I get email


I’m getting a swarm of these, all sounding nearly exactly alike. And what do you know, an idiot youtube atheist just issued a fatwah. Guys, I’d be more impressed with your claim to be unique individuals if you didn’t simply parrot some youtuber’s talking points.

Hello PZ myers. I just want to email you to ask you a few questions and to plead for sanity. I am fairly sure that I am just wasting my time and you will not respond but here I go anyways. What is the deal with your “free thought blog”? You censor comment and ban people for not agreeing with you, from what I have heard.

Oh, please, get down off the fucking cross already. It’s a really boring trope: I’ve got comments all over the place that start, “I know you will delete this comment because I disagree with you…” and strangely, they don’t get deleted. Look at any article with a lot of comments, and you won’t find it’s all a bunch of people agreeing with me — even regulars here routinely criticize me. What you always find in those long threads is one or more jackasses braying repeatedly and inciting prolonged rebuttals.

“From what I have heard”…right. Sleazy little wanker, you are. Where did you hear it? I bet I can guess.

You seem to start arguments in the atheist community, which largely serve to divide the community and make it harder for us to get in a position to actually do something about the harm that religion causes humanity. You have people on other websites talking bad about other atheists and scientists in your name.

In MY name? That doesn’t even make sense. I’m a guy with a blog and a teaching position, with zero power and authority. I write what I think, and many people agree, and many disagree.

And what atheist community? You act as if there is some monolithic institution with a few rebels causing trouble. Atheism is a chaotic mess, with many communities within it. It seems to annoy some people that I don’t join with the libertarian, anti-feminist herd, but they never seem to consider that it takes two sides to make a rift.

I am trying to be polite in this email but you seem to be starting a cult in your fan base. We all need to work together to make the world a better place. We won’t always agree 100% with everyone even in our little niche groups, if we do then that is a sign of something worse at work. I am not asking you to just go out and say “sorry I was a jerk” but you NEED to stop doing things to divide the community.

Oh, no, I’m dividing the community! I dare to point out that some members of this community are assholes, and you get to call me a jerk and tell me what to do. If you really want to do something to help humanity, then I’m afraid what you need to do is separate yourself from the anti-feminist ranters and join a group that sincerely cares about social justice, rather than using the term as an insult.

I grew up in the 1960s, and I remember a real divide — there were all these young people demanding an end to the draft and opposing war, and then there were all the people with the “America, love it or leave it” bumper stickers. And even when I was 9 years old I could see the deep logical flaw in the bumper sticker people. If you really loved the country, and you saw serious problems (like Nixon, or creationism, or misogyny), wouldn’t the appropriate response be to work to fix them, rather than denying their existence?

Yet here we have atheists who insist on the equivalent of “atheism, love it or leave it,” seeing no flaws at all, and demanding that anyone who disagrees should shut up in the name of holy unity.

Fuck that noise. I do not aim to conform.

Comments

  1. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    The unfortunate part is that all the “leaders” of atheism agree with the “love it or leave it” mentality.

  2. says

    As soon as we give up on any sort of social justice goals, we can all get together to… do what exactly? Be shitty without God together? Only when we try to stop making the world a better place, we can make the world a better place? Seriously, I want to know the end goal of the “atheist movement” that is so goddamned important that it is worth surrendering all of my other values for.

  3. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Right. It seems to be like they’re saying “help us get rid of religious privilege and everything else will take care of itself!’ Uhhhhhhhh, no. The atheist movement has its fair share of sexism, racism, and homophobia as well. Dismantling religion is not a panacea. It would certainly HELP quite a bit, but not a panacea.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    One slogan those of us from the ‘Nam war era remember, is that either you are part of the solution, or you are part of the problem. The problem is that some atheists are racist, sexist, liberturd assholes. Now, what are you doing to change the assholes, and the asshole attitudes they promote? PZ, plenty. Those who complain to PZ, Nada, Zilch, Zero, Nil, Nothing. They are part of the problem, and are too stupid to acknowledge that fact.

  5. unclefrogy says

    yes how dare you! Sir
    To confront all of these unexamined assumptions and attitudes.
    we just want to be left alone to be members of the smarter than the dumb church goers club. and not rock the boat and just have a few drinks with the guys!
    You insist on asking questions and following the logic and causing us trouble.

    I can not go on without repeating myself.
    such BS
    uncle frogy

  6. Sili says

    but you NEED to stop doing things to divide the community.

    Strange how it’s always “you” – the other – who’re doing the dividing.

    It must be nice to hang out only with agreeable people, who never disagree with anyone at all and doesn’t cause any divisiveness or exclusion.

  7. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    You censor comment and ban people for not agreeing with you, from what I have heard.

    Maybe you should open your fucking eyes and look for yourself instead of presuming to lecture someone based on what you’ve heard from some unnamed source.

  8. zenlike says

    Making an idiotic movie straw-manning the entire position of the ‘other side’ and then whining that the ‘other side’ is divisive when they react negatively. Logic, people, pure, unadulterated logic at work!

    How we are lucky to share this supposed movement with pure rational individuals who have cast of the illogical trappings of religion behind!

  9. screechymonkey says

    So, one person in the discussion is advocating that the other shut up and refrain from any criticism of our Dear Leaders, and the other is asserting his right to speak his mind and challenge those who claim authority.

    And you think it’s PZ who is trying to start a cult?

  10. Grainger says

    ‘but you NEED to stop doing things to divide the community.’

    This attitude seems particularly problematic. If ‘dividing the community’ means anything useful, then it is something that both sides of any conflict do. It’s not bad, it’s just how conflicts are solved.

    That people are focusing on this imagined flaw that you have, rather than on actually working out which side of the dispute is correct, is not very healthy.

  11. Al Dente says

    I’m divisive. I want nothing to do with misogynists, homophobes, trans*phobes, libertarians and other bigots. Let’s make the rift so great we can’t see or hear the people on the other side.

  12. screechymonkey says

    You know, it’s one thing to continue making the same substantive arguments over and over again to “the other side.” To a large extent, that’s what PZ does when blogging about religion or creationism.

    But there’s something terribly funny about people who continue to yell “stop arguing with me! We shouldn’t be arguing with each other!” It reminds me of the accommodationists, who took an awfully long time to get it through their heads that yes, we’d heard their arguments about tactics and framing and being nice to the poor theists, and we didn’t buy them and intended to continue as before.

  13. says

    And here I thought the atheist community was strong because we don’t arbitrarily agree with someone just because they are an atheist.

  14. Doubting Thomas says

    What is this community shit? I do not think goat cheese is fit for human consumption, all the more so if it contains cilantro. Does that make me part of a “community”? I’m an atheist as in I don’t see any evidence to support the assertions of the reality of gods. Maybe you don’t either. With nothing else in common, you and I don’t comprise a “community”. Certainly not if you are a misogynist Republican or hold any number of other repulsive ideas to be truth. One trait in common does not a community make.

  15. consciousness razor says

    That people are focusing on this imagined flaw that you have, rather than on actually working out which side of the dispute is correct, is not very healthy.

    But don’t you understand? This person makes such an excellent and thoroughly logical point:

    We won’t always agree 100% with everyone even in our little niche groups, if we do then that is a sign of something worse at work.

    If we ever agreed on which side of a dispute is “correct,” there must be something nefarious and cult-like happening. It’s a “sign,” you know, sort of like how PZ was born in Aquarius. That is why we must always have conflict, never settle anything, yet at the same time not be “divided” about anything.

  16. F.O. says

    Atheism is a lack of belief.
    By dictionary, atheists have *nothing* in common.
    We are divided by definition, why does this fellow suggest that we *must* stay together?

    To be honest, I’d avoid the dictionary argument altogether, stop using “atheist” and call myself “secular humanist”, which I assume includes compassion and empathy.
    Or do I have to label myself “compassionate humanist”?

  17. consciousness razor says

    By dictionary, atheists have *nothing* in common.

    It’s good thing dictionaries don’t tell reality how to behave, because that would be really fucking weird.

    To be honest, I’d avoid the dictionary argument altogether, stop using “atheist” and call myself “secular humanist”, which I assume includes compassion and empathy.

    So how would that work? You’re just never going to talk about your belief or nonbelief in gods? Why? There are also plenty of secular humanists who are theists. Aren’t you assuming it doesn’t include them?

  18. Athywren says

    You censor comment and ban people for not agreeing with you, from what I have heard.

    To any passing TAA parrots, I bring a message:

    RESEARCH. IS NOT. HARD.
    Stop relying on what you’ve heard.
    You have heard that PZ censors comments and bans people for disagreement. Not true.
    Most of you have heard that feminists think that all sex is rape. Not true. It wasn’t even true of the woman who actually wrote those words – no more than it was true of Darwin that he believed that the eye was proof of creation.
    You have heard so many things in your life. Do you believe all of them, or do you bother to actually research them?

    If you want to call yourselves skeptics, do yourselves a favour and do some fucking research. You are making yourselves look ridiculous. Skepticism is not just a label, it is a way of addressing claims, so address those claims.

  19. Kevin Kehres says

    When are they going to get it? There isn’t a single community to divide. Hasn’t been for at least 3 years, maybe forever. There are:

    1. Insult atheists, of the T-foot, “Amazing” (pusbag), and Glenn type. These people seem to care only that we ridicule theists. I admit they are occasionally amusing and I gladly sic them on creationists. But they are a tiresome lot and their one-trick pony is very, very old.

    2. Bigfoot Skeptics (BSers) of the Shermer type, who don’t think atheism should even be discussed aloud as long as there’s someone who still believes in Bigfoot. How DARE you bring your non-goddyness to our BS meeting. Even though many, if not most, BSers are de facto atheists. These people I have no use for whatsoever.

    3. Atheists and other humanists who believe that reaching the conclusion that there are no gods is the first step towards leading an ethical life, not the last. These are the people who fight for social justice, oppose right-wing/libertarian asshattery in all its forms, believe that women should be viewed as humans, and all the rest.

    I’m sure there are many more circles in that Venn diagram…but I’m not sure it’s a Venn, because I see very, very little overlap between the “communities”. In fact, it seems quite clear that those 3 communities are non-overlapping. Whether any of them are magesteria is a whole other questions. Two of them aren’t, that’s for sure.

    You can’t divide a community that was never, ever, ever united.

  20. says

    @PZ: You know what’s funny?

    Kids from creationist Bible classes are also instructed by their elders to contact people that disagree with their dogma and pose a bunch of inane, disingenuous questions from a shopworn script while acting like innocent little tykes who are deeply concerned and merely seeking information.

    But I’m sure you’re aware of that.

  21. Kevin Kehres says

    @27: Yes, we do see right through their rhetorical games. They’re transparent as glass.

    It’s designed to provoke a banning or other angry outburst so the little wankers can justify their smug “othering”. They were mean to me! Therefore, I can justify hating them for wanting women to be treated as equals.

    Shiny, newly cleaned glass.

  22. says

    I thought the emailer was dividing the community.

    Or maybe there’s just a non-monolithic community and anyone with their eyes open can see that and accept it.

  23. Ermine says

    @#27, Hank_says:

    Actually, we’ve had whole classes of them show up here, all reading from the same script, (So they don’t have to think of any real questions on their own), with their teacher standing right there with them to make sure no one listened too hard to the answers they were given. I believe it was a class of Ken Ham’s last time, but it might have been someone else..

  24. azpaul3 says

    OK, so I’m not a constant poster to this blog, not a highly contributing member of this sect of the atheist community, but I think I should have been informed that this is a cult. There should be a banner up on the top page.

    How do I go about getting my Welcome packet, my decoder ring, instructions on the secret handshake and the list of secret signs, words and phrases to use in my messages?

    Is this by invitation only? If so I feel I’ve been overlooked. Or am I being snubbed because I like my invertebrates fried?

  25. annie55 says

    I would like to note that without Freethought blogs, I would have been appalled at what the net had to offer a questioning agnostic.

    Lurk most of the time, but I have never been ridiculed here for asking a question…or for my mere Associates degree, for my feminism, my struggles understanding scientific theory, or for my ambivalence about going public. When I committed a faux pas, everyone was very kind, immediately understanding the spirit of the mistake and offering guidance and support.

    What the email writer does not appear to get is that Atheism on the internet really is a cesspool, and Freethought blogs provide clean waters to swim in, especially for newbies.

  26. says

    26:

    You can’t divide a community that was never, ever, ever united.

    Precisely!

    One of the things the rise of the Nu-Atheists did around a decade ago wasn’t to unite nonbelievers per se but to highlight how many of us there were who mightn’t have been aware of each other’s existence and shared many of of the same concerns about religion (including people we already knew personally or knew of).

    The points of disagreement between those atheists, whether political, economic, philosophical or whatever, already existed – the “rifts” were already in place. It’s just that the last few years saw just how exponentially butthurt many atheists could be if certain glaring inequalities or unwelcome behaviours within “the movement” were even mentioned, let alone if it was suggested that they be meaningfully addressed at any level, whether personal or organisational. This was considered very odd, even counterintuitive, by those of us who (naively, it turned out) assumed that atheists in general were politically and socially more progressive than the faithful and could be counted on to hold themselves to a higher standard of behaviour than we’d come to expect from, say, the leaders of organised religions, fundamentalist or otherwise.

    Discovering that the simple realisation that theistic claims weren’t empirically satisfactory wasn’t sufficient to guarantee a greater source of simple human empathy or desire for egalitarianism was a wake-up call a lot of people didn’t see coming. A lot us reacted (and still do react) aggressively to those atheists who are apparently in denial about the need to keep working for valuable things such as societal equality for all genders. But we didn’t create any “rift”; to accuse us of doing so is far more naive than the assumption that atheists would necessarily be more empathetic and progressive than believers – it’s also self-serving to the extreme.

  27. cubist says

    That “love it or leave it” slogan isn’t actually a bad idea. If you don’t love the country in which you live, why would you want to live there? The slogan only gets problematic/toxic when “love” is considered synonymous with “absolute, unalloyed, 100% pure admiration, and no dissent is or can be allowed!!!!” Which, of course, is exactly what was done by the 1960s hardhat-types who are commonly associated with that slogan…

    Fuck that noise. If a thing you love has a problem, loving that thing may well demand calling out the problem. And dissent, possibly even impolite dissent.

    It may well be difficult and awkward to confront a loved one about their (picking a problem at random) gambling addiction, but if you don’t give enough of a damn to even try, just how much “love” for that person do you really have?

  28. Pen says

    @35 – People who hate their countries might like to vote with their feet, but those nasty little visa things keep getting in the way. Equally, the only way I know to leave atheism is to pick a deity and start believing in it. That seems even less easy and convenient.

  29. Lofty says

    It never changes. Certain logic-lacking sheeple can’t imagine others not wanting to be co-members in the bestest ever fan club of the True Leader/s. Regardless of their church/cult/town/ethnicity/nation/sports/atheist club they can’t imagine why everyone else shouldn’t envy them and join them. Disagree with them on the awesomeness of their cult and they’ll visit you with fatwahs. And of course they think every one else thinks the same way but worships False Gods. Deep thinkers these people aren’t.

  30. samihawkins says

    I honestly can’t think of any time I’ve ever heard the phrase ‘dividing the community’, regardless of which community we’re discussing, where the person saying it wasn’t blatantly trying to bully the less powerful members of the community into shutting up and falling in line.

  31. F.O. says

    @consciousness razor #22
    I was trying to show the internal inconsistency of the email author’s own assumption, pity you missed it.

    But yeah, let’s talk about reality.
    A significant portion of self-described atheists embrace really dumb ideas, from Ayn Rand fans to chemtrail conspirationists and let’s throw the MRAs in the lot.
    Thing is, they ARE atheist by pretty much any meaning of the term, you may be disappointed in their way to being atheists, but they have the exact same right to claim that word that you have.

    Yes, as PZ writes we should “embrace the implications of godlessness”, we should challenge atheists that have stupid ideas, but wanking over the ownership of “atheist” is a red herring, is a very poor choice of word for the meaning you want to convey.

    I have nothing against calling myself an “atheist” when specifically discussing my religious belief.
    But in any broader topic “atheist” is insufficient, so I use the much more meaningful “secular humanist”.

    It is just practical: if anyone tells me that I should not discuss social justice I can point them to any SH manifesto and close the argument there.

  32. azpaul3 says

    #34 chigau

    After dinner I will consider that.

    During the rituals is there any kneeling? I’ve recently developed a squeamish fear of knee injuries.

  33. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It is just practical: if anyone tells me that I should not discuss social justice I can point them to any SH manifesto and close the argument there.

    Still checkmated since the SH manifesto isn’t atheist. No “real” atheist has to accept it.

  34. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    UnknownEric @ 2:

    As soon as we give up on any sort of social justice goals, we can all get together to… do what exactly?

    I see the “stop being divisive” as an accoutrement to the “stop being so in-your-face about atheism” that sprang up slightly before people within the atheoskeptic circles went full wonky. Only, instead of wanting to attract the more moderate, tone-sensitive Christians, we’re supposed to appeal to the brazen asses who see nothing wrong with cultural and casual injustices. Should they have to abstain from those injustices so suddenly why, they’d be so shocked and want nothing to do with such sticks in the muds who prevent fun by pointing out problems with behavior rather than simply ideology alone. Like a fish you just bought being dumped into your home tank, they’ll surely die. Surely.

  35. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    OK, sorry ImprobableJoe. Now everyone knows all guitars look the same to me. But I’m not a guitarcist! My best friend in high school was an Ibanez!

  36. says

    Kamaka @4:

    you seem to be starting a cult

    They’re just never giving up on this old chestnut, are they

    It’s either that, or the good old standby WITCH HUNTS! MOB MENTALITY!

  37. chigau (違う) says

    azpaul3 #49
    Given recent developments with PZ’s knee, I think we’ll be skipping the kneeling.

  38. says

    Kevin Kehres:

    When are they going to get it? There isn’t a single community to divide. Hasn’t been for at least 3 years, maybe forever.

    I’d say that the community (such as it is), has always been divided. We’ve seen that movement atheism hasn’t been welcoming to women, PoC, or LGBTQI, and that didn’t spring up overnight. I can imagine that people were alienated 10, 15 years ago, and simply chose to have nothing to do with the atheist/skeptic movement. Perhaps it’s just that people have become more vocal about the problems in the community.

  39. Athywren says

    @Tony, 46

    I can imagine that people were alienated 10, 15 years ago, and simply chose to have nothing to do with the atheist/skeptic movement. Perhaps it’s just that people have become more vocal about the problems in the community.

    It’s certainly a better explanation for the prevalence of white men in atheism – not so much that “it’s more of a white guy thing,” more that we’ve made it a shitty environment to work in for any but the most stubborn/masochistic women and people of colour.

  40. Kevin Kehres says

    @46…I agree, and think that, in a way, it’s probably a sign of the health of the “movement”.

    When there are so few of a particular group, they have to stick together, no matter what.

    Then, when you discover that more and more people share that particular mind-set, you’re less tolerant of the wankers.

    So…it’s a positive trend.

    So says me after a couple of glasses of red.

  41. What a Maroon, oblivious says

    Doubting Thomas, 18:

    I may disagree with your disdain of goat cheese, especially with cilantro, but I will defend to the death your right not to eat it. (Can I have your share?)

  42. Lofty says

    I’m going to start a new atheist community called G.R.O.S.T. (Get Rid Of Slimy Theists) consisting of me and the non stuffed cat and will sneer at anyone not desiring to join in .

  43. marinerachel says

    I don’t want to be part of a community that includes The Amazing(not) Atheist. I want division between myself and him. I don’t want to work towards his goals and I don’t want to be in his presence. That’s got zero to do with what PZ or anyone like him ever could or has said. He hasn’t caused division amongst atheists. The way people like TAA conduct themselves has.

    The difference between Jaclyn Glenn and myself, I guess, is I’d be embarrassed, not proud, to have TAA in my corner.

  44. Al Dente says

    Lofty @52

    Sign me up. I want to be Deputy Associate Sub-Assistant Vice Under Dictator for Life (Probationary) of G.R.O.S.T.

  45. Athywren says

    @Lofty

    Will there be a sudoku-playing arm of G.R.O.S.T.? If so, I want in.
    (If not, there can be only war between us.)

  46. Anthony K says

    You censor comment and ban people for not agreeing with you, from what I have heard.

    Stop that, PZ! Disagreement is good.

    You seem to start arguments in the atheist community, which largely serve to divide the community

    Quit with all the disagreement PZ! It’s dividing!

    We won’t always agree 100% with everyone even in our little niche groups, if we do then that is a sign of something worse at work.

    So, the exact right amount of disagreeing is what’s needed. We don’t want to to your homework for you, but hint: it’s less than 100%.

  47. F.O. says

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls #41

    No “real” atheist has to accept it.

    Indeed. I’m very happy with leaving them to be the “real” atheists.
    There IS a division and I have the interest in making it clear.

    I never choose to be an atheist.
    I choose a set of values, that “secular humanism” describes decently well, which in turn led me to atheism.
    I’m not going to tell them that they are not atheists. They are.

    I’m much more interested in calling them out to be shit human beings. They can keep their label.

  48. says

    “…you seem to be starting a cult…”

    A cult! A CULT! Here ye and be fearful for there are no cults but the Cult! Cthulhu shall bring its wrath upon all, especially PZ Myers for his transgressions against the mighty mini minions of the Elder God who shall strik<<>>

    Sorry about that. Ahem.

    “You seem to start arguments…”

    Arguments! ARGUMENTS! What’s the difference between an argument, a discussion, and just monologue-ing on a topic like a sly-aside threatening to break the fourth wall…perhaps the degree to which your emotions play into disagreeing or the level of your ignorance of the subject. And what, inherently is wrong about starting an argument specially if that argument is to discuss the betterment of humanity because we all know we’re the only one’s that can do so because Cthulhu sure as Shoggoth isn’t going to waste its time listening to our plight as it ushers in a dark and ruinous age of d<<>>

    Sorry. But yeah, acting to silence someone from speaking their mind, even if just writing them an email, doesn’t really address the issue that’s causing that person to act to do so in the first place. Unless it’s my singing.

  49. tsig says

    ” UnknownEric the Apostate

    19 July 2014 at 3:38 pm (UTC -5)

    The unfortunate part is that all the “leaders” of atheism agree with the “love it or leave it” mentality.”

    I thought they had a “love ‘em and leave ‘em mentality.

  50. Lofty says

    Kamaka, cats stuffed with catfish, perhaps.
    .
    Al Dente

    I want to be Deputy Associate Sub-Assistant Vice Under Dictator for Life (Probationary) of G.R.O.S.T.

    You will have to learn the proper revolutionary song before joining. I believe the words go “La la la la” etc.
    Athywren

    Will there be a sudoku-playing arm of G.R.O.S.T.?

    NEVAH!!! The only approved activity will be scaring church goers. I will now prepare the water balloons. Stand by for bombardment from the tree fort.

  51. consciousness razor says

    F.O., #39:

    Thing is, they ARE atheist by pretty much any meaning of the term, you may be disappointed in their way to being atheists, but they have the exact same right to claim that word that you have.

    Yes. So what?

    Yes, as PZ writes we should “embrace the implications of godlessness”, we should challenge atheists that have stupid ideas, but wanking over the ownership of “atheist” is a red herring, is a very poor choice of word for the meaning you want to convey.

    Why do you think that? What meaning do you think I want to convey by it?

    I have nothing against calling myself an “atheist” when specifically discussing my religious belief.
    But in any broader topic “atheist” is insufficient, so I use the much more meaningful “secular humanist”.

    Secular humanism is insufficient. (But again, I’d want to ask “So what?”) The idea that any one term is actually going to be sufficient to substantively define an ideology is just not tenable. I don’t think it works with atheist or secular humanist or have any reason to believe it would work with anything else. SH is “broader” in some sense, but for that very reason, I would say that often makes it less useful in narrowing down exactly what a specific view is on a specific issue or what something ought to mean.

    And as I said before, there are theists who are secular humanists — indeed, the earliest humanists and secularists were probably all god-botherers to some extent. We (as atheists) don’t get agreement on a broad range of those issues with theists, so this “broadness” you’re talking about is more than a little suspect too.

    It is just practical: if anyone tells me that I should not discuss social justice I can point them to any SH manifesto and close the argument there.

    That doesn’t seem like a reliable or interesting practice. You simply point to a manifesto (any of a number of different ones, no less), and that is supposed to make the entire moral argument for you? Why would you need any such thing just to explain to someone that you have a right to discuss whatever you want? If you can’t put it into your own words, I can certainly understand the usefulness of a quotation, but you don’t have anything specific in mind, nor do the SH manifestos I’m aware of do much in the way of argument about why we ought to have such rights. They just plainly state it, as manifestos tend to do. But that’s fucking easy; you certainly don’t need to appeal to some document or an authority figure to do it. I’m sure it would at least “close the argument,” in the sense of shutting down thought and dialogue from that point on…. is that what you actually wanted?
    ———
    ———
    Anthony K, #57:

    So, the exact right amount of disagreeing is what’s needed. We don’t want to to your homework for you, but hint: it’s less than 100%.

    Everyone is still expected to show their work, but the answer is 1%. This is what 99% of all professional wafflers agree is the correct amount of disagreement, to precisely express their desire to avoid being committed to making any substantive claim on an important issue, about which they are ignorant yet feel compelled to state their vague bullshit. For example: “I agree with 99% of what Dawkins says….” or “Pope Francis does the right things 99% of the time…”

  52. Al Dente says

    Lofty @62

    You will have to learn the proper revolutionary song before joining. I believe the words go “La la la la” etc.

    You’re wrong about the song. It goes:

    Tigers are mean
    Tigers are fierce
    Tigers have teeth
    And claws that pierce.

    Tigers are great
    They can’t be beat
    If I was a tiger
    That would be neat!

    Tigers are nimble
    And light on their toes
    My respect for tigers
    Continually grows.

    Tigers are perfect
    The E-pit-o-me
    Of good looks and grace
    And quiet dignity!

    Now let down the damn rope ladder.

  53. tuibguy says

    I carefully read through the comments and I see no dissent from what PZ wrote. Everyone here is a sycophant cultist and this is proof positive that Pharyngula has always been this way since it was founded about 9 years ago as a self-hosted blog. I gleaned that from reading this post and this thread only, but that is enough for me to judge.

    PZ stop it! You owe it to the atheist world to make everything better and you have the power if you would only choose to use it, you must turn from the dark side and be less divisive.

  54. Randomfactor says

    Hey, you know who else makes a habit of “dividing”?

    Gardeners.

    It’s a good way to take a clumped plant and spread it into new areas, or create new populations elsewhere. It’s healthier for the plant, too, especially if you WANT them to grow.

    I imagine some of the roots feebly protest being separated from the rest. Thank goodness the gardener ignores their whining.

  55. Lyn M: G.R.O.S.T. (ADM) -- Membership pending says

    Lofty @52

    I’m going to start a new atheist community called G.R.O.S.T. (Get Rid Of Slimy Theists) consisting of me and the non stuffed cat and will sneer at anyone not desiring to join in .

    I’m not sure I can join. My cat doesn’t seem to like yours.

  56. says

    Lofty:

    You will have to learn the proper revolutionary song before joining. I believe the words go “La la la la” etc.

    Like it’s that hard to remember the Smurfs anthem…

  57. says

    PZ, starting a cult? As if!

    I, on the other hand, am more than willing to start a cult. Especially if it makes me lots of money. So, who wants to be my first sucker to fleece?

  58. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    PZ stop it! You owe it to the atheist world to make everything better and you have the power if you would only choose to use it, you must turn from the dark side and be less divisive.

    Divisive in what way? Calling assholes assholes isn’t divisive. What is divisive is that folks are assholes and think they and their sycophants aren’t divisive by the asshole behavior and the defense of asshole behavior. See how it works? No matter what you say, you are in the wrong. Get used to that. Asshole behavior is always in the wrong…..

  59. Lofty says

    Lyn M: G.R.O.S.T. (ADM) — Membership pending

    I’m not sure I can join. My cat doesn’t seem to like yours.

    I think you may be onto something. I can’t let just anyone (or anycat) join for fear of them diluting teh awesomeness of the One True Leader (i.e. me), also Tiddles says Hssss.
    Oh and me:

    …and will sneer at anyone not desiring to join in .

    I am an equal opportunity sneerer and sneer at people both wanting to both join and not join, all at the same time. Make sense? I hope not.

  60. Owlmirror says

    annie55 @67:

    Um…thinking tuibguy is being srcastic. Yes?

    Only divisive, disagreeable people are sarcastic. Now, since tuibguy was unifiedly agreeing with the letter-writer, he could not possibly have been sarcastic.

    (But he was divisively disagreeing with PZ! … Well, I’m sure it’s possible to work it out. Let this be an exercise for the student.)

  61. says

    Nerd:

    Divisive in what way? Calling assholes assholes isn’t divisive. What is divisive is that folks are assholes and think they and their sycophants aren’t divisive by the asshole behavior and the defense of asshole behavior. See how it works? No matter what you say, you are in the wrong. Get used to that. Asshole behavior is always in the wrong…..

    I’m almost certain that tuibguy was being sarcastic. This is the clue:

    Everyone here is a sycophant cultist and this is proof positive that Pharyngula has always been this way since it was founded about 9 years ago as a self-hosted blog. I gleaned that from reading this post and this thread only, but that is enough for me to judge.

  62. F.O. says

    @consciousness razor #64

    “The idea that any one term is actually going to be sufficient to substantively define an ideology is just not tenable.”
    I’m saying that in this context “secular humanist” is better that “atheist”, not that that it is the Ultimate Truth.

    “You simply point to a manifesto (any of a number of different ones, no less), and that is supposed to make the entire moral argument for you?”
    If someone complains that one should not address social justice as a member of an “atheist” group a long argument ensues: this is what is happening right now.
    If someone complains that one should not address social justice as a member of a “secular humanist” group instead it is easy to show that social justice IS relevant to secular humanism.

    It’s *just* semantics, this is why I think that arguing over “atheist” is a waste of time.

  63. tuibguy says

    Um…thinking tuibguy is being srcastic. Yes?

    Yep. I think that the letter writer that PZ was responding to in the OP is an idiot; or to be generous, exhibiting idiotic behavior.


    Divisive in what way? Calling assholes assholes isn’t divisive. What is divisive is that folks are assholes and think they and their sycophants aren’t divisive by the asshole behavior and the defense of asshole behavior. See how it works? No matter what you say, you are in the wrong. Get used to that. Asshole behavior is always in the wrong…..

    You spin me right round baby, right round, like a record baby, right round round round. It gets so confusing, doesn’t it?

    So much of this reminds me of the flak that the New Athiests took from the Creationism Fighters Who Knew That It Was Best To Keep Religious People In the Dark About Evolution’s Implications For Religion (BOOTS ON THE GROUND) and how much apology that the testifiers in Kansas had to make in order to appease the school board in order to get evolution back into the curriculum. The New Atheists had to sit back and let the Framers drive or all would be lost.

    So, here we are with feminism after the New Atheists buried Framing to the ash heap of history. “If only atheism weren’t so infested with feminism we would be able to destroy religion.” The anti-feminist atheists are as full of shit as the Framers of Science were.

    PZ is always going to be a target because he doesn’t back away, and the slings and arrows will always be outrageous.

  64. anteprepro says

    PZ starting a cult! What blatant misinformation. Internet slander. PZ is merely perpetuating and leading an already existent cult. A cult with a rich, ancient history and many….tentacles.

    Ia! Ia!

  65. annie55 says

    Heh…sometimes ya just gotta tread carefully. Owlmirror…you make my head hurt.

    I first started hanging out in the skeptic/atheist realm about the time of “Elevetorgate” and was intimidated enough to be content with lurking. Freethought seemed to me to be the safest place to read and learn, and often laugh.

    And I still honestly do not understand why feminism is such a trigger for completely unacceptable behavior in some “communities.” I have yet to read any objection to feminism that did not boil down to “I wanna act like an asshole and the wimmens are spoiling my fun.”

    Can someone explain it to me?

  66. consciousness razor says

    If someone complains that one should not address social justice as a member of an “atheist” group a long argument ensues: this is what is happening right now.

    And you seem to be arguing that this is okay, because apparently atheists should not do that. Or else even if that’s not true, we should still concede this to the fuckers arguing like this…. why? Because you just don’t care enough to make a simple fucking point, which takes no time at all, showing how utterly wrong they are? How’s that a good reason?

    If someone complains that one should not address social justice as a member of a “secular humanist” group instead it is easy to show that social justice IS relevant to secular humanism.

    It’s easy to show how it’s relevant to atheism. Atheists are people. People should be just. Atheists should be just. Done. Easy. I didn’t even need to dig up a fucking manifesto to “prove” it for me.

    Did you notice something? I didn’t say “All atheists are necessarily just, by definition,” or “Atheism, and only atheism itself, guarantees justice,” or anything of the sort. I just said what we should do, which was the fucking point to be demonstrated, not any of that absurd horseshit that you apparently think this is about.

    It’s *just* semantics, this is why I think that arguing over “atheist” is a waste of time.

    And I’m not arguing over the meaning of the word “atheist” itself. You evidently think that’s what this is about, despite people constantly pointing out, in numerous ways, how tortured and silly this strawman is. Even though you say it’s irrelevant and a waste of time, you still take it as a given and concede the point to the assholes that we (as self-identifying “atheists”) have no legitimate claim to organize ourselves as moral people.

    We have to call ourselves something else when we do that, because words are fucking magical or some shit. Maybe it’s not supposed to be magic. I sincerely can’t fucking grok how anyone twists themselves into this particular mental knot, so correct me if I’m just misunderstanding some piece or another.

  67. petrander says

    Over 80 comments and none of the TAA/Glenn followers, or shall I say: anti-feminist cultists, have shown up yet. That can mean two main things: Either PZ is indeed deleting all dissenting comments, or they’re all a bunch of cowards who’d rather be left alone with their silly ideas. I wonder what it could be… Hmmmm…

    How about we all go over to their comment sections and bug them instead of this cowardly single-person e-mailing that they do?

  68. Lofty says

    What a Maroon, oblivious

    When does the Calvinist ball begin?

    Dunno, it’s only a Hobbey at the moment.

  69. Akira MacKenzie says

    I think this notion of a “united” atheist movement comes out of the Dubya Administration and the surge in Fundagelicalism that follwed Shurb into government and was further fueled by post 9-11 Christian jingoism. Back then, as “Intelligent Design” was sneaking into schools and Jesus-freakery was equated to patriotism, atheists had a lot to worry about. Back then, atheists of all stripes started to come out and speak out against the rising tide of religiousity in America and how it threatened freedom and democracy. Back then, nobody seemed to mind or know that Dr. Bicycle Shorts was a closted Randite, PZ and Dawkins crashed a screening of Expelled, everyone laughed at the antics of Mr. Diety and Penn & Teller, Hitchen’s erudite condemnations of theism were applauded. Back then, we seemed to be one big happy atheist family taking on the menace of right-wing theocracy.

    Then Bush term-limited out, the IDiots lost the Dover Trial, the comedy duo of McCain/Palin fizzeled at the polls and the the threat of a real-life verions of “A Handmadien’s Tale” was mitigated somewhat by the election of a “liberal” (HA!) Democrat to the Oval Office. Now we had time to look within and start to examine ourselves and our fellows… and we found out that atheism had its share of assholes and bigots too.

    At least, that’s my analysis.

  70. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Improbable Joe:

    @throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble:

    The heck are you talking aboot?

    I’m talking about a variation on a theme. The original theme was played to the tune of Mooneybaum’s “Stop being so harsh about science/skepticism, you’ll kill the movement!” The following theme was played to the tune of “Stop forcing people to behave at conferences, you’ll kill the movement!” They’re kind of like yin-yang with each other to my mind. The fish thing was about how, if we solved the ‘problem’ of atheo-skeptics, which we totally don’t have, the new converts who’d been steeped in the casual cultural social injustices they come to expect would have way too hard of a time adjusting to such a confusing and unfun place!

    So yeah, hope that clears things up. If not then whatever you come up with for meaning is what I intended.

  71. briandarby says

    Dear Dr. Myers

    My screen reader is sort of on the fritz so I could not get my regular email client to write you a personal email. Sorry if this off topic please forgive. I just was deeply concerned given your recent medical issues and wanted to wish you and your family the best. I am truly hopeful you are on the mend. Have a nice rest of the weekend.

    An aside, I come from Christian background but I cannot deny the evidence that supports the Theory of Evolution, I may not agree with some of what you say, but you are correct on that, it is clear that we evolved from a common ancestor. I am a scientific “less than armature” when I bought into the whole young earth nonsense and evolution is of the devil and Darwin caused the holocaust crap. I am ashamed of myself that I fell for such tripe. Darwin’s insights were truly (pardon the phrase) inspired. I may not agree with your “atheism” but I have found most atheist / agnostics to be moral, caring people.

    I dont pretend that I have any intellectual reasons to hold on to my faith, they are emotional and personal.

    Actually what I am asking for is a some good resources I can reference concerning the Theory of Evolution / age of the earth. I have found Talk Origins to be very credible but if you have some other references please let me know. All that is second, I hope you get better, keep opening the minds of young people and keep being a pain in the backsides of the absolutists no matter who they may be. Hope you get well soon.

    I have some orthopedic issues, basically arthritis in most of my joints, so I can relate to the pain, having woken up on the floor after a joint gave out. I want to thank you, I am still an extremely religious person, though now I keep it private, but I have gained insight from your blog. Dont take offense but I do pray for you, call it an emotional response. Most of religion is emotional.

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

    @WMDKitty, #90:

    Do not.

  73. badgersdaughter says

    BrianDarby@89: Don’t worry about posting in public. Lots of the commenters are qualified teachers and scientists and will be happy to start you off with some basics for people without much background in the subject. TalkOrigins is fascinating but it can be pretty technical pretty fast; kind of like trying to drive a stick shift car without a clear understanding of how the clutch works; you can get around slowly but you can’t really go too far before you stall out.

    I have so much respect for you because you’re actively reaching out for truth about the world. Because of that I just wanted to extend a personal invitation to you, in case you are interested (you may not be). I am an atheist but I was religious well into my 30s. If your seeking leads you to having other questions about religion, and you want to talk to someone who’s not pushy and who respects your right to go at your own pace, and you’d like to talk in private, contact me at my username at gmail.com and I’ll see if I can’t help you make sense of things.

  74. Athywren says

    @annie55, 81

    And I still honestly do not understand why feminism is such a trigger for completely unacceptable behavior in some “communities.” I have yet to read any objection to feminism that did not boil down to “I wanna act like an asshole and the wimmens are spoiling my fun.”

    Can someone explain it to me?

    Well, see, feminists think that all sex is rape! (Except we don’t.)
    And feminists are saying that all men are rapists! (Except we don’t.)
    And feminists are saying that all men are the president of everything, and all women are living in mud puddles, and that’s dumb! (Except we don’t.)
    And feminists are saying that only women get raped and men can suck it! (Except we don’t.)
    And feminists are saying that only men rape and women are perfect and flawless angels of perfectitude! (Except we don’t.)
    And feminists don’t want equality – they want superiority! (Except we don’t.)

    So you can see that feminism is a deeply irrational and hateful ideology. (Except it isn’t.)

  75. opposablethumbs says

    Hi briandarby, just thought I’d mention (depending on how busy PZ is at any given time, he doesn’t always get the chance to read every bit of every thread) that for a question like that you might want to drop by
    a) the Lounge (this is an endless thread set aside for socialising, with virulent arguments and insults not acceptable: current iteration is at http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/07/14/lounge-468 )
    or b) the Thunderdome (ditto, but you should bear in mind that virulent arguments and insults are specifically permitted here: current iteration is at http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/07/17/thunderdome-52 )
    Although of course the great majority of people in the Lounge are atheists, that doesn’t mean you have to be one to visit; you just have to be a decent human being (i.e. sexism, racism, prosyletising, homophobia, transphobia etc. are not on (not imputing any of those to you; that’s just to give you the flavour)). If you’re looking for useful resources for debunking creationist nonsense, there are bound to be people around in the crowd who know of a great many.

  76. Donnie says

    I am sure that PZ will just delete this comment, but someone must say it despite the group think of FtB, but PZ, “you are a big Poopyhead”. There, I said it, now I await my banning. No, I serial people, ban me so that I can step onto the atheist “A” symbol as a martyr for the entitled, privileged oblivious, men amd female “thought leaders” and their sycophantic groupies.

  77. says

    You’re right, it is getting a bit stuffy in here.

    *unfurls nice sandalwood fan and wafts it in Donnie’s direction*

    Oh. You said “ban”, not fan. My mistake. Sorry, I can’t help you there.

  78. blf says

    You censor comment and ban people for not agreeing with you, from what I have heard.

    Poopyhead, a.k.a. little Paul, does not !

    (This is therefore the last you will read from me as I will surely now be banned, shunned, excommunicated, my ashes encased in a neutron star made of peas and rocketed into a black hole orbiting the Planet of Teh Horses, and cheese and MUSHROOMS! withheld, since I dared call poopyhead “little Paul“… So long reprobates and group-thinkers…!)

  79. F.O. says

    @consciousness razor #82
    “It’s easy to show how it’s relevant to atheism. Atheists are people. People should be just. Atheists should be just. Done.”
    So, how’s this working for you?

    Not sure what you mean with the rest of your post.

    The way I see it is that these people are complaining that ethics are off-topic in “atheist” groups.
    Both you and I disagree with this position.

    You think that these people should accept that “atheism” contains much more.
    I agree with your sentiment, I really do.
    I just think that in practice, this approach is not working very well.

    “words are magical or some shit”
    Words are how you communicate with other people, they are how you convey your ideas and influence theirs.
    Yes, they are important, no magic required.

  80. says

    annie55 @ 81

    I have yet to read any objection to feminism that did not boil down to “I wanna act like an asshole and the wimmens are spoiling my fun.”

    That’s about it, annie. The vitriol heaped upon the likes of the completely inoffensive Rebecca Watson and Jen McCreight is beyond any understanding unless STFU means something.

  81. Donnie says

    @89: “why evolution is true” is a real easy read that lays out the evidence. Despite his assholeness on social justice issues, I really got a lot out of Richard Dawkins, “The Greatest Show on Earth”. You can probably check it out at your local library. I found “The Inner Fish” was a difficult read, for me. However, the PBS show by the same name was really fascinating and may enable you to get the background to better appreciate/understand the book.

  82. Owlmirror says

    @briandarby #89:

    Actually what I am asking for is a some good resources I can reference concerning the Theory of Evolution / age of the earth.

    A good basic reference about the age of the earth and the dating systems used to determine that age (as well as dating systems that determine shorter timespans):

    Radiometric Dating: A Christian Perspective

  83. busterggi says

    “Fuck that noise. I do not aim to conform.”

    You’ll never get to be Supreme Hydra with your attitude.

  84. Paul says

    I found it funny that you stated you have no power or prestige…tenured professor, widely read blog, yep, you sure are the powerless underling aren’t you? You appear in movies, you speak on the lecture circuit, how many more examples of your utter lack of clout do you need? I don’t agree with your e-mail antagonist, but to play the powerless victim card is a bit disingenuous.

  85. says

    Paul:

    I found it funny that you stated you have no power or prestige…tenured professor, widely read blog, yep, you sure are the powerless underling aren’t you? You appear in movies, you speak on the lecture circuit, how many more examples of your utter lack of clout do you need? I don’t agree with your e-mail antagonist, but to play the powerless victim card is a bit disingenuous.

    Is PZ”s might in the social realm? Is he politically powerful? Does he have great economic clout? Please, define for us how and in what ways PZ has power. Right after you explain what your definition of power is.

  86. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t agree with your e-mail antagonist, but to play the powerless victim card is a bit disingenuous.

    And I find your claim that PZ is powerful with only vague claims a bit disingenuous.

  87. says

    Paul:

    I found it funny that you stated you have no power or prestige…tenured professor, widely read blog, yep, you sure are the powerless underling aren’t you? You appear in movies, you speak on the lecture circuit, how many more examples of your utter lack of clout do you need?

    Please, demonstrate the Power of PZ, please. Show us his Hollywood contract, I’m sure we’d all love to see it. By the way, please include how being barred from one of “his” movies was due to all that power he’s wielding, eh?

    Please demonstrate that PZ is the only speaker at atheist cons, and is the only money draw.

    Please demonstrate that Pharyngula is universally loved, and there are no Pharyngula hate sites, no, nary a one. Please demonstrate how much everyone listens to PZ (why look at Richard Dawkins, who has, of course, listened to PZ’s criticisms and has done a 360 on his wrong-headed stances on certain subjects!).

    We’ll wait why you gather up the needed items for your demonstration.

  88. says

    I found it funny that you stated you have no power or prestige…tenured professor, widely read blog, yep, you sure are the powerless underling aren’t you?

    I have privilege and security, and I don’t hide that fact at all. But power? Nope. All I can do is try to persuade, same as you or anyone else.

    You appear in movies,

    Seriously? You’re going to hold up my appearances in Expelled and that awful hand-held thing Ray Comfort slapped together as examples of my clout?

    you speak on the lecture circuit,

    Yes, I speak. At unpaid gigs.

    how many more examples of your utter lack of clout do you need? I don’t agree with your e-mail antagonist, but to play the powerless victim card is a bit disingenuous.

    No, what is disingenuous is to inflate my influence to a ridiculous degree.

    I have an appropriate perspective on my “power”.

  89. chigau (違う) says

    What about Us?
    The VastHorde.
    Waiting and ready to do your bidding?
    Now there’s Power!