Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Why won’t you play with us? »« Yes, really

When will this situation improve?

Maybe never. I know a lot of you hate facebook (with good reason), so I’ll just copy this straight from facebook so you can read it here.

From former JREF Outreach Coordinator Brian Thompson:

“Let me explain why I’m supporting Karen Stollznow’s legal defense fund. Maybe some of my Facebook friends don’t know who she is or what this is all about. Karen is a linguist, writer, and investigator who looks into claims of the paranormal, the supernatural, and the outrageous with a skeptical eye. Skeptics like her do a lot of good for the world in ways large and small. They’re the ones fighting against the kind of scientific ignorance that keeps people from vaccinating their kids, for example. And if it weren’t for skeptical investigators, I might still be cowered in fear every night thinking aliens were going to abduct me or ghosts were going to throw things around my bedroom. Now I’m just cowered in fear thinking that I might never be on one of those interior design makeover shows. This is progress.

I believe so strongly in the good work these skeptics do that several years ago I started hanging out with them, working on activism projects with them, and drinking lots and lots of booze with them. I went to their conferences and meetings and pre-swingers’ parties, and for a couple of years I even worked in an official capacity with one of the world’s most well-known skeptical activism nonprofits, the James Randi Educational Foundation.

In that time I got to know a lot of great people. I’m not going to name them all, because I know I’ll leave out Christian Walters, and then our lovemaking will take a passive-aggressive turn. But a lot of people who share this common interest in making the world a better place through rationalism are kind, honest, funny, talented, and valuable friends. Then there are people like Christian who are maybe just two or three of those.

But I no longer identify with this community of benevolent know-it-alls, because not all of them are the best folks in the world. In fact, a good percentage of the top ten worst humans I’ve ever met are prominent members of the skeptics’ club. They’re dishonest, mean-spirited, narcissistic, misogynistic. Pick a personality flaw, and I can probably point you to someone who epitomizes it. And that person has probably had a speaking slot at a major skeptical conference.

I grew particularly disgusted with the boys’ club attitude I saw among skeptical leaders and luminaries. The kind of attitude that’s dismissive of women, sexually predatory, and downright gross. When I first started going to skeptical conferences as a fresh-faced know-it-all, I started hearing things about people I once admired. Then I started seeing things myself. Then I got a job with the JREF, and the pattern continued.

There’s a particular guy popular with the skeptical crowd who writes books, gives talks, and wears bicycle shorts. What’s not to love? Well, a female friend of mine told me she didn’t like it very much when he locked eyes with her from across a room and pointed to his dick. When I started working for the JREF, my boss described this same guy as an “old school misogynist”. Then a friend told me this same skeptical celebrity had groped another speaker at a conference. Grabbed her breast without invitation. Sexually assaulted her. Then my boss told me that not only did this assault happen, but that he witnessed it and intervened. The woman who was assaulted won’t name names for fear of being dragged through the mud. Another woman I know has told me that this same guy assaulted her. Others have confirmed her story to me. I believe her. But she’s remained anonymous for much the same reasons.

I’m tired of this. I’m tired of hearing about sexual predators like Mr. Bicycle Shorts, who has yet again been invited to speak at the JREF’s annual conference. I’m tired of hearing things like what I’ve heard from [redacted]. That my old boss grabbed his junk in a car and said he would be “presidentially displeased” if [redacted] didn’t give my old boss a kiss.

I’m tired of people like Richard Dawkins, whose lashing out at my friend Rebecca Watson for having the nerve to talk about what kind of male attention makes her uncomfortable has led to years of the most heinous abuse being flung at her and her colleagues. Heinous, woman-hating abuse from enthusiastic members of this broken little community of freethinkers.

Pardon my Yiddish, but oy, that shit’s fucked. And it’s also fucked that people are afraid to speak out about their stories for fear that it will become the focus of their careers or that their privacy will be destroyed or that they’ll be sued or that they’ll somehow damage organizations that do a lot of good work.

This makes me sick, and it makes me mad. So of course I’m going to help Karen speak up and fight back.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell: Karen used to work with another writer and investigator named Ben Radford at an organization called CFI. Karen says Radford continually harassed and abused her. She brought the situation to CFI, which found Radford guilty of some of Karen’s charges. Then they let him off with a slap on the wrist. Karen blogged about this. Radford sued her for defamation.

Based on the evidence I’ve seen, my own experience with Radford’s dishonest and creepy behavior, and the assurances from friends of mine who know more about this situation than I do, I’m willing to believe Karen. And more than that, I’m willing to put my money behind her efforts to fight back in court. Because she deserves the chance to make her case instead of having to fold under insurmountable financial pressure. Defending yourself in court isn’t cheap.

Also, I don’t like bullies or creeps. Especially the kinds of bullies and creeps who have been protected by their peers and allies in a community that places pseudo-celebrity and books about how lake monsters aren’t real above the well-being of women who are at least as vital to fighting the good fight. A fight, by the way, that’s about the righteousness of the truth.

So I’ve given to Karen’s fund. You can do the same here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/give-a-voice-to-harassment-victims/x/6875853

As long as atheism is about nothing but disbelieving in gods, and as long as skepticism is about nothing but demanding evidence, as long as there is no human heart behind the goals of these organizations, this behavior will continue. We must have secular values beyond simply rejecting claims; we must recognize the import and implications of living in a material, natural world; there must be secular values that give us purpose.

Comments

  1. says

    Word.

    I don’t like bullies or creeps. Especially the kinds of bullies and creeps who have been protected by their peers and allies in a community that places pseudo-celebrity and books about how lake monsters aren’t real above the well-being of women who are at least as vital to fighting the good fight. A fight, by the way, that’s about the righteousness of the truth.

    Fucking WORD.

  2. says

    It took some courage to come out and write that, since we know the people he’s castigating are more than willing to sue.

  3. Sunday Afternoon says

    I was reminded of an email exchange I had regarding the “Mr. Bicycle Shorts” situation last year with a “not quite as popular these days” online video comedy star. This prompted me to make a donation to Stollznow’s legal defense fund.

    I think you should too – “don’t make me beg!” to purloin a catchphrase…

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It took some courage to come out and write that, since we know the people he’s castigating are more than willing to sue.

    I think I could contribute to legal defense fundraiser for BT, and help bankrupt those willing to sue rather than admit they did bad.

  5. mikeyb says

    Totally true. Atheism should be about – loving science, striving to be a better person, recognizing your own faults continuously (not in a religious guilt driven way), and fighting the powers that be.

  6. rorschach says

    In fact, a good percentage of the top ten worst humans I’ve ever met are prominent members of the skeptics’ club.

    I get it that mileage may vary, but I wouldn’t go that far myself. It is disappointing to see that atheists and skeptics are in no way better than the average punter when it comes to ingrained misogyny and privilege.

    It is even more disappointing to see how many of atheists and skeptics turn out to be smug shallow dipshits who wallow in their perceived superiority over the religious or wooists while at the same time being thugs and harassers. But the thing is that we deluded ourselves into thinking it might not be so in the first place.

  7. weatherwax says

    Already gave.

    It’s a very sad situation for me as I had been a follower of BR for many years without knowing about any of this.

  8. Samuel Vimes says

    @ #4, or whomever else…

    I’m not aquainted with the incident, “bicycle shorts”-wise. Who does he mean?

  9. mikeyb says

    A large percentage of totally shallow atheists turn out to be libertarians and MRAs, it’s like the unholy trinity.

  10. weatherwax says

    Thanks for the info. I didn’t know he was either, but that was my guess. I was going to ask if he was big into libertarianism to clarify.

  11. Suido says

    This guy should work in, I dunno, outreach.

    That thing about being inclusive and making people interested in joining your organisation/movement/whatever, then happy/comfortable after joining? He gets it.

    No wonder he wanted out of JREF.

  12. wcorvi says

    This sort of behavior is mindbogglingly difficult to believe actually happens, but the evidence is pretty conclusive. I’m not actively into the skeptic scene, but a very good follower; I’m not too sure I want to be any more involved.

  13. Rey Fox says

    As soon as my tax refund is safely in hand, I’ll donate. Got another recipient in mind as well.

  14. Lofty says

    Strange how atheist clubs resembling churches attract people who think they ort to be the bishops. Then they do whatever the hell they want because the authority goes to their heads.
    I’ll donate again when I can.

  15. says

    Atheist misogynists are similar to religious misogynists, in that their firmly held beliefs define women as inferior to them. The only difference is that the religious say it’s because God made women that way, and the atheists/skeptics say it’s because nature made women that way.

  16. tsig says

    I do not know why people say this is hard to believe, anyone who has been in a male locker room or in the service knows that men are dicks. I grew up in Southern Ohio and beating your wife was standard practice. Since this whole thing started I’ve been astounded at the number of men and women who will deny that abuse of women is happening even while they are abusing a women.

    I haz a sad….:(

  17. draconius says

    Oh, but isn’t that divisive and extreme?

    I mean, we already let the whoa-men (or whatever they’re called) vote and even sometimes drive. What more do they want?

  18. rorschach says

    Atheist misogynists are similar to religious misogynists, in that their firmly held beliefs define women as inferior to them. The only difference is that the religious say it’s because God made women that way, and the atheists/skeptics say it’s because nature made women that way.

    I don’t find that the argument, if there ever is one, is about nature. Attitudes about gender equality are aqcuired and become ingrained through upbringing, socialization, copying behaviour from parents and peers (and people relevant in our lifes, like sports heroes etc), which is why atheists or skeptics are just as likely to be misogynists as everybody else. I don’t often see this rationalized through reference to it being somehow innate in nature. And keep in mind, even this “argument” is heavily influenced by, and amplified through, religious culture.

  19. says

    8, rorschach:

    It is even more disappointing to see how many of atheists and skeptics turn out to be smug shallow dipshits who wallow in their perceived superiority over the religious or wooists while at the same time being thugs and harassers. But the thing is that we deluded ourselves into thinking it might not be so in the first place.

    I did precisely this – and of course it was revealed a long time ago that I had no good reason to do so. Additionally and greatly disappointing to discover that people like Dawkins were among the worst equivocators & defenders of sexism.

    11, mikeyb:

    A large percentage of totally shallow atheists turn out to be libertarians and MRAs, it’s like the unholy trinity.

    To me, this begs the question “Were such people Randroids and misogynists before they left religion/got involved with atheism and skepticism?” There are likely multiple explanations (and combinations thereof):

    – worship of deities and the Dear Market™ appear to go hand-in-hand with many believers, as does said worship and a lack of appreciation for the status of women as autonomous humans. Anything associated with a religion you spent much of your life marinating in can be very difficult to let go; many opinions may be retained but the religious reasoning behind them is eschewed for reasoning that’s secular (even if equally flawed as the religious). Secular arguments against abortion anyone?

    – abandoning religion is often accompanied/spurred on by healthy anti-authoritarianism; this all-too-easily can morph into general anti-government sentiment and resentment of being told how to behave around women. “How dare you tell me who to have sex with or what to think?” isn’t that far from “How dare you tell me how to seek sexual favours?”

    – frequently seen among godless MRA/PUAs is a variation of the naturalistic fallacy: “It’s a man’s job to hunt and compete for and win sex,” (a paraphrase of many comments I saw in the original Elevator video before I installed a comment-blocking browser plugin) which leads to all kinds of excuses for creepy/predatory/rapey behaviour.

    I’m sure there are loads more I’ve not thought of; these were the ones that occurred to me immediately. Age demographic may have something to do with it: I’ve noticed a correlation between MRA/Randroid atheists and single white guys from affluent nations in the 20-35 age group. Traditionally the most anti-authoritarian and pro-picking-up-women demographic imaginable – especially among guys in their first few years in university, which is when Randian market-worship (just like its opposite number, Marxism) is likely to be the most attractive to an impressionable mind just cresting adulthood and crystalling its opinions, and the freedom to visit bars and chat ladies up without a curfew is a relatively new and exciting one.

    This is just my personal observation though, so don’t think I’m claiming it’s an accurate representation.

  20. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I don’t often see this rationalized through reference to it being somehow innate in nature.

    Really? I see it constantly.

  21. plainenglish says

    Am sending what I can to help… While a borg-again Christian, I pondered how those who have given themselves to Christ could commit such heinous crimes against children, against women and strangers. After falling away into the light of non-belief, I simply waited…. to confirm that we are all the same dudes with dicks… Gawd, no-Gawd…. This is not about Atheism or Theism or any other ism as we all know. It is about people who do not deal with their damaged way of being among others, and with themselves. Fuck the bully…. When I was 12, I fought a bully and managed to survive. He backed off and did not try to hurt me again but he did not change his ways among others….. I feel a horror in my bones when I think what might have become of me if he defeated my resistance, if he had his way…. I much admire Mr. Myers for taking this on. And I much admire all victims who tell the truth. My money is on the them.

  22. cicely says

    Brian Thompson, if you happen to pop in, here—thank you.
     
    It’s things like this that limit my despair for/of humanity.
    -

  23. Athywren says

    This whole thing freaks the hell out of me. Ok, the atheism part, I get, being an atheist only means you figured out that the sky is blue. What I don’t understand is the skepticism part. The whole point of being a skeptic is learning to avoid cognitive traps, or to recognize them, isn’t it? But every skeptic I’ve known who marches along with the anti-women-are-people message just spouts fallacies and accusations instead of reason… I’ve lost count of the times I’ve thrown Rebecca Watson under the bus, just to get beyond Godwin.
    It really scares me, to be honest… what pet prejudice of my own might cause me to toss reason out window? Is it avoidable?
    I think I’d rather be a kitty – I’m pretty sure all they worry about is how to leap on Tweety Pie.

  24. screechymonkey says

    Athywren@31:

    The whole point of being a skeptic is learning to avoid cognitive traps, or to recognize them, isn’t it?

    Maybe that is or should be the point of being a skeptic. But at least for many people, being a capital-S Skeptic — the kind of person who blogs or comments a lot on skeptical issues, attends events and conferences, etc. — is about basking in one’s intellectual superiority. Sure, lip service is paid to the concept of how Skeptics, too, can be fooled or screw up…. but it often sounds a lot like believers who say “oh no, I recognize that I’m a sinner, too” while making it all too clear that they think that you’re the REAL sinner. I’ve seen Penn Jillette do his “(shrug) I just don’t know!” routine, and it doesn’t exactly come across as modesty to me.

    I’m not exempting myself from that, either — I know I have tendencies in that direction, and have to work on them. Which is why I agree with those who say that organized skepticism needs to move on from the easy targets like Bigfoot and dowsing, other than as a sort of “intro to skepticism” thing.

    Anyway, speaking of things I need to work on, time to go put some money where my mouth is.

  25. swampfoot says

    #29 plainenglish:

    While a borg-again Christian

    I sincerely hope that was intentional, but if not, hats off to you for making me laugh anyway. :-)

  26. anteprepro says

    Kudos to Brian Thompson.

    Fuck these organizations. The rot was and is obvious and they did nothing. Because apparently atheist groups model their ideals of institutional ethics and responsibility after the Catholic fucking Church.

  27. says

    Kudos to Brian Thompson. Seconding cicely upthread.

    ****

    Athywren:

    It really scares me, to be honest… what pet prejudice of my own might cause me to toss reason out window? Is it avoidable?

    Perhaps it’s not avoidable, but the fact that you’re asking these questions about yourself and given that you’re aware that you have prejudices says good things about you.

  28. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @rorschach #25
    “I don’t often see this rationalized through reference to it being somehow innate in nature.”

    I hear this rationalization all the time. ALL THE TIME.

  29. rorschach says

    I hear this rationalization all the time. ALL THE TIME.

    Yes of course, but I would argue that the origin of even this very bad argument that you might hear from skeptics is basically religious, not scientific. Misogyny is pervasive in society, one can not escape it. But its origin is ultimately religious, not scientific.

  30. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Also @rorshach #25
    Steven Pinker is one among many I can name who often uses the argument that if you don’t see a lot of women in a particular field, it’s due to nature, not sexism or a hostile environment. And he believes feminists are fighting ‘reality’.

    “And keep in mind, even this ‘argument’ is heavily influenced by, and amplified through, religious culture.”

    I don’t agree. I naively came to this thinking I finally found a pro-women, anti-sexist movement when I read Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ criticism of religious misogyny and sexism. But the very same people who criticize religious culture for it’s sexism seem to have no problem being sexists themselves.

  31. Menyambal says

    I noticed long ago that a lot of people who said they had converted to Christianity after being horrible sinners, hadn’t changed much. They were arrogant assholes before, now they were arrogant assholes for Jesus.

    I hadn’t thought of that for years, but it looks like the same holds true in any direction. A person who put a lot into proving he was the best bicyclist in the country, while still believing some odd shit, is going to keep proving he is the best around, and still believe some odd shit.

    As Pratchett says, the leopard doesn’t change his shorts. A quick conversion doesn’t change much but the top layer. A true re-working takes time. Hades, I am still learning and changing, and I was born inquisitive. Someone who has no introspection, and no Pharyngula, will never really change.

  32. rorschach says

    I naively came to this thinking I finally found a pro-women, anti-sexist movement when I read Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ criticism of religious misogyny and sexism.

    Try again: There is no good scientific argument pro misogyny and sexism. When skeptics or fascists or javelin throwers acquire these attitudes, it is from the people around them acting that way. Go back 2000 years, and the original instruction manual for all this shit is found in a religious book. Or two.

  33. theoreticalgrrrl says

    There is no good scientific argument but that doesn’t stop them from trying.

    Are you seriously blaming all sexist and women-hating attitudes on religion?

  34. Suido says

    @rorschach:

    Misogyny is pervasive in society, one can not escape it. But its origin is ultimately religious, not scientific.

    Really? That’s a big call.

    I would argue that gender roles developed in ancient societies through ‘might is right’ principles, and misogyny developed like many ‘othering’ attitudes to help maintain the status quo for the powerful. Religion was then used as an additional prop for maintaining that status quo – for example, the roles assigned to the Greek/Roman pantheon.

  35. anteprepro says

    Misogyny’s origin isn’t scientific or logical. A lot of religions are misogynistic. That doesn’t mean that misogyny is exclusively the effect of religion. Religion is a major contributor to culture, but culture still exists without it. And cultures can be misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc. with or without religion. They will be slightly less so without religion, but none of that shit disappears when religion’s influence is somehow taken out of the equation. Religion is a contributor, and a cause, but not THE cause.

  36. rorschach says

    Are you seriously blaming all sexist and women-hating attitudes on religion?

    Ultimately, yes. At least somewhat.
    Put it this way(other than just quoting Weinberg’s “for good people to do bad things…”) : How many instances have there been in history where the origins of sexism or misogyny were rationalised and codified in a non-religious context? Greek philosophy doesn’t lead to sexism(you could argue that Aristotle was a sexist, but to me he was primarily clueless about nature and physiology rather than malignant).

    But maybe I’m wrong. That’s the good thing about this blog, you learn stuff all the time..:-)

  37. Endorkened says

    I beg to differ with anyone who thinks that atheists are as prone to misogyny or any other social vice as the religious–the problem is simply that most of us aren’t atheists.

    For the most part, we aren’t true innocents, free of Yahweh and the taint it leaves in an infected mind–the majority of us are apostates, former believers still struggling with thousands of years of ubiquitous, societal-scale brainwashing. I call Yahweh by that name because it’s the most common name for the organism (the phenomenon, if you really want to quibble about technical definitions of life), but the fact is it’s more than just the obvious ritual symptoms of one particular strain–you don’t even have to consciously believe in a god to serve it.

    Translated from Endorkened-speak for your convenience: Shermer et al. have Christian cultural bugaboos whether they cop to it or not–and so do all ex-Christians, which is why we have to be on our toes. Atheism is an ideal you aspire to, not a club you join–I think that calling such spectacularly backwards people atheists cheapens the concept and insults everyone who’s better at it than them. Not necessarily counting myself here.

  38. ChasCPeterson says

    Steven Pinker is one among many I can name who often uses the argument that if you don’t see a lot of women in a particular field, it’s due to nature, not sexism or a hostile environment.

    1. that’s not “misogyny”.
    2. it’s a silly, facile caricature of Pinker’s actual argument.

    I am a feminist. I believe that women have been oppressed, discriminated against, and harassed for thousands of years. I believe that the two waves of the feminist movement in the 20th century are among the proudest achievements of our species, and I am proud to have lived through one of them, including the effort to increase the representation of women in the sciences.
    But it is crucial to distinguish the moral proposition that people should not be discriminated against on account of their sex — which I take to be the core of feminism — and the empirical claim that males and females are biologically indistinguishable. They are not the same thing. Indeed, distinguishing them is essential to protecting the core of feminism.

    [source, on the off chance that anybody here wants to know what Pinker really thinks instead of what he theoretically thinks]
    3. he would make the opposite argument for fields in which women are over-represented. Which brings us back to #1.

  39. chigau (違う) says

    Does Pinker have citations for people who make “the empirical claim that males and females are biologically indistinguishable”?

  40. Hj Hornbeck says

    [OT, but it's one of my beats]

    ChasCPeterson @47:
    I’ve looked at your link, and note:

    The literature on sex differences in cognitive abilities is filled with inconsistent findings, contradictory theories, and emotional claims that are unsupported by the research. Yet despite all the noise in the data, clear and consistent messages could be heard. There are real and in some cases sizable sex differences with respect to some cognitive abilities. Socialization practices are undoubtedly important, but there is also good evidence that biological sex differences play a role in establishing and maintaining cognitive sex differences, a conclusion I wasn’t prepared to make when I began reviewing the relevant literature.

    Like Pinker, I’ve also looked at the literature, yet I come to the opposite conclusion; what few cognitive sex differences exist are within a range that can be explained by social factors, and the very notion of “sex” is problematic if taken as a “real” thing.

  41. theoreticalgrrrl says

    Oh God,
    Of course he calls himself a feminist. How predictable. And I didn’t call Pinker’s views “misogyny.” He’s one of those who promotes the “Gender Feminist” vs. “Equity Feminist” nonsense, and silly caricatures of what these so-called gender feminists believe. He thinks Christina Hoff Sommers is an example of a great feminist thinker. (Look her up on MRA sites, they LOVE her. She’s practically required reading material.) Yes, he acknowledges oppression of women – in the past. Does he believe women still face oppression and violence?

    You know, when I asked my priest about women and equality, he told me “Of course men and women are equal!.” So did the two Mormon missionaries who approached me in the grocery store parking lot. Give me a break. That quote proves nothing, Chas.

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

    Okay, threadrupt and I can tell that there’s important stuff going on in the comments, but I wanted to say – however much it’s already been said – that this OP was great: the Facebook story of one exemplar of the problem, the articulation of Stollznow’s value, the argument for donating to Stollznow’s LDF, and PZ’s summation.

    Rock on, ye boat-rockers.

  43. says

    Poor Chas is still edging up to yelling “You’re all so politically correct!!”

    Go on ahead Chas, you’ll probably feel better in the morning.

  44. Robert Parson says

    I donated during the first round, but this post motivated me to donate again. Thank you, Brian Thompson and P. Z. Myers.

  45. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    theoreticalgrr[counts r's]rl:

    “I don’t often see this rationalized through reference to it being somehow innate in nature.”

    I hear this rationalization all the time. ALL THE TIME.

    Rorshach:

    Yes of course, but I would argue that the origin of even this very bad argument that you might hear from skeptics is basically religious, not scientific. Misogyny is pervasive in society, one can not escape it. But its origin is ultimately religious, not scientific.

    …you’re moving the goal posts.

  46. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Ing
    Control yourself.

    The fuck? This isn’t the Lounge and he’s way over three posts.

  47. rorschach says

    Apologies for constantly commenting on stuff other than the excellent post quoted in the OP, but too many people are wrong on the internet today, and I actually have some time.

    Atheism is an ideal you aspire to, not a club you join–I think that calling such spectacularly backwards people atheists cheapens the concept and insults everyone who’s better at it than them.

    No. Absolutely not. I’m a firm believer in Atheism+, and I always found it somewhat regrettable that it had to be pointed out to people that once you accept that female inferiority, or xenophobia, or homophobia, or genocide, are rooted and codified in religious texts written by males not gods, it should be a logical step to conclude that these instructions are indeed wrong and therefore void.

    So atheism is not an ideal, it is the dictionary definition of what it is, the belief that there are no gods, but for many people it’s that plus the value system that should inevitably be attached to this conviction that matters most.

    If “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” is not god’s word, then there is no reason to be guided by it in your daily life.

    There are those who are content with achieving a feeling of smug and intellectually lazy superiority over the religious for having figured the dictionary position out. They are just as much atheist as anybody else, unfortunately. Which leaves us with the sad reality that a great many atheists are not worth having a beer with, let alone forming a movement with.

  48. gjpetch says

    Pretty disappointing that Pinker has said some problematic stuff. Better Angels of Our Nature is one of the few things I’ve read recently that’s actually cheered me, rather than depressed me enormously.

  49. Suido says

    Re: justice #61


    is it just restricted to a few freaks on their shrinking little forum

    Projection from the slymepit. How droll.

  50. unclefrogy says

    if people are worrying about going public abut these action on the part of anyone for fear of damaging the institution I would have to say that it is already too late the institutions are already damaged by the attitude and the behavior of these assholes. Otherwise what is the fucking point of any of this shit anyway. Is the atheist or skeptical movement and any organizations formed around the ideas of none belief and skeptical thinking just some kind of fraternal or service club or does it really mean something.
    These men are still just authoritarian toads and I see no fucking difference between them and the religious that means anything if that is how they act. If that is the case then the fundys are right they are just mad at god. The reason they are mad at god is they can’t be god!
    uncle frogy

  51. says

    I don’t understand the thinking…

    1. Give yourself a name like TrueSkeptic, PerfectThinker or Justice
    2. Show up and make a complete ass of yourself.
    *3. Convince the people you’ve exposed yourself as an ass to that assholeitude is the proper position.

    *conjecture… I’m not sure what the goal is if it’s not the forlorn hope of #3.

    Maybe #2 is the goal? Maybe the thinking stops there?

  52. Anthony K says

    Which brings me to another point. If PZ doesn’t want to be a member of the skeptic movement, why the fuck can’t he keep his ugly mug out of it?

    What does it matter? it’s not like you were doing anything worthwhile with it. Last I checked, the entire ‘skeptics’ movement was no match for Jenny McCarthy, Peter Popoff’s still raking it in from the rubes, and Sylvia Browne died very rich, and very untouched by The Amazing Randi and his super duper effective ‘million dollar’ irrelevancy. Has anyone outside of the skeptical frotteurs’ jerking circle even heard of Ben Radford?

    Admit it: if the entire ‘skeptics’ movement disappeared tomorrow, what would change other than the fact that you dumb fucks wouldn’t have a clubhouse to speak of?

    Seriously, dude: consider getting a life. The skeptics’ movement is dying. Impotent. Useless.

    The Playboy Playmate took you on and fucking broke you.
    The only unfortunate part is that it’s kids who got hurt, not the self-styled ‘skeptics’.

  53. Stacy says

    Hmm Pinker, is he on the rapist list or just a misogynist? Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the crazy

    Aw, looks like the OP + the blinding success of Karen Stollznow’s legal defense fund has got somebody’s feels all confused and angrified. Or perhaps this one just wants attention.

    *wise nod*

    That’s good, diddums.

    .

    Addressing the grown ups: Pinker’s wife is the brilliant and thoroughly feminist Rebecca Goldstein (she’ll be speaking at the Women in Secularism conference again this year). I have hope that he’ll see the light someday (perhaps he’ll read Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender).

  54. Anthony K says

    Can anybody link to studies showing positive successes attributable to the work of the skeptics’ community?

    Other than giving ‘skeptics’ the warm fuzzies, I mean?

    justice? Any personal success in your life? You admit your ‘rationality’ hasn’t done any good here. Have you ever been persuasive? Has the slymepit? How are those measles rates doing? You guys making any headway?

  55. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @justice

    Your idea of “rational” is to take mention of the word “skeptic” as a specific reference to James Randi.

  56. Stacy says

    4 Provide some humor in an essentially humor free zone.

    Humor, eh? Right.

    (Protip: calling your attempts at funny “humor” holds the same danger as choosing a flattering nym. Like the rest of us, most of the time you’re not going to be the best judge of how well you’ve succeeded at being either smart or funny.)

    5 Expose the hypocrisy and mind numbing stupidity of Peèzus and his acolytes.

    I’ve tried rational discussion with your lot. My rationality being countered with vile name calling, insults…

    :D OK, I am laughing now!

    You’re hilarious when you’re not trying.

    .

    Meta: Is this Ivanoff? He seems to be active lately. Perhaps the cognitive dissonance is wearing thin and self-loathing is leaking through the defenses.

  57. imthegenieicandoanything says

    ”As long as atheism is about nothing but disbelieving in gods, and as long as skepticism is about nothing but demanding evidence…”

    I’m on your side, pretty much 100% (the defense of this stuff has been ludicrously stupid, yet too ugly and vicious to simply laugh off), about the importance of demanding, and providing a reasoned basis for doing so, a humanist interpretation of “atheism” and “skepticism” but (just like “science”) these terms need to mean exactly what you seem to criticize.

    This sounds far too much like “wishing will make it so” – and there’s a lot of what for me is the “wrong” kind of anger in Brian Thompson’s message. I’m completely in support of Karen Stollznow’s fight, but Brian – like too many here – seems determined to make it an issue of “purity” rather than effective action – and needless to say doesn’t it sound like he’s the one who, once a mob has gathered to listen (a mob – and I mean to chide a percentage of the people here – who have decided that Richard D’s lapse into “old-fartedness” means going full JPF splitters rather than those who are fighting the JREF), will define that purity?
    Can we (and I’m in that “we” too often as well) stop being “more right” and get on with rooting out, through persuasion, evidence and eventual force of numbers and influence, the shits who have unfortunately risen to the top like this? We got work to do. Take good people* as they come and work to understand their good and bad points, and be honest about our own.

    *The openly dishonest need not be included (e.g. #64 ‘justice’ who may fuck off) precsely because dishonesty can be reasonably proven.

    Ed B. has a similarly annoying, my-way-or-the-highway post up today as well. It’s his blog, but utter bullshit that was called upon in a more reasonable way than the requests [sic] he offered.
    These things aren’t about casual subjects and they aren’t funny, despite the date.

  58. A. Noyd says

    Anthony K (#72)

    Can anybody link to studies showing positive successes attributable to the work of the skeptics’ community?

    What about Simon Singh helping to get libel law reforms enacted in the UK?

  59. Stacy says

    Can anybody link to studies showing positive successes attributable to the work of the skeptics’ community?

    I can’t give you studies, but I can give you personal anecdote.

    I spent a crucial period of time during my childhood and early adolescence as a Christian Scientist. I lost my father (who was not a C.S. and had medical care) to Hodgkin’s. But thanks to the anti-materialist dogma my mother was steeped in, I didn’t really have a chance to grieve properly.

    17 months after my father died, my mother, who was a Christian Scientist, died of untreated spinal meningitis.

    This was back in the late 1960s through early 1970s. If I’d come across the skeptical movement then, would it have helped me? Or would I have ignored it? Could it have helped my mother? I don’t know. I do know that reading Randi and Martin Gardner some years later helped me a lot. They gave me some defenses against religious and New Age woo and helped me see things more clearly. It also helped me feel less alone in my own budding skepticism. Orphans like feeling less alone.

    Some of this shit kills. It’s worth fighting. A skepticism that fights back and promotes critical thinking is important. But a skepticism that’s just a hobby…and one that skeptics refuse to apply to really important matters (including religious, social and political matters)…not so much.

  60. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    LOL, shutup or I’ll make you shake with rage…. again.

    Still sticking resolutely to the high road, I see.

  61. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    LOL, shutup or I’ll make you shake with rage…. again.

    Still sticking resolutely to the high road, I see.

    *sigh*

  62. Stacy says

    Brian – like too many here – seems determined to make it an issue of “purity” rather than effective action

    I agree that an insistence on purity is inimical, but I disagree that that’s where Brian is coming from. My impression is that he’s given up on the current skeptical movement because the leadership really seems to be stuck in a toxic status quo.

    Remember, he was there, he saw it close up. Including instances of leaders seeing this behavior for themselves (when they weren’t engaging in it themselves) and refusing to do anything. (In the case of his boss, even undermining efforts by others to do something as innocuous as promote sexual harassment policies.)

  63. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Hello piegasm. I’ll take the high road, you take the low road. Maybe we can meet in the middle?

    I’d prefer not to get anywhere near you, not that you give a shit about what anyone who isn’t you wants.

  64. Anthony K says

    I don’t post at the slymepit. What I said isn’t projection anyway, their forum is going strong.

    It’s the most popular club no one ever seems to want to admit being a part of. LOL.

    @ 69 Anthony K Carl Sagan’s legacy is still inspiring. Or hadn’t you noticed? James Randi is still very much respected, in spite of what charlatan’s like Myers, Watson and other faux skeptics are trying to do.

    I asked for something other than giving ‘skeptics’ the warm fuzzies, fuckhead. If you got nothing beyond ‘it makes me and other club members feel good’ then say so. Admit you got your asses handed to you by Jenny McCarthy but it doesn’t matter because you find Carl Sagan ‘inspiring’. It’s too bad Oprah’s not on the air any longer. She’d have loved your tale of being personally inspired by Sagan.

    Yes, my success is in not posting a selfie of myself fucking a cat. LOL

    But you’re too ashamed to admit to being a slymepitter.

    I can see why that question made you uncomfortable so you turned it back on me. You really don’t have much in your life, do you?

    Anyway, that is my success, how bout you, Cupcake?

    We’ve covered me, Sagan and Randi. You haven’t mentioned any personal success of your own, Cupcake.

    Was the question too hard for you?

  65. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    Ugh, these trolls are so boring. The ennui, good lawks, the ennui!

    I really hope this fundraiser for Karen is more indicative of the wider skeptical community than the misogyny we’ve seen representing the skeptical movement up to now – time, and more people coming out against the misogynists will tell.

  66. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Anyway Cupcake, if wanna keep trolling me, go ahead, but Dear Leader wont be happy with my quotes in your comments.

    As evidenced by the fact that comments quoting you have been deleted or referenced in any way by PZ…oh wait…

  67. Anthony K says

    @Stacy:

    At some point the ‘skeptics’ community has to come to terms with the fact that it has not much evidence for its own efficacy beyond anecdotes by its own members of its personal meaning to them. That’s pretty shitty for a community that demands better from everybody else.

    And vaccination rates are still abysmally low.

    We know woo kills. There’s real evidence of that. What there isn’t real evidence for that the ‘skeptics’ community is anything but a feel good club for spineless wonders like fuckface here.

    Even fuckface here can’t muster anything beyond some kumbaya bullshit about Sagan being ‘inspiring’. What’d he ‘inspire’ fuckface to do? Fuck knows, ’cause fuckface is too busy trolling to admit to having ever done anything. That’s the ‘skeptics’ movement for you. It’s a club for former fundies who can’t hack it outside of the church and a few hangers on.

    Saying ‘woo’ is worth fighting is not an argument for the existence of the JREF, or CFI, or Skepchick, or any of the millions of little nerd clubs that were happy glad-handing each other until three years’ ago. Being effective at fighting woo is.

  68. says

    justice @70

    So justice is a banned troll pulling the standard troll douchebag run that will soon be cleaned up by mods. Rinse, repeat, yawn. Just like every single thread about women int the atheist movement, but not at all because there is a deep misogynistic rot run by scared libertarian MRAs drowning in their toxic masculinity and hoping that just general abuse will make their clubhouse “clean” again. It’s all so predictably depressing.

    Chas @47

    What is there to say about you that hasn’t been noted in every single post on oppression you show yourself to be a horrible person in. You’ll always be the black mark that everybody gives way too much credit because you posit your hate in injured prose and a wanna-be martyr complex. Again, depressingly predictable.

    rorschach @ many places

    That sexism in atheist circles is blamed on nature as an appeal to an immovable authority, an excuse, is pretty much demonstrated all around us.

    And it would be easy to compare it to the same appeal of authority in religion given the impact of growing up in a society poisoned with millennia of religious baggage.

    But the sad truth is that misogyny and other forms of dominant group oppression against an oppressed class is something beyond religion. In fact, many of the main purveyors of this shit in the atheist community never belonged to a religion or a religious community and have in fact been raised in more or less secular societies where the church has a reduced power.

    Misogyny has a rational appeal, the power one gets over another group of human beings just for being born, just for being here is a seductive thing. And if not rational, it is certainly human for people to defend past all reason the unearned extra power and regard one receives for being the beneficiary of an oppression one is used to. And it is human to turn to any excuse at hand to reduce the ability of the injured to fight back or change things. Whether it is appealing to the perfect plan of a vengeful or petty God or appealing to same natural law or just enforcing a norm through terror campaigns of violence, harassment, rape, and abuse, the dominant group will exploit all to create a sense of immovable status quo. Something too big to fight against in order to dissuade their victims from taking action in their defense and urge potential allies from taking the social risk of aiding the powerless. To make bigotry critical to a society so that the society is fearful of uprooting it for fear of breaking itself (see all the people saying that we shouldn’t criticize misogyny in the skeptics community because of all the good it does).

    And what’s worse, that appeal of unearned importance in the eyes of society is that much more defended to the death when it is tied to one’s sense of self-image. Just like the die-hard Christian will be resistant to abandoning the absurdity of hir fate when ze has sacrificed so much of themselves in lost chances at love or lust or human compassion and so much of one’s self is wrapped in being a “good christian”, so too many dominant group members resist giving up privilege, when privilege tells them that they earned their easier life and the way they are assumed to just be naturally better than oppressed groups and that makes them better people.

    The rich man does not want to hear that his business success is due to inheriting his father’s business and having endless streams of family friends covering his ass when he failed when society tells him he is a super-genius who is just cleverer than the homeless man in the street and that he built his empire on his own. The white man does not want to hear that his ease in finding work is due to an enforced poverty on those of other skin colors. The heterosexual man does not want to hear that his love is not more special, more blessed by God, for its sacrifices or harsh roles than a queer polyamorous triad. The cis man does not want to hear that but for a luck of fate, he was not a woman raised by society as if he was a boy and that shows just how arbitrary a lot of the gender separations really are.

    And the misogynist man does not want to hear that he is not smarter than women and in fact, is likely to know less than his equal among the women ranks simply because he did not get the education of both the oppressed and the dominant cultures growing up. He does not want to hear that his relative strength is more likely to do with cultural norms or has little importance in the wake of vast biological diversity. He does not want to hear that he is not naturally smarter than women, is not guaranteed to be right, has no greater capacity for logic and reason and in fact may be more likely to carry irrational social baggage than the average woman.

    He does not want to hear that he is not special for being born a man. That he is not brilliant for noticing that the laughable is implausible. Or that his very quest for easy victories to praise himself for defeating does not make him an intellectual titan, a decent person, or any less prone to believing obvious-to-others horseshit.

    That he is not entitled to sex like society tells him he is.

    Sadly, the origin is not in religion. It is not blamed on mythological bullshit about Jesus or even Gilgamesh. No. Religion is an excuse. It is the origin of religion’s vileness. And it will gladly infect any host it can, because those who are invested in perpetuating it will turn to any excuse they think will play. Any appeal to authority they think will cow women and keep them complicit in a system of oppression.

    Because that is how this shit works. Predictably and depressingly for millennia.

  69. Anthony K says

    What about Simon Singh helping to get libel law reforms enacted in the UK?

    That’s not nothing, but that’s not much of an ROI. Anything more substantial? Less anecdotal?

  70. says

    justice @89

    Anyway Cupcake, if wanna keep trolling me, go ahead,

    Pfft. Heh. Snort.

    I kind of love it when trolls try and play this game of accusing the people they are transparently playing a bad faith game with of trolling them. It’s like, it’s so obviously projection and it is so obviously bullshit, that you start to wonder who exactly they are trying to fool at that point.

    Is it part of building up that martyrdom complex that makes one feel more justified in doing something you know is morally wrong and socially reprehensible and juvenile? Is it part of the gish gallop of distraction hoping to provoke more and more tangents that pull discussion away from a deconstruction that could have actual lasting impact or effect for patriarchal oppression? Is it just a head shake moment to aid the overall frustration that they hope will cause less women to participate in spaces on the internet or in communities they have decided is theirs?

    Or is it just a genuine escapism from one’s self, a distancing from one’s own behavior and a desire to throw them onto one’s “enemies” in the hopes that somehow the credit for one’s actions will also fall past them and be passed on? Roveian tactics for the modern day as is the pan-conservative ouvre that has been wholesale copied by sister organizations like MRAs and libertarians?

    Or is it just straight up Dunning-Kruger stupidity by wanna-be intellectuals who are so stupid they don’t even know what trolling is?

  71. A. Noyd says

    Anthony K (#93)

    That’s not nothing, but that’s not much of an ROI. Anything more substantial?

    Shows what it takes to get “not nothing” done, doesn’t it? It cost Singh a lot in personal expenses, just like it’s costing/going to cost Stollznow a lot to confront an internal problem. I wish I could think of another example, one that showed results from less costly action.

  72. rorschach says

    Hi Cerberus, long time no see, hope everything is well!

    But the sad truth is that misogyny and other forms of dominant group oppression against an oppressed class is something beyond religion. In fact, many of the main purveyors of this shit in the atheist community never belonged to a religion or a religious community and have in fact been raised in more or less secular societies where the church has a reduced power.

    My point is that religion is the only way that the toxic shit ever gets codified in prescriptive texts. And you are quite right, many sexist atheists or “bike pants” type bullies have never been religious. But where did they get it from? Not Marx, not Hume, not Sartre, not Plato. Frat mates at Uni, sports players, parents or peers, who knows. And where did those people get it from in turn? A religious text from the last 2000 years, ultimately, is my guess. Socialization relies on socializing. With…people.

  73. pneumo says

    @Anthony K: I do like the cut of your jib.

    From my myopic perspective; I’m not sure what the Simon Singh libel case is strong evidence of, other than the fact that it helps to have the financial backing of a major newspaper. And to be a millionaire.

    The case may have been part of changing UK libel laws (which were known to be a problem even before), but the chiropractors didn’t crack, as it were, and are still at it.

  74. says

    The old boss in question also told me that he watched Bicycle Shorts grab a female speaker’s breast without permission. He repeated this story many times.

  75. pneumo says

    @rorschach: I suspect that both religion and misogyny have the same root causes, not that the one causes the other.

    As for “ultimate causes”. Well, there is quantum fluctuations causing the inflationary big bang I guess. But the question of ultimate cause is less interesting to me than the question of what to do about it now.

  76. says

    rorschach @98

    I agree with you completely that culture begets culture. Socialization begets socialization. And I even agree with you that long-standing tropes are often copied unthought about simply because “that is the way things are” with the justification coming second.

    I guess the only point I differ is in being more cynical about the abilities of these toxic ideas to thrive in non-religious spaces and societies. I think misogyny has proven well-equipped to adapt to any justification possible and we’ve seen it in atheist misogynists turning gladly to nature arguments or just rewriting the complaint to justify feeling aggrieved.

    Killing religion, at least in my cynical opinion, will not end institutionalized misogyny’s stranglehold on us all.

    And I’m surviving, one day at a time. Thanks for asking. I hope you are doing well as well.

  77. rorschach says

    I think misogyny has proven well-equipped to adapt to any justification possible and we’ve seen it in atheist misogynists turning gladly to nature arguments or just rewriting the complaint to justify feeling aggrieved.

    Yes, that is a very good argument I failed to give due consideration. Thanks.

  78. says

    Anthony K:

    justice? Any personal success in your life?

    Justice:

    Yes, my success is in not posting a selfie of myself fucking a cat. LOL

    Actually was that a shop or was that your original pic? Anyway, that is my success, how bout you, Cupcake?

    Anthony K:

    I can see why that question made you uncomfortable so you turned it back on me. You really don’t have much in your life, do you?

    I get that impression with most of these anonymous “skeptics”. I think to them, being a “skeptic” is an ersatz accomplishment. It’s all they have, and so they identify with it, and stake their ego to it. It’s not much, but they get to feel superior to all the creationists, bigfoot hunters and ear candlers.

    This explains their frenzied hatred of anyone who dares to point out that the skeptic movement is flawed. (It also goes some way to explaining the observation that anyone with the word “skeptic” in their username will most likely be ridiculous.) As fundamentalist Christians put it, “if you insult my god, you insult me”. The superiority of the skeptic movement is integral to their feelings of self worth, and so by attacking it, you’re attacking them.

  79. Alan Boyle says

    @Anthony K

    What about the work of Australian skeptics campaign that ended with a $57 million bill for Power Balance? Or the work against the AVN/AVSN that’s helped to get their charitable status removed?

    millions of little nerd clubs

    Fuck you. You know what value the skeptical movement has brought? Its own damn existence. So it’s not fixed the world, fine, but it’s helped a lot of people (myself included) come to a much better understanding of the world and issues within it, it’s provided community and refuge, and been a resource. Anecdotes aren’t great evidence of a lot of things, but they do pretty well for “the existence of this podcast/blog/forum/conference helped me in some way.” And you know what, that’s a good thing skepticism has done for a lot of people. Who the fuck are you to dismiss that as worthless?

    Would you prefer everyone who is against bullshit to simply disappear and leave the merchants of nonsense to it? To not provide any resources as an alternative that fence-sitters can find? Or would you care to suggest exactly how you would go about fighting nonsense so darn effectively?

  80. Stacy says

    Hey Carrie, I bet you’re jealous of how much Karen Stollznow has gleaned from her e-begging.

    Funny how you’re up on every little thing your enemies are doing. An interesting hobby. Me, now, I don’t give a shit what the slymers and their heroes are up to. Except for the criminal activity, of course.

    I suppose you must know, diddums, that Carrie Poppy’s podcast came in at #34 in the country last week. And that she writes for Skeptical Inquirer. Not too shabby.

    Karen Stollznow’s fundraiser did do well, didn’t it!? It certainly put Shermer’s to shame (tell me, has he sued anyone yet?) And as for Radford’s…tee hee.

    I must admit, though, that Sara Mayhew did an excellent job raising her goal a few months back. Your friends donated to help with her living expenses so she could vanity-press publish her comic book, wasn’t it? While she was living at home with her mother.

    Oops, Own Goal. See what happens when you’re desperate for attention?

  81. rorschach says

    Fuck you. You know what value the skeptical movement has brought? Its own damn existence. So it’s not fixed the world, fine, but it’s helped a lot of people (myself included) come to a much better understanding of the world and issues within it, it’s provided community and refuge, and been a resource.

    Hold your horses. Anthony K was an activist in the atheist movement when you were a jar of yogurt on the shelf of your local supermarket, as far as I can tell. At least I’ve seen him fight against not only bigoted religious people but also the fuckwit skeptics in our own movement. Never heard of you though.

    Besides. The point is not that noone in the atheist and skeptic movement has ever done anything useful, provided community and refuge, helped people come to a better understanding, all that. The people on this blog have done this for years and years now, and you can find their testimonials easily enough if you look for them. Again, your name doesn’t ring a bell here.

    The point, Alan Boyle, is that our movements are stacked with fuckheads. And we have lost interest in cushioning, softtalking and accomodating them. There is a 3-post rule here that saves you from a more thorough comment at this point in time.

  82. Stacy says

    #93

    Fuck you. You know what value the skeptical movement has brought? Its own damn existence. So it’s not fixed the world, fine, but it’s helped a lot of people (myself included) come to a much better understanding of the world and issues within it, it’s provided community and refuge, and been a resource. Anecdotes aren’t great evidence of a lot of things, but they do pretty well for “the existence of this podcast/blog/forum/conference helped me in some way.” And you know what, that’s a good thing skepticism has done for a lot of people. Who the fuck are you to dismiss that as worthless?

    Alan Boyle, thank you. My own experience wasn’t easy to share and having it dismissed hurt. I understand the frustration with big-S Skepticism as it’s currently constituted and largely share it, but it’s not worthless.

  83. Muz says

    I think Anthony K has cast his net too wide if he’s actually trying to make the point Rorschach says he is.

  84. Stacy says

    Actually what I think is that small-s skepticism isn’t worthless. It’s done some good and still has potential. The current leadership? Too.Many.Assholes. I don’t blame anyone for walking.

    I’ve disassociated myself from it too (not that I was ever very active in skepticism per se. I volunteer for a secular humanist organization). I just hold out hope that something from skepticism can be salvaged.

  85. Alan Boyle says

    There is a 3-post rule here that saves you from a more thorough comment at this point in time.

    I’m not sure what this means? I shouldn’t post again for awhile? Could you clarify? I’ve just re-read the commenting rules and couldn’t figure it out, sorry if I’m being a moron.

  86. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    A fight, by the way, that’s about the righteousness of the truth.

    And there he has it! That, people, that right there, is why no skeptic worthy of the fucking name would support Radford and his dishonest attempts to bully his victims into silence.

  87. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Alan Boyle

    The three-post-rule stipulates that you should allow a new commenter three posts to make their position clear before tearing into them. So if someone says something that appears to be stupid, they have a chance to clarify and you have a chance to work out whether or not it definitely is stupid before giving them a piece of your mind.

  88. kellym says

    And the female speaker has been blacklisted at TAM ever since she mentioned being groped by Bicycle Shorts, even though she did not mention his name.

  89. Alan Boyle says

    @Thumper 102

    Thank you. Then I shall clarify my position. I agree entirely with rorschach on this point:

    our movements are stacked with fuckheads. And we have lost interest in cushioning, softtalking and accomodating them

    However, that didn’t seem to be the point Anthony K was making. For one thing, he called out Skepchick as an example of a skeptical organization for which he saw no argument to justify its existence. That suggests to me it it is organized skepticism itself, not the bastardized, misogynistic version, which he takes issue with. Or as Muz put it @98:

    I think Anthony K has cast his net too wide if he’s actually trying to make the point Rorschach says he is.

    I take a lot of value from the skeptical movement in my own life. It was skepticism that led to me becoming aware of a whole host of social justice issues (mainly via Skepchick) that I wasn’t aware of before. I have no problem with seeing the movement lambasted, seeing its flaws laid out to bare, and seeing the fuckheads called out. The skeptical movement is extremely broken, that is evident. That is one of the valuable things about this blog, it brings those flaws to the fore. I would happily, gladly, see Radford, Grothe, Shermer, and their ilk ousted and give exactly zero fucks. Good riddance.

    I felt the criticisms from Anthony K went beyond that, and attacked things of value to me and others. If I misread/misunderstood then I apologize. I have been lurking here for around 6 months and read a bunch of the archives, but may lack the context necessary to understood Anthony K’s position.

  90. carlie says

    I think Anthony K has cast his net too wide if he’s actually trying to make the point Rorschach says he is.

    I think he made it very well. The point is that a huge, huge number of skeptics like to sweep all of the shit they toss around under the carpet, under the guise of “oh, but we’re skeptics, we’re so important and being a skeptic is so important and we can’t let you hurt the movement by complaining about your silly little concerns like sexism and such”. When, in actuality, all they do is pat each other on the back and never lift a finger to make life better for anyone else.

  91. carlie says

    I felt the criticisms from Anthony K went beyond that, and attacked things of value to me and others.

    Yes, he did. And that you’re focusing on that is part of the problem. Re-read what he said here:

    At some point the ‘skeptics’ community has to come to terms with the fact that it has not much evidence for its own efficacy beyond anecdotes by its own members of its personal meaning to them. That’s pretty shitty for a community that demands better from everybody else.

    It made you feel better. It made you look at life differently. That’s great. But, on balance, is the amount you feel better about things “worth” the price that so many others are paying to be part of the movement? Is it worth it to the women who got groped by a prominent skeptic, and the women who had a prominent skeptic get them drunk to rape them, and the women who get death threats every day of their lives from other skeptics who are also in the movement? He’s saying there should be a lot more putting up from the movement, and a lot less telling critics to shut up.

  92. rorschach says

    The point is that a huge, huge number of skeptics like to sweep all of the shit they toss around under the carpet, under the guise of “oh, but we’re skeptics, we’re so important and being a skeptic is so important and we can’t let you hurt the movement by complaining about your silly little concerns like sexism and such”.

    Yeah, let’s hurt the movement some more, I say. Purge might be the better word, really.

  93. Alan Boyle says

    It made you feel better. It made you look at life differently. That’s great. But, on balance, is the amount you feel better about things “worth” the price that so many others are paying to be part of the movement? Is it worth it to the women who got groped by a prominent skeptic, and the women who had a prominent skeptic get them drunk to rape them, and the women who get death threats every day of their lives from other skeptics who are also in the movement?

    No, not at all. And I never meant to imply that it was. Honestly, if Anthony hadn’t called out Skepchick as an example of a worthless organization, I wouldn’t have said anything, because I would happily see every pit of misogyny die out tomorrow and not mourn in the slightest. But including an organization that is prominently focused around fixing those issues made me think that the net was cast too wide. Fine, throw 95 percent of skepticism under the bus, I don’t care. But not all of it.

  94. Anri says

    Anthony K @ 66:

    Can anybody link to studies showing positive successes attributable to the work of the skeptics’ community?

    Other than giving ‘skeptics’ the warm fuzzies, I mean?

    justice? Any personal success in your life? You admit your ‘rationality’ hasn’t done any good here. Have you ever been persuasive? Has the slymepit? How are those measles rates doing? You guys making any headway?

    …the donation link in the OP?
    I mean, that didn’t seem too terribly hard to find.

    Unless legal defense is just ‘warm fuzzies’ or something.

  95. Alan Boyle says

    The point is that a huge, huge number of skeptics like to sweep all of the shit they toss around under the carpet, under the guise of “oh, but we’re skeptics, we’re so important and being a skeptic is so important and we can’t let you hurt the movement by complaining about your silly little concerns like sexism and such”.

    Yeah, let’s hurt the movement some more, I say. Purge might be the better word, really.

    To clarify my position further, I agree with this. I do not believe in ignoring any social issue at all in the name of the unity of the movement. Where the movement hurts people, in this case women, then fuck the movement entirely. Let those parts die and fall off. My post was a reaction to the fact that Anthony seemed to be also attacking those parts of the movement that care about and are opposing sexism, and that even those parts weren’t worth having.

    If the fight against misogyny kills the skeptical movement, then fine. It’s a casualty in a much more important fight.

  96. Anri says

    John Phillips, FCD @ 112:

    Anri, and why is that defence fund needed.

    Because a man sexually harassed a woman.

    Shall I assume you heard about her defense fund through sources outside of the skeptic’s movement?
    Because otherwise, you’ve just demonstrated my point.
    Are you claiming that most of the people who contributed to her fund heard about it through sources outside of the skeptic’s movement?
    Because otherwise, you’ve just demonstrated my point.

  97. pneumo says

    However, the fact that people inside a movement support a member of that movement against another member of that movement is not specific to skepticism.

  98. Anri says

    pneumo @ 115:

    However, the fact that people inside a movement support a member of that movement against another member of that movement is not specific to skepticism.

    Nor did I say it was.
    The question, as I understood it, was ‘what good has the skepticism movement done – give me a single concrete example’.
    I believe I did so.

  99. Alan Boyle says

    Anri @116

    The skeptical movement has created a misogynistic old boys’ club which allowed Radford and others to get away with being awful human beings for too long. The fact that some members are contributing to try and stop that from doing too much more damage to a victim than it already has does not count as a good that the skeptical movement as done.

  100. Moggie says

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk:

    I really hope this fundraiser for Karen is more indicative of the wider skeptical community than the misogyny we’ve seen representing the skeptical movement up to now – time, and more people coming out against the misogynists will tell.

    I donated, and at this point I think I’d prefer not to be labelled part of any skeptical “community” or “movement”, thanks. Can I just be part of the “trying not to be a terrible person” community instead?

  101. pneumo says

    I’m probably not clever enough, but I can’t see how that is any different than answering the question “what good did Hitler do?” with “well, he killed Hitler”.

  102. pneumo says

    The Australian skeptics dealing with Meryl Dorey’s criminal empire of antivaxers is a much better example of good stuff being done by skeptics’ movements. Although I’m not sure what actual effect it has had on vaccination rates.

  103. John Phillips, FCD says

    Alan boyle #117, you put it much better than I did.

    Moggie #118, same here.

    pneumo, #119, yep, pretty much what I was thinking.

  104. Muz says

    carlie @105
    skepticism might suffer from quite a bit of in-group smugness, to its detriment. But casting it as a monolithic bloc isn’t much use either. He hasn’t just wanted to highlight the failures of ‘many people’. He challenged the entire movement to show its something other than worthless. Demanding one peer reviewed paper on the subject smacks of climate change deniers using the size and esoteric subtlety of the IPCC report against it. I get he’s annoyed, but come now.

    I bet Steven Novella could write a lengthy blog on the achievements of skepticism as he sees them. Whether they’d satisfy Anthony, I don’t know. Probably not, but the problems of the JREF and CSI (US) aren’t “skepticism”.
    Anyway, probably should just ask Carrie Poppy since she’s been both witness and subject to the ugliness (apparently. I only infer from hearsay) and actively working at this worthlessness at the same time.

  105. chigau (違う) says

    I have been an atheist and a skeptic for all of my adult life.
    Without the help of any movement or community.
    What have they ever done for me?

  106. Anthony K says

    I think Anthony K has cast his net too wide if he’s actually trying to make the point Rorschach says he is.

    This is true, and Alan Boyle, Stacy, and others were right to slap my fingers for that. (I was posting last night in a fit of insomnia and troll-smacking, but I’m not the most cogent or cautious commenter at the best of times…and now I’m very underslept.)

    I was already an atheist and anti-woo before I found either movement, so I tend not to give as much credit for the personal conversion many others feel both or either movements helped them to reach as I perhaps should. It’s not that I haven’t learned a lot from being part of conversations with other atheists and anti-wooers, but I had no scales from my eyes moments as a result of my participation in these communities. Except for perhaps on the issues of misogyny, sexism, and other social justice aspects.

    And for the ‘millions of nerd clubs’ comment, I do apologise. Providing a space for thousands to feel comfortable to share and learn in a community they’re comfortable in is no small thing.

    @93, 97:

    Alan Boyle, thank you. My own experience wasn’t easy to share and having it dismissed hurt.

    Again, personally, to you Stacy and Alan, I’m sorry for dismissing this important part of your experience.

    That being said: imagine a product, championed by hundreds, if not thousands of people, in activist groups and clubs for the product users as being a force for good in the world. Wouldn’t skepticism demand something more than personal testimony from the converts before deciding it actually seems to be doing what it purports to do?

    What if that product, purported to solve a problem, actually makes its users more susceptible to related problems?

    In the case of skepticism; we see this second part very well: once one has decided one is a ‘skeptic’ because one knows there’s no chupacabra and the homeopathic solutions are just water, one may in fact be less likely to apply any sort of critical thinking to others. I think the slymepit is a living example of this. Slymepitters think FtB and Skepchick are living examples of this.

    So again, Is there much evidence that the work that the skeptical community does is farther ranging than its own borders? Are people who have nothing to do with organised skepticism, are in fact unaware it exists, who’ve learned to think more critically about ergone, or whatever, as a result of the work that skeptical organisations do? If not, why isn’t the skeptics’ movement producing that evidence? Our resident “I’m only active when PZ is asleep” troll couldn’t (or wouldn’t) produce anything. As a ‘skeptic’ who demands evidence from others, why doesn’t he even see that as a problem?

  107. anteprepro says

    Honestly, the only way I have been involved in any “skeptics movement” is by engaging with fellow skeptics and atheists on the internet. Like Pharyngula. Does that count as “the movement”? Because even the entirety of atheosphere on the interwebs is hit-or-miss, so even if I personally have found some chunks of it I personally enjoy, that hardly seems justification for praising all of Skepticdom, and even letting that carry-over into praise for these organizations as well. It’s a whole lot of “Meh”.

  108. carlie says

    Fine, throw 95 percent of skepticism under the bus, I don’t care. But not all of it.

    Fair enough. To be clear, I wouldn’t be an atheist without the atheist/skeptic “movement”, as it were. But after the euphoria wore off, I was left with “well, now what?”, and classic atheism/skepticism hasn’t had a very good answer for that. At least, not until the social justice advocates came roaring into the mix, but then the classic branch has turned around and spent all if its time trying to slap the new part down. That’s my frustration.

  109. Anthony K says

    @124 Muz

    He challenged the entire movement to show its something other than worthless.

    Not quite. I challenge the entire movement to show effectiveness in fighting whatever it is fighting among the general population, not just its own members. Peer-reviewed research is a good standard for evidence, but it’s not the only one.

    It’s not for nothing I keep bringing up vaccination rates: I work, generally, in population and public health. Imagine if all that public health, as a field, could pony up as a result of its activities was that its own members tended to get vaccinated and didn’t smoke, and found communities where they could be comfortable as vaccinated non-smokers among other vaccinated non-smokers, but as for the rest of the population who knows?

  110. says

    @rorschach

    When you say this…

    “Greek philosophy doesn’t lead to sexism”

    What exactly do you mean? I don’t think Greek philosophy necessarily leads to sexism but it is extremely easy to back-load sexism into Hellenistic philosophy, especially given that Hellenistic philosophy comes from a brutally sexist culture. Look, Plato is probably the second least sexist philosopher in the so-called canon (behind John Stewart Mill) but awhile Plato (in the Republic especially) indicated that women were of equal capacity and dignity to men, Plato sill was outrageously sex negative, still mostly focused on the menz, and a lot of Plato’s ideas can be (and were) used to support sexism. The most obvious of which is Platonic forms are extremely easy to make sexist. I.e. The Form that (actual) women participate in in order to be Women requires that they be, and only be, a mother and homemaker because of the Form of the Women is participates in the Form of Mother and the Form of Homemaker. Any (actual) women is less than a women (as a such less than a person) to the degree that she doesn’t participate in the things that form the eternal structure of Women.

    I’m even more astonished that you don’t think Aristotelian thought is somehow doesn’t led to sexism. Gender essentialism is quite clearly support by Aristotelian metaphysics in that things are only as real as they express their potentialities and clearly a women to be fully a woman needs to be a mother under such a view. Likewise, the function argument from the Ethics clearly leads to, very easily, codification of sex is only for procreation and from that the whore-virgin dichotomy springs. Add in the doctrine of natural slavery, and Aristotelian thought is very easily amendable to sexism and whole bunch of other nonsense.

    Finally, the scholastic tradition and the natural law tradition, both of which are generally sexist, have as much to do with the bible as they do with Aristotle. The thoughts (and sexism) of such luminaries as Augustine and Aquinas were not only motivated by Paul of Tarsus but they were working in and developing a broadly Aristotelian framework.

    I’m well aware that such feminists as Nussbaum have made great strives to rehabilitate/preserve/rework Aristotle to avoid the sexist implications and whatnot but I don’t know any feminist philosopher who doesn’t think Aristotle/other Greeks’ idea were (mis)used to support sexism. There’s not a necessary connection but historically there is one.

    The only Greek philosophy that I don’t think is amendable to sexism is some (but not all) Presocratics. But that’s only because the traditions are so fragmentary that we don’t know enough about what they thought to say either way. Yeah, Thales thinking that the everything came out of, or was made from, Water isn’t sexist but given that is basically all we know of Thales’s thought I’m hardly ready to think of him as not a sexist, because he likely was.

  111. torwolf says

    PZ, you recently wrote:
    “As long as atheism is about nothing but disbelieving in gods, and as long as skepticism is about nothing but demanding evidence, as long as there is no human heart behind the goals of these organizations, this behavior will continue. We must have secular values beyond simply rejecting claims; we must recognize the import and implications of living in a material, natural world; there must be secular values that give us purpose.”

    This is what humanism does, by the way, you ignoramus. Readers, refer to Grayling, Pinker, and Dennett for example. Not PZ.

    PZ, in the above, you construe yourself as a beacon of wisdom in the atheist community. However, you are nothing more than a shameless pandering automaton. You have written “developmental plasticity is all” and – in your post that led to this thread – you criticize a journal for retracting a paper that associates AGW denialists (who are wrong, I agree) with laissez-fairists and conspiracy theorists. Scientists like Judith Curry and Richard Lindzen – who accept AGW but who have been reasoning about the policy implications of this for a decade in a way that the IPCC is only now experimenting with – have been grouped in this category because of myopic simpletons like yourself.

    Stick to microscopes and hypothesis testing PZ, and leave reasoning in a complicated world to others more capable. You are a swelling disappointment and your efforts to attain respect among thinking circles will fail.

  112. Anthony K says

    @Alan Boyle 113:

    If the fight against misogyny kills the skeptical movement, then fine. It’s a casualty in a much more important fight.

    I completely agree. But consider that the entrenchement of misogyny in the community may be a result of what the skeptical movement does to its’ own members. If it creates a cadre of dogmatists who feel that having gotten their little Deputy Skeptic badges because they can cloak themselves with the long vestments of saints Sagan and Pope Randi, as last night’s troll immediately and predictably did, and therefore they’re right about everything else because See? Lookit my Badge!, then skepticism as a movement is not just creating critical thinkers: it’s also destroying them.

    @carlie, 128:

    Fair enough. To be clear, I wouldn’t be an atheist without the atheist/skeptic “movement”, as it were. But after the euphoria wore off, I was left with “well, now what?”, and classic atheism/skepticism hasn’t had a very good answer for that. At least, not until the social justice advocates came roaring into the mix, but then the classic branch has turned around and spent all if its time trying to slap the new part down. That’s my frustration.

    Yes. This. But we need to grapple with the fact that the “Now what?” is fighting assholes within the movement. At least I know the parameters of this movement, so I guess that might make me marginally more effective than someone who doesn’t know who Shermer is, or who Rebecca Watson is, but that’s about it.

  113. Anthony K says

    PZ, in the above, you construe yourself as a beacon of wisdom in the atheist community.

    Related to the points I’ve been trying to make: what is it about the community that attracts people who cannot conceive of motivations beyond personal aggrandizement and therefore must assume shit like this of everyone?

  114. anteprepro says

    Well I see that torwolf’s talking points reset to their default. Must have dumped the whole “The paper they won’t you to read” thread down the memory hole.

    Among other idiocies, torwolf seems to be incapable of understanding how a general statistical trend can be true without meaning that virtually every single person displaying the same exact traits. Yes, torwolf, your example of two scientists totally disproves the statistical results of a scientific study. Sciencetastic, fucking torwolf.

  115. Alan Boyle says

    Again, personally, to you Stacy and Alan, I’m sorry for dismissing this important part of your experience.

    I can’t think of a way of phrasing “apology accepted” without sounding smug, so if you could pretend I had done that I’d appreciate it. I’m certainly not going to hold anyone’s rantier, sleep deprived internet comments against them.

    As to your concerns, I (of course and unfortunately) don’t have the answers. It’s been my personal feeling for years that the general public is unaware of organized skepticism. None of dozens of work colleagues, friends, family members, and so on that I’ve talked to have really been aware of it. They’re probably more used to “skeptic” being used in its generic sense (though it’d be “sceptic” round these parts), or by climate change denialists.

    Whether organized skepticism as it stands has made much of a dent on the issues it wishes to tackle, such as vaccine rates, then I don’t know what evidence there is. There have been tangible results from some campaigns (like the Australian things I mentioned above) but who knows what real difference that’s had on the wider public good? Simply having the court cases against Meryl Dorey in the papers may have introduced a bunch of susceptible people to ideas that they weren’t aware of before and stopped some vaccinations. There was a story on Skeptics’ Guide recently about research that suggested even bringing up the subject in pro-vaccination campaigns could backfire.

    Skepticism has also facilitated a pedestal for a bunch of people with awful ideas (Penn & Teller, Brian Dunning, et al’s libertarianism), not to mention giving sexist assholes positions of authority. As to your point about giving people a tool to use to feel arrogant and confident in their terrible beliefs I agree – though the cynic in me says we don’t really need to provide that because people are awful. I will definitely agree that people are using the skeptic badge in that way and that’s a problem.

    In summary, I agree with all your concerns. But that leaves the question – what else do we do? If skepticism packed up shop and went home, all of the issues it opposes would still be there. While I don’t know how much impact the current organized movement is having, an absence of a movement would have zero impact for certain. Without definitive answers I’d have to go with continuing to try and grow the movement, apply pressure in relevant areas, and fight as hard as we can to push out the misogyny and other related problems. Which is kind of where we are anyway?

  116. theoreticalgrrrl says

    I can’t see everything that’s been said, but I did not call Steven Pinker a misogynist. Chas automatically when there when he misread what I wrote.
    Pinker may have faulty information on cognitive differences between the sexes, and believe in a lot of the mis-characterizations out there of so-called “gender” feminists, but I didn’t call him a misogynist, let alone anything criminal. Jeesuz.
    This is the problem. Why can’t I criticize the ideas of someone like Steven Pinker’s without people losing their shit? I used to have to defer to priests and authority figures and accept their wisdom on faith when I was christian, didn’t know I had to do that here.

  117. annie55 says

    Just donated. It wasn’t much, but those small contributions have added up! Also, Woo (fellow lurker) , donated in both our names…cuz the spirit counts!

  118. azhael says

    @132 Anthony

    But we need to grapple with the fact that the “Now what?” is fighting assholes within the movement.

    This striked something i´ve been thinking for some time. Unless standards are very high, you risk letting all sorts of nasty stuff through, like an antibiotic treatment. If you are willing to compromise on stuff that appears to be small, it can grow into an aggressive infection. The only way to obtain real results and achieve progress is by demanding that the standards are impecable, even if that means killing off some of your own infected cells.
    If skepticism as a movement is not going to uphold impecable standards, then it is not a good enough movement, it´s incomplete and can in fact allow for the development of resistance.

  119. Suido says

    By my rough count, a bit over $2000 in the last 24 hours, and it will pass $50k shortly if that rate continues.

    Silent majority indeed.

  120. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    annie55,

    Just donated. It wasn’t much, but those small contributions have added up! Also, Woo (fellow lurker) , donated in both our names…cuz the spirit counts!

    Wow, annie, you are absolutely fucking amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  121. says

    torwolf #131
    I suggest some basic training in written communication. Here’s a quick mini-course, free of charge:

    Keep a clean and simple structure: Identify your subject in an introduction; identify a few, brief points central to your subject; lay out those points in a concise and straightforward manner; finish with a conclusion or summary, perhaps with a few personal comments.

    Avoid trailing off into other subjects; stick to the point. If you’re going to jump from one subject to another, make sure it’s clear why you’re doing it, or you’ll just look as if you can’t keep your own thoughts straight. Likewise, if you’re quoting something, explain why the quote matters; why it’s relevant for the subject at hand.

    If criticizing someone (as you appear to be doing here), make it clear what exactly you’re criticizing; the specific behavior or opinion; and add examples. If you think someone is, for example, construing themselves as a beacon of wisdom, don’t just assert it; show it.

    And as always with writing of any kind: Write a draft, then edit. Your first try is never your best. I’ve gone through several drafts writing this post; moving things around; adding clarifying comments; deleting things that weren’t relevant.

    Simpler is better. Clarity over style. You’re not trying to win the Nobel prize in literature, you’re trying to communicate clearly. Keep that in the front of your mind throughout the process.

  122. Wylann says

    I don’t have much to add, but cerberus’ post at 81 is deserving of a Molly (if Grand Poopyhead still did those).
    Sili@122:

    Bicycle shorts? Really?
    One more (little) reason to dislike the man.

    Hey now. Some of us non-assholes ride bikes too. And yes, those silly shorts make a big difference in comfort level on long rides. (And in my case, switching to a recumbent.) I don’t consider it part of my ‘image’. Biking is my primary mode of commuting, and when I don’t need my motorized vehicle, I ride.

    Anthoiny K @ 126. That was also a great post. I wish the ‘pitters would see what happens when someone in ‘our’ movement (for lack of a better term) gets called on something. That right there makes a giant statement: When we fuck up, we try hard to make it better. When they fuck up, they deny, and double down. I wish there was a way to say that without making it sound like the social justice part of the movement is so superior to the capital ‘S’ skeptics, but dammit, we are in many ways. I don’t want to other them, I want them to improve and join the social justice part of it, but people get entrenched so easily (we all do, and we all have our blind spots). Fuck..now I’m rambling.

  123. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Torwolf:

    PZ, in the above, you construe yourself as a beacon blah blah blah fap fap fap fap fap we hates the filthy Myerses precious we hates it we hates it for ever fap fap fap fap oohh….we…we…HATES…PZ….mmmmmm……

    Would you like a moist towelette?

  124. madscientist says

    The JREF lost my support years ago when not enough was done to address womens’ concerns (and far worse still, no end of excuses were offered in place of effective action). I’m glad to see folks like Brian Thompson backing Karen Stollznow; I wish Karen the best of luck, she’s very brave to face the courts. I can already hear all the lame-ass arguments from the plaintiff’s lawyer including the favorite (and very effective in US courts as well as courts in other countries) “the bitch slut deserved it”. While others are justifiably terrified of suffering still more abuse in court, Karen’s carrying on a long tradition of challenging the bullies. I hope she wins and handles the stress of court; there’s still a lot of work to be done and folks like Karen (whether they win or lose in court) do their bit to improve the world.

  125. Sunday Afternoon says

    Karen’s fundraiser is now >$50,000 from around 1000 donations. Wow!

    In an update Karen mentions the possibility of a counter-suit. That would be cool, wouldn’t it?

  126. says

    And vaccination rates are still abysmally low.

    Actually, that’s just not true at all. Overall vaccination rates in the U.S. are high—for some recommended childhood vaccines, never been higher, actually.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/immunize.htm

    It’s just that there are pockets containing high percentages of non-vaccinators that have developed over the last couple of decades. It is, not coincidentally, in these pockets where outbreaks are occurring, such as the outbreak currently in progress in southern California.

  127. says

    Saying ‘woo’ is worth fighting is not an argument for the existence of the JREF, or CFI, or Skepchick, or any of the millions of little nerd clubs that were happy glad-handing each other until three years’ ago. Being effective at fighting woo is.

    So perhaps you could instruct those of us who are actually out there in the trenches fighting dangerous woo like, for example, cancer quackery how we can do a better job, you know people like Bob Blaskiewicz and myself. Please be specific and provide concrete suggestions.

    https://www.theskepticsguide.org/podcast/sgu/455

  128. cirbryn says

    Anthony K @ 126 wrote:

    once one has decided one is a ‘skeptic’ because one knows there’s no chupacabra and the homeopathic solutions are just water, one may in fact be less likely to apply any sort of critical thinking to others.

    Possibly. But wouldn’t it be more parsimonious to begin with the presumption that the assholes in the skeptical movement were assholes to begin with? Wouldn’t you need more than just speculation to show otherwise?

    So again, Is there much evidence that the work that the skeptical community does is farther ranging than its own borders?

    How is that question on topic? You seem to be using it as a counter to the argument that the skeptical movement makes up for the misogyny of some of its members by producing counterbalancing benefits to society. Perhaps I missed it, but I hadn’t noticed anyone here actually making that argument.

  129. anteprepro says

    Orac:

    So perhaps you could instruct those of us who are actually out there in the trenches fighting dangerous woo like, for example, cancer quackery how we can do a better job, you know people like Bob Blaskiewicz and myself.

    That doesn’t seem to be a big, popular issue in skeptic organizations, incidentally. At least that’s my impression. Fucked up priorities at work.

  130. Anthony K says

    @155:

    Actually, that’s just not true at all. Overall vaccination rates in the U.S. are high—for some recommended childhood vaccines, never been higher, actually.

    Thanks, Orac. I was hyperbolic, and wrong.

    @156:

    So perhaps you could instruct those of us who are actually out there in the trenches fighting dangerous woo like, for example, cancer quackery how we can do a better job, you know people like Bob Blaskiewicz and myself. Please be specific and provide concrete suggestions.

    Really? That’s where we’re going? Hey, I work with cancer prevention people too. I provide cancer data to researchers. I conduct cancer surveillance. Our programs are supposed to be evidence-based. Saying “I suppose you could do a better job” doesn’t cut it where I work as a response to being asked for evidence of efficacy, and it seems that the trenches are a little wider than just you and Bob Blaskiewicz.

    @157:

    Possibly. But wouldn’t it be more parsimonious to begin with the presumption that the assholes in the skeptical movement were assholes to begin with? Wouldn’t you need more than just speculation to show otherwise?

    That’s probably true for some, but as we’ve seen here, people have changed their minds on certain topics. Other than those who specifically mentioned that their minds were changed on specific topics, is it most parsimonious to assume the rest of those who become members of these communities retain the views they had prior to joining? If so, then that leads right into the next question you quoted.

  131. Hj Hornbeck says

    Orac @156:

    So perhaps you could instruct those of us who are actually out there in the trenches fighting dangerous woo like, for example, cancer quackery how we can do a better job, you know people like Bob Blaskiewicz and myself. Please be specific and provide concrete suggestions.

    I think you two do an excellent job of fighting dangerous woo, actually. Do you think we do a good job of combating sexism within the skeptic/atheist movement, and supporting those who have been victimized by powerful people within said movement? I’m also open to concrete suggestions.

    Also, I hope you are not arguing that “fighting against dangerous woo” and “combating sexism” are mutually incompatible goals. That would be a bit silly.

  132. says

    Just an FYI.
    Bicycle shorts have a cushion in them, usually called a chamois, that helps prevent nerve damage from the saddle. This is important if you want to help prevent horrible painful nerve tingling and sexual dysfunction for both men and women. It also helps prevent crotch and thigh micro-abrasions and infections via them.

    Part of the reason I switch to a recumbent is that I found I couldn’t ride without bike shorts if I wanted to still have working whatever-nerves… and because the rigamarole with the shorts and lubricating the chamois and etc. was too much of a pain for my spur-of-the-moment rides.

    Now I can’t ride at all though… so BTW, anyone in the market for three recumbents and several other oddball human-powered vehicles?

  133. Rey Fox says

    Did Mr. Bicycle Shorts wear them outside of a bicycling context? I’m guessing he must have to have earned that nickname.

  134. Anthony K says

    I think you two do an excellent job of fighting dangerous woo, actually.

    Yes, and I’m sorry for implying otherwise, Orac.

  135. cirbryn says

    > Anthony K wrote: “Other than those who specifically mentioned that their minds were changed on specific topics, is it most parsimonious to assume the rest of those who become members of these communities retain the views they had prior to joining?”
    .
    Response: I can’t be sure, because of your use of general categories such as “these communities”, but it looks like you’re just tossing my question back at me and asking whether (in the absence of specific claims to the contrary) we shouldn’t start from the assumption that misogynists in skeptical communities were misogynistic to begin with. If so, I’d answer yes. We should start from that presumption.
    .
    > “If so, then that leads right into the next question you quoted.”
    .
    Response: I don’t see how. The next question I quoted was “So again, Is there much evidence that the work that the skeptical community does is farther ranging than its own borders?” What does that have to do with the presumption of pre-existing misogyny in misogynist skeptics?

  136. Menyambal says

    Rey Fox, the bicycle shorts reference is to the man’s former fame as a long-distance bicycle racer. I think. That was what he was doing when I first heard of him, anyhow.

  137. leepicton says

    Cerberus
    Thank you for that brilliant, fascinating analysis. I have missed your remarkable posts, even though you make me feel inadequate. But prosiac is my nature, and it is what it is. I used to read all your posts and was thinking you had wandered off. The rest of you, carry on. Sorry for the interruption.

  138. says

    Cerberus 81
    Brilliant as per usual, and great to see you again.

    And what’s worse, that appeal of unearned importance in the eyes of society is that much more defended to the death when it is tied to one’s sense of self-image.

    I think this is a huge, huge part of the reason people cling so hard to this kind of thing: when you’ve made your position in the hierarchy (wherever it is) a fundamental part of your self-image then you’ll fight to the death against anything that threatens that position. The only solution I know of is to try to convince people that it shouldn’t be part of their self-image, and that’s a damn hard sell when it already is.

    Roveian tactics for the modern day as is the pan-conservative ouvre that has been wholesale copied by sister organizations like MRAs and libertarians?

    Or is it just straight up Dunning-Kruger stupidity by wanna-be intellectuals who are so stupid they don’t even know what trolling is?

    I suspect it’s a combination of these.

    I get that impression with most of these anonymous “skeptics”. I think to them, being a “skeptic” is an ersatz accomplishment. It’s all they have, and so they identify with it, and stake their ego to it.

    This seems to be a common factor in a lot of groups that are basically organized around being assholes.

    theoreticalgrrl 141

    This is the problem. Why can’t I criticize the ideas of someone like Steven Pinker’s without people losing their shit? I used to have to defer to priests and authority figures and accept their wisdom on faith when I was christian, didn’t know I had to do that here.

    Chas is well known for being an asshole on this topic and ones related to it. I’m not sure why it hasn’t gotten him banned. Any road, he’s the lone voice for that kind of shit when we’re between slyme infestations.

    More generally, I wish that being an atheist/skeptic automatically inoculated one against all manner of unsupportable bullshit, and it would be great if the organized movements were totally welcoming of people who aren’t cis white dudes, but it just ain’t so, and as someone who treasures a skeptical, evidence-based outlook, I have to accept that the facts are what they are. Having accepted that, I feel obligated to keep looking at myself to check what BS I might be indulging in and maintain a willingness to have said BS pointed out by others, and also to not support these groups, because frankly they seem to be run by and for assholes.

  139. rorschach says

    @130,

    now that was an interesting comment, thank you for that, it has given me a few leads to follow up on! Although I have to say I LOL’d a bit over “Plato s(t)ill was outrageously sex negative”.

    As far as I can see, the sources you mention may well have implied, or been interpreted to imply, some kind of sexism or misogynist mindset, but for one, how much can you blame a person from 2500 years ago for that, and secondly, I still think the only places to formally codify such ideas in a prescriptive way were religious texts.

  140. Sili says

    Wylan @ 147,

    I have no problem with shorts for their intended purpose. But it’s not my impression that Shermer’s shtick is riding a bike on stage do I stand by my distaste.

  141. drrob says

    Anthony K, you’ve shifted the thread in a really interesting and important direction. What social good is skepticism? It was questions very similar to these a couple years back that led to a few of us thinking long and hard about how to do actual good in the world.

    This led to the creation of Bad Science Watch, a Canadian organization founded by a group of big- and small-s skeptics. We realized that more public level advocacy and education was likely running into the diminishing returns problem, and we’ve consciously concentrated our efforts at the level of policymakers. This led to a campaign in 2012, Stop Nosodes, which ended up generating national level attention and significant pressure on Health Canada, in the form of a letter originated and signed by health academics across the country, and to our great surprise and satisfaction, they changed the wording on nosodes: “This product is not intended to be an alternative to vaccination.”

    Late last year, we presented at the public hearings the Expert Committee to the Royal Society of Canada held into whether Safety Code 6 (governing safe human exposure to radio frequencies), advocating that the current standard was adequate, and specifically taking aim against anti-WiFi cranks. Their report, out on 1 April, upheld SC 6 as adequate, and their report included a number of references which we had gathered in a detailed information review and provided as part of our written submission. Now, in fairness, there’s a good chance they’d have come to that conclusion without our input, but I can’t help but take some satisfaction from another positive outcome, at a policy level, which will avoid the waste of unfathomable tax dollars retrofitting all of Canada to satisfy the fear mongering of the steel curtain (WiFi proof your home!(TM)) sellers.

    It can happen. It needs to be approached with the same critical thinking toolbox that everyone has the opportunity to embrace when they come into the big tent for the first time.

  142. says

    @Rorschach

    “Although I have to say I LOL’d a bit over “Plato s(t)ill was outrageously sex negative”. ”

    Plato’s sex negativism is an outgrowth of his overview that degenerates the physical realm as both as less real and less pure than the realm of the Forms/spiritual realm. This is why in Pheado, for example, Plato argues that a person who is mostly concerned with bodily pleasures, especially lust, is “polluted, is impure at the time of her departure [death]” and “bewitched by the body.” (Pheado) Furthermore, in the Symposium, sexual liberality, sex work and at least anal sex (homosexual conduct) are all degenerated as getting the in the way of real love (agape or spiritual). I know there has been some recent scholarship, by Jay Kennedy, that Plato’s overview is a more of middle path but I don’t buy it. Plato is still willing to judge some sex between consensual parties as wrong. That’s what I mean. Also,Plato’s sexual prescriptions in the Republic are horrific.

    “secondly, I still think the only places to formally codify such ideas in a prescriptive way were religious texts.”

    I fail to see how Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics are not formally codified prescriptive texts, especially given their relations to the natural law tradition.

    “for one, how much can you blame a person from 2500 years ago for that”

    I don’t think Aristotle is blame for sexism as I don’t think any individual is to be blamed. I just find it odd that you think there is no source of sexism outside of religion.