Aug 02 2012

The day my entire body of work became unreadable: A Freethought Blogs story

When I first joined Freethought Blogs a couple months ago, little did I know this would be the cue for assholes of all stripes to make me a target of their bizarre personal grudges that actually have little if anything to do with me. Much like being trans, or “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”, being on FTB has served as a magnificent jerk filter: it induces people to stand up and be counted as unreasonable fools. People like one of my followers on Facebook who isn’t a fan of PZ:

…and, um, the national executive director of CFI Canada:

I was ready to let this pass without remark simply because I’ve become used to such blatant cognitive errors after spending the past four years on YouTube. But here we have the director of a national skeptic organization casually insulting the entirety of one of the most prominent networks of atheist writers. Imagine if David Silverman, Edwina Rogers, or Dan Barker had done this, without even an attempt at justifying their wholesale dismissal of over 30 distinct blogs and their authors, or their vacuous accusation of “groupthink” toward people who have committed the cardinal sin of sometimes agreeing about things.

What makes his comments personal is how impersonal they are. In the weeks since I moved to FTB, did Payton scour my whole two-year archive of posts and four-year archive of video transcripts, before declaring that not a single one was “even remotely readable”?  If he has indeed read my blog at any point, I’d happily accept his opinion as just a difference in taste. As is, he’s making a blanket statement about the countless hundreds of thousands of words on the entire network, all of which are apparently impenetrable and useless. Was my work somehow any more lucid when it was located at my old domain, or would he have said the same thing about it if he had read it before I moved here? Does FTB just possess some kind of Aura of Crap such that only the most incompetent writers would be selected to join?

I suspect none of this actually matters to those who have decided that my own work can’t be taken seriously or even read at all because of something someone else did. In their rush to align themselves against the idea that we should take the concerns of women seriously, or some distortion of this which involves hating Rebecca Watson, reason and the spirit of free inquiry have apparently gone out the window. Now that we’re no longer judging people on their individual merits, I wonder if they’ll stop reading Hemant’s blog just because he’s on the same network as Mark Regnerus.


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  1. 1

    There are very good reasons why I don’t participate with CFI Canada these days, and Payton is a big part of that. CFI, at least CFI Toronto (I’ve heard good things about CFI Vancouver) has had a ton of organizational drama in the past while amongst its leadership, and both Payton and the former exec director have been leaders in http://www.equalismactivism.com/, an MRA group in Toronto.

    Payton also promotes himself as a neuroscientist, which is kind of annoying, but that’s more a peeve about people using credentials they don’t have.

    1. 1.1
      HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

      And with that, the last flicker of my interest in joining up with Toronto skeptics went out. Gross.

      1. quietmarc

        Ditto. I mean, since I have social anxiety, I might never have gone to anything anyway, but at least this saves me to hassle of getting distressed over it.

        If anyone does find a group in Toronto for atheists/skeptics who happen to think social justice is important, please let me know?

        1. Ophelia Benson

          See Rogi Riverstone’s comment below for an alternative meetup.

          1. quietmarc

            Thanks Ophelia!

            To any other Torontonian’s: Rogi’s comment is number 28.

            I’m checking it out right now…..

      2. leftwingfox

        And mine too. =/

      3. Tracy

        Ugh. Same here, unfortunately.

      4. jayr

        I gave up on Toronto CFI when they were planning to do pride in drag, to support the trans community!! It’s nice to see some Toronto people posting on here,I was starting to think that all the atheists in Toronto are lunch pails.

    2. 1.2

      Hmm, that web site no longer seems to work– at least, nothing comes up for me.

      1. Sivi

        Yeah, I think there might be an archived version somewhere. If you google it you can see bits of the sub-pages.

        1. kc

          Try the Wayback Machine:


  2. 2
    The Nerd

    Sorry, I want to leave a relevant comment, but I’ve willfully dropped my reading comprehension level below the point where I can even understand what the topic is here.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    I have yet to read a single tweet of Michael Payton’s without a grammatical or spelling error.

    1. 3.1
      Jack Lewis

      Zing? Pretty lame response… A thicker skin might come in handy.

  4. 4
    Matt Dillahunty

    And DJ Grothe did this, just yesterday in a tweet:

    — Freethought Blogs, anyone? “@alaindebotton: The best cure for one’s bad tendencies is to see them in action in another person.” –

    The irony of specifically sniping anyone with this comment is pretty thick, but he also opted for the broad-brush dismissal.

    1. 4.1

      DJ’s quoting Alain de Botton, now? Heh heh.

      I bet he thinks he’s deep.

  5. 5

    …and now I’m thinking it would be hilarious if Surly Amy on Skepchicks tried to get Payton to do a piece for her leaders speaking out against misogyny series. I suspect he wouldn’t go for it.

    1. 5.1

      Funny how life works sometimes. As I understand it, Amy got it before this (ZJ’s) post even went up.


      I only ask that we try not to overgeneralize, and will wish y’all a good weekend.

  6. 6

    Not that I particularly care which blog service someone uses, but am I the only one who noticed that Payton said he “…has yet to find a single post…”? It’s not a blanket statement, it’s a clarifying statement. Saying that one has yet to do something implies that it’s possible to do, but hasn’t been achieved as of the moment.

    Why would someone take that as personal attack against one blog out of how many hundreds if not thousands of others? It’s entirely possible to assume that Payton has never read Zinnia’s work or watched any of Zinnia’s youtube videos.

    Despite the fact that she’s been recording videos for the last four years, I’d never heard of or watched a single one of them until six months ago. Is that showing that I disagreed with her work or purposefully avoided it? No. It’s simply the fact that I was unaware of it, as Payton likely is. Don’t take things so bloody personal, people.

    1. 6.1
      Zinnia Jones

      His reference to the “entire history” suggested a somewhat more comprehensive effort, in which posts meeting his standards were found to be sparse at best.

      1. Jack Lewis

        What exactly makes you think this was directed at you? Are you really a head liner? How people handle criticism is pretty informative.

    2. 6.2

      He hasn’t found one post in FtB’s “entire history” that was “remotely readable”? C’mon. I call bullshit. That was a blanket dismissal, not an honest expression of taste.

      1. Skeptico

        Actually he wrote that he hadn’t found one post in FtB’s entire history “which” was remotely readable. He wrote “which.”

        What that actually means is that he couldn’t find one post in FtB’s entire history. Period. Also, the post he couldn’t find was unreadable.

        (It’s fun being a grammar Nazi occasionally.)

        1. M can help you with that.

          I’m too hung up on things like the history of the language to actually get too nit-picky about grammar.

    3. 6.3

      I have yet to witness a single utterance of Michael Payton’s that was not offensive and fallacious!

      Incidentally, no, I have never heard of this person before.

  7. 7

    He says he’s been completely unable to read and, presumably, comprehend FTB posts…and this is somehow someone ELSE’S fault?

    And yes, I love the misspelled word in the twit’s tweet.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    What Matt said. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Zinnia said, “Imagine if David Silverman, Edwina Rogers, or Dan Barker had done this, without even an attempt at justifying their wholesale dismissal of over 30 distinct blogs and their authors,” and lo, it turned out that DJ Grothe has done exactly this.

    Maybe hilarious isn’t quite the right word…

  9. 9

    Come on Loki, do you really read that as a progress report? You think Payton is going “Well, this is new. Reading through it but I haven’t seen anything yet that’s remotely readable.”

    Also, he says “in it’s [sic] entire history”, and then also makes a comment about groupthink on this blog network. You figure those are made in good faith?

    1. 9.1
      Ophelia Benson

      Plus he starts by saying it gives him a headache.

    2. 9.2

      Personally, I don’t care if they’re made in good faith or not. I do, however, think that getting one’s panties in a twist over someone’s tweet about a blog service is a little messed up. Before someone points it out, yes I realize I’m perpetuating this with my replies but I enjoy a lively debate.

      1. Jason Thibeault

        Because WHO tweeted it doesn’t matter or anything.

        1. Loki

          Quite frankly, to me it doesn’t matter. People are getting upset over another person’s opinion. Everyone has opinions and everyone’s entitled to them. If you don’t care for another person’s opinion, then such is life.

          1. sivivolk

            Except one of those people is the national director of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, atheist/skeptic organization in Canada, and he’s trashing in fairly juvenile terms what might be the biggest atheist/skeptic blog network online.

          2. Alukonis, metal ninja

            Right, CFI Canada director is entitled to an opinion about how an entire blog network is crap, but one of the writers on that blog network is NOT entitled to be upset and have a counter opinion that the tweeter in question is a butthead?

            I don’t really see what your point here is. Your opinion is that everyone can have an opinion but no one can have an emotional response to anyone else’s opinion? Is that it? So I’m entitled to my opinion that you’re an insufferable waste of oxygen and other natural resources, but you can’t get upset with me for saying that, right?

            You don’t get to tell other people what to feel, you don’t get to dictate how they respond to things, and you also don’t get to decide what someone else writes about on their own blog. Saying “oh well if you don’t like someone else’s opinion, that’s life” is a completely obvious point, because everyone who has made it past kindergarten has caught on to that, I’m pretty sure. Your main gripe seems to be “how dare you feel insulted when someone slams a body of work you’ve spent years on and then write a blog post about it!” which is just you being the feelings police.

            As for the whole “it’s not a personal attack so don’t take it personally” one could as easily say the same thing of a racist joke not directed at a specific person of that race. You think that, for example, saying French people run away from fights and you’ve never met one with a spine would NOT be taken as an insult by a French person? Come on, dude. Seriously.

          3. Loqi

            My brain’s irony processing unit is getting backed up. First Matt’s quoted tweet in #5, then someone with an unfortunate monicker says everyone is entitled to their opinion, therefore you can’t criticize them.

          4. quietmarc

            I think the people who really feel it doesn’t matter aren’t actually posting comments on blog posts about it.

          5. NoxiousNan

            Funny how writing about something these days equals getting upset.

      2. miller

        You moved the goalpost. Before you were defending his statement, now you argue we shouldn’t care. What’s next?

      3. MrPopularSentiment

        As a volunteer with a CFI-Canada branch, I actually do think it matters WHO is tweeting. Because when MP does this sort of stuff and then I read comments like “and this is why I’ve written off CFI-Canada,” that means one fewer person attending MY events. And I work hard to organize events – I want people to come!

    3. 9.3

      I noticed the lack of a reply option on your post which says, “Except one of those people is the national director of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, atheist/skeptic organization in Canada, and he’s trashing in fairly juvenile terms what might be the biggest atheist/skeptic blog network online.” Due to that, I’m replying to it here.

      Bloggers, with a few exceptions such as Zinnia, are seldom known for backing up their blogs with works cited, footnotes, or any other form of proven research. I’m not saying that all bloggers don’t provide evidence of research, but enough don’t that I think he’s fairly accurate in making a statement like that. Could he have chosen more mature or adult wording? Sure, but it’s twitter. Twitter’s character limit somewhat negates a thorough and well worded criticism.

      1. sivivolk

        Wait, are you saying that he could PROVE his opinion that FTB is unreadable in its entirety?

        I mean, I can’t judge whether it gives him a headache or not, that’s his business, but the group-think charge would be hard to make stick given there’s been at least a few intra-FTB fights, including ones where all the participants are still around.

        1. Loki

          Not in it’s entirety, but for most of it yes.

      2. 'Tis Himself

        Bloggers, with a few exceptions such as Zinnia, are seldom known for backing up their blogs with works cited, footnotes, or any other form of proven research.

        Citation needed.

        1. (e)m

          citation needed


      3. doubtthat

        Fascinating. I was not aware that the definition of “readable” was: has footnotes.

        The hell are you talking about? It’s obvious that he was trying to slam the network. If you agree with him, just say so, but yes, people writing for a network have the right to respond when someone, especially a high profile individual working in the same community, advances what they believe to be an unfair criticism (and in this case, it is).

        It is amusing watching you descend into the omni-skepticism of the weak argument: “like, why do you care, man, like, nothing matters, I mean, why are so, like uptight and shit? Why care about anything?”

      4. fatherdaddy

        I don’t know what blogs you’ve been reading, but, I see plenty of citations on these posts. On this very article, there is a link to the comments made by the guy. How could you miss it?

      5. karmakin

        Protip: Links are the same thing as cites and references.

        Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

        1. Loki

          A link is not the same thing as a citation. Allow me to give you an example.

          Web page without an author:

          GVU’s 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/users_surveys/survey-1997-10/

          Web page authored by an organization:

          Greater New Milford (Ct) Area Healthy Community 2000, Task Force on Teen and Adolescent Issues. (n.d.). Who has time for a family meal? You do! Retrieved from http://www.familymealtime.org

          As can be seen, a mere link is not a proper citation.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    Loki, your comment misrepresents the tweet. Payton didn’t just say “I have yet to find.”

  11. 11
    Jasper of Maine

    What’s going on? None of you are making any sense

  12. 12

    When PZ first checked into hospital with heart problem he wrote about the experience.
    The article he wrote was world class readable.

  13. 13
    Jason Thibeault

    I have yet to read a single comment in this thread that was written in English!

    1. 13.1
      John Horstman

      Lies! You read your own as you wrote it! :-)

      1. kagekiri

        Well, maybe he’s using speech dictation, or typing without looking at the screen…

        1. michaeld

          Maybe he wildly mashed the keyboard and got really lucky to have a comment that makes some sense in context?

      2. ambassadorfromverdammt

        It wasn’t in the thread then.

    2. 13.2


  14. 14

    @Jason Thibeault


    1. 14.1

      Wie, bitte?

      1. kagekiri

        Na shi shenme zi? Wo kan bu dong.
        (holy crap, my pinyin is rusty)

        Nande? Wakarimasen!

        1. Ian Andreas Miller

          Quid? Cur locutionibus multarum linguarum utimur?

    2. 14.2
      'Tis Himself

      Qu’est-ce que c’est?

      1. Cafeeine

        Μα τι είναι τουτα τα γραφόμενα; Δεν κταλαβαίνω τίπουτις!

      2. Khantron, the alien that only loves

        Les cognes sont ici.

      3. Jefrir

        Ну, что вы все говорите?

        1. SkepticJackal

          Pri kio vi parolas? Mi ne komprenas vin!

      4. DSimon

        .i mo

  15. 15

    Sivi @1, I keep hearing that Peyton was an MRA, but can’t find any evidence of this. http://web.archive.org/web/20110710194747/http://www.equalismactivism.com/ (archive link because it’s currently returning a blank page) is described as an independent blog, not an organization.

    Trottier’s post here http://www.equalismactivism.com/?p=2103 (apparently he didn’t do a good job of taking the site down, and it’s now in the Internet Archive, scroll down for the words) also affirms that it’s a personal blog, not an organization.

    I’m not arguing with the tweet itself, I just find that given the tension around gender and sexuality of late in TSCAC, if you’re going to use that particular weapon it’s best that it be used accurately. Also, if it is true, it would be good to have an accurate link saying so.

  16. 16

    “not arguing with the tweet itself”

    Meh, I mean not arguing *about* the tweet itself. Apologies.

  17. 17

    You know what I love about FreethoughtBlogs? Every time a new blog is added, it is the blog of an atheist/freethinker that I had discovered elsewhere through other means, and now they’re all in one place! I found you, Zinnia, through your epic takedown of that horrible “Magnets, how do they work?” song, and have long been a Youtube fan. Same is true for Chris Radd, TAE and AronRa. I found Pharyngula through… osmosis, I guess, but I read Jen McCreight thanks to Dan Savage. It was only after I started reading their blogs here that I discovered Crommunist, Greta Christina and Stephanie Zvan. Pretty much the only skeptic/atheist blogs I read that aren’t here are Hemant and Skepchicks. Maybe I’m trapped in an “echo chamber”, but every time I try to read the atheist various blogs ranged against FTB, I find myself bored and uninterested. I keep wondering where this “majority of atheist bloggers” that hate FTB are hiding.

    The only “groupthink” I see here is the tendency to all cover the same issue/news item at the same time. But that’s actually a strength, since I can just read the analysis of my favorite bloggers and ignore the redundant posts, rather than checking six blogs and seeing they are all about the same thing.

    1. 17.1
      Doug Kirk

      If you have room for one more echo in your chamber, you should check out Daylight atheism on bigthink. It’s another good one, and it posts MWF so you don’t need a ton of time to keep up with it.

    2. 17.2

      If you don’t already, you should add Jerry Coyne’s blog to your list


      1. garysturgess

        Tut tut. As I’m sure Jerry would point out, he has a website, not a blog. :)

        1. Anonymous Atheist

          Um, that WordPress-hosted site with dated posts arranged in reverse-chronological order is clearly a blog, which is a subtype of website.

  18. 18

    Well yes, didn’t you know that associating yourself with a group of people who give a damn how people treat each other removes all value your writing otherwise would have had? You’re a bully now, after all!

  19. 19


    Hm. I recall him being described as official spokesperson for the Men’s Issues Campaign run by this group: Toronto’s Men’s Issues Awareness Campaign. He was described as such by Katie from the old Freethought Canada group.

    Stuff like this: http://www.equalismactivism.com/?p=1879

    Or here, where he co-hosted stuff with Trottier: http://pendulumeffect.libsyn.com/

    Though here it says he’s suspended men’s rights activities for now: http://canadianatheist.com/2011/12/13/the-continuing-story-at-cfi-canada/

    1. 19.1

      Meh. I saw Katie’s saying that Peyton was “of dubios character” in a blog post and in a comment section, without saying why. Not sure what to think about that.

      Because of the amount of crap I’ve taken over my pro-choice and Feminism videos, I’m reluctant to attack someone just because they’ve been associated with a label. Branding someone as an enemy because they are associated with the wrong words give me hives.

      I’ll listen to the podcast and see what he had to say, and go from there. Taking the tweet in context of what’s been going on, I suspect that this is FTB “brand damage” that is part of the reflexive urge of the entire community to draw and challenge in response to a perceived slight faster than a post-Reconquista Spaniard.

      I do wish that the “circular firing squad” wasn’t the most popular formation in the New Atheist movement, though.

  20. 20

    Wait, wait, FTB bloggers are tweeting at each other? Oh, the humanity! Bloggers must never be allowed to communicate.

  21. 21

    Alukonis, metal ninja:

    Did you have a point to your comment? I stopped reading once I realized it was mostly senseless rambling.

    1. 21.1
      Alukonis, metal ninja



      1. Loki

        Let’s clarify something. I’m not your “bro” and yes, I think an emotional response to a statement like Payton’s is ridiculous.

        Secondly, if you’re going to use quotation marks in a comment about something that said, please use them accurately. Quotation marks are used to indicate a quote such as, “WHAT IS YOUR POINT BRO?”. It is, however, refreshing to see more children such as yourself attempting to become literate.

        1. Loki

          ^that’s said. Darn typos.

        2. Alukonis, metal ninja

          Okay cool, so now let me copypasta the relevant part of my comment for you.

          You don’t get to tell other people what to feel, you don’t get to dictate how they respond to things, and you also don’t get to decide what someone else writes about on their own blog.

          You are of course entitled to your opinion that emotional responses to things are ridiculous. However, you are an asshole for telling someone else how to feel. Also your condescension in referring to someone you know nothing about as a child is noted. That definitely makes me think you are super smart and reasonable and makes me want to seriously consider everything you say!

          Quotation marks are also used to represent dialogue. If you happen to have the superior grammar knowledge, please, enlighten me as to how to paraphrase something someone has said without using quotation marks. Sorry I paraphrased you with quotation marks thus making it look like you directly said something in those words when what I meant was that you said that in slightly different words! Clearly this undermines my entire argument.


          Okay so your point is that you’re an asshole, cool.

        3. doubtthat

          Weak. There was no “emotional” response to the tweet. They was a proper rebuke laden with obvious sarcasm.

          You’re just descending further and further down the list of “things silly people say when caught making stupid arguments.” Now we’re down to, “why are you so emotional?”

          Dealing with stupid people often generates emotion, though this thread is mostly devoid of what could be properly inferred as choler. My guess is that any emotion you interpret is the inevitable frustration thinking people experience when interacting with folks like you.

        4. hyperdeath

          The most emotional person here seems to be you, bro.

    2. 21.2

      Hard to have one of those debates of which you claim to be fond if you refuse to read and respond to the words of those who disagree with you. Of course, I was never really under the impression you wanted an honest debate, so I’m not surprised by your behavior.

      1. Alukonis, metal ninja

        Oh no, you mean since I took time to type out a reply so it means I’m not reading or responding to the words of the condescending person whose entire point is “I think an emotional response to a statement like Payton’s is ridiculous.”?

        I mean I don’t even know how that is part of a debate, because that point is impossible to argue, since you obviously lack any ounce of empathy to help you understand why someone would feel insulted by that tweet. My counter point (made above) is that this demonstrates that you’re an asshole, but that’s also my opinion and isn’t really up for debate, either, because I doubt you will accept the evidence of you being an asshole since (presumably) you don’t think that you’re being an asshole.

        However shall I fulfill my desire for honest debate that I never once explicitly stated ever in this thread because you just made that up right now??? The horror! The horror!

        1. kagekiri

          Loqi is not the same person as Loki.

          Loqi is probably not responding to your comments, but saying Loki is being disingenuous. Loqi seems to be on your side.

          1. Alukonis, metal ninja

            Arrrrrrrgh epic nameread facepalllllllmmmmmmmm!

            I’m so sorry Loqi, ugh, let me slink off in shame now.

          2. Loqi

            No offense taken. I knew the unfortunate homophone would bite someone eventually. Just associate the cooler, edgier one with the cooler, edgier spelling :)

          3. Emptyell


            You do your namesake trickster god proud.

            Unlike the homophonic pretender whose argument seems to be “I don’t care so shut up.” Oh wait, quotation marks around a fictional, interpretation. I must be grammatically challenged.

  22. 22

    While, I disagree with his blatant and incorrect over generalization, it’s the sort of thing that’s to be expected when you’re part of a group where if you don’t tow the line of the FTB Pope, you not only get kicked out, but get the flying monkeys sent after you. Should a member of WBC who likes gay people feel upset that WBC is generalized as hating gay people or should they remove themselves from the group? Personally, I think it’s sad that there are so many great bloggers here willing to ignore the lies, bullying, and general all-around lunacy instead of leaving. Unless they honestly believe the lies, agree with the bullying, and are just a crazy, in which case they’re probably not people that should be listened to and they’ve done a good job hiding it all these years. Of course, since you continue to perpetuate the myth that this is all about FTB being the victim for wanting to take women seriously, I guess you fall into that category. When you get back around to following the evidence, then we can take you back out of that group.

    1. 22.1
      Zinnia Jones

      Sorry, I think I missed the part where you showed what I was wrong about.

    2. 22.2

      if you don’t tow the line of the FTB Pope, you not only get kicked out, but get the flying monkeys sent after you

      Oh man, I would like the Catholic church so much more if they did have flying monkeys. I hope whoever’s crowned FTB Pope gets right on that! There are several biologists around here, right?

      1. Stacy

        I think PZ’s the Pope. No, wait, he’s PeeZus, right? That makes him the object of the FtB’s veneration?

        I has a confused.

        Be that as it may, flying monkeys would be so cool!

        1. kagekiri

          I’ve seen monkeys steal people’s glasses and run for the trees; they’re way more daring and crafty than most birds. I have to think winged monkeys would be amazingly capable pests and pranksters..maybe we should work on monkey mind control first.

          1. efogoto

            I’m not so much worried about the pranks as the epic opportunities for poo flinging of which they will no doubt take advantage.

            Sort of like Michael Payton on Twitter.

    3. 22.3

      Right, because there is a single correct viewpoint based on ‘the evidence’, to which you presumably have access. Thanks for sharing!

    4. 22.4

      Personally, I think it’s sad that there are so many great bloggers here willing to ignore the lies, bullying, and general all-around lunacy instead of leaving.

      Have you got any specific example of a lie? Of “bullying”? Of lunacy?

      When you get back around to following the evidence

      What evidence? What is the subject of “the evidence” you just proclaimed somebody (Zinnia?) needs to follow? You didn’t offer any evidence for your own claims, a vapid comment about “following the evidence” doesn’t help your case.

      Actually providing and analyzing evidence is skeptical. Throwing out buzz words like “evidence”–isn’t.

    5. 22.5
      'Tis Himself

      Just as a bit of pedantry, it’s “toe the line” not “tow the line.” Please make a note of this.

      1. JohnnieCanuck

        But what if he really did think they were virtually tugboats?

        This is actually one of my favourite kinds of errors. One I collected just recently was “these deep seeded doubts”. To qualify for collection, I look for the phrase as misheard to make sense on its own. I suppose there’s already a big obscure word to describe these errors but I’ve yet to discover it.

        1. miller

          Google “eggcorn”

        2. Sili


        3. Owen

          That would be “eggcorn”

    6. 22.6

      In the entire history of the Freethought Blog network, I have yet to see an actual instance of bullying.

      It’s not bullying to point out that someone is saying something silly.

      1. Sili

        Greg Laden was expelled for being a bully.

        1. Sivi

          Which you have to admit is ironic, since it means the only person kicked off specifically for bullying behaviour was one of the people who came down pretty often on the SJ/feminism/etc side of things.

          1. karmakin

            Not really?

            To paraphrase one of my favorite songs, some people are here for the par-tay, some people are here for the play.

            It’s actually something that all movements/causes/organizations need to push back against I think, that people can start to enjoy the “rough and tumble” a bit too much to the point where they end up (subconsciously even) stirring it up.

            Or in short, being right doesn’t mean that you can’t be a troll (and vice versa)

      2. Emptyell

        The closest thing I’ve seen to bullying around here are those ferociously advocating people’s right not to be bullied (ie social justice). I really can’t see how like minded people objecting to ideas they find offensive is bullying.

        1. Loki

          I’m sorry for replying to this on an irrelevant thread, but it was the closest reply link for you.

          Disagree and debate with me all you like, but nothing that I’ve said labels me as homophobic. I don’t hate or fear someone based on their sexual preference, I hate everyone equally.

          1. Eva Lynn

            Emptytell referred to you as ‘homophonic’, as in “‘Loki’ is a homophone for ‘Loqi’”, not as ‘homophobic’. N, not B. Read more closely.

          2. Rumtopf

            So edgy!

  23. 23

    I’m amused by the anger that the FtB bloggers know what their co-bloggers are saying and that this must be a Twitter Alarm System. There’s a FtB aggregate section like, right there, to the right of the screen. Anytime anyone visits any FtB site they can see what the other members of the site are posting.

  24. 24
    Kaoru Negisa

    You need to leave FTB and join a blog I will actually feel okay reading

    Did this person actually tell you what you need to do, as a blogger, to make him more comfortable? Because it’s your responsibility to put your posts in a place that he will traffic? Really?

  25. 25

    Now I remember why this post made me uncomfortable.

    Remember Heather’s first video on your channel, and the outraged reaction it got, and how you got put in the middle of a crossfire for some of Heather’s and some of your comments that were not meant as attacks, but were taken as such and responded to in kind?

    I realize he’s the director of CFI Canada, but he’s also a human being. Generalizing (and speculating) on the reasons for this is not a great response, any more than it was OK for people to go after you with pitchforks and torches.

    1. 25.1
      Zinnia Jones

      Suprisingly, I actually disagree. If we’re recalling the same video, I believe I was running my mouth about sex work while not knowing enough about the topic, rightfully got smacked down by some more informed persons, and had some learning to do. I legitimately messed up there.

      And yes, I am speculating as to why he might have said this – based off the general atmosphere in which people have recently criticized FTB as a whole – but I would hope he’d have shown a little better judgment before being so vague and sweeping in his criticism. Also keep in mind that I’m not in a position of authority in any organization, while he plays a major role in the capital-M Movement, which I’d think would entail a bit more responsibility, especially when addressing significant atheist groups in public.

      1. StealthBadger

        In my opinion you did need an education on the topic and it is to your credit that things eventually went so well, but did the outraged smackdown help or hinder the effort? As I recall, the anger made you dig in your heels for a week or so before cooler heads prevailed.

        Yes, people *should* know better (in the sense that it would be nice if we did), but human beings tend to do strange and stupid things all the time, and stubbornness is not in short supply around here, especially with the siege mentality that various segments of the community are in.

    2. 25.2
      Stephanie Zvan

      To date, everyone I have seen (and it’s a fair number) who has accused FtB of “groupthink” has done so in the process of disagreeing with us on a particular issue. The reasons for that are left as an exercise to the reader. The topics on which they have been disagreeing have been one of the following three: religion, libertarianism, and feminism. I expect racism will be added to that list fairly soon, but I haven’t seen it yet.

      Of those three, I strongly expect that Payton does not disagree with us on religion. No one has made any particular stink about libertarianism lately, much less a number of us at the same time. That leaves feminism.

      While it’s possible that there is another reason Payton decided to label us all collectively unreadable and groupthinky, any speculation here is very narrow and backed by sound reasoning.

      1. StealthBadger

        I wouldn’t call limiting your possibilities to only three and then making a judgement on that “sound reasoning.”

        For all we know, he could have had a fight with someone and been in a bad mood. He could be sick of feeling like he was supposed to care about infighting that he didn’t. He could have had a bad burrito.

        Statistical tendencies across a group don’t tell you much about what a person is, since the fine-grained detail is often lost in such wide views.

        1. doubtthat

          Haha, I love how hard you folks have to play at being stupid to keep up your arguments. The dude participates in MRA crap in Toronto, you really think he’s upset with FTB because he doesn’t like the color of the banners?

          Or it’s just pure principle? Free speech is the important thing, which is why he’s, I’m sure, super upset that there aren’t any Young Earth Creationists on the network.

          For fuck’s sake, that conclusion doesn’t require Holmesian leaps of deduction.

          1. StealthBadger

            “you folks?”

            And by that you mean what, exactly? I’m here by myself. :P

            I haven’t listened to the podcast yet (because I’m still at work), but I’d much rather not throw rocks before I have evidence.

            Not only that, but not only are you exaggerating, From looking at that page Katie (now of Skepchick) also participated in that podcast. http://pendulumeffect.libsyn.com/webpage/katie-kish-from-feminism-to-equalism

            Seriously, calm down.

          2. doubtthat

            By “you folks” I mean all of the critics of FTB we’ve encountered over the past couple of months who go to comical lengths of suspending judgment when the conclusion is painfully obvious.

            Who’s throwing rocks? It began with a criticism, it was wondered why he would criticize FTB, and the most obvious answer was given. Why don’t you e-mail this goofball and figure it out? You want to place a bet right now about what subject will serve as the source for his now theoretical opposition to “groupthink?”

            You know as well as I do why this guy doesn’t like FTB, you’re just playing some weird kids’ game of suspending your rational faculties for the purpose of being obstinate on the internet.

            And please, save the sanctimony. There’s nothing to calm down from. I find you more amusing than annoying.

          3. StealthBadger

            No, I don’t know why, and neither do you. If you think reaching for this “obvious” answer is appropriate, then you’re echoing Thunderd0uche’s “non-extraordinary claims require non-extraordinary evidence.” If you don’t have a problem with that statement, let me explain it for you. That logic justifies “hysteria” as a completely scientific medical diagnosis in the 1800s since it was “non-extraordinary” according to the very fucked-up gender norms of the day to say that women were flighty and prone to be emotionally imbalanced.

            Claims require evidence, period. Some evidence is just easier to get to than others (and going from the general to the particular isn’t evidence, it’s the fallacy of accident.

            Moving on: calling him is out of the question from work, but thanks for asking – I’m trying to find out the answer, TBH. Even when I do find out, I’m not going to post it here because it would be esoteric knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to conclusively demonstrate to y’all.


            You’re locked on in some kind of us-versus-them-for-various-values-of-them ragegasm, so I’ll leave you to it. Just wash your hands afterward.

          4. Sivi

            Can we lay a bit off StealthBadger? I disagree with them, somewhat, but they aren’t trolling. The racism thing is reasonable – most of the blowups on FTB have been over feminist stuff, and until recently (with certain exceptions, not limited to Crommunist and Black Skeptics) the network hasn’t really tackled racism in the atheist community with the same vigour as it’s attacked misogyny.

            Stealthbadger was simply saying that it’s on the way, which kind of ignores Greta Christina’s recent post, and the attempt to bring up that issue explicitly in a broader way than previously, but that’s just ignorance, not malice.

            StealthBadger: FWIW, a lot of the “Payton is an MRA” stuff comes from people who know him and the Toronto scene, so it’s not easily citeable. And Syou argument that we ought to lay off him on that because of how it’s become a hot-button term smacks a little too close to “creep is such a horrible label” kind of stuff for me to agree.

          5. doubtthat

            The evidence is more than sufficient: he’s whining about FTB (an act done by people harboring some inchoate rage towards some equally inchoate notion of “feminism” at an insanely high clip). He participates in some capacity with the MRA folks, and there’s no competing, reasonable explanation for his criticism of the entirety of FTB.

            And the amusing thing is that you’re more than smart enough to know this. In fact, I bet that you actually agree with me and Stephanie’s original post that his dislike of FTB is a direct result of some problem with something to do with feminism (note that the conclusion is hardly specific–about what you’d expect from the available evidence).

            If you’re sincere about the racism thing, I apologize. Given your previous statement, the “I regret to inform you,” read as very snotty sarcasm, which was what I responded to. If you didn’t mean it that way, then I have no problem with what you said and that comment makes perfect sense. You were in agreement.

            But again, the condescending BS advances nothing. It amuses me that you both adopt the creationist version of proof (the much better analogy-sufficient evidence is present to draw a conclusion, but you just demand more and more–find a transitional species? Well now we need the transition between the transition…) and then draw childish, condescending conclusions about my mental state as I type. That’s one of those little hints that you’re argument isn’t great–petty jabs instead of making sense.

        2. NoxiousNan

          Children are not being skeptical when they successively ask, “Why?” in an endless loop. It’s a game they know the adults can’t win. The wise adult plays for a few minutes then withdraws. Just saying.

          1. NoxiousNan

            And if he was having a bad day, it’s something he should have corrected by now. He used extreme terms about all of FTB.

            Once when I was having a bad day I literally screamed in a man’s face for parking in my carport, then walked away. I went back 5 minutes later and humbly apologized to him. That seems the more appropriate response when one lends bad to another’s day because of one’s bad day.

          2. StealthBadger

            Hey, I respect ZJ and am arguing that lighting up more torches is perhaps not the way to go. If you think someone here is saying “why” for no rational reason, then I’m wondering who it is.

            Besides which, the difference between this and the story you describe is that (unless there is something in the story you weren’t telling us) you weren’t followed for those full five minutes by several people shouting “HEY, WHAT YOU SAID SUCKED AND YOU SUCKED BECAUSE YOU SAID IT AND YOU’RE A HATER” etc.

            There is a slight difference.

      2. StealthBadger

        Also, I regret to inform you that racism is alive and well in the Atheist community, with the “work” *hack cough spit* of Philippe J. Rushton being its primary pseudo-scientific basis. It just hasn’t impacted here on FTB to nearly the same degree. It tends to present alongside strains of Libertarianism that would make Ron Paul blush.

        1. doubtthat

          And I regret to inform you that you’ve just repeated a point made by the post you’re purportedly criticizing, albeit in a much snottier fashion.

          “I expect racism will be added to that list fairly soon, but I haven’t seen it yet.”

          1. StealthBadger

            Do you not understand verb tenses, or what?

            “Will be added” – Future progressive tense, indicating that racism is unlikely to go away in the future when it becomes part of the debate

            “is alive” – present tense, indicating that it’s here now.

          2. doubtthat

            So, to contradict the claim that racism hasn’t been a major controversy on FTB YET, you provide evidence that racism is a problem elsewhere.

            Again, that’s the same point. By suspecting that a problem elsewhere will soon be coming to FTB, the post you replied to is acknowledging that there is a problem elsewhere, which was your point.

            “Regret to inform?” Are you informing anyone? Do you think there’s a single blogger on FTB that thinks there isn’t a problem with racism in the atheist/skeptical community? Who are you talking to? Do you actually have regret?

        2. Stephanie Zvan

          You regret to inform me that there is racism in atheism. And would like to inform me about Rushton. Huh.

          I am well aware that there is racism in atheism. I write about racism a decent amount, though less than Crommunist. I read Crommunist quite regularly. Crommunist does not get accused of being part of an FtB “groupthink” when he writes about race. I don’t. Greta doesn’t. PZ doesn’t. The Black Skeptics don’t.

          That’s a failing on our part, by the way. We’re not collectively making people uncomfortable enough on the topic. When we do, I’m sure we’ll get the “groupthink” label applied for that too.

          Now, because we don’t get accused of groupthink over racism, your comment on that is entirely irrelevant to this discussion, except inasmuch as it shows that you weren’t paying attention to what I said. I’m not talking about “statistical tendencies” in a group. I’m talking about exclusive conditions. I am not limiting the possibilities why someone might accuse us of groupthink. I am pointing out that there are a limited number of situations in which it occurs to someone to accuse us of groupthink.

          That makes sense. “Groupthink” is a remarkably stupid accusation to throw at a group of bloggers this big who were selected in part for diversity of experiences. FtB is designed to present multiple viewpoints. In order to seriously think that there is groupthink across all of FtB, much less to say it publicly attached to your name and reputation, you need to have your thinking be impaired. For generally smart people, that requires a subject that (1) induces an emotional response rather than a rational one and (2) has a large enough number of bloggers talking about it (generally 3 or 4) that extrapolation to “everyone!” isn’t entirely ridiculous on its face.

          There are still only three topics demonstrated to have caused this reaction. “Bad burritos” is not one of them.

      3. Anthony K

        To date, everyone I have seen (and it’s a fair number) who has accused FtB of “groupthink” has done so in the process of disagreeing with us on a particular issue.

        Any atheist or skeptic who uses the word groupthink better think long and hard about joining atheist or skeptics’ groups.

        1. Hank_Says


          You have to wonder what these self-styled uber-skeptics expect of atheist/skeptical groups, or groups in general: that each member have a completely different and contradictory opinion on everything?

          If you join a political party (or just vote for it most of the time), is it “groupthink” to subscribe to the party’s position on most things?

          If you and your partner decide to have kids, is it “groupthink” to try and achieve agreement regarding how they should be raised?

          If you join a weekend indoor soccer team, is it “groupthink” to all be kicking the ball in the same direction?

          Good freakin’ lord, people join groups because they like to be around people who share common interests, goals, opinions, etc. It just reeks of a blatant, disingenuous double standard when I hear FtB labelled as a hotbed of “groupthink”. Are the FtB-haters not engaging in it themselves with the laughable #FTBullies tag and the endless, baseless copy+paste accusations of how bloody unreasonable everyone is over here?

          Sigh. I guess it’s yet another data point to support the hypothesis that just because you’ve abandoned superstition it by no means confers upon you a reasonable disposition or the ability to carry on rational discourse.

  26. 26
    Rogi Riverstone

    PEOPLE OF TORONTO! There’s an alternative to CFI Canada. Firefly414 on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/firefly4f4 is promoting an atheists’ meet-up! http://youtu.be/U25l-b5vPPU
    Published on Jul 30, 2012 by firefly4f4


    Use the discussion page to ask questions, suggest events, look for roommates, etc.

    There’s a (very) preliminary suggested schedule on the main page.

  27. 27

    The most hilarious thing is how he insulted lots of people in one go, by proclaiming their work to be uniformly worthless, and then seemed genuinely surprised at receiving widespread criticism. Why do the traits of being an MRA, and being an emotionally incompetent man-child always seem to coincide?

  28. 28

    I feel like grabbing these people by the shoulders, shaking them and saying “Be specific” stop with just saying it as if you’ve already established your case because it isn’t clear to me.

    Of the comments I have seen from the anti-FTB crowd, most would be considered trolling. I’ve seen some blog posts you could generously say aren’t trolling but they seem to misconstrue what the actual issues are. If they can’t be arsed to make sure they represent the problems accurately when it comes to “elevator-gate” or the reason or content of harassment policies then what reason is there to believe they represent FTB properly.

    I would love to see what these people consider a solid take down of FTB, because I don’t see group-think, I see a group of people who share common values. Big difference.

    To me it feels like their case is simply that they don’t like what is being said here and while they are fine to find that good enough that isn’t good enough for me.

  29. 29
    Comradde PhysioProffe

    Bloggers, with a few exceptions such as Zinnia, are seldom known for backing up their blogs with works cited, footnotes, or any other form of proven research.

    My blogge here at FreeThoughtBlogges is extremely well backed up with works cited, footnoes, and multiple other forms of proven research!

    1. 29.1

      Then you, good sir, are one of the exceptions. Thank you for doing that.

      1. SallyStrange

        LOL! You don’t read FTB at all, do you.

      2. mirax

        I fucken lovve physioproffe – without saying much at all, he gets all the weirdly self-important jackasses to reveal their stupidity.

      3. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

        Physioprof: My blogge here at FreeThoughtBlogges is extremely well backed up with works cited, footnoes, and multiple other forms of proven research!

        Troll: Then you, good sir, are one of the exceptions. Thank you for doing that.

        Funniest. Exchange. EVAR!

  30. 30
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    People who keep on citing that FtB ‘doesn’t allow dissent’ are revealing something very important: they don’t actually read FtB very much at all. Look at the recent stance Daniel has taken at Camel With Hammers with regards to insulting vs. dehumanising language, and how numerous other FtB bloggers have disagreed with it, both there and on Twitter.

    Yet he’s still there, as are all those with whom he disagrees. How, if dissent is not tolerated at FtB, is that possible?

  31. 31

    Why is it…?

    (1) Those who decide to leave a website actually do, they just go without fanfare.

    (2) Those who blather “I’m leaving!” then lurk and troll, or stick around for 3/6/9/12 months to “explain” why they’re leaving.

    If chumps like Payton don’t like it, they should just shove off and not come back. But apparently that’s too simple for them.

    1. 31.1

      How are people to know how important you and your opinions are unless you loudly announce your departure (and remind them of it repeatedly)?

      FYI: no, it doesn’t matter if nobody knew who you were or even registered your presence to begin with.

      1. left0ver1under

        If I sounded like I was being serious, I wasn’t. It was rhetorical.

        I don’t believe in no-win situations – not because they don’t happen, but because I choose not to put myself in them voluntarily. The clowns in question actually seem to seek them out.

    2. 31.2
      Naked Bunny with a Whip

      I can understand the temptation to flounce, to post one last screed before you run away from the fallout. But people who fake flounce obviously don’t give a crap about how poorly it reflects on them as long as they get attention. It’s just a natural extension to troll psychology, I suppose.

    3. 31.3


      It puts me in mind of an angry customer who complained to the manager of a restaurant I worked in some 20 years ago. He said that every time he came in, the food was terrible and the service lousy. The manager looked at him, taken aback, and replied, “I wonder why you keep coming back.”

      Some people are not happy unless they are whining.

      1. left0ver1under

        Or sometimes people have no choice, they’re a captive audience. I live in Taiwan and in the city I’m in, there are only two places to buy certain import foods. If I need that comfort fix, I don’t have much choice. (Mind you, that’s not to suggest that I’m a customer who whines and complains….)

        The same could be true of someone living in a small town or needing a specialty item. Some people might have no choice about returning to a place with lousy service. But those have options to go elsewhere? Yeah, they’re often looking for a reason to whine.

  32. 32
    Francisco Bacopa

    Comments thread: tl;dr.

    WTF is up with people? There have been plenty serious disagreements between FtB bloggers. Taslima and Greta’s arguments over porn is perhaps the best example. And they are still here and still getting along. Daniel and Stephanie have a pretty strong thing going right now. But things are still cool. I side with Daniel when it comes to his blog, but agree that Stephanie’s approach is better for dealing with the general culture.

    So Thunderf00t’s out. He just wasn’t a good match. I was a huge fan of his vids, and would still be if he would get back to his old video style on Youtube. I’m even giving him six months to get his groove back. T-foot, your exile is not a crushing blow. You are an awesome chemist and made great videos. Make more great videos

    I was sorry to see Greg go. I didn’t even know what happened. I think he was just under a lot of stress and did something stupid. He seems to understand this and has not made an issue of his dismissal. I remain a faithful reader of his other blog to this day.

    123 comments? This is E1evatorg@te all over again. And what was up with that? R3becca just threw in a mundane comment at the end of a much longer video. No accusations, no big deal. Just a casual anecdote from which some people could draw some useful conclusions.

    So sad that I have to munge Wattsohn’s name. She’s become a troll signal, though she’s really not that special. She’s just a regular person who through her intelligence and hard work has done more for the skeptic community than I ever will.

  33. 33

    Sivi @1, I keep hearing that Peyton was an MRA, but can’t find any evidence of this.


    Micheal Payton co-hosted an MRA podcast with Jason Trottier. It’s called The Pendulum effect and the tagline is “From bias to balance”. http://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-pendulum-effect/id301109716 Anti-feminist and writer Warren Farrell is one of their first interviews.
    Mark, who blogs at a pit of stupid called True-equality.net writes that he is a contributor and fan of the podcast. PZ’s name pops up there and you can imagine how much they like a man who thinks women aren’t lying bitches who rule over a world of piteously oppressed men. I don’t think it is unfair to think that the only reason Payton finds FTBs so unreadable is that those vacuous shit-bag trolls are his friends, allies and supporters. They share his worldview.

    Comment by jackiepaper, over at Pharyngula.

    About Justin Trottier:

    A couple of years back my partner and I went to our first ever meeting of the local atheist group. There we met Justin, not speaking, just dropping in from the big city for a visit with the local peasantry. Over dinner he, first loudly and arrogantly, then loudly and angrily, then eventually loudly and sulkily tried to explain to me why no women deserve any spousal support, child support or anything at all in a divorce unless there’s a pre-nup in place. The specific case under discussion was the high-school educated woman who had worked full time to support the family while her husband got his master’s, said husband then dumped the family as soon as his degree started paying off. That’s her problem, was his position, she should have lawyered up back when they first got together! I talked about the role of the government in protecting the weak or vulnerable regardless of gender and letting the powerful look after themselves. His response was Screw that! It’s men that are the weak ones, women (like half of us sitting at the table) have all the power in society! It’s men that need the protection!

    Oddly enough, we never went to another meeting with that local atheist group. Never went to another CFI event either.

    Comment by Nathair, same thread.

  34. 34
    Michael Payton

    I’m right. You’re all wrong.

    1. 34.1
      'Tis Himself

      Citation needed.

    2. 34.2
      Naked Bunny with a Whip

      Nuh uh!

      1. SallyStrange

        Yuh huh!

  35. 35

    Yea, I was just thinking to myself, “his thoughts were so clear and lucid before he moved to FtB”. There must be something about FtB that suddenly obscures everything you say, because I just don’t understand you anymore. It’s a good thing you haven’t moved your YouTubes over here.

  36. 36

    My favorite thing about this thread is how StealthBadger was repeatedly telling people to calm down, accusing people of “ragegasms”, accusing people of being emotional, ect. And at one point paraphrased other people’s responses as YELLING STUFF IN ALL CAPS…

    And, literally, the only person I saw who actually yelled in all caps (aside from a clear snark), was StealthBadger when he was explaining that he was SINCERELY REGRETTING TO INFORM PEOPLE OF STUFF.

    I genuinely got a good laugh that the main jackass who had the gall to repeatedly tell people how to feel came off as the most “emotional”.

    He made me spit Dunning all over my Kruger.


  37. 37

    stop the hating, just chill

  38. 38

    I fail to see the purpose of this post beyond generating drama and feeding the trolls.
    I see this almost on every blog at FTB, this is not how you “win”. You have to understand that making yourself a lolcow is not how to deal with the internet.

    As someone with 4 years youtube experience one would assume you would have learned from it.

    There is a block button on twitter and Facebook, use it.

    Your personal issues with people in the community should not be blog-topics.

    Id wished FTB would get back to writing about freethough and skepticism instead of trying to wash their dirty laundry in public.

    Also Payton might have a point with the structure of the blog, from a design-perspective the whole site is horribly hard to read and navigate.

    1. 38.1
      Zinnia Jones

      I see this almost on every blog at FTB, this is not how you “win”. You have to understand that making yourself a lolcow is not how to deal with the internet.

      Within an incentive structure where responding to trolls means they win and not responding to trolls also means they win, there is no motivation to adjust our behavior to accommodate them in any way instead of just plain doing what we want. Please try to understand that this is the result of no-win situations: they give us no reason to give a damn anymore.

      1. Konradius

        I advocate only ignoring the ‘don’t feed the troll’ trolls. Or just to give them a one or two sentence snarky reply.

      2. AdamTM

        Zinnia, if you ignore them they don’t win.

        You understand that trolls feed off you being offended offended right?
        What they say is not going to go away, yes, but neither is blogging about it going to make it go away and it will actually make you look worse to neutral bystanders.

        If you are operating under the assumption that you will “make them stop”, you won’t, ever. No amount of blogging about it will make it stop.

        “Please try to understand that this is the result of no-win situations: they give us no reason to give a damn anymore.”

        No, you are making it a no-win situation by exposing yourself.

        Its like watching someone throw himself down the stairs while yelling “why does this keep happening?!?!”

        1. Kaoru Negisa

          This is absolutely no different than people who say that New Atheists just “turn people off from the movement” by being “shrill.” That’s also entirely false, as evidenced by the rise in godlessness since the advent of the gnus.

          You think that Michael Payton cares only about irritating people on the internet? On top of being a troll, he also runs a major skeptics organization, one that may not be entirely aware of what a complete jackwagon he is. By publishing stuff like this, it puts pressure on him to stop being an idiot, risk getting kicked out of his position, or risk losing membership. Allowing terrible people to do terrible things because they may get off on the visceral thrill of being recognized doesn’t mean the things they’re doing aren’t also terrible in and of themselves.

          “Don’t feed the trolls” is an idiotic policy when applied with a broad brush. Sometimes it helps, but usually it just means bullies continue to bully with no thought to consequences. Bystanders who read this won’t all (or even necessarily most) see, “Oh, look, Zinnia is complaining.” They’ll see, “Wow, Michael Payton is a douche. Probably not worth supporting his organization while he’s in charge. Maybe I should tell my skeptical Canadian friends to find someplace else to go. Hey, look! Right here in the comments is an alternative in the same area I can point them to! Nifty!”

        2. julian

          I vote Zinnia start ignoring trolls by banning you.

        3. Zinnia Jones

          Zinnia, if you ignore them they don’t win.

          You have a peculiar definition of “win”. You seem to think that allowing people to insult me with no response whatsoever somehow constitutes a victory, yet ever calling them out on this would be a defeat. As you see it, they ought to be allowed to run rampant without interference, whereas those they target are required to step back and never say a word in response.

          Why am I supposed to believe there is anything “winning” about that? I do not regard that as a victory in any meaningful sense – especially as you’ve provided no evidence of which strategies have been shown to be more effective. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean I see responding as a route to “victory” either. I don’t see “winning” and “losing” as applicable concepts in this situation. As far as I’m concerned, they have their “victory” either way – their goal is to insult and provoke people, and that’s what they do no matter what we do. That’s why I have no reason not to do whatever the hell I want.

          You think that would make things worse? You have no evidence, and to me, taking on some bizarre moral duty to hold my tongue forever in the face of blatant assholism is already worse. You don’t get to decide that on my behalf.

          Let’s just get down to what you’re obviously implying: Is the national director of CFI Canada indeed nothing more than a mere internet troll? If so, why is that itself not a matter worth addressing? Do you really think any situation where people are being dicks for no reason other than provoking others requires our eternal silence, just because it would fall under the definition of “trolling” and thus be the subject of the shallow, impotent ethical framework you’ve constructed around that phenomenon?

        4. Eurasian magpie

          Are you some kind of official spokesperson for innocent bystanders? You don’t speak for *me*, darling.

          1. Eurasian magpie

            innocent -> neutral.


    2. 38.2

      I see no point to this comment.

    3. 38.3
      'Tis Himself

      I fail to see the purpose of this post beyond generating drama and feeding the trolls.

      Perhaps you missed Zinnia’s comment: “But here we have the director of a national skeptic organization casually insulting the entirety of one of the most prominent networks of atheist writers.” I’d ask if the phrase “deep rifts” meant anything to you but I doubt I’d get a positive answer.

      I see this almost on every blog at FTB, this is not how you “win”. You have to understand that making yourself a lolcow is not how to deal with the internet.

      So tell us, master tactician, how Zinnia in particular and FtB in general should react to insults. There is both anecdotal and statistic evidence that ignoring insults is not effective in lessening the number of them.

      As someone with 4 years youtube experience one would assume you would have learned from it.

      What lesson should she have learned? You keep tossing out vague complaints but you’re lacking specifics and remedies.

      There is a block button on twitter and Facebook, use it.

      That’s one possible solution. As noted above, there’s evidence to suggest ignoring insults is counterproductive.

      Your personal issues with people in the community should not be blog-topics.

      Why not? If the leader of a national skeptic organization insults Zinnia in particular and FtB in general, why shouldn’t she respond? Besides you’ve yet to explain why personal issues shouldn’t be blog topics.

      Id [sic] wished FTB would get back to writing about freethough and skepticism instead of trying to wash their dirty laundry in public.

      I understand now. You don’t know who Michael Payton is. Just as a hint, he’s involved in skepticism.

      Also Payton might have a point with the structure of the blog, from a design-perspective the whole site is horribly hard to read and navigate.

      I have no problem navigating and reading this site. Perhaps when you’ve got more experience with the internet, you’ll find reading FtB easier.

      1. AdamTM

        “Why not? If the leader of a national skeptic organization insults Zinnia in particular and FtB in general, why shouldn’t she respond? Besides you’ve yet to explain why personal issues shouldn’t be blog topics.”

        He (Payton) didn’t insult Zinnia “in particular”, did you even read the article?
        Stop making shit up and exaggerating the issue.

        1. Rumtopf

          I like how this guy responded to all the points and totally backed up all of his earlier assertions. Oh wait :c

        2. 'Tis Himself

          I misspoke concerning Payton. I acknowledge the correction.

          Now will you respond to all the other comments I made about your post?

      2. Joy

        “Perhaps you missed Zinnia’s comment: “But here we have the director of a national skeptic organization casually insulting the entirety of one of the most prominent networks of atheist writers.” I’d ask if the phrase “deep rifts” meant anything to you but I doubt I’d get a positive answer.

        Oh! Oh! I get get it. Let me rephrase that for you.

        *Draws self up to full height*

        How very DARE you! Did you just snub us? Do you know who we are?? We’re one of the most prominent networks of atheists writers IN THE WORLD!. We are not to be casually insulted – that is a fate to be left to lesser lights! Less prominent networks. The Hoi Polloi >:( We, we are too important and represent too many people to be treated like this. I’ll ask you again… …what do you mean by treating important people like us this way?? (P.s. respect is earned not freely given to all. Did you not hear how we earned it by being prominent?)

    4. 38.4

      Michael Payton isn’t a troll. He’s the head of an important skeptic organization who is also apparently a sexist. He’s not going to stop being sexist if we ignore his assholery.

      Bigots are not trolls and trolls are not bigots, though there is a lot of overlap, especially when it comes to tactics. But while trolls eventually go away, bigots do not because they aren’t motivated just by a desire to get a rise, but also to preserve their privilege and head off the equality, which they fear.

  39. 39

    Just posted to his facebook page (as I don’t do twitter yet):
    As you just complained about the entire blog history of FTB being unreadable; can you point to one comment ever in its history where you asked for clarification?
    If not: what makes you better than a creationist who claims that the entirety of evolution is unintelligible?

  40. 40
    Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic

    “What makes his comments personal is how impersonal they are.”

    I really don’t see any logic in this statement. Utter drivel.

    1. 40.1
      Zinnia Jones

      He wrote off an entire network with apparently little consideration for the individuals who comprise it. Sorry if you didn’t understand!

      1. Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic

        I understand the words perfectly. I understand your opinion of what you were trying to say perfectly. Unfortunately, what you meant does not correlate with the sentence you wrote, hence why it makes no sense and is utter drivel.

        It’s also overly dramatic, which is personal to you, and your collective clique.

        1. julian

          She’s overly-dramatic?!


          Oh lord. This obsessive twit! Oh man, coming from you that’s rich.

          1. Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic


            Cor blimey. You really showed me there.
            Such rapier wit.
            Such an erudite freethinker you are.
            I bow out since I can’t hope to compete.

          2. Kaoru Negisa

            Tony’s a known troll who is fond of gendered insults and words like “Feminaziism” as well as likes to complain about how his feelings were hurt by PZ, the poor lamb. His dislike of FTBers (except Maryam Namazie, apparently) is well chronicled on his own blog. Kinda like here where he does the exact same thing as Peyton by saying that no FTBer except for Maryam makes any sense.

            Maybe it’s because I’ve been wronged by PZ myself, or maybe it’s because Thunderf00t talks so much sense, whilst FTBers (with the exception of Maryam Namazie) do not.

            You’d almost wonder why he reads people who make no sense…

            So, he’s standing up for people who do the same stupid shit he does. Big surprise there.

    2. 40.2

      Oh, Ms. Streisand? You forgot to call Zinnia a “feminazi.”

      1. Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic

        Did I. Oops. I must have forgotten to conform to some self-fulfilling prophecy of others creation.

        1. SallyStrange

          How is it a prophesy if it’s based on your previous actions, Ms. Streisand?

  41. 41

    He said: “I have yet to find a single post …” Note the word “yet”

    She said: “did Payton scour my whole two-year archive of posts and …” There’s no reason to jump to that conclusion, no.

    “Does FTB just possess some kind of Aura of Crap…”

    Your words, not mine. But, yes it does. I think you’d have more credibility if your blog was somewhere else. I’m only reading this post because I followed a link, not expecting it to take me to FtB, which I am attempting to avoid until the unlikely event the leadership changes hands.

    1. 41.1
      'Tis Himself

      If you don’t like it here you are free to leave. Goodbye and have a mediocre day.

    2. 41.2

      Generally, if I follow a link to a place I don’t want to be (say, a site that has virii or something), I hit ctrl-w. If I decide to stick around long enough to read an argument, I at least try to think about it. So, if you’re still around – what’s the problem with FTB? Why does its leadership mean particular blogs on it are unreadable to you?

    3. 41.3
      Ophelia Benson

      There is no “leadership.” That’s a myth about “FTB”. This isn’t a magazine, with an ed in chief. It’s a blog network. We blog as we like. There is no leadership.

      1. doubtthat

        But that’s the nefarious genius of what you folks do, is it not? You’re each individual sleeper cells dedicated to a common goal but lacking the sort of hierarchy that typically defines such a well-organized movement. Bring one of you down and the others have ample plausible deniability.

        There’s literally no alternative explanation for how a couple dozen well-educated people would arrive at the same conclusions about such complicated, nuanced issues as whether consent is needed before groping a woman and whether an old guy put dinosaurs on a big boat.

      2. eleutheria

        No, there’s no leadership. There’s just groupthink and rabid attacks on anyone who strays minutely from the doctrine. That’s all you need. There doesn’t have to be a leader. It’s the same system at Fox News. Sure, cribbing Roger Ailes daily talking points helps, but that’s really just to rough out the edges. They always have a uniform narrative even when there’s a breaking news event. Once you’re habituated to the groupthink, it’s not difficult to be in coordination because they know how the hive mind thinks. As happens here, both among the bloggers and the commentariat.

  42. 42

    I must say that I am SHOCKED that yet another anti-FTB whine thread has metastasized without reference to a single example of something objectionable.

    Oh, except for all the WILD speculation over the motives behind Michael Payton’s stupid tweet. We may never know what prompted an eager MRA participant to blindly smear FTB. There are some things that may forever be unknowable, like how magnets work.

    1. 42.1
      Ze Madmax

      A “Fucking MRAs, how do they tweet?” sort of situation?

  43. 43
    Katie Kish

    To all the Toronto atheists that are done with CFI: I HIGHLY recommend you look into the meetup group called Toronto Atheists and Friends. It *says* that it’s run by CFI Canada, but it’s really not… the guys who run it are super cool and the people that come out are usually quite great to get along with. I believe it is still funded by CFI Canada but it is certainly not run by them – so you’ll face a lot less douche-baggery there. (http://www.meetup.com/The-Toronto-Atheists-and-Friends-Meetup-Group/)

    Or that other one that someone linked to.

    I wish someone awesome would be put in charge of CFI Toronto… it was so good a few years ago!

  44. 44

    To throw in my two cents, I’m the Executive Director of CFI Vancouver and I was pretty disappointed with Michael Payton’s remarks. Not only because I have good friends who are bloggers on FTB or that the person Michael was feuding with was an important volunteer for CFI Vancouver. Also because I feel that its really inappropriate for the leader of a skeptical organization to be commenting on the quality of other skeptical activists and their projects.

    If he doesn’t like it, fine. But there really is no reason to publicly put down someone else free-thought activism. And especially to put it down with derision.

    It really surprised me because in the short while that I’ve been working with him, he’s been really polite, supportive of our efforts, and a breath of fresh air in CFI Canada’s leadership. I urged him to apologize since his views are not shared by many of us at CFI. I don’t know if anything will come of it though.

    1. 44.1
      Keir Liddle

      I don’t see why anyone, regardless of position, should feel obliged to support projects by other skeptics that they don’t think are worthwhile or believe are flawed.

      Being a skeptic or skeptical activist does not give anyone a free pass from making mistakes or coming up with and implementing bad ideas or good ideas poorly.

      We aren’t mandated to support every action someone takes simply by virtue of them being a skeptic.

      Do you hold the same views about the criticism Leeds and Sheffield Skeptics received over speaker choice? Should they not have been criticised? Should the JREF not have been criticised over TAM and harassment policies?

      Should you yourself not have criticised Payton?

      1. throwaway

        @Keir Liddle

        We aren’t mandated to support every action someone takes simply by virtue of them being a skeptic.

        Missed it, hilariously. The criticism of Payton by Ethan wasn’t for his lack of support of actions and issues, it was with the casual dismissal of an entire fucking network of bloggers for no definable, reality-based reason. The broad-brush insinuation of groupthink (holy fucking ugh) as a tactic of dismissing without addressing the issue is not something I would expect of a skeptic, let alone the leader of a prominent skeptics group.

        Yes, what you said about not needing to support every facet of everything any freethought group does: I agree with that. I just don’t think that is the point of the OP or of Ethan’s comment.

      2. MrPopularSentiment

        That’s a bit of a misrepresentation of Ethan’s comment, don’t you think?

        No one has said that he “should feel obliged to support” FtB. There’s quite a bit of difference between not supporting and publicly denouncing.

        But even then, the issue isn’t with disagreement. Of course, Payton has every right (both as an individual and as the leader of a prominent organization) to disagree with others in the movement. If his tweet had said “I disagree with what so-and-so wrote in post such-and-such, and here’s why,” there wouldn’t be a problem. But that’s not what he did.

        Instead, he casually dismissed the entire project. Not even with constructive criticism, but with simplistic “it’s unreadable.”

        Being a skeptic or skeptical activist does not give anyone a free pass from making mistakes or coming up with and implementing bad ideas or good ideas poorly.
        Agreed 100%. So when the leader of a major skeptic organization casually dismisses an important network of skeptic bloggers (and, by extension, the community of skeptics that has grown around that network), we get to criticise him for it. And when he does so mere months before *his own organization* is hosting a major conference at which many of these bloggers are speakers, we get to say that he made an awful business decision, as well.

        Just as a final note, I’d like to leave you with this thought: Criticism =/= generalized dismissal.

        1. MrPopularSentiment

          My attempt at making a quote box failed miserably. I apologize for the shame I have caused to my friends and family.

  45. 45

    I really have no stance on the original post one way or the other, as it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life. That being said, as much as I don’t care what either the anonymous person on facebook thinks or Michael Payton I’m vastly amused by some of the comments listed. I needed this chuckle tonight, thanks everyone.

  46. 46
    Gary Clemans-Gibbon

    “did Payton scour my whole two-year archive of posts and four-year archive of video transcripts, before declaring that not a single one was “even remotely readable”?”

    Here lies the problem. Michael Payton simply said that he hadn’t yet found a single post he found readable. He did not say, or even imply, that he’d read them all and found them all to be unreadable.

    Is this a case of poor reading comprehension or deliberate disingenuousness? I suspect it’s just another example of whiny, FTB hysteria.

    Making calls for Michael Payton’s firing for that tweet sets a new low for FTB.

    1. 46.1
      Zinnia Jones

      Oh yeah, I forgot about that part of my post which doesn’t exist where I called for him to be fired…

      1. Gary Clemans-Gibbon

        Again there seems to be a lack of reading comprehension ability here. I said it sets a new low for FTB not you. The call to inflict harm to Michael Payton was made on the super-top-secret FTB mass-mailing list and as far as I am aware there were not any respondents who were shocked at the viciousness of the call.

        1. Zinnia Jones

          “The call to inflict harm to Michael Payton was made on the super-top-secret FTB mass-mailing list”

          Show us it. I’m on the super-top-secret mailing list and even I can’t find it.

  47. 47

    So, there is no doubt that this web hosting company takes the top spot in offering best service in less cost. SSL (“Secured Socket Layer”) may be a protocol used to encrypt the communication between the user’s browser and therefore the net server. But in any other cases, it is advised to use Linux webhosting.

  48. 48

    Blending science and readability, Rivers for Life offers refreshing insights into three children and enjoys the hectic pace of life in a young family. Most Beautiful People in everything more tense. Stopping by to say “hello and like” and let you know that the gorgeous going on in my real life between most of the essential commands and environments.
    We will therefore make sure everything will be made available via the accessibility efforts to make information more accessible to anyone define what you are capable of by using parameters that and right this time, the way it really is! Think about it, and make the choice, before continuing. I think largely people think that these are the humanities and these are digital tools. Bringing things almost bang up to date, where people interested in social media can connect, to make it into a good story.
    We did the registration live during the class. There were some irregularities with people’s … but no real big deal here. As I am wont to do, i didn’t assign individual groups to numbered topics, I let it be a free for all. Groups had to grab their topic by editing it and putting their subject description in the title. This created a bit of excitement and ‘HEY, we were going to do that one’.
    I wandered around the class to ensure that each group had eventually proceeded to explain what a discussion was and had them do some basic interactions in an example area that I started building. I am resistant to the idea of creating a proper exemplar as I’m trying to get students to think their way through what should be there rather than try and copy what is there. I always struggle with whether this is a good position to hold or not.
    More than any single group I know, these can really benefit from building a strong global help support their professional to grow in digital learning strategies in challenging circumstances. Let me tell you, these are a complete inspiration. You can for Rural and Distance Education, as there are some very useful resources available there.
    The sociograms highlighted the centrality of position of certain participants, prompting speculation as to their identity and the reasons behind this centralisation as well as discussion on the meaning behind by some of the outliers.
    My belief is that while we can all benefit from feedback and advice from others about our growth and development, in the end, we’re the ones who have most of the answers that will work for us. I believe that if you provide people with the right tools and the right questions, they will take those things and use them to transform their understanding of themselves and of their world. This retreat proved that to me.
    In my career, there have been a few transformative experiences that have changed my direction and path. This was one of them. I actually did the retreat as another one of my personal learning experiments, to test my hunch that there’s a for this kind of career and professional support done in a group environment using tools and processes that aren’t the usual “take this interest inventory” kind of approach. The reaction and feedback I got yesterday told me that I’m very much on the right track with this. Not only is there’s a way to have impact on people’s lives that is powerful and exciting. And who DOESN’T want that?
    One more thing–huge props for all of her help in planning and organizing this. She was amazing. Also, thank you to Maryland Nonprofits who rented for the retreat. And, of course, the biggest thank you of all to the women who participated in yesterday’s retreat. You were a HUGE inspiration for me on a lot of different levels and it was wonderful to meet and spend time with a pool of amazing women. Thank you!
    I’m guessing no. I’m guessing that there are probably a lot of layers of authority and permissions in place that would make most staff not even consider this an option. I’m that your organization would feel like you didn’t have the resources to do something like this.
    But here’s the thing. This is the kind of activity that sets people’s expectations for how organizations SHOULD behave. Once you’ve had this kind of experience, mediocre service just doesn’t cut it anymore. And people are talking about it so even if they haven’t had the experience themselves, they see what’s going on with other people so their expectations are higher, too.The bar is being raised.
    “People who are optimistic— and that’s what smiles tend to show in childhood—find it easier to get along with people,” including the people who is also the author of Optimistic types: “also find it easier with periods in life that might be difficult.” Nonetheless, she warns: “Optimism is certainly not going to protect you from everything, so it’s no guarantee.”
    I don’t think it has anything to do with god, or aliens though. It simply has to do with men and their love of christian. And the willingness to get what they want no matter who they have to stomp on, or “democratize” to achieve their goal.
    I don’t think that reality is not one person on earth who knows what that is. I think it’s important to appreciate that there are some people who are at least thinking about and exploring what life and reality is about, who as a result, get those of us who bother to listen to what they have to say, thinking and talking… which is far better than those who simply live life believing everything. Agree or disagree with what is presented here, I for one found it worth watching and am grateful to the person(s) who took the time to make this.
    To all of the people saying negative things why do you think your opinion is relevant all of us. I never heard to her large public forum. I am grateful. It’s none of your business why does anything. If her efforts do not help you, that’s your business but do not degrade the rest of us who find merit in her work. Her efforts have helped many people become aware of people and things they would not have without her. You are free to have your opinion. It is irrelevant to the people.
    Well said. Some people (including myself, at the risk of being vulnerable) really don’t have to put toward the class and to see people commenting “Be grateful you are one of those who can afford the class and please don’t mock the people who can’t afford it. What a wonderful idea! I’m definitely in! I think we have touched on an opportunity here. Having read some of the comments it is obvious that for some the cost of this event will prevent them from participating. A SUGGESTION. JJMOLINA

  49. 48.1
    Gary Clemans-Gibbon

    May I ask exactly what absurd over-generalizations he made on Twitter? Did he say more than just that single comment that he’d yet to find a readable post on FTB?

  50. 'Tis Himself

    To quote MrPopularSentiment at post 47-1-2* above:

    “Being a skeptic or skeptical activist does not give anyone a free pass from making mistakes or coming up with and implementing bad ideas or good ideas poorly.”
    Agreed 100%. So when the leader of a major skeptic organization casually dismisses an important network of skeptic bloggers (and, by extension, the community of skeptics that has grown around that network), we get to criticise him for it. And when he does so mere months before *his own organization* is hosting a major conference at which many of these bloggers are speakers, we get to say that he made an awful business decision, as well.

    Perhaps if you read the thread, you’d get some idea of why people feel annoyed at Payton’s tweet.

    *Jebus but I hate threaded posts.

  51. Gary Clemans-Gibbon

    Yes, you get to criticize the person. Perhaps you speak to them and express your opinion about their post if you feel strongly enough. You don’t go around plotting to have people’s heads lopped off like it’s the Spanish Inquisition.

    There seems to be a glaring lack of proportionality here.

  1. 49
    Don’t read it then | Pharyngula

    [...] actually quite happy to be part of a jerk filter. It means the head of CFI Canada, or DJ, or a small collection of vacuous shitbag trolls, [...]

  2. 50
    The jerk filter | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] a slightly rude introduction to life at Freethought Blogs. She didn’t realize, when she joined, that there would be people bouncing up every few [...]

  3. 51
    In their own words « Dubito Ergo Sum

    [...] FreethoughtBlogs because they heard that FreethoughtBlogs is purported to condone groupthink, and comments in response to various blog posts about FTB that seem to suggest PZ or others at FTB promote the [...]

  4. 52
    FTB want Thunderf00t ‘drummed out of the community’ and ‘forever a pariah’ « Thunderf00t

    [...] and this precipitated an angry torrent of twitters from at least one FTBer and another to write an entire blog post about it (promoted by PZ Myers of course), and as with all such posts on FTB he (Payton) was repeatedly [...]

  5. 53
    Thunderf00t admits to sending my private emails to Michael Payton of CFI Canada | Zinnia Jones

    [...] of privacy. Michael Payton, national executive director of CFI Canada, was making absurd overgeneralizations about Freethought Blogs on Twitter. I drew attention to this and commented on it. And before I did, I asked others if there [...]

  6. 54
    Drawing a line under hypocrisy, dishonesty and incredibly poor writing. | The Science of Sarcasm

    […] precipitated an angry torrent of twitters tweets from at least one FTBer and led another to write an entire blog post about it (promoted by PZ Myers of […]

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