Open thread for episode #949: Russell and Jen

Sorry about the technical problems at the beginning of the show. Jen and I had to wing it for about half an hour. After that we didn’t get any theists, but we sure did get into some arguments anyway!


  1. Monocle Smile says

    That tool Alec was rather maddening in his blabber about transgender people and pronouns.
    Hosts: “Why can’t you respect self-identification?”
    Caller: “Because I have every right to use whatever labels I want to refer to another person regardless of what they want”
    Hosts: “Sure, but that makes you kind of a jerk.”
    Caller: “That offends me.”

  2. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    I sometimes wonder how much overlap there is between people who refuse to accept trans people’s pronouns, and those who insist that others use the label they prefer for their religious identities, regardless of whether that label actually fits. In both cases, it’s weird how comfortable some people are in making claims about other people’s identities that contradict those people’s own views about themselves.

  3. Jesse White says

    That anti-transgender caller seemed to insist on determining cultural gender by only relying on secondary sexual characteristics, which Jen and Russel were constantly pointing out how unreliable that was. And even if the determining factor was physical sex rather than cultural gender, one’s secondary sexual characteristics will not necessarily match that person’s genitalia. Obviously, he has never been to 4chan’s /d/ board. Oh, and certain mental conditions have been known to affect people’s gender identity as well. It all comes down to personal preference what you want to be called.

  4. barbayat says

    Thank you so much for calling out Alec as the jerk he is. ‘Cause that is what he is: a total jerk.

    I could meet someone who runs around looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a thick bulge in their speedos, ready to win Mr. Universe – if that person asks me to call her Melissa and refer to her by female pronouns, I do that. I don’t care if they are transgender or have other reasons to ask me – they asked me to treat them with respect and that is something that costs me absolutely nothing. It is not my place to judge.

    The difference about saying, yeah you are an atheist is that it is the answer to a very simple question. Do you believe in a god? Yes, okay you’re a theist or No, you are an atheist. Someone might not use that label but that is what they are. Now, if they resent that label and I keep rubbing it in and go everywhere: “Heh, this is Pete my atheist buddy.” Then–yeah, I would be a jerk–but I don’t do that.

    But gender identity is something that might be shaped by society but is ultimately something each individual can only answer for themselves.

    The arrogance of deciding that you are the arbiter of someone else’s identity is utterly obnoxious and wrong.

    Personal anecdote: A few years back, I was riding the tram and apart from myself there was as dad with a kid (no older than 6 or 7 I think) and the kid pointed at me and said: “Dad, this man has really long fingernails.” The dad replied: “Kid, today men can have long fingernails if they want to.”

    I might be taller than 95% of the men I pass on the street but I am biologically a woman (cis-gendered) and I identify as such.

    But I guess according to Alec, he’d be totally in his right to refer to me as if I was a man if he made the same mistake as the father and kid? What if I told him he was wrong and I was just taller than him with broader shoulders and wore men’s shoes because I don’t find fitting ones for women? (assuming I’d even bother talking to him)

    Would he apologize or would I have to assert (or show) that I got a fully functioning vagina and uterus? Would he then apologize or would he be offended by me displaying some attributes that are more manly than womanly?

    Now, this hypothetical situation would only amuse me and I’d laugh Alec off for being a jerk – however, a transgender individual who goes through so much bias and hatred daily, who has often friends, family and co-workers reject them for who they are, they really do not need another a-hole degrading them in such a jerkish manner.

    What I think cis-folk can do to support the trans-community is to tell off the Alecs of the world. To tell them: “Fine you might disagree, you might find it wrong or silly or it makes you uncomfortable, but that person you’re disrespecting is made uncomfortable by people like you all day long. They have one of the highest suicide rates of any minority, do you really want to be that person who puts another nail in their coffin?”

    I dunno, it might offend them more but maybe if there is a decent person under that layer bigotry, they think twice before purposefully mislabeling a person’s gender.

  5. suedoenimm3 says

    I’ve been a viewer for about 6 years.

    Before that I haunted alt.atheism. It was a flashback moment when Russell mentioned Denis Loubet’s saying about macro/microevolution and clock hands. I remember when he posted that in alt.atheism. I was the one who nominated his post for Atheist Quote of the Month. And I think he was the winner.

    I’m all for equal rights for women and feminism… when it’s feminism more of the type espoused by Christina Hoff Sommers. But much of the “feminism” today is misandry and hysterical victimology. You’ve perhaps heard the term “third-wave feminism” used to distinguish this new type. Many rational people are raising valid criticism of these third-wave feminists. Yes, there are MRAs out there but I (for one) pretty much ignore them. They are just the flip side of the victimology coin in my opinion.

    In this week’s show one caller barely hinted at criticizing feminism and you guys convulsed into counter attack. Without justification you immediately accused him of being against equal rights and equal opportunity for women. Without evidence you accused him of being an MRA. I try to imagine an excuse for you. Likely you’ve been exposed to some MRA trolls and still feel the sting. But you are supposed to be examples of reason.

    There are good grounds for criticizing some of the feminism promoted today. There are feminists making hysterical claims such as “Everything is sexist.” They have petitioned the UN to censure the internet of comments they find insulting. Feminism is not sacred or unassailable.

  6. Russell Glasser says

    “I’m all for equal rights for women and feminism… when it’s feminism more of the type espoused by Christina Hoff Sommers.”

    Ah, so you’re all for “feminism” as long as it is a label applied to someone who despises and argues against feminism. Thanks so much for your input.

  7. says

    Being for feminism of the type espoused by professional anti-feminist Hoff Sommers is almost exactly like being for the type of evolutionary theory espoused by the Discovery Institute.

  8. Russell Glasser says

    “There are feminists making hysterical claims such as ‘Everything is sexist.'”

    * [Citation needed.]

  9. tonyinbatavia says

    suedoenimm3 @ 7: When you say “much of the ‘feminism’ today is misandry and hysterical victimology,” can you please be very, very specific? Who? Where do they say it? What links do you have for evidence of what they said? And what evidence do you have that the examples you cite are “much” of feminism today?

    Unless and until you are very explicit, I will have no reason to take you seriously. Until then, I will have to assume you’re just another drive-by commenter, full of hyperbolic accusations but completely devoid of substance and evidence.

  10. Michael Shepard says

    @Russell, it’s an Anita Sarkeesian quote that has had the surrounding context conveniently removed.

    “When you are learning about systems, everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic and you have to point it out to everyone all the time”

    There’s a bunch of stuff that she said before this that is actually relevant to this one soundbite though

  11. ironchops says

    I tend to call people the way they want. I call Caitlyn Jenner her and I would have call Bruce Jenner him. If I don’t know any better I will assume a person to be what they look like on the surface but if corrected I will go with that instead. I have gotten into trouble calling a gay woman He once but she saw through my ignorance, corrected me, and then let me off the hook I got myself onto and we moved on together from there. She really looked like a man…but she wasn’t. I felt a little stupid. My mistake!
    I have had one instance where I held the door open for a woman at the entrance of a store and she gave me a bunch of guff saying that she had it and I don’t have to help her because she is a girl…bla bla bla. What was I supposed to do? Let the door go in her face? No! My momma taught me to be courteous and I would do the same for anyone. I apologized to her for offending her however I still hold door for people out of courtesy anyway. Am I wrong?

  12. Michael Shepard says

    I’ll take a look for it, but all I can find now are a bunch of youtube videos with just that one quote :-/

  13. jeffh123 says

    OK, enough of transgender and feminism definitions. Being a vegetarian is all good and fine, but one must be careful in getting one’s proper amino acid allowance, and several minerals (iron especially) are difficult to get through eating only vegetables (vegan). Humans are omnivores and essentially depend on some animal products for a proper diet. I like a good steak occasionally, but I don’t eat large quantities of meat on a regular basis. I love port, but pigs are one thing I won’t raise for food myself because they have personalities similar to dogs. We opted for dairy goats vs. meat goats for similar reasons. We do raise chickens, but for eggs. It is possible to get the proper diet with animal products vs. animals. Maybe some day I wean myself from animals. But not yet. On the subject of factory farms, they exist for profit, but that fact is small, humane farm raised animals cannot produce adequate numbers of critters for food for our population. Agreed, the calories from a cow is no where near as efficient as eating the grain used to raise the cow.

  14. Russell Glasser says

    @Michael Shepard: That sure had shades of “To suppose that the eye… could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

  15. Michael Shepard says found it

    Start watching around 6:17 for the full context. So basically what she’s saying in this quote is not “If you want to be a good feminist, you MUST point out how EVERYTHING is screwed up to everyone you know”, but that when you first start learning that society is much more than the sum of the individuals living in it, it’s easy to FEEL like everything is screwed up and that you have this great insight that everyone in your life absolutely must know about.

    She even goes on to say that “there was a good year of her life where [she] was the most obnoxious person to be around” and that after a while you “learn how to pick and choose your battles”

    This sounds exactly like how I was when I first became an atheist actually xD

  16. Rex says

    #4: Thanks, Russell.

    It seems like Alec doesn’t have much understanding of the psychological nature of gender-identity.

    Technical issues aside, it was very difficult to listen to Cade’s call. I really felt for him, yet I could see that Jen and Russell’s suggestions weren’t really having an effect. There must be some psychological issues at play. If he isn’t getting satisfaction from several years of counseling, he needs to switch counselors, and keep going to new ones until he feels like he’s making some progress. Same goes with dating sites or hobby sites. Even if it is only online, everybody needs to feel like they belong somewhere. Good luck to him, I wish him well.

  17. Russell Glasser says

    Yeah, I found the same out of context five second clip that you mentioned, and even then I could tell from her tone that she was not serious. It sounded like an exaggeration for comic purposes, and the rest of the talk confirms it.

  18. StonedRanger says

    To Alec:
    Your skepticism doesn’t enter into this whole thing. Knowing as many true things and and as few false things doesn’t apply when you are talking about how someone self identifies. No one gives a rats ass whether you agree with how someone else self identifies or not. I see this over and over with Caitlyn Jenner. Everyone wants to call her a guy. Its not their place to do that and when they do they are being assholes.

    Its funny how when people are told they are being an asshole or treating other people in an assholish manner, they will go to any lengths to defend themselves. Your skepticism may help define your atheism, but it has nothing to do with you being a dick to others. You don’t get to define what others are, just like christians don’t get to define me as having no morals because Im an atheist, you don’t get to tell a trans person that they must be what you say they are.

  19. Wiggle Puppy says

    There was an “Alex” from Sunderland MA on episode 838 that started a bizarre conversation equating racism in the workplace with putting “In God We Trust” on money. If this was the same person, I’m not surprised that his reasoning on transgender issues was faulty and nonsensical

  20. suedoenimm3 says

    Russell wrote:
    “I’m all for equal rights for women and feminism… when it’s feminism more of the type espoused by Christina Hoff Sommers.”

    Ah, so you’re all for “feminism” as long as it is a label applied to someone who despises and argues against feminism. Thanks so much for your input.

    Golly. Equivocation, Straw Man, No True Scotsman, plus a little snark thrown in just for fun.

    Let’s avoid equivocation. What is “feminism”? Who decides what feminism really truly is? How did you determine that the feminism CHS criticizes is (the true) feminism?

    And since CHS criticizes True Feminism she is therefore not a feminist? You’re either for us or against us?

    Do you think CHS does not strongly support equal rights and opportunity for women?


    My main point is that you should not snap to a hostile stance at just any criticism of feminism. For two reasons. 1. That is not practicing your reason. 2. There are many elements of what is presented as feminism today that deserve criticism.

    I’ve been challenged on my position that there are good grounds to criticize this third-wave feminism. I can support it further. But your stance leads me to questions. Do you think that all feminism is perfect and unassailable? Can there be no criticism of any feminism?

  21. Monocle Smile says


    Let’s avoid equivocation. What is “feminism”? Who decides what feminism really truly is? How did you determine that the feminism CHS criticizes is (the true) feminism?

    Better question: would anyone ever go through this circus with “racism” or “anti-racism?”

    My main point is that you should not snap to a hostile stance at just any criticism of feminism

    They didn’t. Did you even listen to the call? The line “the student newspaper is corrupted with feminism” isn’t a benign statement and the caller went to the stupid-ass wage gap apologetics even after Russell and Jen insisted on moving past the topic in order to be constructive instead..

    I’ve been challenged on my position that there are good grounds to criticize this third-wave feminism. I can support it further. But your stance leads me to questions. Do you think that all feminism is perfect and unassailable? Can there be no criticism of any feminism?

    That’s pretty hilarious how you claim to be able to support your position…and then decline to do so. And now you’re asking questions of questionable honesty. If I were a gambling man, I’d wager that you don’t plan on coming back to supporting your position at all.

  22. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    @suedoenimm3, 7

    You’ve perhaps heard the term “third-wave feminism” used to distinguish this new type. Many rational people are raising valid criticism of these third-wave feminists.

    Third wave? That seems to ring a bell, somewhere in the distance. Is that a recent thing? Could you give me a few examples of third wave feminists, please? I should probably go check out what they’ve got to say before I pass judgement.

  23. bschneid says

    It is very disheartening to see the lack of scepticism you apply to your favored ideologies. One is born XX, XY or other. I believe Alec agreed that the binary definitions male/female that are applied do not include the “other” category, but that is not what is being talked about on the whole.

    Your positions seem to state that gender is a societal construct (sometimes argued as a bad thing, here as a defence?) so therefore an XY should be able to identify as an XX, a la Jenner.

    If you insist I call you something that you clearly are not (XY wants to be XX), then this is you forcing your delusion on me. Yes, if I don’t call you by what you wish, I am being a bit of a jerk, but that is not what is at stake here is it? It is forcing an ideology contrary to reason on society.

    Under your reasoning if I insist I am God, and demand you call me God, you must – specifically because I dress in flowing robes, and have a long beard – Western society’s cultural construct of God. I also do magic tricks!

    Now I could conceivably prove you are NOT XX through genetic testing, but you cannot prove my humanness is not due merely to my choice as God to socialize with you. You cannot prove I am not God.

    Your arguments degenerated into name calling – very very troubling and indicative of ideology/dogma clouding your judgment.

    It is sad to see even supposed sceptics degenerate to a lower level. You can be ideolgical neo-feminist dogmatic atheists I suppose. A shame.

  24. Dustin says

    I hope Cade comes on here. I think that was a good point about being a nerd and having to learn to be around ppl. I was a baseball player and fit in great but when I stopped playing sports and other events in my life happened, I lost a lot of connection with society. Sure you can be polite with ppl and social but is there some part of you that feels like that is a lie? That you put up an act with ppl so it makes you feel like you aren’t being truthful. But times when you’ve been truthful it doesn’t go as you expect. Try to minimize your expectations would be my guess or learn to embrace the being polite with out feeling it’s a lie. I still struggle after I embraced my nerd side once baseball was gone. The event that happened was I was cheated on by a girl so trust in friends, society, and myself was low. I’m still working on building it back. It’s been four years. If you go into an interaction with lower expectations of having a matching brain or someone that understands you 100%(most likely your want for a God) then you should be able to work to finding a social group that can help you feel human and not an alien. You are not alone and are one of us.

  25. Red Penda says

    After sleeping on it, i just woke up even madder about Alec.

    Even leaving aside the “Gender Identity 101” question of whether a transgender identity is a “delusion” (hint: it’s not), he’s basically applying his super skepticism only when someone doesn’t “pass” sufficiently for him to recognise them as their preferred gender. So he’s singling out one of the most vulnerable, at-risk groups of people, whose lives are already difficult enough, and deciding that he’s going to piss in their cornflakes a little more, and make their lives that much more unpleasant, and maybe even dangerous. Because “skepticism.” So yeah: asshole.

  26. Hj Hornbeck says

    suedoenimm3 @7:

    I’m all for equal rights for women and feminism… when it’s feminism more of the type espoused by Christina Hoff Sommers.

    Christina Hoff Sommers was a chairperson of the Independent Women’s Forum, which was set up after the Clarence Thomas hearings with the explicit goal of combating feminism.
    Her specialty is the embrace-extend-extinguish approach; call yourself a feminist and agree with a subset that won’t challenge conservative views, but paint the rest as radical delusional fantasy even though it’s actually on solid ground. When you look into the details of what she’s saying, it all falls apart.

  27. Dustin says

    With Alec, I don’t know would be the position he should be in. Not the I believe they are a male or female. Physical appearance is not enough to judge on. The bible is a sacred holy text inspired by God… Judging the book by its cover is it actually inspired by a god? You’d have to say yes using similar logic by Alec.

  28. says

    Awful lot of supposedly science nerd ‘skeptics’ are absolutely certain XX = female and XY = male despite the science clearly saying it’s not that simple. Not to mention insisting this simplistic idea of genetics means they can ignore psychology.

  29. tonyinbatavia says

    John-Henry Beck @ 36, you have a good point, but what is one supposed to do when one is genuinely ashamed, sad, and disheartened by others forcing their delusions on them? Poor ashamed, disheartened sceptic haz a sadz that they can’t just be assholes towards others. You know how saddening that is? It makes one want to cry sad, sad tears of sadness.

  30. Adam Trill says

    Regarding Cade:

    The laws of probability would dictate there will be some of us who are lucky and meet all the right people. Then there will be some of us who meet the wrong people. I believe the best advice for him is to go out there and experience the world more and experience people more. There are people out there who you will connect with. It just sounds like you got the short end of the stick when it comes to meeting open-minded deep thinkers.

    Keeping your mind busy is the key to stop ruminating. Ruminating often leads to deeper ruminating… and thus the vicious cycle begins. You only have three options:

    1 – Become focused and do something beneficial regarding one thing you ruminate on.

    2 – Busy your mind during the times you start to ruminate.

    3 – Heavily medicate (Don’t do this)

  31. Grant says

    Hi Russell et al.,

    I love the show and try to watch each episode as it streams or the next day on YouTube. I understand you’re all going through growing pains in the new studio and using Skype and all the difficulties that entails (hell, I can see it right there on the screen its rough on you folks) This weeks episode is really bad though and I wonder given the fact that the audio quality is SO bad, why you even bothered to upload it to YouTube to begin with and didn’t just write it off as a bad night? The first 30 min are almost completely inaudible and the rest of the show’s audio quality is not much better.

    I understand that you’re all volunteers doing the best you can, and I applaud you all for it, but if you go to the fridge and the milk is spoiled you throw it out, you don’t keep it around and try to make a cake with it.

    Love you guys, Love the show. I’m going to try to call in one of these nights if I can ever get the time difference worked out in my head in time.


  32. says

    Wow, I think the call from Cade… is the most impressive example of complete miscommunication that I’ve seen on the Atheist Experience – at least, if I’m not mistaking. Cade certainly did not seem amused at the end of the call, even cynical or bitter, yet very polite (as he feels he ought to).

    I felt very similar to Cade, not too long ago. I feel the pain and worrying. But just like… you can’t solve the problem of homelessness by donating all of your money to one or a few homeless people (all it would do is help them for a while and make you homeless too), a much more difficult and initially less satisfactory solution is to structurally donate a little money to homeless shelters and maybe help out, invest in your career so the additional money you make can be donated again. I know this seems like a tangent, but here is the point: similarly to that example. Continuing to feel bad and still being fundamentally to fix world-scale problems with your own individual means, does not help. It also doesn’t help to argue friends, relatives, acquaintances or discussion partners into annoyance (this reminds me a whole lot of the question Tyson ask Dawkins:, Dawkins answer shocked me, as did Tyson – I think). I’ve seen many vegans being outraged that some people are only ovo-lacto-vegetarians, deeming it just as bad… but it isn’t. That attitude only pushes them away, rendering further progression towards veganism increasingly unlikely. People aren’t rational individuals, people are mainly emotional herd-animals. Just as worrying over huge problems doesn’t really solve anything, it also adds to the world suffering. Your own worrying and suffering will also be added to that total world-suck. “Lighten up” is bad advice, it’s… not advice at all. It’s an expression basically saying: you’re annoying me, stop it and go away. But if you try to realize that worrying about it won’t help; if you try to realize that a positive outlook on life and a positive attitude towards other people as well as yourself and your efforts; if you try to invest your time, money, worries, anger, tears, energy (the colloquial, not the New Age type), etc., then.. I think you’re not only being more effective and happy, but you’re also much more able to transfer that attitude towards other people. People are attracted to and motivated by positive and engaging (and attractive, etc.) people, and conversely they are repelled and fearful of the more depressive interaction (this is why depressed people continue to lose their social network, spiraling down ever further).

    I would second what satyr (post 27 and 28) said, if Cade or satyr would like to correspond, feel free to contact me (

  33. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    Regarding Cade… I don’t know if you’ll ever read this thread, but I want you to know you’re not alone. I wish I could tell you that it gets better, or that I have the answer that will help you, but I can’t guarantee that. Things that do help me deal with that sense of despair, might, if you haven’t considered them, also help you, but we’re different people with different minds, and maybe you’ve already considered everything I have to offer.
    Firstly, I do have faith in something. I generally deny that, because it’s not quite the same as faith in the religious sense, but it’s also far from a well evidenced belief held on the basis of mountains of data. I have faith in human decency and in the good intentions of those around me. It helps… not much, but it does help to have a reminder that most people aren’t maliciously thinking up ways to hurt others for the sake of causing pain – if they realised, most would act differently.
    Secondly, I find activism to be helpful. Don’t expect to be able to solve every problem, and don’t feel bad if this just isn’t something you want or have time to do, but, for me, putting some of my time and energy toward causes that are important to me has helped to alleviate some of that feeling. Even if you’re not doing anything huge, it does help. Most recently, I’ve been providing admin services for a BAME charity in my local area. They’ve got me working to help arrange a talent competition next year, finding groups to partner with us, trying to get the competition details out there so people can sign up and such. It’s hardly revolutionary, but it’s going to raise funds, spread awareness, promote inclusivity… I’m not fixing the world here, but I’m helping; it’s a step, it’s another brick taken out of a very large wall, and it really does give me a genuine and positive feeling. If there’s an issue you really care about, there’s a group, probably quite near to you, who are dealing with that issue and they probably need the help of volunteers. I can’t make any guarantees, but it’s been a big help for me.
    Other than that, I self medicate with games and cookies, and then go on long walks to help alleviate the side effects of both of those things. I’m not sure I can recommend that, though.

    I hope there’s something in this comment that’s in some way helpful if you see it, but even if it turns out not to be the case, I wish you all the best in finding some way of dealing with it.

  34. suedoenimm3 says

    Russell wrote:
    “Yeah, I found the same out of context five second clip that you mentioned, and even then I could tell from her tone that she was not serious. It sounded like an exaggeration for comic purposes, and the rest of the talk confirms it.”

    – – – –

    She uses self deprecating humor when describing how annoying she was when her revelation was new and she felt she had to share it with everyone around her. She says she learned to pick her battles. That is not saying that the revelation that “everything is sexist” is not true or an exaggeration but that she just needs to be more judicious or strategic in presenting it. She does believe everything is sexist (practically if not literally) and has in fact made a career of “point[ing] it all out.”

    Here’s another Anita quote:
    “Paradoxically and somewhat ironically, those who most strongly believe that media is just harmless entertainment are also the ones most likely to uncritically internalize harmful media messages. In short, the more you think you cannot be affected, the more likely you are to be affected.”
    Ludicrous. An invisible evil. The less you detect it the more it is there.

    And then there was Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn going before a UN committee asking that the internet be censored so that no one can say “you suck” to them.
    “I think it’s important to recognize that harassment is, as someone had mentioned, it’s not just what is legal and illegal, right? Harassment is threats of violence, but it’s also the day to day grind of “you’re a liar,” “you suck,” making all these hate videos to attack us on a regular basis, and the mobs that come from those hate videos, etcetra.”

    The UN later retracted the report that came out of that meeting:

    So Russell, is there no possible criticism of anything “feminist”? Is all feminism that is promoted today perfect and without fault? Or is it too important of a truth to permit criticism? Is everyone who criticizes anything about feminism an MRA?

  35. Monocle Smile says


    Ludicrous. An invisible evil. The less you detect it the more it is there.

    Are you kidding? Sarkeesian is describing indoctrination, which is a very real phenomenon. Marketing strategies sometimes rely on subliminal messages of that degree. What’s ludicrous is that you don’t seem to think these things exist.

    And then there was Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn going before a UN committee asking that the internet be censored so that no one can say “you suck” to them

    Cry me a river. I’ll take a piss in it.
    You’re basically whining that people do things that you don’t like that don’t affect you in any way…and lying about why they do them. Also, your portrayal of what Sarkeesian and Quinn suffered due to “GamerGate” absolutely blows my mind. Do you deny that they received copious amounts of rape and death threats? Or that they were doxxed and needed to change addresses?

  36. suedoenimm3 says

    Athywren wrote:
    “You’ve perhaps heard the term “third-wave feminism” used to distinguish this new type. Many rational people are raising valid criticism of these third-wave feminists.”

    Third wave? That seems to ring a bell, somewhere in the distance. Is that a recent thing? Could you give me a few examples of third wave feminists, please? I should probably go check out what they’ve got to say before I pass judgement.

    Google is your friend.

    I’ll name some critics of feminism. Check them out. There will be mention of “third-wave” feminists.
    christina hoff sommers
    Camille Paglia
    janice fiamengo
    lauren southern
    milo yiannopoulos
    karen straughan

  37. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To suedoenimm3

    There are feminists making hysterical claims such as “Everything is sexist.”

    I don’t see how that’s hysterical. It’s a true claim – only slightly exaggerated. Sexism pervades many, many things. Oftentimes, it’s a very mild form of sexism, but of course it ranges from the barely noticable and barely harmful to the extremely noticable and the extremely harmful.

    This shouldn’t be controversial. It should be well-established fact. For example: Inspect the cultural phenomenon of “gender roles”. Gender roles play heavily into many, many things. It’s hard to find an aspect of society that is untouched by gender role assumptions. And of course, gender role assumptions are sexist.

    Concerning Christina Hoff Sommers, from what little I can find and be bothered to find, it seems that Christina Hoff Sommers takes issue with the position that cultural gender roles are innately harmful. Of course, that is wrong. Cultural gender roles are intrinsically harmful, just like cultural racial assumptions that black people run faster than white people are intrinsically harmful.

    “Paradoxically and somewhat ironically, those who most strongly believe that media is just harmless entertainment are also the ones most likely to uncritically internalize harmful media messages. In short, the more you think you cannot be affected, the more likely you are to be affected.”
    Ludicrous. An invisible evil. The less you detect it the more it is there.

    That’s not a fair description of what was actually stated in that quote, standing alone.

    It’s important to recognize that most people are quite weak of will, and that they can be manipulated to follow along. Just look at the Stanford prison experiment. Or look at Nazi Germany. I would say that almost all Germans in WW2 Nazi Germany were normal people. Most Nazis in WW2 Nazi Germany were normal people. Most people are not introspective. Most people are sheep.

    Then, I think it’s also fair to say that many people think that they are not sheep, but most of those people are sheep. Their inability or refusal to be properly introspective does mean that they are more vulnerable to social pressures – the same sorts of social pressures that we saw in the Stanford prison experiment, WW2 Nazi Germany, etc. So, by and large, if one thinks that they are immune to peer pressure, one can then reasonably conclude that they are most vulnerable to peer pressure. In other words, the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. In other words, the first step to combating the effects of peer pressure on oneself is admitting that oneself is vulnerable to peer pressure.

    That seems to be the sum of what is being communicated in that quote, standing alone. Do you agree, disagree? On that seemingly straightforward interpretation, I find nothing objectionable.

    And then there was Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn going before a UN committee asking that the internet be censored so that no one can say “you suck” to them.

    Here’s the direct citation btw for everyone else:
    It’s seemingly about 3 minutes long, starting around 1 hour, 30 minutes.

    I’ve never been the biggest fan of Anita Sarkeesian. (A couple of times I’ve seen her stuff I’ve noticed some gender essentialism, which is irritating.)

    As for this bit here in front of the U.N., I see nothing immediately and obviously objectionable. It’s true that something can be harassment without being legally actionable. It’s true that we should work to make the world into a better place and try to reduce legal harassment through appropriate means – specifically without actual censorship. Please see:
    Remember, one of the major benefits of free speech is that by subjecting all ideas to public scrutiny, the bad ideas can be separated from the good ideas, and then the bad ideas can be destroyed, thereby leading to advancement of ideas in the culture. Ideally, bad ideas should be destroyed by simple peer pressure of appropriate amounts. For example, if someone says that the Earth is flat, then an appropriate amount of peer pressure might be to openly laugh and scoff at their ridiculousness and foolishness.

    One mildly concerning bit about the video: Anita Sarkeesian made some vague call for better technology and management to clamp down on harassment online. I’m not sure exactly what is being proposed and being asked for by Anita Sarkeesian. I might object, and I might not. It’s really quite vague. I would definitely want to inquire further to see what is exactly being proposed, and it does give me some small cause for concern, but in part that’s because I’m the closest you can get to being a free speech absolutist while also being reasonable (IMAO), and I do see too many people calling for censorship, and it’s something of a pet peeve of mine.

    Still, it’s grossly uncharitable to infer that Anita is calling for actual censorship.

  38. Random Listener says

    One of the callers said that [a doctor] could determine the gender by brain physiology. Jen said you cannot. I was curious to see what I could find out online. Before going further, I don’t want people to mistake body gender vs. how the mind self-identifies; sexual identity exists between the ears, not the legs. This is about whether a doctor could use physiology to determine gender in the same way she could it from a femur.

    According to wikipedia, “Several studies have shown the hippocampi of men and women to differ anatomically.” (

    I read the above page, and time and again it stated that there are physical traits (as well as chemical and other non-visual markers) that differentiated a male brain from a female brain. Unlike genitals, it’s not like there is a part of the brain that one sex possesses, and which the other lacks. It’s more about structure sizes and white to grey matter ratios.

    “When looking at hemisphere differences, the right hemisphere was found to be slightly larger than the left in heterosexual males and lesbians, whereas those of gay men and straight women were more symmetrical.”

    According to the neuroscience journal review series Progress in Brain Research, it has been found that males have larger and longer planum temporale and Sylvian fissure while females have significantly larger proportionate volumes to total brain volume in the superior temporal cortex, Broca’s area, the hippocampus and the caudate.[20] The midsagittal & fiber numbers in the anterior commissure that connect the temporal poles and mass intermedia that connects the thalami is also larger in women.[20]” (same page)

    I also found an interesting article from 2011 about using MRI to identify trans children. It draws upon several Journal of Psychiatric Research papers, and suggests we will be able to use science to achieve this goal. If so, I hope that it will help make childhood, puberty and adult life much easier for these people.

    So, it looks like you probably can determine the sex of a person from the brain (even by sight). I was quite surprised.

    Please don’t confuse my sharing this info to mean I share anything else with the original caller. As memory serves, he held a lot of bull ideas which I do not share.

    Sorry about the bad formatting. I didn’t see how to make my paragraphs stay the way they looked when I wrote this.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Responding to content from the show. Concerning the creation demand “show me something turning into something else” – If I could show such a thing, then I would show that evolution is false. The question is based on the assumption of Biblical kinds, that there are sharp and fast divides that can split the animal kingdom into separate groupings (“kinds”) that encompass the whole animal kingdom, and which do not overlap. That’s not how evolution works, and that’s not how the real world is.

    Take a population of shrews. Over time, that population of shrews might split and become physically isolated, and they will change over time, and we will may get a speciation event as one population changes in a way that is different from the other population. Over time, one of those populations might go on to become whales, and the other population might go on to become apes. That’s grossly approximate, but that’s also what actually happened.

    Don’t answer the demand by supplying what they want, because what they want is impossible, because it would contradict evolutionary theory.

    A shrew will always be a shrew, and the descendants of shrews will always be shrews. That’s simply how evolution and taxonomy work. We humans are apes, and mammals, and vertebrates, and animals, and eukaryotes. Each of those is an overlapping classifications of life, and we belong to many such classifications. For example, a lion is a kind of cat, which is a kind of carnivoria, which is a kind of mammal, which is a kind of vertebrate, which is a kind of animal, which is a kind of eukaryote.

    If we ever found a dog that turned into a cat, that would falsify evolution, and that is exactly what they’re asking for. Ex: the famous crocoduck.

    To respond to the demand properly, you need to unpack the assumptions of the demand, show that the assumptions are flawed, properly frame the discussion, which will involve some teaching of basic evolutionary concepts, and then provide evidence for actual evolution.

    Related: Aronra goes into great detail on this topic in the Broward lecture.

  40. Robert,+not+Bob says

    Alex’s pronoun insistence is an example of the “how dare you tell me what to do” adolescent libertarianism that’s so prevalent nowadays. I was impatient with politeness when I was a teenager, but you know what? I grew up. Some people don’t.

    #47: EL, why do you think they cling to that interpretation of evolution? To abandon it would destroy their case!

  41. Esquilax says

    @bschneid, comment 30:

    It is very disheartening to see the lack of scepticism you apply to your favored ideologies. One is born XX, XY or other.

    Aside from your whole post being one huge is/ought fallacy, I need to point out that chromosomes are irrelevant to this issue. Even actual transgender people don’t deny the concept of biological sexes, they just acknowledge that what lies beyond that, the male/female dichotomy and the gender roles that traditionally entails, are largely social constructs. An XX person isn’t female because the double-X chromosome pair did not come with the intrinsic label “female,” that’s something we applied to the characteristics associated with that chromosomal pair; characteristics that can be altered. Given that the label itself is a construct created based on characteristics and not chromosomes- I don’t think it’s controversial to assert that the first people to coin the terms in language did not have a firm grasp on genetics, and hence didn’t know what a chromosome is- then surely altering those characteristics also alters what you might call that person?

    This is the problem: you’re attempting to apply gender terminology based strictly on biological structures that are neither the basis for that terminology, not applicable within it.

    Your positions seem to state that gender is a societal construct (sometimes argued as a bad thing, here as a defence?) so therefore an XY should be able to identify as an XX, a la Jenner.

    I think if you paid any attention at all you’d notice that nobody is asking to be identified as an “XX” at all. They’re asking to be identified as a female. Do you go around calling people XX’s? Do they even know what you’re talking about?

    If you insist I call you something that you clearly are not (XY wants to be XX), then this is you forcing your delusion on me. Yes, if I don’t call you by what you wish, I am being a bit of a jerk, but that is not what is at stake here is it? It is forcing an ideology contrary to reason on society.

    Funnily enough, I don’t think anybody is obligated to bend to your arbitrary, self-serving redefinition of body dysphoria as a “delusion,” or “ideology,” just because you say it. This whole post is just you playing word games to reach a predrawn conclusion, it’s not based on anything real.

    Under your reasoning if I insist I am God, and demand you call me God, you must – specifically because I dress in flowing robes, and have a long beard – Western society’s cultural construct of God. I also do magic tricks!

    Now I could conceivably prove you are NOT XX through genetic testing, but you cannot prove my humanness is not due merely to my choice as God to socialize with you. You cannot prove I am not God.

    If all you want to do is make ridiculous comparisons to denigrate real people you don’t want to treat as such, that’s fine. I’ll be over here being nice to those real people, since I don’t have this deep seated need that you do to be nasty for no reason to humans I’ve never met.

    It is sad to see even supposed sceptics degenerate to a lower level. You can be ideolgical neo-feminist dogmatic atheists I suppose. A shame.

    … He said, tossing in a blatant poisoning of the well at the last minute.

  42. antarefy says

    I watch the show on a regular basis, for years and years now. I’ve always been on your side about arguments and behaviour, you were right. Till you decided to beat up on this caller Alec from Sunderland.

    You guys were pretty rude to him. You made fun of him and called him bad names. You refused to promote a good conversation making him look like an idiot, ignoring that he was clearly refering to biological attributes that make someone male/female. He also denied there were only male/female in his view.

    I’m ashamed, my favourite internet show is going below the belt line using phrases like “you must be fun at parties” to attack a person, just because you don’t agree with him. I’ve never heard you calling somebody an “asshole” because he wanted to impose some kind of theocracy, but you do it with Alec. This is really a downer for the show, and the fact my two favourite hosts do such things is pretty startling.

  43. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    @suedoenimm3, 45

    Bah! My cunning plan has failed.
    I’ll let you in on a little secret… I know exactly what 3rd wave feminism is, and how very new it isn’t. I just wanted to know if you were going to name such contemporary thinkers as Andrea Dworkin like those of you who rail against the feminism of almost three decades ago do so like to do.
    I find it interesting that you cite Camille “rape is just how men do sex” Paglia as a relevant critic of feminism, though, considering how closely she fits the strawfeminist stereotype that almost no actual feminist resembles.
    Ah well, the list of irrelevant and irrational “thinkers” (I’ll put Fiamengo and Southern outside of that group for the moment, as I’ve never heard of them and have nothing on which to base an opinion of them, aside from their delustrious listmates) was more or less equally informative.

  44. JohnFromLONDONuk says

    This show is confirmation bias. Not allowing theists on is not helping.

    Anyways…… We were all created with a need to have a friendship with God.

    Happy is he who is aware of such a need.

    God is going to destroy Christendom and all false religion, so it is going to be easier for humanity to find the truth.

    Apples are going to rid the illusion that they are not free as designed by God.

    Feel free to counter.

  45. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    Apples are going to rid the illusion that they are not free as designed by God.

    Unfortunately, my religious opinions are determined by the actions of cranberries – not those of apples.

  46. Luc says

    For Cade and others: Keep suffering your Despair. I prefer to call it Empathy. The world needs more empathy. I also suggest reading Albert Camus, Janet Frame and Carl Sagan.

  47. bschneid says

    I’m sorry, hysteria aside, penis equals male, vagina equals female (hermaphrodites etc are a unique case).

    Penis does not equal vagina.

    There are physically and mentally “feminine” males, and physically and mentally “masculine” females.

    It is the cultural dictates that we have imposed on what it MEANS to be male or female that has unfortunately driven this mad ideology to make some males think they are females and vice versa.

    All this gender/sex dichotomy is ideology.

    You can remove your penis. You are still a male.

    Your reactions here are more well placed in an extreme evangelical revivalist meeting exorcising demons.

  48. iamabipedalape says

    Hello everybody,

    The call from Cade in London.

    I found this conversation fascinating, can completely appreciate where this guy is coming from, and would like to contact him.

    If Cade sees this, or if anybody knows how I can contact him, please could you let me know. I am brand new to this site, have no Facebook account, and am not sure if I’m allowed to post an email address here (perhaps not a good idea?), but would really appreciate any advice on how to get in touch with him. Is there a personal massaging system here, perhaps?

    I will subscribe to email ‘Follow Ups’, so if you do see this reply Cade, please suggest ways in which we can contact each other.

    Many thanks.

  49. iamabipedalape says

    **Please see previous post**

    Having read some other replies regarding Cade’s call, I see that people have posted email addresses here in an attempt to contact him.

    In which case Cade, if you see this reply also, please email me at:

    I would love to share some thoughts with you.

    Many thanks.

  50. Esquilax says

    @bschneid, comment 57:

    I’m sorry, hysteria aside, penis equals male, vagina equals female (hermaphrodites etc are a unique case).

    I’m sorry, do you really think an argument composed of nothing but fiat assertions means anything at all here?

    Do you deny that the terms male and female are human conceptual constructs, and do not apply intrinsically to all penis-havers and vagina-havers, without us first creating the term and applying it arbitrarily based on physical characteristics?

    You can remove your penis. You are still a male.

    So when you said “penis equals male,” earlier, were you wrong then, or are you wrong now? Because now you’re asserting- just asserting by fiat, as if “because I said so” is an argument- that even if you don’t have a penis, you’re still a male. That’s a contradiction. You didn’t really think this through, did you?

    Your reactions here are more well placed in an extreme evangelical revivalist meeting exorcising demons.

    And we end on more poisoning the well, because why not add fallacious dishonesty to petulant demands, right?

  51. favog says

    In regard to banning John and his JW nonsense … I was all for it until the sentence about the apples. I want to know more about this, though I suspect I’d regret it.

  52. StonedRanger says

    John from UK
    I thought you were done here. We all know youre not interesting in having a dialogue, so why did you come back? I guess youre just another liar for jesus.

  53. says

    It’s hard not to get into trouble talking about gender/trans issues these days. But here I go.

    First, I admit to some discomfort with this issue, possibly because I had a father who (probably out of insecurity, I recognize in hindsight) seemed compelled to constantly call my masculinity or “manhood” into question.

    Second, if someone asks me to refer to him/her with a particular name or pronoun, that’s what I’m going to do, unless there is some obvious attempt at fraud or misdirection.

    Third, and this is the point I’m interested in seeing discussed, while I agree that Alec was kind of a jerk, I think he rather clumsily raised the possibly valid question of whether accepting trans people’s self-declared identities is a case of special pleading.

    I generally agree with Jen that absent some compelling reason, we should believe people when they tell us who they are. That said, and despite the many gradations and variations and subtleties of secondary-sex characteristics, it does seem there are times when transgendered people *appear* to be their birth sex, and when they suggest otherwise, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to sense some disconnect.

    I keep thinking of Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who self-identified as African American and was “exposed” by her parents. I have no reason to doubt that Dolezal truly identified that way, and one psychologist declared, “Rachel Dolezal is black because she identifies as black. Her identity was authentic, as far as I could tell.”

    Why, then, shouldn’t we accept Dolezal’s self-identification as much as we do those of trans people? I have read a good deal of discussion on this question, and much of it seems consequentialist, i.e. the difference has to do with which identified group is subject to prejudice; other arguments seem to center on the “inescapability” of a person truly belonging to a historically disadvantaged racial group. Like Dolezal with race, a person born as a male who now identifies as female has essentially shifted into a group that is, historically, less privileged than the gender of his birth.

    I also found myself thinking about God — this is the AXP, after all. I have a schizophrenic relative whose particular flavor of delusion is that he “hears” God speaking to him all the time, instructing him on the “truth” of everything around him (and sadly, often telling him how “bad” or “evil” he is). Obviously, he is mentally ill, but many atheists view non-diagnosed people who claim to hear and directly communicate with God as delusional. Under the guise of “I believe what you tell me about yourself,” shouldn’t we give all such people the benefit of the doubt? (No, I am not suggesting that trans people are mentally ill, in case anyone is tempted to go off on that.)

    An anecdote. Long ago, I briefly participated in a men’s group (no, not an MRA group — an old-school, Robert Bly-Sam Keen type group that was not in any way sexist, so far as I experienced it). There was a member named Jim who one day pronounced that he was embracing his Scottish roots and asked that he be called “McKenzie” moving forward. With many a hearty “ho,” the group accepted his new moniker. Just a few months later, McKenzie announced that he was now changing his name to Jhompa (my spelling), based on his new interest in Tibetan something or other. This time the group was less enthusiastic, but still gave a feeble gesture of outward supportive. I did not.

    That group was normally pretty grounded, but could get sucked into silliness. One time a member brought in a dude who supposedly “channeled” an ancient spirit named Yokar (if you Google hard enough, you can come across mentions of this clown.) Yokar just … sucked. He went into his trance or whatever and started blathering New Age horseshit in a vaguely German accent for an hour. After, his sponsor in the group “passed the hat,” and everyone dutifully, if not always happily, dropped a couple bucks in, even me. That was it for me; I never went back. But, you know, this guy swore up and down that he was “Yokar” — under the “We must always believe what people say about themselves” ethic, should we have just accepted that identification? I can say he was a charlatan (as I suspect he was), but how can I really know?

    Despite having brought this up elsewhere and been savaged immediately as a transphobic asshole — but hey, I don’t identify as one, and don’t believe I am one — I remain genuinely interested in the question that Alec kinda-sorta raised: Are we engaged with special pleading with trans identification?

  54. Tatesa says

    Advice to Cade from London –
    1. Fire your therapist.
    2. I think you have generalized anxiety disorder. Find a secular psychiatrist to diagnose you. There are wonderful pills.
    3. Find a therapist who is secular and will work with you. try
    3. The Unitarian Church is kinda a pan religious thing, so you might find people there that are atheists who just want a community.
    4. Are there groups in London? Maybe there is one in London.
    5. Check out Maybe they can help you out.
    6. Try finding an online atheist message board to discuss your ideas. The atheist community of Austin has one.
    7. This is your only life. Try and live it to the fullest. Try to find happiness while you are here. Much love!

  55. Monocle Smile says

    Lots of the things you mention have nothing to do with self-identification. Like they stated on the show, hearing voices is something external to identification. And you can respect Yokar’s identity as “Yokar” without believing any of the spirit-channeling bullshit, because that’s something separate.
    So no, we’re not engaging in special pleading. Instead, you’re conflating self-identification with other things.

    The hosts have engaged with callers at length on feminism on at least two separate occasions in the recent past, but don’t let that get in the way of your butthurt. Furthermore, they’re loathe to discuss feminism if it doesn’t relate to atheism in some way. In this show, they were at the very end when the caller brought up his stupid talking points, so it makes sense to not engage. Furthermore, they get all sorts of whiny comments when they DO engage on feminism about how they shouldn’t. Maybe you should take five and think about it

  56. bschneid says


    Comrade Lysenko approves.

    Removing a male’s penis does nothing more than produce a male with a rather unfortunate cosmetic survery. If it gives him piece of mind, fine. If I were to meet him, and he wished to be called she, fine, I would call her (see what I did there?) by whatever name/pronoun she wishes.

    This does not change her fundamental biology, she is still male.

    Women are equal, yes absolutely. Homosexuality, no problem. This demand to call something which it is clearly not is something else altogether.

    @ the Hosts: My thoughts on this asde, this is a show I thoroughly enjoy when it comes to its level headed, fact based critique of theism.

    VERY disturbing is this knee-jerk gut reaction to anyone that dares question the socio-biological theories held by most(?) or all(?) of the hosts on this show.

    Alec received a hostile reaction that was not warranted. Please next time state you do not wish to interact with him rather than exorcising the demon in your midst. I will unsubscribe myself now.

  57. Monocle Smile says

    No one gives a shit that you are willfully ignorant about the difference between sex and gender.
    The first part of your post I actually agree with and I’m glad you wouldn’t be a jerk like Alec. But biology wasn’t the topic of discussion. Gender identity is instead about psychology and for some reason you continue to get this wrong, just like Alec. This isn’t hard and I suspect you get this wrong intentionally rather than ignorantly.

    No one cares if you stop watching. Let the door hit you in your festering butthole on the way out.

  58. Esquilax says

    @bschneid, comment 66:

    This does not change her fundamental biology, she is still male.

    But “male” is not fundamental to anyone’s biology. It’s a label we placed upon physiological characteristics associated with, we later found out, chromosome pairs. “Male” is just what we call those who possess those characteristics, most likely as a result of corresponding chromosomes, but like many things we began doing long ago, additional research shows that we were being unnecessarily limited due to prior ignorance. It’s not like we’ve never done that before, and every time we’ve had to revise something we’ve had people like you who want to shut down the conversation by demanding that the old way is some objective, intrinsic part of the universe instead of acknowledging the new subtleties.

    Women are equal, yes absolutely. Homosexuality, no problem. This demand to call something which it is clearly not is something else altogether.

    And of course, you are the ultimate adjudicator of what things are and are not, instead of those actually educated enough to comment, yes? Not to mention the people that it’s actually happening to: clearly you know more about their experiences than they do, too. Never mind that you haven’t met them, you just know! You’re asserting it so blatantly and baselessly, it has to be more than just empty bluster, surely?!

  59. Cousin Ricky says

    The more I hear the arguments from people who do not accept transgender, the more I feel validated in my decision to address transgender people the way they wish to be addressed.

    When Alec complained about being offended, that’s when I said, “Oh, fuck you!” at the computer screen.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Regarding trans-people … Is that even the proper / polite term? I’m trying here. I have my own issues that I think I’ve mostly worked through, but I apologize if I mess up here.

    I think the resolution to these “issues” for me is quite simple: The technical discussion of what is a man or woman, biological sex, sex according to sexual organs, expressed gender, and all of the other forms of sex and gender simply don’t matter. The short version – and as far as I humbly know it’s the only version that matters – is that they are requesting that you use certain pronouns when addressing them, and they are requesting that they have access to certain bathrooms, and that you treat them as normal human beings when they wear certain clothes, and probably a few other things that I’m missing. It seems like basic human decency to follow their wishes. If they want to be addressed with certain pronouns, I shouldn’t give a fuck (aka I should accept their request graciously). If they want to use certain bathrooms, I shouldn’t give a fuck. If they want to wear certain styles of clothes, I shouldn’t give a fuck. These are quite small and reasonable demands. I already go quite out of my way in other contexts with other people to make them feel welcome and accommodated. Stuff like this is rather trivial in comparison.

    Discussions about the technical nature of male / female, sex, gender, etc., doesn’t matter w.r.t. this discussion.

    I remember the infamous question that resulted in someone leaving FTB recently: “Is a trans-woman a woman?”. To that question, my answer seems to be “The answer to that question doesn’t matter. I will treat a trans-woman as a woman, address the person as a woman, talk about the person as a woman, with no second-guessing the woman, because that’s what the person wants, and thus that’s the only decent and human thing to do.”

  61. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal, 72

    Regarding trans-people … Is that even the proper / polite term?

    Drop the dash, make it a space. Trans(gender) is an adjective, like tall, or nerdy. So, just like you’d talk about a tall person, rather than a tall-person, or nerdy person rather than nerdy-person, it’s trans person, not trans-person.

    Hopefully it’s obvious that I’m just answering the question you asked, but in case it’s coming off as terse or hostile, I’m just answering the question you asked while being tired and grouchy, with no hostility intended, and I’m sorry if any’s coming across.

  62. satyr says

    “I’m not exactly ban-happy, but I’d be okay with saying goodbye to John from London.”

    Typical response from someone who has drank the regressive left kool aid.
    Alas , it appears that the hosts have drank that same kool aid.

    The SJW regressive left are to atheism what the Fundamentalist are to Religion. An embarrassment

  63. satyr says

    “I’m not exactly ban-happy, but I’d be okay with saying goodbye to John from London.”

    Alas. It appears you have drank the SJW regressive left kool aid.

    The SJW regressive left is related to atheism in the same way a fundamentalist is related to religion. An embarrassment and hindrance to progress.

    Alas, it appears the two hosts have imbibed gallons of the regressive left kool aid as well. These people use the same tactics the fundamentalist uses. Straw manning, blocking, banning, ridicule etc etc . My point will be proven with the following responses I receive. 🙂

  64. Monocle Smile says

    You DO realize that’s an open admission of trolling, right? My reading of your post says that you said those dumbass things to be deliberately inflammatory.
    What’s this “regressive left” bullshit? Why exactly do you object to social justice and removing posting privileges from people who have demonstrated over and over that they have no interest in discussion? And please, name specific examples where the hosts are guilty of the things you claim.

  65. satyr says

    “You DO realize that’s an open admission of trolling, right? ”

    Let’s say it is. So what? Here is a suggestion ya whining social justice warrior. Just ignore the post and move on with your life. Jesus. Blocking and banning is regressive. Haven’t you learned anything from history?

    “My reading of your post says that you said those dumbass things to be deliberately inflammatory.”

    Let’s say I was trying to be inflammatory ( I wasn’t) Once again , so what! You think “denying posting privileges” is “social Justice”?? Give me a break. Its regressive. I was not only responding to your posting to John but to many of your other posts. You are obviously part of the regressive left movement.

    ‘Why exactly do you object to social justice and removing posting privileges from people who have demonstrated over and over that they have no interest in discussion? ”

    You have just proven my point with this statement. Nobody is against real social justice but whining about trolling and posting privileges is not social justice. It’s being petty and puerile.

    Like so many SJW regressives you have no clue what real social justice actually is. Whining about trolls and posting privileges is petty , trivial and has nothing to do with real social justice.

    “And please, name specific examples where the hosts are guilty of the things you claim.”

    After hanging up with the caller Tom from the UK they totally straw manned his actual position. It is blatantly obvious to anybody watching. Tom is absolutely correct in stating that universities are now being polluted by SJW regressives and third wave feminism. Every rational person supports “equality between genders” as Russel had said but this new SJW regressive left feminism is NOT actual feminism. Its a corruption of real feminism. The new feminist and social justice warriors have become a cancer within the “atheist movement”. They have become bedfellows with the religious right in that they share so many things in common.

    TAA should definitely avoid talking about feminism and keep the discussion focused on atheism and religion because if they continue then their viewership is going to plummet.

    Merry christmas!

  66. JohnFromLONDONuk says

    63. Apples were designed to be free. Bits of paper with queens on them was not part of the plan.

  67. JohnFromLONDONuk says

    If someone wants to have their foot removed because they like it better that way, generally are viewed as having a mental problem.

  68. Athywren - Frustration Familiarity Panda says

    @satyr, 78

    You think “denying posting privileges” is “social Justice”??

    No, it’s something else that we in the SJW community call “moderation.”
    Do you think anything an “SJW” does is considered social justice? In which case, in the name of justice, I’m off to have some lunch!!
    You might want to consider getting a grounding in reality before your next comment – the ones you’ve posted so far are very funny, but not particularly engaged in any real conversation.

  69. Nathan says

    @ Monocle Smile
    You’re the one that seems butthurt. Yes they’ve talked to some people on feminism, but don’t engage just basically call them stupid, which is why I said I skip them. If you have an issue with me skipping discussions I don’t find useful, that’s your problem not mine.

  70. Monocle Smile says

    If the Heina Dadabhoy episode wasn’t “engaging, ” then I guess you’re inventing your own definition. I can’t fix your brain.

  71. Queer Léon says

    I want to add important things to the discussion about transgender people. I was disappointed Jen and Russel didn’t emphasize those things enough because they are very important, but I work in militant associations that work on improving the knowledge in the population about those things, sexual health and health and risks management related to drugs use (alcohol is a drug too), our target people being men, women, and all the others. So I can give you my knowledge of this topic.
    So please read if you agreed with Alec or wanted to learn more about this topic.

    So basically, what I wanted to add are 2 things:
    – you don’t get to chose what a person should be called, it is just never right to do that
    – people who experience sex change have a hard enough time that you would do very well not to make life harder for them by calling them a pronoun they don’t want to be called

    So now, first off, I need to declare I am not transgender. I’m what we call a cisgender male. The opposite of transgender, i.e. I was born with a sex that corresponds to the gender identity I identify to.
    So since I’m cisgender, you have to know I never went through what trans people go through everyday or who have gone through sex change. So I might not be completely right in some points or others, and I invite trans people reading me to correct me if I’m wrong. I am far from knowing what they feel or have felt and have gone through.
    And to clarify for people who don’t know these things, a transgender woman is a person that identifies as a woman but was born with male sex organs or was attributed a male gender by their parents or people that raised them or their relatives. A transgender woman IS a woman like any other, period. Someone that was born with a vagina but is a man inside is a transgender man, and simply is a man, period.

    And now I’m going to explain my 2 points in more detail:

    – You don’t get to choose what a person should be called. It is and will always be their call. They will always know who they are better than you, period. I guess you can be allowed to make a mistake on first encounter with someone. But if they correct you, you have to stick to what they asked you to call them, and if you don’t, Jen and Russel were right to say that you’re basically an asshole (but more on that in my second point). It’s their decision, their identity. It is not a choice, it’s something they are, deep inside. And no amount of religious bullshit, relatives denial, or trans bashing will ever change that.

    – When you’re born with the wrong sex and a gender that they give you arbitrarily your entire childhood that you don’t identify to, and you know something isn’t right, inside you feel like someone else, we’re talking about your identity here. Who you are. Your gender identity. This is something that’s important for all of us. Something we don’t choose. Trans people are the most courageous of all of us who get the easy cisgender way because they often choose to go through sex change. And that is not an easy task. We live in a society that regards this as very unorthodox and just generally wrong, so they have to walk in the opposite direction of a very strong wind. Add to that the fact that, since no education about transgender identity is done in our society, the great majority of their relatives might not approve of their non conforming identity and so not only do they not support the person, but they might often also give them a really hard time. So often they even have to go through it alone and not in accordance with their relatives’ expectations. You have to add to that the fact that sex change involves a series of strenuous physical changes. You have to take hormones all your life, you often also have to go through surgery… So the physical part is not easy as well. In their life, most of them got called that pronoun they grew to hate so much so many times that if after they decided to use the right pronoun for themselves, and people continue to use the wrong one, it is very frustrating. You are not only an asshole but can also cause much harm by doing that. Now, if the person is not finished with their physical changes (if they are required), some people who just met them might get it wrong, this can happen. But then asking before choosing arbitrarily can be an option if you then follow the indication the person replied to you. Then, when you know what they want to be called, and you continue to use the wrong pronoun, then that is very very rude and can just add to the rest of the sometimes very hard path of change much frustration, anger, sadness, many really negative emotions. This path was made more difficult than it should have been by society in oh so many ways. So don’t make it any harder by being an asshole and not recognize the right for the person you have in front of you to know better than you their own identity and the choice of pronoun that they require you to use.
    I’m not sure if I’ve been clear enough on that last point, I’m pretty tired right now.
    But I hope I will be read by some people at least and that I maybe helped a little.
    Care for your trans brothers and sisters. They are stronger than you’ll ever know, but love induces happiness and we all deserve those.

  72. Monocle Smile says

    While your input is appreciated, Jen and Russell did bring up at least the first of those things several times. Alec was thick as a brick, so they didn’t get to move on to the second and it would probably have caused a drop down a rabbit hole. He was wrong enough on the first one that they could stick to that. I’m not exactly sure what you were expecting of the hosts.

  73. Queer Léon says

    @Monocle Smile
    Yes they did, but they didn’t emphasize enough in my opinion. They said Alec was an asshole for not doing as the person wanted. But they didn’t say it was in no way whatsoever his call to decide for someone else who they are, that they ultimately know better than him. I wish this had been said that way, you know?
    And also, maybe it was or wasn’t their job to talk about my second point, and I guess that would have absolutely been straying off the original topic of religion, and they don’t wish to wander away too much. So I felt I needed to add it on the blog. It’s not just a simple rookie mistake to use the wrong pronoun, it is a major blow to a life-long battle and harms our trans brothers and sisters, so please don’t do it if you already know whatever pronoun or name is an issue.

  74. says

    @Monacle Smile

    I’m trying to understand the distinction between “internal” identification and what someone like Rachel Dolezal feels about herself (or says she does). Likewise, while I understand they are not direct parallels, I’m not sure I’m grokking the difference between someone who says he utterly believes God speaks to him, literally, in his mind, and someone who says, “I’m female/male, despite the ‘evidence’ of my physical characteristics.”

    Again, to emphasize: I agree that we should, as a matter of courtesy (at least), call and refer to people by the words and names they wish.

    But as someone pointed out above, Matt Dillhunty likes to promote “Believing as many true things as possible, and as few false ones,” and for virtually any other topic that comes up routinely on the show, the standard for that is sufficient evidence. Someone says, “I channel an ancient Atlantean spirit named Yokar,” the response of many skeptics/atheists is going to be, “Yeah? Where’s the evidence?” If someone says, “I know prayer works,” ditto. Also an African American person who says, “Listen, despite appearances, I am, in fact, Asian.” In such cases, it strikes me that we are “trained” as skeptics to say, “Where’s the evidence?”

    When it comes to gender identification, it seems that the rules change, and those who see “evidence” to the contrary are instantly put in the corner.

    The whole thing may simply come down to society’s fixation tagging everyone’s sex and gender, I suppose. I remember reading years ago — around the Yokar incident, actually — about “berdache” people, a name for males who identify (and are accorded respect as) females in some Plains Indian societies (the label is a misnomer applied by French explorers to refers to the younger member of a male homosexual pair). I was also moved by an excerpt from the recent book, “Becoming Nicole,” published in the Washington Post, about one half a set of twin boys who from a young age clearly identified as female. Link:

    But I still cannot think of another area in which we, as skeptics, are encouraged to accept what an individual says about him/herself and ignore evidence that *appears* to be contrary. Is it that the definition of gender is entirely subjective to the individual in question?

    Thanks for the civil discussion (mostly) on an interesting issue.

  75. Thorne says

    I’m a little confused by those who feel that Jen and Russell were being “rude” and “intolerant” by calling Alec an asshole. Weren’t they, in fact, simply adhering to his own rules of conduct? He claims that it’s perfectly fine to call people what HE sees them as, and not as what THEY claim they are. So if the hosts, and I, perceive Alec to be an asshole, aren’t we perfecftly within our rights to address him as such? Once an asshole, always an asshole, by Alec’s own philosophy.

    Regarding use of banning: this is not a free speech issue. Anyone is free to say whatever they like. And anyone else is free to disagree. But the hosts of the blog, and the show, are not required to provide a platform for every opinion that someone wants to post. Given that, the mods are pretty liberal about letting people have their say, provided that they adhere to the rules of the forum and are attempting to further the discussion. Those who ignore the discussion and use the blog as a platform to repeatedly espouse their own views on unrelated topics are violating those rules and run the risk of being banned. JohnFromLONDONuk is one of these people. He pontificates on his own religious beliefs regardless of the topic of the blog, does not engage in any real way with criticisms of his posts, and is basically coopting the blog for his own uses. After a while I think you have to start thinking about banning him. He can create his own blog to promote his ideas. TAE does not have to provide a pulpit for him.

  76. Monocle Smile says

    I’m not sure I’m grokking the difference between someone who says he utterly believes God speaks to him, literally, in his mind, and someone who says, “I’m female/male, despite the ‘evidence’ of my physical characteristics.”

    I’m not sure I can help you, then, because not only is self-identification a definitional absolute because it involves a label while hearing voices is necessarily external to identification, but we also know for a fact that gender is not determined by superficial physical characteristics. It’s psychology. This point has been hammered mercilessly in this thread, and I really don’t get how you continue to miss this.
    Russell used the example of his name being Steve. It’s an excellent parallel, because someone could tell him “you look like a Steve,” and just like gender, names are not determined by physical characteristics.

    But I still cannot think of another area in which we, as skeptics, are encouraged to accept what an individual says about him/herself and ignore evidence that *appears* to be contrary. Is it that the definition of gender is entirely subjective to the individual in question?

    Partly yes. Gender is not binary. The more important point is that self-identification is necessarily determined by the individual and the other things you mentioned are not. The “rules” don’t change. The nature of the subject is what changes. Like Alec, you bring up Matt’s mantra (which kind of made me think you’re Alec) for some reason, when everything Matt’s ever said about labels and self-identification agrees with me and not with you.

  77. says

    @Monacle Smile

    I am most definitely not Alec! I, too, thought he was an asshole. Matt makes that comment so often on the show, and other hosts quote him, it shouldn’t be a surprise that more than one regular listener cites it.

    And do I really come off as someone like Alec? If so, my apologies, and … yikes! I’m doing my very best to clarify what (still; sorry) seems a bit of a fuzzy matter to me, while acknowledging, straight up, now several times, that I’m inclined to defer to any individual’s request regarding names and pronouns.

    I also – don’t we all? – fancy that I am not a stupid person (though who’s to say?) and I’m not trying to be troublesome or obtuse. For whatever reason, lack of intelligence or utter stupidity or some mental block, I’m still waiting for a rock-solid argument as to why this is not special pleading.

    “You look like a Steve.” Well, OK. But as hosts and many callers (and I) also like to say, let’s define terms. So, what does a “Steve” look like as opposed to a “Russell”? I think it’s incumbent upon whoever is making that argument to make a clear, consistent distinction before we can really talk about it. Presumably, such a person would have a “Steve template,” with which to compare the Russell standing before him.

    So, then: “You look like a woman to me.” The person making that argument should, reasonably, have to articulate what “looks like a woman” — is it the lack of a big, bobbing Adam’s apple? A five-o-clock shadow? Particular genitalia? Manner of dress? Etc. etc. Presumably, such a person would have a “woman template,” with which to compare the person standing before him.

    With “Steves,” I think it would become immediately clear that they can come in all sorts of shapes and packages — Steven Van Zandt, Stevie Nicks, Steve Buscemi and on and on — thereby exposing the person’s biases.

    With “women,” there would be an incredible variation, but also some pretty standard similarities and many, many exceptions (women can have five o’clock shadows and large Adam’s apples, for example; breast size runs the gamut). I realize I am muddying sex and gender here, but that’s sort of the essence of the question: One pretty widespread characteristic of “women” is female genitalia. So, as a heuristic, wouldn’t the “woman template” be more useful than any conceivable “Steve template”? I assume the answer is yes, but I may be wrong.

    Gender is not binary. Fair enough. Is race? It was racists who first articulated the “one drop of blood” notion of who was/was not of African descent in pre-Civil War America, an idea that persists today (i.e. President Obama, with one Caucasian and one African parent, is generally considered black). So again — and I appreciate the civil tone in responses so far — if that’s the case, should we accept it when a person with, say, 1/64th Shoshone blood declares that he or she is an American Indian (in my long experience living in Indian country, I’ve found relatively few Indian people who use the term “Native American”).

    After all, self identification (blood or no blood) is a “definitional absolute,” in your estimation.

    And gender is “for a fact,” determined entirely by psychology. What if I claim to be “brave,” but repeatedly demonstrate my lack of courage? What if I believe I’m “generous,” but refuse to give to charity and bitch about taxes all the time? In such cases, a person’s “definitional absolute” isn’t squaring with what some people observe, though in this case it’s action, not physical characteristics.

    I’m not going to make headway here, I understand. And thank you for your patience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to tell my angry (for what reason?) sister that maybe, just maybe, she’d like to walk in the shoes of a transgender person before pronouncing them all full of shit; her argument is along lines of, “With so many terrible things going on in the world, why do I have to care about their delusions?”

    I’m blathering on. I am not Alec, and I can only ask forgiveness if I come off as someone like him. In my “definitional absolute,” I’m not an asshole, and while I harbor some questions about it, in my behavior I am, straight up, an ally of transgender people.

    I’d love to hear Jen and or Russell weigh in on the distinctions being made and, specifically, why this is not a case of special pleading for one category of people.

  78. Monocle Smile says

    Simply put, the reason you’re not making headway is that you have failed to distinguish sex and gender…over and over and over again. I don’t get it. I really don’t.

  79. Monocle Smile says

    Another question…how is this different from any belief held by other person that may or may not be correlated with actions? “Brave” and “generous” are necessarily tied to specific actions. One’s ancestry is easily tied to grounded facts about reality to which other people are privy. But several other beliefs are not.
    For example, the show always believes people who claim to be theists. Could they be lying? Sure, but how could you tell and what does it gain the show to accuse them of such or treat them as if they are? Because theism isn’t necessarily correlated to church attendance or rituals or anything like that. So is it “special pleading” to believe someone who claims to be a theist as long as they don’t claim to not believe in god?

  80. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    If I tell you that I hear a god speak to me, I am making a claim about an entity which is not me – I am saying that a god exists, that it can communicate with humans, that it does communicate with humans, and that it has chosen to communicate with me. The only claim that’s actually about me is that I hear it, and, unless I’m just lying, even if I’m delusional, that’s true.
    Likewise if I claim to be channelling another person. The relevant claims are about an entity which is not me.
    Same with Rachel Dolezal. If she claims to be black (I didn’t really follow this issue that closely, so I don’t know if she did make that claim?) she’s making a statement about her parents or upbringing. Maybe if she had been adopted and raised by black parents, or if she was of mixed heritage, she could lay some claim on it, but without that it doesn’t really work. It’s a question of ancestry and of culture, not really one of affinity.

    With gender, you’re really not making any statement about anybody but yourself, and the statement that you’re making is that your internal concept of self is at odds with, as you put it, “the ‘evidence’ of my physical characteristics.” You can point to that particular evidence all you like, but that won’t change the fact that the self within the person’s mind does not match up with that, and it’s worth remembering that the mind is where the person is. Amputate my arm, and I will continue to be the same person I am right now… maybe less quick at the keyboard, not quite as good at DIY, not as happy, but still the same person. If you cut into my brain, remove a part of my mind, I will become a very different person. Surely that tells us something, if not quite everything, about which has more influence over who and what a person really is?

  81. says

    @Monacle Smile

    Thanks, again, for a civil response.

    You are certainly correct that I am blurring sex and gender; at the simplest level, the distinction seems to be between physical characteristics and psychological self-identification.

    I’ve just done the tiniest bit of reading on it, and I can see there is some complexity – and history – to how the modern idea of “gender” has developed (evidently through feminist thinking, which I did not know). I need to do more reading.

    I will wrap up by saying I’m still on the fence about whether we are giving special consideration to this one category of self-identification, and I do think it’s an interesting question.

    Merci beaucoup.

  82. Ilan Silver says

    This conversation with Alec was a horrible one. It’s extremely hard to draw a comparison to what he was trying to get out but here is my interpretation of it. What if you were at a party and you notice someone with all tattoos on there body. You walk up to them and you say “Nice Tattoo’s”. Then you get a reply back saying these aren’t tattoo’s this is my skin. They are clearly tattoo’s and the person knows they are tattoo’s but they don’t want to use that categorizing.

    So you try and change your perception to meet there needs which isn’t easy. You say “That is nice skin”. They reply “Thank you”. You say “Where did you get your skin done?”. They reply back “At the tattoo parlor on Main St.”. Then you ask “what made you pick those designs for your skin?”. They would reply back that they are an artist and like those things.

    How easy would it be for you to change your wording? I would have a tough time with it because I ran into this situation at a party. And I made every effort that I could. This was a person born with the lady parts but wanted to be identified as a man. And I did my best but I still ran into many problems. Sometimes I would still refer to him as a her. There was a moment I refereed to him as sexy but I should have used handsome. There was a moment where I tried to pick him up but I was make the incorrect assumption that he was gay. But wait am I gay? Do I find the same sex attractive. I wouldn’t lie if I found a man attractive. I can’t even go as far as to say that I am attractive because in all honesty I don’t know what women seeing in men for beauty. But from this persons perspective I was gay. Wow is this a complicated world I live in, I have no idea what I am anymore.

  83. Esquilax says

    @ Claywise, comment 91:

    One pretty widespread characteristic of “women” is female genitalia.

    No, that’s a widespread characteristic of the XX chromosomal pair that led us to invent the term “woman.” That’s sort of the problem here: you’re committing a category error by mistaking the physiological markers with the definition, which is a subjective conceptual label and not the inherent classification. “Woman” and “man” are terms we made up as labels for physiological characteristics that, as we learned more, we discovered were more complex than we were thinking. That happens a lot to us, it shouldn’t be surprising now.

    Gender resides in the mind. Sex in the body. The evidence you see is evidence for a specific gender designation that we must recognize is an archaic conceptual label.

  84. Spoon says

    This show is getting harder and harder to watch. Not only because of the rampant technical issues but also because the hosts have gone off the fucking deep end.

  85. Monocle Smile says

    Really? They’ve been doing pretty well with technical issues lately; this past Sunday was an anomaly. It’s not perfect, but it’s undoubtedly watchable most of the time.
    Also, I’d really, really like to know what exactly makes you think the hosts have gone “off the fucking deep end,” because I have no idea what you’re talking about.

  86. says

    @Monacle Smile

    This question: “So is it “special pleading” to believe someone who claims to be a theist as long as they don’t claim to not believe in god?”

    Or this one: “How is this different from any belief held by other person that may or may not be correlated with actions?”

    To the first: No.
    To the second: I’m not convinced it is.

    I posted something like this on another forum to see their responses, including a link to a story in the Washington Post about “Becoming Nicole,” a really good book that educated me about transgender issues. Someone quoted from that story reminding me of this quote: “Sexual differentiation of the genitals happens at about six weeks, but the sexual differentiation of the brain, including gender identity and the setting of our gender behavior, is, at least partly, a distinct process. Again, hormones play the crucial role, with surges of testosterone indirectly “masculinizing” the brains of some fetuses, causing subtle but distinct differences in brain structure and functional activity.”

    I think that’s the sort of “evidence” I’m looking for … at any rate, again, thank you. I really do behave as I say and I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass. Trying to learn, here.

  87. Kenny says

    Python is great. The main site has some very nice tutorials.
    If you want to save some time setting an environment, there are a number of online ide’s which you can use freely.
    I could suggest one I personally like, but I don’t want to violate spam rules.

  88. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Kenny.
    I’m pretty sure they won’t care if you want to link to a single site that hosts good stuff for python. I’m pretty sure that they would consider it to be a productive and useful addition to the blog. Go for it.

  89. says

    @Esquilax 97

    Gender resides in the mind. Sex in the body. The evidence you see is evidence for a specific gender designation that we must recognize is an archaic conceptual label.

    Maybe I’ve just watched too many scifi shows, but I don’t find this difficult to conceptualize.

    How many shows has it happened that there’s some kind of energy burst, and the consciousness of the members of the crew switch around, so that, among other things, the male and females switch bodies. Once the male is in the female body, or the female in the male body, they don’t stop being the gender they were. They find it odd/strange/confusing.

  90. Queer Léon says

    @Jasper of Maine
    Thank you! Exactly! Being a big fan of Stargate among other sci-fi shows, I concur. This is a great example of how sex and gender are 2 very different things.

  91. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Claywise

    But as someone pointed out above, Matt Dillhunty likes to promote “Believing as many true things as possible, and as few false ones,” and for virtually any other topic that comes up routinely on the show, the standard for that is sufficient evidence. Someone says, “I channel an ancient Atlantean spirit named Yokar,” the response of many skeptics/atheists is going to be, “Yeah? Where’s the evidence?” If someone says, “I know prayer works,” ditto. Also an African American person who says, “Listen, despite appearances, I am, in fact, Asian.” In such cases, it strikes me that we are “trained” as skeptics to say, “Where’s the evidence?”

    Seemingly, your concern succinctly seems to be: “Is the following statement true or false? A trans woman is a woman.” That’s not a right way to think about it; it’s not right, and it’s not even wrong.

    On this particular contention, there is widespread agreement as to the particular factual matters, including: The person had a particular set of genitalia at birth. The person had a particular sex/gender “male / female” assigned to them at birth. The person was raised according to certain cultural gender roles. And so forth. Simple factual matters are not what is at issue here.

    What is at issue here is: Should we as a society treat a particular person according to a particular gender-class according to their stated wishes, contrary to longstanding tradition that assignment to gender roles is based on anatomical observations at birth? — Notice how I can say that without using the word “woman”. Your concern is all semantics. See:

    “A trans woman is a woman” is true if you use one definition of “woman” (such as anatomical sex, or genetic sex), and it’s false if you use another definition of “woman” (such as expressed gender, self-perceived gender, outside-perceived gender, etc etc.). Words don’t have intrinsic meaning. Words have meaning according to usage. There is absolute measure of the correctness of definitions of words. We can have words whatever we want them to mean, to the extent that we can develop a consensus on the meaning.

    At a first approximation, it doesn’t matter which definition you use. With one definition, trans-woman are not women. With another definition, trans woman are women.

    IMHO, what does matter is this: Choosing and using one definition will have the effect of aligning yourself with a bigoted subsection of the population, and at best lead to needless confusion and needless offense towards people who don’t deserve it. That’s why I choose the other definition. Again, choosing definitions of words has very little to do with having true vs false beliefs. IMO, in short, do you want to needlessly segregate trans women with speech? Or do you want to be welcoming and accommodating, aka be a decent human being?

  92. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Jasper of Maine
    Great sci-fi example. Never thought of that. Will definitely use that example in the future!

  93. Queer Léon says

    Seems like you’re all talking about potential people for whom you claim to see the difference. People who have [what we call bad “passing” in French, to signify their transformation is still visible, I don’t know how they’d say in English] or haven’t even started any kind of transformation.
    Again, I feel I have to wedge in to clarify something. Such people are a small minority of trans people. Most of them look physically no “different” than cisgender people.
    And don’t come back at me by saying most of whom you met were visibly detectable or something because that’s only the ones you were able to detect. In the world you’ve lived in your entire life, I can guaranty you you’ve stumbled upon many more of them, you just didn’t detect it. In the subway, on the street, you just had no way of seeing they were transgender, whether they had the sex surgery or not which is another thing altogether (all of them don’t have to choose to do it, people do what they wish). And trust me, you won’t be able to discriminate if given a set of random people that has half of them being transgender.
    Straight people have a hard time believing I’m gay because I’m a Bear, stocky, beardy, hairy kind of guy. Just as you’ll have a hard time believing many trans people are trans because you won’t be able “see” it.

    Seemed like the conversation was going on like all of them had a bad transformation or didn’t start whatever transformation they needed. Please bear in mind these are a minority. If the only way you’ll accept transgender people as being who they are is if you can see it yourselves, then you have no problem with the great majority of them.

  94. Markus F says

    About Cade (and for him should he be reading this):
    After the first few sentences, I thought I recognised the “symptom” as a typical problem of highly gifted individuals, and this was confirmed – in my mind – by subsequent bits of Cade’s autobiography. I might be wrong of course, if so I apologise. It’s sometimes called the “I think too much” syndrome and basically stems from over-alertness and the perpetual comparison between the real world and some internal ideal world. Indeed, it’s despair rather than depression.
    The religious answer is to maintain both worlds: a heavenly kingdom where everything is (or will be) as it should be, in contrast with our “fallen world” with all its imperfections and suffering. The best lifestyle to accommodate the “I think too much” people is the monastic life. A monk doesn’t need to worry about what or when to eat, what to wear, social status, family, economic success, etc. He has his chores, his daily routine, and a few hours a day left for one passion, typically one that doesn’t deal with right and wrong, like botany, copying books, or brewing beer.
    There are no atheists monasteries… perhaps there should be? In any case, my fist advice to Cade is to accept that the world isn’t “as it should be” (which is a sort of theistic bias, come to think of it). A fact-based world-view starts by accepting the facts as neutrally as possible. Yes, horrible things are happening in the world, yes, our specie might very well destroy the planet, yes, people are more often wrong than right, when you compare them to ideal beings. These are just facts. Perhaps letting go of the internal ideal world is just as difficult as letting go of religious beliefs, but it will ultimately dissolve the permanent tension between “ought to be” and “is”, the never-ending judging.
    As for therapists, if needed, find one specialised in highly gifted adults. The solution isn’t medication, but rather the restoration of some specific psychological structures that the highly gifted child wasn’t able to create in today’s forms of education. Most notably the “control structure” responsible for setting the appropriate level of alertness and the choice of topics worth worrying about, as well as the overall self-esteem in regard to achievements and the judgement of others.
    In summary, the religious path lets those with the “I think too much” syndrome keep the imaginary ideal world (the heavenly kingdom) at the cost of a rich and fulfilling life. The atheistic path is to embrace all the facts, including the messiness and the suffering of the human condition, which might be painful but ultimately infinitely more interesting.

  95. Monocle Smile says

    @Markus F
    I think that diagnosis is incomplete. I think it’s more “I think too much and do too little” syndrome. Because doing something that makes a difference, even a small difference, almost always overtakes this “think too much” problem and reduces the time spent thinking too much as well.
    I’m not sure it has anything to do with being “highly gifted.” That’s unfounded and rather elitist.

  96. osgi says

    Off topic but just wanted to say:

    My first impression of Aron Ra (hells angel)

    Getting over the fear of first impression and seeing the gentle giant

    Hearing and appreciating the intellectual

    Just listened to a bit Matt and Aron Ra did downunder … Aron Ra, during the QandA said everyone loved Matt … not so Aron Ra … not sure what to make of this man, but I love this Intimidating gentle intellectual

    Did I get at least 2 out of 3?

  97. Markus F says

    @Monocle Smile (#110)
    I’m sorry that my comment sounded elitist. I’m not saying that “I think too much” is a syndrome affecting exclusively highly gifted individuals, but it is described as being rather frequent among them. I’m currently working with such a person (not as a therapist) and I might have projected. About “doing too little”, it is a problem when there is too wide a gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be, with no path leading from one to the other. This being said, making the world just a little bit better is exactly the right remedy in my opinion as well. Also, wanting to right all wrongs at once sounds a bit like playing god mentally, both for the all-knowing and for the all-powerful aspects, doesn’t it?

  98. says

    I do find it intriguing that many comments @me continue to assume that I behave in a certain way based on my questions, when I’ve stated explicitly, and more than once, that that’s not the case.

    Thanks, all.

  99. Jared says

    There are quite a few factors involved in discussions of sex and gender. It really is not simple, even when people try to boil it down to a binary classification based on one attribute and insist that each side of that binary has a certain inherent set of characteristics. Even whatever basis may be commonly used for such classifications can turn out to have quite a bit of internal complexity.

    For instance, a person might think that they can reach an objective determination simply by looking at sex chromosome pairings, where the karyotypes of 46,XX/46,XY result in female/male, respectively. Even as a question of biology, however, this basis has issues. Consider as an example. With complete androgen insensitivity syndrome(CAIS), you can have a person with a male genotype develop with a female phenotype, such that no one suspects that the person has a male genotype until puberty, where it is usually discovered after secondary sexual characteristics develop normally for a female phenotype, but with a lack of menstruation.

    Most people with this syndrome have a female gender identity that is congruent with their phenotype. Are they transgender? Is someone with CAIS who has a male gender identity transgender? Either way, the gender identity either does not match the genotype, or it does not match the phenotype.

    Another example that can be looked at would be genetic chimeras. Genetic chimeras have independently fertilized pairs of eggs and sperm, two zygotes, that merge, each zygote leading to a line of cells, resulting in the development of a single individual with two genotypes(though as closely related as any other brother or sister). These zygotes can have both a 46,XX karyotype and a 46,XY karyotype, and which cell lines develop into which parts of the body can result in varying intersex developments. Are they transgender? How ‘should’ they be classified within that binary system?

    As you can see, even when you try and reduce the question to a biological one, the issue is complex. There are a variety of phenotypical and other characteristics that are used by people in everyday life to determine the sex of an individual. These characteristics often come together, enough so that your initial mental categorization will most often match a person’s genotype, phenotype, and gender identity.

    You might encounter a person who identifies as a female, with a female genotype, and a female phenotype, but a few of commonly visible criteria that you use to make such categorizations happen to fall into a range that is most commonly seen in males, hence based on the information you have, you categorize them as male. Let’s say you meet them at work as part of a group working for someone. You tell their manager that you’re happy to meet their team, and they all look like hardworking men. Whoops; Tiffany speaks up and informs you that she’s a woman, but it’s a common mistake, and she’s not bothered, laughing about it.

    Now, if you’re actually in this situation, you’re not seeing their genitals, nor doing genetic testing on them. And it turns out that they also happen to have a voice that sounds like it most likely comes from a male. You have different options on how to respond to this. One way to handle this would be to apologize and use the preferred terms she’d like. Another would be to insist on calling her a man, though you might relent on being provided a birth certificate or something. The first option is the polite, sociable response. The second option is not. This is what people, like the hosts, use as the basis for calling someone a jerk. And what if Tiffany was transgender, and identified as a man? If Tiffany said nothing originally, but you later found out his name was Tiffany, and that Tiffany was 46,XX, but just happened to have some readily apparent features that most often correlated with a male phenotype, would you then start insisting on calling Tiffany a woman?

    Other than understandable initial misperceptions, everyone involved in this hypothetical know what the reality of the situation is. They know that Tiffany has a standard female karyotype, they know that Tiffany has a largely standard phenotype with some prominent exceptions, and they know whether Tiffany has a male or female gender identity. If your objection is that Tiffany would be delusional if they have a male gender identity, you are conflating gender identity with a person’s phenotype and/or genotype.

    The issue arises because most often the three different categories(and keep in mind that each of the ‘three’ is not a fundamental characteristic in itself, each has further complexity contained within it) coincide with each other, so you’re not usually in a position where such a distinction comes up. A traditional way to handle this was to hide anything that showed the distinctions, and insist that everyone match a common standard, at least as closely as they could. This helps keep the classification simple for people, but it does real harm to any outliers. It’s a comparatively much smaller burden to be asked to make such distinctions than it is to have people attempt to force you to fit into their classification system.

    When a person says that they have a male or female gender identity and ask you to use the matching pronouns, they are not saying that they think they have a different genotype or phenotype than what they have. Nor are they asking you to ‘believe’ that they do. They’re asking to be treated socially according to the gender roles that are common, at least in that society, for their preferred gender identity, whether or not those roles are traditionally ‘allowed’ to their genotype or phenotype.

    You could go around saying things like, “I must say, that 46,XX, female phenotype, male gender identity person, is doing a swell job.” Or you could come up with a set of shorthand terms that covers the possible combinations of distinctions instead of a mouthful like that. Neither is likely to be widely used in the near future, but you could try to start the trend. Something that has been developing for common use right now, is to just use the traditional shorthand terms like ‘hers/his’ and ‘he/she’ specifically to mean the gender the person identifies with in most cases, and in the instances where it is relevant, say, talking about medical treatment, you can specify the person’s genotype and/or phenotype.

    Gender identity, like phenotypes and genotypes, itself has more variety than just male/female. A person can have some elements that would put them into one category, and others that would put them into the other. It also varies by society, so that things that would be considered female in one society are considered male in another. There are people that fall under the transgender category that do not find either a male or female gender identity very fitting for them, and some may be indifferent to which terms you use. More detail could be gone into on this as well, but this post is long enough as it is, with enough to consider, so I’ll leave it at that.

  100. eddie says

    I had the feeling the person did not know the difference between sex and gender. Only calling out obvious sexes is also flawed, then there are things like, if my junk got blown off as a soldier am i know a women if everything else about me appears very feminine? That might not be something you commonly encounter, but dis-growths, operations that went wrong, accidents, etc can have a drastic impact on the sex organs, which he seemed to focus on. I found it extra odd that he didn’t seem to mind whether the organs are functional or not. Nature isn’t always perfect and a lot of people have an extra hard time because of that, whether they are homosexual, feel that they were born in the wrong body, bound to a wheelchair, blind, etc, WHY would you give them a hard time on top of that only because of what you here doesn’t match with what your definition of gender.

  101. bschneid says

    Ok, I come back with a skeptical, more or less open mind. I had considered asking to be banned, as my attempts to unsubscribe were not successful.

    In the spirit of rational skepticism, I would appreciate it if someone could refer me to a book that explains the biological rationale behind this statement: “Look at my male kitten, isn’t she cute?”

    I sincerely do wish to investigate and question my own thinking that the statement above is ridiculous on the very face of it.

    Due to work life, family etc etc (time is a precious commodity of course!) I would prefer this book be:

    1.) $20 or less, available on Kindle (honestly I dont really care enough to spend more, just saying.);
    2.) biologically focused. I do not wish to explore the gender cultural oppression theories of marxist feminism/misandrism. I find it ridiculous that on one hand feminists deride gender associated cultural norms, then in the very same breath base all their identity politics on these very norms;
    3.) able to answer whether or not the statement about my kitten is absurd, and if it is, why does this absurdity not apply to humans? OTOH it should show me how I can deduce that my male cat is, in fact, he or she. How do zoologists/biologists deduce this in other species?

    I believe it is absurd, and I believe the separation of gender from sex is cultural marxist term misappropriation at its worst. Lysenkoism revisited. It smacks of appeals by religionists to miracles to substantiate their religuous claims, natural world be damned.

    BUT, I am absolutely declaring I can be convinced otherwise if there is honest science behind it.

  102. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    @bschneid, 121
    I appreciate that you think you’re commenting in the spirit of rational skepticism, but you’re failing at it.
    You do not need a book that costs less than $20 (You expect a rigorous academic text on gender to be available for $20?! Academic texts are expensive!) and is available on Kindle to tell you that your kitten example is absurd. I will do it for you, for free. Your kitten example is absurd. The absurdity does apply to humans. The absurdity is that you are deciding for another person or creature what their gender is there. Unless you are psychic, I’m afraid you cannot determine a person’s gender without asking them, which means determining the gender of your cat is out of the question unless your cat learns to speak a human language.
    (And, no, understanding people’s psychological makeup doesn’t have a great deal to do with weeds supposedly becoming grain.)

  103. bschneid says


    The answer is you do not know of such a book outside of your SJW rhetoric. “It’s all so very complicated, don’t you know? Far too complicated for you to understand. It takes years of education (indictrination) in a gender studies course to understand.” That’s what your answer amounts to.

    Please do not waste your (my) time. You, enlightened one, will not convince any one on freetthought blogs that isnt already either indoctrinated or cowed into going along with your belief system.

    The fact that you would look at a kitten, see its genitals, and then feel like you are “assigning” gender to it by calling it he or she, shows nothing more than you are an indoctrinated loon. Again, show me the science that supports your statements.

    I do not wish as well to get mired in chromosomal abnormalities, unless you seriously contend all transgenders are chromosomally abnormal.

    I would like to know why (other than social conformity/pressure/vague feelings of niceness) a fully functioning male gets the “right” to demand I play make believe that he is a she – and for me this boils down to biology.

    The science should appeal equally across all primates, if not mammals.

    If you cant think of such a book, please do not waste your time.

  104. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    I don’t know of any serious academic books that cost less than $20 and actually demonstrate anything at all. Academic books are expensive. It’s not complicated, it doesn’t take years to understand, you just have to be legitimately skeptical – which means that you must first start by attempting to understand what’s being claimed, rather than to debunk claims that nobody is making. Unfortunately the kind of book you’re looking for is not available at the price that you’ve decided is the upper limit as far as I’m aware, so obviously I can’t think of such a book. You might find a popsci book on the topic for that, but they tend not to be the greatest at actually proving things.
    Also, you continue to confuse sex and gender.

    Good luck with your Crocoduck hunt, oh rational one.

  105. StonedRanger says

    Bschneid @ 121.
    When you use the term ‘more or less open mind’ you are really saying that I haven’t changed my mind at all because im a closed minded individual, I just want to put my assholish ideas out here again. The way you unsubscribe is to just stop coming here and posting. Asking us to believe your ridiculous example shows how stupid and closed minded you actually are. There are no cats that say they are male/female depending on their genitalia. Cats don’t talk. Using a cat in your example shows how dishonest you are. We get it, you are all hung up on identifying people by their genitalia when everything you can find on the subject says that’s not how its done. If you want to be an asshole, by all means be an asshole. That is your ‘god’ given right isn’t it? Idiot, you don’t get to tell anyone else how they identify. That’s all there is to it. If you don’t want to recognize someone else’s gender identification and you choose to use your own identification to judge others then you are a dick. It doesn’t hurt you one bit, or cost you a fucking cent to be polite to someone else, but that seems to be beyond your abilities. Please self ban yourself. You would be doing everyone a favor if you did. We get that you are a hateful little prick.

  106. Monocle Smile says

    StonedRanger said it best, but look here:
    You seem to be arguing that this does not exist and neither does any of the science surrounding it. That, in addition to playing MRA bingo in that post 121 (seriously, I was waiting for “mangina” or “beta cuckold”), earns a “fuck off” from me.

  107. Jared says

    bschneid, your kitten example is either still conflating a phenotype and a gender identity as a single thing, or is not addressing gender identity at all, and is speaking only about the phenotype. Either way that you are approaching it, of course the statement will appear contradictory. Traditionally, the two concepts have usually been packaged together, but the distinction between them needs to be made explicit in order to have a meaningful discussion on this topic. This is because the entire topic is in considering that gender identities and phenotypes are not inseparably paired in people, and then determining how to respond to this.

    In choosing a kitten as your example, and contrasting that to a human, it seems like you are homing in on just that distinction, since, to my knowledge, kittens do not form gender identities, and thus you can, in that example, address only the phenotype the kitten displays. Developing a gender identity or not is the difference that renders the kitten example absurd. Thus, you seem to have already realized the distinction between cats not forming a gender identity and humans forming one.

    As a side note, that does raise the question of what non-human animals have in terms of concepts of gender and identity. While there may be research that investigates what concepts of gender identity non-human animals might possess, I am not aware of it. Currently, humans are the only species known to form gender identities, though I would not be surprised if we found that some other species formed something similar.

    As far as the terms used, ‘misappropriation’ seems like an odd claim. When multiple terms are largely synonymous, and people realize that the concept the terms refer to is a conflation of multiple related concepts, it is not unusual for a person to choose one of the terms to mean one of the conflated concepts, and to choose another to mean a second conflated concept. Many people will do this independently, though they may make different choices. Other people may coin new terms, or borrow terms from analogous concepts, particularly if there aren’t synonymous words.

    They then use those terms in later communications and clearly define the distinctions between them so as to be able to communicate clearly once everyone understands the distinctions they are addressing. As people use these terms, eventually one of those usages will end up being predominant. As another example, you could look at the development of terms like ‘air’ and ‘breathing gas’, which developed quite a bit as people learned to make distinctions.

    I’m not sure what you mean when referring to Lysenkoism and miracles, in this context. People are essentially saying, “when I use the term ‘sex’, I am referring to the phenotype of a person, specifically, the traits that are most commonly correlated as being different between those who are 46,XX and those who are 46,XY. When I use the term ‘gender’, I am referring to the developed mental self-image within a person as belonging in a social role, a role that has traditionally been assigned to a person by the members of their society, based on their sex, as I previously defined sex”. What claims are supposed to be substantiated by people saying, “this is what I mean when I use these terms”?

    As I said in my previous post, people are aware of their phenotype, and they may also be aware of their genotype. When they are asking someone to use ‘he/she’ and ‘hers/his’, they are asking to be treated in a social role that is traditionally assigned to a person based on their sex. You can recognize a person’s phenotype, as well as recognize that they are asking to be treated in a certain way.

    A person might have a male phenotype and wish to be treated according to a gender role that is most often assigned to those with a male phenotype. A person might have a female phenotype, and wish to be treated according to a gender role that is most often assigned to those with a female phenotype. Presumably, you already do this. You could insist on doing the opposite, and people would consider that to be non-sociable behavior.

    You also have people that have a female phenotype that wish to be treated according to the gender role most often assigned to those with a male phenotype, just as you have people with a male phenotype that wish to be treated according to the gender role most often assigned to those with a female phenotype. You could again insist on treating them opposite to their wishes in this. As a matter of sociability, these are isomorphic, hence the negative response to doing so.

    It’s not a matter of you being the only one to recognize their biology, and pointing out the obvious truth that no one else sees. Everyone is aware of it already, it’s that they are making it clear that they are not insisting that a person must be treated according to to a certain role based on their phenotype, they’re instead letting people choose a role that they’d prefer.

    You may personally be using terms like ‘her/him’ solely to refer to a person’s phenotype, but that’s not necessarily what other people are using it for. The largest proportion of people have been and are using it as a combination of the phenotype and the social role, without considering the distinction. The practice of using a person’s preferred terms is primarily a response to the traditional usage. They are intentionally decoupling the concepts in their usage, using the terms to refer specifically to the gender role, and thereby raise awareness of the distinction, and to prompt people to reconsider expecting others to conform to one set of norms or another based on their phenotype, if a person feels those norms do not match them well.

    You can reject that usage, but you should realize that is what people are doing. Those with the traditional combined usage won’t realize that you are making a distinction in your usage, since it is outwardly the same as theirs, and neither will those who are trying to avoid forcing gender roles be able to tell the difference without you making it explicit that your usage is only referring to a person’s phenotype and that you are not insisting on treating them according to a certain gender role no matter what they’d prefer. And that is something that you will find yourself needing to specify again and again when dealing with anyone referring specifically to gender roles, because that is not nearly as common as either their usage, or the traditional usage that it appears the same as.

  108. bschneid says

    “Book is ——–. ” That’s it. Quite simple. I am not reading comments here. I wish to defer to subject matter experts (ie neuroscientists, biologists, zoologists).

    Sigh. Ok a bridge too far. I would have thought scientific evidence for this whole female brain in a male body that is often touted, would be especially damning to my thinking if it could be proven to be shared within other mammalian species, as is the case for homosexuality for instance.

    Ok, let me cascade down:

    My fellow “rational” atheists that subscribe to this new strain of marxist, progressive, feminist identity politics: please write down the title of the most concise book you can think of on this subject that at least gives the veneer of academic honesty.

    Barring that feel free to give me the name of that one book that makes your rational blood boil so.

    I do not wish to engage here, I wish to absorb and genuflect.

  109. Jared says

    As I said, I am not aware of any research into gender identity in non-human animals, or a book addressing the topic. All you have available to you in this discussion thread at present is what is being said by the other participants. If you are unwilling to discuss the topic in here, that will be the end of the conversation for you, I suppose. That said, your example does not need a book to answer it. Unless there is some misunderstanding, I thought it was quite simply answered in my first paragraph, so I’m not sure what else you are looking for in regards to this. I mean that in terms of the actual information you are looking for, not what source you want that information to come from.

    While a literal female brain genotype in an otherwise male genotype body could occur, as a possibility with a genetic chimera, that is not needed in order for a person’s gender identity to differ from that of their phenotype, and such a person would actually have a gender identity that matched their apparent male phenotype in most cases. The cause is most likely similar to that of homosexuality, in that it is part of an early-childhood imprinting, where the process by which children are determining things like characteristics they are seeking in a mate, or in this case, what gender groups they embrace.

    In a minority of cases, this will result in a person internalizing a gender identity that does not match their phenotype. This should not be a major issue, but the fact that many people see fit to attempt to coerce or force people to live their lives according to what they think a person of that phenotype should do, dress, enjoy, etc, causes a great deal of unnecessary harm.

    Pointedly raising awareness of these distinctions, activism regarding the issue, all of that are essentially saying, “if it is acceptable for one person to live in a certain way and be treated in a certain way, it should be acceptable for another to live that way, and be treated that same way, so let them live their lives, just as you allow most others to do without challenging and harassing them”. If everyone just did that from the outset, there wouldn’t even need to be a discussion.

  110. Monocle Smile says

    You’re wasting your time. bschneid isn’t asking in good faith. He’s set up a Kent Hovind “challenge” such that he can dismiss whatever is presented as not meeting his laughable criteria even if it meets all his guidelines. What we have here is someone intent on being an asshole, nothing more.

  111. bschneid says

    Asking for a book title is certainly a trap.


    Listening to the latest instalment, what I hear from the expert caller so far, is that it is a mental “state”, not condition or disease of course! Totally different than some poor guy that thinks he is Jesus Christ and demands people call him”Lord”.

    Totally different.

    Which I would also do by the way, just to avoid unnecessary agitation (call him her, and the other one Lord).

    I feel sorry for and empathize equally with the plight of people having to go around feeling they are trapped in the wrong body. That does not mean the person so afflicted is indeed what they think they are. Or does it? And why?

    But yes, wanting to read what supposedly rational people here have evaluated as an expert’s best explanation supporting their claims is totally entrapment….

  112. projectp says

    suedoenimm3 @45 I’m with you 100% “third-wave” feminists are bat shit crazy. ESP Anita S. The Patriarchy is a delusion.

  113. robertwilson says

    @131 If you watched the show you got the answers you need. Use google. Quit being lazy and ask others to do your research for you.

    And your request was not simply for a book title. So don’t be dishonest.

  114. corwyn says

    you’re making is that your internal concept of self is at odds with, as you put it, “the ‘evidence’ of my physical characteristics.” You can point to that particular evidence all you like, but that won’t change the fact that the self within the person’s mind does not match up with that,

    Here is where I get confused. I take this to mean that there is a disjunction between mind state and some other state. If it is a mind state about physical attributes, for example a person with two arms, thinking they only have one. I can’t help but see it as a delusion.
    If it is a mind state about something more nebulous, I am left wondering how they know. So, if someone’s mind state is that they are a 1890’s person born in the wrong time, how do they know what it feels like to be a person from 1890 (from the inside). I only have experience being one person, and I think that the feeling I have on the inside in no way resembles anything that I can imagine going on in other people, given the way we both act on the outside.
    If the disjunction is between a person’s mindstate and what they think society is demanding they must feel, I can help but think that it is society that should be told to change. If a truck driver that wants to wear three piece suits, anyone who thinks that is the slightest bit wrong, is the one that needs to change not the truck driver.

    Can someone clarify (please retain my examples)?

  115. Monocle Smile says

    I think you’re overlooking the fact that there is indeed a strong correlation between sex and gender. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t outliers or that gender isn’t a spectrum. I think it’s pretty easy to see that one identifies more with one gender than another based on external communication. I recommend you watch the most recent show.

  116. corwyn says


    I think you’re overlooking the fact that there is indeed a strong correlation between sex and gender.

    How could I be when I am not even talking about sex or gender? I carefully removed all references to those things so that we could talk about the issues without the emotional baggage that gets dragged in otherwise.

  117. says

    The Case for Vegan Atheism — RE: Atheist Experience Episode #949

    First of all, I am an atheist and have great admiration for the Atheist Experience and each of the hosts. I have been an atheist for 25 years but only started listening to your show in 2014 — You all are so very smart and spot on with your arguments.

    There is this issue of eating animals that I do find troublesome though – it’s come up in other episodes (at least one other time) but this is the first episode in which it was given much airtime.

    A caller on episode #949 confronted you about eating animals and Jen said this wasn’t necessarily an atheist issue. I have to say that I take issue with this. Of course, I believe that everyone, believer and non-believer alike, should partake in this conversation, but there is a particular way in which atheists become more culpable than do believers.

    The reason this really becomes an atheist issue is because, at least in terms of Christianity, the bible gives humans dominion over animals and spells out which animals we can eat and how we can eat them. So the thing is, a Christian can ALWAYS claim they have a divine right to eat animals. Without a belief in a god, we lose that argument and are stuck with our intellect and reason to defend eating them.

    As rational atheists who believe in science, we have to recognize that animals feel pain and are also sentient beings. This is what evolution is all about. Humans didn’t pop-up one day in possession of this incredible intellect, a nervous system with the ability to feel pain and a brain with the capacity to feel emotion… Right? We all agree on that. Evolution creates a continuum. And in fact, we may or may not be the most emotional animal or the animal that feels the most pain (although more than likely we are the most intelligent).

    If we agree that animals are intelligent, feel pain and experience emotion, how is it, barring some belief that a god gave us the right to do so, an atheist can participate in the cruelty that is so interwoven with eating meat?

    Russell says the line is “fuzzy” and proceeds to use the idea that a Nazi excludes people who are Jewish from their moral system… And uses it to highlight an absurdity… Which, of course, it is…But then fails to draw the line to it’s logical conclusion. Is it only absurd because Jewish people are humans? Or is it absurd because we don’t believe in torturing living beings in general?

    And by the way, the caller brought up the fact that the cow issue is clearly not fuzzy. But Russell said that this was not enough for him. Why is this not enough? Why the refusal to recognize mammalian suffering? Is it just based on your taste buds because clearly it is not intellectual or scientific rationale.

    And then Russell brings up shrimp and their cognitive ability. Cognitive ability really does not (and should not) play a role in how we treat other living beings. Dogs have less cognitive ability than do humans, but we would never condone abusing a dog. And then there are humans who are less cognitively gifted than other humans—we’d never consider it OK to treat them with less respect.

    Of course, as an atheist, I know we atheists are as moral as any god-believer (morality doesn’t stem from belief in magic beings). That we have laws protecting animals from abuse is a demonstration that we are smart enough to understand that morality doesn’t begin and end with our own species. This selective moral consideration is problematic. Condemnation of factory farming while still participating in consumption of meat that was produced in these places becomes a hypocritical stance.

    I know you claim an awareness of factory farming practices, but I am not sure if you are as fully aware as you might think. If you were, I don’t know how, without the “god gave us animals to use” argument, you could possibly condone the confinement, torture and consumption of other animals for pleasure alone. And let’s be clear, buying meat condones this practice. I wonder if you’ve seen the documentary Earthlings?

    Love you guys! I hope to hear back.

  118. Monocle Smile says

    There cannot be life without death. This is a very basic fact of life that needs to be accepted before any discussion on this topic can happen in earnest.

    I know you claim an awareness of factory farming practices, but I am not sure if you are as fully aware as you might think. If you were, I don’t know how, without the “god gave us animals to use” argument, you could possibly condone the confinement, torture and consumption of other animals for pleasure alone

    This is a significant departure from what you were discussing a second ago. Firstly, this “pleasure alone” garbage is entirely loaded and dishonest. Our bodily chemistry creates a demand for certain nutrients only found in animal flesh. Vitamin B12 is a good example. So this isn’t “just for pleasure.”
    Furthermore, “buying meat” does not actually support this practice, given that loads of people live in areas where local meat can be acquired. Your focus appears to be on the act of torture, and I’ll largely agree with you, but your attempts to draw the line towards the mere act of eating meat is incredibly fallacious. There’s no inherent connection there. I think you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  119. plusorange says

    @Monocle Smile

    I have no idea what you were getting at with the “There cannot be life without death” comment nor what it has to do with what I was trying to explain. I’m fully aware that life follows death but thanks for the reminder.

    I am also not sure why you are attacking me so virulently based on my pretty peaceful message. Your response seemed really emotional. Clearly I struck a chord but my intention was not to upset you or anyone else. I was simply trying to state my case and point out that as rational and moral atheists who believe in science and reason, we can do better, and ought to do better, when it comes to consuming meat – especially considering the heinous and inhumane conditions to which animals are subjected. Eating animals is not necessary for survival. And I’ve been vegan long enough to have heard comments like “oh I could never go vegan, I love cheese too much.” or “I’d love to go vegetarian if I only could still eat bacon.” more times than I could count. So yes, it’s pleasure that keeps people eating meat not dietary necessity.

    The idea that all these people you speak of live in areas in which they can acquire locally, humanely raised animals for consumption just isn’t reflected in the numbers. Factory farming accounts for something like 99% percent of chicken meat, 97% of laying hens, 95% of pigs and 78% of cow sold in the United States. Even if the numbers were much lower than that, why would we waste time debating the merits of eating animals when we know the facts. They feel pain. They are tortured. We don’t need to kill them to survive.

    We are supposed to be rational beings that have empathy. I was not under the impression that out empathy was supposed to begin and end with our own species. That’s all my point is.

    And I had really hoped for a response from Jen or Russell. I don’t think they would have been as aggressive or angry as you were. I am new here but I can see from the majority of your comments above that you tend to get aggressive right away. However, in this instance, I implore you to just try listening to my argument without getting defensive.

  120. plusorange says

    Hi there – curious as to why my comment above is awaiting moderation for so long. Is there a reason for this?

  121. Monocle Smile says

    First, this is a stale thread and the mods only make rare appearances when necessary, typically. Not sure why you didn’t post in one of the more current threads.

    If you’re going to spend half your posts tone trolling, we’re not going to get very far. I’ve heard arguments like yours more times than I can count. You’re just factually in error. Vitamin B12 is acquired only through animal tissue or supplements. Here’s a vegetarian resource that admits this, though it laughably calls artificially fortified food “non-animal sources.”

    Evolutionarily speaking, we are omnivores. For someone who pleads about science and reason, you don’t cite sources and your argument is mostly “but but but the poor animals,” which isn’t convincing. Thank you for calling me dishonest when speaking about the “pleasure” thing, by the way. I don’t give a shit about the anecdotal responses of pinheads to your proselytizing. I certainly don’t eat meat merely for pleasure.

    *We are supposed to be rational beings that have empathy. I was not under the impression that out empathy was supposed to begin and end with our own species. That’s all my point is*
    Then I dismiss your point. Yes, I have some measure of empathy towards other animals. I have a cat. My girlfriend has a dog. That doesn’t mean that empathetic connection is anywhere close to our connection to other humans. Plus, I could go the reducto ad absurdum route and find someone who shares a greater empathy with plants than animals. Your distinction between the death of plants and the death of animals is in fact arbitrary. This is why I started with the whole “there cannot be life without death” thing. I saw this coming a mile away.

    Furthermore, you’re lecturing atheists (btw, atheism doesn’t actually equate to skepticism despite your rather whiny appeals) and beating the “torture” drum instead of, you know, actually doing something about it. There are plenty of movements to end factory farming and in fact there’s been some recent progress on this front.

  122. plusorange says

    @Monocle Smile

    Hi there – I am new to this forum so I thought posting on the page of which the podcast I was referencing appeared was appropriate. Call me crazy… I’ve no doubt you will. Or at least say something equally as offensive. All your posts are just awful. You seem miserable.

    Anyhow, I don’t make any claims that humans aren’t naturally omnivores. And I am not here to debate the health benefits of veganism, although most all studies point to it being the healthiest dietary regimen. And I am not claiming that a B-12 supplement isn’t necessary when eating a vegan diet. That go-to argument about the need for a B-12 supplement being the reason we shouldn’t be vegan is just sort of stupid. The majority of Americans are so ridiculously unhealthy and sorely lacking in so many nutrients that to cling to this one thing in particular is pointless. B-12 is easy to obtain and I am not here to educate you about that.

    In fact, I don’t even want you to respond to me. You’re clearly angry and aggressive and only interested in arguments. What I was hoping to get here was an intellectual dialogue regarding why, we as rational beings (that also happen to not believe in a god that tells us we can do whatever we want to animals), would continue to eat animals that we know are tortured as a matter of course.

    And btw, you do eat “meat merely for pleasure” because it’s neither healthier than being vegan and it isn’t necessary for you to survive. But I don’t give a shit about you. I can tell you think that you’re really smart… What I do give a shit about is a dialogue with someone who would like to engage in a thoughtful exchange about why they actually think it’s reasonable and humane to eat animals in light of what we know about farming practices coupled with our knowledge of the science behind emotion, pain and pleasure. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

  123. Monocle Smile says

    Let’s be honest…you came here for validation. That’s it. Someone who refuses to cite their sources isn’t interested in discussion.

  124. plusorange says

    @ Monocle Smile

    I’m sorry… were you looking for sources? That’s all I need to provide to get you to actually engage in a dialogue rather than hurl insults? I didn’t feel like I made any particular claims that needed sourcing. Please do tell… what sorts of things that I mentioned do you feel need sources to back them up? I’d be happy to provide them.

    That being said, I am not looking for validation. I validate myself. I am happy with my choices in life but I also understand that veganism is a hard destination at which to arrive – I just wanted to talk about it. I acknowledge that there is a deep psychological and emotional component of eating animals. There is a good TED Talk about it:

  125. Monocle Smile says

    And now the bro psychology comes out, along with some of the laughable material that comes from TED talks. Listening to those talks is like shopping for quality items at Goodwill…but even more difficult.
    You whine so much about my conduct, but only one of us is being dishonest.

  126. plusorange says

    @ Monocle Smile

    Holy crap! You are an awful person. I was simply acknowledging that giving up meat is psychologically difficult – we are emotionally bound to it… in very many ways… and yes, partially because we are historically omnivorous creatures. The TED talk wasn’t evidence for anything – it was perspective. Something of which I can tell you have a hard time wrapping your head around in general.

    And I was also offering to give you sources for anything you felt needed sourcing. You didn’t respond that that and you haven’t answered one idea I have put forth with any real argument or valid counter-idea. You are calling me laughable and dishonest but I think you’re a dumb-ass who wants attention… and you have succeeded because I’ve done that. Hurumph and shame on me. I can’t believe you are even allowed to comment on this site.

  127. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To plusorange
    Sorry about MS. They can be pretty harsh at first, IMHO moreso than warranted. In fact, I have no idea what MS is doing. They’re usually better than this IMHO.

    Hi there – curious as to why my comment above is awaiting moderation for so long. Is there a reason for this?

    First comment from a new poster goes through human moderation to prevent spam.

    As for the healthiness of veganism: Everything I know about the topic is that many vegans have severe health problems because of dietary problems, even when they properly manage their diet. AFAIK, it is possible to live vegan, and for some it’s possible to do so without health problems, but it is a monumental task to ensure that you do not do health damage to yourself. AFAIK, vegitarians are far better off.

    although most all studies point to it being the healthiest dietary regimen.

    Citations please. As far as I know, that’s entirely ass-backwards.

    To MS
    About vitamin B12. I use this factoid to argue that our ancestors were not vegan, and that we did not evolve on a vegan diet. However, if you look hard enough, there are some non-animal sources of B12. I believe that this factoid alone is not sufficient to argue that modern vegan diets are unhealthy.

  128. Monocle Smile says

    Do you really think this preachy vegan is worth addressing? I mean, read those comments. Those aren’t the comments of someone interested in actual discussion. Yes, I tend to prod a bit strongly at first, but anyone interested in actual discourse won’t spend half their next comment whining and then pull this faux “holier than thou” bullshit.

    Also, I never argued that modern vegan diets were unhealthy. It was to show why eating meat is not merely a “pleasure” thing.

    I have a pretty major problem with the moral-superiority breed of vegan and I will not apologize for that.

  129. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Worth addressing? That’s a topic for which only you can answer? Is it reasonable to cuss them out for little explicable reason IMHO? Lately, you’ve been way too quick to just cussing someone out IMHO, and it looks bad for newcomers, and it’s not welcoming, and it might drive people off. ><

    Take with grain of salt.

  130. Monocle Smile says

    Yeah, I recommend taking five, EL, because I don’t see “cussing out” anywhere in my responses to this person.

  131. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    @Monocle Smile

    I have a pretty major problem with the moral-superiority breed of vegan and I will not apologize for that.

    I think it should be possible to accept that it is actually true that a diet that does not involve the harming of animals is morally superior to one that does, even if we don’t accept that it’s the best option. Essentially, the only way to argue that it’s incorrect to say that one is morally superior to the other is to deny that harming sentient, non-human beings has a moral aspect, and I don’t know about you, but I really don’t think that’s a reasonable stance to take. Of course, a thing being morally superior isn’t enough reason on its own to do that thing. For instance, it would be morally superior for me to not have a smart phone, and I’m certainly not going to replace the one I have frivolously just because I can’t get any of the good apps (windows phone… poo) nor am I going to replace it until it’s actually necessary to do so in order to allow me to use its primary functions, but it’s not feasible for me to not have one at all, as that would result in a profoundly negative impact on my ability to pay rent, and I kind of do need to keep doing that.
    Until I’m given a reason to believe that these “most all studies” actually do show, under rigorous conditions, that a vegan diet actually is the healthiest option, and that it’s possible for someone with limited time and energy to spend on preparing their food to use it as such (and I’m sorry, plusorange, but it really is quite important that it’s the healthiest option in common practice as well as in theory) then I’m not going to adopt it. But in purely moral terms they do have the high ground, and there’s not much point in having a problem with that.


    Hi there – curious as to why my comment above is awaiting moderation for so long. Is there a reason for this?

    You changed your ‘nym, and it’s still kinda technically the holiday period, sort of. I changed mine on the 25th and was waiting in moderation hell until new year. It’s not some kind of “persecute the vegan” thing, just a matter of moderators not being all that present at the moment.

  132. plusorange says

    @ Athywren – This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    I understand about the moderation thing. My first post (made on a couple hours before my second post) was moderated Almost immediately. Then days went by, and I was looking at other late episodes and comments were being posted with no delay. My assumption was that they were getting moderated (approved) and mine somehow got lost in the fray. Now what I realize is that they were regular posters who no longer needed moderators… I totally get it. And I didn’t think it was a “persecute the vegan” thing. Man, have one stance and everyone thinks that you look at everything through the lense of that stance. That’s not me. I was just generally curious as to why my post wasn’t getting posted and worried that it somehow got buried. But thanks for taking the time to give a little explanation.


    Not sure what you are reading that says vegans have severe health problems. Let’s face it, Americans in general have severe health problems. Clearly, we only need to look at the obesity/healthcare statistics in this country to know that the majority of the country is not healhty. And the majority (~95% of the country) is not vegetarian…. So to put it in perspective, the majority meat eaters aren’t paying attention to their intake of nutrients any more than that same person who then just decides to stop eating animals. Going vegan doesn’t ensure you’re paying good attention to your diet. Of course there may be a vegan who only eats potato chips who is sorely lacking nutritionally. Same goes for the meat eater who only eats burgers and potato chips. But like I said, I don’t give a flying fuck about the health benefits of a vegan diet. That is not what I came to discuss.

    @Monocle Smile

    First of all, I am not here to preach the moral superiority of vegans. I never said any such thing. Nor am I here to give statistics about how vegetatarians and vegans are healthier and how the diet is better for a healthy planet… thsse things are ALL true and if you want, google it yourself. You’ll find people on a plant based diet live longer, are less like to get a whole host of diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, any number of cancers, etc.. I could go on but, like I just said to @EnlightenmentLiberal, I am not here to talk about that. YOU brought up this health stuff with your stupid B-12 comment.

    Second of all, I, in fact, don’t think people who are vegan are morally superior. The ONLY reason I came on this blog was to create a dialgoue around these few ideas and how they relate to each other and our decision to continue on the same path of eating animal.

    1. Eating animals that exist in cruel and inhumane conditions.
    2. How do we, as rational beings, knowing that these animals experience pain and suffereing and emotional trauma in very similar ways to the human animal rationalize eating them.
    3. All while not believing in some fantasy scripture that says something to the effect that animals were put on the earth for our use.

    With these three things in mind, how is it that we don’t abstain from the support of this system… that is ALL I was fucking saying. You are an obnoxious twat. I haven’t trolled. And I honestly couldn’t give a shit about your tone if what you were saying at least had some modicum of a thoughtful or intelligent idea. Like I siad, I can tell that you think you’re really smart. Well you’re just an ass as far as I can tell because you haven’t said an intelligble thing here yet.


    And back to your thought about someone like @Monocle Smile driving a newcomer off with their ascerbic and negative aggression. You’re dead on. I am done here. I thought this would be a fun place to come to talk to fellow atheists about new ideas. Clearly this is just a place for people to stick to their old ways of thinking by being aggressive and dickish.

    Thanks for all the fun guys!

  133. Ben Finney says

    corwyn #135:

    If it is a mind state about physical attributes, for example a person with two arms, thinking they only have one. I can’t help but see it as a delusion.

    Not a delusion, because these are not people who deny their sex characteristics. Rather, they experience distress (“dysphoria”) because the person they are does not match their sex characteristics.

    If it is a mind state about something more nebulous, I am left wondering how they know.

    Is their mind “more nebulous”? It’s certainly no less real, and the mind is the self.

    People with gender dysphoria are not experiencing a delusion, they are experiencing distress about the mismatch between their real self’s gender and their real body’s sexual characteristics.

    People who experience gender dysphoria to a significant extent may choose to express their gender different from their assigned sex, to some lesser or greater degree.

    Such people commonly use the adjective “transgender” to refer to this transition from the default expression of a gender matching their sex characteristics, to a different gender expression to more closely match their true (mental, self, identity) gender.

    To persist, as the caller did, about “the evidence before my eyes” may be relevant if the person were making a statement about the sex characteristics they have, but misses the point entirely when addressing a statement about gender.

    tl;dr summary: The caller banging on about gender was not only being an arsehole, they were also incorrectly conflating sex with gender. They would do well to learn the difference, and take steps to stop being such an arsehole.

  134. tniassaint says

    Always months behind on listening –
    Cade, there is a huge community of Atheists out there that would love to be able to provide support. I feel Russel is probably correct that you might be scapegoating the Atheism as a bit – I know I did for a long time. If it were not the Atheism, it would be something else. Know there are many others out there who feel your pain and are in similar straights. You seem to have acquired plenty of folk here who would be more than happy to throw in with you. I would as well. I live in similar circumstances. I think all skeptics and Atheists do to some degree or another.

    I rather applaud those who are willing and able to be public about their lack of theistic faith as the folk on this show. The truth is, Atheists are ostracized, shunned and even maligned on a regular basis.

    You are welcome to contact me

  135. tniassaint says

    On the issue of gender roles.
    I agree that we should use the pronouns that a person assigns themselves; but I do, at least, understand where that caller was coming from. If a person identifies with a gender other than the biological one they happen to have fallen into, it doesn’t change the physiological aspects of their biology. There are biological differences between these genders, including, but not limited to, the experiences of puberty and the related personal developments that we all go through, the hormones produced by the body and which can impact brain chemistry, and just the simple physical manifestations (like menstrual periods and the pregnancy) that can result from ones gender. While I am totally fine with anyone assuming whatever role they deem to assume, I also know that it is still a matter of role playing. This person will not know what it was like to have evolved through the various issues that come along with a gender they were not. This is really not my problem, so I can accept whatever role they please themselves to adopt; but I feel this might have been what the caller was trying to say. The fact that he was unable to get beyond that and simply accept the self identification is a bit of personal stubbornness.

    Not really sure how this is an “Atheist” issue; but still an interesting conversational point.

  136. Athywren - This Thing Is Just A Thing says

    Not really sure how this is an “Atheist” issue; but still an interesting conversational point.

    Because strictly enforced, rigid, binary gender roles are, not uniquely but predominantly, an artefact of religion?

    And gender is not sex. Sex is biology, gender is psychology. (Ok, yes, psychology has a biological basis, but sex and gender are different, if related, things.) I don’t know if this will provide you with any useful information, but I’m agender… non binary. As far as sex is concerned, I’m male, but I do not ‘know what it was like to have evolved through the various issues that come along with a [sex]’ that I was… or am… or whatever. It’s not like there’s a set path that everyone of a certain sex follows. I guess there’s something like that that most people of a particular gender might follow, because when I spend time around men, it’s clear that they have some kind of thing going on that seems to transcend individuals or even particular groups – and it seems like the same is true of women – but I’m not in on that thing. As far as I’m concerned, they could be Martians for how much we have in common down those lines. So, honestly, I wouldn’t put too much stock in what biological sex tells you about how someone has experienced the world or gender.

  137. tniassaint says

    @Athywren – Easy, my friend… I do get that. I have no problem accepting whatever pronoun someone wants to assume.

    My point was that this appeared to be (so far as what I could ascertain) where the caller was hung up. I can understand that hang up. I don’t agree with the obsessive demand that he had to make sure that trans-gender people must accept the “truth” as he saw it. There is a reality regarding the physicality and biology of people; but I have no problem with people identifying however they like. In that respect, I am quite neutral – it simply isn’t my concern.

    Given the scenario of “Just meeting someone and not not knowing anything about them aside from the obvious physical traits of the person we meet” gender specific pronouns are a social norm and are likely to be used out of established habit. If an incorrect gender pronoun is used, a person who doesn’t answer to the pronoun being offered has a choice to be polite or not in their response and correction. If they treat me with respect in that correction of my inadvertent error, I will be at least as polite in my response. I cannot speak for the caller. I do feel he was a bit ridiculous in his absolutism on the matter.

    Regardless of one’s perception of the physical or psychological nature of the individual’s self identification, the real thing that matters is how you treat people. If one is not judgmental and treats people with respect and dignity, the issue is moot.

  138. Monocle Smile says

    Cool, I guess, but you haven’t shown that you understand the differences between sex and gender.

  139. Athywren - Not the moon you're looking for. says

    I’m easy. I’m easy like Sunday morning, in fact. I was just responding to your conflation of sex & gender in using gender for both, and comments on people’s experiences with their assigned gender, or lack thereof with the gender they identify with. You were quite clear that you’re happy to use a person’s preferred pronouns.

    Of course, being a deeply asocial and awkward person, I do object to being called ‘friend’ and must demand satisfaction.

  140. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    What’s promising about two anti-feminists discussing feminism? I’m having a hard time coming up with anything, other than, I guess, production quality that might significantly differentiate their discussion from this.

  141. tniassaint says

    @Monocle Smile RE”you haven’t shown that you understand the differences…”

    I don’t see that if matters. For me, it is not an issue. I don’t treat anyone any differently based on their gender roles or sexuality (at least not consciously- everyone has subconscious guidance they might not be fully in touch with). How you react and deal with people is far more important. What I find interesting is that you don’t appear to accept that a person can be completely completely accepting and non-judgmental; but if they don’t fully grasp the detailed inner mental workings of the issue, that just isn’t enough. Rubbish. I don’t understand the detailed inner workings of anyone (including my own). I don’t need to. It isn’t my concern. My concern is how I treat them and how they treat me. People, at least the ones who aren’t self entitled, sociopaths (who often seem to run for political office or work as CEOs of large corporations), just want some level of mutual respect. What goes on inside my head isn’t their business until I make it their business. I don’t even feel the need to go to the mental causes of gender self identification. It isn’t an issue.

    So I have not demonstrated that I understand your point? Maybe because you haven’t made the case for me that it even needs to be understood. I’m not the one having or contributing to the problem.

  142. says

    Ah yes, a video from a low-grade misogynist troll who got himself unverified on Twitter for repeated TOS violations involving abuse and harassment of women, followed by a video that’s the gender-politics equivalent of listening to Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron discuss the scientific failings of evolution. A winning pair, to be sure.

  143. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    “Some of my critics are angry and fail to present decent criticisms despite the breathtaking array of possible criticisms available to them, therefore…!”
    Woah. My whole worldview is crumbling around me. Crumbling, I say!

    Oh me, oh my – angry atheist demonstrating his reason and civility:
    An interesting documentary. Pretty good:

  144. suedoenimm3 says

    Martin Wagner says
    February 23, 2016 at 10:28 pm
    Ah yes, a video from a low-grade misogynist troll who got himself unverified on Twitter for repeated TOS violations involving abuse and harassment of women, followed by a video that’s the gender-politics equivalent of listening to Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron discuss the scientific failings of evolution. A winning pair, to be sure.

    The first video is from Martin Medved. (Yiannopoulos posted a copy.) Here you can find Medved’s original:
    But what about the protesters themselves? No comment on the protesters, Martin? Do you find their tactics reasonable and civil?

    The comparison with Comfort and Cameron is a non sequitur. The only connection I see is your dislike.

    CHS has been a college professor, written seven books, written articles that have appeared in Time, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, and the New York Times and she received an award from the National Women’s Political Caucus.

    The Minnesota Republic invited members of the UofM Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies department to speak but none accepted. If they think they have a good argument then they missed an opportunity. Worse than that, they left the only representation of their side to a tantrum-throwing, hate-spewing mini-mob.

  145. says

    Do you find their tactics reasonable and civil?

    Compared to the tactics of the Gamergaters and anti-feminists guys like Milo cater to on Twitter and Reddit, who send hundreds of rape and murder threats daily to feminists? I’d say these protestors are, on the whole, less bad by an order of magnitude. But since when should protestors be expected, above all else, to show civility, especially when the object of their protest has made his reputation spewing hate speech towards them? It is possible to be reasonably uncivil. Really, if the only objection you can muster towards a group of protestors is tone-policing that they’re big meanies, you haven’t got much. And at the end of the day, Frick and Frack still got to hold their silly little talk.

    Your recital of Sommers’ CVs is just an appeal to authority. People can have degrees and and awards publish in magazines and still have ideas that are full of shit. And if she’s dumb enough to be willing to share a stage with an open misogynist whose blanket caricature of feminism is that it’s “a nasty, bitter, ugly, lesbianic hate fest,” then all I can say is her academic career has been wasted.

  146. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    The comparison with Comfort and Cameron is a non sequitur. The only connection I see is your dislike.

    Smug ignorance/deliberate misrepresentation of the subject at hand? Check.
    “(I used to be an atheist/I’m a real feminist), so here is a collection of words that sound convincing to the lazily ignorant but reveal an utter lack of understanding (or deliberate misrepresentation) to anyone who has put in the effort to gain a basic grasp of the issue.” Check.
    “We tried to get [person who will validate us with their presence] but they was scurred!” Check.
    “Ooh, look at this (atheist/feminist) who does a poor job of arguing their point! This clearly says something about the validity of (atheism/feminism) beyond ‘sometimes, humans are not the best.'” Check.

    Sorry, but sometimes there actually is something to the “you’re just like a creationist” gambit. Frankly, I would be entirely unsurprised at this point to find that, “Passion Fruit: The Feminist’s Nightmare!” was proposed as a legitimate argument.

    “The passion fruit! Human evolution has lead us to harbour a deep psychological need to slurp at it’s delicious pulp; but feminists would have us engage in long, legalistic negotiations for it’s consent, sapping away all the passion….”

  147. suedoenimm3 says

    Responding to Martin Wagner says February 24, 2016 at 8:43 pm:

    Martin, your first paragraph is packed with fallacies.

    “these protesters are … less bad” – Tu quoque.

    “anti-feminists” – Equivocation/no true Scotsman. There is not a singularly ordained “Feminism”. There is no Pope of feminism to say who is a True Feminist and who is not. (If you think I’m wrong about that please offer your view.) The diversity in feminists leads to a diversity in what they call feminism. Feminism has been generally categorized into “waves”. The criticism of feminism today is basically aimed at the “third-wave” feminists. Milo, CHS, and every other high profile critic of third-wave feminism have expressed their agreement and admiration of first and second wave feminists. To label the current critics simply as “anti-feminists” is fallacious.

    “hundreds of rape and murder threats daily” – Yes, vulgar hateful things have been directed at Sarkeesian, Quinn, and others. It is deplorable and counterproductive. CHS and Milo have express their disapproval, but perhaps not enough. But “hundreds … daily”? No. Hyperbole.

    “since when should protesters be expected, above all else, to show civility” – Since Gandhi’s time or before. Since MLK’s time. Since we established a modern civil constitutional democracy.

    “It is possible to be reasonably uncivil.” – Really? Give us a couple examples. When would it have been reasonable for us atheists to behave like the protesters in the video to theists?

    “has made his reputation spewing hate speech towards them” – Milo is flip and provocative. But spewing hate speech? Have you got any examples?

    “if the only objection you can muster…” – Straw man. It’s not.

    “meanies”, “Frick and Frack”, “silly little talk” – Cheesy pejoratives and ad homs. Sorry. But really they are.

    : : : :

    My citing CHS’s accomplishments is not appeal to authority. It is evidence from multiple independent reputable sources of her value as a scholar.

    Yes, people with degrees and awards can still be “full of shit”. Or not. Is CHS full of shit? How so? Because you have labeled her an “anti-feminist”? Because any criticism of any third-wave feminist whatsoever is “shit”?

    I’m glad you watched at least part of the video. Yes, Milo said “a nasty, bitter, ugly, lesbianic hate fest,” at the end of his opening remarks. I agree that that is not good. And CHS chastised him for it, if you noticed. Milo is a gadfly, flamboyant, provocative, and gay. (Hitchens was provocative and a gadfly. He crossed the line a few times.) I don’t dismiss everything Milo says because of that comment.

    : : :

    What I am struck by in all the comments in this thread is that absolutely no criticism or even the suggestion that there might be valid criticism of third-wave feminists is admitted. Even the mere hint of such is immediately met with apologetics. No (third-wave) feminist has ever been mistaken. No third-wave feminist has ever exaggerated. Third-wave feminism is apparently perfect. It would appear to be an unassailable Truth.

  148. says

    Fun that you ended your cataloguing of my perceived fallacies with a straw man of your own. Certainly there are valid criticisms of third-wave feminism to be made; it is, after all, why there’s a fourth wave. We just don’t agree these two are making them, in the same way we don’t agree Michael Behe and William Dembski have valid criticisms of evolution in spite of their excellent academic records. There are plenty of feminist writers and academics who have criticized Sommers’ positions (small sampling of links there), and if the idea bothers you that anyone might consider any wave of feminism to be above criticism, you should be equally willing to accept that there are things feminism’s critics (especially ones who’ve been heartily embraced by online hate movements like Gamergate) can be wrong about as well. Sommers’ widely criticized habit of backing up her positions with anecdotal evidence should at least bring pause.

    If you agree Milo’s opening remarks about feminism were “not good,” then I’m unsure why you still think he’s qualified to give a talk on the subject. Maybe being a provocative gadfly is all it takes, and maybe the fact the guy makes lots of people mad is all the proof needed that he’s right. It’s Donald Trump logic, I guess, but it works for some people.

    Fascinating to learn that the Constitution promotes free speech, but only if you’re civil. Maybe they need to get the memo before there’s another GOP debate.

    On the volume of threats received by high-profile online feminists, Sarkeesian gets over 100 a week at least, and when you factor in other popular targets of Team Misogyny from their hangouts out at 8chan and KotakuInAction — Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, Sarah Nyberg and many others — I suspect the numbers scale accordingly. We are, after all, talking about lots of guys with little else (apart from Call of Duty) to do with their time.

  149. suedoenimm3 says

    Responding to: Martin Wagner says, February 25, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    “straw man of your own” – I believe I made a factual observation that every hint of criticism of (third-wave) feminism had been met with apologetics. I went on to say, “Third-wave feminism is _apparently_ perfect.” That is a rhetorical statement, a invitation to disagree or correct. Perhaps I should have explicitly said that.

    I hadn’t heard of fourth-wave feminism. Wikipedia says this, “Kira Cochrane, editor of All the Rebel Women, defines fourth wave feminism as a movement that is connected through technology. Researcher, Diana Diamond, defines fourth wave feminism as a movement that “combines politics, psychology, and spirituality in an overarching vision of change.” But I didn’t see anything there about it criticizing third-wave feminism. So what criticism of third-wave feminism, that you know of, does fourth-wave feminism make? And are all those criticisms wrong too?

    “There are plenty of feminist writers and academics who have criticized Sommers’ positions (small sampling of links there)” – Thanks for the links. I did read them.

    “you should be equally willing to accept that there are things feminism’s critics … can be wrong about as well” – Yes, I agree.

    “Sommers’ widely criticized habit of backing up her positions with anecdotal…” – Widely? I hadn’t heard that.

    “If you agree Milo’s opening remarks about feminism were “not good,”” – No, his opening remarks are good. It was that last comment at the end that was not good.

    “Fascinating to learn that the Constitution promotes free speech, but only if you’re civil.” – I didn’t say that. That is a rather uncharitable rephrasing to say the least. Our system protects free speech. You don’t have to be uncivil to get your message out. You can still be uncivil if you like but it undermines your message and your credibility.

    You didn’t answer a couple of my previous questions. Could you give us a couple examples of when it is possible to be reasonably uncivil? When would it have been reasonable for us atheists to behave like the protesters in the video? I would have liked to have heard your response to those.

    “over 100 a week” – Previously you said “hundreds … daily”. That would qualify as an exaggeration, don’t you think?


    So what I’m getting out of all this is that while you say fourth-wave feminists might criticize third-wave feminism, I still haven’t heard of any criticism you will admit as valid. And one can’t criticize (feminist) protesters shouting “Get the f— out” because they are being reasonably uncivil.

  150. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To suedoenimm3
    Given my earlier interactions with you in my earlier post to you, and given your seeming lack of interaction with that post, I see no reason to engage with you further.

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