Catches Twenty-Two

We were chatting in our top secret and amazingly awesome backchannel, full of such incredible wit and delightful banter that you shall never ever know, about how some folks over at an intelligent design website called Uncommon Descent decided to do a bit of a breakdown of the whole Loftus thing, propping it up (in act of unconcealed schadenfreude) as indicative of some kind of big rift or infighting amongst atheists.

Which is a bit tedious and uninformed in that it hasn’t exactly been much of a conflict or controversy at all. No battle lines actually got drawn, nobody was attacking anybody (except in Loftus’ imagination), and there was no grand battle. In fact, pretty much everyone agreed that his remarks were over the line and his behaviour erratic and strange. All that really ultimately resulted from it was a nice, timely nudge in the direction of having an interesting and important discussion about the value of diversity in networks like FTB and in the atheist community as a whole, and a reminder of the problems lying behind accusations of tokenism.

Greta Christina made a really interesting point, though, that got my brain pieces to start doing brain stuff. She pointed out how whenever there’s a disagreement within our community, no matter how minor, people will exploit it to make up stories about “rifts” and “infighting” and “drama”, how we’re a bunch of angry little kids who endlessly squabble amongst ourselves. And then when we do agree with one another, suddenly we’re a “hive mind”, an “echo chamber”, “preaching to the choir”, a “circle jerk”, “silencing dissent”. We’re mocked and attacked for disagreeing with each other, and mocked and attacked for agreeing with one another. A catch-22, no-win, damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.

What occurred to me, though, was how familiar these kinds of tactics are. While I’m relatively new to the atheist community, and new to seeing them play out here, I’m familiar with the same kind of “fit the circumstances to your opinion” thinking (rather than fitting your opinion to the circumstances), the same way of finding means of interpreting any action as terrible, even the acts that a moment ago you had criticized someone for not taking. I was familiar with them from feminism, from the trans community, from poverty activism and social justice work, from social attitudes towards addicts, and things like that.

I started wondering if these catch-22 set-ups are actually sort of the hallmark of discrimination, sort of the most direct and immediately recognizable way of knowing that a given group has been predetermined to be in the wrong regardless of what they do, or just generally aren’t being given a fair chance in terms of how they’re treated or understood.

Examples are pretty easy to come by… there’s the classic “slut” / “prude” dynamic applied to women. No matter how a woman expresses her sexuality it can always be disparaged and held against her. There is no “goldilocks zone” for female sexuality, she can always be shamed, and the lines dictating “acceptable” expressions of her sexuality can always be shifted as needed to keep her forever looking for external approval. Then we’ve got the awful “you’re trying too hard, therefore not a real woman” / “you’re acting like a man, therefore not a real woman” dynamic applied to trans women. No matter how we express our gender, it can always be held against us, always used as a means of undermining the validity of our female identity. Either we’re told we’re stupidly exaggerated barbie doll caricatures of womanhood who reflect male misconceptions of what being a woman is, or we’re told we’re not feminine enough and haven’t been able to let go of our inherent masculinity and therefore clearly not a “true transsexual” and must just have some kind of creepy sexual paraphilia or something. There’s also the version of this that appears in transphobic wings of contemporary radical-feminism, where if we express a femme identity we’re “reinforcing patriarchal gender binaries” and “perpetuating societal concepts of what a woman is ‘supposed’ to be”, but if we’re lesbian or tomboyish or even simply assertive, empowered or confident then we’re “holding onto male privilege, acting like typical domineering men, infiltrating women’s spaces and raping them through claiming women’s identities and bodies as their own”. And if we ever get upset, or object to this? “Typical male privilege and sense of entitlement, demanding that you get exactly what you want. Typical male aggression, too, trying to yell at us women and silence our voices. Look how violently angry you’re getting! Typical Y chromosome behaviour.”

Or poverty? “Leeching off the system” vs. “taking our jobs!”. Or sexual orientation? “I don’t mind gay people as long as they don’t act like it.” vs. “Marriage is between one man and one woman! If they raise kids the children will end up screwed up! Stop white-washing homosexuality and acting like it’s normal!”. Or feminism? “Man-hating bulldyke!” vs. “You’re such a hypocrite, dressing all sexy and wearing make-up and then getting upset when men hit on you!” Or addiction? “If we offer them any help or assistance, we’re only enabling them and rewarding bad behaviour.” vs. “Why should I care what happened to them? They could have gotten help.”

The thing about prejudice is that you’ve already made your judgment before you get the information. You’ve already decided something about the party in question, so you interpret your perceptions to fit whatever you’ve decided. These kinds of lose-lose situations crop up as a result of people trying to get the reality to fit the preconceptions… the cognitive dissonance often causing those preconceptions to break down into nothing more complex than “not a real woman”, “bad for society”, “hate men” or even just “bad”, no matter what the situation in front of you actually suggests, no matter what potentially contradictory justifications you had just used five minutes ago.

It’s worth keeping an eye out for these sorts of criticisms, where you’re being attacked for one thing one moment and the complete opposite thing the next. Noticing that you’ve been placed in a lose-lose situation like this does nothing for actually solving the problem, of course, but it does make it very clear that you’re not being given a chance, and that you’re dealing with an irrational, emotionally-based hatred rather than an analytic one. It helps to know what kind of a game you’re being forced to play.

Another valuable lesson that can emerge from paying attention to this kind of thing is learning to spot it in yourself. Like, say imagine a group or political party or musician or whatever you really, really, really hate. Now think of your primary criticisms. Do any of your criticisms contradict each other? Like are you criticizing some people for both infighting and for groupthink? For being both callously individualistic and fascistic? For being too elitist and too populist? Too derivative and too weird? As much as it’s an indicator of when a group you belong to or a group you sympathize with aren’t being given a fair chance, it can also be an indicator that you aren’t giving some other group a fair chance, and that you’re forcing circumstances to fit your opinion.

Anyway… I’d love to hear some examples of other lose-lose dynamics in the comments, if anyone has some.


  1. says

    To repeat a post I made at Butterflies and Wheels:

    New Atheism is the faddish in-thing, except when it’s fading into obscurity. The New Atheists are all fusty old men, except when they’re all immature teenagers. The movement is aimless and incoherent, except when it’s ruthlessly working to eliminate religion. All New Atheists slavishly think the same thing, except when they’re on the verge of tearing the movement apart through infighting. They’re all lazy, uncommitted and unwilling, except when they’re fervent and obsessive. New Atheists boorishly seek argument at every turn, except when they cowardly evade argument at every term. New Atheism is a threat to society, except when it’s dying and irrelevant.

    As Joseph put it, Any Extreme Will Do…

  2. says

    …damnit I managed to repeat my typo as well. That should be “…evade argument at every turn”.

    FTB needs an edit function. If you happen to accidentally click the Submit Bu

  3. Cimorene says

    Remember back when Hillary Clinton was in the news all the time, and they kept harassing her for being an “emotionless ice queen”, “ball breaker” and other things like that? Then she cried on camera, and suddenly they were saying that a woman is too emotional to have anything to do with politics.

    It was just… wow…

  4. Movius says

    Black and white thinking vs Relativism. Lack of Imagination vs “so open minded your brain falls out” . Uptight conservative vs Filthy hippy.

  5. ashleybone says

    The same thing’s at play with the recent spate of attacks on Dawkins. Either he’s the vulgar, abrasive, close-minded descendant of slave traders, or he’s actually not an atheist at all.

  6. says

    HEADLINE: Natalie Reed CRUSHES fellow atheists as she LASHES OUT at Uncommon Descent, and TEARS APART the actions of her own blogging community, while blindly supporting her cronies!

    Sorry – I was just thinking about the likely reception for this post…

  7. says

    I think us atheists are occasionally guilty of this in regards to liberal believers. “You’re using the Bible to justify your hate and bigotry” on the one hand, vs. “In tying your support for liberal causes to your faith, you are whitewashing what the Bible actually says” on the other.

    It’s a little different because a) the faithful are not an oppressed group, so it’s not like we are denying them a voice by boxing them in this way, and b) both criticisms are accurate. But I do think we could give a little more credit to liberal believers when they are not attacking atheists. I’ve written about this in regards to Karen Armstrong for example — if she would just lay off with the criticism of outspoken atheists, and instead make literal belief her full-time target, then I’d have to say she’d be one of the good guys. She does in fact actually advocate within the Catholic church for a more enlightened approach to viewing the world. She still deserves criticism for her unfair attacks on atheists, but we shouldn’t tear her down for trying to get people to reject dogmatic belief. After all, that’s exactly what we want, isn’t it?

    • Tim z says

      I wouldn’t say believers aren’t persecuted. Persecution doesn’t only apply to a minority, and I’ve been persecuted for my faith simply because of others that claim to be of my faith can be mean people. I’m damned if I try to defend my faith, as it’s perceived to be “preaching”, but if I say nothing, then only the mean people become the faiths vocal representatives. 22, I’m caught.

      • says

        No offense, Tim, but ‘persecution’ requires systematic mistreatment, which kind of implies that one does have to be member of a minority group. (Christianity in the US is definitely not that)

        The way you’ve been treated is grossly unfair and very rude, but not persecution.

    • Gabbeh says

      I have to agree with this- I don’t think arguing against liberal belief is super-productive, personally. Then again, I’m a rather ‘weak’ atheist, so for me it comes down to how one weighs the rather slim corridor of lack of non-evidence of a divine. I figure that if it’s their considered belief, and they’re happy to let me not believe and not live according to whatever they consider sacred, it’s their call to make. I think this makes me a bad New Atheist 😛

  8. Jeremy Shaffer says

    A former co- worker of mine would often claim that our black colleagues did nothing but show up late, leave early and spend the day on a break. Any work done by them, which was quite a lot, was simply dismissed as them just “trying to act white”.

  9. janine says

    You call yourself FreeThoughtBlogs but you say mean things about my form of magical thinking, so you are not actually so free thinking.

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    … our top secret and amazingly awesome backchannel, full of such incredible wit and delightful banter that you shall never ever know…

    A covert fiendish master plan to take over the world, saturated with fatuity and fatal incoherence.

    Aww, after you get the feel for it, this is too easy.

    But one day the collected FtB bc files will provide someone nice material for a thesis!

  11. Anders says

    There is a fully developed “slut/prude” dichotomy in the Proto-IndoEuropean mythology that we have re-created, which means that that particular false dichotomy is some 6000 years old. Although the dichotomy there is more “dangerous woman” vs. “safe woman” the general tendencies are the same.

    • Anders says

      A cow goddess is maternal, safe, and protecting. Her sexuality is at the service of the tribe. A Celtic example is Brighid. She is the patron of poets (first function), smiths (second function), and healers (third function). She is attended by a white cow with red ears, and is given offerings of dairy products. In her Christian form, St. Brighid, called the foster mother of Christ, her maternal aspect is clear.

      The mare goddesses are more dangerous. Because of this, they tend to be harder to identify, their stories having been toned down by Christian recorders, or even by their own worshipers. An Irish example of her would be Medb. She practices magic (first function), leads an army (second), and is sexually promiscuous (third). It is this latter that is frequently emphasized. Mare goddesses usually have many mates, and are not faithful to any of them. This is a goddess whose sexuality is in service only to herself. She is great, but she is dangerous.

      While the mare goddess may seem to be more appealing to moderns than the cow goddess (macho goddesses are in), the ancients were quite clear that she was not someone to be trifled with. Medb sends most of her lovers to their deaths in battle against Cú Chulainn, for instance. The ancients by far preferred cow goddesses; this is only to be expected, since they were more concerned with the survival of the tribe than the sexuality of the individual.

      • Anders says

        Here’s the original site:

        I came upon it while looking for new ideas for a campaign religion in an RPG I was planning (as with most things, it never got off the ground). While the author seems to have done his homework, he is actually worshipping these gods, so his personal biases have probably influenced the outcome. And he is a little too fond of Dumezil and the trifunctional hypothesis for my taste. Still, it was good enough for an RPG.

      • Esther says

        As a Celticist, I have to point out that neither on the Celtic, nor on the Indo-European side are things quite so simple. All we know of actual Celtic gods/goddesses are a couple of names on coins and stones and in placenames, and what the classical authors (Greek/Roman) wrote about them. They had a different religion and tried to pair the Celtic gods/goddesses to their own, with mixed results.
        The names you are mentioning are medieval Irish. Although we do in that time period certainly find names that go back or could go back to earlier Celtic names, there’s a long time between and some distance as well. Moreover, these names come down to us in stories written down by Christian monks. They contain oral tradition to a larger or lesser extend (the amount is still a matter of debate), but you’ll understand that it isn’t a straightforward account of Celtic mythology. Especially since most of it doesn’t even come down to us as mythology. Medb, for example, is in the stories as a woman. An extraordinary woman, certainly, with an extraordinary sexual appetite and for those times extraordinary political powers (she was a queen), but in the stories she does not appear to be a goddess. It is not impossible to tease out earlier mythology from the medieval material and indeed several scholars have done so. This is however always speculative and if done right, is done very carefully and does not give the amount of detail that people are used to from for example Greek and Roman mythology (we don’t, for example, know what animal a certain Celtic god/ess would have been asociated with).

        Unfortunately, the unclear (and appealingly mystical) nature of the Celtic and medieval Irish and Welsh material leads to a lot of fluff (Celtic paganism, anyone?), but most of it is not based on any actual scholarship. The site you mention is an example of that.

    • says

      Wow, I had no idea it was that old, or rather, those roots. I don’t think they actually line up with the slut/prude dichotomy, but dangerous/safe really really makes sense as roots of that. :-(.

  12. says

    Arggh that’s quite a challenge, Natalie. I think my view of the US Tea Party is actually very one-dimensional though, do I get a free pass for not thinking inconsistent things about them?

    I think you’re right, this sort of inconsistency happens with a lot of discrimination. Though, I think it happens with any groups whose members don’t individually interact much. It made me think uncomfortably about power differentials though: when I as a white person am seen in contradictory lights by anti-racism activists of color, this perception only affects me inasmuch as I choose to care, and I know I can continue to interact and try to figure out when to help and when to get out of the way. When I as a queer person am seen in contradictory lights, I cam usually do much less about this and am more likely to be affected. I’m not sure what the point of this was.

    • says

      Oh right, the point was, I hate a lot of right-wingers when they try to standardize our lives. So I don’t think about every aspect of their lives much. They hate me when they realize who I am. So I guess that means everything I do is wrong.

      One more thing, I think traditions with holy books get a lot of practice in interpretation. It is possible we underestimate that power.

  13. William Burns says

    It’s not just those groups which are considered “discriminated against” that are the victim of Catch-22s. It can happen to the powerful and privileged as well. Take, for example, Mitt Romney. Romney can talk about how many cars he owns, and be mocked as an out-of-touch rich guy. Or he can try to be a regular guy and talk about how he is “unemployed” and be mocked as inauthentic. The same thing happened to the elder Bush.

    • Besomyka says

      I think I’m most prone to this sort of thing when discussing politics, but in the specific case of Mitt Romney you mentioned, I’m not sure that’s a good example. Mitt is a very wealthy man, the only question is whether or not he can relate to the non-wealthy in a way that convinces us that he has some appreciation of the state of our lives so that we can have some level of confidence that the decisions he might make as President can be taken with some awareness as to their affect on us.

      The criticism is that he IS out of touch. When he talks about his wife driving multiple Caddies (later explained as necessary because there’s one at each of their houses), that certainly play to the criticism. It appears the criticism is justified.

      When he then says he is also unemployed and laughs, when we know he’s making millions upon millions of dollars on interest alone, we know that the effect of that unemployment for him and for us is a very, very different thing. Pointing to that highlights the fact that he doesn’t understand what we go through.

      In his case it’s not a catch-22. There may well be things about our lives that we share, aspects that he can empathize with, but he hasn’t talked about them yet. When asked about NASCAR, he said he doesn’t pay attention to it much, but he DOES know and is friends with several Owners.

      Ah. Honest, for sure. But still, it doesn’t disabuse anyone of the opinion that he’s an out of touch rich white guy that is more interested in helping his rich friends than the rest of us. So why should I vote for him?

  14. daenyx says

    I’ve gotten “stop trying to be such a robot; you can’t process all your emotions analytically” (when I’m disagreeing dispassionately and/or not having the same emotional response to a scenario as the speaker) and “you’re letting your emotions get in the way of your objectivity” (when I’m disagreeing emphatically, or when I’ve been offended by something sexist)… from the same person, sometimes in the same week.

    From people in general, I am either criticized as being an “icy bitch” or an “over-emotional woman.” It’s getting really, really old.

  15. josh says

    I think the kind of stuff Natalie is talking about is sometimes a legitimate gripe and sometimes not. (A bold stance, I know!) As William Burns at #13 points out, it’s not just discriminated groups, it’s a human tendency to go after people we dislike with any criticism at hand. It’s also the case that people can be deserving of criticism from opposite directions because they aren’t particularly consistent. In some situations they really are too much and in others too little and they rarely hit the goldilocks zone.

    So with the Romney example, Mitt really can be an out-of-touch rich guy who sometimes sounds like one when he’s talking, and yet when he tries to compensate he goes too far and becomes painfully inauthentic. There’s an underlying problem that he really is a rich guy advocating rich guy policies, but insofar as he can do anything about how he is perceived, it’s a very fine line to walk where you acknowledge your fortune while maintaining a connection with the man on the street.

    When you’re talking about groups it gets much more complicated. For one thing, it’s often a group of criticizers and even if they were individually consistent they wouldn’t draw their lines in the same place so there is no absolute goldilocks zone. Look at arguments over accomodationism for a clear example. And when you critize a group it’s easy to pick out different people with different flaws and bundle them into a general critique. I think among the religious there are elements that are too dogmatic and hidebound, and there are those that are too wishy-washy and vague. They are both problems and there are some underlying commonalities, but an apologist could try to dismiss me by pretending the criticisms are all equally applied to an individual religious person.

    Along similar lines, it’s possible for a group of people to be an echo chamber within some sub-group while being factional and fractious with other sub-groups within a larger community.

    So, basically, don’t expect your enemies to play fair, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I get criticism from both sides, so their must not be anything to it.”

    • Anders says

      Right. Twenty years ago a member of the Skeptic community could think “Well, the feminists say we have too few women and our religious opponents are apoplectic that we let any woman have a say. Clearly we’re at the optimal point.”

      To add my own example, it is my experience that corporations are either accused of being skinflints and not giving enough to charity on one hand, or of trying to buy loyalty and goodwill in a cynical manner that has nothing to do with real charity.

  16. Shaun says

    I got this far, “…and must just have some kind of creepy sexual paraphilia or something,” and my brain hiccuped to a stop. Some of your readers have creepy sexual paraphilias. They’re not something we necessarily like or want, they’re mental disorders like many others, that we have to learn to deal with and live with. I don’t know if you agree with the sentiment that paraphilias are creepy and wrong, or if you were just semi-quoting someone else, but it’s definitely an attitude that exists, even among sex-positive non-normative minorities and those with other forms of mental disorders, who really ought to know better.

    You didn’t pick your identity, either, I think. If you’d had that chance, your life might have been easier.

    • Anders says

      I don’t know if most people would find my kink creepy or just weird but it’s definitely something I’d be embarassed about if it came out. Fortunately I have no sex life so there’s really no risk.

      • Anders says

        *muses* We had a Swedish Minister for Equality who wanted to ban all BDSM-pictures because they encouraged men to hit women. She also wanted to ban swingers’ clubs because the women who went there were raped. After all “no sane woman wants to have sex with more than one man at a time.” :rolleyes:

        • shaun says

          Belated addendum: I’m sorry for coming out swinging. It’s something I feel strongly about and don’t get to talk about often.

      • says

        Of course I don’t hold that view. I’m describing the hypothetical awful opinions of others.

        Quite… except that unfortunately, there is nothing ‘hypothetical’ about those awful opinions – there are a number of people who hold them, and I’m probably not alone in finding them repugnant, seeing as my trans identity is one of those that are stigmatised: not because I’m on the trans spectrum, but on account of also happening to be bisexual; ‘real’ M2F transsexuals are hetero. It’s like major WTF.

        This is not to dismiss Shaun’s objection to the word, BTW, since paraphilia was intended by sexologists not to be pejorative yet has tended to be used that way and Natalie’s initial qualifications of it by ‘creepy’; however the topic of paraphilia, fetishisation, and stigmatisation of sexological ‘disorders’ is a multi-faceted topic worthy of a series of posts in its own right. Homosexuality was classified in this way in the first two edition of the DSM, and several of the people on the committees rewriting DSM-V are torchbearers to the paraphilic view of some transgender identities.

        • says

          Yeah, I know those attitudes exist. Frankly, I thought it was pretty obvious what I was doing in that sentence: describing a particular kind of negative attitude directed towards trans women. It’s not reflective of my own position, is meant to illustrate problematic stances, and it’s the exact wording that’s “hypothetical”… my saying “hypothetical” is not to suggest that these attitudes don’t actually exist. Quite the opposite. I’m pointing out a hostile attitude towards both trans women AND paraphilia, kinks, sexuality, etc. that is used against us.

          • says

            Oh yes, I understand the distinction you were drawing! Umm, is this something you’d like to write about at some stage? That’s if it’s not already on your page with the burgeoning list of topics? 🙂

  17. says

    No matter how a woman expresses her sexuality it can always be disparaged and held against her. There is no “goldilocks zone” for female sexuality, she can always be shamed, and the lines dictating “acceptable” expressions of her sexuality can always be shifted as needed to keep her forever looking for external approval.

    This came up a heckuva lot last summer in our online community and continues to rage on to this day.

    Where else I have seen this is with President Obama from his political enemies who do things like question his religious convictions if he doesn’t go to church or goes to the wrong church but then turn around and convict him of being a secret Muslim when he does it right, and say that he is a fascist dictator but also a socialist welfare president and then mock his inability to command the troops properly even though he was the one who made the call that got Osama bin Laden, and call him a radical liberal on LGBT rights most of the time but then cite his own bigoted words to attack the LGBT community in political ads and morning TV talk shows and court cases, etc.

  18. says

    I love the phrasing “got my brain pieces to start doing brain stuff”. I like your brain pieces and the way they do brain stuff!

    Also, really good point on the catch-22. Not sure I agree with the commenters asserting that this can also apply to the privileged, though. For instance, Romney being criticized for being an out of touch rich guy, and then being criticized for being inauthentic when he tries not to talk like one, are not opposite critiques. They’re the same critique. Romney IS an out of touch rich guy, this is plainly evident, and when he does try to talk like “regular folks”, it rings hollow precisely because he is an out of touch rich guy.

    A fairer example would be something like, peope saying “Romney is an out of touch rich guy who doesn’t understand the needs of the poor and the middle class”, and then if Romney were to propose actually reasonable, progressive economic policies that would actually help, the same people saying “Romney is a class traitor for trying to steal from the wealthy to help the poor and middle class”. Which strikes me as very unlikely, but it would be a real catch-22.

  19. Anders says

    There are three elements here – Emotion, Data, and Insult. The problem is that many people suppose you go this way: You analyze the Data, get an Emotion and craft an Insult if one is needed. Whereas the way most people go is: You come with an Emotion, analyze the Data and craft the Insult to fit the data. You are drawing the map before you’ve seen the terrain.

    Skeptics do this as well, of course. Our one advantage is that we are (can be?) aware of this and correct ourselves. However, it is when we need this capability the most, when our emotions are the strongest, that we are the least likely to do so.

    tl;dr It is difficult to argue rationally

  20. Pteryxx says

    Quoting from a different thread over on Pharyngula:

    What’s the old saying about what you learn as a fundamentalist? God loves you and you’re going to hell. Sex is horrible and disgusting and you should save it for someone you love.

    It might not be valid in this discussion to compare arguments against another person, group, or position with cognitive dissonance applied to oneself or within one’s own group; but if there’s a connection to be made, it’s that a can’t-win dichotomy is a method of control. Blaming women for being sluts AND prudes, or blaming immigrants for being lazy AND taking all the jobs, are means of attacking and silencing people who, by definition, don’t deserve consideration.

    In a personal relationship, this would be an abuse tactic: setting up the rules such that the other person cannot ever gain by their own efforts. They can only gain benefits by specific dispensation of the controlling party.

    • Anders says

      This is key, I think. You need a system that produces guilt at all times, because a person who thinks ze is guilty is a person willing to atone. And the man who determines the price of atonement is the man who runs the show. Unearned guilt is one of the most destructive feelings a person can have, but from the point of the ruler, it is also one of the most useful. Totalitarian regimes typically develop laws that are labyrinthine and impossible to navigate safely. This serves the dictators’ goals as surely as if they had been crafted that way. I don’t think they always are, but they might as well have been.

      From this point of view, Original Sin is a masterpiece. It is the ultimate in unearned guilt – you were born with it, you can’t get rid of it, but you can atone for it at least temporarily (according to some denomination; others see it as an inborn tendency to sin).

  21. says

    Funny, Richard Dawkins just talked about the “you can’t win” problem yesterday.

    It’s hard to resist a feeling of “You can’t win”. On the one hand we ‘horsemen’ and ‘new atheists’ are attacked, often aggressively and stridently, for being aggressive and strident. On the other hand, when journalists or religious apologists actually meet us and we turn out to be courteous and civilised, they accuse us of climbing down, “admitting” or “confessing” that we have changed, when actually we are behaving exactly as we always have.

    Ain’t it the truth.

    I don’t have any new examples; just the old familiar nooooo atheist ones which you began with. Echo chamber! Deep rifts! Sometimes in the same tweet.

  22. says

    That Uncommon Descent article really annoyed me as they posted a bunch of links with little actual commentary. Then, they acted like they were above it all when this was really just smug posturing.

  23. says

    Catch: “If you just acted normal, you wouldn’t have these problems with people.”
    22: “You’re acting too normal to have Asperger’s. You’re just trying to cover up for having no social skills!”

  24. says

    Before you came to FtB, I had no clue who you were as a blogger. From the very first day you arrived here, I began craving a daily dose of Natalie Reed blog posts. Your syntax and brain are like a nice little drug to me. Please don’t start charging as I would hate to have to take out a second mortgage on my house*.

    Thanks for such awesome work.:)

    *I absolutely might perhaps just go to that extreme if you did

  25. Anders says

    How about this one:

    Catch: “You need to get out and relax. You can’t write good blog posts if you stay inside all day.”

    22: “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Want blog post NOW!”



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