As long as Shermer is a respected skeptic, movement skepticism will be an embarrassment

So this is what skepticism has become, Michael Shermer interviewing racist bigot and cult leader Stefan Molyneux because he is one of the most articulate podcasters for reason.

People were flabbergasted. How could he do this? Shermer has an excuse: ignorance.

I’ve done a few interviews in my time, and I always look into the other person ahead of time, if, for nothing else, to have some idea of what topics would provide a good discussion. No, not Shermer! He knew nothing and did zero prep. I don’t believe him, but if I did, that would tell me his podcast has to be total crap.

Don’t you worry about Shermer, though. He’s moving on to grand new projects that won’t be at all skewed by his biases, no sirree bob.

The membership in the Intellectual Dork Web is small and self-proclaimed, so I don’t understand the point of a “scientific survey”. Is this to be an assay where the questions are contrived so he can say that Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson aren’t really conservative right-wingers? I trust him to do that about as much as I trust him to honestly vet the people he interviews on his podcast.


  1. Bruce says

    Me wonders why Shermer said “Me & 2 colleagues” instead of “2 colleagues and I”, which would have been both shorter and grammatically correct? I’m all for breaking rules of grammar for any good reason. But it looks as if the only reason is that this IDW leader doesn’t know English gooder enuf.

  2. says

    This IDW poll is likely to be as scientific as when ThunderPhil asked his youtube followers whether he was totally right about the thing he insisted he was right about, and they said he was, which was irrefutable Science Data™️.

    After yesterday’s thorough proctological exam of Pinker’s blissful smugnorance, I wondered when the next example of Boor Horsemen intellectual malfeasance would present itself. I didn’t have to wait long – the skeptic sex pest providing oxygen to an infamous and unapologetic white supremacist, misogynist and all-purpose fascist bigot and then pleading ignorance is a new lowth for the forces of Reason™️.

    This will further legitimise Molyneux in the eyes of his gawping flock and expose him to a whole new audience, some of whom won’t be utterly repulsed when they find out what he’s really like. Well played Shermer, you disgraceful, shitful moral vacuum.

  3. chrislawson says

    I did a robust scientific survey of me and my friends and can say that we are empirically awesome people.

  4. says

    My gosh…that’s painful to read. Someone like Shermer should understand there can be a fine line between “data” and “anecdotes” and that he can’t simply assert he’s obtaining one and not the other. As PZ notes, the IDW is small and self-proclaimed, so we’re dealing with a situation that sure looks to be falling on that “anecdotes” side of the line. I can’t help but suspect Shermer damn well knows this and that’s why he’s making, dishonestly, his assertion.

    The other big thing that bothers me about what’s posted here about Shermer is that, on one hand, he’s claiming he knew nothing about Molyneux but, on the other, he refers to Molyneux as “one of the most articulate podcastors for reason.” How can he be making such a claim about someone he knows nothing about? Is he merely parroting what his publicist or Molyneux himself said? That sure ain’t very skeptical.

  5. says

    It’s a bit strange that every high profile atheist or agnostic gets hammered on this site. Could a little live and let live and a little “lets go for the jugular” attacking everybody’s quirks and foibles be little more tolerant of others humanity?

    With the overwhelming stench of evangelical christianity pervading every nook and cranny of US society, wouldn’t a bit of brotherhood be a better step forward? I’m not perfect and I don’t expect anyone else to be so.

  6. microraptor says

    I just took a poll. Participants were myself and my cat, but by unanimous vote, Shermer is a slimy creep.

  7. specialffrog says

    @Chris Phillips: I’m confused: is Molyneux’s racism and misogyny the ‘quirk’ or is it the ‘foible’ that Shermer is giving a platform to it? Also given Shermer’s own reputation your appeal to ‘brotherhood’ is interesting.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    Chris Phillips #3
    It’s a bit strange that every high profile atheist or agnostic gets hammered on this site.
    What? Who?

  9. A. Noyd says

    Chris Phillips (#6)

    wouldn’t a bit of brotherhood be a better step forward?

    Oh, fuck off. If your “brother” is rapist and serial harasser who is so far up his own ideological butthole that he can find common ground with guys like Molyneux, that’s taking several leaps backward.

  10. Robert Serrano says

    @Colonel J:
    Oh well, you denying it surely negates Molyneux’s bigotry, right?

  11. Robert Serrano says

    @Chris Phillips:
    Sorry, I’m not going to give Shermer a pass on being an dirt bag, just because he’s a high profile “skeptic/atheist” dirt bag. The “you’re being judgmental just like the evangelicals” routine is tired, find some new rationalization for why we should accept the behavior of destructive assholes.

  12. says

    “I’m a skeptic; why should I vet web shows I appear on?! That’s why I pay a publicist!”

    Ha. Ha ha.

    It’s not like Molyneux has any notoriety in skeptic circles, or anything.

  13. mnb0 says

    @6 ChrisP: “With the overwhelming stench of evangelical christianity”
    To me there is one thing worse than this overwhelming stench – the stench of atheist bigotry.

    “wouldn’t a bit of brotherhood”
    Time for a Godwin. Who’d you rather be brothers with, atheist Martin Bormann or catholic resistance fighter Titus Brandsma? Easy question, huh? Now here’s the hard one – how much are you willing to compromise yourself?

  14. doubtthat says

    Good lord, this is the sort of thing that makes atheists look like clowns. I have watched Harris try this bullshit evasion at least two notable times.
    The first I was reminded of earlier today. In reading the Nathan Robinson piece on StEpHeN PiNkEr, I started clicking on the links in that article and ended up at the hilarious Harris-Chomsky exchange, which, for some reason, Harris still has published on his website.
    For my money, it’s peak Harris – idiotic hypothetical to justify real world atrocities, whining over and over about Chomsky being mean to him…but the best part, relevant here, is that he accuses Chomsky of failing to consider the “very important” moral distinctions in so far as Middle Eastern terrorism is concerned.
    Chomsky replies (paraphrased), “Listen, you little twerp, I’ve been considering those very issues for 50 years. Here are examples of me writing about these very things. Please correct the garbage in your book.”
    Harris’ reply was essentially, “Well, I only read this short book you released after 9-11, and you didn’t say any of that stuff there, so my criticism is totally fair.” (Ed – it was not totally fair, even if that was all a person read).
    “I never heard about that stuff…oh well, please take me seriously as an intellectual.”
    The other infamous example was the criticism of Harris over his still baffling support of notorious racist, Charles Murray. Harris was just mystified that people would be upset over such a serious, considered “scholar.”
    People pointed out things like Murray having participated in a cross burning as a kid or writing a book that “proved” black art was worse than white art because there were fewer encyclopedia entries on black art (this is not an exaggeration)…you know, the hits.
    Harris responds, in his exchange with Ezra Klein, I can only go by what I’ve read and seen from him.
    Dude, do you think maybe all the folks who criticize Murray DO know these things and, in fact, that’s why they protest and ridicule him?
    Nope. No need to learn any of that. Sam has enough info to know that ALL criticism of Charles Murray must be spurious and politically motivated…
    This is becoming a go-to defense in IDW circles.
    I think Harris said something similar about Tommy Robinson – “seemed nice enough of Dave Rubin’s show.”

  15. Jazzlet says

    doubtthat, Stephen Yaxley Lennon AKA Tommy Robinson please, he wants to be seen as a regular working class bloke but we shouldn’t let him get away with it.

  16. doubtthat says

    Haha, fair enough.

    All I can say is, “Until I typed that comment I hadn’t heard of Mr. Lennon and did zero prep work.”

  17. kurt1 says

    Molyneux may be the dumbest racist on twitter and youtube. One only needs to listen about 10 seconds to a random video of his to reach that conclusion. The smartest thing he ever stated was:

    *Stefan Molyneux is stupid.— Stefan Molyneux (@StefanMolyneux) December 10, 2018

    Why do people like Harris and Shermer always claim ignorance when they interview the next white nationalist / nazi apologist? Thats not an excuse, it’s just stating that your are lazy.

  18. vucodlak says

    @ Colonel J, #4

    Aw, did you screw up your face and stamp your foot when you were writing that? ‘Cause that would be very convincing. I’d definitely forget all the racist trash Stefan Molyneux has written if you called us “doody-faces,” then held your breath until you turned blue.

  19. says

    I’m not surprised. I’ve felt like Shermer had been on a long slide downhill for a while, and finally stopped watching any of his output when he conducted that interview a few years ago with that horrible conservative woman who’s name escapes me, but who said people going to college has too much sex and what’s wrong with abstaining(?) and she received zero push back, just smiling and happy agreement from Shermer. It wax textbook conservative Christian bullshit and Shermer was nodding and agreeing. And now he’s come full circle and is interviewing obvious internet white supremacist Molyneux.

    I now realize I am a bit surprised after all. Is there no bottom? What the fuck is next, Richard Spencer?

  20. Robert Serrano says

    Incompetent. Lazy. Dishonest. It’s often hard to distinguish among them.

  21. anthrosciguy says

    But then one rarely needs to, cause they so often travel in a pack.

  22. SchreiberBike says

    A bit of good news is that the last Scientific American I saw no longer had his column.

  23. says

    Lmao, I’m not surprised. It took a little while, but I realized that a lot of the atheist movement was lowkey white supremacist/western chauvinist and that it was just a matter of the time necessary for political development that they’d start appearing more and more with more obvious white supremacists like Murray and Molynuex.

  24. says

    Colonel J:

    “Stefan isn’t a racist, a bigot, or a cult leader”

    He’s two out of three, which in this case, contra Meatloaf, is plenty bad.

    Then again, he has a swarm of fans who hang on his every word and defend him at the drop of a hint, seemingly oblivious to all the times he’s expressed his racism and bigotry (or who are simply in denial). Maybe not a cult per se, but certainly cult-ish. And definitely fucking shameful.

  25. ridana says

    No one’s going to mention Molyneux’s rampant misogyny and MRA affiliations? And SPLC sez he’s a cult leader, so I think we’ve got 4 out of 4 going here.

  26. alixmo says


    Molyneux’ s misogyny is so nasty, it should have been mentioned more than once. It is one of his most obvious traits – a trait that contributed hugely to his popularity.

  27. khms says

    #30..#32 @ridana, alixmo

    Let’s just say Molyneux never saw a bigotry he didn’t like.

  28. doubtthat says

    I’m more amazed that anyone could listen to more than two sentences of anything Molyneux says and think it makes any sense, at all. Someone linked me to a video of his explanation for the fall of Rome…it was astonishingly dumb. Setting aside the obvious bigotry, which was really, really obvious, it was just gibberish. Like, “Rome starting giving its citizens grain, then IT COLLAPSED! The Welfare state will kill us all…”
    They started giving out grain in wait for it, 509 BCE. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD.
    Shit guys, with Social Security and Medicare, we only have 800 years left as a nation. Be very careful.
    So, it’s once again, a combination of excusing vile bigotry and the reward is just an amazing idiot lying about history and science and sociology and whatever else.
    I have little respect for Shermer, but I am slightly amazed that all these dudes who fancied themselves intellectuals are so pissed and women for calling them creepy that they hop on board with fucking doofuses on that level. Shermer knows that’s all bullshit. It’s conscious, political gamesmanship.