Leeds Skeptics in the Pub reach out to women

and punch them in the mouth.

Upcoming event July 21: a talk by a dude called Steve Moxon on Y women R so dumb.

Talk by Steve Moxon. Leeds psychologist Dr Gijsbert Stoet finds no evidence that women under-perform through internalising false stereotypes, a recent major review reveals no sex-discrimination in academia, and ground-breaking field research shows that it is actually in favour of women in recruitment; so why is it women tend not to ‘get to the top’?

It iz becoz they R so dumb.

Recent science confirms the sexes to be not just different but dichotomous, albeit that confounds with other factors often obscures this, and on many measures there is more variation within- than between-sex.

Some dumb woman must have wrote that sentence becoz it make no sense.

Anti-male / pro-female prejudice is reinforced in periods of rapid social change because arrangements in place to privilege women become anachronistic yet are held on to through the very pro-female prejudice that also ensures new arrangements are quickly made. Both the tardiness and rapidity of change contribute to an ‘unfalsifiable’ feminist perception, which is furthermore grounded in the ‘political-correctness’ backlash against the mass of ordinary people by the intelligentsia to salve the ‘cognitive-dissonance’ of its political-Left mindset. The failure of the ethos to have any practical impact led to the blaming of ‘the workers’ for not ‘following the script’, and their replacement by those who are not stereotypically ‘workers’: women.

Our deeply politicised back-to-front perception that women are the subject of prejudice and disadvantage is the greatest fraud in history, but given important facts have never been effectively suppressed for very long, it should be only a question of the time-scale over which it collapses.

Boy I sure do wish I could attend that Skeptics in the Pub, don’t you?


  1. says

    I’ve googled him. He’s even worse than that event description makes him sound. What the hell are the Leeds people thinking?

    More details to come.

  2. LeftSidePositive says

    This is the same type of nonsense as when creationists try to claim evolution is “unfalsifiable”!!!11!1!!!eleventy!!! Here’s a hint, guys: there is a difference between “not theoretically possible to falsify” and “not going to be shown false in the real world because it is, in fact, true.”

  3. says

    No doubt Moxon was taken apart by the audience. He was cancelled from Sheffield SitP once before because of pre-talk outrage, so it’s not as if SitP are not sensitive to the issue.

    There is not just one point of view when it comes to whether or not SitP should have only Skeptic-approved speakers all the time. Who decides who is approved? Where do you draw the line?

    I run Horsham SitP and I hosted Chris Snowdon who wrote a critique of “The Spirit Level” called “The spirit level delusion”. I had skeptics telling me I was wrong to put him on. Were they right?

    I personally enjoy it when a SitP speaker gives a poor or stupid talk, as it gives the audience a chance to do a bit of their own skepticism.

  4. says

    Interesting. The description of the talk misrepresents Stoet pretty badly. I’ll have to see about blogging the paper after CONvergence is over.

  5. says

    He’s a Breivik sympathiser who doesn’t believe in any kind of racial, sexuality, or gender based oppression. I’m not sure why he’s being given a platform. He also has no qualified scientific background.

    “Anti-male / pro-female prejudice” because one can’t exist without the other, of course! Anything pro-women is by nature, hating men! Geez.

  6. says

    Well, why not? I’m of the view that is is better to have these people cross-examined in public than just trying to squash them. Who better than an audience of skeptics to show all the flaws in their philosophies?

  7. says

    Agreed with Simon, that there could merely be the intention to explore his point of veiw without condoning or agreeing with it.
    I booked Danny Bamping for one Plymouth SITP and was met with a few grumbles.
    That said the blurb and title for the talk are rather inflamatory (though again it might be purposefully so) and the content utterly distasteful… Still my first reaction was ‘I wish I lived nearer Leeds’…

  8. Stevarious says

    Recent science confirms the sexes to be not just different but dichotomous,

    What it appears to mean, from perusing his blog for a few minutes, is that not only do men and women have completely different mental and physical features because of their genders, but that it is an ‘all-or-nothing’ deal. Men cannot have characteristics that are ‘female’ characteristics, and vice-versa. That is, women are emotional and men are logical, so if a woman ‘appears’ to be more logical than emotional, you’re just being confounded by some obscuring factor, since science has already shown that all women are more emotional than logical.

    I need a shower to wash off all the stupid now.

  9. says

    Simon, actually because if you’re going to do that I think it’s fairer to invite someone more…erm…linguistically abled.

    But I don’t know, maybe Moxon is pugnacious enough to make up for lack of verbal genius. Or maybe he’s better at it than I think. Or both.

  10. Charlotte says

    I’m an occasional attendee in Leeds, and trying to get them to cancel – principally on the grounds that he’s not qualified to speak about this and makes basic errors in his interpretation of the science. One of our illustrious leaders says that Stoet recommended Moxon to speak, so I don’t know how badly he’s being misrepresented – some of Stoet’s own work on sex differences is junk.

    Regarding booking controversial speakers – I don’t think it’s appropriate for a group like SITP that has a reputation as being an unfriendly environment for women to seek out this kind of controversy. Even if he’s torn to shreds, and the women there are fine with it, it doesn’t exactly promote the group to women looking at the website. And while I appreciate Simon’s comment that pulling apart bad arguments is fun, you have to wonder what the point is of getting someone to talk when they can’t teach you anything – and I suspect Moxon is delusional enough that he’d think he won any argument.

  11. says

    He spoke recently at the Cambridge Union with some other people http://www.varsity.co.uk/reviews/4279 so he is known as a public speaker on the issue.

    Some of us SitP organisers think a panel, with expert opponents would be a better way of handling it and that’s fair enough. In this instance I’d be saddened if it was cancelled because some people don’t like the idea. Having been cancelled by SitP before, another cancellation could be easily spun by him as the Skeptics being rather gutless (as he did before).

  12. says

    Charlotte – I was not aware that SitP had a “reputation for being an unfriendly environment for women”. In the South-east of England at least, there is a very even split between men and women in our audiences and on our stages.

  13. LeftSidePositive says

    I’m really skeptical of this “well it’s good to have this view torn to shreds” argument…it seems very much like a wishy-washy distancing oneself while still catering to those who enjoy this stuff. It reminds me all too much of the Michigan CFI kerfuffle where they could never quite clear up whether or not they were endorsing a talk or holding it up for critical evaluation (or indeed if the audience should be expected to have the tools to critique it thoroughly if it is not in their field).

    So, Leeds Skeptics, do you regularly hold events where creationists are given an uninterrupted platform? Do you regularly invite anti-vaxxers to speak at Skeptics in the Pub and blurb their work in the same tone? Isn’t the appropriate form to engage with someone whose views are controversial and that you want to see ripped to shreds a debate, not a lecture?

  14. Charlotte says

    Simon – It’s hardly news that the atheist/skeptic movement is largely male-dominated and on occasion publicly hostile to women – the most obvious example being Dawkins’ comments about Rebecca Watson. But congratulations on having built an inclusive group in the SE.

  15. says

    Other reviews said other things about the other speakers. I don’t doubt his poor performance and lack of rationality etc, but then I’m not defending Moxon anyway. I’m defending the right of an SitP group to put on non-skeptical speakers from time to time. We don’t pay our speakers, so we have to make the best of what we can get. Moxon would draw an audience of pro and anti-Moxon people. A few expert anti-Moxons could also be invited.

    Anyway it’s a debate that will go on long after this, every time a group books a speaker who does not share the views of popular mainstream skepticism. Good. I like debates.

  16. says

    Charlotte, there are things worthy of critique in the paper as well, which I’ll do, but the conclusions of the paper are, at worst, very wishy-washy on stereotype threat itself. They are certainly not a condemnation of the concept.

  17. says

    (or indeed if the audience should be expected to have the tools to critique it thoroughly if it is not in their field)

    QFT. If you have a speaker who is willing to misrepresent the conclusions of a paper, how does an audience who’ve never seen the paper properly question the speaker?

  18. Tannice says

    Charlotte, sorry, I can’t agree that SitP has a reputation for being an unfriendly environment for women. As far as I am aware the conversations about this are centred on conventions, rather than skeptics in the pub. I run Guildford skeptics in the pub and attend as many as I can around the country. Usually on my own. I have never heard of people suffering any kind of harassment at a skeptics in the pub event, at least not in the south east and I regularly meet with the organisers of them in the south east.

    Obviously that’s anecdotal but it’s the best I have.

    I really take exception with people saying that skeptics in the pub has that reputation. If it did I would never have gone to Guildford (I didn’t start the group).

    Saying that Rebecca Watson’s had comments from Dawkins is proof of nothing. That certainly didn’t happen at a skeptics in the pub.

  19. Josh Slocum says

    Given how inflamed many women feel right now about their treatment in the “skeptical community,” it would really behoove organizations to put up a disclaimer or explanation when inviting a speaker like Moxon. Something like: “We realize the speaker’s claims are extraordinary and offensive to boot. This is not an endorsement but an opportunity to examine and deconstruct them.”

    It won’t do to pretend naivete: “Well we don’t KNOW if he has a point because we haven’t examined all his evidence yet!” Obvious ideological bullshit is obvious.

    If it’s hard to understand how women would feel seeing SitP hosting Moxon, try this. As a gay man I’d be outraged if I saw you all hosting an ex-gay “therapist” and promoting his ridiculous claims on your site as if they needed no editorial comment, no acknowledgment from SitP. I’d find that pretty fucking hostile.

  20. Josh Slocum says

    Actually, I don’t see the point in giving someone like Moxon oxygen at all. Seriously. Why are you doing this? He’s not “controversial,” he’s a full-on, no-holds barred right wing reactionary bigot!

  21. says

    I completely agree, Josh. It should be made crystal clear that the event is not an endorsement (at the very least).

    I completely understand how women (or other fair-minded people) might take offence at the existence of the event if there was no editorial comment from the organisers.

  22. Josh Slocum says

    To turn the screw a bit tighter: Imagine SitP promoted an author who wrote a book titled “The Gay Racket.” You know what? I don’t think they would. And if they did I’m certain they’d be falling all over themselves to think of a disclaimer before anyone else suggested it.

    So why is it different when the author writes “The Woman Racket?” Y’all know he wrote that, right?

    So why is it different?

  23. says

    You’d have to ask Leeds SitP. If I had arranged this talk it would have been covered in clear statements about not endorsing his view.

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    Also, Moxon’s excessive use of scare quotes is causing shortages elsewhere in blogtopia.

  25. Josh Slocum says

    Yeah, I meant the general “y’all” Simon, sorry about that:) I know you’re not responsible.

  26. Godless Heathen says

    I was going to write something of my own, but I agree with LeftSidePositive, Charlotte, and Josh Slocum.

  27. says

    Moxon – “…internalising false stereotypes…”

    What a relief, it’s only the true stereotypes that affect women. Typical.

  28. Charlotte says

    @Tannice #25 – to clarify, I’ve never been harassed or felt discriminated against at Leeds SITP, but it is male dominated, about 2:1 M:F I think. If the organisers want to attract more women, they should be considering whether their web presence is challenging or perpetuating the stereotypes about the skeptic community as a whole.

    I’m not entirely against controversial speakers, but they need to be qualified. The first scientific reference I found in Moxon’s gender book is p21: “The process of sex actually exacerbates the build-up of replication errors (Paland & Lynch 2006).” I found the abstract of that paper: “we estimate that mitochondrial protein-coding genes in asexual lineages accumulate deleterious amino acid substitutions at four times the rate in sexual lineages.” (source: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/311/5763/990.short)
    This actually made me feel better about Moxon – he seems to be delusional about his own ability. But in terms of having him as a speaker, at some point you cross the line between deconstructing ridiculous arguments and poking a mentally ill person with sticks.

  29. Charlotte says

    @Stephanie #23, I haven’t finished reading the sterotype threat paper yet! My comment about junk refers to ‘Sex differences in search and gathering skills. Stoet, G. (2011). Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 416-422.
    (pdf download available from Stoet’s uni page)

  30. Amy Clare says

    I am a Leeds sort, and am a bit lost for words really. If you are a female skeptic I guess you have two options in this case.

    Firstly avoid the event because you don’t want to have to sit there and uncomfortably listen to an MRA drone on about how there is no sexism &c.

    Secondly go to the event, witness said MRA speech, and more than likely become angry at the shit he’s spouting. If you decide to argue with him you’d better have the support of the room otherwise you will get shouted down and feel even worse. At the very least you will be sat in your seat seething, possibly feeling upset or unsafe depending on how many other members are agreeing with the speaker. It’s an unpleasant hour spent, whichever way you look at it.

    All women not wishing to endure the second option (and I wouldn’t blame anyone) end up with the first option. That’s why it’s not a good idea to have Moxon speak. It isn’t fair to have a significant proportion of your members in the direct firing line of your speaker’s views, and having to make the decision to avoid the meeting because of that. That’s not inclusive. It’s hostile.

  31. Hertta says

    Amy Clare, exactly. I tried to think about what to say to Simon Clare who likes these sort of debates. Listening to Moxon’s talk and then debating it? Not a fun way to spend your evening if you’re a woman.

  32. maureen.brian says

    I am taking note of all this and will be on the train to Leeds should that prove to be necessary.

  33. Dan says

    I’ve crossed swords with Steve “famous immigration whistleblower” Moxon a few times on Facebook, and it is a uniquely dispiriting experience. He is incapable to engaging in genuine rational argument, preferring to accuse his opponents of being “PC-fascists” or too stupid to understand his cleverness.

    Inviting him to be a speaker is a really bad idea, and is probably to be explained in this case by the organisers simply not knowing who he is or what he is like.

  34. Charlotte says

    I think I’m mainly responsible for kicking off this shitstorm in the first place, so I wanted to say thanks to the commenters here, and over at Leeds SITP too. The vast majority of y’all have been polite and sensible, despite this being a really emotive issue for many people, and we’ve managed to discuss the things we disagree on without losing sight of the common ground. That feels like a rare thing on the internet! I’ve spent a lot of the last month on a local politics forum that’s full of trolls, and you’ve restored my faith that maybe we can have nice things. So, uh, thanks for being cool.

  35. Will says

    I think this highlights the generational differences among atheists. The Skeptics audience tends to be much older than the student society there, and the student society has a wide overlap with the feminist and LGBT societies. I don’t think they’d dream of putting on a speaker like Moxon, especially as there’s enough members on the committee to block it.

    Then again, we have let Stoet speak once or twice before. He’s not that bad as a person but I have to agree with Charlotte that his work on sex differences is junk.

  36. Valindrius says

    Oh my, Moxon’s blog posts convey seething hostility and an overwhelming capacity for misrepresentation. Worryingly, his approach reminds me of individuals such as Christopher Monckton, Sye Ten Bruggencate, or Eric Hovind. I lament the existence of pathetic creatures that distort information to elevate their own status and will abandon any venture that does not further their aims.

    Flowing from that, I don’t think there’s any validity to the claim that Moxon’s presence represents open-mindedness since there can be no productive exploration of issues with a disingenuous or blinkered debater. This is especially true when spoken rather than written. In my view, such characters can only provide sensationalist entertainment and I don’t think this instance will manage that. There is a risk that the bigoted vitriol will harm or exclude more people than it will amuse. If that risk is deemed to be worth it then so be it, the organisers will inevitably possess facts that I do not. Personally, I’d defer to zero risk of harm to those I wish to engage with by rejecting Moxon.

    Of course, if he is cancelled then he will no doubt claim that it confirms the legitimacy of his views but the alternative also allows him to claim legitimacy. It won’t matter if he is castigated by those present since he can conveniently edit that for an oblivious audience in the future. Similarly, he can add it to a list of past engagements, thereby portraying himself as somehow valuable and authoritative. I’d always advise against lending such unintentional, if small, support and dislike relying on the presumption that proper opposition will be available to reveal his errors or lies if he does gain access to more venues.

    Ultimately, I wish the Leeds group well with future gatherings and hope this event goes well, whether Moxon speaks or not.

  37. smhll says

    I don’t think there’s any validity to the claim that Moxon’s presence represents open-mindedness since there can be no productive exploration of issues with a disingenuous or blinkered debater. This is especially true when spoken rather than written. … There is a risk that the bigoted vitriol will harm or exclude more people than it will amuse.

    I strongly agree with this point.

    I’m not in Leeds and don’t have any influence in Leeds, but I have an idea. If there is a desire to engage with this man’s ideas, I would like to see something like this. Start with some of his published writing or a transcript of his bread and butter speech. Go through it and underline the ideas that are disputable. Number these. Have separate numbered threads on the Skeptics in the Pub website and at first only collect scientific evidence regarding the individual points. After collecting evidence, then maybe collect opinions from the local members, perhaps in a structured way. I’d be interested in knowing the responses of the Leeds group members to the controversy, much more than just a straight up regurgitation of the controversy itself. If the potential speaker is going to be engaged, I’d like to see him engaged with the sharp edge of the skeptical mind.

    Also, I think it’s very important to have a definition of terms in order for people who have different conclusions to discuss/debate this type of topic. I almost never see people who use the term “PC” argumentatively actually give their definition for it.

  38. says

    Hey Charlotte. Yes, I saw your comments on the Leeds SITP Facebook page yesterday and realized that was you. Good to meet you! And well done pushing back. It was Amy (also pushing back on that page) who alerted me to the whole thing.

  39. Suido says

    Related to the problems of women making it to the top in various fields, a researcher at the Uni of Qld has investigated the roots of success for business execs.


    women and men learn the knowledge and work ethic required for success in the same ways, but not self-confidence and leadership. Men tend to learn these things through typical boy sports (most male ceos were captain of a sports team = being groomed for success right from the start) whereas women tended to learn these things through dealing with childhood trauma or being involved in the family business.

    I’m no big city statistician, but something tells me that there are fewer well-adjusted survivors of childhood trauma than there are well-adjusted school football captains.


    If this research is borne out by further studies, it implies that things like childhood activities support an unequal society, and shows just how pervasive misogyny can be. Is it coincidence that the characteristics that make a great school football captain are also the characteristics that will make a great executive?

    I think sexist hiring/promotion practices are likely still a problem (unless we can believe the research cited by Steve), but this provides an explanation for why fewer women have the personal/psychological qualifications for executive roles, and hence fewer women are getting those roles.

  40. dirigible says

    “Actually, I don’t see the point in giving someone like Moxon oxygen at all. ”

    This. Providing him with a platform legitimises him. Don’t do that, Leeds sceptics with a k.

  41. Malachite says

    A former (academic) boss of mine openly admitted that he preferred hiring women because they worked harder. If women academics are shouldering more of the administrative burdens of their departments (and it seemed that that was what he meant) then that would not help further the careers of women academics. My point is that it’s not just hiring that matters, but what happens afterwards too.


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