The latest furor over Ben Radford triggered some bad memories. Has anyone sat down and actually compiled a list of that guy’s offenses against reason and science? He’s got a long history of making a mess.
Remember when he was distorting the conclusions of papers about women’s eating disorders? Or how about the time he was taking issue with a four-year-old who notices the cultural biases in toys? That was fun; it led to Radford arguing that dolls are all pink because girls like pink because dolls are pink, and then inventing evo psych nonsense about color preferences and women searching for pink berries. Then he was dismissing concerns about the frequency of sexual harassment in schools, and picking nits over sexual assault so that he could argue that rape wasn’t so horribly frequent, a claim which revealed that he was innumerate.
Say…do you notice something? Is there a pattern to Radford’s biases? I mean, he’s well regarded otherwise, has a popular podcast, and I don’t think he’s stupid — the majority of the things he writes about are OK, it’s just that every once in a while he plumbs the depths of idiocy with a piece that makes him look like a hyperskeptical dishonest twit. And I think…if I look real hard…if I wipe the Y-chromosome bearing floaties out of my eyes…I see a common thread.
Whenever Radford writes about gender issues, like sexual assault, cultural assumptions about gender roles, or media biases about women, he turns into a lying hyperskeptical denialist. He stops being skeptical and starts digging for evidence, and worse, making up evidence, to bolster his presuppositions that discrimination against women doesn’t exist. He’s a bad skeptic. And he has a long history of doing this.
Why does he even have a job?
I don’t know if you want to read read Ron Lindsay’s explanation, but here it is anyway.
And what is it CFI was supposed to rebut? Ben’s speculations about the hues of dolls’ faces? Presumably not. What appeared to bother some commenters was Ben’s alleged sexism.
OK. CFI denounces sexism. We always have and presumably always will. Stereotyping based on gender is wrong and policies and practices that promote such stereotyping should be condemned. Furthermore, attitudes that exhibit sexism are unacceptable, and we should work to eliminate such attitudes, including, to the extent they exist, such attitudes within secular/skeptical organizations.
The problem is I doubt that Ben would disagree with anything in the above paragraph, nor did I see anything in his posts to suggest he would. Therefore, I’m not sure it counts as a “rebuttal.”
I love that blithe “OK”. Yeah, CFI denounces sexism, and Radford says he does, too, so what have you little people got to complain about?
But wait…I think I see another pattern emerging through my testosterone-addled murk. Look what Karen Stollznow said about her work environment — they have a history, too, of diminishing the significance of a pattern of behavior.
Five months after I lodged my complaint I received a letter that was riddled with legalese but acknowledged the guilt of this individual. They had found evidence of “inappropriate communications” and “inappropriate” conduct at conferences. However, they greatly reduced the severity of my claims. When I asked for clarification and a copy of the report they treated me like a nuisance. In response to my unanswered phone calls they sent a second letter that refused to allow me to view the report because they couldn’t release it to “the public”. They assured me they were disciplining the harasser but this turned out to be a mere slap on the wrist. He was suspended, while he was on vacation overseas. They offered no apology, that would be an admission of guilt, but they thanked me for bringing this serious matter to their attention. Then they asked me to not discuss this with anyone. This confidentiality served me at first; I wanted to retain my dignity and remain professional. Then I realized that they are trying to silence me, and this silence only keeps up appearances for them and protects the harasser.
Serial harassers are really, really good at looking wounded at accusations and apologizing verbally — they can be socially slick and glibly slide through these storms, because that’s what enables their activities. What you have to do is look at their patterns of behavior, what they do, not what they say. And Radford clearly has a sexist modus operandi.