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Sep 16 2013

I clearly need to be better at archiving my email

I always try to be friendly when I meet people at conferences and stuff — maybe I should stop, it’s probably contributing to this horrible “teddy bear” reputation I’ve been afflicted with — but every once in a while I hear some report, usually from someone with a demonstrated hatred of me already, that I was unkind to some stranger somewhere, and that I’m just generally an awful person to people. I’m always baffled by these complaints, because I honestly do not recall ever blowing someone off.

But Rebecca Watson seems to have the knack for exposing such nonsense. She was recently accused of cruelly rebuffing a couple of fans by going all Heather and Mean Girl on them, and by the claim that there was an email trail showing this behavior. And what does Watson do? She pulls out the email herself, and shows there was no such behavior. Entirely the opposite, actually.

Which means, I think, that by so devastatingly revealing the truth of the story, that she was even more mean.

49 comments

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  1. 1
    Sili

    You *were* ridiculously kind and patient with Michael Nugent in Dublin, yes.

    Down with that sort of thing!

  2. 2
    Inaji

    PZ:

    Which means, I think, that by so devastatingly revealing the truth of the story, that she was even more mean.

    Well, yes. Feminist Hair + truth? That’s beyond mean.
     
    I’m not at all surprised this came from S. Mayhew. She needs a new hobby.

  3. 3
    screechymonkey

    That Skepchick post was truly a thing of beauty. It’s all too rare that you can catch people red-handed in lies like that.

  4. 4
    A Hermit

    Rebecca Watson stole my ice cream.

  5. 5
    PZ Myers

    She has an email from you proving that she didn’t.

  6. 6
    maddog1129

    exhibit a^n that, no matter what it is, anything RW does is somehow wrong.

  7. 7
    Rey Fox

    Greta too, according to that other fellow in the Twitter chain. I always find people who use the word “beeotch” to be very credible sources.

  8. 8
    unclefrogy

    Doc you may not be paranoid enough, you probably need to keep all documents so to protect yourself
    you just need a dedicated HD for that purpose
    or you could just get the needed docs’ from the NSA

    uncle frogy

  9. 9
    Moggie

    Rebecca Watson’s default setting is awesome.

  10. 10
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Meanwhile, in an alternative universe…

    I am a 45 year old woman with two daughters, age 19 and 22. I just want to say thank you for being a role model and voice of reason. Many years back we attended TAM (the year of the surprise wedding) and my girls were excited to meet Rebecca. She and all the other Skepchicks totally disregarded my kids’ obvious shyness and desire to just be left alone, and accosted them…

  11. 11
  12. 12
    SallyStrange

    Rebecca Watson ruins EVERYTHING!

  13. 13
    witlesschum

    Wow, who would have expected her to have Marshall McLuhan archived in her email?

  14. 14
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    It is truly shocking that Rebecca Watson did not have the ability to read minds and just KNOW that they wanted to talk to her. At at TAM of all places, where serious skeptical dudebros debunk just that sort of thing!

    /sarcasm mixed with exasperation

  15. 15
    David Marjanović

    Culture shocks between people who believe they have the same culture are the worst. I guess the people you mention expected to be greeted in a very extroverted way…

    Well, yes. Feminist Hair + truth? That’s beyond mean.

    + 1

    She has an email from you proving that she didn’t.

    Winning your own thread is not fair! I’m telling a monitor.

  16. 16
    Rumtopf

    That’s actually hilarious coming from Sara Mayhew, considering her behaviour towards Ophelia Benson and her involvement with the FTBullies crap on twitter. Even funnier if she considers herself to be a great role model. Oh, sigh.

  17. 17
    Hank_Says

    I’ll comment here because for some reason my attempt to log in at SK punted me onto the spam list (the horror! freeze peach etc!).

    Mayhew: for the love of Odin, get a fucking hobby. Preferably one offline. Your behaviour is creepy and weird and I’m pretty sure that if the situations were reversed you’d probably have called the Internet Police on RW by now.

  18. 18
    Seize

    Mayhew is triggering the reflexive embarrassment-feels so nauseating I want to reboot my limbic system. STAHP. A hobby indeed. Perhaps woodworking.

  19. 19
    ck

    Wait, does Rebecca Watson have a mean alter-ego named Heather Watson? And does that mean I have to blame Heather Watson for everything, too?

  20. 20
    Forelle

    I’ve already read this Mayhew person quoted here and there, but if I hadn’t, the ridiculous italics would have put me on my guard:

    [The message] came from a mother whose daughters were the ones who were treated coldly by who they thought were role models, Rebecca Watson and her clique of Skepchick mean girls.

    Somebody’s daughters!!! Rebecca Watson and her acolytes want to ruin motherhood. The horror!

  21. 21
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Rebecca Watson has made me smile on many occasions.

    Damn her!

  22. 22
    Eristae

    I once went to a convention that PZ Myers was a speaker at. He didn’t say one word to me. Of course, I never approached him, either, but clearly it was his job to telepathically be aware of who I was and seek me out. He’s such a beach.

    (did I spell that right?) *scrolls up* (crap! It’s “beeotch”)

  23. 23
    Francisco Bacopa

    Why the fuck do so many people care about Rebecca Watson? Yes, I saw the original Elevatorgate video. So? Yeah, elevator guy was either clueless or creepy, what else is new? And the original video had the elevator stuff tagged on at the end of a vi.deo that was mostly about other more interesting stuff.

    Who the fuck cares? I didn’t care. Yup, a few dudes be clueless or crazy. What else is new? I really thought nothing of Watson’s casual comments.

    But somehow a woman casually expressing her opinion at the end of a video mostly about other stuff founded an evil movement. It took me a while to understand that a woman expressing a fairly trivial opinion was a grave offense. And really, what Watson said was almost nothing, just a basic bit of advice to the clueless and careless, and a reasonable warning to the harmful.

    Why the fuck does anyone care about Watson so much? I still watch her vids and read Skepchick from time to time, but they are not as good as they used to be. Why does she need to be harassed for a casual comment at the video that pretty much made sense? Why does anyone care? It was almost nothing.

    I never really understood misogyny before Elevatorgate. I knew it was there and I tried to note it in myself and call it out among men at times, but why the fuck does anyone care what Watson said. Blah, blah, blah about interesting stuff, short bit about a clueless or creepy dude. Yeah, cool story. I’ll put him in the clueless category unless I find out more, but I understand the creep factor. Yep, this happens. How can we reduce this shit to make conferences better? Seems like a good goal.

    What Watson said seemed to me mundane and simple. But somehow it sparked an outrage. I never understood misogyny until my supposed fellow secularists harassed me off of ERV for saying that Watson had really done nothing at all.

    I never

  24. 24
    jennifred

    Being as we are both from Northern Ontario (Kirkland Lake, yeah!) I really wanted to give Sara a chance. But I have actually met Rebecca in Edmonton and she was friendly, funny and polite to everyone during and after the talk. When I first started listening to SGU around 2010 I wasn’t a fan of Rebecca’s, but watching her handle this onslaught of hatred with strength has earned my respect (plus she kicks ass at science or fiction).

  25. 25
    Marcus Ranum

    I used to have all my emails back to 1981. But at one job (because I was afraid they’d come after me for stealing company data) I lost all my back emails that were stored on a corporate server. So now I only have everything from 2000 on. I’m bummed about that because I wanted to do some statistics about spam.

  26. 26
    Marcus Ranum

    Rebecca Watson made her enemies Ridiculous! And she stole that technique from Voltaire! (shakes fist)

  27. 27
    photon

    I was at a conference last year & DJ Grothe completely ignored me! How dare he!

    Of course, if I’d actually gone & talked to him, I imagine he would have been polite & friendly, like Rebecca was when I talked to her.

  28. 28
    MrFancyPants

    I don’t know where you got this reputation for being friendly, either, PZ. I still remember that time I showed up for a Seattle horde meetup with you in a bar for beer and conversation and you had the unmitigated gall to slowly make your way around the huge long table and engage everyone equally in friendly conversation. It’s almost like you were interested in the actual people who answered your beer call and didn’t want anyone to feel left out. How creepy and weird is THAT?! I think I should relate this tale of perfidy to Sara Mayhew, no doubt she’d be verrrrry interested.

  29. 29
    screechymonkey

    MrFancyPants@28, I think we can then look forward to a tweet along the following lines:

    I don’t know where you got this reputation for being friendly, either, PZ. I still remember that time I showed up for a Seattle horde meetup with you in a bar for beer and conversation and you had the unmitigated gall to . . . engage everyone equally in . . . creepy and weird . . . perfidy.

  30. 30
    Great American Satan

    OK, Skepchick is KOed for me. DDoS attack? Dunno. So I comment here.

    Having read the whole thing, I can actually see where the jerks are coming from, so in an uncharacteristic spirit of generosity, I will defend them.

    Sarah Mayhew had no way of knowing the message she got was lies, because it dovetailed neatly with the lies she tells herself (as well as being very flattering to her), so is she spreading lies? Not as far as she knows. As the message read, I was surprised it was real at all, because it seemed like the sort of thing a secret male admirer would send her. A little too flattering.

    The lady in question. Totally unreasonable, yes. But, Rebecca’s very kind response to her did suggest that she should come up to the table and intro the kids in the future, which can be interpreted as she should have done so at the event in question. Which is exactly the sort of take-away a very sensitive person might have from Rebecca’s message, and the sort of thing which gets exaggerated and twisted with time. Completely nice and good people will have this kind of problem.

    Example: My guy makes a webcomic. Someone wrote a glowing review of it, but in the spirit of being critical said one tiny thing negative about it. Years later, what does my guy remember? How does he feel? He remembers only the negative, and says, “Fuck that guy.” Not publicly, mind you, which is where my guy is better than this lady. He didn’t air his twisted interpretation and grudge publicly.

    Then again, this lady may not have intended for the comment to be public either. Suppose that depends on whether it was a PM on facebook, or a wall post. So…

    It could be that no one involved thinks of anything that was said as a lie. Indeed, having seen this sort of thinking first hand, I believe it is possible the mom is a totally nice and reasonable person, most of the time. I kinda doubt it, but I know it’s possible.

    All that said, I agree with Rebecca 100% and think Sara Mayhew is huffing slyme fumes. She is a flippin’ laughing stock to anyone outside the JREF / Slyme bubble. I tire of her poop.

  31. 31
    Hank_Says

    Here’s what I know of these two women.

    Rebecca Watson: Skepchick founder who works constantly to get people, especially, women, interested in skepticism; innumerable posts and vids and public appearances on record; apparently stabbed a disabled guy in an elevator seventeen times with a hat-pin because he asked her to select his floor for him (that’s what I heard on twitter, might well be anecdotal)

    Sara Mayhew: someone who constantly fucking harps on other people – from two blog networks in particular – for reasons that I don’t believe she’s made very clear, to the point where any time I hear the name “Sara Mayhew” I instantly think of “adolescent spite”; countless snipey fucking tweets, even @ people who’ve blocked her because of her countless snipey fucking tweets.

    Apart from piss on other peoples’ parades and partake in hilarious hashtag pile-ons, I actually have no idea what Mayhew does. I hadn’t even heard of Mayhew before the harassment policy shit hit the fan; then, all of a sudden, there she is on the slymey ol’ blandwagon of hatred and graaagh. Can someone please tell me what this vendetta is that she’s got against FtB and SK? Did they imprison her father’s soul in a black crystal beyond the event horizon of a supermassive black hole several galaxies hence? Shit in her cornflakes?

  32. 32
    MrFancyPants

    Hankstar @31:
    I’m certainly no expert on the history, but Sara seems to have jumped over the fault line to the other side when the Deep Rifts started. Which is a shame, because at one time she was friendly — she modeled some of Surly Amy’s art, if I’m not mistaken. I’m not certain what caused her to become so vitriolic towards the people running Skepchick, but wow did she take that to the limit. As for what she does, she’s an artist herself, and a talented one, afaict, although I’m not really into the stuff that she does so I’m not the best judge. Like I commented on RW’s blog post, what I’ve learned from SM is: don’t be a mean-spirited person. It doesn’t ultimately affect the people you direct it at, but it does damage your ability to be thoughtful, perceptive, and fair.

    Screechymonkey@29:
    HAHA! You just made my night :)

  33. 33
    Hank_Says

    Thanks MrFancyPants (@32).

    I guess that’s what I really want to know: who is Sara Mayhew that she manages to take everything Rebecca Watson (et al) does so seemingly personally? Why is it that she appears to take such a disproportionate interest in those she hates? What has Rebecca ever done to harm Sara’s work or prospects or industry or friends or personal happiness? I might never find out; I suspect a lot of those answers will be in Sara’s head.

    Who knows, I might’ve really dug SM’s art; but as this ridiculous hateful one-sided tween-war is the first and only impression I have of her, I’ve not wanted to bother looking any further than that.

    Usually with artists/musos whoever, you get to know their work first and hear how fucked-up they are later on; then you can make the decision whether to continue following them. With Mayhew, not so much – her hate-tweets have pretty much dissolved any chance of me being interested in what she actually does, ever. It’s frankly really fucking sad but hey – maybe she doesn’t need any more interest in her work. Maybe she’s quite content with the fans she already has/followers she apparently paid for on twitter.

  34. 34
    Ing

    Sarah Mayhew had no way of knowing the message she got was lies, because it dovetailed neatly with the lies she tells herself (as well as being very flattering to her), so is she spreading lies? Not as far as she knows. As the message read, I was surprised it was real at all, because it seemed like the sort of thing a secret male admirer would send her. A little too flattering.

    Cause we all know how the slyme hates people doing this right PZ?

  35. 35
    Great American Satan

    I’m not sure you understood me, Indigo. I know Mayhew is a slymer by association and wouldn’t be surprised if a slymie admirer of her sent a supportive letter pretending to be this lady. As it turned out, the lady was real, but I thought the phrasing seemed a little too fawning, hence my (disproven) notion.

    In Watson’s article, there’s a few links to a situation where Mayhew picked up 26000 bot followers on twitter, which was obviously paid-for shenanigans to boost her rating. When caught, Mayhew played dumb, while acknowledging it must have been bot activity. It occurred to me (again, maybe too generously) that she might be telling the truth.

    Team Harassment looks less like a grody he-man woman hater’s club the more prominent they display the ladies in their ranks, so someone might have bot-followed Mayhew to promote her, totally unbidden.

    None of that makes her look much better. I still count myself as generally disgusted by her conduct, and second the person above who said she’s alienating potential audience for her art with this activity.

  36. 36
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Mr. Fancy Pants

    Which is a shame, because at one time she was friendly — she modeled some of Surly Amy’s art, if I’m not mistaken.

    In that case I’m just laughing my ass off because one of Sara’s hobbies nowadays is to tell the world how Amy is such a baby for playing with clay and glitter.

  37. 37
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    Did they seriously call Greta Christina a bitch (in some silly “I’m not really saying bitch!” term?)

    I met Greta at WiS, she and Ingrid were super-sweet! I showed them pictures of my kitties!

  38. 38
    embertine

    Kevin, that is because kitty pictures are a magic spell that instantly sedates the venom of the Pernicious Feminazi. Had you not proferred the kitty pictures, Greta would have paralysed you with one savage bite, then dragged you back to her foetid, slime-filled lair for later consumption. True fact.

    I’m in awe of those who are saying that this lady is probably a nice person. You are lovely, lovely optimists. But. Um, no. Her email to Rebecca was entitled and passive aggressive. Not to mention delusional if she honestly thinks that Rebecca and Amy should have dropped what they were doing and made a beeline for her daughters because they should have telepathically sensed that the girls might like to speak to them. And is still harping on about it, having worked up a nice head of righteous indignation, two years later.

    She’s a little-n narcissist, and I am sick of giving these people the benefit of the doubt only to find out they are even worse than they initially seemed to be.

  39. 39
    zenlike

    Great American Satan @30

    Sarah Mayhew had no way of knowing the message she got was lies, because it dovetailed neatly with the lies she tells herself (as well as being very flattering to her), so is she spreading lies? Not as far as she knows.

    I guess it depends on the follow up. If she posts a retraction, then yes, the only thing you can fault her for is jumping on an assertion coming from an unknown source just because it confirmed her biases (which is ironic seeing what shitstorm the slymers conjured up when PZ reported on what he heard about Shermer coming from a source actually known to him). If not, then no, no slack should be given to her whatsoever.

    If history is a lesson, then no, she probably will not post a retraction, but will dig in her heels further.

  40. 40
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @embertine:

    Yea, I noticed that too. Given the passive-aggressive and entitled nature of the woman’s e-mail, I’m surprised Rebecca answered so politely.

    And re: kitty pictures – Oh I didn’t know that. Good thing I was prepared!

  41. 41
    embertine

    It’s always a good idea to keep a portfolio of them about your person just in case. I personally have a picture of my cat T, who looks very like one of Greta’s, rolling on her back to expose her furry belly. It’s Greta’s Kryptonite, I’m telling you. Only thus may you appease the monster.

  42. 42
    Moggie

    embertine:

    It’s always a good idea to keep a portfolio of them about your person just in case. I personally have a picture of my cat T, who looks very like one of Greta’s, rolling on her back to expose her furry belly. It’s Greta’s Kryptonite, I’m telling you. Only thus may you appease the monster.

    You’re dicing with death, you know. Greta strikes like lightning when she senses fear. Rather than waste precious seconds fumbling for those pictures, why not wear a kitteh t-shirt?

  43. 43
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @embertine:

    I have a kitty named Houdini, and he does this super-cute begging thing. His cuteness can melt the most stoic of Pernicious Feminazi.

  44. 44
    Jackie

    Had you not proferred the kitty pictures, Greta would have paralysed you with one savage bite, then dragged you back to her foetid, slime-filled lair for later consumption. True fact.

    She turned me into a newt.

    I got better.

  45. 45
    Cynickal

    I always try to be friendly when I meet people at conferences and stuff — maybe I should stop, it’s probably contributing to this horrible “teddy bear” reputation I’ve been afflicted with

    No worries about that. You gave me a fearsome scowl when I asked a lazy question at NorwesCon.

  46. 46
    Cynickal

    @Hankstar @31

    Rebecca Watson: Skepchick founder who works constantly to get people, especially, women, interested in skepticism; innumerable posts and vids and public appearances on record; apparently stabbed a disabled guy in an elevator seventeen times with a hat-pin because he asked her to select his floor for him

    That’s a darn dirty lie!
    It was a katana.

  47. 47
    MrFancyPants

    Giliell@36:

    Which is a shame, because at one time she was friendly — she modeled some of Surly Amy’s art, if I’m not mistaken.

    In that case I’m just laughing my ass off because one of Sara’s hobbies nowadays is to tell the world how Amy is such a baby for playing with clay and glitter.

    Yep. Here is a link, in fact.

  48. 48
    Greta Christina

    Had you not proferred the kitty pictures, Greta would have paralysed you with one savage bite, then dragged you back to her foetid, slime-filled lair for later consumption. True fact.

    embertine: FOOL! HOW DARE YOU REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THE BITCH-GODDESS! PRAY YOU NEVER ENCOUNTER ME IN THE FLESH, LEST YOU FEEL THE FULL FORCE OF MY WRATH!

    Oh, and can you send me some pictures of your kitty? I’d love to see them. Kitteh belleh!

  49. 49
    pneumo

    I think the important message in SM:s Surlyramics promotion can be found in the use of this phrase:

    “Surly Amy, a Skepchick and the artist behind Surly-Ramics, took some lovely photos of me wearing her beautiful handmade jewelery”.

    The operant part of course is “some lovely photos of me”.

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