Al Stefanelli has posted (or “rage blogged,” as the saying goes) a characteristically vulgar and belligerent response to PZ’s post.

On 08 August 2013, Paul Zachary Myers posted about being handed a ‘grenade‘ with the pin pulled out. Basically, he wrote that a woman told him she was raped by Michael Shermer at a conference a while ago.

That Myers chose to ‘reprint‘ this shows not only a complete lack of common sense, but is also indicative of the incredibly spurious depths to which he will sink to garner a few blog hits.

That’s the first two paragraphs, and there’s not much need to read more, is there. What a fucking stupid thing to say. For one thing, Stefanelli was part of this network for a year or so, which means he had access to the stats, which means he must know perfectly well that PZ doesn’t need to “sink” to anything to get a few blog hits. For a second thing, it’s very obvious that PZ didn’t enjoy holding that grenade with the pin pulled out. For a third thing, that “they do it for the blog hits!!1” is just a trashy lie that trashy people tell each other ninety million times a day no matter what we post.

This is not ‘bringing to light‘ a problem in the skeptic community. It is not an attempt to reveal some sort of dark underbelly of rampant sexual abuse that permeates the skeptic conference circuit. It is yellow journalism, if I even dare to use the word ‘journalism‘ in connection to anything that has come out of Pharyngula for quite some time.

He knows that how? He doesn’t say. Of course not, because he doesn’t know that, and it’s not true.

If Mr. Shermer is guilty of sexual assault, then Mr. Shermer should be made to answer for it. This is a given for anyone. However, these are issues for the courts to decide, and there are protocols in place that address these issues. Are there problems with the system? Yeah, no doubt. Does that have anything to do with the drek that Myers posted? No.

“Yeah, no doubt” – his concern is touching. Does he know what he says in the last two sentences? No. He doesn’t know that and it’s not true.

We have all come to expect little more from these sources than libelous, slimy pieces consisting of sensationalist bullshit, devoid of any modicum of integrity, value or credibility that serve no other purpose than to advance the agenda of the collective purveyors we know as attention whores.

No further comment necessary.


  1. Anthony K says


    For one thing, Stefanelli was part of this network for a year or so

    Oh, right.

  2. MrFancyPants says

    I never did like Stefanelli when he was here, and I thought him out of place. This just underscores that feeling.

  3. Jean says

    The fact that this is about PZ and Shermer (who’s the poor victim of big bad PZ) says it all.

  4. carlie says

    It’s funny how they draw out the “Paul Zachary” like they’re his mom yelling at him or something. Or maybe trying to associate him with the fact that mass murderers usually get referred to by their full names.

  5. says

    they appear to have an incredibly unhealthy vendetta against men, as it appears, and in general against the entire Caucasian race as well

    “Entire Caucasian race?”

    I don’t need to here or read one more word from that man. I know all I need to know about him from that alone.

  6. screechymonkey says


    What? How dare he make such an accusation! There is a LEGAL PROCESS in place with COURTS and PROTOCOLS to decide whether libel has occurred! Until a court has ruled on an issue, NO ONE is allowed to talk about it!

  7. says

    I love how the brigade that’s always going on and on about how there’s no “freethought” here always seems to have the same complaints, and right near the top of the list is “they’re doin it for the blog hits!”

    I also notice that this guy complains about poor journalism, but apparently didn’t read enough of PZ’s post to see that the “protocols” in place already failed that woman.

  8. hjhornbeck says

    Jean @4:

    Seconded. Stefanelli doesn’t even see a victim of assault here, he just sees A GLORIOUS LEADER being accused of something, and we can’t have the image of GLORIOUS LEADER tarnished under any circumstance.

    It’s common logic in religious circles, and it seems sadly common in atheist/skeptic circles. You’d think we’d be better at avoiding naked tribalism, but this community keeps disappointing me.

  9. says

    So my first thought on reading this was ‘don’t blog angry’…

    But let’s face it. First, besides being hypocritical, that’s terrible advice. Plenty of folk–and folk in present company–do great stuff when angry.

    Secondly, I’m not sure following this advice would get some voices real far. They’re a near total loss angry or not…

    So, so far, all I got is ‘Don’t blog when Al Stefanelli.’

  10. says

    This all only goes to prove that we’re all, regardless if we’re skeptics, atheists, corn-belt bible thumpers, scientists, humanists, jack holes, bloated inflammed assholes, we’re all still just humans.

    Monkeys with car keys.

    Primates with Plutonium.

    And unless and until we get over ourselves, it’s very unlikely we’ll be able to ‘get over’ any body else on the planet. I think it incredibly unlikely. But, as we’re not yet extinct, there’s still a sliver of hope.

  11. highdudgeonaz says

    “There are protocols in place …”

    Yeah, protocols of dismissal and degradation and victim-blaming.

    You know, like calling people “attention whores.” Or, “whores,” at all, for that matter.

    Yeah, institutionalized misogyny is so totally not a thing right now.

  12. besomyka says

    Holy shit, that article and comments are a cesspool of gross misogyny. I think I saw ‘girlyban’ at some point. Both sexist AND racist in one go!

    I’m sorry I gave him a web hit.


  13. kagekiri says

    Ugh, Al. He’s really lost the plot, eh?

    Welp, Al, thanks for the reminder that atheists can be sexist jerks and can throw hateful, irrational tantrums. More proof that atheism or skepticism are not nearly enough on their own, not by half.

    My atheism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit.

  14. Francisco Bacopa says

    I should go on record that I am strongly inclined to believe the allegations against Shermer. I’ve seen enough shit since the engineered outrage about the supposed offense of “Elevatorgate”. And by this I mean that RW’s call out at the end of a video dealing with other subjects was justified, but that the response was unjustified.

    Shit y’all. How hard can it be to not rape people? I crossed some moderate consensual lines when I was young and figured that shit out and never did it again. I was in a situation of questionable sexual consent , but backed off because I cared about my ex-gf and cared about how I saw myself. I called the cops on myself in a domestic violence situation because I did not believe that I could safely leave my gf’s home without escalating the violence that had already happened.

    What the fuck is so difficult here? I hit the edges of rapey-ness because I didn’t know better, but I figured it out. I’ve been in a situation of ambiguous consent and backed off . I’ve been in a DV situation with a female aggressor and sought help from the law and went home safely.

    I was clueless and could have become a rapey dude, but I wanted better things for myself. Seems other dudes like the rapey shit.

  15. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I did not see “girlyban” in that thread. But the usual suspects like Mykeru, Tim Channel (Remember when he used to spam Pharyngula?) and JJ Ramsey did show up. Yes, the proud MRAs did show up.

  16. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    It was the serial spammer, thetimchannel.

    Even when he was a regular at Pharyngula, he was not well like by most of the horde. I do not miss him at all.

  17. says

    Of course they draw it out. As everyone knows, “PZ” is my friendly casual name. “Paul Zachary” is…my supervillain name.

  18. says

    So how come nobody ever calls DJ Grothe “Douglas”? Huh? Huh? How come it’s only FTB supervillains who get the Full Name Treatment – that’s what I want to know.

  19. imnotandrei says

    Thank you for pointing me at that post; every so often, when it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul, I feel the need to roll out the Internet Rhetorical B-52s and carpet-bomb the living daylights out of some idiots online; and this has provided me a just, righteous, and useful target.

    The sheer quantity of projection, non-self-reflection, and hyperbole over there is something to be marveled at, however.

  20. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Stefanelli can not see past his white male privilege. Seriously, if anyone dares suggest to him that anybody else may have it more difficult than him, he freaks out. And it’s infuriating because he is entirely capable of getting it, he just doesn’t want to. His “defection” is one of the most disappointing to me, since he had potential.

  21. Jacob Schmidt says

    What the fuck is up with those source links? They all lead to wikipedia pages or home pages, but no actual blog articles.

  22. says

    I had a tedious run-in with JJ Ramsey at my blog. Stefanelli should be proud to have the readership of someone so dense, smug, and borderline illiterate.

    Also, “girlyban” doesn’t even make sense. I mean, “galiban” is right there for the taking, people. Misogynists can’t even pun correctly.

  23. says

    I’ve seen previously levelheaded people veer into complete gibbering, frothing stupidity in the past, in other contexts, but it’s still very disturbing when it happens. For some people, hatred seems to be infectious.

  24. hoary puccoon says

    Is anyone else getting increasingly worried about the number of people who have spoken out, with a great deal of righteous anger, about “let’s not judge…. innocent until proven guilty….” And then had credible accusations of harassment (or worse) raised against them?

    I’m not saying that’s the case with Stefanelli. I’ve never met the man. As I understand it, he spends a lot of his time in a wheelchair and is often, if not usually, traveling with his wife. So he doesn’t seem like a likely suspect for sexual misconduct.

    But it does seem that some of the people who have been very vociferous about “innocent until proven guilty” actually know for a fact that sexual harassment and worse are taking place– because they’re the ones doing it.

    I’m not sure if it’s even a good idea to post this. I don’t want to hurt the reputations of innocent people. But the huge anger and sense of personal affront with which some people have attacked anyone who tried to discuss sexual harassment never made much sense to me before. It’s beginning to make far too much sense to me now.

  25. says

    ^ Yes. And keep in mind, we’ve known this all along. Think back to DJ Grothe’s complaint about “some women” talking about sexual harassment, last year. Then think about some of the big TAM stars. Then do the arithmetic.

  26. CaitieCat says

    As I understand it, he spends a lot of his time in a wheelchair and is often, if not usually, traveling with his wife. So he doesn’t seem like a likely suspect for sexual misconduct.

    (content note: non-graphic discussion of sexual abuse of children)

    Much as I wish it were not true, use of a wheelchair is no absolute barrier to sexual assault by the user. While volunteering with a service organization when I was 10 and 11, I was pushing wheelchairs around the Canadian National Exhibition. There were a group of men using the service about whom the volunteers warned one another, as they were, in our words back then, “grabby”. They’d come to the Ex four or five times each year, in a group of six or so, and the kids pushing their chairs were assaulted regularly by the users. I can speak to this personally, as I was in that group twice in my first year, and twice in the second, and stopped going after that.

    So yeah. Using a chair? Not a prophylactic for sexual abuse, in either direction. People using chairs likely abuse at the same rates as pretty much everyone else; being abused, we know well, has a much, much higher incidence for people with disabilities.

    Signed, Your Friendly Local Person with Disabilities

  27. says

    Yes, let’s just start accusing people without evidence or rational. Seems legit.

    Let’s forget about that little part in the constitution about the right to face one’s accusers. No biggie! Big Man Myers will look out for us.

    For a feminist, you sure to have Myers’s cock deep up your ass. Buttered Lies and Speals. And you think Stafani’s blog was “rage?” Oh, snap, it couldn’t be as, oh, I don’t know, accusing someone of rape without the slightest bit of evidence or recourse for the accused.

    You and your ilk deserve far more rage as blowback to your self righteous ethical bankruptcy. Go back to Christianity. Thinkers don’t need you.

  28. Pteryxx says

    Jeffrey Robinson’s doing a tour of FTB. Polite version at Ashley’s, sneering at Jason’s, and slut-shaming with bonus “ilk” here.

  29. highdudgeonaz says

    Jeffrey @ 37:

    I’m a regular reader of the blog, but I don’t speak up often, mainly because there seems to be a real problem with men monopolizing conversations that need to be more inclusive, so more often than not I yield the floor so as to not suck all of the air out of the room with my own bloviating. However, when someone comes into a conversation spewing vile rage and abuse, it’s incumbent upon the community at large to stand up and tell that person that their behavior is unacceptable.

    Your first two paragraphs show clearly that you aren’t all that familiar with the situation. There is evidence by way of corroborating testimony. The people directly involved with the situation have been very careful and specific in their claims. No one has filed charges against the accused party, and the blogosphere is not a court of law.

    If you’d just stopped there, I wouldn’t have bothered to reply. There are so many different, thoughtful, and fact-laden commentaries on those subjects that I wouldn’t have to.

    But then you throw in that comment in paragraph #3. I’m not a blog moderator here, but if I were, you’d be feeling the weight of the permaban hammer right about now. It’s not the sex act itself that you describe, but the context in which you use it: to degrade, dehumanize, and demean. Nobody deserves that kind of abuse, not Ophelia Benson, not even you.

  30. Jacob Schmidt says

    Oh, snap, it couldn’t be as, oh, I don’t know, accusing someone of rape without the slightest bit of evidence or recourse for the accused.

    Are you actually as dumb as shit or are you unaware that threatening to sue for libel is recourse?

    No seriously, what the fuck is up with this shit? Somehow, personal testimony isn’t evidence; suing for libel isn’t recourse; legions of people defending him ruins his reputation; etc.

    (Pedantic side note: your sentence is nonsense. You wrote that either a blog or rage is “as accusing.” Comparing nouns to verbs is just silly. “My hat is as running” just makes no grammatical sense.)

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