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Nov 03 2013

I get email

Well, darn. I guess I can’t just shut down the whole blog now.

I’ve been following your blog for a long time now, starting as a 16-year-old Christian trying to cope with my father’s sudden cardiac-related death. With help from you and many other intelligent, unyielding atheist commentators, I’ve long since shed the religious mindset and all its associated toxicity.

Today, FreethoughtBlogs remains as important as ever in maintaining my sanity. Over the past few years I have managed to rid myself of an eating disorder that has haunted me from my youth, but I still find myself vulnerable to hurtful comments about appearance and its relation to a woman’s worth as a person — a susceptibility against which the recent profusion of MRA nastiness on the internet has preyed. However, every time I am drawn into the bowels of MRA pseudoscience that would have me believe that as a 23-year-old woman, the quality and value of my life will decrease with each passing day (and commensurate drop in my “SMV”), I meander over to your blog to receive the antidote — healthy servings of science and compassion — and leave with my self-esteem and knowledge increased.

I want to sincerely thank you and your regulars for your tireless dismantling of nonsense — religious, MRA, libertarian, or otherwise — and for sharing your love of science. I’m proud to announce that in May, I — despite my inauspicious beginnings as a Christian bulimic from a family netting $17,000 a year — will be graduating from a prestigious university with a degree in the sciences, a love for which field your posts helped to kindle.

You will never know how much your blog has helped to change my life for the better.

44 comments

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  1. 1
    otrame

    Hey, emailer, sorry about your dad. I’m glad you have been so successful at getting past all that crap. One of the best, and most truthful passages in the Bible says, “The truth will set you free.” I believe that absolutely, even if the person who wrote it had a very different idea of truth than I do.

  2. 2
    observer

    Alas, no. You can’t shut it down while there is still good work to be done. But you can, and should, give yourself a pat on the back for the good you’ve done so far. Congratulations!

  3. 3
    marcus

    Although the impacts on my life have not been as impressive and/or life-changing as in the life of this remarkable, articulate young woman’s, I have to say that I definitely appreciate being able to “…meander over to your blog to receive the antidote — healthy servings of science and compassion — and leave with my self-esteem and knowledge increased.”

    Well done PZ and minions (of which I’m happily one)! You guys do make a real difference in real people’s lives. Thanks.

  4. 4
    Inaji

    I — despite my inauspicious beginnings as a Christian bulimic from a family netting $17,000 a year — will be graduating from a prestigious university with a degree in the sciences, a love for which field your posts helped to kindle.

    Congratulations! What a wonderful achievement, and such a journey for you. May it continue in wonder and happiness.

  5. 5
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @that is awesome, PZ: good for Writer and good for you.

    i note that Writer mentions your regulars and here pause to say that credit is also yours to some signifiant degree, b/c the regulars wouldn’t reach each other, Writer, or anyone else without the work that you did to bake P from scratch.

    I, too, have been positively impacted by P, and deeply appreciate this space. So let me take this time to add to Writer’s thanks.

  6. 6
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Congrats on your success, Writer!

  7. 7
    dianne

    Hi, letter writer. Why not pull up a chair and hang out in the lounge for a while? We don’t bite very much.

  8. 8
    carlie

    PZ – I’m so glad people let you know what this blog means to them.

    Writer – thank you for sharing, and congratulations on doing so well. Please keep reading, and I hope you’re also commenting. :)

  9. 9
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I don’t know about PZ, but a letter like that would put a renewed spring in my step for a while.

  10. 10
    RFW

    “vulnerable to hateful comments”

    When someone makes a hateful comment (or, for that matter, gives a Craigslist forum posting a negative rating), they’re saying something about themselves, not about the target of their hate.

    They’re saying, for example, “I like to pretend to be king of the mountain but you make me worry about my position.” Or “I’m jealous of you and your (better looks, greater intelligence, happiness)”.

    Getting a reaction out of a target is exactly what they want. The OP’s vulnerability is the cherry on top of the hater’s sundae.

    To the OP, a simple one-size-fits-all response to hateful remarks: You’re just jealous. Then giggle a little and walk away with your head high. You may find rehearsing this in front of the bathroom mirror will help you carry it off the first time or two, but after you’ve left one or two nasty people standing there speechless with mouth open, you’ll be able to carry on without further rehearsal necessary.

  11. 11
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    I checked with the Supreme Court and it’s true. If something is having its intended positive effect, it’s time to shut it down. You could look it up (Shelby County v. Holder (pdf)).

  12. 12
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @hercules:

    i see what you did there…

  13. 13
    opposablethumbs

    Congratulations on your imminent degree and on your whole wonderful achievement, emailer. You have a hell of a lot to be proud of!

    Thank you again PZ for making this space what it is.

  14. 14
    marcoli

    I am sitting here with eyes brimming with tears. I go to many of the major science and skepticism blogs, but Pharyngula still has the best balance of humanism, activism, and science. I learn and grow here every day. Thank you as well, PZ.

  15. 15
    Inaji

    RFW:

    To the OP, a simple one-size-fits-all response to hateful remarks: You’re just jealous. Then giggle a little and walk away with your head high.

    That’s very junior high, and shallow, to say the least. Adults should strive for better.

  16. 16
    Seize

    Emailer, congrats on your degree, and on your growth over the past few years.

  17. 17
    Lynna, OM

    Hi, Emailer, that was such a pleasant letter that I just wanted to thank you.

    Yes, there are some bitter dregs in your history, but the progress you have made is undeniable.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

  18. 18
    sirbedevere

    Thanks for posting that letter, PZ. Though Pharyngula is one of my favorite daily reads I do occasioanly get a little depressed with all the bad news and stupidity in the world. Something like this makes my day a little brighter.

  19. 19
    cicely

    *hugs or other non-intrusive-and-refusable gestures of comfort, sympathy, and support* for the Unknown Emailer. I’m sorry you lost your dad. I lost mine suddenly, too. I sometimes still get teary-eyed, 25 years later.
    Right now, in fact.
     
     
    Also, please add my congratulations for your scholastic accomplishments to the growing heap.
    :)
    -
    Also also, I’d like to add my appreciation to the pile, to PZ, for making this awesome place both awesome, and available. It’s not all just electrons uselessly cast on the winds. There’s your tangible impact, right there *pointing to email above*.
    -

  20. 20
    WhiteHatLurker

    Good to see email like this. Not as amusing as the rest that you post, but much more thought provoking.

    I had to look up SMV. Wouldn’t an interest in science raise that?

  21. 21
    magistramarla

    What an awesome e-mail! Congratulations to this young woman and best wishes for a successful career in science.
    I’m sure that PZ and others who post here must agree with me that this is one of the finest perks that we have as educators. When a young person lets us know that we have had a positive impact upon their lives, it makes all of the late nights spent grading and lesson planning well worth it.
    Congrats to PZ as well! Keep up the good work, sir.

  22. 22
    Bicarbonate is back

    Congrats PZ and to all of the regulars that made this possible!

    Dear Letter Writer, Me too. Pharyngula has done more for me than anti-depressants ever did. Keep up the good work!

  23. 23
    Malachite

    *blub*

  24. 24
    No One

    Good for you. One thing I taught my daughter; don’t let the assholes intimidate you. They count on the “fear factor” to work in their favor. I know it ‘s hard to maintain sometimes, but it’s worth perfecting “composure under stress”. Learn and develop a method. It will serve you well. You deserve it.

  25. 25
    morgan ?! epitheting a metaphor

    Oh holy Maude, I’m gonna cry. Thank you to The Writer for letting PZ know the value Pharyngula has had for you, and huge thanks to PZ for hanging in against all the slings and arrows. Likewise, dear writer, this community has been a life-changer for me.

  26. 26
    knowknot

    - Bless you, bless you, bless you. Respect and admiration for everything you’ve achieved and survived. Nothing but love for it all.
    - Your story is one of the clearest statements of the effects of what we now call “MRA” I can imagine. (Perhaps I should say MRA and all the variously ignorant and damaging bits that travel with and support it.)
    - I’ve spent considerable time trying to make sense of what is at the core of this illness. Given limited preparation for an analysis of such scope, this is what I think now: It is all, in the end and in some way, the result of an absence of the courage required separate one’s “sense of self” from the contents of a received imagination; and maybe just lack of imagination to boot. And lack of compassion is a required factor. I think it’s all made worse by religion due to the following functions (proposed by ???): understanding varies inversly to certainty / compassion varies inversely to belief (generally).
    - Saying this, I must admit I am not immune. But much more importantly, I sincerely hope that your work of healing continues, and that you remain as free as is possible from the harm of this and any similar negative forces.

  27. 27
    knowknot

    I just love me some errors. Should have been “… courage required TO separate …”
    Apologies for this and whatever else I haven’t noticed.

  28. 28
    noodle

    @WhiteHatLurker “I had to look up SMV. Wouldn’t an interest in science raise that?”

    You would think so. However, according to the guy who drew that infamous picture from last week (I won’t call it a graph since it contains no data), female intellect of any seriousness actually decreases SMV.

    It’s pretty messed up.

  29. 29
    quartercalling

    Thanks for sharing your story, Email-Writer! I’m so happy that you’ve accomplished so much, and I have a feeling you’re going to accomplish more than you’ve ever dreamed you could!

  30. 30
    quartercalling

    @noodle: It’s because a woman with brains intimidates them. Their “game” is based entirely on manipulation, and women who have intelligence and experience are less likely to fall for it. Why do you think they like the idea of teenage girls so much?

  31. 31
    Robin Grant

    Awww

  32. 32
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    Let me add my congratulations and sympathies to the original writer and to all here who make these blogs a better place.

    It’s been my experience that in general, I’ve seen more sincere, caring, and thoughtful comments from the atheists, humanists, and liberal religious people here than in just about all of the fundamentalists’ comments, even towards people who make up the opposition. It’s a thoughtful, wise, empathetic group here, and I hope you continue to take inspiration from them, and become one of the many commenters. Good luck, and I hope your science-oriented degree gives you as much satisfaction and enjoyment as mine has.

  33. 33
    Stacy

    Congratulations, Writer. All the best to you,

    PZ, you done good.

  34. 34
    Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness

    How heartening to hear that you can start in one place and yet come a long long way. You have to have smarts, emailer, and discipline and courage. I hope you will up-date us all as you proceed in life. It’s great to hear actual good news.

    All the best to you!

  35. 35
    satanaugustine

    Oh my. (Tears…….)

  36. 36
    Ex Patriot

    May I add my congratulatiions to the writer for her accomplishments and may she go on to greater ones in her lifetime.
    PZ thank you for he wonderful work you do. I hope you able to continue on for many years to come.

  37. 37
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Congrats on the degree, Writer, and on getting past all the shit. DLTBGYD.

    @WhiteHatLurker #20

    The usual MRA trick of assuming that their biased opinion is fact and attempting to shore that assumption up with some hilariously circular logic. PZ did a couple of posts on it just last week.

  38. 38
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Hey, you with the email: You’re awesome. Don’t forget it.

  39. 39
    noodle

    #30 quartercalling. “Their ‘game’ is based entirely on manipulation, and women who have intelligence and experience are less likely to fall for it. Why do you think they like the idea of teenage girls so much?”

    Maybe. I don’t presume to judge other people’s relationships or what they find attractive. Heck, I married a woman considerably younger than me. (I ‘gamed’ her with sincere love, respect, and devotion.) What I simply can’t understand is attraction to the vacuous. I find it boring on the personal level and utterly destructive on the societal level (see: Idiocracy).

    So, to the emailer: if you’re good at science, stay with it and succeed at it. You have value for both who you are and for what you do.

  40. 40
    Doug Little

    Some good news for a change.

  41. 41
    michaelpowers

    I once had a young lady tell me, “I wanna be you when I grow up.” I was so touched (and, admittedly caught off guard, because of my own admiration for her) that I suspect like you, all could manage was a glib response. So I said, “You wanna be a middle-aged, overweight, white guy? We should talk about raising those standards a bit.” She’s now off doing post graduate work

  42. 42
    cicely

    Funny stuff:
     
    From Tree Lobsters!, Debate and Switch.
     
    Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
     
    Last but not least,
     
    Medium Large.
    -

  43. 43
    cicely

    Oops! Wrong thread. Not Relevant To The Point At Hand.
    ‘Scuses.
    -

  44. 44
    fly44d

    Good stuff.
    The impact of having an impact is the impact of not impacting.
    PZ and the awesome regulars, going to be a long time before you can shut down, without impact, voluntarily.

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