I’m a very wealthy man in many ways

I have discovered the key to great riches: all I have to do is get someone famous to accuse me of being “click-baity” and trolling for cash, and in a strangely perverse turn, people start freely donating to me. Just today, I’ve been given $500 via the donate box in the sidebar! I was surprised, and I thank those of you who donated very much. So I thought I’d tell you all what I’m going to do with it.

I’m in stable economic circumstances, so I don’t really need the money, but it does take the edge off and let me indulge a little bit. So this weekend, I’ll take my wife out for a nice dinner. She deserves it, and also I’ve got to soften the blow of what I plan to do with the rest of it (she won’t complain anyway, don’t worry).

I'm not afraid to say the f-word

Everything after my self-indulgent dinner is going to The Ada Initiative, a non-profit which supports the advancement of women in technology. It’s a worthy cause — you can see all that they do — and it’s also the cause that Janet Stemwedel is promoting right now. She’s kicking in a substantial donation of her own, and I’ll take a look at our budget and see if we can’t also add a bit more on top of passing on what we’ve received.

And here’s the deal: anything anyone else donates in the next two weeks will be passed along to the Ada Initiative, a final lump sum contribution given in the name of the generous Pharyngula commentariat. Every penny will be passed on.

So feel free to donate, knowing it won’t just line my pockets, but will be used to help women in their careers. Or donate through Janet’s program — I approve completely. Or cut out the middleman and donate directly. Everyone wins! Especially the women.

I’ll also make a quiet challenge to Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins to match the Pharyngula donations — they can certainly afford it far more than we can. But I’m not going to apply any pressure: if they’d rather not, all they have to do is ignore this post. They can’t feel obligated to meet a challenge they never heard about, now can they?


  1. says

    Aww, way to show PZ some love folks.
    Aww squared, for treating your wife out to dinner (and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too).
    Aww cubed, for donating the rest to the Ada Initiative.

    I hope Harris and Dawkins take you up on that offer.

  2. carlie says

    I hope they match it, too. Ever since I saw that $135 million net worth figure, I’ve been wondering which charities Richard supports.

  3. says

    ADA Initiative is a good bunch. They spoke out against some of the stereotypical hacker convention misogyny and – GUESS WHAT? Rape threats and harassment.

    A group of speakers in the computer security community started an initiative to not attend conferences that don’t have posted anti-harassment policies (basically, on the same brain-wave as John Scalzi was doing simultaneously over in the S.F. community, though Scalzi is a lot more high-profile) The Ada Initiative was instrumental in reviewing the emails sent to conference organizers, and in drafting anti-harassment policies. So… A few photons, if not a whole little ray of light.

  4. F.O. says

    So, can we say that RD is attacking religion and creationism just to sell books?
    This is such lame criticism, you could apply it to ANYONE.
    For a leader of Rational Though (TM), that’s fucking stupid.

  5. yubal says

    Not going to donate a dime right now but putting it on our upcoming quarterly famliy budget meeting agenda. We snoop out worthy causes all the time and vote all four months were to put our extra money. extra money is kinda of a joke for most people but with financial planning you can generate some. We allocate a section of our budget for that, we try to adjust it to the same amount we put in savings.

  6. says

    Oh, that’s great, PZ! I fully support the Ada Initiative, and I really wanted one those stickers, but I can’t afford that particular donation at the moment. I just did my usual teeny drop in the bucket, but it all helps. And way to go, Horde members who donated.

  7. Pteryxx says

    The Ada Initiative has resources we can use to make things better.

    For example:

    The Ada Initiative has been tireless in advocating for the adoption and enforcement of conference anti-harassment policies. They offer sample language that organizations can adapt as needed, plus guidance on implementation so a well-intentioned policy doesn’t become mere words on a page.

    The Ada Initiative offers Ally Skills Workshops to teach men simple ways to make their workplaces and communities more inclusive of women.

    The Ada Initiative offers resources and training to address impostor syndrome, that pervasive feeling so many women have, nurtured by our dominant culture, that they don’t have the expertise, intelligence, or skills to do the work they are doing.

    From the Ally Skills Workshop:


    Ally Skills Workshop slides: Example slides for the Ally Skills Workshop that can be easily customized, with extensive presentation notes (ODP) (PPT) (PDF)

    Facilitator’s Guide: A detailed facilitator’s guide to help people learn how to teach the workshop (PDF)

    Example handout: Printed handout to give participants at the end of the class (PDF)

    Online curriculum: A full online curriculum for the workshop is available on the Geek Feminism wiki.

    Video: Video of an Ally Skills Workshop taught at the Wikimedia Foundation. To protect the privacy of the participants, their comments are edited out. A full transcript is available, provided by Mirabai Knight of StenoKnight CART Services.

    From the Impostor Syndrome training:

    Writing exercises

    Ada Initiative advisor Leigh Honeywell created a values exercise to combat Impostor Syndrome, which we used at AdaCamp San Francisco. Leigh’s exercise is based on Miyake et al’s finding that writing about one’s values helps combat stereotype threat. Participants identify five values that are important to them, and write about one value. The worksheet also asks them to describe a time when they were asked for advice or treated as an expert. With this short simple exercise, students are primed for a more realistic, positive assessment of their own ability and achievements.

    The worksheet is available online under Creative Commons Attribution. Contributions are welcome!

    Video training with text transcript

    Ada Initiative board member and Dreamwidth Studios co-founder Denise Paolucci wrote a talk on Overcoming Impostor Syndrome, presented at several conferences. Denise’s talk has great strategies for both sufferers of impostor syndrome and for allies and leaders to help people realistically judge their own work and to seek help and support when they need it.

    You can find the text transcript of the video here as well as included with the video. This talk transcript is based on the caption file for the video of Denise’s talk, prepared by Mirabai Knight of StenoKnight CART Services.

  8. says

    I’ve been wondering which charities Richard supports.

    The Richard Dawkins Foundation.

    (Too bitter-sounding for a nice-spirited post like this? if so, just chalk it up to me being me… a cynic.)

  9. says

    Have a good time at dinner. And good on ya’ for figuring out what to do with the extra donations. I have donated to so many things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about without FtB. (I still love Donors Choose.)

  10. sugarfrosted says

    @9 it’s a conspiracy. Dawkins paid off PZ to criticize him. PZ gets ad revenue and Dawkins gets… Something.

    (Yes, I know PZ didn’t do it for ad revenue.)

  11. says

    Thanks for the signal-boost, PZ!

    Two quick things to note:

    1. While the Ada Initiative and its resources do much to support women in tech and in the open source community, they are adamant that these resources are for any community that wants to do better at inclusion. That includes atheists, or academic philosophers, or freelance writers, or whoever.

    2. The challenge that hasn’t yet been unlocked on my campaign for the Ada Initiative depends on hitting a particular number of donors (250 by Friday 11 PM Pacific Time), not a particular number of dollars. This means if 241 more people were to each kick in a mere buck or two through my campaign link, I’ll add $500 more to the Ada Initiative coffers.

    Of course, if enthusiastic members of the Horde were to get us across that threshold well before Friday, I’d probably have to add some additional challenge for you marvelous people to unlock.

  12. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    I tossed a few dollars at docfreeride’s campaign link. Here’s hoping the 250 donor mark gets met!

  13. nmcc says

    Well done, PZ. If the comments on here are anything to go by, you must be like …er…Jesus…or somefink!

    FFS, so organised atheism has come to this: a public war of words over who’s the most self-righteous. And this after only about 5-6 years of existence. Give it another few years and you’ll be burning each other at the stake.

    I used to go to YouTube and laugh at Benny Hinn criticising the likes of Cashflow Dollar, or any other of his fellow crooks in Christ, for their money-grubbing antics. Now I can come here and get my laughs – whilst soaking up all that rational thinking and analysis. So that’s good.

    PS – Do you still have that supporter of the Provisional IRA writing on FtB? Because let’s face it, if you do – leaving aside Richard Dawkins’ puny barbs – NOTHING anyone, at any time, in any place has ever said or done could make them worse than YOU!

  14. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    And competing in the category of My Words Reflect Worse On Myself Than The Person I Think I’m Criticizing, we have: nmcc!

  15. badgersdaughter says

    I’m 47. All my life I’ve been working on overcoming the disgust and mockery of my father, an engineer himself, who would far rather his sons follow in his footsteps than his daughter, and who did all he could to discourage me. He said I wasn’t smart enough, technically minded enough, or personally forceful enough to become an engineer (except he was a jerk so he said it abusively).

    I recently got laid off from a 12-year stint with an international engineering company where I worked in IT and trained engineers. Touchingly, many of the engineers recognized me as “their people” and asked me if I would be interested in becoming one myself. Hell, yeah, I would say, but I thought it was too late for me and besides nobody else was going to help me make ends meet in the meantime. The truth was, in many ways I was still the 16-year-old listening to Daddy’s crushing snark, and didn’t have anyone close to me who was supportive.

    My husband moved me to Ireland with him after the layoff, and since I had some modest savings, he suggested that now was the time for me to move forward. I’m happy to say that I am embarking this month on the 6-year part-time program at the Open University leading to a Bachelor of Engineering degree. My husband is being very supportive. He’s also being very tolerant of my wide-eyed “I can’t believe I actually get to do this and I’m so scared it’s going to get snatched away again” insecurity. But in another way I feel like I’m finally to be allowed to be what I want to be when I grow up.

    Thanks for the link to the Ada Initiative. I need them very much since I’m afraid I might suffer from Impostor Syndrome myself, and no surprise since I’ve been told over and over again that I’m inherently not good enough and can’t ever become qualified. But I have the good estimation of engineers I respect behind me, too (six of them came forward to offer me a reference on my CV!) and I think I’m going to be OK if I keep thinking positively.

    Thanks to everyone who donated to the Ada Initiative, too. You helped me and other people like me who have had to pretend not to be who they are for decades.

  16. embertine says

    badgersdaughter, I have very little to say to that except go get it, girl. Six engineers personally volunteered a recommendation? That’s not just good, that’s amazing. I am sorry that your father’s disgusting behaviour has left such a wake of insecurity in your life, but you deserve this chance and it sounds as though you are going to be a credit to the industry.

    Just a word of warning: don’t ever volunteer to work for PZ. Many brave engineers have gone to help him design his underground lair, few have returned. The venomous rainbow squid in the moat are looking veeerrrrrry well-fed, if you know what I mean. Some customers are just never satisfied.

  17. jijoya says

    Good form, PZ. I’ll be donating directly in mid-Oct.

    I don’t believe Dawkins or Harris will even consider matching FTB’s donation. Something I do believe is they should (at least) double it, since they evidently see themselves as people who got their money by being intrinsically entitled to it, and think deliberate confrontation and bating their Enemy Du Jour with inflammatory statements never had anything to do with how much exposure they’ve been getting since day 1 of their respective careers as professional atheists.

    sugar frosted @ 5,

    it’s a conspiracy. Dawkins paid off PZ to criticize him. PZ gets ad revenue and Dawkins gets… Something.

    Dawkins gets MRA cred.

  18. badgersdaughter says

    Far better the old and jaded, who have lived a full life and seen things that scar the soul, be on the Underground Lair Engineering team, than the young bright-eyed engineers with their lives ahead of them. I do admit that I pity the Underground Lair Project Management Organization, though.

    Thank you, embertine. Everyone’s been so encouraging. :)

  19. echidna says

    I wish you good fortune, badgersdaughter. As a female engineer, I understand the societal and family pressures against you. The support of the engineers you’ve worked with tells me you’ve made a good choice.

  20. says

    badgersdaughter: I am so thrilled for you I could squee!

    I’m all too familiar with those horrible parental voices in my head (and even IRL, still). One of the things I got out of therapy is to make it my life’s mission to be as good a friend to myself as I am to the people I love. When I learned to treat myself with as much understanding as I do others (and believe me, it’s a practice, not an accomplished goal by any stretch), those voices became less and less meaningful. At first it felt really silly and alien (writing notes to my future self, talking to a mirror. WHAT.) and eventually I recruited others onto Team Me (h/t Captain Awkward). But it’s worth it. I only know you from your posts here, but I’d bet the Palace treasury you are wonderfully patient, supportive, forgiving and kind with others, and you can be that for yourself. I already know you’re a great human being, and I am certain you will make one hell of a great engineer! Kudos to you, to PZ, and to Ada. What an amazing and happy way to start my day.

  21. rq says

    I got all teary. Go you! You deserve all the success in the world, especially in engineering. What an awesome way to, if not silence, then diminish the power of your father’s voice (that can be a rather ummm tenacious thing). And yay for having so much support around you. You can do it!

  22. says

    docfreeride: you’re one donor closer.

    Iyéska: I donated an amount that gets me a sticker pack, and I’d be more than happy to send you one! Send your address to my email which you can find here.

  23. bargearse says

    After reading a comment on another FTB blog (hat tip to carlie) I estimate I’ve spent about $60 on Dawkins’s books over the years. Seems only fair ada gets the same once payday rolls around.

  24. opposablethumbs says

    badgersdaughter – that’s wonderful, and I take my hat off to you. And if you don’t mind my saying so, your father is (or at least, has behaved exactly like) a short-sighted mean-spirited arse.

  25. says

    No better time than a campaign to support the Ada Initiative for my blog to go down, huh?

    Pteryxx @10 highlighted the resources I like best from Ada.

    Here’s the direct link to donate through my campaign (where little contributions mean just as much to me as larger ones).

    Here’s the counter to track progress to 250 donors and the unlocking of the $500 bonus.

    Huge thanks to the members of the Horde who’ve donated and/or spread the word to others. Y’all rock.

  26. smhll says

    I think real clickbait looks like the recent Ask Prudence question on Slate about the celebrity with a worm fetish and a sex tape and a broke ex lover dwelling on the enriching possibility of blackmail. If it doesn’t wriggle like that, it’s not real bait.

  27. Anthony K says

    Sorry PZ. Donated through docfreeride’s link (I couldn’t not click. It was right. there. in the comments.)

    Hope your dinner was/will be great!

  28. Dark Jaguar says

    Haven’t you ever seen an 80’s movie? The key to riches is to redefine what “wealth” means to mean having family and friends. Then we’re ALL richer than you will EVER be, evil corporate retail investor! You know the guy, the one who isn’t just interested in profit, but who SWEARS he will get “revenge” on “those kids” and actively WANTS to hurt the environment rather than just being indifferent to it. The sort of cartoon character that, like anti-drug PSAs, got an entire generation to think the entire MORAL was bunk when they realized the villain was bunk.

    Ah Captain Planet and Ferngully, you did more to harm the environmentalist cause than you ever did to help it. Let it be a lesson to everyone, it isn’t enough to write fiction that sends a message. It’s got to be GOOD fiction so people actually LIKE your message. Bad fiction will actually HURT a cause.

  29. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    You know the guy, the one who isn’t just interested in profit, but who SWEARS he will get “revenge” on “those kids” and actively WANTS to hurt the environment rather than just being indifferent to it.

    So Richard Dawkins, basically. ;)

  30. screechymonkey says

    OT, but:

    the recent Ask Prudence question on Slate about the celebrity with a worm fetish

    Oh, geez, that. I stared at that for a good 60 seconds trying to figure out if it was a subtle Simpsons reference to Troy McClure’s fish fetish. Then I spent 60 seconds wondering if Prudie and Dan Savage’s inboxes had gotten mixed up.

  31. says


    Iyéska: I donated an amount that gets me a sticker pack, and I’d be more than happy to send you one! Send your address to my email which you can find here.

    Thank you! You have email.

  32. Alex says

    @badgers daughter

    That sounds really exciting. Seems like you have the passion for it like few others, and you sure got the skills, so go for it!

    Oh, and just ignore the impostor syndrome. I got my phd years ago and it still doesn’t go away completely :-D

  33. Numenaster says

    Badgersdaughter, as another female engineer I’ll join the chorus saying “You can do it–so good on you for starting!” My evidence for this conclusion? I have trust in the judgment of my fellow engineers who gave you recommendations. Here’s one of my favorite rules of thumb: when you are at 40-70% certainty, make your decision instead of waiting to gather more data. Wrong is often more fixable than late.