kings – it’s a Communist monarchy.

    Bertrand Russell in A History of Western Philosophy made this dictionary of Marxism:
    Yahweh = Dialectical Materialism
    The Messiah = Marx
    The Elect = The Proletariat
    The Church = The Communist Party
    The Second Coming = The Revolution
    Hell = Punishment of the Capitalists
    The Millennium = The Communist Commonwealth

    Stalin was especially bad. He ordered massive purges of supposed troublemakers, purges that made Joe McCarthy seem like a rank amateur. The purges even extended to official pictures; disfavored officials were often painted out of them. There’s even a book on that photographic damnatio memoriae: The Commissar Vanishes. He also liked to deport members of nationalities that he considered troublesome, but as Khrushchev pointed out, there were too many Ukrainians and nowhere to deport them to. So he contented himself with trying to starve them into submission.

    In biology, an amateur plant breeder and quack geneticist named Trofim Lysenko got into official favor with his claims of success in breeding improved crop plants. He claimed that his treatments could alter the heredity of crop plants in controlled ways, thus producing those improved varieties – Lamarckian genetic engineering. But he believed that genes do not exist, that there is no genotype-phenotype distinction. Genetics he and his followers dismissed as Mendelist Weismannist Morganist reactionary bourgeois idealism.

    Needless to say, visiting biologists found his experimental procedures shoddy and him ignorant of biology and experimental procedure. It was like trying to discuss calculus with someone who did not know the multiplication table, one visitor reported. He claimed that statistical testing was a waste of time. His mentor Michurin didn’t need it, so why should he?

    Though eminent biologists like Nikolai Vavilov ran afoul of the Lysenkoites, it took a couple of decades before Lysenkoism became the official party line. In 1948, the Lysenkoites’ triumph was complete, and the remaining supporters of mainstream genetics meekly renounced their heresies. After Stalin’s death, Lysenkoism was gradually discredited, and Soviet biologists caught up with Western ones about an idea that Lysenko had ridiculed: a hereditary substance. Yes, DNA and RNA.

    Lysenko had imitators in other scientific fields, but they were less successful. In particular, nuclear physicists successfully fought off those who claimed that quantum mechanics is contrary to Dialectical Materialism, and they succeeded in building nuclear bombs.

  160. John Morales says

    [meta]

    ericatkinson, you’ve made it more than abundantly clear that this place is most significant to you and that therefore you just can’t keep away.

    PS It’s FTB, not FFTB. :)

  161. lpetrich says

    Another sort of awful atheist might be Ayn Rand and her followers. They disdain libertarianism, while from the outside, Randism looks like a sect of right-libertarianism. Sort of like Trotskyists vs. Maoists.

    Then there’s Alain de Botton, who seems to crave some sort of atheist church. In the 19th cy., Auguste Comte went even further, inventing a “Religion of Humanity” that ripped off Catholic practice so much that one critic called it Catholicism minus Xianity.

    Going from bad additional beliefs to accepting atheism for bad reasons, let’s ask what those might be.

    - Conformity
    - Rebellion
    - Trolling

    Conformity can include following a party line, trying to please friends and relatives and the like, and trying to be like someone that one admires.

    Rebellion can include a desire to be different from others.

    Trolling is being an atheist just to provoke negative reactions.

  162. ericatkinson says

    PS It’s FTB, not FFTB. :)

    So you say.

    “Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.”

  163. says

    Atheist ≠ rational by definition. Many atheists are very rational people and many rational people are atheists but that does not mean that all atheists are rational in all respects.

    I find the mistake Murphy made was his failure to consider the basis for the beliefs and non-belief on the part of the 5 persons in question. Ideologues naturally reject competing ideologies. Not a big reveal here.

  164. says

    I don’t see this at all. They give themselves a bad name, but who says they speak for all atheists? Besides, people don’t need an excuse to give atheists a bad name.

    Get off of FTB, go watch atheists be horrendously racist, or sexist, or classist, etc, and tell me the 5 in the OP aren’t speaking for anyone else, nossir.

    Fact of the matter is, Atheism, as a movement, is mostly straight white dudes of middle class or above, and that means it tends to fuck up everyone else. It’s expected, but not pleasant, for those of us who aren’t.

    Burying your head in the sand as to the movement’s fuckups isn’t doing anybody any favors.

    Progressive groups will tar atheists in general because Maher is anti-vax, or Jillete is a jerk, or Cupp is whatever? These are the leading figures of the “movement” that progressives will look at to decide what they think about atheism? Sounds silly to me.

    Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens were 3 of the four horsemen of atheism, and one need go no further than them to find some blatant and obvious jackassery.

  165. peterhearn says

    Harris does not belong on this list. Hes smarter than anyone here. Read The Moral Landscape or watch any of his talks on morality if you think his ethics are questionable.

  166. anathema says

    @ peterhearn (#186):

    It doesn’t matter how smart Sam Harris is, his stance on profiling goes against the evidence. It’s fundamentally irrational and, moreover, deeply harmful.

    Harris has said some awful things. His intelligence doesn’t negate that.

  167. says

    Hes smarter than anyone here.

    Maybe, but that doesn’t make him less of a racist asshole.

    Read The Moral Landscape or watch any of his talks on morality if you think his ethics are questionable.

    He failed his shit test already, dude.

  168. chigau (違う) says

    The only way to get respect is to give disrespect.

    No.
    Disrespect gets you “Go sit in the corner!”

  169. says

    eleutheria:

    The only way to get respect is to give disrespect.

    Wrong. I can’t even begin to list all the people here I respect. Some of them even respect me, amazingly enough.

    This is the way PZ likes it.

    Oh? You going to claim being a mindreader now?

    Chalk up another one to piss poor reading comprehension and an inability to absorb substance. Tsk.

  170. says

    @sambarge:

    I’m late to the party, but I want to make this abundantly clear: you not getting the seasonal flu vaccine endangers other people’s lives. Epidemiology shows that one life is saved for every 300-500 flu vaccinations in cities (for example: this report from the New England Journal of Medicine ). Most deaths from influenza are elderly people whose immune systems don’t give them sufficient protection from the disease, who are infected by people who are strong enough to fight off the disease. So every year you don’t get the seasonal flu vaccine, there is a 0.2%-0.3% chance that you will carry the virus that kills somebody’s grandparent. Integrating over a few decades, that becomes something like a 5% chance.

    If herd immunity were nearly perfect, the marginal coverage from your getting vaccinated would be small (that’s how we can accommodate people who can’t take the vaccine for medical reasons), but we are nowhere near saturation. ‘Selfish’ is a mild phrase. Get your flu shots.

    And incidentally, even if you have paid vacation and free supportive medical care, why would you want to spend at least a week in bed with fever, chills, congested airways, and aches everywhere, when you can avoid it?)

  171. Doug Hudson says

    @172, Did you miss the part where I said it makes Atheists look bad to women, people of color, etc.? Have you been paying attention at all to what women, people of color, etc, are saying about atheism and skepticism?

    It’s not hyperbole. ruteekatrya @185 sums it up pretty nicely.

    As I said, your privilege is showing.

  172. left0ver1under says

    For those who didn’t understand, I wasn’t trying to cause a commotion by mentioning a white supremacist’s name. I was saying that the writer of the list seemed more intent on attacking the character of the five named rather than looking for the worst people. And I was saying that atheists should not adopt the dishonest tactic of the religious, to lie about and deny the atheism of those we don’t like.

    And to slime like Hudson, go crawl back under your rock, the one next to slc1 and thunderfoot. Pretending I said something I didn’t makes you look pathetic and inept; it doesn’t reflect on me.

  173. John Morales says

    left0ver1under:

    For those who didn’t understand, I wasn’t trying to cause a commotion by mentioning a white supremacist’s name. I was saying that the writer of the list seemed more intent on attacking the character of the five named rather than looking for the worst people.

    Whatever you were trying, what you’re now claiming was what you were saying is what you could have said then, were that truly what you intended to express. Yet, you didn’t.

    (Why do you imagine people imagined you were trying to cause a commotion, anyway? ;)

    Seems to me that it’s you who imagine others imagined such)

  174. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I’m only halfway through the comments and I agree enthusiastically with all the criticism levied in the article.

    However (without defending anything else he’s done) I would like to point out this single instance when Maher said what needed to be said in the face of massive popular “progressive” stupidity.

  175. brucegorton says

    I figure I have to stick to living atheist spokesmen types.

    Anyway, my five worst:

    5: Penn Jillette: Bullsh!t

    Penn and Tiller’s Bullsh!t was actually a pretty dire show when it came to scepticism, as the research on the show appeared to only go just far enough to agree with the views of its host, and it had a tendency to rely on “think tanks”.
    Think tanks are PR mills. While they can provide useful data, that data comes with an agenda. You do about as well with people who actually call themselves PR representatives.
    This tainted too many of the episodes to make it good unless you already agreed with the show’s premise, and even then it acted more to reinforce preconceptions than challenge them.
    It may also explain why he tends towards the Libertarian end of the spectrum.

    4: Pat Condell: Youtuber, comedian.

    The thing about people who are all about defending their culture is it never quite seems to be a culture worth defending. Condell endorsed UKIP, a political party noted for its xenophobia.
    And that xenophobia for him was a feature, not a bug. His reasoning here was he wanted to prevent the Islamification of Britain, a country where religion is on the wane and the most deadly threat from Islam to the non-Muslim population appears to be cops mistaking you for Muslim on the tube.
    Oppression and exclusion doesn’t fight terrorism – it breeds it. People become more united under oppression, and tribal loyalty becomes more important as people band together to quite justly challenge that oppression.
    We have seen that in every country where oppression is a feature of the political debate, yet we keep getting people arguing for oppression and exclusion as a solution to terrorism.
    Political parties centred around exclusion and oppression actually make things worse.

    3: The Amazing Atheist: Ewww-tuber.

    Take everything people say is wrong with the modern atheist movement, turn it into a human being, and you have this guy. A sexist pig of epic proportions he is noted for his war on feminism and his support for bullying. One only hopes his popularity is down to the sort of fascination that comes with train wrecks.

    And the two spots I am keeping are Bill Maher and SE Cupp at second and first respectively, with much the same reasoning.

    Why I dropped Sam Harris:

    Harris, despite everything, has done some good work and does try to deal with difficult issues. He is still awful, his defence of profiling is downright idiotic and his attempts at dealing with those difficult issues are not successful ones, but he is just not quite ‘most awful’ material.

    Why I dropped Ayaan Ali Hirsi

    Despite the bad bits, she does get massive hero cred. While that doesn’t necessarily make her one of the best atheists, it does keep her off the most awful list.

  176. Doug Hudson says

    And I was saying that atheists should not adopt the dishonest tactic of the religious, to lie about and deny the atheism of those we don’t like.

    Funny, no one here has done that. Why would you imply that we have?

  177. 'Tis Himself says

    dysomniak #198

    I watched that clip of Maher sneering at Stewart and Colbert’s “Million Meh March.” At one point I realized that Maher missed something pertaining to himself. He was comparing conservatives and liberals by saying [paraphrasing]: “Conservatives believe Obama is a socialist and liberals believe 9/11 was an inside job, except no liberals believe 9/11 was an inside job.”

    However the following statement is true: “Conservatives believe Obama is a socialist and Bill Maher believes vaccinations are a confidence game devised by Big Pharma.” Maher is right about liberals’ reaction to 9/11 conspiracy claims, but Maher believes in anti-vaccers conspiracy claims about vaccinations. Bill Maher gets schooled on vaccines by Bill Frist. I dislike Frist as a politician but Frist is a Harvard Medical School graduate and was a practicing heart surgeon before he entered politics. He knows why vaccines are effective, unlike medical amateur Maher.

  178. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    Ta-Nehisi Coates says,

    As a writer, I think Ali has a real gift for enlisting her provocative personal narrative to make a point. But I often find that very strength to be obscuring. Had I come up like her, I might well believe that “Islam is the new fascism.” But is that really born out by the evidence? Can what Ali experienced in Kenya seriously be extrapolated to Malaysia? To Turkey? To Bangladesh?

    In harmony with some of our recent debates I’m reminded of this piece from Pankaj Mishra’s essay a few months back:

    During the Vietnam War, Hannah Arendt noted that members of the Democratic Administration had frequent recourse to phrases like “monolithic communism,” and “second Munich,” and deduced from this an inability “to confront reality on its own terms because they had always some parallels in mind that ‘helped’ them to understand those terms.”

    +++++
    To reiterate for clarity, this does not excuse her.

  179. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    My favorite candidate would be Marxists, especially Communists. Marxism seems to me to be an irrational, quasi-religious belief system, and Communists go even further. Like have personality cults of their leaders and ruthlessly suppress anyone and anything they dislike.

    These things aren’t religious. These are standard methods that humans have always used for problem solving. Dogmatic religion is what happens when that fundamentally human strategy gets applied to the question of spooky mindful action at a distance. The strategies themselves are not religious; they are general to human behavior.

    North Korea has even reinvented god kings – it’s a Communist monarchy.

    It is a communist monarchy, but I’m unsure of this claim about god-kings. Does the state teach that Kim Il-Sung is a supernatural agent? or is he eternal president in name only?

    If the former, then you’ve only shown that the North Korean variant became religious. This doesn’t demonstrate that communism per se is religious, any more than the existence of the Natural Law Party, or people who say “Jesus was a liberal”, demonstrates that liberalism is a religion.

  180. don1 says

    I’d never heard of Cupp and a quick google showed that I wasn’t missing anything. Jillette and Maher are both entertainers (IMO Jillette is a good entertaimer and Maher mediocre at best) and I have long thought that they use a crude, hectoring atheism to provide spurious intellectual chops. Jillete’s simple-minded libertarianism is, to me, uninteresting and irrelevant but Maher’s anti-vac voodoo is toxic – apparently a lot of people take their cue from him. I certainly agree with their inclusion on the list.

    However, they are just entertainers who have made no serious contribution to the debate. Harris and Ali, on the other hand are more serious people. I admire many aspects of Harris’s work but he has a blind spot when it comes to Islam and is too quick to ‘think the unthinkable’. At least he is prepared to accept that his views on these issues are open to valid objection and, I believe, he is open to debate. I hope that one day he will be persuaded that he is wrong. Until then, yes, he should probably stay on the list.

    Ali is a sticking point, sheer courage (the real thing, where being murdered for what you say is a daily possibility but you keep going, saying what you believe to be true) counts for a lot. Yes, she has taken refuge among the neo-cons but that does not define her. The totality of her life (and the many years of it which hopefully are yet to come) would preclude her from any ‘awful’ label.

    Replace her with Condell.

    As for the ‘best’ atheists, there are many to choose from. Greta Christina always makes my list and since entertainers are included then Dara O’Briain and Tim Minchin deserve a place. Tyson, although as PZ implied he would reject the label, is a towering figure. For the fifth spot I dunno. AC Grayling? Jesus&Mo Author?

  181. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    michaelbusch:

    If herd immunity were nearly perfect, the marginal coverage from your getting vaccinated would be small (that’s how we can accommodate people who can’t take the vaccine for medical reasons), but we are nowhere near saturation. ‘Selfish’ is a mild phrase. Get your flu shots.

    I can’t begin to express how awful I feel after having read your comment here. I didn’t think about the effects of not having a flu shot would have on others. I merely thought I didn’t need it. I already feel 50 different kinds of shitty at the moment, completely due to things I can’t change.
    THIS, I can change.
    Thank you.

  182. brucegorton says

    For my heroes list:

    5: Ariane Sherine
    She just doesn’t get enough credit for the atheist campaign – the campaign that started the push to make atheism more visible. While she has since become less involved in atheist activism, her contribution was a great one.

    4: Ophelia Benson
    Basically, before reading her website and getting something of an education I was a sexist douche. Now I am less of a sexist douche. Progress!

    3: Jessica Ahlquist
    She faced down her school, her community and her governor and won, because she was right. That took serious courage.

    2: Zachie Achmat
    Founded the Treatment Action Campaign, and fought drug companies and the South African government to make sure people with AIDS got treatment. Frankly it is a bit of a travesty that he isn’t on more lists like this.

    1: Leo Igwe
    His tireless campaign against witch hunters saves children’s lives. Really, what more do you need to say, he saves children’s lives.

  183. brucegorton says

    Sorry, dropped a word:

    She just doesn’t get enough credit for the atheist bus campaign.

  184. Lachlan says

    It’s unlikely that people united by one particular belief, or lack of it, will agree on everything. This total faith in one’s own opinions is a disease all too prevalent in the atheist community, and the author of this article is clearly afflicted.

  185. KG says

    I suggest you read up on the Lebanese history to find out what happens in countries when demographic balance shifts. And then learn about the demographic trends in Europe. And maybe listen to what the Muslims themselves have to say about their intentions. – leonardhebert

    Unlike you, I do actually know something about demographic trends, you fuckwit. Exactly two west European countries (France and Belgium) are projected to have over 10% Muslim population by 2030 – and then only just. While Muslim populations in Europe currently have above average birth rate, this is largely a function of their comparative youth; all previous historical experience indicates that immigrant populations will trend toward the birthrates of the population as a whole.

    The fact that you think all Muslims say the same about their intentions reveals you as a bigot, pure and simple. Muslims vary from a minority of fanatics to another minority who are Muslim in name only. Nor is there any reason to suppose that Muslim populations will avoid the general trend away from religious belief and practice evident in Europe and North America – unless you share the fanatics’ belief that Islam has some special power.

  186. KG says

    I was called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” in this thread. – leonardhebert

    I don’t understand your objection to a simple statement of fact.

  187. maureenbrian says

    Suppose, michealbusch, that sambarge lives somewhere like the UK where every old person is offered that year’s flu jab as a matter of course, where everyone with a compromised immune system gets it and everyone with another condition which could make matters worse. And everyone, every year, gets firm advice to stay at home if you are unwell and not to go around infecting people. And from this year all children will be offered the jab. And all for free at the point of delivery.

    Wouldn’t that shoot a hole in your case?

    No, I have no idea where sambarge lives. I just get mad at people who don’t even think to put an if or a but into their standard issue bollockings!

  188. KG says

    the fact that France is a tinderbox that is going to explode in the next 10-20 years. – leonardhebert

    You show once again that my description of you as a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” was a fine example of British understatement. A speculation is not a “fact” until what is predicted has actually happened, you peabrained dolt. France, I should hardly need to point out, has a long (and in some respects, proud) tradition of violent civil unrest; compared to many episodes of the past, those of 2005 and 2007 are scarcely worth a mention.

  189. KG says

    a lot of PC hand-waiving. – leonardhebert

    Anyone using the term “PC” as a term of abuse is necessarily a complete fucking shitheaded moron. Incidentally, it’s “hand-waving”, you semi-literate knuckle-dragger.

  190. observer says

    I don’t agree that these five are awful atheists, but some of them are piss-poor rationalists.

  191. KG says

    WHY ISN’T De BOTTON ON THE FUCKING LIST? – eleutheria

    Could it be because the list of the worst atheists in America, and de Bottom is a Swiss resident in the UK? Just a guess.

  192. Gregory Greenwood says

    leonardhebert waaaaay back @ 58;

    I was called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron” in this thread. Do you consider that an acceptable tone of voice or do you issue warnings only to those with unpopular opinions?

    Remember what I wrote @ 36? Here’s a little reminder;

    I think it only fair to warn you that this kind of comment is known as ‘tone trolling’ around here, and is very much frowned upon as a behaviour that privileges tone above content and is often used as a silencing or derailing tatic.

    (Emphasis added)

    It is part of the culture around here that what matters is the content of what you say, not the tone of the manner in which you say it.

    This is a rude blog. That is the way PZ likes it. While I tend to avoid the use of expletives myself, that is no more than a matter of personal taste.

    The reason why this is the case is because an over-emphasis on notionally ‘polite’ tone penalises people who are passionate about a topic while doing little or nothing to deal with genuinely offensive bigotry. Innumerable are the times that I have seen well thought out and insightful comments made on Pharungula that have been garnished with a little harsh language in order to convey the true feelings of the writer, and many times I have seen studiously ‘polite’ posts from trolls and sundry bigots that have expressed the most jaw-droppingly dehumanising hatred imagineable – all without a single profanity in sight.

    Which is more problematic? Being called a “complete fucking shitheaded moron”, or being told;

    “Your sexuality/gender identity/religion (or lack thereof)/birth sex/ethnicity/disability marks you out, sir/madam, as a subhuman blight upon the face of mankind. You are underserving of the rights afforded to morally upstanding superior humans, and should be glad that the resources have not yet been found to enact the final solution that your degenerate kind so richly deserves. You disgust me by the mere fact of your abominable existence, as you do all right thinking people.”

    No swearing there, and yet I think it fair to say that such a statement would be far more personally hurtfull, and certainly more socially toxic, than being on the receiving end of a colourfully scatalogical epithet such as that you are complaining about.

  193. says

    @Tony @208:

    I may be guilty of overstatement – the level of herd immunity varies dramatically from place to place, and in many areas vaccinations of adults don’t have the same effectiveness in preventing fatalities among the elderly as vaccinations of children (it’s not obvious to me why that is – is it biochemistry, or grandparents taking care of sick kids while the parents are at work?). The exception to that is for epidemic strains, where vaccination campaigns stop the spread of the virus.

    But, please, do get your flu shots.

  194. w00dview says

    Jillete’s simple-minded libertarianism is, to me, uninteresting and irrelevant but Maher’s anti-vac voodoo is toxic – apparently a lot of people take their cue from him.

    While I agree 100% with anti-vaccination bollocks being horrendously harmful I would also say that libertarianism is far from benign. Dismantling of government programs and unregulated or poorly regulated capitalism is capable of bringing immense suffering onto the populace. The belief that governments are always out to control you yet corporations will always respect the rights of others is as much of a delusion as Soviet communism.

  195. says

    @ KG ##212, 215

    KG: “Unlike you, I do actually know something about demographic trends, you fuckwit. “

    LH: An Ad hominem attack. You think you know something but you are just foul-mouthed shithead.

    KG: “Exactly two west European countries (France and Belgium) are projected to have over 10% Muslim population by 2030 – and then only just. While Muslim populations in Europe currently have above average birth rate, this is largely a function of their comparative youth; all previous historical experience indicates that immigrant populations will trend toward the birthrates of the population as a whole.”

    LH: You can data mine for the most favorable estimate but the French government is not allowed to ask one about their religious self-identification, so all the numbers are estimates and they range from 5 to10%. Likewise, nobody knows how many illegal immigrants there are in France, or anywhere in Europe for that matter. Again, estimates vary. “The French Ministry of the Interior estimated clandestine immigrants in France amounted to anywhere between 200.000 and 400.000, also expecting between 80.000 and 100.000 people to enter the country illegally each year.” The same report indicated that about 60,000 asylum-seekers are admitted to France. It is estimated that over 60% in both categories are of Muslim origin. The French talk tough but in reality over time most of their sans-papiers are regularized. Moreover, about 160,000 foreigners gain residency rights in France every year through marriage
    http://eps.revues.org/index3657.html
    about 80% of them Muslim. You do some simple math (I assume that is within your mental abilities) and you can see that the Pew estimates are complete bullshit. If these trends persist (and if you look at the data gaining access to French residence through marriage is only accelerating), even if the birth rates of the French Muslims are exactly the same as of the rest of the population you get 4% increase in just 10 years. Think of what this trend would produce by 2050 (of course you do not care, you will be safely dead by then).
    To show you how that works elsewhere look at Israel. The Israeli Arabs’ fertility rates (about 4.5 per woman since 1980) are not that much higher than that of the Jews (about 3 per woman).
    Yet the percentage of Arabs in Israel rose from 13% in 1980 to over 20% in 2010, and that despite no Arab immigration and the arrival of over 1,5 million Jews over that period of time. The Israelis are freaking out talking about the “demographic bomb”.
    I am sure (at least I hope) you are one of those people who pee in their pants (and with a good reason) reading projections that sea levels may rise 20 cm by 2050 and 1m by 2100. Shouldn’t you take demographic projections with the same seriousness?

    KG: “The fact that you think all Muslims say the same about their intentions reveals you as a bigot, pure and simple. Muslims vary from a minority of fanatics to another minority who are Muslim in name only.”

    LH: You are ascribing me statements that I did not make, which shows what a pathetic slow-thinking intellectually bankrupt asshole you are. I lived in Paris for 8 years, I am perfectly well aware of the diversity of Muslims in France. I am also aware of the fact that people’s beliefs are fluid, there are currents and counter-currents, and while the number of unbelievers is rising, the number of fanatics is rising too (just look around, if you live in the US). And 120,000 newly-wed Muslims arriving in France every year do not come from some free-thinking villages of Morocco.

    KG: “Nor is there any reason to suppose that Muslim populations will avoid the general trend away from religious belief and practice evident in Europe and North America – unless you share the fanatics’ belief that Islam has some special power.”

    LH: Now, this is complete and total BS! You can not generalize the Western European or North American experience to the rest of the world. There are steady and substantial increases in the number of religious people in many countries, Russia, China or Vietnam come immediately to mind and, no doubt, you can find more examples if you bother to look. When I left the USSR in 1987 religion there was all but dead. Few churches, a couple of token decrepit synagogues and mosques were left with hardly anyone attending. And look at them now! Even the former KGB officer turned president pretends to be a faithful orthodox.

  196. chigau (違う) says

    Fucking Hell
    leonardhebert
    LOOK
    .
    If you type
    <blockquote>paste quoted text here</blockquote>
    this will result.

    paste quoted text here

    It will make your comments easier to read.

  197. says

    Murphy picked one thing (ok, two things – Maher might be somewhat gynophobic) and on that basis proclaimed one of the most awful atheists!

    Actually, Maher’s antivaccine rants alone make him eligible, at least in my book, to be included on this list. Add to that his embrace of quackery (one time he clearly embraced cancer quackery), and in my estimation he should have been number one on the list.

    Particularly amusing, in a morbid sort of way, Maher is anti-flu vaccine because he views it as full of toxins, because he thinks he can make himself immune to the flu through diet and healthy living, and because he views vaccines as the evil product of big pharma In contrast, he is very pro-Gardasil. The most likely reason for this discrepancy, as far as I can tell, is because Gardasil pisses off the religious right. Never mind that Gardasil is very expensive compared to most vaccines and makes huge profits for its manufacturer.

  198. says

    @ Gregory Greenwood #219

    GG: It is part of the culture around here that what matters is the content of what you say, not the tone of the manner in which you say it.

    LH: The quote above is the only part of your post that makes sense. The rest is just warm and fuzzy verbiage.

    If someone expresses his/her contempt for me for whatever reasons (and as a gay Jewish immigrant I have heard just about everything) at least I know where my interlocutor stands and can decide whether or not to engage that person and how. When I am simply told that I am a moron or a shithead, that carries no information and contains no argument and does not illuminate my opponent’s position and thus is gratuitous, not to mention unpleasant. It is the human equivalent of monkeys thrown feces at you.

  199. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Blow it out your ass leondarhebert. Why didn’t you bother lurking here or doing the most cursory checking on what kind of place this was before you threw down a load of shit and spit out your pacifier in a tantrum?

    Don’t bother continuing to whine and cry about the inhuman injustice of being called a shithead. You’ll get exactly nowhere unless spending your day reading comments like mine is your idea of a good time.

  200. PatrickG says

    When I am simply told that I am a moron or a shithead, that carries no information and contains no argument and does not illuminate my opponent’s position and thus is gratuitous, not to mention unpleasant. It is the human equivalent of monkeys thrown feces at you.

    I haven’t followed the thread in its entirety, but I know *I* at least have pointed out that this forum is explicitly designed to be rough-and-tumble and no-holds-barred. I know others have too.

    That said, if someone called you a moron, I do hope others came down on it (and I’ll come down on it too). I don’t recall an ablist slur directed at you (but again, I haven’t read the whole thread), but my understanding is that those are on par with gendered insults and other violations.

    However, continuing to complain about being called a shithead is just going to make me repeat that, here, you are just being a shithead. Get over the tone trolling, or people will continue to throw feces at you.

  201. PatrickG says

    And on that note, KG, don’t call the shithead a moron. Right up there with using retard as a slur.

    I did like “semi-literate knuckle-dragger”, though.

  202. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    No, moron is not right up there with “retard” as an ableist slur. You don’t get to turn this place into Shakesville.

  203. says

    Maher might be somewhat gynophobic

    Oh FFS. “Gynophobic”? Really? Maher is a sexist asshole to the core. He revels in being a sexist asshole. You are a dull, broken crayon.

  204. says

    @ Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Good grief, how many people around here with reading comprehension problems? And how many of you have been referred to this site through some Tourette’s support group?

  205. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Further to my #230-Why? Because the term is divorced from its original diagnostic meaning. It does not carry the insult and dehumanization any longer that it once did, unlike “retard.” This is how language works; it’s not merely me being intractable about a pet word.

    The impetus to create spaces online that are just is admirable and it’s one of the things most of us like about Pharyngula. But there are signs that naive understandings of social justice issues are starting to creep in and beget increasingly irksome word policing. That is not social justice. That is fetishizing words indiscriminately and obscuring the very real differences between words that dehumanize and degrade, and words that merely insult. As a result the conversation and permitted lexicon gets circumscribed more and more tightly until it becomes a farce.

    I really hope that doesn’t happen here. That would be monumentally stupid and idiotic.

  206. PatrickG says

    @ Josh

    Maybe I’m wrong, and yeesh, fuck off for accusing me of Shakesville-ism. As to moron/retard, I’m fairly sure I’ve seen it called out in Pharyngula threads, but y’know, I’m still semi-new around here, so again, maybe I’m wrong.

    But, y’know, I’d still argue there’s other things you can call the shithead without resorting to comparing him to people with developmental disabilities. That’s insulting to them! :)

  207. says

    PatrickG:

    And on that note, KG, don’t call the shithead a moron. Right up there with using retard as a slur.

    No, it is not. I don’t recognize your nym – who the hell are you to tell the regulars here what they can and can’t say?

  208. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And how many of you have been referred to this site through some Tourette’s support group?

    That, for example, is actual degrading talk. It makes fun of people with a known and stigmatized mental disorder to score cheap points. Note the difference.

  209. PatrickG says

    And thanks for the clarification Josh, I may have simply conflated forum rules here with forum rules elsewhere.

    That said, I resent the Shakesville-ism, cuz that’s just brutal. ;)

  210. says

    I’m fairly sure I’ve seen it called out in Pharyngula threads,

    Right, you’re a noob, who thinks they can start policing people. Shut the fuck up.

  211. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    PatrickG—Sorry. It wasn’t fair to lob the Shakesville accusation at you. I do worry about that, but you’re not the great Shakesvillianator.

  212. PatrickG says

    @ Caine, I changed my ‘nym from patrickgranvold because I was uncomfortable with my name being Googleable in these threads. Only started posting here recently after months of lurking.

    And as I said to Josh, I think I conflated differing forum conventions. My bad, and I stand corrected.

    But to clarify, I’m 99% sure I’ve seen using ‘retard’ absolutely shit-fuck-hammered in this forum. Am I wrong?

  213. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Caine, in all fairness, PatrickG stepped on a landmine but seems perfectly willing to learn how to avoid them in the future.

  214. PatrickG says

    @Caine again — I hope my followup clarifies. I’m not trying to police regulars, I just fucked up in my attempt to promulgate standards here.

    Again, sorry. Next time I do it, I’ll include a (but I’m a noob, so shut me the fuck up if I’m wrong) tag.

  215. PatrickG says

    And for the record, I take being told to shut the fuck up by Caine as sort of a badge of honor. One of my absolute favorite commenters here, and ironically enough, one of the first to welcome me when I actually did start posting.

    Thanks for the Caineing! My buttocks are smarting. :)

    I’ll still have to check on my position in the Louis sex queue, though.

  216. says

    Josh:

    Caine, in all fairness, PatrickG stepped on a landmine but seems perfectly willing to learn how to avoid them in the future.

    That’s fine. Sorry, Patrick.

  217. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And dammit, where did leonardheebiejeebie go? I’ve only had a bean taco so far today and I’m still a bit peckish.

  218. says

    Patrick, I’m sorry, I promise I’ll be better behaved toward you in the future. My brain is on semi-permanent vacation, it seems. Too much too do, too much crap rattling around in there.

  219. 'Tis Himself says

    leonardhebert #222

    KG: “Unlike you, I do actually know something about demographic trends, you fuckwit. “

    LH: An Ad hominem attack. You think you know something but you are just foul-mouthed shithead.

    Excuse me, Mr. leonardhebert, but what Mr. KG presented was not an ad hominem.

    An actual ad hominem is “Your argument can be dismissed because you are a complete fucking shitheaded moron.” What you were given was a reasoned rebuttal along with, at no extra expense to you, an insult. Please make a note of the difference between ad hominem and an insult.

  220. PatrickG says

    Caine, fuck your apologies and get me into the Spanking Parlor. ;)

    Anyways, I think I need to have a quick-n-dirty reference guide for the various forums here, because hot damn, there’s quite a variety of what’s allowed and it’s easy (for me) to confuse them. It’ll look sort of weird next to my various coding reference sheets, but whatever.

  221. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    ‘Tis, I’ve given up. When even philosophers like Dan Fincke misuse ad hominem all is lost.

    Since becoming aware of the “atheist movement,” such as it was seven or so years ago I’ve noted an annoying tendency for words used by people such as Sam Harris to go viral. “Risible,” for example, was EVERYWHERE for years after Harris used it. Along with this comes misuse, redefinition, etc.

  222. says

    Patrick:

    Caine, fuck your apologies and get me into the Spanking Parlor. ;)

    I’ll have a word with Madame Patricia, however, I make no promises.

  223. says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    It makes fun of people with a known and stigmatized mental disorder to score cheap points. Note the difference.

    That’s just hypocrisy. Being a shithead/moron/semi-literate knuckle-dragger are also known and equally stigmatized conditions but everyone around here is happy to throw that stuff around.

  224. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ PatrickG

    Anyways, I think I need to have a quick-n-dirty reference guide for the various forums here, because hot damn, there’s quite a variety of what’s allowed…

    This is actually easier than you imply. Don’t use slurs, ever. (Would you use such language on another thread because it was tolerated/allowed? The issue is much bigger than this little blog.)

  225. says

    leonardhebert, you are all Ex equus pyga. Now, I have this nice crown of decayed porcupines for you. You can wear it as a sign of your terrible persecution as you trample out the vintage of the internet. Run along, little Cupcake, declare your outrage to the world, it’s awaiting you.

  226. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    HAHAHAHAH!

    Caine, I now want to write a country song titled, “Git along, L’il Cupcake.”

  227. says

    Josh:

    Caine, I now want to write a country song titled, “Git along, L’il Cupcake.”

    Oh lord. /Leela

    Hahahaha, ah, write it!

  228. PatrickG says

    @theophontes

    This is actually easier than you imply. Don’t use slurs, ever.

    Um. Yeah. Sorry. One of the reason I like this little corner of the internet is that I enjoy the shark-tank atmosphere. However, when I go to, say, CWH, I don’t use them.

    As to guidelines, some forums are very idiosyncratic in terms of what they allow. A number of authors explicitly state their commenting rules basically come down to “don’t piss me off”.

    I wasn’t really aiming for “it’s ok to use fucktard and faggot* on this site, but not that one”, but more “this blogger prefers no profanity, this blogger has zero-tolerance to any kind of language, this blogger really doesn’t give a shit”. I don’t have that kind of information internalized, but I do think it’s common courtesy to obey each individual’s rules.

    So in this case, I’d come from a blog where “moron” was verboten to a blog where people had come to a different conclusion, applied conventions incorrectly, and got smacked upside the head, deservedly. If nothing else, it hurts when Caine canes me, I don’t want that to happen again. :)

    Ok, that was long-winded and OT, but hopefully you can understand why I won’t be giving up slurs at Pharyngula? Sometimes a shithead really is just a shithead.

    *I don’t use either in any context, just two examples on my list of things I just don’t say. I, personally, am uncomfortable with moron, but I am not the community, so while I won’t use it, I don’t expect the community to reshape itself for lil ole me. Shutting up now.

  229. says

    The Eurabia idea leonardhebert seems enamoured of is a punishment/heroism fantasy as much as anything else. Like a lot of the survivalist crowd, who have their own doomsday scenarios, many who believe in it want it to happen. Then they can sit back and shout “See, I told you so!” while basking in their superiority, since they knew it was coming, warned everyone, and prepared for it. And note who the “victims” will be: All those horrible socialist Europeans with their horrible socialist systems, who didn’t support the war in Iraq. Unlike courageous Americans, and their fanboys, who stood up to the Muslim Menace and believe in the only acceptable economic system, minimally regulated free market capitalism.

  230. alkaloid says

    @leonardhebert, #222

    LH: Now, this is complete and total BS! You can not generalize the Western European or North American experience to the rest of the world. There are steady and substantial increases in the number of religious people in many countries, Russia, China or Vietnam come immediately to mind and, no doubt, you can find more examples if you bother to look. When I left the USSR in 1987 religion there was all but dead.

    I don’t know enough about Vietnamese history after the war to comment on it, but in the cases of Russia and China, isn’t it possible that the history of religion being actively suppressed in both places might have something to do with its resurgence once that suppression was either somewhat lifted or transformed?

  231. KG says

    And on that note, KG, don’t call the shithead a moron. Right up there with using retard as a slur. – PatrickG

    I disagree. It’s true that “moron” was originally a pseudo-technical term for someone with a relatively low measured IQ, but most people wouldn’t even know that, and it certainly hasn’t been used in that way for decades. However, if there’s a significant body of opinion here that considers it an ableist slur, I’ll stop using it.

    leonardhebert,

    Your claim that I have selected the most favourable data is simply a lie – just the sort of lie I expect from bigoted shitheads.

    Moreover, about 160,000 foreigners gain residency rights in France every year through marriage
    http://eps.revues.org/index3657.html
    about 80% of them Muslim.

    My French is not that good, but it appears that the 160,000 figure is for total immigration from outside the EU (plus Norway and Liechtenstein); the figure for familial immigration is nearer 90,000, as is that for total immigration from Africa. There is no figure at all for the percentage of Muslims. So it would appear that your claims are complete crap, as is to be expected from a shitheaded bigot like you.

    Think of what this trend would produce by 2050 (of course you do not care, you will be safely dead by then).

    Even on your spurious figures, Muslims would constitute no more than 1/4 of the population by 2050, you bigoted shithead.

    I am sure (at least I hope) you are one of those people who pee in their pants (and with a good reason) reading projections that sea levels may rise 20 cm by 2050 and 1m by 2100. Shouldn’t you take demographic projections with the same seriousness?

    It seems you are too stupid even to remain consistent within a single comment. First you claim that I don’t care about 2050, then you say you are sure that I do. I do take demographic projections seriously; but I take them from reputable sources, not from shitheaded bigots like you.

    The Israeli Arabs’ fertility rates (about 4.5 per woman since 1980) are not that much higher than that of the Jews (about 3 per woman).

    It’s simply bizarre to claim that 1.5 children per woman more is “not that much higher”. Your ignorance of demography is indeed profound, you bigoted shithead.

    You are ascribing me statements that I did not make, which shows what a pathetic slow-thinking intellectually bankrupt asshole you are. I lived in Paris for 8 years, I am perfectly well aware of the diversity of Muslims in France.

    Look, you lying scumbag, everyone can see that@53 you referred to “what the Muslims themselves have to say about their intentions.” The Muslims, note, without any indication whatever that you recognise that there is wide diversity of opinion among Muslims. You can try to row back from your exposure of your shitheaded bigotry all you like, but it’s there for all to see.

    Nor is there any reason to suppose that Muslim populations will avoid the general trend away from religious belief and practice evident in Europe and North America – unless you share the fanatics’ belief that Islam has some special power.

    Now, this is complete and total BS! You can not generalize the Western European or North American experience to the rest of the world.

    Nor did I do so, you bigoted shithead, as your own quotation from me makes quite clear. I referred specifically to North America and Europe. I could and perhaps should have said “western Europe”, but in fact the declining trend appears to cover much of eastern Europe as well, see here. Russia may be an exception, but in Russia there has been a switch from a highly authoritarian anti-religious regime to a highly authoritarian religiously-backed one: so what we have may well be largely people behaving as they think the government wants. In any case, Russia is obviously entirely irrelevant to arguments about “creeping Islamization of the West”.

  232. says

    Timgueguen:

    Like a lot of the survivalist crowd, who have their own doomsday scenarios, many who believe in it want it to happen. Then they can sit back and shout “See, I told you so!”

    This reminds me so much of the hysteria surrounding Y2K, “the sky will fall! the sky will fall! You’ll see! You’ll be sorry!” Oy.

    lpetrich, noted and thank you.

  233. PatrickG says

    @KG

    I’ll keep it short since I did a pretty thorough mea culpa above, but I should have apologized to you directly.

    Sorry! My bad. :/

  234. Gregory Greenwood says

    leonardhebert @ 225;

    The quote above is the only part of your post that makes sense. The rest is just warm and fuzzy verbiage.

    Actually, the point is really rather simple – tone trolling obstructs debate by fixating on irrelevancies of ‘tone’, and doesn’t even prevent actual expressions of bigotry at all, so long as they avoid the unutterable horror of swear words.

    If someone expresses his/her contempt for me for whatever reasons (and as a gay Jewish immigrant I have heard just about everything) at least I know where my interlocutor stands and can decide whether or not to engage that person and how. When I am simply told that I am a moron or a shithead, that carries no information and contains no argument and does not illuminate my opponent’s position and thus is gratuitous, not to mention unpleasant. It is the human equivalent of monkeys thrown feces at you.

    Well, be sure to tell all the disenfranchised groups and victims of discrimination and bigotry in society the good news – at least they know where they stand. The dehumanising bigotry they are subjected to conveys information. Even if it only just how hate-filled and ignorant the other party really is. Completely unlike the unimagineable suffering of leonardhebert, who has to endure being insulted with insufficient context.

    I mean, those homosexuals being denied marriage equality…

    Those women who find that the law does not recognise their bodily autonomy, and are to be forced to undergo ‘trans-vaginal ultrasounds’ before being afforded access to an abortion (which amounts to little more than state sanctioned sexual assault as a means to punish ‘sluts’ for having sex), and have to daily endure the toxic effects of pervasive rape culture…

    Those muslims who must endure automatic suspicion that they are terrorists simply because of their religion, and those persons of Middle Eastern and Asian descent who face suspicion due to merely looking like they may be muslim, as such things are defined by those who endorse ethnic profiling…

    Those transexuals who are told that they are deluding themselves, and can never truly be gender they identify as because they were born with external characteristics of another sex…

    And all the other victims of the casual bigotry that infects every layer of our society should just get a little perspective – at least the bigots who target them convey information, unlike poor, oppressed leonardhebert who has to suffer the unbearable indignity of being insulted without the considerate provision of a dehumanising subtext.

    Why, it is positively unpleasant. Surely no mere victim of violence or institutionalised discrimination ever had to endure such injustice as this…?

  235. 'Tis Himself says

    Caine #267

    This reminds me so much of the hysteria surrounding Y2K, “the sky will fall! the sky will fall! You’ll see! You’ll be sorry!” Oy.

    It’s scoffers like you who forget the Y1K problem caused the Dark Ages.

  236. consciousness razor says

    Ok, that was long-winded and OT, but hopefully you can understand why I won’t be giving up slurs at Pharyngula? Sometimes a shithead really is just a shithead.

    “Shithead” is not a slur. There has never been any group who’s been disadvantaged in any society because their heads were full of shit. In fact, it seems like most societies tend to reward and encourage shitheadedness. Anyway, it’s just an insult. Since you seem to be using the words interchangeably, not all insults are slurs. And a complete list would be impossible. Use reason, evidence, compassion and careful listening, and the list practically writes itself.

  237. says

    @ 227. Josh, Official SpokesGay

    … and spit out your pacifier in a tantrum?

    That provided me with the mental image of a pacifier bouncing off a computer monitor. From now on every time somebody loses their shit on the internet I’m going to see that. Thanks.

  238. carbonbasedlifeform says

    In the “The 5 Most Awful Atheists” article, there is a link to a piece by Penn Jillette, “I don’t know, so I’m an atheist libertarian”

    In it, Jillette says

    It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

    What a completely self-righteous prig! Oh, the poor should be helped, but if the government does it, it’s baaaaaad.

    People try to argue that government isn’t really force. You believe that? Try not paying your taxes. … When they come to get you for not paying your taxes, try not going to court. Guns will be drawn. Government is force — literally, not figuratively.

    If Penn really believes that this is a meaningful argument, he is not just a prig, he is a stupid prig. You are provided with services by the government, you have to pay for these services. Does Penn believe that when he fills his car with gasoline, he should be able to just drive off without paying? It’s the same argument.

  239. 'Tis Himself says

    People try to argue that government isn’t really force. You believe that? Try not paying your taxes. … When they come to get you for not paying your taxes, try not going to court. Guns will be drawn. Government is force — literally, not figuratively.

    If you eat a meal in a restaurant and walk off without paying, people at the restaurant will try to stop you. If you don’t stop, they will call people with guns to get you and take you to court. If you do not go to court for not paying your restaurant check, people with guns will literally take you to court.

    Penn knows this, but it’s not a big deal for a restaurant owner to get you to pay your bill but it is a big deal for government to get you to pay your taxes.

    Libertarians strike me as being like small children: “When I’m all grown up I’m going to have pizza every day and I’m never going to wash my hair so I don’t get soap in my eyes and I’m going to bed whenever I want to. So there! Nyaahh!!1!” Government has replaced Mommy and Daddy as The Big Meanie but the libertarian’s attitude hasn’t changed.

  240. w00dview says

    Government has replaced Mommy and Daddy as The Big Meanie but the libertarian’s attitude hasn’t changed.

    Government: Now, now Billy you know you can’t just dump that toxic waste in the river. It would have bad consequences for both the environment and the community.

    Libertarian: But, but…Getting rid of it properly IS SO HARD!!!

    Government: I know, it will be more expensive to get rid of it in a safer manner Billy but you have to be responsible…

    Libertarian: I HATE YOU!! I’M GOING TO MOVE TO A 3RD WORLD COUNTRY WHERE I CAN DUMP WHATEVER I LIKE!! (slams door and listens to Linkin Park very loudly).

  241. says

    I like Harris in debates, and his book ‘The Moral Landscape’, though it is true some of his positions such as those on torture and racial profiling are disappointingly lacking in facts, sound logic, or rigorous thinking. Can’t win them all right? Somehow I think Alain de Bottom is more deserving of his place in the list. At least Harris is, contrary to the article, amenable to reason and facts. Take for example his long talk with Bruce Shneier, he actually engaged in dialogue and learned something though he didn’t go a full 180 there was at least progress in his thinking. Whereas Alain is just, ugh. His position on religion is like recognizing that faschist regimes have been mostly uniformly terrible in every aspect, but because they have some small positive non-redeeming aspects deciding that they should be admired and to some degree copied…

  242. PatrickG says

    “Shithead” is not a slur.

    I suppose I was being imprecise in my definition, but otoh, there’s a contingent right here at FTB that would consider “shithead” quite bad. Anyways, this is getting quite OT again, so I’ll just leave the topic here.

  243. PatrickG says

    Well, pedantry kicks in:

    slur (slûr)
    tr.v. slurred, slur·ring, slurs
    1. To pronounce indistinctly.
    2. To talk about disparagingly or insultingly.
    3. To pass over lightly or carelessly; treat without due consideration.
    4. Music
    a. To glide over (a series of notes) smoothly without a break.
    b. To mark with a slur.
    5. Printing To blur or smear.
    n.
    1. A disparaging remark; an aspersion.
    2. A slurred utterance or sound.
    3. Music
    a. A curved line connecting notes on a score to indicate that they are to be played or sung legato.
    b. A passage played or sung in this manner.
    4. Printing A smeared or blurred impression.

    So yeah, shithead is a slur. Maybe not a racial/gendered/ablist/sexual/etc. slur, but still a slur.

  244. Doug Hudson says

    @279, when most people say “slur”, it is short for “racial slur” “ethnic slur””sexist slur”.

    In the commonly used sense, shithead isn’t a slur. Its just an insult.

    You pedantic douchebag.

  245. consciousness razor says

    Quoting a dictionary is laziness, not pedantry.

    ped·ant·ry [ped-n-tree] noun, plural ped·ant·ries.
    1. the character, qualities, practices, etc., of a pedant, especially undue display of learning.
    2. slavish attention to rules, details, etc.
    3. an instance of being pedantic: the pedantries of modern criticism.

    The learning you’re not unduly displaying and the details you’re not slavishly attending to are that most people don’t quote dictionaries when using the word “slur,” to mean some kind of bigoted slur. But okay, you’re totally correct that the dictionary has several definitions, some of which are relevant to what we were talking about and all of which you quoted for no apparent reason.

  246. colinmackay says

    We are all a part of the natural world; some 80% of the global population don’t accept that. Of the 20(ish)% remaining some are internationalists, some are not. Of the internationalists, some are (hard) secularists, some are not. Of the (hard) secularists some are socialists, some are not, Of the socialists some are authoritarians, some are not. Of those who are not some primarily identify as feminists, others as humanists, others as skeptics, others as gender equality activist, others as rationalists, others as atheists,…

    While inclusivity is a high ideal, it is the processes of exclusion which strengthen and unify a political core. Divisions along the lines of ideological difference should be embraced; it allows for the identification of areas of mutually beneficial co-operation.

    The fact that I am designated atheist does not infer that I will work cooperatively with atheists who consider religion a useful political tool and seek to strengthen it’s social and political influence. Similarly, I’ll happily support atheistic libertarians in the pursuit of a truly secular divide, whereas in matters social and economic I will continue in political opposition.

  247. says

    This article touches on a problem I’ve had since recently coming to Atheism.

    Let’s take Richard Dawkins. I’ve learned a lot about why I’m an Atheist from his books and lectures. However, I hate his Dear Muslima rant and jabs at Rebecca Watson. He’s wrong and is making an ass out of himself. The same can be said for Sam Harris concerning Islam.

    Nobody’s right all the time. If we expect someone’s opinions, understanding, and actions to be completely correct all the time we’re just setting ourselves up for failure. So dealing with the nuances of other people is the cost of getting to know about them. Understanding that someone is brilliant about X, stumbles over Y, has a goofy idea about Z, and is a great expert on W means that you’re getting to know them more deeply.

    I started off being a fan of much of what Christopher Hitchens had to say but finally realized that a lot of it was because he said it very well. As I came to know his work better I began to sort things into my mind: good orator sometimes, very witty with the cutting remark, sometimes a microphone-hog, incapable of saying he was wrong about Iraq, etc, etc. If I say that I was horribly annoyed by his microphone hogging during the blasphemy debate that doesn’t say anything about whether I thought his comments were witty, etc. If you get to know enough about some person (whether it’s the “real” them or just the “stage persona”) and conclude that they’re not worth listening to any more, well, that’s that. For example I thought Bill Maher was funny a few times when I saw bits of his stuff. After a while, I concluded that he’s annoying. I like that he punts religion around but he reminds me of the snotty kid in class. Anyone with more personality than a cardboard cut-out of jesus is going to contain such complexities. The only rational response is to let your opinions about them become complex, as well.

    If asked to summarize quickly, I’d answer: “I’m a huge fan of Hitch”
    If asked for more detail, I’d answer: “I like his wit and I love how good he was with the cheap shot. I don’t like this, or I do like that… etc.”
    If asked for the full picture, I could go on for an hour, and by the time I was done you’d conclude that my feelings about him are complicated and highly detailed.”

    I leave assuming my heroes are perfect to the followers of religions. After all, promoting ordinary humans to the status of superbeings is their game.

  248. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    there’s a contingent right here at FTB that would consider “shithead” quite bad

    Groan

  249. PatrickG says

    @ consciousness razor

    2. slavish attention to rules, details, etc.

    I’d consider my full quoting of a dictionary definition to be slavish attention to details. Your mileage may vary. Plus, I’d like to accuse someone of musically slurring at some point. But anyway, while I appreciate your point about the colloquial use of ‘slur’ here, I did pedantically disagree with your use of the word, and note that the term is not necessarily defined by the usage of it in this forum.

    In any case, I do hope it’s come across that my comments to you are meant in humor and good fun. If they’re not taken that way, then clearly I need to work on my comedic stylings.

    @ Rev BDC

    Groan

    I will accept your groan, and raise you two moans.

    Now, at this point, I’m just being silly, so I’ll just say it’s been fun and stop. See you in the next thread. :)

  250. consciousness razor says

    I’d consider my full quoting of a dictionary definition to be slavish attention to details.

    Okay. They’re just the wrong details. Dictionaries don’t use words. People do. You’re a person, who can use words however you like, but you and some dictionary are not “people.”

    Plus, I’d like to accuse someone of musically slurring at some point.

    If it is notated that way, or else it’s an interpretation you nevertheless enjoyed, they might appreciate that accusation.

    But anyway, while I appreciate your point about the colloquial use of ‘slur’ here, I did pedantically disagree with your use of the word, and note that the term is not necessarily defined by the usage of it in this forum.

    That’s not just how it’s used here, and it’s not a colloquial usage. Dictionaries tend not to delve into the finer social implications of words.

  251. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    ॐ: N. Korean media steps up myth-making for death of Kim Jong-il

    Those are interesting tidbits, John, but they didn’t address my question about his status as a supernatural agent.

    However, your link helped me find this report from KCNA, which satisfies me: “He was, indeed, a great saint born of Heaven, [citizens of Pyongyang] added.”

    +++++

    And on that note, KG, don’t call the shithead a moron. Right up there with using retard as a slur.

    No, it is not. I don’t recognize your nym – who the hell are you to tell the regulars here what they can and can’t say?

    I agree it is not.

    But it doesn’t matter who’s who.

    If calling someone a retard is wrong, then it’s wrong regardless of who points it out. Any commenter here can go to any website and tell people there that they shouldn’t call people retards, because it’s wrong to call people retards, wherever it happens.

    If calling someone a moron were wrong, then it would be wrong regardless of who points it out. Any commenter could go to any website and tell people there that they shouldn’t call people morons, because it would be wrong to call people morons, wherever it happens. (At this time in history, it isn’t wrong to call people morons, but if it were wrong, then it wouldn’t matter who’s saying so.)

  252. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    Also net nannying:

    #233

    #235

    #236

    #242

    some of which are good arguments, some of which aren’t.

    Whether or not an argument can be construed as net nannying has nothing to do with whether it’s correct or incorrect.

    Oh, SG, I’m just ignoring you hateful comments.

    Also, I haven’t made any hateful comments toward you.

  253. 'Tis Himself says

    Also, I haven’t made any hateful comments toward you.

    This is an absolute and total lie as you should know. I realize you’re too proud to admit that you insulted me and every other non-gay who was ever bullied, but you fucking insulted me.

  254. arcanaknight says

    Does anyone know of the facts behind the claim about libertarianism in the article? Specifically the one about charity would have to be 10x more to cover social welfare?

  255. saguhh00 says

    Why aren’t Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and Lysenko on this list?

    One must assume that Murphy just likes hyperbole, in the same way as teenage girls might tell you that there is nothing worse than messing their nail polish before it’s properly dried. It must be the hyperbole thing, or else Murphy lives in such a sheltered world that he thinks that people expressing ideas that he dislikes, disagrees with or objects to, is really The Most Awful Thing.

    The crimes of Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Penn Jillette, Bill Maher and S.E. Cupp (yeah, I had to look that one up, too)are essentially espousing ideas that Murphy doesn’t agree with.

    Personally, I’m all for criticising ideas that you think are ill-advised, ignorant or dangerous. You’re even entitled to dislike the person for espousing those ideas. However, if your primary skill is making lists rather than actually engaging in and rebutting the ideas you abhor, then I suppose making lists is what you do. And I suppose calling your list: ‘Five atheists I saw on American TV that I don’t like’ would be a little less punchy.

    Blistering critiques such as “not knowing things is not a good reason to be an atheist”—a charge leveled at Jillette, and one that I’m sure stings him sorely—are a dead give-away to the real motive behind this little Rant on the Internet.

    Actually, not knowing things is a very good reason to be an atheist, or at very least an agnostic. What Murphy really means to say is: “I don’t want people I disagree with to be in my club”. Life is such a bitch, isn’t it?

    This is so abysmally clichéd that it shouldn’t have to be said at all, but here we go again: there is no High Church of Atheism, nor any Creed that we must all profess. Some atheists are smarter than you; others, not so much. Some you will agree with on almost every point of politics, philosophy and science; others again, not so much. And, occasionally, someone we vehemently disagree with might even have a point.

    At the risk of belabouring the hyperbole point, to call someone “most awful” is arguably to condemn them to the ranks of history’s most dangerous, terrifying and insufferable. It is hard to see how a man most famous for magic routines and for popular skepticism TV shows comes close. It’s even harder to see how a woman who fled the misogyny of Islam and devoted her life to speaking out against that religion’s worst traits in defiance of pervasive and still active death threats somehow fits this category. Or a neuroscientist famous for writing books and speaking about difficult, complex and sometimes taboo subjects. Their opinions are controversial, and many disagree with them for a variety of reasons. But “most awful” doesn’t begin to describe them, except perhaps in the original sense of the word, which implied someone who was impressive and worthy of respect.

    The onlly exception I see to this are Bill Maher, who really is dumb regarding vaccines and health, and S.E. Cupp, who’s a fraud for the right wing.

  256. John Morales says

    saguhh00:

    One must assume that Murphy just likes hyperbole, in the same way as teenage girls might tell you that there is nothing worse than messing their nail polish before it’s properly dried.

    There is no such ‘must’, and I’m somewhat amused by your own employment of hyperbole to decry such.

    This is so abysmally clichéd that it shouldn’t have to be said at all, but here we go again: there is no High Church of Atheism, nor any Creed that we must all profess.

    And therefore people should not have opinion as to the positions professed atheists espouse?

    But “most awful” doesn’t begin to describe them, except perhaps in the original sense of the word, which implied someone who was impressive and worthy of respect.

    You are awed by such people?

    (Just snarking; you are appealing to the etymological fallacy and ignoring the reality of language “as she is spoken”)

  257. 'Tis Himself says

    The crimes of Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Penn Jillette, Bill Maher and S.E. Cupp (yeah, I had to look that one up, too)are essentially espousing ideas that Murphy doesn’t agree with.

    Murphy doesn’t agree with racism, sexism, right wing authoritarianism, and medical woo. Just because these “crimes” hurt large numbers of people doesn’t mean anything.

    But your concern is noted.

  258. PatrickG says

    That’s not just how it’s used here, and it’s not a colloquial usage. Dictionaries tend not to delve into the finer social implications of words.

    First, a minor disclaimer, in that this post is completely irrelevant and OT. I highly urge this post be disregarded, as it’s after 1am and I’m, um, non compos menti.

    Second, the term “slur” is quite well defined, and not just in this or other forums. Call me a language totalitarian (see what I did there?), but just, um, no.

    I’d planned to just leave it there, but OUCH, gotta comment further. If you want to redefine words, that’s all fine by me*, but honestly**…. First off, dictionaries don’t “delve”, they define. Colloquial means:

    1. characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing; informal.
    2. involving or using conversation.

    “Slur” to you apparently means something different than it does from the definition of the word. So, you know, I’m going to continue saying that your use of the word “slur” in this forum (and others, potentially!) is colloquial.

    That said, your points about how “slur” has taken on meanings in specific contexts (e.g. this forum and other contexts) is quite well taken (colloquial usage even!). I don’t, however, agree that you get to just redefine language.

    FSM Almighty, I said I’d leave the thread and I didn’t. Leaving now before I am assaulted by a large noodly appendage.

    * Not really. If you want to try and redefine a word, that’s your business, but you might want to start from a common point of reference. Like, say, a dictionary?

    ** I also do wish to restate the one point from my earlier post you saw fit not to address:

    In any case, I do hope it’s come across that my comments to you are meant in humor and good fun. If they’re not taken that way, then clearly I need to work on my comedic stylings.

    But at this point, I’m just having fun being a pedant. If i’m not slavish in my attention to detail yet, I’m not sure what more I can do! ;)

  259. John Morales says

    [OT]

    First off, dictionaries don’t “delve”, they define.

    Such ignorance!

    Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

    But at this point, I’m just having fun being a pedant.

    <snigger>

    You imagine you’re a pedant?

    (You’ve got one part of pedantry correct: it is pointless)

  260. Lyn M: dropping the f-bomb since 1962 ... of death says

    John — high 8

    (It’s a high 5 but with tentacles.)

  261. PatrickG says

    Ok, and I stress again, this is strictly for FUN. I’ve got multiple people having fun with me now, but again, I stress, this is for funsies only. I’m sort of amused at how nobody seems to pick up on that (or at least, while responding to me, they never quote that part). Also, bourbon. Argument enough.

    Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

    Dictionary for, well, dictionary:

    a book, optical disc, mobile device, or online lexical resource (such as Dictionary.com) containing a selection of the words of a language, giving information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflected forms, derived forms, etc., expressed in either the same or another language; lexicon; glossary. Print dictionaries of various sizes, ranging from small pocket dictionaries to multivolume books, usually sort entries alphabetically, as do typical CD or DVD dictionary applications, allowing one to browse through the terms in sequence. All electronic dictionaries, whether online or installed on a device, can provide immediate, direct access to a search term, its meanings, and ancillary information: an unabridged dictionary of English; a Japanese-English dictionary.
    2.
    a book giving information on particular subjects or on a particular class of words, names, or facts, usually arranged alphabetically: a biographical dictionary; a dictionary of mathematics.
    3.
    Computers .
    a.
    a list of codes, terms, keys, etc., and their meanings, used by a computer program or system.
    b.
    a list of words used by a word-processing program as the standard against which to check the spelling of text entered.

    So yeah, there’s the dictionary definition of dictionary. But then, I guess that’s sort of circular.

    (You’ve got one part of pedantry correct: it is pointless)

    You finally picked up on that? Congratulations! It’s like I didn’t repeatedly stress I was doing this for humor value only. :)

    For reference (stated once, quoted once):

    In any case, I do hope it’s come across that my comments to you are meant in humor and good fun. If they’re not taken that way, then clearly I need to work on my comedic stylings.

    Of course, this does mean I need to work on my comedic stylings. :)

  262. PatrickG says

    PS it’s Non compos mentis

    Touché, good sir.. Touché. I’ll just blame the bourbon.

  263. PatrickG says

    Just to induce further comment, calling a dictionary not prescriptive is just, um, wrong.

    Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

    Definition of “atheist”:
    (1) disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
    (2) person who is absolutely going to hell.

    Definitions are absolutely prescriptive. Just depends on what dictionary you’re using.

  264. PatrickG says

    And final note before I succumb to bourbon-induced slumber, my apologies for assuming you were a sir. I should not have assumed that, it was just a phrase that easily tripped off the fingers. My bad.

  265. Lyn M: dropping the f-bomb since 1962 ... of death says

    *Waves her hands. Points at comments.*

    Gotta change my nym to Linc. Might become visible to more people.

    *Wanders off.*

  266. says

    In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I think it’s important to remember why it is that she operates on the right side of politics. Her #1 priority is to improve the situation of women in Islam. The political left (and by that I don’t mean atheists on the left, but the left as a larger group) has long been unwilling to engage issues such as forced veiling, genital mutilation, honour killings, and domestic violence in ethnic communities. It seems acceptable to throw women under the bus for the greater goal of being seen as multi-cultural, which means appeasing the most powerful members of that culture.

    I don’t agree with everything she’s done, but considering her priorities, I can understand why she might find it more productive to work with the political right, who are at least prepared to take a stand on the issues she is most passionate about (despite being wrong on just about everything else).

  267. John Morales says

    [OT]

    PatrickG, you’re alright, but this is a topical thread.

    Take it to TET (preferably) or to TZT (if you dare)… but don’t use this as an open thread.

  268. PatrickG says

    And John, you’re right, I should have done it there. Apologies, I’ll wear out my noobishness once more, and I’ll once again blame the bourbon. Sincerely, this will be my last post.

  269. says

    The political left (and by that I don’t mean atheists on the left, but the left as a larger group) has long been unwilling to engage issues such as forced veiling, genital mutilation, honour killings, and domestic violence in ethnic communities. It seems acceptable to throw women under the bus for the greater goal of being seen as multi-cultural, which means appeasing the most powerful members of that culture.

    Bullshit.

  270. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Amateur Hour, your amateurishness shows, and unlike certain others you lack bibulously-engendered bonhomie, not just merit.

    (I grant that lack of cluelessness is a type of privilege, the which you lack)

  271. Lyn M: dropping the f-bomb since 1962 ... of death says

    Yep, those atheist left-ists. Running the world into the ground with their puerile attempts at inclusiveness and tolerance. I mean what next, accepting refugees?

    As for the Tutus, if I recall correctly, there was an over-all failure to deal with the issue, despite attempts to get the attention of the UN. To cast it as left/right doesn’t seem to take note of reality.

  272. says

    The political left (and by that I don’t mean atheists on the left, but the left as a larger group) has long been unwilling to engage issues such as forced veiling, genital mutilation, honour killings, and domestic violence in ethnic communities. It seems acceptable to throw women under the bus for the greater goal of being seen as multi-cultural, which means appeasing the most powerful members of that culture.

    Bullshit.

    Maryam Namazie has similar goals to Ali, but has decided to stay with the left. A few quotes from her:

    …the post-modernist left and many liberals are too pathetic to stand for social justice, citizenship rights and equality.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2012/05/10/yes-to-profiling-of-muslims/

    Does it not matter if the critique of Islam and political Islam is coming from a right-wing perspective? I agree with Bahram Soroush about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the MP. She has actually said she is not comfortable with some of the positions of that party, but she says it has given her an avenue to be able to critique Islam and defend women’s rights. In a sense, it shows the absence of a Left in which she can become a member and an MP of.
    http://maryamnamazie.com/tv/on_left_progressive_critique_of_Islam.html

    These two amazing women have taken different paths, but both are fighting for the rights of women in Islam, and both seem to have encountered obstruction from parts of the left.

  273. says

    That’s great, John. I’m not nice, I’m an amateur, and I lack merit; clueless, etc. etc. No news there. Still curious: How it is that you would have the privileged view on the matter and why is your comment worth taking seriously?

  274. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Amateur Hour, you labour under a misapprehension: I am but another commenter — no more and no less.

  275. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Josh @233:

    Because the term is divorced from its original diagnostic meaning. It does not carry the insult and dehumanization any longer that it once did, unlike “retard.” This is how language works; it’s not merely me being intractable about a pet word.

    Thank you for this. I’d been hoping someone could explain in better detail than I’ve seen exactly why certain terms are not considered dehumanizing slurs. I know why ‘retard’ is such a slur. After reading Dan Fincke’s list of unacceptable terms, I started wondering about other insults/slurs.

    to wit, moron:

    Moron is a term once used in psychology to denote mild mental retardation. The term was closely tied with the American eugenics movement. Once the term became popularized, it fell out of use by the psychological community, as it was used more commonly as an insult than as a psychological term.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moron_(psychology)

    retard (I really don’t like even typing this word):

    Because of its specificity and lack of confusion with other conditions, mental retardation is still the term most widely used and recommended for use in professional medical settings, such as formal scientific research and health insurance paperwork.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retard

    Connotations easily change over time. Idiot, imbecile, and moron were once neutral terms for a developmentally delayed adult with the mental age comparable to a toddler, preschooler, and primary school child, respectively.In time negative connotations tend to crowd out neutral ones, so the phrase mentally retarded was pressed into service to replace them. Mentally retarded, too, has come to be considered inappropriate by some, because the word retarded came to be commonly used as an insult of a person, thing, or idea. As a result, new terms like mentally challenged, with an intellectual disability, learning difficulties and special needs have widely replaced retarded.
    A similar progression occurred with the following terms for persons with physical handicaps being adopted by some people:
    lame → crippled → spastic → handicapped → disabled → physically challenged → differently abled → People with Disabilities
    Euphemisms can also serve to recirculate words that have passed out of use because of negative connotation. The word lame from above, having faded from the vernacular, was revitalized as a slang word generally meaning “not living up to expectations” or “boring.” The connotation of a euphemism can also be subject-specific.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism_treadmill#Euphemism_treadmill

    Idiot and moron are terms that have dropped out of usage as neutral descriptors for mental retardation. They exist solely as slurs, while retard straddles both worlds.

  276. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    Patrick:

    Touché, good sir.. Touché. I’ll just blame the bourbon.

    See, that’s your problem. You’re drinking bourbon :)

  277. says

    @309: Ayaan Hisri Ali seems to want to improve the situation of women in Islam by keeping them from immigrating to countries that will recognize their rights, as she did. It sounds more like she’s interested in containment.

  278. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    The political left (and by that I don’t mean atheists on the left, but the left as a larger group) has long been unwilling to engage issues such as forced veiling, genital mutilation, honour killings, and domestic violence in ethnic communities. It seems acceptable to throw women under the bus for the greater goal of being seen as multi-cultural, which means appeasing the most powerful members of that culture.

    So, lemme see if I get this right..

    If you don’t favour populist right-wing solutions like a ban on certain clothes, you’re doing noing?
    And what pray, has been the right-wing solutions to domestic violence and shame killings?
    And for fgm, at least in my neck of the woods there’s pretty much an even political field, with some discussion whether to utilise large-scale examinations to deal with something that’s a marginal (in numbers, not scope) issue.

    You see, an unwillingness to adopt crowd-pleasers who actually are more likely to do harm than do good is not being unwilling to do something. It just that some people have this funny notion that if we adopt policies to help immigrant women, they should actually help immigrant women. Not just be racist motions with the women as a smokescreen.

  279. says

    Did I say that I approve of right-wing solutions to problems? Just that Hirsi Ali, a woman who I have great admiration for, found the Right more willing to acknowledge the existence of the problems she was interested in tackling.

    When Hirsi Ali commissioned a report into murders of women in immigrant Muslim communities in Holland to determine what proportion of murders were honour motivated, was this racist profiling (as it was called by many), or was it a necessary step to understanding the scope of the problem so that it could be tackled? I personally don’t see that ignoring the honour component present in many murders within Muslim groups is in any way going to help prevent the next round of victims.

    I do not like crowd pleasing one line solutions to complex problems – they don’t work. But when prominent Left intellectuals like Germaine Greer say that attempts to outlaw FGM are “an attack on cultural identity”, it shows a prioritisation of ideals and theories over the lived experiences of individuals, and a denial that there is even a problem to be solved.

  280. KG says

    We are all a part of the natural world; some 80% of the global population don’t accept that. Of the 20(ish)% remaining some are internationalists, some are not. Of the internationalists, some are (hard) secularists, some are not. Of the (hard) secularists some are socialists, some are not, Of the socialists some are authoritarians, some are not…

    Divisions along the lines of ideological difference should be embraced; it allows for the identification of areas of mutually beneficial co-operation.

    The fact that I am designated atheist does not infer that I will work cooperatively with atheists who consider religion a useful political tool and seek to strengthen it’s social and political influence. – colinmackay

    *sigh* And some atheists tick all the right ideological boxes, but don’t know the difference between “infer” and “imply”. No cooperation or compromise is remotely possible with these misguided individuals!!!

    ;-)

  281. KG says

    Why aren’t Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin and Lysenko on this list? – saguhhoo

    *double sigh*
    Because it’s a list of the five worst atheists in America.

    RTFOP!

  282. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Right more willing to acknowledge the existence of the problems she was interested in tacklin

    Ignoring the mostly nonsensical underpinning of this, could you maybe guess why right wingers would be so interested in anything critical (rightly in this case) of Islam?

  283. KG says

    Incidentally, an atheist in America from the same page of the ideological bestiary as Stalin and Mao, and who would be a strong candidate for inclusion in the list, is Bob Avakian.

  284. Gregory Greenwood says

    fronkey @ 309;

    In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I think it’s important to remember why it is that she operates on the right side of politics. Her #1 priority is to improve the situation of women in Islam. The political left (and by that I don’t mean atheists on the left, but the left as a larger group) has long been unwilling to engage issues such as forced veiling, genital mutilation, honour killings, and domestic violence in ethnic communities. It seems acceptable to throw women under the bus for the greater goal of being seen as multi-cultural, which means appeasing the most powerful members of that culture.

    Your brush strokes are too broad here. The ‘political left’ is not a monolith. There are many left-leaning liberals who most certainly are preparerd to deal with the obscenity of such things as FGM and ‘honour killings’ head on, as many of the threads on the topic on Pharyngula itself demonstrate. To claim that the left is prepared, as some sort of unitary party line, to throw women to the wolves in order to make nice to Islamic patriarchs is simply unrealistic. Are there certain figures on the left who would do that – yes. Does this mean that the attitude is so pervasive among liberals that the ‘left’ as some notional unitary political movement would do that – no.

    I don’t agree with everything she’s done, but considering her priorities, I can understand why she might find it more productive to work with the political right, who are at least prepared to take a stand on the issues she is most passionate about (despite being wrong on just about everything else).

    Unfortunately, there are a great many prominent figures on the political right – particularly the more populist Faux-News-courting elements of the right – who will use the plight of women in some Islamic countries as a fig leaf for outright bigotry. These groups don’t actually care about the wellbeing of Islamic women as an end in itself at all – they see the issues as a cudgel to beat all muslims everywhere with; men, women, young, old, empowered and disenfranchised alike. It all plays into the discourse promoted by Islamophobes that Islam is a barbarous culture, and that all muslims are fundamentally opposed to any ‘modern’, ‘progressive’ values of the ‘civilised’ world. To such an extent that they represent so grave an existential threat that discriminatory immigration policies and expeditionary ‘ preemptive wars’ are justified.

    No one is contesting the severity of the horrors endured by Ayaan Hirsi Ali that lead her to make her opposition to aspects of Islam public, but the fact that she has allowed herself to be subverted into a symbol of the alleged evils of Islam that is being used by Islamaphobes to push a clearly racist agenda cannot simply be ignored. Even if her intent is benign, and she simply sees this as a political ‘marriage of convenience’ in pursuit of some longer term greater good, the fact remains that intent is not magic, and the practical effect of aligning herself with these groups is that it promotes racism against muslims in the here and now.

  285. KG says

    In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I think it’s important to remember why it is that she operates on the right side of politics. Her #1 priority is to improve the situation of women in Islam. – fronkey

    Given Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s support for Christian evangelism to convert Muslims, an idea which has no merit whatever unless she wants to suck up to the religious right – even if it succeeded it would simply move Muslim women from the dominion of one misogynist ideology to that of another – I’m inclined to think that her #1 priority is whatever serves the interests of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    It is true that sections of the left have failed Muslim women. But the idea that the correct response to this is to gang up with the racist right is both revolting and risible; and rather than Maryam Namazie’s insignificant sectlet, the “Worker Communist Party of Iran”, I would suggest that atheists support organisations such as Southall Black Sisters, who oppose both racist immigration laws and misogyny in black and immigrant communities, without imposing a specific ideology on the women they exist to help, and without giving ammunition to the racist right.

  286. says

    So the choice is

    a) The left who are for lack of a better term pencil necked goodie goodies who want to avoid confrontation, so that they won’t criticize, but they will hopefully donate and support immigration and poverty aid and dialogue on the issues

    b) The Right who actually don’t give all that much a shit about women except to use them as an excuse for pointing out how awful all those camel jockeys are and start pounding drums for confrontation including bringing a military juggernaut to the ME to steam roll over communities?

    See if Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s, whose work in many ways I do respect and whose plight I am sympathetic, was a fictional character my critical analysis of her motivations would be that she’s not acting out of compassion but bitterness and vengeance

  287. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    This is an absolute and total lie as you should know. I realize you’re too proud to admit that you insulted me and every other non-gay who was ever bullied, but you fucking insulted me.

    No, this is not true. If it were true I would say so.

    Also your “Oh, SG, I’m just ignoring you hateful comments” thing appears not to refer to your past misunderstanding — since you haven’t ignored that — but to refer to some alleged hateful comments made toward you since our last interaction, when you told me “I hope you die an excruciating and lengthy death without anyone to care for you”. Again, I haven’t made any hateful comments toward you, neither in response to your hateful comments nor for any other reason.

    What I don’t understand is why you wanted to troll me here instead of TZT.

  288. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    When Hirsi Ali commissioned a report into murders of women in immigrant Muslim communities in Holland to determine what proportion of murders were honour motivated, was this racist profiling (as it was called by many), or was it a necessary step to understanding the scope of the problem so that it could be tackled? I personally don’t see that ignoring the honour component present in many murders within Muslim groups is in any way going to help prevent the next round of victims.

    Yes, when you single out the shame component of minority murders and ignore them in the majority, it’s racism. Unless the Netherlands have very different patterns than my neck of the woods it’s very much there in the majority too you know.

    But when prominent Left intellectuals like Germaine Greer say that attempts to outlaw FGM are “an attack on cultural identity”, it shows a prioritisation of ideals and theories over the lived experiences of individuals, and a denial that there is even a problem to be solved.

    You know that Greer is a self-proclaimed anarchist? Right? If you are talking about the lunatic fringe, you might have a smidgeon of a point, but then you’d better specify that you are talking about the lunatic fringe.

    And also, you seem to miss her point by a rather wide margin (not that her position is good, but you’re missing the point of it by a rather large margin.)

  289. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    You know that Greer is a self-proclaimed anarchist? Right? If you are talking about the lunatic fringe,

    Anarchists are the “lunatic fringe”? Fuck you, Gnumann.

  290. carbonbasedlifeform says

    #293

    Blistering critiques such as “not knowing things is not a good reason to be an atheist”—a charge leveled at Jillette, and one that I’m sure stings him sorely—are a dead give-away to the real motive behind this little Rant on the Internet.

    Actually, not knowing things is a very good reason to be an atheist, or at very least an agnostic. What Murphy really means to say is: “I don’t want people I disagree with to be in my club”. Life is such a bitch, isn’t it?

    Not knowing is a lousy argument for being an atheist. In the ongoing series of posts on “Why I Am An Atheist,” we are given actual reasons for atheism, not “I dunno.”

    “I don’t know” is an excellent reason for agnosticism, but agnosticism is not atheism.

    It’s just the same with Penn’s argument for being a libertarian, which amounts to “I don’t know what government should be doing, therefore government should do nothing.” If Penn believes that this is an actual argument, he is much more stupid than I thought he was.

  291. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Anarchists are the “lunatic fringe”? Fuck you, Gnumann.

    I’m sorry. I was perhaps a bit careless in my choice of words. Would just fringe be acceptable?

  292. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Sure, if you really feel the need to distance yourself from people like Emma Goldman, Oscar Wilde, Noam Chomsky, David Graeber, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

  293. maureenbrian says

    Do you think, comrades, that before we turn this into a white vs black, right vs left, male vs female bloodbath it might be useful to step back for a moment and take a look at how power operates in a society?

    I can only speak with confidence about life in the UK but what partial information I have from elsewhere does not discourage me from saying this. So I’ll press on.

    If we stick to the subject of culturally condoned violence against women and children and include in that psychological and emotional abuse then we’ve quite enough to deal with in one go. And let’s stick with “cultural” – the practice of female genital mutilation is not a teaching of Islam, it has to do with power, control and superstition.

    So let’s go back about 45 years when for the first time we have significant numbers of immigrant women and children moving here to join husbands who had been here for some time and moving to homes beyond the major cities, which had been multi-ethnic long before that.

    Suppose you are a woman with a problem – health, violence, kid bullied at school? – and those who claim to be the leaders of your own community have a very narrow attitude about what women are allowed to say out loud. Even worse, there’s a fair chance in 1967 that the people in charge of the school, the education authority, public health, the waiting list for housing, whatever else you think of, will also be men – men without degrees in anthropology or comparative religion.

    So, if an impressive 60+ man in flowing shalwar kameez of the very finest cotton floats into your office instead of Mrs Amir and her supportive friend whom you were expecting and says bloke-to-bloke there is nothing to worry about, it’s all sorted now the official will probably believe him. (It is exactly the same as when a white man with expensive tailoring gets away with domestic abuse for longer.)

    Why? Not because the official in the town hall is especially stupid but because it’s not within his perception of the world to wonder what his new visitor’s agenda is or whether he needs to send a woman, say, to discover whether Mrs Amir is already dead or in hospital.

    And that’s where the rot starts. There are any number of people we could take pot-shots at. They would certainly include all those families who wanted the best of the education and technology but delivered within the social set-up of a remote village in Pakistan but also the Tory minister at a major conference who with the cameras on him derided for cheap laughs a support + integration project for families from Gujarat – a project funded by his own department!

    I could make that list of true examples long enough to last until Christmas: let those two complaints stand for the whole. I will just stress that some of the best work in this difficult area of human relations has been done by groups of women yet they have found it incredibly difficult to gain funding and to be listened to before or instead of the so-called community leaders.

    So, there is not a single evil intelligence either creating the problems or preventing their solutions. There’s just a whole bunch of ordinary people who made decisions without full information or who took a bit too long to cotton on. These were people of all backgrounds and all persuasions who should strive to do a bit better in future. Ideology doen’t come into it.

  294. maureenbrian says

    And can we please have a small cheer for the police in Warrington who absolutely refused to use the phrase “honour killing” and argued that the murder of Shafilea Ahmend had nothing of honour about it so they would not give anyone at all a magic word to hide behind.

  295. 'Tis Himself says

    Here is a quote from you:

    However, I can not believe the severity of violence against geeky kids is equivalent to that against queer kids, at least not until I see some randomly sampled data.

    Is there some ambiguity in that statement? I would have thought the explicit mentions of sampling and acknowledgement of counterexamples would indicate pretty clearly that what I’m skeptical about is any claim like the typical degree of bullying against geeky kids is equivalent to that against queer kids. Nothing like “all bullying of queer kids is worse than all bullying of geeky kids.” There’s geeky straight kids who are dead because of it, while I’m still alive; I’m aware of individual variation.» [emphasis added]

    This is telling me that you don’t believe that non-gays get bullied as much as gays. None of your handwaving or tapdancing can wipe out your claim that bullying of non-gays isn’t as severe, isn’t as significant, isn’t as REAL as bullying of gays. IT’S YOUR FUCKING WORDS THAT CONDEMN YOU, ASSHOLE!

    Sure, you admit that non-gays might have a sneer or two tossed there way and might even be jostled a bit, but it’s obviously not REAL bullying like gays go through.

    I realize you’re too pigheaded, too stubborn, too proud to admit that what you said was belittling to us non-gays who were and are bullied. So why don’t you stop trying to rewrite history? Stop trying to justify your insult to me and other bullied non-gays. I don’t expect you to apologize for what you said. I just want you to know that I hold you in the deepest contempt.

    If you don’t bring the subject up again I won’t either. I’ll neither forgive nor forget but I won’t mention it if you don’t.

  296. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    And there goes SG, derailing another thread with OT personal attacks. /sarcasm

  297. says

    This is telling me that you don’t believe that non-gays get bullied as much as gays. None of your handwaving or tapdancing can wipe out your claim that bullying of non-gays isn’t as severe, isn’t as significant, isn’t as REAL as bullying of gays. IT’S YOUR FUCKING WORDS THAT CONDEMN YOU, ASSHOLE!

    I remember that. If you feel insulted by being told that as a rule, marginalized peoples are more likely to be hurt, and are more likely to be hurt badly, so a claim that this isn’t true needs evidence backing it… well, that’s going to put us at odds.

  298. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    This is telling me that you don’t believe that non-gays get bullied as much as gays. None of your handwaving or tapdancing can wipe out your claim that bullying of non-gays isn’t as severe, isn’t as significant,

    Comparing the two populations generally, yes. (It’s not a comparison of any one individual to another.)

    isn’t as REAL as bullying of gays.

    I’m not sure what this could mean. Of course it’s as real.

    Sure, you admit that non-gays might have a sneer or two tossed there way and might even be jostled a bit,

    Actually I said “there’s geeky straight kids who are dead because of it”.

    Murder and suicide, a bit more than sneering.

    but it’s obviously not REAL bullying like gays go through.

    Again, not something I’ve said or would say.

    I realize you’re too pigheaded, too stubborn, too proud to admit that what you said was belittling to us non-gays who were and are bullied.

    If I thought it could reasonably be interpreted as belittling, I would say so. Accuracy is more interesting to me than pride.

    I did acknowledge that my original phrasing of “picked on” seemed to present a contrast with bullying per se, I have clarified I meant no such contrast, bullying is bullying for both queer and non-queer kids, and again I regret that misleading phrasing which was my fault.

    So why don’t you stop trying to rewrite history? Stop trying to justify your insult to me and other bullied non-gays.

    I will not assent to your distortions of my words.

    If you don’t bring the subject up again I won’t either. I’ll neither forgive nor forget but I won’t mention it if you don’t.

    I don’t bring it up. I only respond to your claims.

  299. dereksmear says

    Pat Condell should have made that list. I am surprised Harris is even on that list considering his loony ideas about reincarnation, the paranormal and eastern mysticism. Harris is more of a new-age quack than an atheist.

  300. ChasCPeterson says

    Josh@#251:

    ‘Tis, I’ve given up. When even philosophers like Dan Fincke misuse ad hominem all is lost.

    Josh @#233:

    the term is divorced from its original diagnostic meaning….This is how language works

    In this case it wasn’t even ambiguous. The guy said “Ad Hominem Attack”. This is a pretentious term for insult which, as you note by giving up, is in extremely common usage..

    not all insults are slurs.

    wrong. They are synonyms. PatrickG @#279 is correct. Also @#298.

    when most people say “slur”, it is short for “racial slur” “ethnic slur””sexist slur”. In the commonly used sense, shithead isn’t a slur. Its just an insult.

    most people don’t quote dictionaries when using the word “slur,” to mean some kind of bigoted slur.

    Argumentum ad most populi (plus with the statistic ‘most’ pulled directly from asses). People who are trying to communicate clearly ought to avoid ambiguous ‘shorts’. Use the adjective.

    Dictionaries tend not to delve into the finer social implications of words.

    Aha! A clue. Once again it seems that sociologists (and their trainees) are using redefined common words as jargon and then trying to police their particular usage. So tiresome.

    Libertarians strike me as being like small children: “When I’m all grown up I’m going to have pizza every day and I’m never going to wash my hair so I don’t get soap in my eyes and I’m going to bed whenever I want to. So there!

    um. Other than the fact that I haven’t gotten soap in my eyes for like 45 years, it seems that I am indistinguishable from a grown-up libertarian. huh.

    Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive.

    Depends entirely on the dictionary in question.

    Take it to TET (preferably) or to TZT (if you dare)… but don’t use this as an open thread.

    Did I miss the appointment of Morales as threadcop?
    (Or is it ‘thread-usher’?)

  301. ckitching says

    Pat Condell should have made that list.

    Probably. But I don’t think anyone has cared about Pat Condell in years at this point.

    I’m glad someone pointed out that despite Harris’s reputation for being a deep thinker, he doesn’t often live up to that and seems to run from his own stated positions whenever someone challenges him on it. I was not terribly impressed with his book, The End of Faith, and haven’t bothered to read anything else he’s put out.

    His discussion of “collateral damage” and the fact that the most damaging actions are not always the most shocking to us, has been stated more succinctly by the folk wisdom commonly misattributed to Joseph Stalin: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic”. Then her turns around and uses this to justify torture because torture is far less damaging than collateral damage. Except, of course, he insists he didn’t.

  302. dereksmear says

    If you want a good analysis of Harris’ politics see here:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/sam-harris-uncovered.html

    It’s suprising that the Alernet article didn’t go into Harris’ ideas about reincanation and the paranormal because they really are just plain goofy.

    Here is one of my favourite Harris gems:

    “Most scientists consider themselves physicalists; this means, among other things, that they believe that our mental and spiritual lives are wholly dependent upon the workings of our brains. On this account, when the brain dies, the stream of our being must come to an end. Once the lamps of neural activity have been extinguished, there will be nothing left to survive. Indeed, many scientists purvey this conviction as though it were itself a special sacrament, conferring intellectual integrity upon any man, woman, or child who is man enough to swallow it. But the truth is that we simply do not know what happens after death.

    While there is much to be said against a naive conception of a soul that is independent of the brain, the place of consciousness in the natural world is very much an open question. ” (The End of Faith – Page 208)

    WTF?

  303. dereksmear says

    Oh Harris thinks that consciousness is not caused by the brain:

    “The idea that brains produce consciousness is little more than an article of faith among scientists at present, and there are many reasons to believe that the methods of science will be insufficient to either prove or disprove it.” (End of Faith p. 208)

    What a kook.

  304. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Thank you for the pedantry, Chas. Especially since it fails to take into account the implications of arguing about bizarre, colloquial uses of “ad hominem” with a professional philosopher. Rock on you.

  305. saguhh00 says

    @294

    And therefore people should not have opinion as to the positions professed atheists espouse?

    I’ve already answered that:

    Personally, I’m all for criticising ideas that you think are ill-advised, ignorant or dangerous. You’re even entitled to dislike the person for espousing those ideas. However, if your primary skill is making lists rather than actually engaging in and rebutting the ideas you abhor, then I suppose making lists is what you do. And I suppose calling your list: ‘Five atheists I saw on American TV that I don’t like’ would be a little less punchy.

  306. says

    Personally, I’m all for criticising ideas that you think are ill-advised, ignorant or dangerous. You’re even entitled to dislike the person for espousing those ideas. However, if your primary skill is making lists rather than actually engaging in and rebutting the ideas you abhor, then I suppose making lists is what you do. And I suppose calling your list: ‘Five atheists I saw on American TV that I don’t like’ would be a little less punchy.

    Ah the “You’re right but did not phrase the answer in a form of a question so I don’t have to address the point nya nyan nay!” fallacy

  307. ChasCPeterson says

    it fails to take into account the implications of arguing about bizarre, colloquial uses of “ad hominem” with a professional philosopher

    lol
    “bizarre”?
    It’s an adjective. Most people on the internet seem to use it to (pointlessly) modify ‘attack’. Internet logicians, such as, apparently, you, wish to restrict the adjective to modify only ‘argument’ or ‘fallacy’. As you pointed out, it’s too late.
    I’m not sure what the implications are of arguing with a professional philosopher might be. The philosopher in question is a dumbass? A descriptivist?

  308. chigau (違う) says

    A long time ago “awful” meant “full of awe”.
    Nowadays we say “Awesome!”

  309. PatrickG says

    OT, but felt I should respond to specific comments at me:

    @ Josh

    See, that’s your problem. You’re drinking bourbon :)

    Why do you hate people from Kentucky? Geographist!

    Also, @KG — good to hear. However, it might be germane to point out that I’ve been in company recently where, to put it as well as I can, people aren’t quite up with the recent medical definitions and/or semantic conventions. (Moron == retard) -> 1 down near Cave City (anecdote, not applicable here except for possible interest).

  310. jonmilne says

    Honestly? It’s not the list that Murphy compiled that bugs me. His list is perfectly fine. Really, the only two things wrong with his article are the title of the piece – I, personally, would have labelled that list “The Five (Hell, I may have even extended it to Ten) Most Unhelpful Atheists To The Causes of Skepticism, Critical Thinking, And Rationality – and I would have added this addendum like this to the end of the post:

    None of this means that the people listed above are a bunch of inherently bad people. No, it does not (well, okay, S.E. Cupp is probably the exception here.

    It does mean they don’t always think things through. The actions I’ve listed above ought to have demonstrated this fully.

    However, again at least in the case of most of the people on this list, nothing I’ve mentioned makes them bad people. Scarily wrong sometimes, yeah, but still, not necessarily bad people. They’re human. They have faults and virtues, some with lots of virtues. In the end, you have to balance them to see these people as they are.

    It’s one thing to concentrate on the great things they have done for the causes of skepticism, rationalism, and criticial thinking, but it does say a whole fuck of a lot about the people who will inevitably launch defenses of these people that have been criticised here that they can’t objectively analyse the negative and positive aspects of all of the above people and must instead pretend these flaws that these people possess are insignificant while fallaciously accusing other atheists of not appreciating what these people have done.

    For the record, I’d have added The Amazing Atheist, Thunderf00t and Alain de Botton to this list. Cupp would have been a keeper, and at a nudge I’d have also included Maher as well. All the other names Murphy listed would have comfortably fit in a Top 10, however.

  311. says

    PZ wrote: “As I think is obvious, you can tell a lot about the author of such a list by their priorities.”

    Okay. Penn Jillette is on that list for espousing Libertarianism.

    Now, I happen to think that Libertarianism is short-sighted, myopic nonsense. And for that reason, I argue against it wherever I can.

    But Penn Jillette’s adherence to Libertarianism, as stupid as Libertarianism may ultimately be, is clearly predicated on his honest and thoughtful desire to make the world a better place. The same goes for every other Libertarian atheist I know. That’s why I think it’s worthwhile to debate them. And that’s why I think that the author’s priority, in putting Penn Jillette on that list, is partisan politics rather than an honest and thoughtful interest in rooting out bad seeds in the atheist movement.

  312. StevoR says

    My list of the five worst atheists :

    1. Stalin
    2. Lenin
    3. Pol Pot
    4. The “Amazing atheist”
    5. Alain de bottom

  313. StevoR says

    My list of the five best atheists :

    1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    2. Talsima Nasreen
    3. Isaac Asimov
    4. Great Christina
    5. Maryam Namazie

    List is of course subjective and my opinion.

  314. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    But Penn Jillette’s adherence to Libertarianism, as stupid as Libertarianism may ultimately be, is clearly predicated on his honest and thoughtful desire to make the world a better place

    Bullshit. It may be honest but it sure as hell isn’t thoughtful, and I say this as a recovering libertarian myself. And considering that Penn has hinted at having been a lefty in his younger days (before he got rich) I have trouble even buying honest in his case.

    That’s why I think it’s worthwhile to debate them.

    Part of debating them is pointing out that their beliefs are wrong and harmful.

    Did you have an actual point, or are you just whinging about nothing?

  315. jonmilne says

    @Jeff Dee 358

    While Libertarianism was indeed the dominating factor in Mr Murphy’s reasoning for including Penn Jillette, there are other factors that quite comfortably merit Penn’s place on that list, such as the Bullshit on “Bullshit!” where he and Teller argued against global warming, recycling, other environmental issues and second hand smoke and also against gun control. I’d say that very easily merits his spot on the list.

    Plus, maybe you haven’t hung around FtB long or Atheist blogs long, but frankly I’d say that Libertarianism has shown no evidence of, as you say, having an “honest and thoughtful desire to make the world a better place”. Such examples of how poisonous Libertarianism is would be the sheer harassment and abuse Ashley Miller received for daring to write a negative piece on Ron Paul, not to mention all the obnoxious Libertarians that surfaced on Tf00t’s side during his sexist attacks on feminists and his conflict with FtB.

  316. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    What a shock, StevoR the paranoid genocidal racist thinks Hirsi Ali is the best atheist. Tell me StevoR, can you tell the difference between Muslims and Sikhs? I’d like to think that at least if you decide to go on a killing spree like your buddy in Wisconsin you’ll kill the people you actually hate.

  317. StevoR says

    One key point that I think we must remember when it comes to Ayaan Hirsi Ali :

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali actually knows directly and in depth from personal experience what she is talking about when it comes to Islam.

    Too many other “progressive” folks here seem to forget that.

    Seem willing to dismiss the word of a woman.

    Seem willing to dismiss the word of someone who’s of a Muslim ethnic / cultural background.

    Seem willing to knock someone who is an absolute expert for expressing herself forthrightly and in defiance of death threats.

    Ayaan Ali Hirsi knows what she is talking about on Islam. Far better and more directly and more intimately and thoroughly than almost any of her (almost all non-Islamic) critics here.

    Think about it. Listen to and respect her because, like a climate expert on climatology, she’s an (ex-)Islamic expert on Islam.

    Like an ex-Stalin era Soviet dissident in the West talking to idelaistic Communist-leaning academics, Ayaan Hirsi Ali‘s been there, lived that and actually knows about what she’s talking about reality~wise not just abstract idealistic spin~wise.

    Argument over.

  318. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Seem willing to dismiss the word of someone who’s of a Muslim ethnic / cultural background.

    That’s cute. “I know you are but what am I?” In all seriousness, I hope you drink yourself to death you bigoted piece of shit.

  319. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Argument over.

    Nope, your fuckwittery tells us everything. Your support is a death knell to what your support. You are Heinlein’s fool we ask when we don’t know what to do. Then we do the opposite of your answer.

  320. StevoR says

    @363.dysomniak, darwinian socialist says:

    What a shock, StevoR the paranoid genocidal racist

    Wrong, wrong and wrong on your part. I am none of those three things.

    I am not paranoid.

    I do not argue for genocide – quite the reverse I hope we can stop it ever happening.

    I treat all people equally and well regardless of their skin colour – and note here that Islam is NOT a skin colour or a race of any kind but a hateful religious ideology.

    (NO, “brown people” are NOT Muslims by definition. More “brown people” are actually Hindu and (incl. Sth America) Catholic than Muslim and, oh yeah, I would never hurt *anyone* because their religion much as I may disagree with it either.)

    .. thinks [Ayaan -ed.] Hirsi Ali is the best atheist.

    Because in my opinion she is. Your mileage may vary, up to you.

    Tell me StevoR, can you tell the difference between Muslims and Sikhs?

    Yes I can.

    I’d like to think that at least if you decide to go on a killing spree like your buddy in Wisconsin you’ll kill the people you actually hate.

    I’m no killer and you fucking well know it. That’s not my style or goal or something I’d do without having a really good life-and-death reason.

    Argue about politics and issues? Sure.
    Resort to actual political violence? No way!

    That latest mass murderer is no buddy of mine.

  321. StevoR says

    @ 365. dysomniak, darwinian socialist :

    In all seriousness, I hope you drink yourself to death ..

    Chyaa-ming of you. Cheers! We all have to die of something and there’s certainly worse ways to go.

    @ 366. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls : Wow. A content free comment insulting me but containing no logical arguments or supporting evidence from you. What a surprise – NOT.

    @367. pentatomid : Over generalising about Muslims eh? (Shrug)

    Funnily enough, I haven’t mentioned anything about Muslims here tonight only offered my subjective lists of best and worst atheists, noted that Ayaan Hirsi Ali, unlike I think we can safely say, her critics here has actual direct personal experience of Islam and thus actually knows what she’s talking about and made one other post defending myself against rather slanderous (or is it libelous) personal attacks and insults against me. Go figure.

  322. StevoR says

    made one other post defending myself against rather slanderous (or is it libelous) personal attacks and insults against me.

    Not an actual legal threat.

    Although if I was rich enough to afford a lawyer for it I could make a good case.

    Something folks might want to think over before making wild offensive false claims about people here.

  323. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I’m no killer and you fucking well know it.

    No, I fucking well don’t. I don’t know you, I have only your comments here to go on. And your comments here have been paranoid, racist, and genocidal. Based on what you have posted the best case scenario is that you are merely a garden variety hateful drunken jingoist who is too cowardly to carry out your eliminationist fantasies personally. At least from what I hear it’s harder to get ahold of a firearm down under.

  324. says

    dysomniak wrote, “Part of debating them is pointing out that their beliefs are wrong and harmful.”

    Absolutely. But putting them on a list of awful people ISN’T part of ‘debating’ them.

    jonmilne wrote, “Such examples of how poisonous Libertarianism is would be the sheer harassment and abuse Ashley Miller received for daring to write a negative piece on Ron Paul, not to mention all the obnoxious Libertarians that surfaced on Tf00t’s side during his sexist attacks on feminists and his conflict with FtB.”

    How many of the Libertarians who harassed Ashley Miller or defended Thunderfoot were named Penn Jillette? Libertarianism, for all its actual – and severe – faults, doesn’t tell its adherents that it’s okay to be rude to people. People of ALL political leanings are rude to others who disagree with them, when they’re a) certain of their beliefs and b) not willing to get a grip.

  325. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    But putting them on a list of awful people ISN’T part of ‘debating’ them.

    You say that like it means something. It doesn’t. You’re making an empty assertion based on an arbitrary distinction. Just another tone troll, whining about how everyone else should be nice and polite just like you.

  326. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Wow. A content free comment insulting me but containing no logical arguments or supporting evidence from you. What a surprise – NOT.

    I don’t have to show you are a paranoid bigot who’s word isn’t worth the electrons used to post your opinions, you do that for me every time you don’t apologize to all those innocent people you would kill to get the very few who might cause you trouble. Trouble you can’t come up with viable scenario that is actually realistic for your paranoia…

    Example of the way we think of you:

    I don’t know you, I have only your comments here to go on. And your comments here have been paranoid, racist, and genocidal.

    Why even argue or post here further is beyond the logic of any mortal man. You have trashed yourself with your paranoia and bigotry. Time to shut the fuck up and fade into the bandwidth.

  327. saguhh00 says

    @353

    Ah the “You’re right but did not phrase the answer in a form of a question so I don’t have to address the point nya nyan nay!” fallacy

    Actually, she did “phrase the answer in a form of a question”.

    “And therefore people should not have opinion as to the positions professed atheists espouse?”

    And I answered that. As for the actual list, calling those people “the five most awful atheists” is quite an exageration. And all the author does is to call the people on the list evil, bigoted, hateful, misogynistic, stupid, etc without actually engaging any of the wrong opinions those people hold (except for Cupp, who actually is a right-wing fraud).

    None of the people on the list are actually as bad as Stalin, Lysenko, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Enver Hoxha.

  328. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    @375 Notice something your five have in common? Something that differentiates them from the atheists listed in the OP?

    I’ll give you a hint, the title of the article isn’t “The 5 Most Awful Atheists of All Time‘.

  329. brucegorton says

    @371

    Sorry, but you do fucking well know it. That accusation was fucking scummy, and you fucking well know it.

    Just because you and he disagree is no fucking defense for accusing him of being fucking genocidal, or of considering going on a shooting spree.

    Fuck. You.

  330. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    No, fuck you. StevoR’s violent, xenophobic attitudes are exactly what lead to shit like that. I have literally no idea whether he’s the kind of person to put his beliefs into action or not, though statistics suggest it isn’t likely. But every cowardly racist bloviating about violence they aren’t willing to commit themselves encourages the ones who are actually demented enough to do it.

  331. brucegorton says

    Okay – I raised it on the complaints thread and Caine filled me in. Sorry – I didn’t realise StevoR had a history and over-reacted.

    Seriously, sorry dysomniak. It was horribly wrong of me to go off like that.

  332. jonmilne says

    Jeff Dee

    How many of the Libertarians who harassed Ashley Miller or defended Thunderfoot were named Penn Jillette? Libertarianism, for all its actual – and severe – faults, doesn’t tell its adherents that it’s okay to be rude to people. People of ALL political leanings are rude to others who disagree with them, when they’re a) certain of their beliefs and b) not willing to get a grip.

    Jeff, I respect you greatly for your work on the Atheist Experience, but you’re way off base here.

    Conservatism and Liberalism does not necessarily tell their adherants that they must be rude to people either, and yet surprise surprise, members of those political persuasions can still twist the ideologies they’re part of to be supremely rude to people. Libertarianism is no different. It’s not just rudeness though, it’s also a supremely irritating ability to “not get it” and be unbelievably obtuse and obfuscating when it comes to debates on certain matters. More than others, Conservatives and Libertarians seem to fit these tropes more than any other political ideologies.

    And you miss the point also when you ask if Penn Jillette had any involvement in the harassing of Ashley Miller or the Thunderf00t vs PZ Myers feud – he didn’t, those were just examples. Nonetheless, while “Bullshit!” was able to be well and truly rationally analytical and critically sound when it wanted to be (eg: creationism, amongst others), in other episodes it amounted to nothing more than, you guessed it, rude condescending claptrap (eg: every episode I mentioned that was related to environmental issues as well as second hand smoke and gun control) which hardly seems that surprising to me since from personal experience online those viewpoints that Penn & Teller gave are ironically exactly the kind of Bullshit that I would expect a Libertarian to deliver. And that more than cements his justification for being on the list.

  333. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Maybe this is silly brucegorton, but could you link that comment? I have no interest in hounding you but I do have this silly urge to know what people are saying about me when I’m not in the room.

  334. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Nevermind, I found it.

    And again, no hard feelings. I can see how my response would come off as extreme to someone unfamiliar with StevoR’s history here.

  335. KG says

    I’m no killer and you fucking well know it. – StevoR

    No, we don’t. You have directly advocated genocide on this site: “Nuke ‘em”, IIRC, were the exact words used. Sure, most people who advocate genocide will not go on a rampage like Page’s, but an old army buddy of his is quoted as follows:

    He would talk about the racial holy war, like he wanted it to come. But to me, he didn’t seem like the type of person to go out and hurt people.

    You make eliminationist and genocidal comments; you take the consequences – which in this instance, are minor: being hated and despised by a lot of people on the blog where you post them.

  336. brittonnoel says

    If you read what Sam writes on profiling and torture, it is very clear that he is not a racist and that he does not like the act of torture. But you do have to read what he says with some attention.

    He does think that there are extreme cases where torturing would be the moral thing to do. He does think that profiling, amongst many other things, is necessary for the best airport security.

    He might be wrong about these things, but wether he is right or wrong about them does not make him a racist or someone that likes torture.

  337. frankboyd says

    And there we have it. Nice to finally have it out in the open. Nice to finally see, having repudiated Richard Dawkins – who is the only reason 99% of people have even heard of Myers – P.Z. Myers charges loose to join in the smearing of people like Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    You know, people with actual courage and actual ideas. People who don’t beat their drum all day long about how brave they are and then run away at the first sign of trouble

    The only redeeming feature is that the sheer meanness and pettiness and spit will mean that this ridiculous community will never affect anything or anyone in the real world.

  338. says

    Wait, what? I repudiated Richard Dawkins? Nonsense. I greatly admire Dawkins…but that doesn’t mean I think he’s infallible.

    Same with Harris and Ali. I can admire some things about them, while criticizing others. I do think both have an illiberal streak, and sometimes Ali advocates abhorrent nonsense — converting Muslims to Catholicism? No thanks.

    Could you give me a list of all the people in the atheist movement who are above all criticism? And can you give me suggestions on how to get on the list?

  339. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, sycophant links to fuckwittery. Nothing new, and Harris isn’t misrepresented. His stance is based on his unretracted words. Link to a third party source or it doesn’t exist.

  340. vincenthewitt says

    Ah, Nerd of Rehead, your response would make an ardent faith-head proud.

    Rather than address Harris’s remarks, you dismiss them as “fuckwittery”. Just as a faith-head will dismiss the criticisms of Myers, Harris, Dawkins, et al., without actually addressing their arguments.

    Perhaps you lack the attention span to read the whole of Harris’s article. If so, you might care at least to address the following excerpts:
    .
    .
    “From reading this piece, and hundreds like it, one would never imagine that my position on torture is more or less identical to the one prescribed in that handbook of evil, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Read the entry on torture there, especially the section entitled “The Beating,” and then tell me that being categorically “against torture” is a morally uncomplicated stance to adopt.)”
    .
    .
    “My criticism of conservative Islam has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, or nationality. And, as I have often said, no one suffers the consequences of this pernicious ideology—the abridgments of political and intellectual freedom, the mistreatment of women, the fanaticism and sectarian murder—more than innocent Muslims.”
    .
    .
    “There seems to be a consensus, even among my critics, that no one does airline security better than the Israelis (even Schneier admits this). But, as I pointed out, and Schneier agreed, the Israelis profile (in every sense of the term—racially, ethnically, behaviorally, by nationality and religion, etc.). In the end, Schneier’s argument came down to a claim about limited resources: He argued that we are too poor (and, perhaps, too stupid) to effectively copy the Israeli approach. That may be true. But pleading poverty and ineptitude is very different from proving that profiling doesn’t work, or that it is unethical…”
    .
    .
    “Schneier’s argument against profiling has almost nothing to do with the reasons that many people find profiling controversial. But none of my critics seemed to notice this. Nor did they notice when Schneier conceded that the most secure system would use a combination of profiling and randomness.”
    .
    .
    I await your thoughtful and rational response.

  341. PatrickG says

    @vincenthewitt

    Perhaps you I lack the attention span to read the whole of Harris’s article this article, the entirety of the comments on this article, and the entire (more recent) thread where more debte took place.

    Fixed that for you.

  342. vincenthewitt says

    Once again, more diversionary tactics. We have an article written about Harris, and Harris has taken the time to respond directly to the content of the article. Conveniently, no one is game to address Harris’s response. Could it be that they are at a loss?
    .
    On another note, Harris allows those with opposing views to write guest entries on his blog, and he frequently invites them to engage in written exchanges, whereby both sides are given exposure. I wonder if Myers is as welcoming of such discussions and of opposing perspectives.

  343. PatrickG says

    Thanks dysomniak, for providing a link for someone too fucking stupid to read.

    I thought about it, but I’ll just say you’re a better person than I am. ;)

    no one is game to address Harris’s response

    PZ devoted an entire wall of text to responding to Harris. Are you really that dumb? Go back to your bridge, troll.