The rules

I think I’ve figured out the rules now, with help from Tim Skellett aka “Gurdur” who explained it to Avicenna on Twitter. They go like this:

When someone talks shit about “FTB” that doesn’t actually mean Freethought blogs, it means “core” bloggers. Tim Skellett to Avicenna:

BTW, once again you name a peripheral FTB blogger (yourself), not a core one. Again, *cough* revealing.

Who exactly are the core ones? Skellett gives the list a few tweets later, still talking to Avi.

@saramayhew seems to refer to the core FTB bloggers, which would be PZ, Brayton, szvan, Benson, McCreight, Greta. See next.

So them’s the rules, apparently. “FTB” is just shorthand for those six people; the other 30-whatever-it-is-now don’t count.

Says who? Taslima Nasrin doesn’t count? Maryam doesn’t count, Nirmukta doesn’t count, Avi doesn’t count, Chris Rodda doesn’t, Ally Fogg, Zinnia, Yemi, Matt, Russell, Cuttlefish, Brianne, Miri – all those people and more, don’t count? They’re all “peripheral”?

What bullshit.

Update 3:30 p.m.

No lie too foul to post in writing on the internet.


Tim Skellett @Gurdur

Disgusting how FTB-ingroup use ppl like Maryam, @Million_Gods & foreign events to bolster their own egos.


  1. Jacob Schmidt says

    Amusingly, Brayton writes very little on feminism. Most of his blog is political snippets. The only time I’ve seen him adress this bullshit is when someone tried to use his name against the other “core” bloggers.

  2. Rational Feminist says

    Seems he does understand that a group category does not necessarily always contain all the things that might be assumed to be within. For instance, when someone writes “man,” that doesn’t necessarily include each and every man on the planet.

    But, of course, asking for reasonable thought and logic from this group is simply too much.

  3. says

    Everyone should read that exchange between Tim Skellet / Gurdur and Avicenna. Gurdur’s daft line that there are no achievements from FTB’ers and only they have the true activists is ridiculous and very telling.

  4. maudell says

    It’s funny how Skellett has never read Avicenna but he automatically questions his ‘help the poor’ credentials. Anyone reading Avi for 5 minutes knows that ‘atheist medical student/doctor in India’ is the perspective of his blog. But hey, reading the entire 12 words of his ‘about the author’ section is hard.

  5. says

    Yeah. Ed doesn’t get treated like he’s part of the core FTB, even though he owns the place. He mainly writes about criminal justice and politics, so really only hits on feminism when it’s politicians saying bizarre things about how ladyparts work and cops using their position to sexually harass people. These don’t attract so much controversy.

  6. says

    Notice how *none* of the brown bloggers apparently belong to The Core? I guess they do not write “interestingly enough” or about “interesting enough” topics, then. Neither @saramayhew’s nor @Gurdur’s attention could possibly be steered by anything else, now could it?


  7. says

    And Sikivu and the other black skeptics and Mano (who is an under-appreciated frequent contributor) and Kate and Tauriq and Stephen … there is nobody here I consider a “peripheral blogger”, and even phrasing it that way is offensive.

    Need I add that all these people here represent a select company that both wanted to join us and that we wanted here? Our entire group is a company of like-minded individuals, all just as important as any other. I’m here because I like this gang.

    Jebus. Gurdur has always been a pompous and ignorant ass.

  8. leni says

    @ Ace of Sevens- well he did have that nice brave hero dig the other day. Probably too subtle, though.

    But I love Ed’s blog. He’s the one I check first every day, even though I actually comment more here. (More snark opportunities.) So he’s core for me, but certainly other people have their favorites.

    Anyway, I like the “FTBs suck, except when they don’t!”. Makes me laugh.

  9. yazikus says

    This tweet from Gurder I thought was especially condescending:

    So I would be interested in hearting more on how you provide medical help for poor (very real, very important). Links pls?

    Pompous indeed!

  10. colnago80 says

    Re maudell @ #4

    It is my information that Avicenna is currently attending medical school in Great Britain.

  11. says

    @yazikus / 10

    But he is so willing to be educated – he’s asking for information and everything! Surely that makes him a Caring Person and Good Guy (TM)?

    (Note to self: Must start rationing sarcasm, lest I run out…)

  12. A Hermit says

    Avicenna is a fucking hero. A real live brave hero, no irony or sarcasm. He’s got more guts than I do that’s for sure, these clueless nit-picking slymepitters aren’t qualified to polish his shoes.

    And I second the props for Mano and Dana, two of my faves here. I don’t comment as often on their blogs (or Zinnia’s or Maryam’s or Taslima’s becasue I tend to read them in “shut up and listen” mode…What has Sara Mayhew done that even comes close to what these FtB “fringes” have accomplished?

    Words fail. So I’m just going to curse quietly for a while now…#*&%$#!!!!!!

  13. Sili says

    Also funny how Mayhew has been continuing to conflate FTB and Skepchicks, despite her latest fit has been with FTB alone. But The Watson needs to be tarred while we’re at it.

  14. leni says

    Seconding Mano props. He’s my second daily check, but I don’t comment much there either.

    He’s like the awesome dad or grandpa that I never had. He is gentle and quietly fierce and has a gift for understatement that is so, so endearing. Plus he’s a physicist. He is teh awesome.

    So many awesome bloggers here I don’t want to stop there but I don’t want to go through the whole list either, so thank you all!

  15. A Hermit says

    Tim helpfully explains that Avicenna et al are merely “peripheral” as regards the number of citations in the FtB “ingroup”.

    No evidence offered. I think “peripheral” here actually means ignored by Gurdur and his slymy friends because they can’t be as easily cherry picked and straw-manned for the purposes of self serving Twitter abuse.

    What an asshat.

  16. says

    Avicenna is not peripheral in terms of having the Slymepit try and remove his blogging income or spreading false rape allegations about him… So they should acknowledge his contribution to the network, fairs fair. Yemi as well given I’ve not noticed her mentioned in the comments, only the OP. Massive threat to the Slymepit as an A+ person who is a wonderful activist with a lot of good results. Hence their swarm on her blog and shitty reception she got.

  17. maudell says

    @ colnago80

    About a month ago, he wrote about going back to Britain next year. I think that’s why he just tweeted he works in a hospital in rural India.

    But I could be wrong, I only read his blog, I don’t know him personally.

  18. John Phillips, FCD says

    Sorry, forgive my ignorance in not knowing this obvious leading light of the atheoskeptic movement, but Tim who?

  19. deepak shetty says

    So them’s the rules, apparently. “FTB” is just shorthand for those six people; the other 30-whatever-it-is-now don’t count.
    My ego is flattered – i’m a commenter on one of the core blogs of FTB instead of the peripheral ones.
    It looks like Gurdur is taking a leaf out of the religious strategy – only those paragraphs from my religious book that I deem important to make my point (at a point of time) are really important.

  20. says

    The other blogger on Black Skeptics, Frederick Sparks, is also very good. And what’s with the lack of attention for Zinnia? She isn’t strident enough for them?

  21. John Phillips, FCD says

    OB, well apart from PZ, which is the original reason I came here, when I am visiting ftb regularly, i.e. when the body is willing, I have at least 10 I visit daily and the rest I will at least scan 2 or 3 times a week. My ‘core’ daily group includes the aforementioned ‘evil’ core 🙂 group but also such gems as Dana, Brute Reason, Mano, Maryam, Zinnia, Lousy Canuk, Black Skeptics, Almost Diamonds etc etc as I find each blogger offers something unique and of value and I have learnt a great deal from them all. I don’t generally contribute much myself, partly because others will usually say what I want said, but better, so my main contribution tends to be to pop up above the parapet to be counted when it feels needed.

  22. Brian E says

    Isn’t this just the availability bias? He knows of, and hears of Ophelia, PZ, etc for years, they set up FTB, and cause the world to explode. The FTB core is just those that haters hate. The rest aren’t true FTBers because they don’t come to mind readily and would cause dissonance.

  23. says

    None of our bloggers are “peripheral”. We had a few bad starts, but after weeding out the clunkers and refining our admissions process (as well as acquiring a reputation that already weeds out the idiots), I’m very, very happy with our lineup.

    We’ve also got the prospect of a few additions in the near future that also make me happy.

  24. Subtract Hominem says

    Seize the opportunity to talk up your favorite FT bloggers.

    Well, if you’re gonna FTBully me into it like that…

    Deacon Duncan’s had some pretty good posts since coming off that hiatus of his earlier this year. It’s nice to read a philosopher who has no use for civility pledges. Kate’s been consistently fabulous on her own blog. Hell, she was consistently fabulous before she went solo too. I must stop in and read Chris Rodda every Sunday. Even if she’s been too busy with her books or MRFF stuff to post much in a given week, she’s always got the funnies. I am in total awe of Yemisi’s ability to write with such clarity and insight on such a huge range of topics. And she gets stuff done in meatspace too.

    I’m gonna stop with the plugging before this becomes a multi-screener, even though there’s plenty of other good bloggers here.

  25. chrisho-stuart says

    Ed’s my favourite; Mano probably second.

    I confess: I can’t handle Physioproffe. A chacun son gout.

  26. otrame says

    I spend a notable percentage of most days reading FTB. I hit Ed first, because his posts are bite-sized. Then PZ and Greta and Cuttlefish. Then Zingularity and Mano and what I refer to as “Barton’s Bane” (Chris Rodda). I ALWAYS read what Zinnia has to say because she fucking rocks. I check out Ophelia and Stephanie, and I especially like the Black Skeptics, as their posts often hit home pretty hard because though I am white several of my grandkids are black and I want to understand the world through black eyes a little better (as well as a white woman in this country can, anyway). As someone upthread mentioned, a lot of the reading I do on the so-called peripheral blogs is done in “shut up and listen” mode.

    I think this is a great blog network. I, too, came here originally following PZ, but then Greta and Cuttlefish were here too and it just kept getting better and better. The diversity of both point of view and interests is inspiring.

  27. leni says


    … try and remove his blogging income or spreading false rape allegations about him… So they should acknowledge his contribution to the network, fairs fair. Yemi as well given I’ve not noticed her mentioned in the comments, only the OP. Massive threat to the Slymepit as an A+ person who is a wonderful activist with a lot of good results. Hence their swarm on her blog and shitty reception she got.

    I didn’t see either of those things, but that makes me very angry. And it makes me angry I didn’t see it.

    Those fucking fuckers. Why?

  28. left0ver1under says

    Skellett is probably referring to the first six to appear on the page, the those who blogged earliest and longest.

    He’s too lazy to scroll down and see the other bloggers, just as he’s too lazy to check facts.

  29. Dunc says

    Yeah, it’s been very clear to me for quite a while now that the haters don’t actually read FTB, other than the bits they hate. (And even then I have my doubts…)

    No disrespect to Jen, but how come she’s supposedly a “core” blogger despite a long hiatus (and infrequent posting now she’s back), whereas Mano’s “peripheral” even though he puts up several (excellent) posts a day?

  30. reinderdijkhuis says

    Skellett is probably referring to the first six to appear on the page

    Nah, that would make far too much sense. The top six on the page are Brayton, PZ, Rodda, Darksyde, Cuttlefish and Reasonable Doubts.

    Of these, Cuttlefish and PZ are my favorites but Darksyde is essential reading with his despatches from the economic underclass.

  31. MadHatter says

    I’ve only just started commenting a little bit recently. But I came here following PZ and Jen. But since then my RSS feed checks PZ, Dana, and Avi daily and the entire network every week I think. I’ve just started working my through all of the other bloggers and have been blown away by the quality. I have to be careful not to spend half my day just reading blogs.

  32. says

    I’m so looking forward to the promised new front page where, hopefully, all the FTB bloggers will have their current work highlighted. I used to go there to scan everyone’s latest post titles/first sentences several times a day but stopped when it got so cluttered up with people who’d already left FTB or who were on extended hiatus. Now I’m relying on the “Recent Posts” in the sidebar, but I miss stuff if post traffic is high, plus, since all I have to go by are titles I’m sure I skip posts I’d otherwise read if the titles are uninformative.

  33. says

    And also nonsensical. The accusations against him are absurd, but someone thinks they are proving a point about how you shouldn’t always believe rape allegations, which to the best of my knowledge, no one has even claimed.

  34. jenBPhillips says

    Ugh. It’s what I’ve come to recognize as the typical S’pitter behavior pattern. They fling out these ‘gotcha’ concepts, which bear no resemblance to the actual issue at hand but instead merely reveal their deep misunderstanding of it, and they can’t be talked down from the dizzying heights of their ersatz victories to see how badly their tu quoque efforts have fallen short.

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