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A warning

Here’s another challenge for the growing atheist movement: can we avoid the trap of charismatic leadership and the cult of personality? As church attendance declines (a good thing), as pastors wake up and realize their faith was a lie (a very good thing), and as we try to embrace even church leaders who want to join the secular movement, we have to beware of the temptation to just put them to work doing the same old thing they’re familiar with, in atheist “churches”. Donald Wright does a fine job expressing reservations I’ve also had about adopting the trappings of religion.

One of the joys I celebrate in escaping from religion and church is no longer participating in this unbridled authority and reverence given to the pastor; the position of entitlements. Their needs and desires are always met or a concerted effort is attempted by the membership with much toil and sacrifice. The pastor is doused with honor and respect, given a god-like public image, and proclaimed a truth teller. A celebrity is added to the culture.

After receiving these former religionists with open arms and nurturing their non-belief, how will the secular community respond when they seek leadership positions? Will the secularists, humanists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and skeptics embrace these individuals with greater enthusiasm just because they are ex-pastors? Will they seek to find the true character and uncover those holy skeletons? Will they put forth adequate vetting to determine that their integrity matches their charisma? These are my concerns, because a secular church in the hands of a cult personality is a religion disguised as a humanist community. Will there be a secular church on every corner filled with sheeples?

What we need to construct are egalitarian institutions that do not simply co-opt the corrupt schema of existing religious institutions. We should be modeling democratic political forms rather than buying into destructive ecclesiastical patterns of organization.

Comments

  1. ledasmom says

    I do not know about anyone else, but for myself I go with “No monarchs. No gods. No heroes” (slightly stolen from Terry Pratchett, yes, who would be a hero of mine if I had such things).

  2. xaverius says

    A bit late in my opinion. Atheist ‘churches’ already exist, and many people ‘workship’ people like Dawkins. (and I say this as someone that neither deifies nor dislikes him)

  3. says

    I’ve been saying since the accommodation stuff, with people talking about forming atheist “churches” and such… there are always people who want to have “top-down” organizations, especially when they feel like they can be the “top” part of the deal. There’s something about hierarchical structures that are comforting to a lot of people, but especially to abusive people. Those folks know that as long as they suck up to the people above them, they can have their way with the ones below them.

    Look at how much of the anti-FtB is about weird “rankings”… Loftus left because he was being corrected by people who didn’t have advanced degrees. One complaint about the Block Bot from Tim Farley was that some of the blocked people hold important positions. We’re constantly told that we’re not allowed to point out dumbassery from people who have more status than us.

    Forget it. If you’re right, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have fancy credentials. And if you’re wrong, all the status in the world doesn’t make you any less wrong.

  4. Dick the Damned says

    The model church service, (& i guess that varies from sect to sect, & region to region, anyway), has been refined over centuries. The pace of change nowadays is so fast, the model, (or models), probably can’t keep up. But it (or they) are predicated on one important understanding, viz. the Bible Bogey is so fucking big & strong & smart that you, poor weak worshiping worm that you are, must be in abject awe of it.

    That sure ain’t us Humanists.

  5. moarscienceplz says

    Will the secularists, humanists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and skeptics embrace these individuals with greater enthusiasm just because they are ex-pastors?

    This idea is a total non sequitur to me. When I was being forced to go to the Methodist church, and even though I was not at all certain that there was no god, I never saw the various pastors as great leaders. They were kind, and they knew stuff about the Bible, and they could organize a pretty good potluck dinner, but I wouldn’t then and won’t today see them as the go-to guys for questions of a scientific or political, or even a philosophical nature. I’d let ‘em run a bake sale, but even then I’d be watching to see how well they did. I sure as hell wouldn’t support any org that had some sort of secular pope.

    Are there really likely to be large numbers of secular sheeples?

  6. says

    I’m partial to sleeping in on Sunday mornings, so I’m not seeing the appeal of atheist pseudo-churches. OTOH we have a local Ethical Society building that has very nice acoustics (been to concerts there) and also runs a nice secular preschool that my kids went to. I tend to think that the basic forms of religious organizations survived not just from the godbothering, but also because they served a social need in the community. I don’t see atheistic organizations devolving into mindless authoritarian rallies as you’d see at a megachurch, so I’m not as worried as PZ that having a certain amount of hierarchy in the atheist movement is necessarily dangerous.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    many people ‘workship’ people like Dawkins.

    Evidence, please. Yes, there are a few, such as the woman who at the end of one of Dawkins’ lectures seriously expected him to know whether the Higgs Boson would be discovered. But the rest of the auditorium was noticeably both irritated by her and laughing at her. ISTM there are many who admire his knowledge but not many who ‘worship’ him.

  8. fmitchell says

    Hard experience has taught me not to revere actual people. All my heroes are fictional. The Doctor will never get caught diddling an underage girl, save in some twisted fanfic.

    From what I understand, the Quakers are a fairly non-hierarchical religion. No doubt even they have influential elders and dictatorial organizers. With no pastor/minister/rabbi/mullah/imam/abbot/etc. at the top, though, leaders have only the power that people lend them. The best structure for secular gatherings, then, might be one where anyone can have the floor at any time and “leaders” are facilitators and organizers, not orators or psychopomps.

  9. says

    Evidence, please. Yes, there are a few, such as the woman who at the end of one of Dawkins’ lectures seriously expected him to know whether the Higgs Boson would be discovered. But the rest of the auditorium was noticeably both irritated by her and laughing at her. ISTM there are many who admire his knowledge but not many who ‘worship’ him.

    Remember how the RDF’s supporters came out in bulk to support women when Dawkins posted his Dear Muslima letter? Me neither.

  10. says

    “We should be modeling democratic political forms rather than buying into destructive ecclesiastical patterns of organization.”

    OMLOG, yes! I can’t state how strongly we should be fighting the concept of atheism being viewed as a religion, and if we adopt all the trappings of traditional religious organizations that’s exactly what will happen. Politically, this would be an absolute nightmare. All that would be left for the bible-thumpers to do would be to try and tie evolution and any other scientific knowledge we’ve amassed to atheism – and they would, because much of it flies in the face of Christian teachings – and suddenly the atheist ‘religion’ would be fighting the same separation of church and state battles as Christianity in our schools and government. Praying before a city council meeting starts would be on equal footing with not praying before the meeting starts.

    Maybe I’m being overly paranoid, and possibly making too much of the term “secular church,” but at this point I can’t see giving them anything to use to further their cause.

  11. says

    There are sadly a lot of authoritarian types out there, in churches and within the atheist community. I have always been a little wary of people that want to lead, they can do a lot of good but I always watch them and their actions. I am especially wary of anyone that appears to think they are indispensable to a cause and those that follow them.

    I guess I have heroes though I would never use that word, they are really people that have done or said things I strongly agree with, but they are real people with real flaws at times. I am happily critical of the people I sometimes look up to in some way. This often seems to be missing in those that want to set up these structures, or those that express concern about “the movement” or some such thing.

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

    Are there really likely to be large numbers of secular sheeples?

    No “likely”about it. Yes there are

  13. believerskeptic says

    This post exactly describes Eliezer Yudkowsky and his Lesswrong cult. They should be avoided at all costs.

  14. says

    We need to do better than churches. We need social institutions that take into account that there are authoritarians followers and abusers out there, and take steps to counteract and correct the tendencies of humans towards mindlessly following charismatic leaders. We need checks and balances, but in the social sphere as well as the political.

  15. bad Jim says

    Unitarian Universalists, who count a lot of atheists as members, have fairly traditional forms of worship, including hymns and responsive readings, but the minister isn’t invested with any special authority, merely expected to be interesting and well-informed. It’s common to have the sermon (or lecture) delivered by a member or a visitor with expertise in an area of interest.

    So, non-authoritarian churches are certainly possible.

  16. naomichambers says

    Dear PZ:

    You and I have never been friends. That fact aside, you need to stop what you are doing right now and listen to me.

    I know my way around a courtroom. I have been involved in litigation, and let me tell you it is not pretty. It is stressful. When I say stressful, let me clarify this for you – many people suffer PTSD after litigation.

    This is not a battle you want.

    Put your “principles” aside and be reasonable.

    Shermer has the money to bury you. He has the money to bankrupt you. I am not taking sides, I am not saying he is right or wrong, nor am I saying you are right or wrong. I am saying this: STOP AND LISTEN TO ME.

    Delete the Shermer post. Comply with the Cease and Desist Letter. Wash your hands of this, put it behind you and be done with it.

    This is a losing battle. Do not let your ego think for you on this one. Do not try fighting this out in Court. Rape accusations are not going to be considered as something protected under the 1st amendment in court.

    In the Falwell vs. Flint lawsuit, what saved Larry Flint is the fact that no reasonable person would believe the claims he made against Jerry Falwell. (the claim was that Falwell had sex with his mother in an outhouse.) Your case is different because a reasonable person would (could)believe that Shermer raped a female at a conference. That difference will not work in your favor. I knew this would happen.

    This battle is not worth it – Delete the post. Comply with the cease and desist letter. You do not have to carry anyone else’s burden. Think about yourself and DELETE IT.

    You do not have to apologize or even retract what you are claiming. For all I know…it could be true…but this battle will be painful and it is not worth fighting.

    Consider yourself warned. If you do not listen to me, I promise that you will wish you had listened.

  17. buddhabuck says

    When I was a student at the University at Buffalo in the late 1990’s, My girlfriend, her fiance, and I decided to visit the Center for Inquiry, located conveniently right next to the UB campus. After attending one of there services meetings, the three of us had the strong impression of “church for atheists”.

    Since none of us were atheists (at the time), and none of us were looking for a new church, we never went back.

  18. Esteleth, statistically significant to p ≤ 0.001 says

    Naomichambers does not know how posts work comments on the wrong one. Okay!

    fmitchell:

    From what I understand, the Quakers are a fairly non-hierarchical religion. No doubt even they have influential elders and dictatorial organizers. With no pastor/minister/rabbi/mullah/imam/abbot/etc. at the top, though, leaders have only the power that people lend them.

    Eeeeeh. The last step in my progression from fundie to atheist was Quakerism. I still hang out with them, in order to scratch my SJW itch (and, FWIW, I am not the only atheist there).

    But, um. For all that the Quakers are officially non-hierarchical, they still have one, mostly in the form of social shaming and the like. And, due to the absence of a formal hierarchy, there is very little means for appeal. So there’s that.

  19. ewor84 says

    I don’t think we can avoid a cult of personality, considering this website is chock full of that.

  20. buddhabuck says

    For all that the Quakers are officially non-hierarchical, they still have one, mostly in the form of social shaming and the like. And, due to the absence of a formal hierarchy, there is very little means for appeal. So there’s that.

    A friend of mine once noted that gossip is the manner in which social communities enforce the unwritten social rules. So a community which prides itself on not having gossip is invariably in denial, leaving those unfairly hurt by gossip without recourse.

    I was once cautioned about a former employer on the grounds that a company which prides itself on never laying people off will never-the-less find ways to eliminate people “for cause” when financial conditions dictate a reduction in staff. I was not laid off at the beginning of the fiscal year, but my work performance proved to be unsatisfactory so they had to let me go.

    So it should be no surprise that organizations which pride themselves on being leaderless or non-hierarchical end up being lead by an informal hierarchy with no checks or balances in place.

  21. grumpyoldfart says

    There are strong atheists and weak atheists. The church-builders should be called ratbag atheists.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone who seriously considers building an ‘atheist church’ is just another control freak who enjoys watching people jump through hoops.

  22. anteprepro says

    I don’t think we can avoid a cult of personality, considering this website is chock full of that.

    The Great Shermer Apologist is excellent at projection.

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

    @naomichambers

    how nice of Shermer to send his thugs

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

    More major nitpick: the use of the term “sheeple”

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

    Naomichambers is also a great posterchild for the classic concern troll.

    “I’m so concerned for your well being” they said licking their lips like a jackal watching a rabbit might

  26. keithm says

    What’s interesting is that there’s no suggestion that Shermer could prevail being proven right. No, it’s because he has more money.

    So please let me get this straight: a woman being afraid of making her name public out of fear what Shermer could do to her is an absurd idea, but on the other hand Shermer is so powerful he could crush PZ without a problem regardless of whether or not the accusation is true.

    Facinating, no?

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

    I like that because Naomi Chamberpots is too dense to read the actual OP it makes it sound like they’re giving a C&D on behalf of the Atheist Church of Happytology

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

    What’s interesting is that there’s no suggestion that Shermer could prevail being proven right. No, it’s because he has more money.

    Just as Ayn Rand intended

  29. says

    Naomichambers’ post literally made me laugh out loud. Cartoon villain much?

    Anyway…

    So it should be no surprise that organizations which pride themselves on being leaderless or non-hierarchical end up being lead by an informal hierarchy with no checks or balances in place.

    Well, yes, exactly. To guard against the foibles of human nature requires being realistic about human nature, and claiming to be free of hierarchy is just obviously not doing that. Humans have leaders and rankings and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Hierarchies are tools for organizing humans. Like all tools, they can be used for good or evil. Anyone who wants to pretend “we don’t use this essential tool” is probably using it, but not for good, otherwise why pretend you don’t use that tool?

    Being anti-authoritarian doesn’t require eschewing hierarchies. It means wisely devising functional hierarchies that reward good behavior and punish bad behavior.

  30. says

    SallyStrange:
    When PZ tossed the grenade, one of the things I wondered was if orgs like CFI and JREF could be restructured in ways similar to the US government. Checks and balances at the upper levels so that you do not get Ron Lindsay or DJ Groethe acting unilaterally. I wonder if such a thing would work…

  31. Martha says

    No trappings of religion at CFI or JREF, so no authoritarianism? I’m not buying the relationship between the trappings of religion and authoritarianism– I actually think they’re orthogonal.

  32. anuran says

    Can secularism avoid the trap?

    In a word, “No”.

    It will happen. In fact, it already has happened several times notably with Ayn Rand and her personality cult.

    Like sexual abuse, financial crimes and the rest of the list it’s part of the human condition and pops up every time human beings see a way to get something they want. The more popular the institution is and the greater the number of people who are emotionally invested in it the more it will happen. The best you can do is create robust independent institutions tasked with cutting down the rate and stomping hard on people who cross the lines.

  33. DLC says

    As everyone else is OT on naomichambers, I had to add in. Why am I suddenly reminded of The Road Warrior, in which The Humongous tells the refinery people “Just walk away!”
    I almost expect the Feral Child to pop up and throw a boomerang.

    As for Cult of Personality: may I refer you to Jim Jones, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, Baghwan Sri Rashneesh, Yeshua ben Joseph, Joseph Smith, Josef Stalin . . . and more. They all were single charismatic leaders with an inner council who carried out their will. And they all ended up doing much more harm than good. Some of those in that list, the harm they did is far out of proportion to their size or popularity. Some kind of regulated limited leadership is in order, I think.

  34. R Johnston says

    Charismatic leadership would be a step up from a system that invites Ben Radford, Lawrence Krauss, and Michael Shermer to be celebrity speakers.

    Of course they are all libertarians and therefore not really atheists. Their gods are just nontraditional gods.

  35. R Johnston says

    Not making a joke. Just noting that libertarianism is premised in the belief in infallibility, a characteristic attributable only to gods, that anyone who is libertarian is therefore not an atheist, and that any atheist movement that invites libertarians to participate as high profile members is therefore not actually an atheist movement. If you see anything more than that in what I wrote then you are generalizing about libertarians. You might be generalizing truthfully, but it has nothing to do with what I wrote.

  36. Nick Gotts says

    Shorter naomichambers:

    Nice blog you got ‘ere, Mr. Myers. Would be a shame if anything happened to it. Oh, Tiny! That was careless of you – I do believe you’ve broke the nice gennleman’s post.

  37. scimaths says

    Question: what is it that people gain from having “heroes” ?

    It is something that is quite alien to me and honestly I can’t work it out. It still suprises me when I read people (in threads here) saying how they’ve been let down by some atheist man or other. Well what was he doing on a pedestal in the first place ? Seriously, why do people do that ?

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

    Question: what is it that people gain from having “heroes” ?

    Ignoring the definition drift from ancient to modern use (classic heroes where closer to cultural mascots than how we understand the term) a hero in both real life and in fiction is seen as important for people because it is someone who a) exemplifies ideals and values, b) provides encouragement for others of the validity of those values, c) acts as a role model.

    In short people like/make heroes because they are the proof of concept of a culture/societies ideals

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

    @scimaths

    And because people use heroes as an affirmation to show that values or ideals are possible to live by/achieve even in the face of adversity, when a hero fails it is seen as a failure of that ideal or value itself.

    A trusted idol who proves themselves dishonest contrary to their public persona doesn’t just cast doubt on that person but on the concept of honesty itself.

  40. says

    One of the many things I like/prefer about being an atheist is that I manage myself, with my own morality, my own choices, my own philosophy. I don’t want. or need, anyone or any organization (religious or otherwise) to lead me ethically, morally, or philosophically. I live, observe, make some mistakes, and try to do better so that I can be a modest force for good in our society. But I do it on my own terms. One of the things I detest about organized religion is the hierarchical nature of it all, especially the idea that morality can be dictated from on high, when really it has to come from within each of us.*
    .
    Having been an atheist all my life, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt the need for any atheist organization, let alone an atheist leader, though in the abstract I can appreciate that others might benefit from those entities. As far as community goes, I’ve made connections with people through other sorts of secular organizations (e.g., musical ensembles, birding clubs, etc. – and lots of reading, and bit of commenting here, too), and that has been sufficient for me. It would be too bad if atheism were pigeonholed as another “religion” — not only because it is not, but because it would be ironic in the most ugly way if atheism took on the trappings and dangers of a hierarchical “church-like” structure and leadership, with all that implies. Certainly there are individuals who become prominent, who speak and write eloquently, who help the world at large understand the value of atheism. They are important, and I value their work. But these people aren’t really leaders of an organization, unless one considers them (as I do) as thought leaders rather than organizational leaders.
    .
    There will always be egocentric individuals who seek power, limelight, adulation, etc. — and this will happen in any type of organization, religious or not. People who seek leadership positions generally do so because they have much to offer to the organization (skill), or because they want to receive much from the organization (adulation, money, control). If reformed [ha] clergy come to the atheist movement with the expectation of assuming leadership positions, then they will have to prove their worth as skilled leaders, just as any other person would have to do who aspired to lead.
    .
    * For the same reason, I am not a member in any political party. I remain unaffiliated and vote independently, making my decisions not on party line but on actual candidates and policies.

  41. R Johnston says

    Quodibet @50

    * For the same reason, I am not a member in any political party. I remain unaffiliated and vote independently, making my decisions not on party line but on actual candidates and policies.

    Assuming you live in the U.S., if you don’t vote antiRepublican then you’re not really an atheist. The Republican party is thoroughly theocratic and enforces that mindset on all its politicians, regardless of what they say. A vote for any member of the Republican party is a vote in favor of christian theocracy, and you know it. The claim to vote “independently” is a claim to be an idiot.

  42. says

    R Johnston @ 51, thank you for your comment. It’s interesting, and perhaps ironic, that I almost extended the sentence which you to include the phrase “…and I vote progressive/liberal/pro-choice/equal rights” but I assumed (apparently wrongly) that that would be implicit. Others who know me here know that I am a progressive liberal. I just don’t like being a member of a political party. One can vote independently and be a progressive liberal. To claim otherwise, without exception, might be construed as idiotic. I wouldn’t imply that by your statement you “claim to be an idiot” because I don’t know you, and to make such an outrageous assessment would be ill-advised and…rude.

  43. kevinalexander says

    sciemaths @46

    It is something that is quite alien to me and honestly I can’t work it out. It still suprises me when I read people (in threads here) saying how they’ve been let down by some atheist man or other. Well what was he doing on a pedestal in the first place ? Seriously, why do people do that ?

    Robert Sapolsky says something interesting in one of his books (I forget which one) when he cautions the reader not to anthropomorphize the baboons he studies. One way in which they differ from humans is in that, although they are social creatures living together, they can’t cooperate Theirs is a monkey eat monkey world. The biggest and strongest can bully the others but he can’t make them do what he wants.
    In order for a social group to act as a unit there has to be something that gives the minions an emotional reward for doing someone else’s bidding. Something that makes us fall in love with rather than resent someone more powerful. No one learns BDSM, some people just discover that they like it.
    I know evo-psych isn’t popular here but I can’t think of a better explanation.

  44. scimaths says

    Ingdigo Jump & kevinalexander thank you for the replies, just passing through at the moment so hopefully will be back later with more. Still interested if anyone else has other thoughts on the matter

  45. David Marjanović says

    *stands next to PZ on the triumph chariot*
    *whispers into his ear:*

    …remember you’re a poopyhead… remember you’re a poopyhead… remember you’re a poopyhead…

    ^_^

  46. Suido says

    Of all the various labels that are bandied around, the one that I think applies best to freethought as an ideal, and the one that I identify most with, is anti-authoritarian.

    I’ll happily co-exist with any theist, conservative, libertarian etc that can question authority and ensure rules are not unjust.

    I will not happily co-exist with anyone who promotes an authoritarian culture, be it based on religion, secular law or personality.

  47. nathanaelnerode says

    I’m not sure that the desire to put someone on a pedestal and cover them in decorations and honor is avoidable. It seems to be one of those basic primate urges — the desire to form hierarchies. I can’t think of a society which has successfully suppressed it.

    The problem is not this. The problem is the conversion of this into a system of government.

    Perhaps the best thing to do is to direct this urge into harmless directions — where the person being elevated does not get any power or authority, but merely decorative trappings. “Bearer of the Sacred Chalice!”

    I believe the ancient Romans did some things of this variety, and arguably so did the various fraternal societies of the 19th century.

    Another useful and effective thing to do is to direct the need for hero-worship to fictional characters, who by definition cannot actually have power. The problem comes when other people claim to be speaking for, or representatives of, the fictional characters.

  48. scimaths says

    I’m not sure that the desire to put someone on a pedestal and cover them in decorations and honor is avoidable. It seems to be one of those basic primate urges — the desire to form hierarchies. I can’t think of a society which has successfully suppressed it.

    Perhaps it is a male rather than female urge. It does seem to be men who are particularly keen on raising other men or themselves to hero status and tying their own sense of identity to it. In fact this need for men-as-gods and male hierarchies is the very foundation of patriarchy. And that is a problem.

  49. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    #60 scimaths

    Perhaps it is a male rather than female urge. It does seem to be men who are particularly keen on raising other men or themselves to hero status and tying their own sense of identity to it. In fact this need for men-as-gods and male hierarchies is the very foundation of patriarchy. And that is a problem.

    BZZT! Wrong. Women make heroes, are heroes and follow heroes. Jackie O? Marylin Monroe? Need I go on? Just because there seems to be or are more men heroes than women heroes would be down to the patriarchy rather than “male vs. female urges”.

  50. scimaths says

    Just because there seems to be or are more men heroes than women heroes would be down to the patriarchy rather than “male vs. female urges”.

    The patriarchy didn’t just drop upon us from the sky like some mystical force that no-one bears responsibilty for. By very definition it is the current and historical enshrinement of male-created hierarchies, and hero worship as we see it is all part of that.

  51. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    #62 scimaths

    The patriarchy didn’t just drop upon us from the sky like some mystical force that no-one bears responsibilty for. By very definition it is the current and historical enshrinement of male-created hierarchies, and hero worship as we see it is all part of that.

    But acting like women in general or in charge wouldn’t do the same shit is stupid. Smacks of “We’re the better sex” and not to mention, women already do it. You don’t see women hierarchies all the time? In-groups? Leaders? Cliques? Authoritarians? It’s just a human thing, a personality thing we see across all genders.

    Here’s a result from a quick Google search: Women more authoritarian than men (Here’s the abstract which is all that I could find for the actual paper behind a paywall.) So, blind following of authority and who do people look to as an authority? Heroes, for one. Seems like who’s ever in charge doesn’t need to blindly follow for feelings of security while others do.

  52. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Note: I couldn’t find anything on hero worship and gender, so I went to see if there were studies on similar such things, hence the authoritarian extrapolation. Well, there was the sports hero study but that was just an abstract that was talking about various things like sports role in society and didn’t specify gender differences.

  53. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    kevinalexander @ #54: “No one learns BDSM, some people just discover that they like it.”

    LOLWUT? No, pretty sure most of us who do it did a damn lot of learning, including how to make the other person happy and safe.

    David M. @ #56: Thread won.

  54. mildlymagnificent says

    I’m not sure that the desire to put someone on a pedestal and cover them in decorations and honor is avoidable. It seems to be one of those basic primate urges — the desire to form hierarchies. I can’t think of a society which has successfully suppressed it.

    I’m all in favour of giving credit where it’s due. Lots of it if lots of it has been earned.

    The problem only arises when people credit a Nobel Laureate or a president or an Olympian athlete or a brave firefighter or soldier with more than their due. We should never forget the kernel of truth in they put their pants on one leg at a time , just like the rest of us.

    When Nobel winners start pontificating on subjects beyond their expertise, we should treat them just like any other clever person venturing into unfamiliar ground. And why we expect sportspeople and celebrities to act as “role models” for anything other than how to run/ do things with a ball/ jump higher or swim faster than others or to smile at cameras/ tolerate fools asking pointless questions is a mystery to me.

    My own feeling is that we underrate people with outstanding achievements when we overlook the fact that they are mere humans like all the rest of us. They are not a race apart or above, not perfect, not super-human. They’re human and, despite all the frailties and limitations of that, they managed to do something the rest of us can admire.

  55. scimaths says

    But acting like women in general or in charge wouldn’t do the same shit is stupid.

    We live in a world of hierarchies created by men for men so women, in the reality we find ourselves in, haven’t done the same shit at all have they ? Do you recognise that we live under patriarchal culture, and how do you think it arose if it is all just six of one half a dozen of the other and “women do it too” ?

    I do think there is something else going on as well, some specific human psychology about wanting people on a pedestal, but apart from a general notion of men as gods that still eludes me.

  56. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Huh. I was really wound up from the last couple days but now I wished I hadn’t jumped with the “BZZT!” stuff.

    In any event, there’s no proof for what you’re suggesting and it just sounds like wishful thinking to me.

  57. scimaths says

    In any event, there’s no proof for what you’re suggesting and it just sounds like wishful thinking to me.

    What are you referring to here: there’s no proof of … ? The patriarchy ? That the patriarchy is wishful thinking, what ?

  58. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    #69 scimaths

    Do you recognize that we live under patriarchal culture, and how do you think it arose if it is all just six of one half a dozen of the other and “women do it too” ?

    So, you think if women engaged in hero worship we’d be living with the matriarchy? That hero worship is the end all be of the patriarchy? That if men didn’t do hero worship, there wouldn’t be a patriarchy? That doesn’t even make sense.

    What are you referring to here: there’s no proof of … ? The patriarchy ? That the patriarchy is wishful thinking, what ?

    No, where did you get that from? I said there we see less women heroes than men most likely because of the patriarchy, and you somehow turn that into my denying the patriarchy?

    I was referring “Hero worship is a male urge” argument being wishful thinking. It smacks, to me, of “men are just hardwired that way, they can’t be in charge. We’re the better sex” and it’s not like there’s any evidence (that you put forth or that I could find) that’s it’s a “male urge”. You just seem to be going off of “There’s so many male heroes and not women heroes” to draw your conclusion and I put forth a different reason why we see less female heroes and women hero worship.

  59. scimaths says

    That hero worship is the [be all and end all] of the patriarchy?

    read what I wrote: “In fact this need for men-as-gods and male hierarchies is the very foundation of patriarchy …. By very definition it is the current and historical enshrinement of male-created hierarchies, and hero worship as we see it is all part of that.”

    I was referring “Hero worship is a male urge” argument being wishful thinking. [] and it’s not like there’s any evidence

    The existence of a global and historical set of structures created by men for men wherin men are deemed to be gods and women their servants, where men’s lives and experiences are all great heroic quests and women and their experiences are barely so much as chopped liver, that’s not enough evidence for you that men have some sort of urge/need/want to create said hierarchical social structures ???

    Seriously, it’s right there, I don’t know what else to say. The existence is the proof of its existence surely ?

  60. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    72
    scimaths

    The existence of a global and historical set of structures created by men for men wherin men are deemed to be gods and women their servants, where men’s lives and experiences are all great heroic quests and women and their experiences are barely so much as chopped liver, that’s not enough evidence for you that men have some sort of urge/need/want to create said hierarchical social structures ???

    Seriously, it’s right there, I don’t know what else to say. The existence is the proof of its existence surely ?

    But you’re suggesting it’s just a male urge and I don’t buy that it’s that simple.