I’m off in Washington DC at Women in Secularism 2, and I’m taking it easy. You can try to follow what’s going on at the conference via twitter, but that’s going to be a mess: unlike every other conference I’ve ever been at, the twitter feed for this one is nearly completely divorced from the reality of the event. It seems that if you put on a woman’s conference, the anti-feminists will send a representative or two to attend and throw out occasional twisted remarks prejudicial to the event, which will then be echoed by the obsessive mob in the lovely manosphere.
It’s genuinely bizarre. If you thought the #wiscfi hashtag was a corrupt mess before the conference, it’s even worse now. It’s representative of the endemic bigotry against women that even atheist/skeptic cons don’t get this degree of malicious nastiness from their opponents.
It didn’t help that the opening remarks (by a bearded white guy, no less) were basically a high five to the people trolling the con — Ron Lindsay tut-tutted the attendees for using the concept of privilege to shut down conversations with…who? The thugs who hate the whole idea of Women in Secularism? It was the most inappropriate, uninspiring, wrong-headed conference opening ever. The director of CFI trolled a conference built by his own organization, and offered words of encouragement to the people trying to disrupt it!
All I can think is that he decided to make all the other talks look good by starting off on the lowest note he could. He shouldn’t have bothered, all the talks on the first day were excellent. Oh, you aren’t here? We’ve got three people from FtB live-blogging it all.
Jason/Miri/Kate covered the first panel, on faith-based pseudoscience. The panelists discussed the ways medicine in particular is undermined by quackery, and to give the True Skeptics™ conniptions, specifically addressed how religious lies contribute to the problem.
Jason/Kate covered Amanda Marcotte’s talk on how feminism makes better skeptics. She mainly talked about how patriarchal assumptions corrupt decision-making, highlighting, for instance, the opposition to Plan B, which cannot be attribute to rational decision-making at all, but is entirely faith-based. And when you look at the agenda of the theocrats of the religious right, it’s appalling how much of it is all about controlling women.
Jason/Miri covered Rebecca Goldstein’s talk on religion, humanism, and moral progress. She covered the philosophical and historical theme of “mattering”, of struggling to live a notable or even extraordinary life. Humanism is the only attempt to make lives matter that has progressed to including everyone.
Check in with those guys throughout the day as they take on the job of representing the conference accurately to the world — you sure won’t find that on twitter, which is worrisome. I wonder if other groups will organize to bully other events by disrupting their twitter feeds? Nah, only defending the rights of women seems to generate that much hate.