Social justice networks are metastasizing!

metastasis |məˈtastəsəs|
noun (pl. metastases |-ˌsēz| )
the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.
• a metastatic growth.

It’s true — Freethoughtblogs has divided, although I prefer to think of it as multiplying. A new network has sprung from our loins, The Orbit, which includes some popular bloggers formerly of FtB, including Aoife O’Riordan, Ashley Miller, Brianne Bilyeu, Dana Hunter, Greta Christina, Heina Dadabhoy, Miri Mogilevsky, and Zinnia Jones, and incorporating several new bloggers as well. Head on over there, say hello, and start adding them to your RSS feeds.

You can also help them fund their efforts by donating to their kickstarter.

We’re hoping the trolls will be confused. Suddenly, more sites that are opposing and mocking them are spawning? Aren’t we supposed to be collapsing and going away?


  1. Holms says

    We’re hoping the trolls will be confused. Suddenly, more sites that are opposing and mocking them are spawning? Aren’t we supposed to be collapsing and going away?

    Nope, they’re gloating at – wait for it – the imminent demise of FTB / Pharyngula / A+ / the concept of social justice / [whatever]. You know, the same thing they’ve been saying for years. This proves that they were totally right all along?>!!!2!

  2. says

    Agh! Change! Confusion! I’m almost 50 and set in my ways of browsing, why must there be change in this progressive movem- oh, right.

    Sorry, had a bowl of TRUMP™ brand GOPatriot Flakes this morning, seems to have me belching right-wing memes.

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    I guess at some point two smaller blog networks have a smaller administrative overhead than one big.

  4. komarov says

    Aren’t we supposed to be collapsing and going away?

    Of course not. This nefarious network is kept afloat by vast sums of click-bait money and outrage-blogging.* No doubt the kickstarter is a false-flag operation (TM)** to confuse your enemies while raising even more obscene amounts of money for your evil organisation.
    While we’re at it, the delays in setting up the new blogs are probably due to issues with the indoctrination process of your new recruits. Everyone knows computers and websites are trivial to set up, whereas a progressive mindset is notoriously difficult to instill in a free and patriotic mind.***

    *I forget and confuse all the pertinent buzzwords. I would apologise but … meh.
    **Like everything else ever
    ***A truly patriotic brain maintains tightly closed borders at all times. Borders with big walls to overcome.

  5. Alverant says

    I saw this on pathos and some people were blaming you PZ for this. They said you were toxic and “attacked” Thunderfoot. I’m not sure how much of it is true (except for the part about Thunderfoot, he deserves to be heavily criticized). But I thought you should know.

  6. says

    Typical Hemant.

    I’m speculating here, but I suspect at least some of the Orbit writers are heading to the new site in part to get out from under his shadow and away from his burn-all-bridges reputation. Maybe I’m wrong.

    Yeah, you’re wrong. Ass.

    I also notice, as usual, that his comment section is full of slymepitters complaining about the “toxic environment” here. The irony is boundless.

  7. AMM says

    It looks like most of my favorite bloggers are moving over there.

    Unfortunately, it’s got a few bugs.

    The home page and a few of the general pages are unreadable on my browser (Firefox 27.0). Stuff is all over the page and overprinted and generally messed up. Turning JavaScript on didn’t help. By clicking on random spots on the screen, I eventually got to a blog, but the print is too large for me. (I’m guessing it’s formatted for a 3-inch screen.)

    I don’t see a Webmaster link or E-mail address, either. (According to long-standing Internet standards, they should have and , but a lot of sites don’t.) If there were, I would report it to them.

  8. says

    I’m speculating here, but I suspect at least some of the Orbit writers are heading to the new site in part to get out from under his shadow and away from his burn-all-bridges reputation. Maybe I’m wrong.


    There was stupid speculation going on here, too, in the Dang, he did it again thread.

  9. Alverant says

    I can imagine the “get out of PZ’s shadow” having some validity. I’m not faulting PZ. I see this happen on the job. People want to advance and they can’t so they strike out on their own. I also think we can do a better job of respecting differences of opinion. I’ve been ripped a new one for not agreeing with others. Sometimes it was deserved, sometimes it felt like an over-reaction. I know there’s a lot of passion here, but maybe we should temper it a little bit to get more people.

  10. says

    Well, the comments on The Friendly Atheist. One familiar Slymepit name seems to becoming more and more unhinged in his hatred of FtB, including the requisite random capitalization.

  11. Tethys says

    Cancer is busily trying to kill another one of my friends , so if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to imagine cytokinesis and syncytiums instead. Hoorah, I look forward to much reading enjoyment with 2 blog networks and all the new voices. I originally found Pharyngula due to a fossil post back at scienceblogs. I forget which critter it was, but I am truly grateful for the wealth of knowledge in science, and critical thought, social justice and many other related issues that I have learned about since then. Intersectionality is one of my favorite social concepts.

    It is beyond pathetic for those on the far side of the deep rifts to accuse you of burning bridges PZ. Like any efficient super-genius, evil Overlord, the deep rift and it’s seething lava automatically take care of that little security issue for you.

  12. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Sooo, they’re the enemy now, right? Right?
    No? Oh.
    *puts the rocket launcher back in its box*
    I’m never gonna get a chance to use that thing….

  13. says

    I was looking specifically for applicants with autism experience! We just didn’t get any this time. If you comment on any autism blogs, let ’em know we’d welcome applications here.

  14. Blood Knight in Sour Armor says

    Hemant is not entirely wrong about the toxic environment bit, but his grasp of the situation stops there.

    I for one am looking forward to seeing the front page again without wanting to punch the screen.

  15. says

    The Entitlement Warriors/Status Quo Warriors already see us as in infection so maybe the best metaphor is that this particular bacterial culture sample contained too many unique phenotypes and subcloning to new plates was needed.

  16. screechymonkey says

    PZ, I’m sure The Bootlicking Atheist will correct his post as quickly and as slavishly as he did when Michael Shermer said that he doesn’t actually endorse Trump.

  17. says

    The Orbit looks good. There are several bloggers there that are already on my check-often shortlist. I’ll see if I can scrounge up a few dollars to support them.

  18. says

    Y’know, for a blogger so keen on being a Serious Journalist and getting The Scoop, Hemant sure does a lot of wild, unfounded and evidence-free speculation designed to bait ‘Pitters to salivate over red meat.

  19. says

    AMM: Firefox’s latest version is 45, but I can still get 27 to try to duplicate the situation and possibly put into place some controls to render better on that edge case. I’ve also made a note to doublecheck that email forwarding from is working (it SHOULD be forwarding catch-all to me, but may not be functioning properly).

  20. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh hey! Tony Tompson has a blog over at the Orbit!

    Good to see he has a blog over there.

  21. says


    I was looking specifically for applicants with autism experience! We just didn’t get any this time. If you comment on any autism blogs, let ’em know we’d welcome applications here.

    I have to confess that I do not know any. The people with autism that I know are very sensitive to social exposure as I am, though in a way that I find difficult to generalize about since we (Tourette’s reference) are like reflections of one another in some respects. I’m sure autistic bloggers exist, but I spend most of my time in the mileau of culture expressing the reasons to take neurodiversity seriously instead of in the comment sections of autistic bloggers. That may be a mistake.

  22. Hj Hornbeck says

    Let’s see if I have this straight: at a time when I’m unusually overworked and overwhelmed, the number of awesome atheist and social justice blogs that I want to follow has doubled?

    I hate you all.

  23. says

    #28: That may be why we didn’t get any applicants.

    Maybe we should hunt some down and drag them into the public eye and make them expose their anxieties…oh, wait. That would be a bad idea.

  24. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Wow, but the crowd over there at the Friendly Atheist’s place has some issues.
    Good luck to all those starting anew at the Orbit and those coming here!

  25. says

    Sooooo, there are some new voices coming to FTB and, at the same time, we have a new network starting in which we get MOAR new voices without actually losing* any of the old voices. I’m failing to see any problem with that.

    * shuffling from one network to another != losing them

  26. brucegee1962 says

    Everyone is being excessively cheerful and all about this, which is great, but still…

    It occurs to me that a lot of the speculation/conspiracy theorizing/shade casting would have been cut down if all this had been presented with some kind of positive, logical REASON why two smaller networks are better than one big one. I check in several times a day, and I was getting sad that updates seemed to happen more rarely after so many had left; I was looking forward to the new blood bringing more updates. Since several big posters are leaving, now I’m guessing it’ll be about the same — but I don’t know if I feel like following two separate networks or not. Generally, when writers I like have drifted off, I’ve stopped following them.

    What I’m getting at is that I don’t think this split is all that beneficial for US, the readers. I came here to see if there was an explanation for why it was beneficial for YOU, the writers, but I’m not seeing one. Lacking an explanation, it must be some kind of information-theory law that shade-casting conspiracy theories will rush in to fill the gap.

  27. AlexanderZ says

    Good luck to all new bloggers, here and there!
    I’d like to take this opportunity to moan and whine about the side-bar blog-roll being over clattered, which makes it hard to spot new blogs. Also, some new blogs still don’t have a working banner.
    You may now resume your regular commenting.

    As for the Friendly Atheist:

    Incidentally, I reached out to one of the founders of The Orbit for more information back in January. I never heard back.

    I can’t imagine why!

  28. says

    My blog reading time is quite limited. I have a few I follow regularly, but, for the most part, I look at the front page to see if any of the new posts (from those I don’t directly follow) sound particularly interesting. Now I have two pages that may contain new posts that fit my mood at the time. Big win for me.

  29. leerudolph says

    Beatrice@32:”Wow, but the crowd over there at the Friendly Atheist’s place has some issues.”

    How unusual and unexpected of them!!!

  30. says

    Good luck for The Orbit (I’ll sure hang out there AND back the Kickstarter)
    Welcome new folks.
    There has always been a steady coming and going at FtB and quite often it looked like people “loosing their training wheels” when they moved off. That may be frustrating for PZ, but if FtB is the growing soil for new kick ass bloggers, that’s some achievement.
    For all he “speculations” it seems like those people haven’t paid attention that those who are moving are quite happy to burn even more bridges than PZ…

    I guess “toxic” means “doesn’t accept my bullshit unconditionally” just as “silenced” means “I’m getting open eds in national newspapers”

  31. Silentbob says

    @ 24 Jason Thibeault

    … Hemant sure does a lot of wild, unfounded and evidence-free speculation designed to bait ‘Pitters to salivate over red meat.


    In other words, you’re wildly speculating without evidence on Hemant’s motives for wildly speculating without evidence on people’s motives.

  32. says

    Read Hemant’s thread. It’s a wild mess of slymepitters babbling away. Hemant’s whole story is built on lies they told him, rather than what the people actually involved were saying, so it’s fair to say he’s being fed by and feeding the slymepit, in turn.

  33. says

    There are quite a few autistic bloggers out there but only a few or maybe two that I know are atheists. I’m actually fairly surprised how many autistics are strongly religious. I had considered applying but am not all that great at writing also fairly shy (I’m autistic).I have thought the atheist community has issues with ableism especially around intellect that should be discussed. I was hoping for an autistic blogger too.

    There seems to be a lot of new bloggers here that are going to be fun and interesting to read. The Orbit is a nice collection of bloggers i already read here and some new ones. It’s like a holiday of new content.

  34. Silentbob says

    @ 44 PZ Myers

    I wasn’t disagreeing with Jason’s conclusions necessarily, I was amused by how much hypocrisy he managed to pack into a sentence fragment. It was just a little bit shy of, “people who promote violence should be shot!”.

    In other words, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with speculating about Mehta’s motives, but doing so in the same sentence where you’re chastising him for speculating about other people’s motives looks more than a little inconsistent.

  35. says

    @47: Believe it or not, there is in fact a gulf of difference between a wanna-be-Serious-Press-Guy making wildly unevidenced speculation, and a nerdy video game blogger making wholly well-supported-by-the-evidence speculation.

    But you know, if you wanna just score points, I’ll let you have this one anyway. Good job catching me out! I bow before your superior ability to spot hypocrisy.

  36. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    I don’t know about any other blogs on Patheos, but I consider it worth occasional crashes just for Love, Joy, Feminism.

  37. Silentbob says

    @ 48 Jason Thibeault

    Oh, FFS, climb off the cross man, you’re going to get splinters. All I said was that one sentence you typed was internally contradictory.

    I apologize for offending you. Good luck at your new digs.

  38. Sili says

    From the press release:

    The Orbit is being created by bloggers from all corners of progressive atheism, including the Freethought Blogs network, the Patheos Atheist channel, Skepchick, and independent blogs.

    So by Hemant’s own logic, he’s also driving bloggers away.

  39. Infophile says

    Hmm, well I actually do fit the bill of being on the autistic spectrum, an atheist, pro-freethought, and with some blogging experience (many years ago). In my case though, the problem is with the expenditure of mental energy to maintain a blog. I’m high-functioning enough to lead a normalish life, but it leaves me pretty drained. With other health issues going on recently draining me even further, I didn’t even consider applying at this time.

    Knowing that there’s a hole needing to be filled, however… Hmm. I’ll think about it.

  40. says

    Infophile: One possibility is to get together with a few like-minded people and propose a group blog. We’ve done that before, and it would be a way to lighten the load for any one person.

  41. brucegee1962 says

    I keep checking in here and and on the blogs of the people who left to see if there’s any kind of, y’know, REASON why this this split was made, or why a new blog network is a Good Thing. I don’t think it’s conspiracy thinking to say that, whenever a group of people split up, some kind of clash between them is the default hypothesis.

    The way to dispel such a hypothesis is not just to say “Oh, but really, we’re all still all fantastic chums,” because there could be any number of reasons why all involved would decide to make that their public face. The way to dispel it would be to say “We did this because we thought it would have ________ benefits,” with the blank filled in. I keep waiting to hear such a statement, and it keeps not being forthcoming.

  42. says

    brucegee1962 @ 55:

    Why is this so important to you? People who are just dying to know the backstory strike me as people in need of serious gossip. I don’t know the whole story, and probably never will. So what? Isn’t it enough to enjoy all the bounty?

  43. Hj Hornbeck says

    Besides, that statement was posted yesterday. TL;DR: The Orbit will be more structured and accountable behind the scenes, and have an explicit collective focus on social justice and activism, while FtB will remain an anarchy with an unofficial focus on science and social justice. So they’re still fantastic chums, at worst there’s just a disagreement over how best to run a blog network.

  44. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Of course, the true skeptics among us know that The Orbit came about as the first line of defence against the Reticulans. FTB was originally designed as a sleeper operation for this purpose, just in case, but PZ was turned years ago. He works for Them now, and, with the invasion about to start, a new front line had to be assembled on short notice. They are the best, the brightest, the least likely to sell humanity out for personal gain, and the most experienced with XCOM.
    In short? “[they] did this because [they] thought it would have averting the extinction of the human race by way of alien invasion benefits.”

    True story.

  45. Infophile says

    @53 Giliell: Yep, good to remember. I have been having an urge to do more productive things lately, though.

    @54 PZ: A group blog is a good idea, though that runs into the issue that I’m not involved in any autism-spectrum communities online, and the only friend I have on the spectrum isn’t the blogging type. But again, it might be worth looking into.

  46. says

    @54 PZ i think a group blog would be s good idea, I would participate if wanted. I’ve always been doubtful of my ability to produce a lot of content, but do have stuff to say.