The stupidification of all media »« Why I am an atheist – Ian Pulsford

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  1. says

    “This post could not be found.
    Your URL may be incorrect, the post may have been deleted, or this account may not have access to the post.”

    do I need access, or some such?

  2. julian says

    I think it would be great for McCreight to walk away from atheism. With how dominated the atheist community is by nasty people devoted to making her time as bad as possible (and jst as many leaders devoted to keeping those people around) it’s what’s best for her.

  3. says

    well, I think its sensible for faces of the movement to rise and fall. the face is not the movement, it is only the upward swell. its okay for individuals to take a break, step away, and recover from time to time

  4. says

    For future discussions, I’m going to have to make myself one of these nifty bylines, since few people actually know what I look like :-p

    anyway, that was a fun discussion, my ineptness with technology notwithstanding

  5. 'Tis Himself says

    It was interesting to see some of the people whose words I’d been reading for years. I was particularly interested in the periodic table who spoke with the British accent.

  6. says

    I’m really disappointed that the only comment from the chat function PZ read was from a troll. And just after he said, “this is a grassroots movement.” When and how do we get to speak? There are issues of poverty, disability, etc. that aren’t being addressed. I’d love to contribute, but I’m shut out. I guess b/c I don’t have a degree or connections. So, I opened a FaceBook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/AtheismPlus/ so we can try to find each other, but this is not leaderless. And the spokespeople seem only to talk to each other. It’s frustrating and disheartening. Please let us tell you what’s best for us, instead of you telling us what we need. PLEASE! Please be supportive of our efforts! Some of us have been doing this work for a very long time, in isolation and in secret, because it’s not safe to come out as atheist when you’re poor, or disabled.

  7. julian says

    I think it would be great for her to make her own decision about that.

    Ditto. Never said otherwise.

  8. reallythisisapain says

    I think it would be great for McCreight to walk away from atheism.

    I think that would be horrible.

  9. Marta says

    “I think it would be great for McCreight to walk away from atheism. With how dominated the atheist community is by nasty people devoted to making her time as bad as possible (and jst as many leaders devoted to keeping those people around) it’s what’s best for her.”

    She should do whatever she wants. Jesus. What the hell is wrong with you?

  10. julian says

    Excuse me for thinking people should avoid groups deliberately trying their nerves and patience with misogynistic shit and bile.

    “It’s what’s best for her” sounded pretty patronizing, Julian.

    I didn’t mean for it to be patronizing but yeah, I can see where it is.

  11. consciousness razor says

    I think it would be great if misogynistic asshats would walk away from atheism. If Jen did, that would not be great.

  12. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Why am I surprised that Jadehawk has that accent? Am I that much dumber than Brownian?

  13. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    What Jen says at about 52 minutes in, “That’s what it really boils down to, though, when I see all this pushback is ‘I don’t want to change my behaviour’, and that’s really what it is” – sums it up very well.

  14. says

    this is the first time in ages that I actually heard myself speak. I used to have a much stronger Polish accent; not sure what the current accent qualifies as…

  15. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Brownian wrote:

    Yoicks. Sorry about that. Bad joke.

    Meh, as far as I’m aware you’re probably right. I certainly don’t feel bad about it!

  16. Patricia, OM says

    Jadehawk – Your accent sounds very pretty to me.

    So does Louis’s, although I’m miffed I didn’t get to see if he really does have an ass the size of two Volvos.

  17. Brownian says

    Jadehawk – Your accent sounds very pretty to me.

    I like it too. My elementary school had Polish immersion and a lot of Polish ESL students. It’s an accent I’m fond of.

  18. bakarichavanu says

    I was on Twitter a lot last week defending Atheism+, and I really would like to see if I can create a couple of regular Google Hangouts on a weekly basis (at the same time and day) for people to hold these discussions. It will no us good to spend most of our time responding to the haters. Let’s be sure we’re in dialogue more with another, and trying to pull in a diverse group people who talk about issues related to Athiesm+. I appreciate the articles that have been written already, and I need to write a few of my own to fill some gaps that I think are not being addressed.

  19. says

    The entire argument was certainly very enlightening, but the entire time I was staring at Mr. Myers’ mustache. It’s magnificent. It’s like a lifeform of itself.

  20. says

    It is. The beard ambles along, but the mustache grows maniacally and requires far more frequent trimming. I should have tidied it up before I appeared on video.

  21. Patricia, OM says

    Carlie – Yeah, me too. I thought it was Loo-us. Or for us west coasters Lewis. Isn’t Louie a pool shark in Saint Louie?

  22. consciousness razor says

    Wait, it’s pronounced Louie? Whoa.

    Heh. I think I’ve been pronouncing “Brownian” the wrong way too.

  23. trinioler says

    PZ, one of the transcription volunteers:
    “is PZ’s beard fuzzing up the microphone?”

  24. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    I still find it baffling that anyone could watch this and not grasp exactly why people want to get A+ happening, and also how it isn’t any of the dozens of things the haters and asshats are insisting it is. Seems pretty straightforward and practical to me.

  25. Louis says

    I’m a bit disappointed with myself that the preparation I put in (whilst not extensive was non-zero) didn’t come forth. Ah well, I think we had a fun chat about the chat we need to have about Atheism+.

    Meta chats are enjoyable, but I think next time, if for me there is a next time, we need to get meatier. I blame me…sorry…I mean Brownian.

    Louis

  26. says

    Great convo! Wanted to watch real time but…real life :( how does it fucking work?

    In response to haters going on about DEEP RIFTS!!!one!!:
    Does the FFRF progress the movement in the same ways as the JREF? Or SSA? Or AA? Or CFI? Or AHA/BHA? Or or or*

    I don’t think so. To claim that Atheism+ will “harm” the movement is asinine. The energy coming out of the discussions (both pos and neg) is evidence of there being something going on within the movement that NEEDS to be addressed. What Jen and others have started is a good thing.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    * if you think I’m saying that any/all of the the listed orgs are/are not progressing the movement, then you missed my point.

  27. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Ye Olde Blacksmith wrote:

    To claim that Atheism+ will “harm” the movement is asinine.

    Really, the most important thing that it is prompting discussion – actual discussion, I mean, not bullshit JAQoff discussion as a means of infinite obstruction – about the issues. In many ways I suspect the people behind A+ would love nothing more than to have it fade away quietly as long as it’s because enough people stood up and indicated that it isn’t necessary.

    If people haven’t seen the one between Ophelia, Stephanie Zvan, Lousy Canuck, Alex Gabriel and Debbie Goddard called Atheist, humanist or A+? it’s worth a look too.

  28. Quinn Martindale says

    While consciousnesses raising is important, the lack of a meaningful call to action in the Atheism+ discussion so far has me dismayed. There are tons of vibrant and active organizations dedicated to promoting social justice, but I have yet to see (in fact, I’ve probably just missed), a call for donations or volunteers to advance any of these worth while goals.

    There is one position, however, that I must actively oppose:
    Esteleth@56:49:

    Your right to do something ends the second that what it is you’re doing hurts somebody else … That also applies to things like language. I can say all manner of words, you know, I have the right to do that. I have the freedom of speech, but my right to do that ends the second that somebody that is affected by those words hears me.

    Sanal Edamaruku was charged because his right to freedom of speech ended when he hurt religious persons feelings. The UK’s Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 and the Canadian Human Rights act limit “hateful” criticism of religion. We can and should ignore, criticize and ostracize people with hateful views but we must not deny their right to express that view.

  29. says

    Wowbagger @58:

    I’ll have to watch the vid tomorrow. Nearly bedtime for me now. But I have a bit of time yet. :)

    Really, the most important thing that it is prompting discussion – actual discussion, I mean, not bullshit JAQoff discussion as a means of infinite obstruction – about the issues.

    I agree!

    … to have it fade away quietly as long as it’s because enough people stood up and indicated that it isn’t necessary.

    I don’t expect that to happen. I hope it does, though. I really really do.

  30. says

    the lack of a meaningful call to action in the Atheism+ discussion so far has me dismayed. There are tons of vibrant and active organizations dedicated to promoting social justice, but I have yet to see (in fact, I’ve probably just missed), a call for donations or volunteers to advance any of these worth while goals.

    I don’t know if you know this, but it takes more than a week to have a fully functioning organization up and running; the same goes for a re-focusing of existing organizations.

  31. says

    Wowbagger@ 50.

    Count me as one of the one’s that don’t quite get it.

    By definition alone a better term for this idea would be ‘antitheism+’ considering that the attitudes and behaviours displayed by the so called ‘haters’, stem from the deeply entrenched religiosity of society.

    For that matter why doesn’t the term ‘secular humanism’ suffice?

    When women walk down the street and are verbally assaulted, as Rebecca and Jen both seem to have been, it has NOTHING to do with atheism.

    When a woman, or a man for that matter, are propositioned at an atheism/skeptic conference, it has NOTHING to do with atheism.

    To suggest otherwise is either an obvious ignorance of the definition of the word ‘atheism’ or it’s an exercise in ego bolstering. I’m leaning towards the latter.

  32. says

    When a woman, or a man for that matter, are propositioned at an atheism/skeptic conference, it has NOTHING to do with atheism.

    lol

  33. Beatrice says

    I liked that part where Jen mentioned how if someone were to start an atheist knitting group, no one would grouse about how knitting has nothing to do with atheism and how dare they do this.

    *sends a significant look in peterakin’s direction*

  34. lexie says

    petereakin,

    I am not speaking for Jadehawke but I will state that I also find your statement that she quoted amusing, while in your view your belief that there are no gods is not related to attitudes to women (which I do accept that for some people it genuinely isn’t but for some it is which I can explain why the two can be connected if you wish), however, if it is occurring at an atheist/skeptic conference it is related to attitudes in the community and the attitude of the community is worth discussing.

    In the same way that if you wanted to run a local knitting club or car club or any other hobby group and you had some female/racial minority/gay/trans members of your group and if some other members were constantly harassing them this would be an important issue for your group to deal with. Knitting is clearly not obviously related to homophobia, however, most nice progressive people would like to make a group which is inclusive of everyone and in which no one feels excluded or harassed. So if you run a knitting circle in which one person constantly calls another rude names because they are gay or in another way denigrates them then it is absolutely something which your group should and in all likelihood would deal with. This is common practice, it is not bizarre for the attitude of a community to be called into question and if this complaint is thought to be valid then it is an issue which should be dealt with by the community.

    In the same way that people likely would not suggest that knitting is the cause of the persons homophobia, I am not suggesting that atheism is the cause of people’s misogyny, however, if it is occurring within the atheist community at specifically atheist event then it becomes a community issue which does need to be dealt with by the community.

  35. vaiyt says

    @petereakin:

    When a woman, or a man for that matter, are propositioned at an atheism/skeptic conference, it has NOTHING to do with atheism.

    The irrational, knee-jerk double-down of the dudebro skeptics to people pointing out the harassment problem has nothing to do with skepticism?

    Atheists reproducing the patterns of patriarchalism that the religious use to cause so much damage, has nothing to do with atheism?

    Well, lol.

    To suggest otherwise is either an obvious ignorance of the definition of the word ‘atheism’ or it’s an exercise in ego bolstering. I’m leaning towards the latter.

    I don’t know about you, but an “Atheism” that doesn’t ask any further questions is, from my point of view, pretty much just “an exercise in ego bolstering”.

  36. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    petereakin, short version: some people want there to be an atheist community, and want the atheists that belong to that community to adhere to a certain standard of behaviour, i.e. not being misogynistic assholes, since that drives people away – and that’s kinda dumb.

    Appealing to the wider community did not work. So, some people decided they would form their own community where they could discuss the aspects of atheism that concerned them, with a special focus on social justice.

    That’s what Atheism+ is.

    Those who don’t want to join a community where the atheists talk about social justice (amongst other things) are under no obligation to. They can carry on doing whatever it is they want, with their atheism meaning to them whatever they want it to mean.

    Does that help?

  37. says

    The ugliness of sexism, racism, or homophobia speaks to the person(s) that hold such backward attitudes but not to the one simple fact that they are a non-believer.

    As I stated earlier, I understand how the deep seated patriarchical bigotry of our civilization has warped human interaction and how it has it’s roots firmly planted in religious tenants and dogma, but I am at a loss to see how ‘atheism’ which by definition doesn’t have a value system attached to it, can he tied to those same discriminations.

    I agree with your concern regarding conferences, be they atheist/skeptic centric or knitting/needlepoint centric, a code of conduct is necessary and dare I say, expected. We’re dealing with humans after all.

  38. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    peterakin wrote:

    D’oh! I get it. You mean, ‘Sectarian Atheism’.

    Well, if you want to call dividing people into ‘engaging in fair and equitable treatment of other human beings’ and those who don’t ‘sectarian’ than that’s fine; I have no problem with being the sort of person who wants to distance myself and my friend and allies from those people.

  39. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    No-one’s saying atheism is causing those behaviours, though failing to turn the same kind of critical eye that we demand we scrutinise the religious with onto those of our own community is hypocritical to say the least, and certainly poor skepticism.

  40. vaiyt says

    @petereakin

    Why the hand-wringing, then? Atheists that also want to address other human biases don’t need to stop calling themselves atheists.

    To be an atheist, all one has to do is not believe in god. That’s not in question. Atheism+ is for those who think that is not enough.

  41. lexie says

    Petereakin,

    Obviously I agree with you that all community groups or conferences or blogs whether they be on the subject of atheism or needlepoint need guidelines as to what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour between people congregating which should be written down in some sort of code of conduct. In fact up until two months ago I would have agreed with you that while there are a few vile people who wish to go around persecuting others that most reasonable people did expect there to be codes of conduct at conferences (regardless of topic) in the same way we expect codes on conduct in our work places and in many community groups. However, the most recent debacle about some people suggesting that a major conference have a code of conduct and that breaches of it be dealt with seriously, has changed my opinion. A+ is a label which can be used to signify to people that this is a safe and inclusive group and that hideous behaviour is not tolerated here, obviously spaces which don’t use that label can also be safe and inclusive groups, however it is a signal to people who have been persecuted in other spaces that this is a safe space for them to be. In the same way that a local cafe putting up a rainbow flag sticker if there is reasonably widespread homophobia such that gay people may have been harassed at other cafes suggests to gay people that that this is a safe place for them to be, the A+ logo could function the same way for atheist groups, we are not saying that other places are unsafe just that this place is safe.

    There have been various labels and groups which non-believers have been affixing to themselves/joining for ages. You could call yourself a bright, a humanist, an atheist, a skeptic (though I do recognise that not all skeptics are non believers) and there are groups for all these people. Just because person A identifies as a Bright does not belief that they think that person B who identifies as a humanist is wrong to do so, often person A and person B can recognise that while they have different labels they do by and large believe the same thing (that there is no supernatural power in the universe) and recognise that many of their goals are the same and they can help each other. In the same way a person in an A+ group is just saying that this is a group for non-believers who have a passion for promoting social justice and equality. That doesn’t mean that everyone who is not part of an A+ group is evil or that we disagree with them. They may be equally passionate about promoting equality and social justice and call themselves a humanist and we should work together with them as the label isn’t important and we obviously have similar aims. They may call themselves an atheist and believe in equality and social justice but they may be more passionate about promoting the teaching of evolution in schools or the separation of church and state or some other completely worthwhile cause in which case also fine, I totally agree that those are good things to do, not everyone can be everywhere doing everything. I do support groups that are secular and promote those things even if I don’t actively participate. In the same way there should be lots of people in those groups who think “oh yes, that’s a worthwhile cause unfortunately I don’t have the time/knowledge/passion to do that myself but I support those who do” in the same way that many people think “oh yes NCSE does great work I don’t have the knowledge/time to do that myself but I support them and will donate some money”. The only people that A+ is against is misogynists, homophobes, transphobes etc and that doesn’t mean we think that they are evil and should be killed but we do not agree with them and do not want them as part of our community with those attitudes.

    According to the dictionary you are correct that atheism doesn’t imply values not even the values almost all atheists agree on e.g. separation of church and state, it is simply that a person believes that there is no supernatural entity. However, many people came to atheism through a thought process which does imply other values or in another way extend their atheistic beliefs. For example, many people arrive at atheism through skepticism and if skepticism is applied to gender/race/sexual orientation etc then we find no logical basis for discrimination. Many people who were religious and then become atheist have to do a lot of thinking about morality as their previously held religious morality no longer applies such people often decide on a sort of utilitarian moral outlook and when one examines issues such as sexual orientation etc one would find that this is no legitimate basis for discrimination. Some people come to atheism at least in part because they have experienced discrimination by their religion so for many of these people their beliefs in the equality of women or homosexuals etc is tied to their atheism. Another reason the two can be linked as Jen said in the video is that for some people once they lose the belief in the cosmic justice system (whether that be god putting people in heaven or hell or some sort of karma based belief) they feel that it is all the more important to seek justice and equality for everyone here and now. Clearly due to the outrage some people do not feel that their atheism is in any way linked to social justice but for some people it is.

  42. Kristof says

    Jadehawk, you don’t sound “typically” Polish, still vaguely East European with some quite interesting additions as if you were living/working with people from many different places (India, Wales, Scotland?).

  43. colinmackay says

    I can’t help but think that the prospect of the emergence of a cohesive progressive movement from within the atheist/humanist/skeptic/naturalist/… communities causes many people concern. Particularly among authoritarian/conservative/libertarian political pundits. If I was Karl Rove (et al) I would be doing all possible in my power to ensure such a group never emerged.

    The easiest way, in the case of atheism or skepticism for that matter, is to sew the seeds of internal dissent. Practically, restating atheism is just atheism and personally attacking those of a dissenting view would seem best. Lo and behold that seems to be what we have.

    My very limited personal data would suggest that some 90% of self identifying atheists also attribute progressive and humanist(ic) ideals. A small sample, yet a position which seems generally, as I remember, supported by other more professional research.

    If the ‘haters’, unhelpful language at best, make up less than say 10%, 20% of the community they are of little consequence. But, like the theocratic right, here and there, keen strategy amplifies the perceived presence. Don’t be fooled, the friction is politically motivated and there has always been a garrison of ‘religion provides a useful tool for social control’ authoritarians and libertarians within atheist ranks.

    A clean break, keeping the door open for collaboration on purely secular issues, on progressive terms, fosters the prospect of a cohesive voting block bigger than all others.

    A+ a good move, and long overdue. Hang in there people!

  44. says

    Jadehawk, you don’t sound “typically” Polish, still vaguely East European with some quite interesting additions as if you were living/working with people from many different places (India, Wales, Scotland?).

    Germany mostly

  45. says

    Hey, who on earth gave Brownian ANS Louis together an evening off to chit-chat on the internet? These queues aren’t getting shorter all by themselves, you know!

    As for the “divisiveness”:
    I haven’t heard all those people complain about the rampant sexism being divisive. But when I don’t want to have anything to do with those assholes I’m being divisive?
    Fuck that shit. I’m not taking any “lie back and think of the movement” anymore.

  46. Muz says

    Such a hostile reaction to this stuff. Plenty seem to be mad that someone got politics in their atheism (or is trying to put it there) and this is divisive somehow. Which I think means that if they have to put up with politics in their atheism then they’ll want to leave (speculating wildly of course). Their mistake is thinking that it wasn’t already exclusive and its possible to be free of politics in the first place.
    Discussing social justice and so forth is, it seems to me, the inevitable owning up to the fact that being an atheist is a political act.
    The personal is the political after all (although I just know quoting Marx is going to be seen as a dog whistle to the supposed secret agenda)

  47. Nightjar says

    petereakin,

    The ugliness of sexism, racism, or homophobia speaks to the person(s) that hold such backward attitudes but not to the one simple fact that they are a non-believer.

    True enough. Now how about the fact that we want to distance ourselves from those non-believers as much as we possibly can because they are irrational, hurtful douchebags? How about the fact that we want the atheist community to move in the direction of making those non-believers no more representative of the whole community and respected within it than non-believers who, say, believe in reincarnation or various flavours of teleological evolution (or even design) that don’t involve gods?

    Look, no one wants to take the ‘non-believer’/’atheist’ badges away from them, just the ‘decent human being’ and the ‘respected and tolerated among the majority of non-believers’ ones.

    You mean, ‘Sectarian Atheism’.

    Hahaha.

    So, on the one hand we have racists, sexists, and homophobes who wish to hurt, silence and drive away the non-believers who belong to the groups they oppress. On the other hand we have people fighting them back so we can have more diversity. And look you choose to call sectarian.

  48. colinmackay says

    The supposition that ‘atheism’ is a ‘community’ which can be ‘divided’ by ‘sectarian interests’ is merely a distraction.

  49. John Morales says

    colinmackay:

    The supposition that ‘atheism’ is a ‘community’ which can be ‘divided’ by ‘sectarian interests’ is merely a distraction.

    1. You are confusing ‘atheism’ with ‘the atheist movement’, that is, with the collective of those who are activist atheists.

    2. From what is it distracting?

  50. Beatrice says

    colinmackay,

    Distraction from what?

    You have atheists who have formed a community. The thing they center the community around is their atheism -> atheist community. If you are an atheist who doesn’t feel like a part of the community, that’s your prerogative.

    Is that it? Do you want to deny existence of any atheist community because you don’t understand that it doesn’t mean all atheists need to be part of it, just that all people who are part of it need to be atheists?

  51. Nightjar says

    The supposition that ‘atheism’ is a ‘community

    You’re right, atheism isn’t a community. But if enough atheists get together to start one and call it ‘the atheist community’ then there’s an atheist community.

  52. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Beatrice, slow typing maybe, but we both independently thought the same thoughts and asked the same questions (and you went further than I).

    (Hivemind!)

  53. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    How the bloody hell can someone posting on Pharyngula, of all the atheist-focused blogs on the internet, not realise that there’s such a thing as an atheist community?

    Honestly, as each day of this anti-A+ dumbshittery goes on my opinion of atheist capacity for perception drops. It’s lucky religion is as uncompelling as it is, or far more of these idiots would still be begging Jesus for salvation.

  54. colinmackay says

    @nightjar

    “You’re right, atheism isn’t a community. But if enough atheists get together to start one and call it ‘the atheist community’ then there’s an atheist community.”

    1) a group of atheists, no matter how big, can never lay claim to moniker of ‘the atheist community’.

    2) more importantly, while definitions vary,”1) Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a small village that shares common values…” and “In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.”. From wikipedia, regardless, implicit in the word community is a shared understanding, a commonality which reaches beyond superficial unity on a couple of issues.

    I support, conceptually at least, both the direction and intent of A+. However, claims of ‘community’ which can be easily met with claims of divisiveness will not, in my opinion, serve the long term political goals of the movement.

    Meh, an opinion.

    But, I have yet to see a political movement make effective use of such an incredibly divisive term as ‘community’.

  55. Beatrice says

    Ah, I see. colinmackay really is stupid enough to think atheist community should mean either all atheists everywhere or nothing at all.

  56. lexie says

    colinmackay, actually the definition (according to the oxford english dictionary) of community is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common”. I think that this fits the group of regulars on Pharyngula perfectly. Also small towns very often describe themselves as a close knit community, and people regularly refer to the great sense of community in country towns, so clearly community can be used to describe a small group. It definitely can refer to a large group e.g. the human community, however, it definitely can refer to a small group.

  57. lexie says

    Oops, I’m always too slow :( by the time I have typed something someone else has said it.

  58. says

    Ugh… Dawkins has decided that Dear Muslima wasn’t stupid enough, and has decided to top it by retweeting this:

    I’m a woman & an atheist blogger, & never experienced sexist abuse from fellow atheists. Maybe because I don’t assume they’re misogynists?

  59. Beatrice says

    From wikipedia, regardless, implicit in the word community is a shared understanding, a commonality which reaches beyond superficial unity on a couple of issues.

    You are so incredibly wrong here.
    “A superficial unity on a couple of issues” is I think not a fair assessment. We are not talking about issues like whether peach or orange marmalade is better, we are talking about some pretty important issues such as advancing secularism, human rights issues and getting rid of the grip religion has on human lives. That’s all without even going deeply into various other social issues that we would like to get more involved with with A+.

    More than that, I think you got the definition of community wrong. What deep shared understanding do you want? Would a community of people of Polish decent in New York pass? A community of vegetarians somewhere?

    I may be taking an uncharitable look at you words, but it seems to me your expectations of a community are this high only for the atheist community.

  60. John Morales says

    colinmackay:

    But, I have yet to see a political movement make effective use of such an incredibly divisive term as ‘community’.

    Leaving aside that supporters of A+ currently constitute an incipient social (rather than a political) community, the very term ‘community’ is an inclusive (rather than a divisive) one.

    (In short, you are fractally wrong)

  61. Nathair says

    Ugh… Dawkins has decided that Dear Muslima wasn’t stupid enough, and has decided to top it by retweeting this

    I saw that. He’s gone into full passive-aggressive attack mode. So very disappointing to see him not just hostile but willing to propagate deeply stupid remarks like Lucy Wainright’s to support his emotion fueled animosity. Looking like he’s clay from the neck down.

  62. eliott1 says

    I was hoping for the last few years there would be a consolidation of groups, skeptics, agnostics, humanists, Atheists, etc. so we could have strength in numbers in order to become stronger politically. It now appears like we are going the other way and actually have passed a fail safe point rhetorically.
    To date, I have not seen a response from any of the large organizations saying they are getting on board. Greta made a compelling argument why this would enhance organizational outreach without causing mission drift and time will tell If that’s accurate once an organization adopts this operating model.
    My sense is organization’s may adopt pieces but this will in some form or fashion start as a stand alone and rise or fall on it’s own merits.
    Regardless, it looks like we are more splintered and polarized than ever and that’s a shame.
    PZ, I loved seeing you and your unruly mustach and and enjoyed the group you had on but I would be curious to hear from David Silverman, ed kagin, Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Richard Dawkins or Elizabeth Cromwell and Todd Stiefel. That would be an interesting Google+ panel.
    I’m not looking for a commitment from them but their opinions about the intersection or transformation of A to A+ and if they see it in their future.

  63. lexie says

    Eliott1 – Dawkins seems to be most definitely against it. Interestingly the one group who everyone says that A+ is stepping on the toes of (humanism) seems to be for it, Greg Epstein head of the humanist chaplaincy programme at Harvard emailed Jen saying he was in favour of it (this information was published in Jen’s post “Responding to Common Misconceptions about A+”.

  64. colinmackay says

    It strike me that the attachment to an undefined sense of ‘community’ surpasses an attachment to the progressive ‘issues’ the ‘community’ seeks to address.

    Me, I would rather work with a ‘group’ of committed progressive secular activists dedicated to developing structures targeted at addressing the inequalities and deficiencies wrought on the populace by the patriarchal theocratic libertarian right. Whats more, I would rather do that within an established framework of governance and administration and, woe betide, the sociological/academic understanding of what constitutes effective ‘group’ management and development strategies for progress than naval gaze about the deep, an apparently esoteric, understanding of ‘community.

    But hey that’s just me.

  65. colinmackay says

    @beatrice “Ah, I see. colinmackay really is stupid enough to think atheist community should mean either all atheists everywhere or nothing at all.” Quite the opposite actually…

    @lexie my reference wasn’t about size only about the use of vague terms like ‘community’.

    @john morales “Leaving aside that supporters of A+ currently constitute an incipient social (rather than a political) community, the very term ‘community’ is an inclusive (rather than a divisive) one.” as in the term gated community?

    @lexie “I think that this fits the group of regulars on Pharyngula perfectly.” had I realised this was, implicitly, a gated community [above], I would not doubt have kept my opinions to myself. Ah, if only a had become a ‘regular before the gates closed.

  66. says

    lexie:

    Interestingly the one group who everyone says that A+ is stepping on the toes of (humanism) seems to be for it, Greg Epstein head of the humanist chaplaincy programme at Harvard emailed Jen saying he was in favour of it

    To be honest, I think any effort to clarify the difference between atheism plus and humanism is counterproductive. If humanists come on board, thinking that it’s just a synonym for their beliefs, then so be it. I’d much rather have quasi-religious elements than rank misogyny.

  67. lexie says

    colinmackay,

    You are perfectly entitled to want to work with a ‘group’ of progressive secular activists to address inequality. No one is trying to take that away from you. Some people also want a ‘community’ to belong to. If your ‘group’ is just a group of people which chat about political or humanitarian actions to take, then ‘group’ is probably a better description than ‘community’. However, some non-believers also want a ‘community’ to belong to. This is one of the reasons why humanist are working on building humanist churches because some people after they come out of religion miss the sense of community they had at church. For these people church wasn’t just a place they went to praise god for an hour on Sunday, it was a group of likeminded people who were their friends and that they partly shared their lives with. I grew up like this, most of my families friends were other people at our church and church wasn’t just about the worship it formed a large part of our social lives. The sports teams my siblings and I were on were through the church, the netball team my mum was a part of was through the church, my mum’s embroidery group was through the church, the cooking club my sisters and I went to was through the church, my elder siblings main social group was church youth group, one of our main holidays every year was church family camp, and even our socialisation outside the church was largely with church friends. These activities were more about socialisation than religion. Having left that world I do sometimes miss the sense of community it provides and I get why some people want secular equivalents for providing that community and for providing rituals or celebrations for rites of passage. I also totally get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Incidently this isn’t what A+ is trying to do, I am discussing humanist chapels but I thought it was an interesting example of secular groups wanting and trying to form communities.

    Also I think that Pharyngula does have a sense of community. If you examine the main blog posts and the comments on them you might only sense a ‘group’ discussing something, but, the community is much more evident if you look at the lounge. On the lounge people discuss issues in their personal lives, ask for advice about what to do in certain situations (both those which are relevant to atheism/social justice and some which are more personal and aren’t), people offer assistance to those who are struggling, we swap recipes, plan to catch up together, and chat about all sorts of things which are totally unrelated to atheism or social justice. To me it is the sharing of ones lives together which makes a community rather than a group.

    I do understand that for some people this is not important or not desired and I am not trying to force you into joining a secular community and becoming one of the recipe swappers but please respect those who are interesting in forming communities desire to do so.

  68. lexie says

    Hyperdeath, I agree I don’t have a problem with humanists coming aboard. I get that while some people don’t want to be part of the Humanist chaplaincy the community and rituals it creates will be important will be important for some godless people (perhaps particularly for those who come out of strong religious communities). I think A+ and humanism will probably work alongside each other but I don’t care if they merge either. They are a bit different so I think there is probably a place for both but they compliment each other and hopefully will work together on common goals. I think that lots of people in both movements want to do so.

  69. lexie says

    colinmackay – we seem to have been writing at the same time, so my post after yours was not in response to your most recent post rather to one of your earlier ones. In the most recent one I did elaborate on my interpretation of the word ‘community’ and why I think that communities do have a place in the godless movement although this was more in terms of provide a social network than in social justice activism. I am not sure if you disagree that secular communities are valuable or are simply stating that you think social justice activism is more of a group thing than a community thing. Also I am not sure if you are meaning to me snarky to me or not by the second comment, if you are then I would like to let you know that I also am fairly new here and that I am not one of the regulars. If you aren’t being snarky at me then sorry for thinking that you were.

  70. colinmackay says

    @lexie; community is only a word, and a vague one at that. You imply that a knitting circle, in failing to adopt the correct term ‘knitting community’ has in some way failed it’s members, who just get together, hang out and knit. Similarly, the book ‘club’ finds itself in the same category. I just don’t buy it. But lexie, I certainly don’t think anyone is “…trying to take that away from…” me, nor am I trying to take away anything from you, I just wanted to contribute to the discussion and that contribution was to say that a slavish commitment to vague concepts like ‘community’ are unhelpful.

  71. lexie says

    Colinmackay – I get that community is a vague word, which does not have definite limits which define it, but there are lots of words like that. If a group of people all consider themselves to be part of a community I don’t particularly see a problem them choosing to identify as such.

  72. lexie says

    Thanks for clarifying. I have trouble determining whether people are being sarcastic or genuine in real life and really stuggle when reading text alone. Sorry to question you, I do try to assume that people are not being mean but sometimes I ask because I genuinely don’t know.

  73. colinmackay says

    @lexie, I don’t stand against ‘community’ as a construct at all. I guess I see the qualities associated with community as being emergent rather than ordained, so I have no doubt you experience a sense of community here, as a visitor…not so much. I’ve got to say I like the characteristics identified by Frans de Waal in the Moral behavior in animals (video).

  74. says

    eliott1:

    Regardless, it looks like we are more splintered and polarized

    Splintered/polarized/divided etc. are becoming the new idiot signal. I’d like anyone who uses these words to describe the growth of the atheist movement to effectively demonstrate the great and cohesive whole of atheism which was happening prior to egate, the harassment issue and the blossoming of misogynists climbing out from under every rock.

    Where was this most harmonious and vast movement where all atheists hummed in agreement?

    I’m damn tired of this stupid characterization. The discovery of skepticism/atheism sheltering a wealth of misogynist, sexist, privileged thought and attitude, while not pleasant, has been a good thing. Change is a good thing. Growth is a good thing. Refusing to give shelter and quarter to those who stubbornly hang on to their bigotry is a good thing. Having a solid foundation is a good thing. Having more inclusive, safer spaces is a good thing. Working for social justice – good thing.

  75. lexie says

    I haven’t seen the video you’re referring to, but I’ll try and look it up. I do actually agree that the qualities associated with a community are emergent rather than ordained, however, to my mind A+ really is just a name for the qualities which have already emerged amongst the groups of regulars on blogs like Pharyngula, Greta Christina’s Blog and Skepchick. I’m actually a newbie here so my comment about the community is more an observation than my personal experience. There are lots of regulars who do experience a community here.

  76. Brownian says

    Where was this most harmonious and vast movement where all atheists hummed in agreement?

    It was before we became a dogmatic hivemind.

  77. eliott1 says

    @109

    Caine, Fleur du mal
    27 August 2012 at 8:48 am
    eliott1:

    Regardless, it looks like we are more splintered and polarized

    Splintered/polarized/divided etc. are becoming the new idiot signal. I’d like anyone who uses these words to describe the growth of the atheist movement to effectively demonstrate the great and cohesive whole of atheism which was happening prior to egate, the harassment issue and the blossoming of misogynists climbing out from under every rock.

    Where was this most harmonious and vast movement where all atheists hummed in agreement?

    I’m damn tired of this stupid characterization. The discovery of skepticism/atheism sheltering a wealth of misogynist, sexist, privileged thought and attitude, while not pleasant, has been a good thing. Change is a good thing. Growth is a good thing. Refusing to give shelter and quarter to those who stubbornly hang on to their bigotry is a good thing. Having a solid foundation is a good thing. Having more inclusive, safer spaces is a good thing. Working for social justice – good thing.

    And I’m getting pretty damn tired of folks like you that mischacterize what gets said and then jumps on a soapbox giving civics lessons and using words you don’t understand.
    The growth of the Atheist movement is seen in the census and are categorized under nones. It is one of the fastest growing segments of the population. Annually, there is a meeting of several heads of the Atheist organizations to try and find common ground and feed off each other.
    There has always been competition to expand group population because while I’m sure you’re a philanthropic genius the groups live on donations. And those middle class white guys you keep calling out, most of whom have done absolutely nothing incorrect but been categorized and branded because they look like a very small minority that do, they fuel those organizations with cash. If you don’t think the reason the larger organizations have not chimed in yet isn’t financial, you are as delusional as your writing above suggests. ( see your above comment, “misogynists coming out under every rock”) Your critical thought, imperical evidence for that statement is..what..? 17% of the population fall into the none category.
    How many are classified in the “blossoming misogynist” category? Or is that just you making an argument with no data to back it up based on internet reponses? But if you use an event that has been highly publicized, there were 2 instances out of 1400 attendees that occurred at TAM 2011. Assuming that if anything else happened at that event it would have come out based on the way it lit up the interent. Out of those 2, 1 didn’t even happen at the TAM venue and regardless the upskirt issue had no findings after the hotel investigation and the one that did happen at TAM was handled but not reported. So if that was representative of conventions, there was one actual issue of inappropriate behavior out of 1400 attendees. Hardly ” blossoming misogyny”. But even if you claim both instances were inappropriate, 2 instances out of 1400 attendees or .0014. And you think that some other new group will have a different result? Good luck.

  78. Brownian says

    I think so, Louis. When people like Dawkins were fracturing the movement by being so vocally critical of religion when everyone else wanted to make nicey-nice.

  79. chigau (違う) says

    eliott1
    If you type
    <blockquote>paste quoted text here</blockquote>
    this will result.

    paste quoted text here

    It will make your comments easier to read.
    It will not help you make sense.

  80. Pteryxx says

    How many are classified in the “blossoming misogynist” category? Or is that just you making an argument with no data to back it up based on internet reponses?

    Well, there’s research data that some 6 to 9% of the male population are admitted rapists,

    source: http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/11/meet-predators.html

    and they espouse notably more misogynist views than the non-rapist population.

    source: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/predator-redux/

    So unless ONLY rapists espouse misogyny, probably far more than 10% of the male population are misogynous. That’s not counting the fraction of women who join in.

    But if you use an event that has been highly publicized, there were 2 instances out of 1400 attendees that occurred at TAM 2011.

    Except that sexual harassment is widely underreported, by a factor of 4 to 10.

    sources in: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/06/02/the-further-hyper-skepticism-stalling-our-conversation/

    TAM specifically has a history of disregarding incidents that WERE reported, so the reporting rate is even less representative of actual incidence than usual. (Also the 2 reported incidents affected multiple targets, so they count as more attendees harassed than just 2.)

    So with at least five or six attendees harassed that we know of, combined with underreporting, there could have been anywhere from 20 to 60 or more individuals harassed that went undiscovered; or about 4% directly harassed at a single event.

    Assuming that if anything else happened at that event it would have come out based on the way it lit up the interent.

    That’s ridiculous, because *every single instance* publicly reported on the internet has resulted in harassment and accusations against the person making the complaint. Targets of harassment know perfectly well they’ll be punished for speaking up, so they mostly stay silent or talk only to trusted friends. See the above link on hyperskepticism for research, and both Stephanie’s and Ashley’s posts on why victims choose not to report:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/06/20/why-ididnotreport/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2012/06/06/arent-you-making-it-up-why-women-dont-report-harassment/

    So yeah, we’re getting pretty tired of supposed skeptics like you that would rather go with the good ol’ comfy mythology of ‘wimminz lie’ rather than deal with reality.

  81. eliott1 says

    @117
    Thanks and really?
    Spent so much time trying to write and edit it

    Where didn’t I make sense so I can add some clarity?

  82. Pteryxx says

    oh, and I should also note that since that 4% estimate mainly applies to the female attendees of TAM? That’s 4% of *less than half the total attendance* so more like 8 to 10% *of all women attendees* may have been harassed at TAM.

    It would be nice to have direct information collected from robust reporting, which can only happen under supportive harassment policies, wouldn’t it now.

  83. eliott1 says

    @118
    Never said anyone lied or alluded to it.
    I do believe that issues are underreported but don’t believe that the way everyone piled on that any issue at TAM 2011 would not have come out.
    My numbers are based on actual occurrence of reported, not supposition but even if what you say is true, how exactly does that keep those folks from A+.
    I haven’t done anything but disagree. I haven’t harmed anyone. Please disagree all you want, convince me I’m wrong. I love the discourse. And who is “we’re”? Sounds pretty religious to me. The we’re that rise against Alquist or the we’re that had Fowler throw his hands up and walk away from Atheism based on his Facebook post.

  84. Pteryxx says

    Please disagree all you want, convince me I’m wrong. I love the discourse.

    Not so much love for reading evidence, I see.

  85. eliott1 says

    @120
    Wrong again…it applies to the total number because men can have issues as well and why don’t you save the sarcasm. It doesn’t further the conversation except to try and establish the one upsmanship you are so steadfastly fighting against.

  86. KG says

    Assuming that if anything else happened at that event it would have come out based on the way it lit up the interent. – eliott1

    I can prove practically anything if you allow me to make fucking stupid assumptions.

  87. eliott1 says

    @123
    OK, here’s some evidence and I am very interested in your opinion.
    The upskirt Buzzo issues were investigated by the hotel security staff almost immediately after it was reported to them. They watched him, then approached him and asked to see his sd card. While there were photos, there were no up skirt photos. They reviewed him on tape. No findings. They watched him in real time. No findings. So in other words, nothing. Not one thing was found on any of the issues repoted to security. He was guilty of carrying his camera low. The folks that reported did the correct thing. They thought harm was being done. Turns out it wasn’t. None, Except he was vilified on the Internet and blog after blog. Posters wanted him thrown in jail, thrown out of the hotel or worse, take your choice.
    So curious what your thoughts are based on that evidence?

  88. Paul says

    It doesn’t further the conversation except to try and establish the one upsmanship you are so steadfastly fighting against.

    And here I thought we were fighting against the tacit acceptance of sexism? Learn something new every day. Our problem is only with one upsmanship.

    Thanks a lot to everyone who participated in the hangout! It’s great to hear these things hashed out.

  89. eliott1 says

    @124
    Let’s see…pteryxx makes assumptions in 118 and 120 and I get the gift of your thoughtful note.

  90. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Someone with a shoe camera should be vilified. Just like you should being an apologizer for bad behavior of wearing said shoe camera. Real ethics you are showing. Bad ethics.

  91. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, and this is evidence, being third party and all. Your OPINION and uncited reports aren’t evidence.

  92. eliott1 says

    @128
    Let’s be clear, I’m not apologizing. No reason for me to. My ethics as well as my conscience are quite clear. He didn’t do it.
    It’s not an opinion, I’m not guessing and I’m not surmising.
    It’s a fact.
    @128
    Now those are great questions and someone should have been skeptical enough or had enough critical thought to ask them during the initial conversations.
    I saw the hotel security report. With my own 2 eyes. No findings.
    Nothing.

  93. says

    I was going to note that Eliott1 was trolling last night in Thunderdome, defending “DrBuzz0″ at TAM, and that therefore his comments were at best made in dubious faith. But I see he’s already made that clear.

    Colin Mackay, your remark at 76 was quite astute, which is why I’m baffled by your subsequent nitpicky concern trolling about the term “community.” You seem to have switched from warning us about FUD to sowing it. You do realize that A+ is hardly bereft of experienced activists, right?

    Lexie, I hope this doesn’t come off as rude, but would you please mind using more paragraph breaks? I find it difficult to read your longest paragraphs. Thanks in advance.

  94. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My ethics as well as my conscience are quite clear. He didn’t do it.

    Who gives a shit besides you. You are apologizing for unethical behavior, as no ethical person would be using a foot camera in a crowd. End of story. Your OPINION is that of an unethical person, so it is of no interest to me, or what appears to be the others here. Why haven’t you just shut up? Or can all you do is ineffectively whine and whing?

  95. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I saw the hotel security report. With my own 2 eyes. No findings.
    Nothing.

    And I don’t and won’t believer your WORD for anything. Get that? Your WORD and OPINION is rejected without third party evidence. Welcome to skepticism.

  96. eliott1 says

    @133
    I would have hoped anyone that was interested in fairness and A+.
    Really hard to understand the vitriol and lack of critical thought and dismissiveness, almost like elitist privilege on this thread that A+ is supposed to address.
    I’ll leave you to feed on yourselves.

  97. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I would have hoped anyone that was interested in fairness and A+.

    Who gives a shit what you consider fair? Your problem is that you were defending unethical behavior. Makes your OPINION worthless to ethical people.

    I’ll leave you to feed on yourselves.

    Don’t let the door hit you on your way out. You might dirty the door.

  98. Minnie The Finn, qui devient bientôt vierge says

    Only now had time to listen to the podcast – it was broadcast one in the morning local time so I fell asleep well before it even started.

    Well done, people! It was particularly enlightening to hear from Jen and Rebecca some of their points and ideas.

    Brownian was a delight to listen as always (and to watch; is that queue moving at all?!).

    Also, I want to hereby officially suggest a Google+ hangout entirely dedicated to Louis’ penis! Maybe us European time zone people could organize a drunken Hangout some weekend? As long as it doesn’t end on the YouTube?

  99. Louis says

    Minnie,

    Also, I want to hereby officially suggest a Google+ hangout entirely dedicated to Louis’ penis!

    Holy crap no! Please don’t enable my nervous knob joke stumblings more than they are already!

    I find it hard enough to prevent the gaffes from spilling forth as it is.

    Louis

  100. 'Tis Himself says

    Also, I want to hereby officially suggest a Google+ hangout entirely dedicated to Louis’ penis!

    A periodic table with a penis is indeed worthy of expanded discussion.

  101. carlie says

    Finally converted it to audio to listen to it. Faint Canadian accents are just so darned cute.

  102. lexie says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, no of course it isn’t rude. I’ll try to insert more paragraph breaks.

  103. grumpy1942 says

    When is Jen’s birthday?

    Looks like we have a candidate for the first atheist holiday.

  104. Minnie The Finn, qui devient bientôt vierge says

    Louis: but what about a hangout where gaffes are not only accepted but warmly welcomed? =) A sort of a tipsy Friday night Lounge kind of hangout? With maybe one or two topics that are mere suggestions, and then let the conversation flow in whichever direction it may? Also, invitation only, so no casual passers-by?

  105. lpetrich says

    I think that Jen had a very important point. Misogynists drive women out, but women don’t drive misogynists out. So it’s necessary to choose between which group one wants to be present.

    I remember something similar with some messageboard drama. A certain board’s admins seemed very willing to put up with trolls and jerks, claiming that it was freedom of speech. But that board alienated several people, who proceeded to found another board where such conduct would not be tolerated.

    Ever since, certain of the first board’s members have felt very affronted by the existence of the second board. They often moan and groan about how authoritarian and autocratic and ban-happy the second board’s admins are.

  106. KG says

    So curious what your thoughts are based on that evidence? – eliott1

    1) The evidence concerning the hotel security report appears to be your unsupported word; and you don’t tell us how you came to see it. Why should we believe you?
    2) With all this modern new-fangled technology, has it occurred to you that it might be possible to upload photographs and then delete them from the camera?
    3) Foot-camera guy was at best an oblivious idiot. Assuming he was not actually taking upskirt photos, should it not have occurred to him that a foot camera would make a lot of women uneasy?

  107. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    2) “a huge stumbling block for a lot of dummies” (RW, scapegoat)–comedy gold.

  108. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    3) It’s fun for me to hear people’s actual voices. I love to hear people speak, which is something that is missing from most blogs. This is nice. Thank you all for doing this. Please, moar.
    4) You go, McCreight. I like this A+ thing. It’s sharp. Like Brownian, I feel kind of positive about what we are doing. Which is also nice. I’ve been more disgusted than not with atheists this year. And I’m tired of that.