Keep it on the downlow

Dana has a post about my report that Dawkins asked me to tell people not to spread the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”

Keep in mind, this was about a year after various unconnected sources came forward and said that Shermer had harassed and/or assaulted them. And he’s still busy covering Shermer’s ass.

Even after so many women have come forward under their own names, he still won’t admit there may be something to this. And the little hyperskeptic lickspittles he’s got crowded round his feet are happy to help out, demanding evidence well beyond what they’d require to denounce a homeopath.

I still puzzle about that. These are real people, not just examples in some article by Christina Hoff Sommers. They’re people he may have met himself on the atheist / skeptic circuit. It’s odd that he’s so willing to trash them for the sake of defending Shermer.

There are good comments on the post – like the one by A Hermit:

Dawkins asked me to dissuade people from spreading the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”

Now that’s a pretty strong allegation you’re making yourself Richard; I mean libel is a serious legal no-no. If Shermer is really being libeled why didn’t he immediately go to the authorities, huh? I mean if he can prove he’s being libeled he should be suing everyone who’s libeling him or it’s not really libel amirite?

I bet he’s just playing the libel victim to get publicity for his new book or something…

And kellym’s:

It almost seems as if trying to protect Shermer is the main reason Dawkins issued the joint statement with Ophelia. Almost immediately after the statement was issued, Dawkins tweeted to imply that date rape wasn’t as bad as being raped by a stranger, and if you disagreed, “go away and learn how to think.” Those aren’t the words of someone trying to heal rifts that were directly exacerbated by his own words. But they are an emotional, poorly-reasoned argument that Michael Shermer isn’t a “real” rapist.

And I’m still confused as to what Dawkins was asking Ophelia to do. PZ posted the rape allegation about a year ago, so that couldn’t be undone. There were several women making accusations of predatory behavior against Shermer. Was Dawkins proposing that Ophelia contact each one to try to gain her silence? Was he hoping for a blog post that attacked their claims? I don’t understand what he was asking.

No, I don’t either, really. Maybe just spread the word, on the libelous allegers’ grapevine? I don’t know. I didn’t parse it very much because there was no chance I was going to do that. With several people telling similar stories…how could I do that?



  1. Al Dente says

    My guess is that Dawkins is trying anything to save Shermer’s reputation. The date-ranking tweet and the follow-up “learn how to think” taunt minimize Shermer’s predatory habits and shut up his and Dawkins’ critics. Getting a prominent atheist/skeptic feminist woman to doubt or at least downplay the allegations against Shermer would be extremely helpful in silencing Shermer’s accusers.

  2. kellym says

    One more obvious component to Dawkins’ post-agreement behavior: He told Ophelia before the agreement was made public, that he didn’t think it would do any good. If the agreement had resulted in healed rifts and generally better treatment for women in atheism, then a feminist would have been correct, and Dawkins would have been shown to have been wrong. Hence: intentional sabotage.

  3. says

    I’m going to say again what I said on Twitter(my natural habitat don’t you know): malicious intent. Like kellym mentions, sabotage seems like a reasonable assumption, and we’re way past the point of benefit of the doubt. They’re deliberately driving wedges, intentionally creating places more conducive for rapists/sexual predators to operate without repercussions, going out of their way to lie and smear and spread anti-feminist/anti-humanist garbage far and wide. There’s no accidents here.

  4. börndi says

    Does anybody know this nasty and unpleasant guy named MykeruMedia who several times attacked Ophelia in the past in his vids?
    If you research the Shermer thing in the Atheist Youtube community, you automatically find his video on the matter:
    The guy is absolutely insane as it seems, but at least he made me wonder what the facts really are. What are the facts, I really would like to know. Is there some kind of record or accurate chronology of the matter?

  5. Jeremy Shaffer says

    Al Dente at 1:

    Getting a prominent atheist/skeptic feminist woman to doubt or at least downplay the allegations against Shermer would be extremely helpful in silencing Shermer’s accusers.

    He already has CHS in his corner. Someone who’s analysis is so clearheaded as her’s should be all Dawkins needs. Are you suggesting that isn’t good enough?


    borndi at 3- This would be a good place to start:

  6. says

    Mykeru is a hardcore ‘pitter denizen. He despises anything even vaguely resembling Atheism+ or FtB and, I don’t doubt, is likely responsible for some if not many of the offensive photoshops floating about in the pit. Quite the nasty piece of work, that one. (In my opinion.)

  7. says

    Well, all these so called “Ladies” discuss ways to bring down prominent (guileless and brave) leaders with their locker-room gossip, so clearly that should be the method by which this libellous/slanderous misinformation should be countered.

    Obviously The D-Man doesn’t have access to those backchannels, so he needs you to do it for him. Chop-chop, and make him a sammich while you’re at it. Now that’s intersex teamwork!

  8. börndi says

    If even Ophelia says
    ‘As for what the facts are, what we have are reports. There isn’t a box somewhere with the facts inside.’,
    i.e. if we only have reports, why is Shermer then openly executed f.e. by PZ who, when I remember this right, was the first who
    posted the accusations on his blog? Has anyone seen the video that I posted above? Yes MykeruMedia is insane, but what about the claims he makes in the video? I really would like to know how much is true about this story. Who investigates this at the moment?

  9. yazikus says

    i.e. if we only have reports, why is Shermer then openly executed

    Yes, Ophelia, tell us why Shermer has been openly executed! He has been executed, right? Like right there out in the open? No? He hasn’t been executed? He is still working? His work is still being promoted by the big Orgs? And famous other thought-leaders are rushing to defense? Oh. Okay.

  10. Morgan says

    Firstly, there’s the timeline on Jason’s blog, linked by Jeremy Shaffer @6.
    In addition to that, Stephanie lays out some of the available evidence here.
    Secondly, what other evidence, or kinds of evidence, would you expect, aside from reports by the alleged victims and corroborating reports by others? (I’ve no interest in watching that video; if there’s a claim or argument in it that concerns you, I suggest you restate it yourself.)
    Thirdly: what yazikus said. PZ’s original posting on the matter included his reasons for posting it. If you want to know why it was taken seriously by others, there are the links to Jason’s and Stephanie’s posts.

  11. screechymonkey says

    Folks, in case anyone is under the impression that borndi is asking honest questions, here is, as far as I can determine, the entire commenting history of this person:

    In this thread borndi shows up to complain that “Dawkins is destroyed” by Dear Muslima because, although he is a “real” feminist, the evil Rebecca Watson has presented him “as white male supremacist.” Borndi also promotes the myth that Watson called for everyone to boycott Dawkins. After admitting error on this, borndi goes on to encourage both sides of the rifts — adopting, of course, the false pose of neutrality — to meet on The Amazing Atheist’s show, because he is “a brilliant moderator.”

    There’s another appearance in this thread, complaining that Anita Sarkeesian “doesn’t deal with criticism.”

    Most recent appearance before this that I could find is here, where he or she drops by to inform Ophelia that Jerry Coyne’s blog-that-dare-not-speak-its-name is much, much better than hers, and that it is “sad to see” what Ophelia is doing with her blog.

    So, yeah, color me not surprised when borndi shows up to say, (paraphrasing) gosh everyone, have you seen this video by Mykeru, it’s really really awful of course but let me link to it so you can see but gee I wonder if maybe Mykeru has a point, where o where could I find more information about this?

  12. says

    Yes, börndi has been suspect from the first comment here, which is recent. I doubt that börndi’s motives are innocent, but for now börndi is allowed to comment.

    börndi – your “if even Ophelia says” @ 9 is silly, because I’ve said that all along. We don’t have “the facts” – we have what we usually have, which is claims, some of which are more plausible than others. Some are much more plausible than others. See this post for instance:

  13. The Rex says

    What is shocking is that this is the exact way rape cases happen all the time, except it is happening incredibly publicly. This will probably be held up as a text book example of the way rapists operate in society. Ie: The perpetrator didn’t commit a “real” rape, and his circle of friends/supporters are unable to recognize that the person they are supporting as the example of being that has been demonized by society as a slavering drooling monster (as this is assumed how most rapes occur, that it conjures a violent image of darkened alleyways, rather than coercion, deceit and power plays). It probably stems from the human and real connection they have of him, that they do not realize that evil comes from the actions of fully real complex people, and there is a strong cognitive dissonance that occurs.

    It’s regretful that people such as Dawkins and Randi who build their careers on critical thought and self insight lack the ability to see past their privilege and social conditioning on one of the most defining issues, but I suppose they are only human. The bastards.

  14. screechymonkey says

    It’s always telling when someone insists that uncertainty only applies in one direction. I’m irritated by those who insist that, unless you are willing to claim absolute knowledge of the universe with no possibility of error, you can’t call yourself an atheist because you’re “really” agnostic. It’s a standard that never gets applied to any other issue, and doesn’t even get applied to the “other side” of the god issue: I’ve never heard anyone insist that a believer who admits to occasional doubts or a possibility of error must call themselves agnostic.

    And here, of course, the rather trivial observation that we don’t have absolute certainty of what went on with Shermer is being trotted out like it’s some kind of trump card that ends the discussion. Aside from the obvious flaws with the position that we must have an impossible-to-achieve standard of knowledge before discussing something, there’s a curious (well, ok, it’s not really curious) one-sidedness to it. Those trotting out the “we don’t know for sure” defense never seem to have an issue with anyone taking a position on the other side. Dawkins and Nugent have implicitly staked out the position that Shermer is innocent. No, they don’t come out and say it explicitly, because they’re trying to avoid even discussing it. But when you accuse someone of libel — as they have — you’re implying they have said something false.

  15. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    Since Dawkins is apparently attempting to apply UK law he is libeling both sides with his statement. First he is libeling Dawkins since repeating an allegation is just as defamatory as the statement itself. The rule is ‘if it is alleged, it is said’. And secondly accusing others of having committed libel is itself a defamatory allegation if untrue.

    Since an allegation is either true or false, alleging that someone else libeled someone by repeating a defamatory accusation has to libel one side or the other. If the original allegation is false then he is libeling the original accused. If the original allegation is false then he is libeling the person he is accusing of making libelous accusations.

    My sources here are a High Court ruling by a then master of the rolls and advice from HM treasury solicitor to a party in an investigation I was involved in. Though I don’t think anyone has considered that the conjunction is inherently libelous to one or other party before.

  16. sonofrojblake says

    @ Phillip Hallam-Baker, 18:

    First, I think in your second sentence you meant “libelling Shermer”.

    Second: so if Alison Smith doesn’t now actually follow through and sue Dawkins for libel, then she must have been lying… right? (This claim from the “should have gone to the police” crowd in 5…4…3…)

  17. börndi says

    I posted here with all sincerity. It is unfortunate that people here, including Ophelia, feel otherwise. I think this is my last blog post here (if it gets posted).
    @screechymonkey: There is no need to speculate about what a person I might be. I am afraid this is also the problem of this blog. People waste too much time in speculating about what others motives are and what they might have said and what they should have said.
    If you search ‘Shermer accused’ in youtube, you immediately are lead to thunderf00ts video about the matter (in fact it is the first search result you get).
    And thunderf00t links to Mykerus recent video, voila.
    Good luck to you all here and please don’t feel always targeted by others unless you have a serious proof for that. People aren’t as bad as you may think they are ….

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