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The delicate ego of Mr Michael Shermer

As you’ve probably already heard since Ophelia Benson has posted a few things about it, Michael Shermer has had another meltdown. To keep it short, Shermer said a stupid sexist thing on camera — about the skewed sex ratio among atheist/skeptical activists, he said “It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a guy thing” — and Ophelia pointed out that that is exactly the kind of stereotyping of men’s and women’s roles that forms a self-fulfilling prophecy. She was right. He was wrong. It’s a fairly clear and simple case.

But apparently pointing out that Mr Michael Shermer said something that wasn’t very nice represents an all out assault on the man himself. His response was…well, unbelievable.

It involves a McCarthy-like witch hunt within secular communities to root out the last vestiges of sexism, racism, and bigotry of any kind, real or imagined. Although this unfortunate trend has produced a backlash against itself by purging from its ranks the likes of such prominent advocates as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris…

To date, I have stayed out of this witch hunt against our most prominent leaders, thinking that “this too shall pass.” Perhaps I should have said something earlier. As Martin Niemöller famously warned about the inactivity of German intellectuals during the rise of the Nazi party, “first they came for …” but “I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a….”

But perhaps I should have spoken out, because now the inquisition has been turned on me, by none other than one of the leading self-proclaimed secular feminists whose work has heretofore been important in the moral progress of our movement. I have already responded to this charge against me elsewhere,* so I will only briefly summarize it here. Instead of allowing my inquisitors to force me into the position of defending myself (I still believe in the judicial principle of innocence until proven guilty), I shall use this incident to make the case for moral progress.

Astonishing. Apparently, criticizing anything Mr Michael Shermer says is now a “McCarthy-like witch hunt”, an “inquisition” with the goal of “purging” Shermer from the ranks of…what? He’s a publisher and author. Is there a threat to take his word processor away?

But see, this is why the atheist movement can’t have leaders. The ones we’ve got, informally, all seem to think they’re like gods and popes, infallible and unquestionable, and that normal, healthy, productive criticism within the movement is all a conspiracy to dethrone them.

What’s particularly ironic here is that I’ve read his books and heard his talk on The Believing Brain and Why People Believe Weird Things — if anyone ought to be conscious of the way our brains make cognitive shortcuts and model the world with often-flawed assumptions, it’s Shermer, and he ought to know that calling attention to misconceptions that we all have is not an attempt to destroy a person. If that were the case, his books would have to be interpreted as incitements to mass genocide rather than reasonable discussions of how to recognize flaws in our thinking.

But then, Mr Michael Shermer doesn’t do self-awareness: one moment he’s critizing overwrought Nazi analogies, the next he’s comparing everyone who thought he misspoke to Nazis.

Similarly, he praises the great strides the movement has made in increasing diversity over the last decade, but doesn’t seem to be aware of how that happened. Let me tell you: it’s taken constant nagging from people like me, and Greta Christina, and Jen McCreight, and many others, to wake up the leaders of organizations and conferences from their complacency. It’s taken actions of organizations like the SSA and CFI to consciously reach out and broaden the scope of the movement, to open the doors to women, minorities, and young people. It’s taken the responsiveness of people like Dave Silverman and Ron Lindsay and yes, DJ Grothe, who, when we mentioned that their speaker lineups tended to skew a bit white and male, didn’t react by declaring their critics a Nazi inquisition out to purge the movement of white men. They weren’t dragged kicking and screaming into promoting equality — they were already thinking the same way themselves and were appreciative of reminders of the importance of being conscious of greater interests.

Shermer isn’t being purged at all. He’s being left behind if he thinks a skeptic shouldn’t be criticized. I’m hoping, though, that he’ll snap out of this and realize that he ought to be embarrassed by the laughable accusations he makes.


And Digital Cuttlefish cuts to the chase. Why is anyone satisfied with the “It’s a guy thing” answer?

Comments

  1. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Chunderf00t syndrome. Vomit on your feet, and when someone points out you’ve vomited on your feet, tell them they’re Hitler. Or something. I don’t understand it myself.

  2. mofa says

    First Dawkins then Kirby, Hall, Harris and now Shemer all rotten apples in the barrel…a lot of rotten apples there appears to be!…unless they are still actually fresh and crisp… and green… and there are rotten apples in the other barrel. Every thought of that?

  3. Lofty says

    Self awareness is sooo much harder than criticising other people. Some never develop the knack. One hopes Shermer gets there one day. I’ve enjoyed reading his columns.

  4. sunny12 says

    “Witch hunt”? Really?

    How is pointing out that what he said is sexist a witch hunt? I mean, he’s the one who put that statement out there in the public – anyone’s free to respond in any way they choose.

    A “witch hunt” is a term used to describe persecution over alleged activities that have little or no evidence to substantiate them. This situation is more like seeing a cackling witch fly past, pointing and saying “Look, there’s a witch!”

  5. Lofty says

    Mofa, why do people like Shermer go off the deep end instead of saying, whoa, what gives, maybe I’m wrong here? Skepticism isn’t about angrily shouting down your citics and frothing rage. Rational thought is required.

  6. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @mofa

    Is this one of those things where the answer is entirely wrong unless you look at it upside down and backwards through an old-timey funhouse mirror?

    If not, then no. We’ve never, ever thought of that. Critical self-analysis is for everyone who -isn’t- a skeptic, natch.

    Secondly, having pompously self-rightous, privilege-blind and stupid views on one subject does not mean that a person’s views on others will necessarily be wrong. I’ve not seen anyone here claim that, so your ‘rotten apple’ analogy is not only overly simplistic, it’s entirely fallacious. And stupid, don’t forget that.

    If you have any views that aren’t, please do air them so we, the FemInquisition, can decide whether or not you need to go on the compost heap.

  7. =8)-DX says

    The ones we’ve got, informally, all seem to think they’re like gods and popes, infallible and unquestionable, and that normal, healthy, productive criticism within the movement is all a conspiracy to dethrone them.
    But.. but.. along with pope PZ, I too welcome our tentacled overlords!

  8. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    As I said on Twitter, for people who’ve supposedly left behind the trappings of religion, there sure are a lot of atheists who believe in the concept of infallibility.

    And it’s especially egregious given that the single most important thing to these people is being reminded that they’re better than the dumb ol’ religious folk – that’s why they’re so furious with PZ and the others: they stopped simply pointing out religious stupidity/evil and chose to cast the same discriminating eye over the atheist community and spoke out about what they saw.

  9. curtnelson says

    Women and men have differences. MS said that a reason there are more men than women involved in skeptical activism may be because it’s more of a guy thing. If he had said the same thing to explain the male skew at a monster truck rally would he be accused of sexism?

    Ophelia Benson was right and Shermer was wrong? He made a speculation based on fact, how was that wrong? OB grossly distorted what Shermer said. Why do you approve of that?

  10. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @11

    You seem to be under the impression that skepticism is a “guy thing”. Why is that? Are our female brains deficient in some way? Are we lacking the necessary Male Critical Thought Cortex?

    In the same vein, are we also missing the gland that controls the liking of monster trucks, or it it more likely that the reason women don’t go to these sorts of events is because we’re taught not to like that stuff from birth, because it’s a “guy thing”?

  11. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    curtnelson wrote:

    MS said that a reason there are more men than women involved in skeptical activism may be because it’s more of a guy thing.

    Here’s a novel thought: how about you apply some critical thought to that? Maybe unpack it just a little? Dwell upon what those ‘reasons’ might be?

    Nah, you just thought, “Fuck thinking about it; makes sense to me.’ No fuss, no muss.

    I guess the arguments from ignorance and incredulity only work when they’re applied to the religious, huh? Being an atheist automatically precludes you from being affected by them?

  12. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @curtnelson #11

    If he had said the same thing to explain the male skew at a monster truck rally would he be accused of sexism?

    It’s pretty much the same thing. It’s a lazy stereotype that perpetuates and reinforces tself. That’s what’s so wrong about it.

  13. great1american1satan says

    Sophia@#1 – HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAAHHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH That’s hella funny. Thanks! XD

  14. Anri says

    Women and men have differences. MS said that a reason there are more men than women involved in skeptical activism may be because it’s more of a guy thing. If he had said the same thing to explain the male skew at a monster truck rally would he be accused of sexism?

    Well, let’s apply the Blindingly Obvious Racism Test to this statement and see if it holds up:

    Blacks and whites have differences. MS said that a reason there are more whites than blacks involved in skeptical activism may be because it’s more of a white thing. If he had said the same thing to explain the white skew at a monster truck rally would he be accused of racism?

    You decide, folks!

    - – -

    Re-reading the alteration of the last sentence reminds me of another problem with Shermer’s ongoing blab: there is an white skew at monster truck rallies, but it would be terribly, terribly stupid to assume it’s because whites just like loud engines more than blacks.
    The fact that there might be societal pressures in a given direction causing such a skew (based on race or sex) is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed Shermer’s mind. Despite a large number of people having pointed it out to him.

  15. Ogvorbis says

    This is more of a meta question than directly concerning PZed’s post.

    Why do Shermer, and Thunderf00t, and others, freak out when they are criticized for a position they have taken, claiming that the criticism is a witch hunt, a conspiracy, whatever, but for Shermer and Thunderf00t to criticize others within the atheist movement is completely acceptable? Or am I misreading these episodes?

  16. had3 says

    Confrontation does seem to be more of a guy thing, however, why it appears that way, and if that appearance is an actual reflection of fact are legitimate questions. MS’s statement may be an accurate reflection of how it is, not how it should be, or even why it is that way. (Eg, do higher ratios of testosterone make men more aggressive and therefore more likely to participate in confrontational activities such as atheist/skeptic movements? Note, I did not state that men were more likely to have atheist/skeptical thought patterns, but that would be an interesting study too.)

  17. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @had3

    Any research done on that topic would have to have control groups of men and women unaffected by societal gender constructs. These people simply do not exist.

    It would be very interesting indeed, just impossible to do properly.

  18. travisrm89 says

    @17: Well said. Where is the self-criticism of those who are being called out for witch-hunting? Yes, witch-hunting is probably too strong a word, but I think many feminists should consider more carefully the way in which they attack their opponents.

    Michael Shermer is wrong when he says atheism is “more of a guy thing”, but he is somewhat accurate when he criticizes the manner in which feminists in the atheist community attack anyone who disagrees with them. Case in point: PZ Myers and others defended Rebecca Watson when she called Stef McGraw a parrot of misogynistic thought simply for pointing out that there is nothing wrong with asking a girl for coffee in an elevator. I think a little self-criticism by PZ and Rebecca Watson is warranted here.

  19. erinmcc says

    curtnelson wrote:
    [quote]If he had said the same thing to explain the male skew at a monster truck rally would he be accused of sexism?[/quote]
    now lets replace *a monster truck rally* with….
    voting booth
    political office
    business
    military

    its wrong because these exact “speculations based on facts” have been used historically to keep women out of male dominated areas. it also lets some men feel superior to women, because, those silly women, they’re just not “intellectually active”.

  20. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @Ogvorbis #18

    That’s a great question. Just once it would be nice to see someone react with reasoned consideration that, yeah, maybe that was a douche thing to say, and then move on.

    And have you noticed we get the free-speechers banging on about ‘us’ not accepting dissenting points of view, but I imagine not a single one will step up and criticize Shermer for doing the exact same thing here.

  21. Maureen Brian says

    Or, had3, are men more likely to have a meltdown if anyone should mention in passing their resort to and reinforcement of a stereotype?

    And if they are, should they not be kept safely at home and protected from risking their own egos in the fight for – what was it again? – I remember – skepticism and the end of reliance on superstitious nonsense.

    Nonsense like, “It’s this way because this is the way it is.”

  22. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @Ogvorbis

    Because they’re not Misoginy Sam, the Caricature LadyHating Man, so any criticism or accusations of misogyny are clearly false. It’s all or nothing, apparently. If they’re not indulging in KKK-esque levels of overt hatred then they’re just fine and dandy, they’re just perfectly normal.

    The exact same reason my ex husband can’t see how he was abusing me. He didn’t hit me, so I’m just lying! Too emotional! Overreacting!

    Funny how it seems to happen from a position of privilege, eh?

  23. says

    travisrm89: I recognize a biased idiot when they trot out poor Stef McGraw as an example of the perfidy of our side of the argument. Have you seen anyone demonize McGraw to the degree you fucking morons demonize Rebecca Watson or Ophelia Benson? Do you even see anyone condemn her in the slightest? Watson disagreed with her and openly said so, and that was it. We did not begin a multi-year campaign of online harassment against her. I’ve met her a few times, and think she’s a fine person and am glad to see her active in the movement.

    And yet you assholes pretend that there is some kind of moral equivalence there.

  24. Moggie says

    Ogvorbis:

    Why do Shermer, and Thunderf00t, and others, freak out when they are criticized for a position they have taken, claiming that the criticism is a witch hunt, a conspiracy, whatever, but for Shermer and Thunderf00t to criticize others within the atheist movement is completely acceptable? Or am I misreading these episodes?

    Leaders are supposed to criticise followers, not the other way around. Don’t you understand the natural order of things?

  25. w00dview says

    Why do Shermer, and Thunderf00t, and others, freak out when they are criticized for a position they have taken, claiming that the criticism is a witch hunt, a conspiracy, whatever, but for Shermer and Thunderf00t to criticize others within the atheist movement is completely acceptable?

    Well you see they are perfectly rational skeptic dudes and when they criticize someone it is just to point out the obvious irrationality of their opponent’s thinking. But when someone criticizes them then they are stifling their free speech, the fascists!!

  26. slowdjinn says

    travisrm89 @20

    …simply for pointing out that there is nothing wrong with asking a girl for coffee in an elevator…

    The fact that she chose to mischaracterise the incident in question in this way probably has a lot to do with the accusation of “parroting misogynistic thought”

  27. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @Sophia #24

    Because they’re not Misoginy Sam, the Caricature LadyHating Man, so any criticism or accusations of misogyny are clearly false. It’s all or nothing, apparently. If they’re not indulging in KKK-esque levels of overt hatred then they’re just fine and dandy, they’re just perfectly normal.

    Great point. I genuinely think this sums up so many of the current skeptical crop. They can’t be sexist, because that would make them less intelectually superior.

  28. says

    @ had3 / Sophia

    [testosterone]

    The question is not so much whether testosterone leads to more agression in males¹. Whatever deleterious effects it has should be overridden by social imperatives.

    Among askari (young elephant bulls), all goes well if they have an old bull to teach the social mores (including respect for the matriarchy). But sadly the older bulls are killed for their large tusks, leaving younger bulls without a mentor. The result is that the young bulls become delinquent and agressive (to the point of trying to mate with rhinos!).

    ….

    ¹ “It used to be thought that testosterone drives social dominance by imparting an awareness of feeling superior and strong. But this study shows that testosterone might be an unconscious driver, motivating social dominance as it does in other animals, involuntarily and automatically.” Link: Testosterone Promotes Aggression Automatically

  29. fojap says

    Although always an atheist, I’m the sort of person who wades in and out of being actively interested in atheism and a few days ago, I waded back in. Apparently, I’d been away for some time; I hadn’t even heard of A+. It took me a few days to get caught up to the the drama that’s been unfolding. Now, I don’t know if I’m seeing things differently because I’ve been uninvolved and didn’t experience all the actions and reactions in real time, or if my take on it is totally off, but I’m seeing something here that no one seems to mention – a power struggle.

    From PZ:

    Shermer isn’t being purged at all. He’s being left behind if he thinks a skeptic shouldn’t be criticized.

    Shermer himself refers to the “purging” of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. It’s also, to my mind, not irrelevant that his original sexist comment was about why men are featured as speakers more than women.

    In a way, this is probably a good sign since it’s a result of the “Atheist Movement” growing. It will probably splinter. Simply not believing in a god is just not that much to have in common. We may have to learn to how to work together on certain narrow legistlative goal and go our own ways when it comes to more community related stuff, the way many other large interest groups do.

    There’s a very small call in this world for “professional atheists.” PZ’s take, the Schermer and others are in danger of being abandoned for sexist and insensitive behavior may be a more accurate description of what’s happening the being “purged.” Whatever you may call it, the fact is is that Schermer said something that caused him to loose status among many atheists and we’re seeing a flailing emotional attempt to rally supporters around him.

    @ had3: Have you ever read Miss Lonelyhearts?

  30. fojap says

    Somehow, my second to last paragraph got mangled. I meant to write:

    PZ’s take, that Schermer and others are in danger of being abandoned for sexist and insensitive behavior, may be a more accurate description of what’s happening than Shermer’s description of being “purged.” Whatever you may call it, the fact is is that Schermer said something that caused him to loose status among many atheists and we’re seeing a flailing emotional attempt to rally supporters around him.

  31. Ogvorbis says

    @17: Well said. Where is the self-criticism of those who are being called out for witch-hunting? Yes, witch-hunting is probably too strong a word, but I think many feminists should consider more carefully the way in which they attack their opponents.

    Way to completely and totally misread a comment.

    I am not talking about self-criticism. It is fine for Shermer and Thunderf00t, leaders in the atheist movement, to criticize other leaders but if anyone criticizes them, it is a witch hunt and the holocaust all rolled into one. Try reading for comprehension next time.

    And have you noticed we get the free-speechers banging on about ‘us’ not accepting dissenting points of view, but I imagine not a single one will step up and criticize Shermer for doing the exact same thing here.

    yup. The Freeze Peach movement allows for only one direction. Every time.

    Funny how it seems to happen from a position of privilege, eh?

    And it scares me how accepting I would have been of these pernicious ideas before I discovered Pharyngula.

    Leaders are supposed to criticise followers, not the other way around. Don’t you understand the natural order of things?

    But this is leaders criticizing leaders in both directions. But only one direction (Shermer and Thunder00t, et al.) is acceptable.

  32. says

    I don’t see a power struggle at all. There’s no power to be had, for one thing; for another, I don’t see anybody trying to take Shermer’s place, or Harris’s place, or Dawkins’ place. These are all people who are listened to by virtue of the fact that they have unique voices, not because they have some position that can be occupied by somebody different.

  33. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @theophontes

    Good point.

    We’ve never said physical differences between sexes don’t exist, but that society constructs far more differences than are actually present and actively punishes people who don’t fit those incredibly narrow criteria. That’s the part we’re scrutinising.

  34. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    but I think many feminists should consider more carefully the way in which they attack their opponents.

    Translation: Saying “Guys, don’t do that” or “What you said is sexist” is hysterical, shrill and wrong because you don’t have penises. Only penises get to say things. …Hey, why aren’t you sucking my dick?

    simply for pointing out that there is nothing wrong with asking a girl for coffee in an elevator…

    Translation: I’m blatantly lying about the issue so I can pretend to be logical and skeptical. Is it working? Are you buying my lies?

  35. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @revjimbob #38

    All this back-biting is really starting to get on my tits.

    Yes everyone, never mind what stupid shit atheist leaders say, we should be talking about whatever it is revjimbob wants to talk about.

  36. says

    @ Sophia

    {theophontes dons medieval doctor garb}

    If I could just get my claws on a bit of MRA blood, I’d perhaps be able to come up with the outline of a new hypothesis …

    *ahem*

    MRA’s in the atheist movement are driven by the need for social dominance. The driving force may well be something as simple as a poor response to testosterone combined with weak social skills. They become atheists not so much from an intellectual motivation as from the realisation that they can command the high ground amongst goddists. But in the atheist herd, there are many who challenge them from that same high ground on their lack of (athiest) social mores.

    *ahem*

    /conjecture

  37. Louis says

    Women are people therefore critics of sexism are Nazis.

    Well I’m glad we cleared that one up.

    Louis

  38. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @theophontes

    Why am I overcome with the sudden urge to fetch a phrenologist? Ve need to ecks-zamine ze skulls!

  39. carlie says

    Why are so many men so emotional and overreactive? Jeez. Can’t even hold a rational conversation with them, they fly off and get their feelings hurt so easily and next thing you know it’s Nazis this and witch hunts that.

  40. Sastra says

    By coincidence, I’d just finished reading Michael Shermer’s piece in Free Inquiry: “A Guy Thing? Secularism, Feminism, and a Response to Ophelia Benson.” What struck me most was his sloppy and divisive use of the language used to characterize the disagreement and critics: “witch hunt,” “purge,” and so forth.

    Doesn’t he recognize that his Us and Them includes a lot of people who simply think in terms of “we” — as in “we need to be more careful with our language” or “we need to examine ourselves critically.” Frankly, he’s over-reacting over over-reacting.

    I was also puzzled over what Harriet Hall said regarding the “tone” in Ophelia’s blog making it clear she would get no fair hearing should she venture in. But I spent some time there defending and explaining her viewpoint (as well as I could) and didn’t feel “unwelcome.” I find it hard to believe that “her style of feminism” is somehow less hardy than mine.

    I think people read more vitriol and less nuance into criticism when it’s directed at the self. Probably human nature, there — but someone like Michael Shermer should be aware of this, and correct for it.

    I also thought Shermer’s gratuitous swipe at PZ over a completely different topic — criticism of Harris’ position on racial profiling — bizarre. How dare Shermer argue against a “witch hunt” mentality and then sneer dismissively that “PZ Myer’s work is for the minute — the half-life measure of blogs relative to books.” That would only have made sense if PZ had called that Harris be “purged from the atheist movement” or some such nonsense. He did nothing of the sort, but a reader unaware of the circumstances would have gotten that impression.

    Plus, don’t underestimate blogs. That’s like underestimating the internet.

    If I am indicative of anything, at least some of Shermer’s fans are also PZ fans, and Harriet Hall fans, and Rebecca Watson fans, and Ophelia Benson fans, and Sam Harris fans, and fans of Jen McCreight and DJ Grothe and Greta Christina. Yes, all of them! And yet … oh … how can this be? There’s a witch hunt going on, and people are being purged!!!

    Get a grip, Michael. Seriously.

  41. says

    … he said “It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a guy thing”…

    Yeah, because women like Benson, Zvan, Zinnia, Watson, etc. are so shy and retiring, and it’s so hard to get them to agree to speak at conferences and stuff. I mean, when was the last time we heard from them on anything? No leadership potential there nosireebob.

    What the fuck is with these people? When women speak up, they cry about emotional women and witch-hunts and attention-hogging…then they turn around and say women DON’T do all that much speaking out. Can’t they at least keep their stereotypical drivel consistent?

    Mad magazine said it best, some decades ago: “You never can win with a bigot.” They’ll hold as many contradictory positions as they have to, at the same time and sometimes in the same breath, to protect their cherished notions of who is “better” than whom. Shermer is a perfect example of this: first he says women don’t speak up that much, therefore atheism/skepticism is “more of a guy thing;” now he’s crying about Nazi persecution because those uppity women are speaking up.

  42. twosheds1 says

    The whole things seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, Shermer said something stupid and should have admitted it, but really, in the grand scheme, there are more important battles to be fought.

  43. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @theophontes

    Huzzah! also, (/derail) :P

  44. fojap says

    @34

    I didn’t mean to imply that you were actively seeking a power struggle.

    As I said, I’m just trying to make sense of this whole thing. Someone left a coherent comment on my blog and, thrilled with a real live comment, I looked at his blog and found Thunderf00t’s “Feminists are Ruining Atheism” video, which was too much like what high school boys used to complain about to me over thirty years ago to bother watching in its entirety, only with significantly more vitriol. It’s not the sexism that puzzles me, it’s the level of emotion. People are actually using the term Feminazi! Gosh. I thought no one uses that word. It’s not as if anyone actually thinks there’s even a shadow of similarity between feminists and Nazis, or that Schermer needs the American Rescue Committee to help him cross the Pyrenees. So, I’m not trying to understand their arguments because they’re not making any. I’m trying to understand their emotions.

    I’m not talking about you, PZ, by the way, or Dawkins or Harris for that matter. It’s Schermer and Thunderf00t’s rather emotional reactions that are puzzling me. I suspect they feel threatened for some reason.

    Up thread, someone refered to them as “leaders.” The only way to be a “leader” among such a nebulous group of people as online atheists is to command respect. Anyway, that’s just my guess. Maybe neither of them cares. But I tend to believe it can’t just be because they’re sexists being called out for their sexism because of the level of emotion they’re putting into it.

    Maybe I’m totally wrong.

    Anyway, I should thank you for consistently taking a feminist position. As a woman going on fifty who’s been a feminist since I was in my early teens, I no long have the patience for some of these arguments.

  45. says

    The whole things seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, Shermer said something stupid and should have admitted it, but really, in the grand scheme, there are more important battles to be fought.

    I totally agree. This is why Shermer should have chosen his words more carefully, and why he should be willing to admit he may have misspoke.

    PS: I notice you don’t specify WHICH battles we should be fighting instead of this one. Do you spend as much time commenting on other issues as you just did on this one?

  46. Sastra says

    You know, so many of these Deep Rifts seem like they could have been avoided so early on by simply exercising a rudimentary level of tact in how the defense of a problematic remark is first made. You can make the exact same point using different language: one way will allow you to keep on topic and move a discussion along; the other way will divert the main issue into a war of opposing factions. This really shouldn’t be that hard to figure out, especially if you’re supposed to be some kind of leader. I’m looking at you, Michael Shermer.

    It’s like we’re dealing with amateurs.

  47. esmith4102 says

    I am becoming increasingly disaffected with P.Z.Myers’ web site Pharyngula. In particular, this blog which is clearly an unjust attack on Shermer’s statement of fact. I have supported American feminism since the days of Betty Friedan and won’t back off now, however, there are irrational responses to the problem of mysogony, apparently rampant in the “atheist” movement, and the methodology I see here is akin to sentencing, in abstentia, political dissidents to “reeducation farms” because of their lack of purity under Mao’s tyrannical regime. I agree with Michael “… it’s more of a guy thing”, because, traditionally it has been. When my attention was first drawn to Richard Dawkins and the four horsemen, I saw no women on any podium expressing an atheist world view. I would have welcomed them, but there were none! As more women were attracted to the atheist movement, I for one welcomed them and will always speak out against any mysogonist intent – but I will not angrily confuse statements of fact with mysogony. Equal access to the podium by bright, intellectually honest “ideas” people, irregardless of sex, I hope, will be the norm in the atheist community now and in the future.

  48. A Hermit says

    esmith4102@52

    I am becoming increasingly disaffected with P.Z.Myers’ web site Pharyngula. In particular, this blog which is clearly an unjust attack on Shermer’s statement of fact.

    What statement of fact? The “fact” that a mild criticism of his choice of words is equivalent to burning witches or gassing Jews?

    Shermer, sadly, has left the facts behind on this one…

  49. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In particular, this blog which is clearly an unjust attack on Shermer’s statement of fact.

    What statement of fact? And citation to show it is a fact.

  50. says

    How come it’s mostly guys accused of being shits to women who use the term ‘witch hunt’? When the real victims of real, actual witch hunts were innocent women whose male tormentors very often profited from the process? By law, if a witch confessed, their property was forfeit, after which many of the witch hunters took advantage of the fire sale and snapped up property cheap.

    As an added instance of fun, Matthew Hale was a noted witch hunter who knowingly convicted innocent women to death, while also sympathizing with poor innocent men who had such a hard time of it in the exceptionally rare instance where they were accused of rape in a time where women did not legally exist independent of men. Women were property with pretenses. And that same man who sent innocent women to death also condemned them for centuries with this phrase:

    “rape…is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent.”

    Shermer is so unused to criticism that he feels like he’s being oppressed and abused by having his own words quoted back at him. It’s as stunning a demonstration of privilege as you can get.

  51. ibbica says

    @52: I think perhaps you’re forgetting the original context of his “statement”. He was asked a question of “why”, not “whether”. And of course that he’s had several opportunities to clarify his intent; in which of those attempts to clarify has he claimed he was “merely stating a fact”? I’m afraid I’ve missed it.

  52. Ogvorbis says

    The whole things seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, Shermer said something stupid and should have admitted it, but really, in the grand scheme, there are more important battles to be fought.

    Many women do not feel welcome within the atheist movement. What is a more important battle than making sure that the atheist movement(s) does not fall prey to the same patriarchal misogyny that society has inherited from religion?

    In particular, this blog which is clearly an unjust attack on Shermer’s statement of fact

    Which statement of fact would that be? The witch hunt statement or the Nazi comparison?

  53. says

    the methodology I see here is akin to sentencing, in abstentia, political dissidents to “reeducation farms” because of their lack of purity under Mao’s tyrannical regime.

    And now crticism is like “reeducation farms.” Can a pogrom be far behind? Kristallnacht? Nacht Und Nebel? Maybe some medical experiments? Anyone have any Zyklon B? I’m getting low.
    Jeepus. Yeah, it’s just like that.
    Fuck. Get a grip.

  54. Pteryxx says

    When my attention was first drawn to Richard Dawkins and the four horsemen, I saw no women on any podium expressing an atheist world view. I would have welcomed them, but there were none!

    and that’s why you spoke up and mentioned to organizers back then, ‘Hey, it’d be great to have some women speakers. How about you invite some?’ instead of just assuming this was the way of things. Riiight?

    More generally,

    As more women were attracted to the atheist movement,

    This reminds me so much of those poor deprived ‘unattractive’ gamer dudes from the “conversation piece” thread. How can we the real membership attract more women to hang around us? Women, they just don’t like our happy status quo which works just great for us, what’s wrong with them! (just so unreasonable and picky and focused on surface details, those women.) (Or maybe they’re just drifting about Out There and need to be suitably drawn in, like electroplating.)

    No, making your organization or movement or community or game “more attractive” isn’t going to balance out the sexism. There’s not enough sugar coating on the planet to cover up that shit sandwich. Women show up when they’re no longer actively prevented, directly and indirectly, from participating.

  55. bradleybetts says

    @curtnelson #11

    “MS said that a reason there are more men than women involved in skeptical activism may be because it’s more of a guy thing.”

    Right, let’s break this down for you.

    Premise: there are more men than women involved in skeptical activism
    [Correct; give yourself a cookie]
    Explanation: because it’s more of a guy thing.
    [Why is it more of a guy thing? What's your evidence? Oh, because there are more guys there. I see].

    So, broken down, the explanation is actually saying exactly the same thing as the premise, isn’t? It offers no explanation whatsoever, but essentially says “There are more men than women involved, because it’s a guy thing, because there are more men than women involved”. You know what MS did there, right? Let me give you an example:

    “The Bible is true in every way”
    [How do you know that?]
    “Because God wrote it”
    [How do you know God wrote it?]
    “Because it says so in the Bible”
    [How do you know it's true just because the Bible says so?]
    “Because the Bible is true in every way”

    Yep, that’s right, that’s what MS just did. Hello circular argument, the old hallmark of a person who has no evidence.

  56. chigau (無味ない) says

    When my attention was first drawn to Richard Dawkins and the four horsemen, I saw no women on any podium expressing an atheist world view. I would have welcomed them, but there were none! As more women were attracted to the atheist movement, I for one welcomed them and will always speak out against any mysogonist intent – but I will not angrily confuse statements of fact with mysogony.

    You have a very odd historical perspective.
    And it’s “misogyny”.

  57. twosheds1 says

    Many women do not feel welcome within the atheist movement. What is a more important battle than making sure that the atheist movement(s) does not fall prey to the same patriarchal misogyny that society has inherited from religion?

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly. I’m sorry if you don’t see it that way. I’m not saying that fighting patriarchy and misogyny isn’t important, but I think Ophelia Benson read too much into Shermer’s original statement.

  58. kevinkirkpatrick says

    esmith4102@52

    Looking across participation, pool records, and the make up of our Olympic teams, do you think that swimming is a “white thing”? Can you understand why a public figure in US Swimming – such as Michael Phelps – might be called out for making such a statement? How do you think such a statement, from such a figure, would impact a young, enthusiastic high school swimmer of color?

  59. rr says

    If you don’t have the integrity to admit when you make a mistake and the desire to do better in the future then get the fuck out of the way.

  60. Matt Penfold says

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    Odd priority you have there. To the extent it seems to be pretty irrational, unless you really don’t give a fuck about people.

  61. ralphwiggam says

    Hyperbole and appeal to emotion are signatures of a desperately flawed argument.

    All facts aside, MS needs to be dope-slapped for such a poor presentation of his case.

  62. Ogvorbis says

    twosheds!:

    So you are comfortable with the atheism movement being made up primarily of white older hetero men? Why?

  63. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    but I think Ophelia Benson read too much into Shermer’s original statement.

    Pooh poohing what a woman says. Typical MRA apologetics. Not a good and rational basis for an OPINION.

  64. Pteryxx says

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    And sexist bias is irrational.

  65. chigau (無味ない) says

    there are more important battles to be fought

    Like whether or not Bigfoot arrived by UFO.

  66. plutosdad says

    neither
    “all things being equal, A would not want to do X as much as B does”
    nor
    “the numbers of A doing X is less than B doing X is due to biology alone”
    follows from
    “there are few A doing X right now, but many B doing X”

    Only the very last statement is a “fact”, the other two are not. But you and Shermer are conflating the three statements.

  67. Barklikeadog says

    had3 @ 18

    Confrontation does seem to be more of a guy thing,

    Apparently you’ve never met my wife. That is about the stupidest thing I’ve read so far this morning other than the monster truck guy.

  68. says

    Confrontation does seem to be more of a guy thing,

    which explains why almost 160 years of women’s rights activism was all done meekly, without confrontation.

    wait, no that’s not it. seems more likely that it may look as if confrontation is more of a “guy thing” after you label all woman-led confrontations as witch-hunts and hysterical emotional outbreaks.

  69. says

    esmith4102:

    the methodology I see here is akin to sentencing, in abstentia, political dissidents to “reeducation farms” because of their lack of purity under Mao’s tyrannical regime.

    Because criticizing someone is just like genocide isn’t it?

    Grow up.

  70. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    the bigger thing IMO is that skepticism of which a lot of atheism grew out of has a very entrenched conservative libertarian culture. I think a big draw of many of the now big names wasn’t so much seeking truth but being counter counter culture. Its framing the tribe as rational and outsiders aka smelly hippies as irrational and harmful. A lot of blatantly false memes are readily spread by skeptics uncritically if they fit in with the libertarian narrative. While this gets some things right (alt med and psychic scams for example) it also leads to demonization and strawmanning of environmentalists, health and safty proponents, economic reform, feminism, disabled rights, and racial issues. Being a skeptic is set up to be like being a hippie for the rich and privledged, you stand outside the culture judging irrationality of the plebs. Its hostile to women and minorities because this “rational” agenda of libertarian conservatism is feircly protected and pushed.

    It was never our club house it was their country club. We were never welcome unless we’re paying or donating scratch

  71. Matt Penfold says

    I certainly think Shermer’s libertarianism has something to do with his attitude. It seems to be that if women wanted to more active in the sceptic/atheist community there is no barrier to them doing so, therefore it must be something about women that is stopping them.

  72. sqlrob says

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    So, treating women differently is rational exactly how?

  73. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @chigau #70

    Like whether or not Bigfoot arrived by UFO.

    :D

    And instead of fighting those more important battles, twosheds1 decides to come here and whine about us not fighting them instead.

  74. Pteryxx says

    Heck, Ophelia answered all this in her original, August 2012 article that Shermer’s gone off the rails about.

    Sally Haslanger, a philosopher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote about this stubborn problem in a 2008 essay, “Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone).”

    Why there aren’t more women of my cohort in philosophy? Because there were very few of us and there was a lot of outright discrimination. . . . In graduate school I was told by one of my teachers that he had “never seen a first rate woman philosopher and never expected to because women were incapable of having seminal ideas.” I was the butt of jokes when I received a distinction on my prelims, since it seemed funny to everyone to suggest I should get a blood test to determine if I was really a woman. In a seminar in philosophical logic, I was asked to give a presentation on a historical figure when none of the other (male) students were, later to learn that this was because the professor assumed I’d be writing a thesis on the history of philosophy.

    If the stereotypes are that powerful, it’s not surprising that women get shoved to the side. Active, outspoken, pugnacious atheism is after all a rebellion against God, and rebellion too is seen as “a guy thing.” Prometheus, Lucifer, Huck Finn with his “all right then, I’ll go to hell”—all guys. Men do the rebelling; women make them lunch.

    The trouble with that is, it just takes us right back to the Victorian Angel in the Parlor. What were we talking about? Oh yes, the rebellion against God. You don’t want the Angel in the Parlor for a rebellion against God. Angel qualities are the wrong qualities. You want people who are disputatious, stubborn, restless. You want people who get all up in God’s face asking questions and refusing to sit down and be quiet. You want people who leave the parlor and go out looking for trouble.

    (link should be here now cached)

    But it’s the folks like Shermer who lose their shit, double and triple down and go on obsessively for months with hyperbole and fallacies, who’ve decided to prioritize silencing outspoken atheist women above battling irrationality.

  75. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    In particular, this blog which is clearly an unjust attack on Shermer’s statement of fact

    I love this part of that amazingly stupid screed. Because it comes right before pretending to be a feminist. Troll wants us to believe they are SO feminist that they totally agree with a sexist statement and women should shut up about it.

    That’s Feminism. So. Hard. LOL

  76. Barklikeadog says

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    So giving a shit about how other people are treated is just a minor consideration. Yeah, right, the higher goal is getting rid of irrationality & not making sure women are treated with respect and help make a society where they can actually feel safe and comfortable and accepted. I’ll let my wife and 3 daughters know how you feel. That will make things all better and make them feel safe a comfortable and accepted. Asshole.

  77. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    twosheds shows my point. SHERMER is rational…fighting him is irrational. This is a presumed conclusion because many skeptics are working backwards from conclusions like good little ideologues or are heavily influenced by the pronouncements of authority figurestey see as prescreened to be rational.

    For record I was of the former

    skeptic inc is not rational just because they use the lingo and brand themselves as such. There are many big name skeptic p,productions that tell utter shit that is easily checkable. It oddly seems to fall in favor of the powerful and privledgved…strange

  78. says

    Yeah, Shermer said something stupid and should have admitted it, but really, in the grand scheme, there are more important battles to be fought.

    Apparently not, since a Leader of the Movement thought criticism of his ‘something stupid’ was so important that he had to go thermonuclear and accuse a swarm of people of being Nazis.

  79. Rumtopf says

    @77

    So, treating women differently is rational exactly how?

    I want to ask the same question, especially considering the influence of religion on the sexism ingrained in society, awaiting an answer from twosheds.

  80. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    so yes Shermer is exposing a holy edict. Rational because he says it is and enough people buy into that that it is now dogma.

  81. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    But it’s the folks like Shermer who lose their shit, double and triple down and go on obsessively for months with hyperbole and fallacies, who’ve decided to prioritize silencing outspoken atheist women above battling irrationality.

    Well, she hurt his delicate, precious fee fees! because she quoted his exact words, disagreed with them and didn’t allow any space for him to save face by not apologizing/retracting his statement, etc. So, now, Mr. Self-style Skeptic *HAS* to repeatedly attack her with increasingly imcompetent, whiny, ridiculous accusations.

    you know, like a rational skeptical person totally would do.

  82. says

    PZ Myers @83

    Apparently not, since a Leader of the Movement thought criticism of his ‘something stupid’ was so important that he had to go thermonuclear and accuse a swarm of people of being Nazis.

    That is rich coming from you PZ – so rich I can feel the puke welling in the back of my throat. From someone who smears all who disagree with him as women-hating bigots you know all too well the value of the kind of histrionic, hyperbolic smearing-through-labelling Shermer is indulging in there.

    You are right, it was a poor tack Shermer took but by christ he is treading firmly in the footsteps of yourself, your house trolls and your buddies Benson, Zvan, Thibeault etc

  83. A Hermit says

    From someone who smears all who disagree with him as women-hating bigots…

    Hmmm…who’s making the popcorn?

    Should be easy for you to find an actual example of this…right?

  84. omnicrom says

    I am becoming increasingly disaffected with P.Z.Myers’ web site Pharyngula. In particular, this blog which is clearly an unjust attack on Shermer’s statement of fact.

    You forgot to say that you’ve been following Pharyngula for years and you’re going to leave. But no matter, I’m going to include that bit of concern trolling for you. Anyways, Bye!

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    Sexism is suddenly not a form of irrationality that should be fought? A system that keeps down half of the human population for no reason seems pretty damn irrational to me and seems like something to be fought.

  85. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @noelplum99 #87

    From someone who smears all who disagree with him as women-hating bigots…

    LOL. Hyperbolic and histrionic much?

  86. chigau (無味ない) says

    noelplum99
    This thread is about Michael Shermer.
    This thread is not about you.

  87. Pteryxx says

    From someone who smears all who disagree with him as women-hating bigots…

    was that a douchewhistle I heard?

  88. says

    Chigau @93

    Absolutely agree with you there, so shall we stick to discussing Shermer and the hypocrite who is criticising him here and not make it about me, as per your comment?

  89. Anthony K says

    LOL. Hyperbolic and histrionic much?

    You see, once you’ve labelled yourself a civil skeptic, you can continue to believe yourself that even if your actual argumentation is neither of those.

  90. Anthony K says

    Absolutely agree with you there, so shall we stick to discussing Shermer and the hypocrite who is criticising him here and not make it about me, as per your comment?

    Actually, your comment was a classic tu quoque intended to make the discussion all about PZ.

    So, you don’t absolutely agree with chigau. That is untrue.

  91. Matt Penfold says

    Absolutely agree with you there, so shall we stick to discussing Shermer and the hypocrite who is criticising him here and not make it about me, as per your comment?

    You seem have have made a bit of a mistake, because I cannot find the evidence that you need to provided to support your claims.

    Can you explain why you made claims unsupported by evidence, and confirm if that was deliberate on your part or because you are not very bright ?

  92. Anthony K says

    So, as you (presumably) agree in part with Chigau that this thread is about Shermer, and with PZ about Shermer (“You are right, it was a poor tack Shermer took…”), there isn’t really anything else for you in this thread other than to make it about yourself, PZ, [his] house trolls and [his] buddies Benson, Zvan, Thibeault etc.

    So, you don’t really have anything relevant to this thread to contribute.

  93. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So, you don’t really have anything relevant to this thread to contribute.

    Consider the source. When has that bigot-cheerleading windbag EVER had anything to contribute?

  94. says

    From someone who smears all who disagree with him as women-hating bigots

    You need to recalibrate. You’re someone who can’t see beyond their preconceptions, and take any criticism of that oblivious assumption as calling them a “women-hating bigot.”

    You do realize that most men are not women-hating bigots, right? But many men never question the cultural prejudices they’ve been brought up with, and Shermer’s “it’s a guy thing” is a perfect example of that. It doesn’t mean he openly hates women. It means he is unconscious of the bias that afflicts women, and blithely assumes it’s natural and reasonable, when it isn’t.

    And you’re exactly the same way.

  95. Ogvorbis says

    so shall we stick to discussing Shermer and the hypocrite who is criticising him here and not make it about me,

    And I’m sure you have citations to back up this charge of hypocrisy?

  96. poxyhowzes says

    Chigau @93
    Jim (Noelplum99) @ 95

    All threads that Noelplum99 deigns to grace with comment are threads about NoelPlum99.

    pH

  97. says

    Anthony @99
    Are you seriously saying that it is unwarranted to comment on who is making an argument and can only ever comment on the argument being made? I would ask you to note that PZ is making comment on Shermer, not just on the comments Shermer made; Shermer was making comment on Benson not just on the comments Benson made; Benson was making comments on Shermer not just on the comments Shermer made.

    Matt @98
    I cannot answer your question here, to do so would make it ‘about me’. Send me an email if you want that conversation.

  98. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    That is rich coming from you PZ –

    That is rich coming from an opionated tone troll without solid evidence, just hyperbole and attitude. Jim, when you have something cogent to say, the blog will tell you. Until then, you have nothing but noise.

  99. Matt Penfold says

    I cannot answer your question here, to do so would make it ‘about me’. Send me an email if you want that conversation.

    Well you could provide the evidence you failed to provide initially. How about doing that ?

  100. Anthony K says

    Are you seriously saying that it is unwarranted to comment on who is making an argument and can only ever comment on the argument being made?

    Not me. The fallacy known as tu quoque says something like that, excepting the idiotic use of absolutes like “only ever” and “all” that you seem to love for no apparent reason other than obfuscation.

    Of course, there are times in which it can be warranted, but it’s kind of up to the fallacy maker to make the case that it’s warranted in a specific instance. Burden of proof and all that.

    C’mon, you’re a skeptic, right? You shouldn’t have to have me explain this to you.

  101. says

    PZ Myers @102

    But where did Shermer ever say that mens greater interest in these things could not be the result of bias and social factors? If I tell you that young girls are more interested in ponies than young boys, so does it necessarily follow that I refute there being a cultural factor involved in that? Of course it does not!!!
    Shermer, to my reading, was saying that men are more represented in the field of skepticism because, regardless of the reasons, they are more interested in it! How on earth is that sexist?

    It means he is unconscious of the bias that afflicts women, and blithely assumes it’s natural and reasonable, when it isn’t.

    No PZ, all I am hearing is your bias and preconception. Had Shermer said “men are better represented in these circles because men are innately more interested in them biologically (i) and by dint of this being natural it is a good thing (ii) and being interested in the nerdy bullshit that skepticism largely traditionally consists of makes you superior to someone who is not (iii)” then PZ, on all three grounds i, ii, and iii I would take issue with him. But he never said anything even approaching that. You and your cronies are criticising him on what you infer from what he said, fuelled by your own prejudices and preconceptions.

  102. says

    Shermer, to my reading, was saying that men are more represented in the field of skepticism because, regardless of the reasons, they are more interested in it! How on earth is that sexist?

    Think.

    Try real hard.

    Why are they more interested in it? Could it be because there are active disincentives for women to participate? Do you honestly believe that all that matters is interest, and if you’re interested in anything, you’ll be able to move smoothly into it and participate freely with no bias at all from the existing institutions?

    It is sexist because it assumes the status quo is the natural order of things. It is a hallmark of privilege that you get to assume there are no barriers at all to you partaking of anything, and that there are no frustrated women out there who would love to be more active in critical thinking, atheism, whatever, but find themselves constantly stymied by annoying, obnoxious people who want to pigeonhole them into a different role. Smile, they say. You can make coffee for us, they say. You can join our clubhouse, they say, but we expect you to shave your legs and wear cosmetics and look sexy for us.

    This is a guy thing, they say…you probably aren’t interested.

  103. omnicrom says

    That’s the problem Noelplum, he didn’t say that. Shermer upon being called for saying something stupid clarify himself and say that the difference is probably largely cultural and he’s sorry that said something callous like “It’s a Guy thing” and the gender disparity is a problem. No, Shermer doubled down and now he’s raising Cain about a “witch hunt”. You could have argued immediately after Shermer’s statement that maybe he misspoke or bungled his wording but after a couple weeks and no retractions about his language Shermer’s grace period has run out.

  104. revjimbob says

    @Loud – warm smiles do not make you welcome here #39

    “we should be talking about whatever it is revjimbob wants to talk about.”
    This is Freethought Blogs, mate – I am expressing an honest opinion. Not every comment has to suck the blogger’s arse.
    The endless fawning on this site also gets on my tits.
    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

  105. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    to repeat what i said at jason’s place:

    Because someone said, “what you said is sexist” – that’s all it takes for Mr. Self-Styled Skeptic to be suffering a “an inquisition” etc? A woman – ONE TIME – typed some words that disagreed with him and he’s suffering a “witch hunt”?

    My what excessively delicate, tender, weak little flowers you boys are. Maybe skepticism isn’t for you. Clearly, if being mildly disagreed with once is a “purging” for you, you’re too precious for confrontation. SO apparently, Mr. Self-Styled Skeptic was wrong. Confrontation isn’t more a guy thing. Whining endlessly about being disagreed with once more a guy thing.

  106. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    This is Freethought Blogs, mate – I am expressing an honest opinion. Not every comment has to suck the blogger’s arse.
    The endless fawning on this site also gets on my tits.

    Translation: Yes, I’m a sexist troll.

  107. Barklikeadog says

    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

    Then start your own blog dipshit. And no one cares what’s on your tits BTW.

  108. vaiyt says

    Okay, I apologize for the long post and replying to so many comments at once, but I don’t feel like passing it up.

    @mofa:

    unless they are still actually fresh and crisp… and green… and there are rotten apples in the other barrel. Every thought of that?

    Being a well-known skeptic doesn’t prevent you from putting your foot in your mouth from time to time. “Every” thought of that?

    @curtnelson.

    If he had said the same thing to explain the male skew at a monster truck rally would he be accused of sexism?

    Yes.

    @had3:

    MS’s statement may be an accurate reflection of how it is

    He would be begging the question. You’re saying that, when asked “why don’t women participate more”, Shermer answered “because they don’t”.

    What it is, then? Sexist or vacuous?

    @travisrm89:

    Michael Shermer is wrong when he says atheism is “more of a guy thing”, but he is somewhat accurate when he criticizes the manner in which feminists in the atheist community attack anyone who disagrees with them. Case in point: PZ Myers and others defended Rebecca Watson when she called Stef McGraw a parrot of misogynistic thought simply for pointing out that there is nothing wrong with asking a girl for coffee in an elevator. I think a little self-criticism by PZ and Rebecca Watson is warranted here.

    “It’s not a witch hunt but it kinda is, oh and *insert oft-repeated faux-ignorant complaint about Elevatorgate here*”. Wow, what a beautiful post, like a sculpture of poo.

    @fojap:

    Shermer himself refers to the “purging” of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

    What kind of fucking “purging” has taken place? It doesn’t seem to have dimnished their presence, or their influence, or the amount of speaking engagements. Harris can say blatantly racist shit and people still pay attention to him. How in the world is he “purged”? You dogwhistling idiots need to stop using such ridiculous language and maybe someone here will take you seriously.

    @twosheds1:

    The whole things seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill. Yeah, Shermer said something stupid and should have admitted it, but really, in the grand scheme, there are more important battles to be fought.

    Maybe if enough of you howl “Don’t talk about subjects I don’t like!”, people will stop talking about it. Keep trying!

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    Oh, and what do you think sexism is? Do you think it’s rational to exclude half of our population from the pursuit of rationality because of internalized biases? More probably, you didn’t think things through and just assumed rationality doesn’t have to include women. Fuck you.

    @52 (esmith4102):
    Wow. I think I got two troll bingos on that one.
    - “I used to read Pharyngula now I don’t like it anymore”
    - “Shermer was idiotically begging the question, not trying to give reasons for the problem like he was asked to!”
    - “I am a feminist! I am a feminist!”
    - “YOU’RE JUST LIKE GENOCIDAL DICTATORS!!!!!!1111111111″
    - “Let’s beg the question some more!”
    - “And yet two more times!”
    - “Let’s just be gender blind, people”
    Do you blatherers even think before you type these things? Or did someone make a “Pharyngula Troll Post Generator” somewhere?

  109. anathema2 says

    Shermer, to my reading, was saying that men are more represented in the field of skepticism because, regardless of the reasons, they are more interested in it! How on earth is that sexist?

    Let’s say that someone was interviewing a famous physicist and asked him why there were so few black physicists out there.

    And let’s say that the famous physicist responded by saying “It’s about who wants to do research about it, write articles about it, go to conferences about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a white thing.”

    Would you be upset if someone complained that this comment reinforced racist stereotypes because he was simply saying that whites were more interested in physics, and how on earth could anyone think that that was racist?

  110. says

    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

    In other words, we should be talking about whatever it is revjimbob wants to talk about.

  111. anathema2 says

    Oh, and to further add to the previous analogy, let’s say that the famous physicist responded to the people who complained that his statement about physics being a white thing reinforced racist stereotypes by comparing his opponents to Nazis and lynch mobs.

    If you can see why this would upset people, you should be able to understand why people think that Shermer’s actions here have been problematic.

  112. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    And let’s say that the famous physicist responded by saying “It’s about who wants to do research about it, write articles about it, go to conferences about it, who’s intellectually active about it, you know, it’s more of a white thing.”

    Would you be upset if someone complained that this comment reinforced racist stereotypes because he was simply saying that whites were more interested in physics, and how on earth could anyone think that that was racist?

    Because it ignores defacto institutionalized racism that is present in the “old boy network”, which gives connected new comers a boost compared to someone not connected.

  113. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    also what’s the deal with freakanomics mentioned above?

  114. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    combat the evils of religion…which isn’t evil when we do it. You don’t give a shit about the actual harm done by religion…you’re just trying to score points

  115. vaiyt says

    @noelplum99:

    Shermer, to my reading, was saying that men are more represented in the field of skepticism because, regardless of the reasons, they are more interested in it! How on earth is that sexist?

    It’s sexist because it throws discrimination under the rug. The institutions are fine, the women just aren’t interested, nothing to see here.

    By the way, if you think I’m wrong, you’re just like McCarthy and the Inquisition.

    @revjimbob:

    This is Freethought Blogs, mate – I am expressing an honest opinion.

    Nobody cares about your opinions. “IT’S MY OPINION!!11″ won’t keep you from being criticized for it. This is freethought, not freedrivel.

  116. says

    Shermer, to my reading, was saying that men are more represented in the field of skepticism because, regardless of the reasons, they are more interested in it! How on earth is that sexist?

    hmmm…. what message could it possibly send to answer the question “why are there fewer women leaders” with “well, women just aren’t interested”?
    what cultural work does such an answer perform?
    could it be, maybe, stereotype-reinforcing, sexist cultural work?

    nah. can’t be. the comment is completely effect-less. it’s just that we’re all hypersensitive shrieking harpies.

  117. Ogvorbis says

    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

    Do you consider the endemic socialization towards misogyny, inherited from religion (in the USA, specifically Christianity), to be an evil of religion that is worth combating? If not, why is that particular evil acceptable?

  118. says

    noelplum99:

    That is rich coming from you PZ – so rich I can feel the puke welling in the back of my throat.

    Try putting a little less time into overdone hyperbole, and a little more into reading for comprehension.

    The point PZ was making, is that there’s a contradiction between the “let’s concentrate on skepticism” argument, and getting in a swipe at a fellow skeptic. Since PZ doesn’t use the former argument, there’s no hypocrisy on his part.

  119. Scr... Archivist says

    I find it odd that the natural state of things requires so much strenuous reinforcement by those who were “lucky” enough to come out on top.

    ———-

    Also, Ing @75, I have noticed/suspected the same thing.

  120. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @sallystrange

    Answer will be it’s sexist but accurate and liberals have blinders on and iignore tough reality

  121. rr says

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    I wonder where fighting sexism is on the to-do list. It it #2, or do we have to battle other more important things first before we can get around to it?

  122. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @revjimbob

    This is Freethought Blogs, mate – I am expressing an honest opinion. Not every comment has to suck the blogger’s arse.
    The endless fawning on this site also gets on my tits.
    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

    Yes, sorry, I forgot freethought meant we had to talk about what you want, and when we don’t, you’ll ignore the topic of the thread and tell us all just what you want to talk about and how sick you are that we’re talking about other things.

    Gotcha.

  123. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I find it odd that the natural state of things requires so much strenuous reinforcement by those who were “lucky” enough to come out on top.

    Well, clearly, women are totally confrontation-adverse! I mean, just look at this place! A total sasauge-fest. No women at all! Besides, if we don’t keep telling women what comes ‘natural’ to them, how will they know what comes natural to them?

    /shermer defender impersonation

  124. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    women just aren’t that agressive…also whaT the fuck is up with all these shrill harpies attacking me!?

  125. funknjunk says

    @ 30 – theophontes – that’s interesting to me. when i was a lad, i read Robert Bly’s “Iron John”. i KNOW, i know … wait for it. i thought he had some great ideas, wrapped in poetry and allegory, but still there. about males needing mentors and milestones in development in modern times. it saddens me that some of the MRA folks took the need and the passion that could have created a different kind of men’s movement for those who needed it, and created what is out there now. very sad. it seems the kind of mentoring men/boys will most likely see is on how to be a PUA and so forth…. and the milestones likely to be seen are equally repulsive.

  126. says

    The battle between rationality and irrationality is more important, frankly.

    Sexism, and its consequences, are irrational, and we, as people who value rationality, are fighting against them. So what’s your problem with any of this?

  127. says

    PZ Myers @110

    Ok, thanks for a substantive response.

    Why are they more interested in it? Could it be because there are active disincentives for women to participate? Do you honestly believe that all that matters is interest, and if you’re interested in anything, you’ll be able to move smoothly into it and participate freely with no bias at all from the existing institutions?

    Maybe you are right. So what are the institutional barriers that are preventing women from buying ‘skeptic’ magazine (or are you claiming women buy it as often as men) or from starting a blog or opening up a YouTube channel? What are the institutional barriers that preclude women from watching YouTube videos on related issues and atheistic issues? What exactly is active disincentive that has led to 3/4 of the online atheistic survey respondents identifying as male?

    It is sexist because it assumes the status quo is the natural order of things.

    So do you KNOW Shermer assumes that or is this really a case of you assuming that this is what Shermer assumes?

    As to the rest of what you have to say there may be some merit in it. If female speakers are less numerous, proportionally speaking, than female interest then i agree that there may well be issues that are ripe for addressing.
    I also absolutely agree with you that an attitude of “This is a guy thing…you probably aren’t interested” is also wrong, utterly wrong. However, you seem to be confusing Shermers descriptive statement with normative statements here. Describing something in no way confers your approval or indicates that this is how you feel things should be.

  128. says

    Clearly, I need to send my username and password to the revjimbob, so he can take over the job of providing content for the blog. My services do not meet his neeeeeeeeeeeeeds.

  129. says

    @125 Jadehawk
    I am not sure his answer was trying to do cultural work.
    If you asked a muslim leader why there are so few white Imams he would doubtless tell you that it is because there are not many white muslims in the first place. Is he being racist by saying that or trying to do ‘cultural work’ to dissuade white people from taking up the faith?
    Probably you would think so (I am guessing) but my assumption would simply be that he was giving you the blindingly obvious reason to what was a pretty naive question.

  130. says

    You are unaware of the barriers? Take youtube, for instance. Look at the comments Laci Green or Ashley Paramore or Anita Sarkeesian or Rebecca Watson get. Look at the messages Jen McCreight gets. Browse twitter sometime, or the slymepit, and take a look at what is said about Jen or Greta or Ophelia.

    You mean you seriously haven’t noticed that a woman stepping into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism or gaming or science is always going to get slammed with sexist comments, hate mail, come-ons, and put-downs? Just how fucking ignorant are you?

  131. carlie says

    So what are the institutional barriers that are preventing women from [...]tarting a blog

    You’re kidding, right? I’ve thought about starting a blog dozens of times. But I haven’t, and that’s almost entirely because I don’t/can’t put up with the level of shit that gets thrown at women who blog. You have been around long enough that I KNOW you have seen some of the posts that describe the amount of hate email, the obsessive stalking, the threatened doxxing, etc. No thanks.

  132. says

    Now it’s your turn. Why do you think 3/4 of that survey are male? Are you honestly satisfied just saying it’s a descriptive statement, and we don’t really have to think about why women are unenthusiastic about participating in freethought?

  133. revjimbob says

    @PZ Myers & fawning acolytes
    ” he can take over the job of providing content for the blog.”
    Honest feedback. I won’t bother in future.

    “Nobody cares about your opinions.”
    Nice.

  134. says

    Awww. You mean you aren’t going to take over my job after all? Damn. And I was so sure you’d drag the blog out of the doldrums and make it a popular place for a change.

  135. says

    Lacey and Ashley have done very well on YouTube. Do you seriously expect me to believe that Laci would have had more subscribers and been more successful if only she was a man?

    With respect to some of these others, the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead. Does Eugenie Scott get the hate mail these other individuals get?

    Have you ever seen the YouTuber Coughlan? He gets shit loads of hate mail, real fucking nasty stuff from racists – the kinds of people that you really could imagine would turn up at your door to kick your head in. Do you think that is because he is a YouTube atheist…. or could it actually be because he spends most of his time (admirably) tackling racists and racist organisations?

    Don’t misunderstand me. i am not saying these individuals cvan’t use their YT channels or blogs to talk about whatever the hell they like, but don’t conflate the hate and nastiness that stems from them discussing gender politics with anything else.

  136. allegro says

    @noelplum99

    Maybe you are right. So what are the institutional barriers that are preventing women from buying ‘skeptic’ magazine (or are you claiming women buy it as often as men)

    How do you know how many women or men are buying skeptic magazines? Do you have that demographic information?

    or from starting a blog or opening up a YouTube channel?

    The prevalence of misogynistic bile, vicious rape threats, and more such nonsense thrown at women has a way of dampening enthusiasm for such undertakings. That this happens on a regular basis has been well documented within the skeptic movement.

    What are the institutional barriers that preclude women from watching YouTube videos on related issues and atheistic issues?

    See above. You don’t know who is watching or reading anything.

    What exactly is active disincentive that has led to 3/4 of the online atheistic survey respondents identifying as male?

    Online surveys have no scientific basis. They are self-selecting for those who read THOSE particular surveys. Without noting information about the surveys to which you refer or their sources, this is meaningless.

    So do you KNOW Shermer assumes that or is this really a case of you assuming that this is what Shermer assumes?

    Shermer has now written quite a lot about the topic. Is there some reason his own words should not be believed?

    If female speakers are less numerous, proportionally speaking, than female interest then i agree that there may well be issues that are ripe for addressing.

    That women have actually said that they want to see and enjoy more involvement for some years would seem to answer this question.

  137. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    So what are the institutional barriers that are preventing women from buying ‘skeptic’ magazine (or are you claiming women buy it as often as men) or from starting a blog or opening up a YouTube channel? What are the institutional barriers that preclude women from watching YouTube videos on related issues and atheistic issues? What exactly is active disincentive that has led to 3/4 of the online atheistic survey respondents identifying as male?

    How long has this douche been trolling around FTB? And he’s STILL PRETENDING NOT TO GET IT. Why is he still here, again? is there some fun chew toy properties to this tedious assbag I’m unaware of?

  138. Ogvorbis says

    neolplum99:

    This is not about subscribers. Read what PZ actually wrote:

    Look at the comments Laci Green or Ashley Paramore or Anita Sarkeesian or Rebecca Watson get. Look at the messages Jen McCreight gets. Browse twitter sometime, or the slymepit, and take a look at what is said about Jen or Greta or Ophelia.

    Did you read some of the comments? Any of the comments? Do you really think that a male YouTuber gets the same type of comments?

  139. Loud - warm smiles do not make you welcome here says

    @revjimbob #146

    Honest feedback. I won’t bother in future.

    Seriously, can you not see quite how arrogant and self-centered you are to waltz into a random thread and whine that the blog isn’t catering for your needs?

  140. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    revjimbob, nobody cares about your opinion if you cannot back it up with something substantive.

    For example noelplum asked, “What are the institutional barriers to a skeptic woman putting up a blog?”. He was answered with referrals to the abuse, physical threats (rape and assault), threats of doxxing, etc.

    You see? Opinion backed up by something substantive.

    And I don’t know where you get this “fawning” over PZ bit. If you actually were a regular at this blog, you would have seen PZ disagreed with and reamed out a number of times, and even suffering the withdrawal of prominent and well-liked posters after PZ changed some policies.

    In other words, you are lying, either through ignorance, or willfully. Neither case will get you respect.

    Finally, if you want to talk about the evils of religion, FIND A THREAD WHERE THAT IS THE TOPIC and people will be happy to engage you.

    Call up narrow-focus nerds or whatever you like, but the prevailing culture of this blogspace is: talk about what the thread is about.

  141. Ogvorbis says

    revjimbob:

    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

    Do you consider the endemic socialization towards misogyny, inherited from religion (in the USA, specifically Christianity), to be an evil of religion that is worth combating? If not, why is that particular evil acceptable?

  142. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Who are you – my fucking teacher?
    I do not want or need your respect.

    Wrong question. Who the fuck are you to tell other folks how to run their successful blog. Either put up some evidence, like a recent signed letter from your imaginary deity, or shut the fuck up. Your approval isn’t needed for anything either.

  143. Ogvorbis says

    revjimbob:

    You stated:

    What I want to talk about is mostly atheism and how to combat the evils of religion, with a side-order of interesting science.

    Do you consider the endemic socialization towards misogyny, inherited from religion (in the USA, specifically Christianity), to be an evil of religion that is worth combating? If not, why is that particular evil acceptable?

  144. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Actually, revjimbob, a minimum of mutual respect between strangers is necessary for society, and for things like, oh, blogcommentforums, to run smoothly and prosper. If you are walking down the street, you don’t yell to someone walking towards you, “Hey fuckface! What’s the time?” Coming on this blog and insulting us in your very first post is the equivalent of this.

    Also, you saying you don’t need my respect shows 1) how much better you think you are than me (and most of the other posters here) right now and 2) how poorly you will treat us in the future.

    You’ve dug your hole.

    Now stick the flounce.

  145. revjimbob says

    “Do you consider the endemic socialization towards misogyny…”

    Professor Stanley Unwin! I thought you were dead!

  146. says

    Carlie @144
    Like I have just said to PZ, it depends what you are blogging about. All the examples that are getting bandied about are people who are blogging about gender politics which is a hot potato, rightly or wrongly. A couple of years ago on YT we absolutely dogpiled on a group called ‘true force loneliness’ for their sexism – but it wasn’t because they were male ffs, or because they were or were not skeptics or atheists!
    I put it to you that if you start a blog critiquing religion, ufo storys, ESP etc etc you will not get this hostility that the FtBers get; that the MRA’s get; that the slymepitters get; that Michael Shermer didn’t get (until he was unwise enough to mention something in the realm of gender politics).

    Now it’s your turn. Why do you think 3/4 of that survey are male? Are you honestly satisfied just saying it’s a descriptive statement, and we don’t really have to think about why women are unenthusiastic about participating in freethought?

    I see, I get it, I answer this and then i am ‘making the thread about myself’! Clever.

    Still, I am fucked both ways so I will answer it. My suspicion is it stems back to childhood and probably differential peer group expectations between boys and girls. Certainly, by the time children get to secondary school (aged 11 in the UK) the differences in interest are already there (how I know this I could only tell you via personal email PZ).
    Is there an innate component (a statistical predisposition) or is it ALL cultural – I don’t know.
    Personally what I would do is what my employer does is to advertise in such a way that makes it explicitly clear that all people are welcome and that can include specifically referencing women or minority ethnic groups, or younger people or whatever. No issue there.

    Ok, wife on way home so need to get the tea on or I will have proper drama to deal with!

    Jim.

  147. says

    PZ – That’s it – I am going to become a fucking Christian.

    And the average atheist immediately becomes smarter!

    OK with me. Bye.

  148. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    With respect to some of these others, the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead.

    Do not even bother to try to figure out why many of them started to talk about gender politics.

    Also, Jim, do not bother trying to figure out why an outspoken anti-racist would get the same kind of hate mail and death threats that outspoken feminists.

    But what the fuck do I know, I am too stupid to understand these things.

  149. revjimbob says

    ” you are lying, either through ignorance, or willfully. Neither case will get you respect. ”

    ” you saying you don’t need my respect shows 1) how much better you think you are than me (and most of the other posters here) right now and 2) how poorly you will treat us in the future.”

    hmmm

  150. revjimbob says

    “Who the fuck are you to tell other folks how to run their successful blog.”

    Where did I say that?

    ” your imaginary deity”
    Eh?

  151. Ogvorbis says

    “Do you consider the endemic socialization towards misogyny…”

    Professor Stanley Unwin! I thought you were dead!

    Do you not understand the question? or are you refusing to answer the question in a particularly infantile style?

    Try this again.

    Misogyny and patriarchy are part and parcel to religion. You have stated that you want this blog to only talk about science and the evils of religion. Misogyny and patriarchy are evils that are still in our culture thanks to religion. Why are you okay with these evils?

  152. says

    You’re still not thinking. Why are gender politics a hot potato? Have you considered the possibility that maybe women don’t want to get involved with skepticism/atheism is because a topic that many of them will find personally important and an essential to their identity as atheists will be dismissed as too much trouble to bother with? That it’s not just a controversial topic, but one that will get them dunned with hatred for even bringing it up?

    It’s a guy thing. It’s because gender politics just happens to generate hostility. Now ask yourself why.

    If you can.

  153. Barklikeadog says

    @revjimbob

    PZ – That’s it – I am going to become a fucking Christian.
    Hope you are happy.

    I’m sure he gives a flying fuck about as much as the rest of us dipshit

  154. says

    With respect to some of these others, the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead.

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh – well that’s all right then. As long as we’re being punished for a good reason there’s nothing more to be said.

  155. Ogvorbis says

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh – well that’s all right then. As long as we’re being punished for a good reason there’s nothing more to be said.

    It is also an extremely egregious example of victim blaming. The rape threats are your fault because you talked about human rights.

  156. says

    Well, it’s clear that Shermer thinks that apparently he and Dawkins and Harris are entitled to cheering audiences. Deciding just not to bother with them anymore or not to praise them or even daring to criticise them deprives them of their rightful audience and admiration.
    Which is clearly the same as being abducted, haved, tortured, worked to almost-death and then being gassed.
    Michael Shermer is a horrible person.

    Noelplum
    You’re aware that Laci went off the internet for a while thanks to death threats? Oh, and do you honestly think that any of these women would get the rape-threats in that amount if they were guys?
    And funny how you could come up with exactly ONE guy who actually has similar levels of harassment and threats compared to all these women when actually there are more guys doing youtube than women.

  157. says

    I am not sure his answer was trying to do cultural work.

    I didn’t ask whether it was trying to do so. I pointed out that it did.

    If you asked a muslim leader why there are so few white Imams he would doubtless tell you that it is because there are not many white muslims in the first place.

    1)it would perform essentialist cultural work if the statement were that islam is just more of a “brown thing”, because it would be obvious bullshit.
    2)Shermer didn’t actually say that there’s fewer women in atheism/skepticism and that’s why there are fewer leaders. That’s not even up to interpretation, since he mentioned specifically visible and leadership activities as things that are “more of a guy thing”. So, your analogy is flawed. (It’s flawed for other reasons, too, but that one suffices)

    trying to do ‘cultural work’ to dissuade white people from taking up the faith?

    nothing in the comment you’re responding to was about anyone trying to do anything. the comment didn’t deal with intentions at all, because they’re entirely irrelevant to the point of the comment.

    my assumption would simply be that he was giving you the blindingly obvious reason to what was a pretty naive question.

    and that’s what you think Shermer did, when he stated that doing visible, leadershippy things is “a guy thing”? you think asking why there are fewer women leaders is a “naive question”? one that has a “blindingly obvious” answer, which is “just because”?

    jesus fuck.

  158. Ogvorbis says

    noelplum99:

    Did it ever occur to you that gender politics being a ‘hot potato issue’ shows just how important they are? If a woman blogged about the importance of sexual harassment guidelines at a conference and the reaction was, among atheists, a ‘yes’, it would not be a hot potato issue. But when a woman suggests that sexual harassment guidelines at a conference are a good idea and she is accused of destroying atheism and pushing other, more important subjects aside, this shows just how important the conversations are.

  159. rr says

    I am going to become a fucking Christian.

    Perfect: an all-about-me religion for an all-about-me kind of guy.

  160. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lookie, Noelplum thinks (*snort*) we are a post bigoted/sexist society. Without any evidence to back this up of course. What next, the sun will rise in the north based on his “word”?

  161. Pteryxx says

    With respect to some of these others, the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead.

    Except that’s not true. Women get disproportionate harassment and face chilly climates as soon as they enter any male-dominated field, whether or not they explicitly discuss it – see Ophelia’s cite from Haslanger above, and Ben Barres’ treatment before his transition, not to mention all the chilly climate research (yes research). Women have gotten online sexual harassment for blogging about cooking and needlepoint, for petes sake. (And for holding up a Carl Sagan book.) The harassers respond to women who speak out about harassment by intensifying the sex-based harassment that was already happening.

  162. Mr. Fire says

    the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead

    Does Michael Shermer get rape threats when he blogs about gender politics?

  163. says

    Ophelia @175

    Ohhhhhhhhhhh – well that’s all right then. As long as we’re being punished for a good reason there’s nothing more to be said.

    I never said that and i suspect you know that. There is no excuse for the level of hostility nor the vitriol.

    Have you considered the possibility that maybe women don’t want to get involved with skepticism/atheism is because a topic that many of them will find personally important and an essential to their identity as atheists will be dismissed as too much trouble to bother with?

    You have me there. I suppose if we are allowed to trump any concern we have as ‘essential to our identity as atheists’ then fair enough. But what about the libertarians you guys despise so much, or the hard line capitalists? They get shit all the time over here on FtB but perhaps they consider this ‘essential to their identity as atheists’? Are they not also allowed to tack on whatever the fuck they like to their atheism or have you self-appointed yourselves ‘Grand-Poobahs of of socio-political atheistic baggage’? Can Stalin, Nietzsche, Rand etc stick on what they like as well? This is the problem with non-dictionary atheism, it includes anything including things which are contradictory and/or mutually exclusive.

    Gilliel @178

    And funny how you could come up with exactly ONE guy who actually has similar levels of harassment and threats compared to all these women when actually there are more guys doing youtube than women.

    Thunderf00t, DawahFilms and TAA have all recieved huge levels of threats over the last few years. But please note: I am not saying two wrongs make a right or condoning any threats. Just saying that the threats are not usually related to traditional skeptic and atheistic discourse.

  164. carlie says

    the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead

    I would bet I speak for the vast majority of women that we would love to stop talking about gender politics and talk about other things instead. It’s just that every time we try to talk about other things, somebody goes and drops a shitload of sexism right in it and we have to stop everything and clean it up.

  165. says

    I haven’t threatened to rape any libertarians lately. I haven’t gone on a two-year-long rage on Twitter against capitalists. Not yet, at least. I despise libertarianism, but I haven’t yet announced that any discussion of economics or politics is antithetical to atheism.

    You continue to make invalid comparisons, guy. You also continue your habit of setting up false moral equivalencies.

  166. says

    Mr Fire @184

    Does Michael Shermer get rape threats when he blogs about gender politics?

    Jesus fucking christ, which one of you has the brain cell today?
    I am *assuming* that Shermer does not (though clearly by inadvertantly takling a half-step into the subject he has brought a welter of abuse his way from this corner of the internet, demonstratin, whether you like it or not, that this IS a hot potato). The point is that this discussion is not about ‘why don’t women blog about gender politics’ it is about ‘why don’t women blog about atheism/skepticism’ (assuming skepticism in the traditional sense not in the FtB version of ‘anything you damn well like as long as you are claiming to be thinking skeptically about it’).

    If you want to discuss ***instead*** ‘why don’t women blog about gender politics’ THEN this comment, and the myriad exactly like it above will both be entirely relevant AND I will AGREE with you!

  167. Anthony K says

    Ok, wife on way home so need to get the tea on or I will have proper drama to deal with!

    I wonder if Jim’s wife likes being portrayed this way as much as he likes portraying her this way.

    My partner and I have meals ready for each other when one or the other of us gets home all the time, but because we love each other, not because either one of us is a stock sitcom character.

    But please note: I am not saying two wrongs make a right

    But that’s exactly why you opened with cries of Hypocrite! and a tu quoque: your favourite game is false equivalency.

    The truth is that you actually don’t know what you’re saying, Jim.

  168. says

    Illuminata@150: I put noelplum99 in moderation sometime last year in hopes that I could screen what tedium he posted at my place from then on. Funny how the barrier of “must provide actual interesting argumentation” suddenly became so huge a hurdle for him that he has since refused to post at my blog any more.

    That, or he’s found that he can get more of a rise out of you folks here at Pharyngula. Probably because there’s more of you, thus statistically better chances of his contrafactual trolling getting a “hit”.

  169. says

    Does Michael Shermer get rape threats when he blogs about gender politics?

    No, he gets worse, he gets criticism

    Noelplum

    Thunderf00t, DawahFilms and TAA have all recieved huge levels of threats over the last few years. But please note: I am not saying two wrongs make a right or condoning any threats. Just saying that the threats are not usually related to traditional skeptic and atheistic discourse.

    Hey, so that’s FOUR, out of a sea of male Vloggers.
    What about the rape threats? Comments about them being “too ugly”, them being dismissed as “too emotional” “too hysterical”. Funny enough, I sometimes read youtube comments. They don’t seem to get anything near that level.
    Remember the latest Thunderfootinmouth about TYT? Where actually Ana herself rants about getting shit Cenk doesn’t get for actually saying pretty much the same. And let’s not forget that actually our very own male FtBloggers who are often in the middle of this with Stephanie, Ophelia, Zinnia, Jen and Greta and all the others confirmimg that although they get shit, they don’t get that shit
    So, stop your lying and whining claiming that actually there’s no gender issue here and that men just get the same as women for being outspoken on the internet.

  170. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Jesus fucking christ, which one of you has the brain cell today?

    Jim, please tell us about the abject misery of being the only intelligent person in a sandbox full of idiots.

  171. allegro says

    I suppose if we are allowed to trump any concern we have as ‘essential to our identity as atheists’ then fair enough. But what about the libertarians you guys despise so much, or the hard line capitalists? They get shit all the time over here on FtB but perhaps they consider this ‘essential to their identity as atheists’? Are they not also allowed to tack on whatever the fuck they like to their atheism or have you self-appointed yourselves ‘Grand-Poobahs of of socio-political atheistic baggage’? Can Stalin, Nietzsche, Rand etc stick on what they like as well? This is the problem with non-dictionary atheism, it includes anything including things which are contradictory and/or mutually exclusive.

    If one is speaking of atheist activism, then there is more by definition than just running around hollering “there are no gods!” because what’s the point? If one pursues activism it is to right what one perceives to be wrong, in this case, damage done by religion and the belief in a destructive system with the goal to change that system. Misogyny is ingrained in that system and has seriously damaging repercussions and therefore are quite worthy of activism within the atheist movement. It is far from contradictory or mutually exclusive.

  172. Ogvorbis says

    noelplum99:

    Could you please explain how a woman writing that a sexual harassment policy at a conference is a good idea and then being referred to using gendered insults shows that there is no sexism in the atheist community?

  173. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Echoing Illuminata- Why is noelplum still here? He is one of the most obnoxious and deliberately obtuse commenters in a long time. When he’s not actually being dense he feigns density and pretends he can’t understand reasonable, clearly articulated principles. It could not be more obvious that he’s never going to take any position but I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE IRRATIONAL CUZ REASONS.

    It’s gotten to the point where I fucking close the tab on threads he shows up in. He shits all over the place, he derails, he baits commenters, he spews outrageous and insulting shit about regulars at slyme-friendly locales.

    Why the fuck would I want to be here for that day after day?

  174. says

    PZ Myers @187

    I haven’t threatened to rape any libertarians lately. I haven’t gone on a two-year-long rage on Twitter against capitalists. Not yet, at least. I despise libertarianism, but I haven’t yet announced that any discussion of economics or politics is antithetical to atheism.

    Neither have you threatened to rape anyone over gender issues, so what exactly is your point here?

    Gender politics is not antithetical to atheism any more than it is antithetical to homebrewing. I never said it was.
    No-one is claiming (at least I hope noone is claiming) that you cannot be a feminist and an atheist simultaneously. If they did i would be boring them to tears instead of you. However, there is a difference between accepting that two views can be held simultaneously and saying they are intrinsically linked.

    This is getting a bit off-topic though. the point which led to this was simply my claim that the hostility experienced was as a result of discussing issues other than the ones in question. Maybe, as Laci Green was brough up, what we ought to ask is how many death threats she recieved when she ran her channel Gogreen18 back in the day when her YT interests lay solely in promoting atheism because THAT is what is relevant here, not ‘how many death threats does a woman receive when they run a sex advice YouTube channel?’

  175. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Neither have you threatened to rape anyone over gender issues, so what exactly is your point here?

    Josh, you are a fucking seer.

  176. says

    Ogvorbis @194

    Could you please explain how a woman writing that a sexual harassment policy at a conference is a good idea and then being referred to using gendered insults shows that there is no sexism in the atheist community?

    I think you must have meant to address that to someone else. i can’t recall at any stage , here or elsewhere, EVER saying there was no sexism in either the atheist community or any other community.

  177. Mr. Fire says

    I suppose if we are allowed to trump any concern we have as ‘essential to our identity as atheists’

    what concerns?

    They get shit all the time over here on FtB but perhaps they consider this ‘essential to their identity as atheists’?

    how is a libertarian getting shit all the time over here at FtB analogous to posting your own YT video and getting rape and/or death threats?

    Are they not also allowed to tack on whatever the fuck they like to their atheism or have you self-appointed yourselves ‘Grand-Poobahs of of socio-political atheistic baggage’?

    Why are you throwing poisonous strawmen down the well?

  178. says

    Neither have you threatened to rape anyone over gender issues, so what exactly is your point here?

    Look up.
    If you see something flying up there, it’s the point.
    I repeat it and I’ll type slowly:
    The point is that the rape threats only fly in one direction and that is towards outspoken women.
    But probably getting rape threats is more a girl-thing, as Shermer would explain us.

  179. says

    Jason @150

    Illuminata@150: I put noelplum99 in moderation sometime last year in hopes that I could screen what tedium he posted at my place from then on. Funny how the barrier of “must provide actual interesting argumentation” suddenly became so huge a hurdle for him that he has since refused to post at my blog any more.

    Ok, well if that is how you want to read it then go ahead. Personally speaking, I find it a little dispiriting to be two or three exchanges into a conversation then to suddenly find something you have spent 15 minutes typing out permanently held in moderation.
    I actually think, if the boot were on the other foot, you would feel the same way too.

    But there you go: you have made me make the thread ‘all about me’. Well fucking done.

    I will leave the thread now so as not to inflame poor old Josh any more, the sensitive little flower that he is.

  180. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Note to regulars and commenters of good faith: I will not talk to noelplum and I won’t participate in conversations revolving around him or even involving him. Frankly, it’s insulting to be asked to forbear his shit.

    I like talking to folks here but I don’t want anything to do with this asshole and I resent his taking up everyone else’s time with his shit. When he shows up, I’m out.

    Out.

  181. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I think you must have meant to address that to someone else. i can’t recall at any stage , here or elsewhere, EVER saying there was no sexism in either the atheist community or any other community.

    But you refuse to see it and acknowledge, the rape threats, the death threats, the silencing techniques. Hiding your head up your ass. Removing it only to spew irrational and contradictory words over everybody elses blog.

    Afraid to open your own, knowing nobody will come?

  182. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    When he’s not actually being dense he feigns density and pretends he can’t understand reasonable, clearly articulated principles. It could not be more obvious that he’s never going to take any position but I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE IRRATIONAL CUZ REASONS.

    This is one of my favorite examples. Greta explains her actions in the middle of the slymie fueled shoe bullshit. The trope of women being frivolous shoppers come us and im pops in to add this:

    Haha, this certainly isn’t my wife’s perspective!

    He gets called on it. And the intellectual titan that he is, he denies that that he is playing with sexist tropes, that his wife loves to shop and how fucking dare anyone of us question him on this.

    Jim is as disingenuous as they come.

    Jim, go back to the pit. They love you there.

  183. Barklikeadog says

    @carlie

    I would bet I speak for the vast majority of women that we would love to stop talking about gender politics and talk about other things instead. It’s just that every time we try to talk about other things, somebody goes and drops a shitload of sexism right in it and we have to stop everything and clean it up.

    I’m absolutly sure you’re right. What neoplum can’t seem to grasp is the fact that the sexist bullshit is over the top when any women starts to stand up an say anything at all. He is being fucking dense on purpose just to get some attention.

    @neolplum

    i would be boring them to tears instead of you

    And you aren’t doing this to all of us already? What a turd.

  184. says

    But probably getting rape threats is more a girl-thing, as Shermer would explain us.

    Yes, and if asked WHY rape threats is a gal thing rather than a guy thing, Shermer would no doubt enlighten us that the reason for this is that women receive more rape threats than men.

    That’s Skepticism™!

  185. Mr. Fire says

    The point is that this discussion is not about ‘why don’t women blog about gender politics’

    But you made it about that, noelplum.

    When women make posts on gender politics within the context of their skeptic blog, they often get rape threats.

    When Michael Shermer writes on gender politics within the context of his skeptic forum, he doesn’t get rape threats.

  186. Mr. Fire says

    The point is that the rape threats only fly in one direction and that is towards outspoken women.

    Gillel makes the point much more succintly than I can.

  187. Ogvorbis says

    Yes, noelplum, I obviously am totally clueless about what you have written and what you refuse to recognize. Because I thought that you had stated that sexism is not a problem worth dealing with within atheism and that the only time that women get rape threats and things like that is when they try to talk about sexism. My bad.

  188. says

    Shermer has the essay online now. I looked over his arguments, and this one in particular that was the point of controversy.

    “I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.”

    Even with the qualifier that he thinks the ratio is currently 50/50, he still adds that the people who want “to stand up and talk about” this and”who’s intellectually active about” are you know -guys. It is a form of the is/ought fallacy. The way things are are the way they ought to be.
    http://www.txstate.edu/philosophy/resources/fallacy-definitions/Is-ought.html
    I know Shermer is aware of this fallacy, because he posted to his blog yesterday about the Is/Ought fallacy in reference to science only investigating what is rather than what morally ought to be to argue for market economies.

  189. says

    I know Shermer is aware of this fallacy, because he posted to his blog yesterday about the Is/Ought fallacy in reference to science only investigating what is rather than what morally ought to be to argue for market economies.

    … which is hilarious since a variation of the is/ought fallacy is the basic of most of the “free” market libertarian nonsense that he holds to. For a self-proclaimed skeptic self-identified leader, Shermer is sort of a giant fail at being skeptical.

  190. says

    @Improbable Joe He is wrong on this, and becoming wrongerer the more he defends it. He is a pretty smart guy on most things.

    Funny that I noticed that at all. As a female, I am more intellectually active at times than I ought to be by some people’s reckoning.

    It’s too hard to resist having a poke.

  191. says

    I’m sure everyone has noticed that religions tend to certain things: a select small number of leaders at the top who enjoy privileges that their followers pay for and an expectation that they will be followed without question or criticism, a belief that they are the “chosen” ones who are inherently superior to outsiders, and lots of excuses to ignore if not actively participate in social and economic injustice because that’s “God’s will” and it is not their place to interfere with the natural order.

    On the other hand, skeptics have their leaders who they defend from any and all criticism, they spend most of their time congratulating each other on being smarter than people who believe in Bigfoot, and a whole huge number of them are libertarians who believe that if no one does anything to fix social and economic injustice things work out the way they should (with them on top, of course) because that’s the “invisible hand of the free market” and it is not their place to interfere with it.

    Clearly, there’s no similarity at all.

  192. says

    Ugh. Lilandra, I just read that, where he says:

    Question: What is the best form of governance for large modern human societies? Answer: a liberal democracy with a market economy. Evidence: liberal democracies with market economies are more prosperous, more peaceful, and fairer than any other form of governance tried.

    Now I’m wondering where the evidence for that conclusion is coming from. Is the US included in that data set? Because we’ve got a raging market economy, all right, but we’ve also got extreme inequities, poverty, and a rather warlike reputation in the world. It seems to me that liberal democracies with limited market economies and a solid social safety net are more prosperous, more peaceful, and fairer than what we’ve got.

  193. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Ok, wife on way home so need to get the tea on or I will have proper drama to deal with!

    what a castrating bitch! poor you!

    Does he have naughty pix of someone or something? is that it?

  194. says

    Good to know I haven’t missed much in the year I’ve spent away from this blog. I consider myself a feminist. Equal represnetation? Hell yeah. Equal pay? You bet’cha. I’m supportive of anything that women want for themselves in terms of equality, safety, respect, freedom etc. etc. etc.

    But jesus fuck, all this white knight bullshit is getting old.

  195. Barklikeadog says

    @justinfloyd

    But jesus fuck, all this white knight bullshit is getting old.

    What are you saying? That the regular commenters here are whitknighting or what? Maybe I don’t get your point.

  196. says

    It seems to me that liberal democracies with limited market economies and a solid social safety net are more prosperous, more peaceful, and fairer than what we’ve got.

    Not only that, but our wonderful economies thrive on the backs of the poor countries we exploit.
    Sorry for the derail, PZ started it.

  197. John Morales says

    [meta]

    justinfloyd and others: don’t care about the topic of a post here?

    Tired of having to read stuff you don’t like to read?

    Despair not: There is a solution!

    ;)

  198. Hekuni Cat, MQG says

    Caine:

    Right, feminism = whiteknighting. Perhaps in your ‘verse, Cupcake, but not this one.

  199. says

    With respect to some of these others, the hate that they have generated is not because they have ‘stepped into the holy masculine grounds of skepticism’ it is because they spend most of their time talking about gender politics instead.

    yeah no, that’s crap. while a few people have always written about both atheism/skepticism and gender issues, two of the favorite targets of the sexist trolls, Rebecca Watson and Jen McCreight, did not. For a very long time, they didn’t write about gender issues, and in Watson’s case she was even for the longest time a so-called chill girl.
    And then they started writing more and more about gender as relevant to atheism/skepticism. because they were being harassed and treated like shit.

    IOW, you’ve got your causality backwards here.

    and since lilandra conveniently provided the quote from Shermer, I’m going to quickly point out again how your stupid-ass muslim analogy fails (emphasis mine):

    I think it probably really is fifty-fifty. It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.

    versus

    If you asked a muslim leader why there are so few white Imams he would doubtless tell you that it is because there are not many white muslims in the first place.

    - – - – - -

    But jesus fuck, all this white knight bullshit is getting old.

    because there are only white knighting men on pharyngula, not women wanting things for themselves. amirite?

  200. says

    Jadehawk:

    because there are only white knighting men on pharyngula, not women wanting things for themselves. amirite?

    Well, according to certain people on Ophelia’s thread, yeah, Alexa proves more men read Pharyngula and FTB, so that totally proves Shermer was right! Yep.

  201. says

    Oh. Sorry it is linked in the OP. I was thinking of the Bensen’s article which was a reading of the magazine article. Never mind.

  202. says

    It is too tempting to pick apart his logic in this piece. The premise of the concluding paragraph is flawed.

    To conclude on a positive note, if the worst offense against women in secularism today is a ten-second quip taken out of context and redacted to the two-second line “it’s a guy thing” (which in any case was not meant to be sexist) then I would count that as evidence of significant moral progress deserving of celebration, not vilification.

    It is a fallacy of composition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_composition
    His “offence” of a poorly worded 10 second comment is one of many others in the community of varying degrees of seriousness many worse than that. You couldn’t reduce all of the “offences” against women in secularism today to this comment being the worst of them. Therefore it can’t be the worst offence and therefore a sign of “significant moral progress”.

  203. says

    if the worst offense against women in secularism today is a ten-second quip

    brilliont reasoning, this. because of course since someone noted it, it must be “the worst”, because no one ever mentions mistakes and problems if they’re not “the worst”

  204. says

    The premise of the concluding paragraph is flawed.

    Well, yes. It is also amazingly hypocritical. On the one hand, women should appreciate having it so good because he’s only a little bit of a sexist asshole. On the other hand, relatively mild criticism directed at him (“sexist asshole” being pretty much the pinnacle, and only after he doubled-down) is a witch-hunt and like the Nazis rounding people up, and as a rich white guy Shermer is so very oppressed. Sticking a “stop being so thin-skinned, things are pretty good for you” at the end of a “I’m the most victimized victim ever” whine is maybe the most ridiculous part of the whole thing.

  205. says

    IJoe:

    Sticking a “stop being so thin-skinned, things are pretty good for you” at the end of a “I’m the most victimized victim ever” whine is maybe the most ridiculous part of the whole thing.

    Every time I see this particular bit of stupidity, I’m reminded of a certain person who commented here, telling women they should stop being paranoid and be cheerful, because the possibility of being raped was like Russian Roulette – hey, it’s not like you’re going to be raped every day, so things are pretty good, right?

  206. says

    What bothers me even more than the delusions of infallibility shown by some of the skeptic/atheist major book sellers(I refuse to call them “leaders”, sorry), are the cries of what to them amounts to “blasphemy”, by those who argue that the movement as a whole will get tarnished/damaged/devalued if anyone dares to employ rational thinking or skepticism against those perceived leaders.

    As to Shermer’s hyperbole, I’m a little bit speechless. Someone’s insecure.

  207. erikthebassist says

    Until the “it’s a guy thing” comment, I was slightly proud of a picture Shermer, John Shook and myself having dinner, from the 2010 Free Thought Alliance Conference in Orange County. PZ, you and Ashley Miller were tagged in the same photo but were way down at the other end of the table.

    I think I’ll be taking that photo off my FB profile now. I thought he was a bit of an arse at that dinner, this just confirms it.

  208. Arren ›‹ idée fixe oblique says

    RE: “white-knighting”

    This has become a stock phrase, a meaningless mantra grasped at by those who can’t be troubled to think about this issue at all — and who get bent out of shape that their spheres* of obliviousness have been tainted by the icky, icky.

    It’s a telling canard: it at once entirely dismisses the presence of women in the debate while attempting to frame male feminists’ participation as pandering. It’s a know-nothing dogwhistle, the employ of which has become a reliable indicator of lackluster thinking. It’s the epithet of first resort for stunted man-children who can’t conceive of anyone else having principles that aren’t feigned in the pursuit of getting laid.

    * Be they atheism, or gaming, or…

  209. says

    rorschach

    You should pop on over to Ophelia’s blog. There’s someone literally making the “Shermer is an important person, so SHUT UP!” argument over there.

  210. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Heh. The slymies are constantly accusing PZ of white knighting.

    Funny because if PZ were really white knighting; Chris Rodda, Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Ophelia Benson, Jen McCreight, Dana Hunter, Kylie Sturgess, Maryam Namazie, Natalie Reed, Zinnia Jones, Ashley Miller, Cristina Rad, and Miriam would have no reason to speak. PZ would do it for all of them.

    But, as it stands, some of these women have cut back on blog because the push back against them has been very intense.

  211. mildlymagnificent says

    Honestly, this really is a bit sickening.

    The only problem Shermer had is that he said something unacceptable without thinking. It wasn’t even crude or insulting or obvious in any other way. I can let the whole world in on my guilty secret now. I’ve been involved in feminist stuff for 40 years – and I slip up on this sort of thing every now and again. Not often, but it happens.

    We are now being treated to whole essays based entirely on the thesis that he doesn’t want to say “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

    And I think that’s why the Nazi, witch-hunt, McCarthyism accusations are so thick on the ground. What he’s really defending is a nearly trivial failure of courtesy – if he’d fessed up then and there, no-one would even have noticed it much. He’s now put himself in a hopeless position and the only form of defence available is to combine distraction and overkill. He’s signifying his willingness to die on a hill that’s not even a hill.

  212. says

    You should pop on over to Ophelia’s blog. There’s someone literally making the “Shermer is an important person, so SHUT UP!” argument over there.

    You know, I’ve gone through brief moments when I thought, “The hell with it. It’s a secondary cause.” But my hackles are up and dammit it’s our movement, too. They can’t have it.

    Grasp the direction of history or become a relic, Shermer.

  213. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    see my above comment. No it is not a fujcking matter of manners. His point was odious and offensive.

  214. says

    But jesus fuck, all this white knight bullshit is getting old.

    because there are only white knighting men on pharyngula, not women wanting things for themselves. amirite?

    But the women are only witch-hunting inquisitors that don’t want to stand up and talk about it, which is clearly a contradiction, which means that they don’t actually exist, which means that they can be ignored.

    (/sarcasm)

  215. says

    Janine:

    I think that the anti-feminists have adopted “white knighting” to mean almost the same thing as what bigots mean when they use the phrase “politically correct”: it means being a decent, non-bigoted human being with a basic code of ethics. Of course, for libertarians who follow a code that I’d call “sociopathic” the idea that a man would treat a woman with respect means that he’s either a “pussy” or he’s trying to get laid, so they call it “white knighting” and look down on it.

  216. says

    Is this white knighting meme some sort of projection? It seems much more like the manipulative behaviour I would expect from “nice” guys and anti-feminists, perhaps pick-up artist types, the very people making these accusations.

    I have a girlfriend, I know lots of awesome women. What possible reason would I have to be a white knight online? Hell, if anything my girlfriend is tired of my online activities as I enjoy arguing online a lot more than she does.

  217. ~G~ says

    The part of this essay that stood out to me was

    Less than a century ago, women were not even allowed to vote. Less than half a century ago, women were blatantly discriminated against in the workplace. As I mentioned, a quarter-century ago, the secular, atheist, and skeptical movements scarcely included any women. Today, even as a plethora of women openly, freely participate in—or lead—secular organizations, much ink and emotion are spilled over trivial slips of the tongue that allegedly reveal hidden biases and unconscious prejudices.

    It sounds as if women should stop pointing out modern day sexism hidden in plain view and be happy we aren’t forced to be barefoot and pregnant.

    Person X: Constantly pointing out how “articulate” Colin Powell is reflects unconscious racism and is offensive.
    Person Y: People alive today, including your parents and grandparents can clearly remember Jim Crow laws and lynchings. Now black people can travel and dine and take the bus freely in the South without worry. And they have the nerve to get upset over someone calling Colin Powell “articulate”? Quit your complaining and be happy you don’t have to sit at the back of the bus.

  218. says

    It’s quite funny that Shermer boasts about how women openly, freely participate in—or lead—secular organizations while he himself is busily engaged in kicking the shit out of one woman who openly, freely participates, because she had the unmitigated temerity to criticise something he said. “Welcome, laydeez! Come right in! We’re glad to have you in our Movement. Please feel right at home. Hey! You! How dare you write words that claim I said something that was a sexist stereotype?! You miserable stinking Nazi witch-hunting McCarthyist inquisitor!!”

    You can’t do both, Mr Shermer.

  219. John Morales says

    Ophelia, you’re the wrong kind of woman for secular organisations!

    (Do I need the obligatory sarcasm flag?)

  220. says

    Ophelia:

    It’s quite funny that Shermer boasts about how women openly, freely participate in—or lead—secular organizations while he himself is busily engaged in kicking the shit out of one woman who openly, freely participates, because she had the unmitigated temerity to criticise something he said.

    Naturally, Ophelia. It’s all your fault for not being a proper type of woman – you dared to criticise a man! Gad, buildings will fall, and it will all be on you.

  221. Skeptic Dude says

    “Shrmr sn’t bng prgd t ll. H’s bng lft bhnd”.

    Hy PZ Gt-Trs, g FCK yrslf, y wrthlss pnsy ss pthtc ft sck f dg-sht.

    W’ll s wh gts “lft bhnd”, btch.

    Hv fn wth th fcktrd ch chmbr.

    [Bye, slymepit dude!]

  222. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, when I was accused of “whiteknighting” I was defending a decision of the Obama administration, with Real Politick versus Ideal Politick. I feel that means those defending MS are are ones doing the “whiteknighting”, not those accusing him of misogyny. The MRA brigade always tries to reverse the definitions to make them, the raving sexists, sound good. Fuck their idiocy and lack of taking responsibility for what they say…

  223. maddog1129 says

    Shermer says:

    Today, even as a plethora of women openly, freely participate in—or lead—secular organizations, much ink and emotion are spilled over trivial slips of the tongue that allegedly reveal hidden biases and unconscious prejudices.

    If it was really a “slip of the tongue,” then he didn’t mean the import of it, and he could have just said so and apologized. Why didn’t he?

    If it really was “trivial,” then it shouldn’t have been a big deal to say, “oops, that was unconscious bias showing, see how I prove my own research,” and that would have been that. I have no idea what would have been so hard about taking back the “it’s a guy thing” remark.

  224. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Skeptic Dude* wrote:

    Have fun with the fucktard echo chamber.

    Another genius who doesn’t realise that we don’t give a fuck if we’re separated from the asshole contingent of the atheist community.

    *Once again supporting the theory that a large proportion of those who use the term ‘skeptic’ in their nym do so because they’re desperately afraid no-one will know from what they actually write. And it’s certainly the case with this particular waste of carbon.

  225. Gregory Greenwood says

    Now, listen to me, Skeptic Dude, can you hear me? Focus now – you have overdosed on MRA talking points, and now you are having a testerical fit. Just try to breathe slowly and deeply, and actually read other people’s comments for comprehension. The mockery is here for your own good; we are trying to stop you making too much more of a fool of yourself in the future…

    Skeptic Dude? Skeptic Dude?

    Damn it! We’re losing him! He is in second stage ‘What about teh Menz?’, and is presenting symptoms of advanced MRA arsehattery. Nurse! We have an acute case of AVoiceforMen poisoning here. Get me 10cc’s of mixed rationality and social awareness, stat!

    Don’t you dare quit on me, Skeptic Dude!

  226. jeffret says

    Didn’t Pharyngula attract higher quality trolls in the past? #251 is so pathetic, there is nothing worth responding to.

    I haven’t been reading here for long enough to comment on the quality of past trolls. But, I’ve been phenomenally amazed at the utter inability of the current detractors to understand the barest essentials of presenting an argument and supplying evidence. I realize they don’t have either an argument or evidence, but can’t they at least try, before spouting off interminably? I’d have thought skeptics, rationalists, and freethinkers would’ve tried thinking.

  227. says

    I feel like the trolls and idiots used to be of higher quality, I remember enjoying it a lot more at least. But that could just be me looking back with rose coloured glasses. I also miss the variety of silly people. I do not see religious folk or creationists in the threads as often.

  228. Lofty says

    Septic Dood, that’s weapons grade septic thinking there. I don’t wish to associate with people as stupid as you. Here is muuuch better!

  229. says

    Hey PZ Gut-Tires, go FUCK yourself, you worthless pansy ass pathetic fat sack of dog-shit. We’ll see who gets “left behind”, bitch.

    Yeah, thanks for pulling off the mask and showing us all how you MRAs really “think.” Now go back to bed.

  230. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Benson

    Don’t feel bad. Its not cause you’re a woman. Its because you’re a heratic who correct his emmenence

  231. mildlymagnificent says

    I feel like the trolls and idiots used to be of higher quality, I remember enjoying it a lot more at least.

    Well I vaguely recall getting right into it with the fools 40ish years ago, but that was face to face. I don’t recall seeing anything of much argue value since looking around blogs the last few years. I occasionally respond to some I see now. By and large, I suspect you, like the rest of us, are doomed to being bored beyond belief by tired old arguments for the rest of your life. But ….

    We all have to keep as sharp as we can. I didn’t actually drop any feminist ball but I did allow myself to think we were doing well in a way that was more or less self-sustaining. I was wrong. We have to keep on keeping on, no matter how tedious it might be. Fortunately, there are plenty of friends to be found along the way.

  232. Rodney Nelson says

    The trouble with trolls is they’re subject to Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.” Even the more articulate trolls like noeljim99 are basically crap.

  233. says

    @ funknjunk

    it seems the kind of mentoring men/boys will most likely see is on how to be a PUA and so forth…. and the milestones likely to be seen are equally repulsive.

    And this same in the atheist/skeptical movement. There are a lot of atheist blogs and websites hell bent on pushing this dastardly agenda. Toxic mentoring indeed. :’(

    @ noelplum99

    Don’t misunderstand me.

    Then start making sense. (Hey, if you really don’t get it, shut up and lurk moar.)

    [Bye, slymepit dude!]

    Aaaaw… too soon. I was going to ask teh skeptic dude if xe speaks to people like that in RL public. Guess I’ll never know now.

  234. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Theophontes

    Out of curiosity, why did you want to know that?

  235. says

    @ Ing

    I find these guys (usually male) tend to use very extreme language, particularly sexist slurs online. I was wondering how much of a mediating effect the physical presence of other people has on their behaviour. My guess is that generally they would restrict (ie: self-censor their”freeze peaches”) this kind of language if they are out and about amongst other people in a RL public setting.

  236. says

    Theophontes:

    My guess is that generally they would restrict (ie: self-censor their”freeze peaches”) this kind of language if they are out and about amongst other people in a RL public setting.

    Or…they don’t and get punched a lot.

  237. thetalkingstove says

    I’d have thought skeptics, rationalists, and freethinkers would’ve tried thinking.

    It’s painful, isn’t it. But these people aren’t really interested in thinking. Or at least, they’ve done the thinking that enabled them to work out that there probably aren’t any gods, or that homeopathy is nonsense, and they’ve been ever so pleased with themselves and grabbed onto the label of ‘skeptic’ and…not really gotten any further. For them, ‘rationalism’ is having fun ridiculing creationists and quacks; it’s a tool to turn onto other people, not for analysing their own assumptions and beliefs.

  238. thetalkingstove says

    Good to know I haven’t missed much in the year I’ve spent away from this blog. I consider myself a feminist. Equal represnetation? Hell yeah. Equal pay? You bet’cha. I’m supportive of anything that women want for themselves in terms of equality, safety, respect, freedom etc. etc. etc.

    But jesus fuck, all this white knight bullshit is getting old.

    So essentially: “I want to be able to state my support and then not have to think or hear anything further!”

    You know movements progress by fighting the small battles? Women aren’t going to gain equality by you or anyone else simply saying ‘I’m a feminist’, as if this is some magical ‘misogyny-be-gone’ spray.

    Sexism has to be tackled, over and over and over. Sorry you find this so boring, you feminist you.

  239. plutosdad says


    134
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle wrote
    or sausage fest, even.

    It’s ok, when you wrote “sasage” you were just using your Chicago accent. :)

  240. says

    @ Caine

    Or…they don’t and get punched a lot.

    A common response I have had when arguing against this ilk is that teh interwebz somehow doesn’t actually harm people. That this gives MRA’s and the like carte blanche to say whatever it is they wish. What they wish, as far as I have ever seen, is a platform to spew their misogynist bile to the world. Naught else. Their own arguments would seem to indicate that in RL they will show more restraint. To me, this merely indicates how vapid their prior argument is.

    About a year ago I went to a South African get-together in Hong Kong. It was a chance to meet new people from the Motherland and perhaps “gooi die taal” a little. Just as we started getting into the swing of things, a group of angry white men started chirping up about some issue with a long string of misogynistic slurs. We all got up and walked out. I have avoided them since, in part because I am still tempted to punch their clocks.

    So yes, I guess this shit does come out in RL if fuelled by liquid courage and a (false, even) feeling that they are amongst their own.

  241. says

    Theophontes:

    So yes, I guess this shit does come out in RL if fuelled by liquid courage and a (false, even) feeling that they are amongst their own.

    Yes, unfortunately it does. It’s all too common, here in the States, to hear men call other men bitch, in an attempt to put that person into their “place” or assert their own sense of masculinity.

  242. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    It’s ok, when you wrote “sasage” you were just using your Chicago accent. :)

    LOL damnit! outed myself!

  243. samharris says

    “But see, this is why the atheist movement can’t have leaders. The ones we’ve got, informally, all seem to think they’re like gods and popes, infallible and unquestionable, and that normal, healthy, productive criticism within the movement is all a conspiracy to dethrone them.”

    I couldn’t agree more….

  244. says

    “First of all, Benson shortened the quote. What I prefaced the above with is: “I think it probably really is 50/50.” Benson also left out my follow up comment moments later that at the 2012 TAM (The Amazing Meeting) conference of skeptics and atheists, there were more women speakers than men speakers. I misspoke slightly. According to D. J. Grothe, the TAM organizer, there were an equal number of men and women speakers (the roster on the web page is incorrect) until, ironically, Ophelia Benson herself dropped out. As for the sex ratio of attendees, there were 40% women in 2011 and 31% in 2012, the shift, Grothe speculated online, possibly due to some of these very same secular feminists irresponsibly blogging about how skeptic or atheist events were not safe for women.”

    Why did you completely ignore this section PZ?

    “In any case, please read my answer again. Where do I say or even imply that women are, in Benson’s characterization of what I said, “too stupid to do nontheism” or that “unbelieving in God is thinky work and women don’t do thinky?” Clearly that is not what I said, as punctuated by my preface that I believe the actual sex ratio is 50/50. And for the record I don’t believe for a moment that women are not smart enough to do nonbelief thinking, or any other type of cognition for that matter.”

    Or that part? It seems as you are dishonestly representing his defense here in the blog.

  245. says

    I’m not surprised by Shermer’s lack of self-awareness. Some months ago in Skeptic’s Scientology issue he repeated a story told by Harlan Ellison about Harlan being present at a conversation between science fiction writers in the late 1940s, during which L. Ron Hubbard supposedly pitched Dianetics as a science fiction story, and was told he should market it as self-help non-fiction instead. This is a well known tale in science fiction circles, and probably an urban legend, but more important for purposes of this comment, Harlan would have been 15 years old when this conversation took place in his presence, and was living in a different city. A simple fact check in Wikipedia would have revealed this. I emailed Shermer to let him know he’d published an urban legend as fact, and in response, he said — in effect — he didn’t think it was necessary to check Harlan’s story since he was simply repeating the story as told to him. So much for the skeptical mind. (By the way, I’m not a Scientologist and believe the whole Scientology effort is a scam and pure hogwash.)

  246. says

    Where do I say or even imply that women are, in Benson’s characterization of what I said, “too stupid to do nontheism” or that “unbelieving in God is thinky work and women don’t do thinky?”

    Well, see, that’s the thing. He definitely did imply that. And since then, he’s been vacillating between denying that it’s possible to read his words that way (regardless of intent) and justifying having made the remark.

  247. ~G~ says

    #279- I am having a hard time understanding why the comments before and after what Ophelia quoted should give a more charitable interpretation. If anything it makes it worse. He says before and after he thinks there is no gender difference in who is attending conferences and giving lectures. So why does he need to include the part in the middle that Ophelia quoted? It seems inconsistent.
    ***

    I read Ophelia’s first mention of this video back in August. It went largely unnoticed at the time. I heard it and was disappointed with him. I frankly didn’t lose any sleep over it, it was the typical, prosaic commonplace sexist remark that many people make with no bad intentions because they don’t take the time to think about it. (But these are the most harmful kind because they are so ingrained and insidious.) I hoped he’d maybe respond with a simple acknowledgement and a, “Whoops, my bad, that does sound shitty. I’m sorry. I fully support encouraging women at these events so let’s talk about ideas.”

    Instead of acknowledging that reasonable people could have found offense and admitting to it, he did the unskeptical*, uncourageous thing and got defensive and ended up spending hundreds of words saying things way more offensive than the original quote.

    “Whoops, my bad, that does sound shitty. I’m sorry. I fully support encouraging women at these events so let’s talk about ideas.” would have taken up much less time, been more constructive and garnered a hell of a lot of respect from people who value actual integrity and not just irrational defensiveness of one’s honor.

    *unskeptical in that I think true skepticism requires humility and at least as much time questioning one’s self as doubting others. Anyone can point out how other people are wrong. It takes strength and discipline to find one’s own mistakes and own up to them.

  248. maddog1129 says

    @ chigau #280

    blockquoting is easy

    How did you do the description WITHOUT it blockquoting?

  249. maddog1129 says

    @ Kevin Coleman #279

    Quoting Shermer:

    “First of all, Benson shortened the quote. What I prefaced the above with is: “I think it probably really is 50/50.” Benson also left out my follow up comment moments later that at the 2012 TAM (The Amazing Meeting) conference of skeptics and atheists, there were more women speakers than men speakers. I misspoke slightly. According to D. J. Grothe, the TAM organizer, there were an equal number of men and women speakers (the roster on the web page is incorrect) until, ironically, Ophelia Benson herself dropped out. As for the sex ratio of attendees, there were 40% women in 2011 and 31% in 2012, the shift, Grothe speculated online, possibly due to some of these very same secular feminists irresponsibly blogging about how skeptic or atheist events were not safe for women.”

    Why did you completely ignore this section PZ?

    I wonder why Shermer is repeating, uncritically, DJ Grothe’s “speculation” that the decrease in women’s attendance at TAM 2012 was “due to some of these very same secular feminists irresponsibly blogging about how skeptic or atheist events were not safe for women.” Grothe was all wet to speculate that, when (1) there were plenty of other reasons why enrollment might have declined (the economy still sucks, for one, proliferation and popularity of events, for another, which might have had the effect of spreading women’s attendance among more different events rather than focusing on TAM), and (2) that “speculation” is itself a mischaracterization of what women were saying. I didn’t remember reading people as saying that events were generally
    unsafe for women. Rather, they said that EVEN at events that are largely better than society as a whole, there were still some uncomfortable incidents that happened to women. Grothe denied that there had ever been any at TAM, and that was proven wrong, as at least one person said that they had experienced harassment, made a complaint, and the TAM people handled it just fine. Plus, there had been an anti-harassment policy at the previous year’s TAM, just as you would expect a progressive community to do. So there was nothing “irresponsible” in the blogging that had been done about women’s experiences of harassment at conferences, and NO ONE was saying it had driven anyone away. If anything, people were prepared to, and evidently did, believe that things generally at atheist / skeptic conferences were better than average, but there could still be room for improvement. But then the whole “Elevatorgate” thing blew up into obsessive harassment of Rebecca Watson, and people responded to that, asking whether TAM would again implement its non-harassment policy, to avoid the blow-up spilling over into other events. For some reason, TAM officials refused to confirm that the policy would be renewed for the 2012 TAM. Another person received what they perceived to be a possible threat that they would be harassed at the upcoming TAM, and for some reason, TAM officials did not provide reassurance that the person threatening harassment would be dealt with. That ONE person then said that, in the absence of reassurances, SHE didn’t feel safe about coming to TAM, and withdrew. There is nothing “irresponsible” about that.

    So, Shermer’s “follow up comment,” which essentially uncritically repeated DJ Grothe’s unwarranted “speculation,” that blamed women for the drop in enrollment at ONE particular conference, does nothing to show that he fully supports women’s equality in the skeptical /atheist community, rather than unfairly blaming women for their lack of participation.

  250. chigau (無味ない) says

    maddog1129

    How did you do the description WITHOUT it blockquoting?

    thusly
    & lt ; blockquote & gt ; quoted text & lt ; /blockquote & gt ;
    get rid of the spaces
    <blockquote>quoted text</blockquote>

  251. douglasshaver says

    “The fact that there might be societal pressures in a given direction causing such a skew (based on race or sex) is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed Shermer’s mind. Despite a large number of people having pointed it out to him.”

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

  252. thumper1990 says

    @douglasshaver

    Allow me to spell this out for you:

    Societal pressures= supported by logic and empirical evidence
    God’s existence= illogical and completely unsupported by any empirical evidence, ever

    Don’t thank me, I’m happy to help.

  253. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

    What you fail to recognize is the planting of presuppositions into the minds of young children so be become believers due to societal pressures of the adults where they live. All your alleged “evidence” for god falls away when those presuppositions are examined, and everything based on them is tossed out, as it should be. Then atheists and skeptics look at what is left, which needs to be conclusive physical evidence. Evidence that will pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers, as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin. Essentially the equivalent of an eternally burning bush. With the right bar in place, and societal presuppositions ignored, there is no evidence for god. It is imaginary, existing only as a delusion between your ears.

  254. Ogvorbis says

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

    (I am assuming that you are not just a drive-by and will actually try to engage here (damn, what a gullible breed I am))

    If the fact of gods’ existence is blindingly obvious, can you actually, y’know, point to any evidence at all for the existence of any gods at any point in history or prehistory? Just one little tiny shred of evidence, actual repeatable observable measurable evidence, would increase the amount of evidence for the existence of gods by an infinite amount. So where is this evidence? Please point to it. Cite it. Allow it to be measured and observed. Please?

  255. says

    “The fact that there might be societal pressures in a given direction causing such a skew (based on race or sex) many more gigatons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than has been there in over 100 million years is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed Shermer’s mind. Despite a large number of people having pointed it out to him.”

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

    Still want to pretend that that was an effective rebuttal? You’re just engaged in sociology denialism.

  256. blf says

    The Great Magic Sky Faeries must be blindingly obvious. If they were not so blindingly obvious, you’d be able to see them.

    So, since we can’t see them, we’re just stuck with smelling them.
    And touching them.
    And, if coated in cheese or MUSHROOMS! — perhaps with some garlic — tasting them. (Fortunately, they don’t taste like peas.)

  257. throwaway, promised freezed peach, all we got was the pit says

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

    Bold: if it’s blindingly obvious, it should be exceedingly simple to show your work.

    Also, imagine me stifling a guffaw as you were typing the above quote.

  258. la tricoteuse says

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

    Oh. Oh dear. Sweetie, I really think someone forgot to tell you that “blindingly obvious” is not, in fact, a synonym for “but I believes it real real hard so it gots to be true!”

  259. vaiyt says

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind, despite a large number of believers having pointed it out to them.

    A large number of atheists used to be believers.

  260. glodson says

    A large number of atheists used to be believers.

    The rise of the Nones must be linked to the increase in Laser Eye Surgery. It helps us get past all that theistic blindness.

  261. says

    glodson may be on to something here. Lemme try it out:
     

    Just as apparently, the fact that Lasik’s existence is blindingly obvious to any farsighted person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any myopic’s mind, despite a large number of optometrists having pointed it out to them.

    Why yes, it does make more sense that way!

  262. douglasshaver says

    @thumper1990

    Allow me to spell this out for you:
    Societal pressures= supported by logic and empirical evidence

    You say so. But, so does everyone else. Ever watch a Christian apologist debating an atheist about the resurrection?

    Obviously, not everyone who claims the support of logic and evidence can be right, but my point is that they’re not your side just because you say they are.

  263. douglasshaver says

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    What you fail to recognize is the planting of presuppositions into the minds of young children so be become believers due to societal pressures of the adults where they live.

    I think I’m doing OK with recognizing presuppositions. I see that we don’t get them only as young children, and not only from our parents and teachers.

  264. douglasshaver says

    Sorry about the formatting error in the previous. I’ve been online for many years, but I’m new to the blogosphere.

  265. douglasshaver says

    @Ogvorbis

    (I am assuming that you are not just a drive-by and will actually try to engage here (damn, what a gullible breed I am))

    I haven’t seen enough to assess your gullibility yet, but I’m no seagull. I hope to stick around for a while. My presence for the next few days might be erratic, though, because my computer is very sick. A new one is on its way, but this one might not last until it gets here.

  266. douglasshaver says

    @SallyStrange

    Still want to pretend that that was an effective rebuttal?

    It wasn’t meant to be. It was meant just to get a conversation started.

  267. douglasshaver says

    @vaiyt

    A large number of atheists used to be believers.

    I know. I’m one of them. I think that might be why so much of what I hear from the A+ crowd has such a familiar ring.

  268. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What do you want to talk about? So far, I see nothing coherent.

  269. douglasshaver says

    What do you want to talk about? So far, I see nothing coherent.

    And I see nothing coherent in anything you have said.

    Now what we have gotten the exchange of insults out of the way, I would like to discuss the proposition that if women constitute significantly less than half of the speakers at skeptical conventions, then we critical thinkers cannot accept any explanatory hypothesis except social and institutional sexism. I don’t believe that all alternative hypotheses have been ruled out except by PC fiat.

  270. Ulysses says

    douglasshaver @310

    So what are these alternative hypotheses? If you reject the social and institutional sexism hypothesis then you must (a) give reasons for your rejection, (b) provide other hypotheses, and (c) show evidence why your hypotheses are to be preferred to the rejected hypothesis. Or we can go back to insulting you for being a fuckwit just trying to stir the pot.

  271. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t believe that all alternative hypotheses have been ruled out except by PC fiat.

    Another incoherent person telling us to discuss something. Here’s how you do this. You say “this is what I believe, and this is the (link) evidence to back that up”. Then there is something concrete to discuss. Nobody in their right minds just say “discuss because I say so”.

  272. vaiyt says

    I don’t believe that all alternative hypotheses have been ruled out except by PC fiat.

    WHICH alternative hypotheses? Spell it out, dipshit, and show us the evidence. Are you afraid of your own views?

  273. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Douglass Haver.

    One of the things we’ve learned from science over the past few centuries is that the explanations we choose matter. Some explanations open the door to greater understanding, while some simply close down curiosity. It is akin to having a candy bar before dinner–you won’t have room for all those yummy brussels sprouts.

    What science has taught us is that the criterion we should be looking at is the predictive power of an explanation, rather than its ability to explain each and every detail previously observed. We have further learned that the simplest explanation–in terms of all the adjustable parameters it entails–that explains adequately the data is most likely to be most predictive.

    So stop to think what is entailed by your favored explanation: “Women are just like that.”

    It cuts off further enquiry, and furthermore, you have to come up with an independent explanation of why women are “like that” for every trait where there is a difference. It leads nowhere. It stultifies your curiosity. It is a just-so story, not a scientific explanation.

    On the other hand, we know cultural forces are at work, that they have profound effects on minority and excluded groups, and it suggests avenues for making things better–predictions. Science works. Try it.

  274. douglasshaver says

    So what are these alternative hypotheses?

    One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.

    If you reject the social and institutional sexism hypothesis then you must (a) give reasons for your rejection . . . .

    I did not say I reject it, and I do not reject it.

    (b) provide other hypotheses

    I was questioning the assumption that there cannot be any other hypotheses. If you affirm that assumption, then burden of proof is on you.

    and (c) show evidence why your hypotheses are to be preferred

    I will do that when I am ready to claim that it is to be preferred. At this point I am saying no more than that it has not been ruled out.

  275. douglasshaver says

    So stop to think what is entailed by your favored explanation: “Women are just like that.”

    You are assuming something without evidence. I have said nothing to indicate that that is my favored explanation.

  276. Ogvorbis says

    douglasshaver:

    I have said nothing to indicate that that is my favored explanation.

    Do you read what you write? This:

    One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.

    says that you think that women are just like that and nothing can be done so we should just accept patriarchy in all situations, including atheism.

  277. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.

    Where is your evidence? “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”. Christopher Hitchens.

    At this point I am saying no more than that it has not been ruled out.

    It doesn’t have to be ruled out. You have to prove it exists. The burden of evidence is upon you. Welcome to science.

    You are assuming something without evidence.

    No, that is you. Your idea doesn’t have to be considered if you can’t evidence it.

  278. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Douglass Haver: “One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.”

    Douglass Haver: “One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.”

    Dude, if even you can’t understand what you say, what kind of hope does that give us?

    Is it your contention that having functioning mammary glands or ovaries rather that testes affects women’s skepticism?

  279. Ulysses says

    You can’t just say you think there are other hypotheses. You have to give examples of these hypotheses and give reasons why they should be considered. I think the Moon is made of cheese, Wensleydale to be precise, and if you don’t won’t consider this hypothesis then you’re a big poopyhead! That’s the same level as your ” there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.” You need to give examples of these non-anatomical differences and support those examples with the thing that’s been missing from all of your posts: evidence.

  280. Matt Penfold says

    The scientific evidence suggests that what differences there are between the brains of men and women are overshadowed by individual differences, to the extent it is all but impossible to arrive at any meaningful conclusions that differences between the sexes are important. About the only thing we do know is that men’s brains on average weigh about 10% more than those of women, but that is almost certainly because men on average weigh more than women.

  281. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    DH, this is where you would find your evidence: Google Scholar. Be sure to indicate what differences are due to genetic cause, and which are due to social causes/societal indoctrination. Presume the latter if cause is unknown. Only then can you have a intelligent discussion.

  282. douglasshaver says

    I have said nothing to indicate that that is my favored explanation.
    Do you read what you write? This:

    One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.

    says that you think that women are just like that and nothing can be done so we should just accept patriarchy in all situations, including atheism.

    How so? The mere assertion that B exists as an alternative to A is not to say the one favors B over A. If my wife tells me, “We have nothing to eat except chicken,” and I reply, “No, there are still some TV dinners left in the freezer,” I am not saying that I would rather eat the TV dinners.

  283. douglasshaver says

    Where is your evidence?

    What is your definition of evidence?

    Before you accuse me of evasiveness, please allow me to present some background. I have been debating Christian apologists for years. Whenever I say, “Here is a contradiction from the Bible,” a typical response is, “That is not a contradiction.” Or if tell a creationist, “Here is a transitional fossil,” the usual reply is, “That fossil is not transitional.” So, what I have learned to do with scriptural inerrantists is say, “Give me an example of two statements that you would agree are contradictory.” I have never gotten an answer yet. And to a creationist, I say, “Tell me what you think a transitional fossil would have to look like.” Again, I never get an answer.

    And so, I’m not risking getting sidetracked into an interminable yes-it-is-no-it-isn’t exchange over whether fact X is evidence for hypothesis Y until we get clear on what it means for any X to be evidence for any Y.

  284. douglasshaver says

    At this point I am saying no more than that it has not been ruled out.

    It doesn’t have to be ruled out.

    If it has already been ruled out, then we don’t need to do it again. Are you saying it already has been? Or, are you saying that as long as we have a hypothesis that we like, we have no need to even think about any others?

  285. douglasshaver says

    You are assuming something without evidence.

    No, that is you. Your idea doesn’t have to be considered if you can’t evidence it.

    I have not presented any evidence yet. That could be because I’m biding my time, or it could be because I have none to present. You seem to be assuming the latter.

  286. douglasshaver says

    Is it your contention that having functioning mammary glands or ovaries rather that testes affects women’s skepticism?

    No, that is not my contention. What makes you think it might be?

  287. douglasshaver says

    The scientific evidence suggests that what differences there are between the brains of men and women are overshadowed by individual differences

    Yes, I know about that evidence. What it tells me is that people should be judged as individuals rather than judged according to their gender. Did you think I had a problem with that?

  288. douglasshaver says

    Be sure to indicate what differences are due to genetic cause, and which are due to social causes/societal indoctrination. Presume the latter if cause is unknown.

    You mean, if I have a question about causation, and I don’t know the answer and cannot find one, I should assume that your answer is the right one?

  289. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The mere assertion that B exists as an alternative to A is not to say the one favors B over A.

    Except you haven’t shown B exists. Assertion it exists is meaningless without evidence, as it doesn’t exist. Welcome to science.

    What is your definition of evidence?

    Third party evidence from the academic literature. The same definition any intelligent person uses. Why don’t you? Other than you know you present tripe.

    Are you saying it already has been?

    That’s what the academic studies say. So they form the evidence based Null Hypothesis that effectively there is effectively no difference in brain function between the sexes, with more differentiation among a sex than between sexes.

    That could be because I’m biding my time, or it could be because I have none to present. You seem to be assuming the latter.

    The latter is the presupmtion is you don’t lead with evidence. After all, if you are right, why be coy. Other than it gives you a chance to lie and bullshit.

    What it tells me is that people should be judged as individuals rather than judged according to their gender. Did you think I had a problem with that?

    Yes, because those who stir shit like you are doing don’t look at their privilege, remove it, and make the playing field level for those without male privilege. Something any intelligent person knows.

  290. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You mean, if I have a question about causation, and I don’t know the answer and cannot find one, I should assume that your answer is the right one?

    That’s why I gave you the link to Google Scholar so you can do your own work. Your word alone isn’t worth the electrons used to post it. No evidence, assertion is bogus, you take the word of those who know. As expected from someone showing intelligence…

  291. douglasshaver says

    What is your definition of evidence?

    Third party evidence from the academic literature. The same definition any intelligent person uses.

    Intelligent people don’t define a word by repeating it in their definition. But I suppose that what you’re trying to say is that you define evidence in terms of something stated in the academic literature. I agree that scholarly literature may provide one kind of evidence, but it is hardly the only kind.

    When I’m looking for the definition of a word, the first place I usually look is the Oxford English Dictionary. Pertinent excerpts (omitting ellipsis punctuation) from its entry for evidence are:

    II. That which manifests or makes evident.
     3.

    a. An appearance from which inferences may be drawn; an indication, mark, sign, token, trace.
     
    b. In religious language: Signs or tokens of personal salvation. 

    5.
     
     a. Ground for belief; testimony or facts tending to prove or disprove any conclusion. Const. for, of (the thing to be proved), from, of (the source of testimony). to have evidence to say, etc.: to have good grounds for saying, etc.

    But then we have the question: What does it mean for some testimony or fact to “prove or disprove any conclusion”? I believe it means the following. Evidence for some proposition P is any set E of one or more facts such that a denial of P is, to some pertinent degree of probability, logically inconsistent with the affirmation of E. That is to say, we can infer P from E just because it is improbable that, given E, P would be false. This is my distillation of the observations and opinions of the following academic authorities:

    Daniel M. Mittag, “Evidentialism,” in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004, eds. James Fieser and Bradley Dowden. http://www.iep.utm.edu/eds/

    Peter Achinstein, The Book of Evidence, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

    Earl Conee and Richard Feldman, Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004.

    Clarification: Although my definition refers only to facts, this does not rule out testimony as evidence. The utterance of a testimony, orally or in writing, is a fact, and it can constitute a good reason to believe that which was uttered, given a cogent argument that the testifier was unlikely to have made the utterance unless it was true. Thus I regard academic literature as a kind of evidence. The author of a scholarly publication is in effect testifying that he has examined a certain body of evidence (some set of facts) and made certain inferences therefrom.

  292. douglasshaver says

    The mere assertion that B exists as an alternative to A is not to say the one favors B over A.
    Except you haven’t shown B exists. Assertion it exists is meaningless without evidence, as it doesn’t exist. Welcome to science.

    That is irrelevant to the point of that post. I was accused of stating a preference for B. I have not done that. I have alleged the existence of B. My feelings about B — or for that matter anyone else’s feelings about B — have nothing to do with the likelihood of its actual existence. Welcome to science.

  293. douglasshaver says

    The latter is the presupmtion is you don’t lead with evidence. After all, if you are right, why be coy.

    What you perceive as coyness, I perceive as simple caution based on years of experience debating people wedded to religious dogmas.

  294. douglasshaver says

    What it tells me is that people should be judged as individuals rather than judged according to their gender. Did you think I had a problem with that?

    Yes, because those who stir shit like you are doing don’t look at their privilege, remove it, and make the playing field level for those without male privilege. Something any intelligent person knows.

    Your apparent assumption that a person’s intelligence can be measured by the extent to which they agree with you is noted.

    In the present world, some people suffer while others are comfortable. I believe the world would be better if everyone were equally as comfortable as I am. I cannot agree that it would also be better if everyone had to endure equal suffering.

    I also cannot agree that the differences between dogs and geckos are relevantly analogous to the differences between men and women.

  295. douglasshaver says

    you take the word of those who know. [/quote]
    Yes, but I don’t take their word for it that they know. First I find out why they think they know it. That’s how I lost my religious faith almost 50 years ago.

  296. douglasshaver says

    you take the word of those who know.

    Yes, but I don’t take their word for it that they know. First I find out why they think they know it. That’s how I lost my religious faith almost 50 years ago.

  297. Ichthyic says

    I should assume that your answer is the right one?

    well, continuing your argument…

    given a cogent argument that the testifier was unlikely to have made the utterance unless it was true

    ah, but this implies you have independent evidence to corroborate that the witness is not lying themselves (a “cogent argument”). why would you assume the witness to be right, if you don’t have any independent evidence? It’s the same question I just quoted at the beginning of this response, is it not?

    You assume the witness response is the “right” one?

    . The author of a scholarly publication is in effect testifying that he has examined a certain body of evidence (some set of facts) and made certain inferences therefrom.

    this is only partly correct. In fact, this is why we insist on experiments being repeatable, and that this is presented in detail in the methods. Thus, anyone can independently verify the results. This is rarely the case for eyewitness testimony in a court.

  298. Ichthyic says

    Yes, but I don’t take their word for it that they know.

    actually, this is dishonest.

    you in fact rely on authority likely many times on any given day of your life, you just don’t spend the time to consciously acknowledge it every time you do.

    once you admit that, and you simply must if you don’t want to be considered a fool, then ask yourself what criteria you use to accept that information on authority.

    If you’ve never even considered it before now, you have some thinking to do.

  299. Ichthyic says

    going back up a ways…

    @Matt:

    About the only thing we do know is that men’s brains on average weigh about 10% more than those of women, but that is almost certainly because men on average weigh more than women.

    huh, this implies that such a statistic would not have removed weight difference as a variable. Seems a rather obvious one to leave out? Not hard to transform the dataset to remove weight as a variable. I’ve never bothered to look though, since even if it were an accurate figure, and also that there are significant differences in grey/white matter, as you say, these are averaged over entire populations and are rather insignificant for a particular individual of either sex.

  300. Ulysses says

    The mere assertion that B exists as an alternative to A is not to say the one favors B over A.

    This is true. But when you resurrect a dead thread to claim B exists, there’s a reasonable assumption that you reject A and prefer B. It’s your behavior that makes us think you prefer B, even though for the past several days you’ve gone out of your way not to explain what you think B is, let alone present any evidence for B.

  301. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What you perceive as coyness, I perceive as simple caution based on years of experience debating people wedded to religious dogmas.

    There is no dogma here. What is here is evidence. Not mental wanking. You want to wank, go to “wankers R us” and commit the intellectual crime of sophistry.

    Yes, but I don’t take their word for it that they know. First I find out why they think they know it. That’s how I lost my religious faith almost 50 years ago.

    This, like all your posts today, is a total non-sequitur. It has nothing to do with the topic you brought up, doesn’t further your argument, or evidence anything you claimed. You wankings are irrelevant, and you appear to think we owe you something. Who the fuck are you to do so?

    Don’t bother posting again unless you can forward an argument with evidence, science/academic evidence. Your word isn’t and never will be solid evidence.

  302. douglasshaver says

    given a cogent argument that the testifier was unlikely to have made the utterance unless it was true

    ah, but this implies you have independent evidence to corroborate that the witness is not lying themselves (a “cogent argument”).

    No, because I don’t assume that people who fail to tell the truth are always lying. If I don’t believe what they say, then I assume they are mistaken unless I have good reason to believe that (a) they know their statement is false and (b) they uttered the falsehood with intent to deceive.

    why would you assume the witness to be right, if you don’t have any independent evidence?

    I don’t. The only thing I assume, absent evidence to the contrary, is good faith.

    It’s the same question I just quoted at the beginning of this response, is it not?

    You quoted me thus: “I should assume that your answer is the right one?” The context in which I asked that question should answer this question.

    The author of a scholarly publication is in effect testifying that he has examined a certain body of evidence (some set of facts) and made certain inferences therefrom.

    this is only partly correct. In fact, this is why we insist on experiments being repeatable, and that this is presented in detail in the methods. Thus, anyone can independently verify the results. This is rarely the case for eyewitness testimony in a court.

    I was using “witness” and “testimony” in their epistemological senses, not their legal senses. I do not regard judicial proceedings as a good model for scientific inquiry.

  303. douglasshaver says

    Yes, but I don’t take their word for it that they know.

    actually, this is dishonest.
    you in fact rely on authority likely many times on any given day of your life, you just don’t spend the time to consciously acknowledge it every time you do.
    once you admit that, and you simply must if you don’t want to be considered a fool, then ask yourself what criteria you use to accept that information on authority.
    If you’ve never even considered it before now, you have some thinking to do.

    I made my statement in a context, and my intended meaning was tied to that context. More specifically, I had a particular antecedent in mind when I used the word “their.”

    have you ever read any articles on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony?

    Yes, I am aware that eyewitness testimony should not always be accepted at face value.

  304. douglasshaver says

    But when you resurrect a dead thread

    Well, I do owe you an apology for my inattention to detail. I found this thread while googling something about Michael Shermer, and I noticed two things: It was started less than two months ago, and it had 289 posts. What I failed to notice was that all those 289 posts were made in just two days.

    there’s a reasonable assumption that you reject A and prefer B.

    I don’t agree with your assessment of its reasonableness. However, I will not insist that my own assessment is the only one that anybody should care about.

  305. douglasshaver says

    Don’t bother posting again unless you can forward an argument with evidence, science/academic evidence

    I have posted my definition of evidence. Do you accept that definition? If you don’t, then this will be my last post.

    Or, if you would like it to be my last post in any case, just say so, and I’ll be out of here.

  306. Ichthyic says

    Yes, I am aware that eyewitness testimony should not always be accepted at face value.

    really? because you don’t seem to understand why.

  307. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    However, I will not insist that my own assessment is the only one that anybody should care about.

    What assessment. You have presented nothing to assess. Ergo, you have wasted your posts here. Doing the “this is what I believe, and this (link) is the evidence back it up” is your only way to continue this.

    I have posted my definition of evidence. Do you accept that definition? If you don’t, then this will be my last post.

    Your definition of evidence includes the religious giving testament (based on lies) and eye-witness testimony which is totally unreliable (see link above by Ichthyic). Which is why academic and scientific papers are required for an intelligent and factual discussion. Anybody can lie and bullshit with just OPINION. If you aren’t willing to go there, why did you even bother to post? So, are you going to argue based on verified facts or not? Your decision cricket. Choose wisely.

  308. thumper1990 says

    @douglasshaver

    Hey wow, you did come back! Aw, I’ve missed all the fun :-(

    Anyway;

    Just as apparently, the fact that God’s existence is blindingly obvious to any unbiased person is apparently not a thought that has ever seriously crossed any atheist’s mind

    A large number of atheists used to be believers.

    I know. I’m one of them.

    These two statements contradict each other really quite blatantly. Are you an Atheist or a believer?

  309. la tricoteuse says

    Maybe he’s one of those “I used to be an atheist” believers and just got mixed up. :D

  310. thumper1990 says

    So what are these alternative hypotheses?

    One would be that there exist differences between men and women other than those that are strictly anatomical.

    OK, that’s an alternative hypothesis. Now prove it. Russel’s Teapot, my friend.

  311. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    other than anatomical the only possible differences are physiological(closly tied to anatomical) or cultural.

    Which are you contending?

  312. Rey Fox says

    It wasn’t meant to be. It was meant just to get a conversation started.

    We have a wanker, ladies and gentlemen.

  313. Rey Fox says

    What you perceive as coyness, I perceive as simple caution based on years of experience debating people wedded to religious dogmas.

    I perceive an annoying git who endlessly dances around his point, if indeed he has one.

  314. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I perceive as simple caution based on years of experience debating people wedded to religious dogmas.

    People here are not religious, and don’t have religious dogmas. As would be expected from an atheist blog. We are science based. Which means open minds to new evidence. So, when are you going to link to the peer reviewed literature to show us the evidence to back up your claims, what ever they are. We’ll look at evidence. We’ll criticize and mock sophsitry and OPINION.

  315. Ulysses says

    I grew tired of the I’ve got a secret I won’t tell game when I was five. That’s the game douglasshaver has been playing for the past couple of days. It’s time for him to either tell us what his magnificent, earth shattering hypothesis about the difference between men and women is or to leave. In other words, shit or get off the pot.

  316. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Looks like DS by his hon-return is tacitly admitting he had no real evidence and was just jaqing off.