Marketing atheism badly


You wanna watch a train wreck? Probably not, so I’ll summarize this video down below. The interviewer, on the left, is someone named David Worley (sorry, never heard of him before), and on the right is Lance Gregorchuk, one of the organizers of that silly anti-theism conference to be held in Brighton. Warning: Gregorchuk seems to be unable to complete a thought, or even a full sentence. The squirrels are running races in his cranium.

OK. To summarize the chaos, in the first half of the video, Gregorchuk seems to be trying to persuade Worley to attend his conference, but doing so by negging him, telling him he’s run-of-the-mill, that he’s failed to ask any hard questions in the interview. What he wants is for Worley to come to the event and have every speaker come to him for an interview afterwards with hard, challenging questions. He says he would love someone to challenge their thinking, and to challenge Dawkins or Krauss. He gives an example of a hard question to ask Dawkins: “Why are you an atheist?”

Jesus. That’s a softball. Dawkins has written whole books on that; do you think he’s going to be stunned by such a difficult question? Gregorchuk is clueless and naive. It’s painful to watch.

But not as cringeworthy as the last half! Worley finally gets a word in edgewise, and gives an example of a question he would ask, and it’s a good one: “Is it right to platform Lawrence Krauss given the sexual assault allegations?”

Whoa, Gregorchuk is thrown for a loop. He becomes even more incoherent as he tries to justify his answer, which is Absolutely!

I can’t possibly transcribe his words. It’s a collection of sentence fragments, stammered out without much connection between them. I’m just going to give you an incomplete collection of his confident excuses.

Absolutely. You never got wrong signals from a girl and you touched her? I did it, you did it.

They could have nailed you, me, anyone else.

We don’t get signals from women.

You’re out with a girl. I’m out with a girl. She’s nice, she’s flirting her hair, how do you do this?

It’s like hand on the knee, hand on the … come on man, I’m not justifying anything, I’m just being honest.

I’m thinking of the 80s, I probably put my hand on a few…

The 80s, 90s were a time when we weren’t very…

It was a different time. It wasn’t correct…but Joe Biden used to put people’s arm on other people’s hands whatever, it’s OK.

Wow. That conference is going to be a gathering of yammering shitgibbons, isn’t it?

Allow me to answer from my experience as a man. Women are sending out signals all the time, but you have to listen to hear them. They are most definitely not sending the signal “Please lunge for my breasts” or “Stick your hand up under my skirt”, and if you think that’s what you’re waiting for, you’re going to be frustrated. Maybe you should try talking with them, listen to what they have to say, and at professional and provisionally intellectual events in particular, consider that they are people who have not come out of an urge to gratify random men’s sexual urges.

Women were not welcoming breast-lunges in the 1980s. In fact, they never appreciated those in all of human history. It’s never been that different time, except in the minds of men who had the power and the will to execute it thoughtlessly, but even those cases, the recipient of that careless brutality wasn’t appreciating it.

As for “how do you do this”, I started dating my wife in the mid-70s. The initial overture did not involve my hand creeping up her thigh — I asked her out to a dance. I was a bad dancer. We mainly talked. We got along and enjoyed each others company. We went on more dates — initially, we double-dated and went to churches, which is safe ground for a young woman in the company of a man who, in Gregorchuk’s head, might start randomly grabbing things. We went for walks, we went out for pizza, we had long phone calls, we got to know and trust each other as people and friends first.

We kissed (and I asked if I could first) after 3 months of weekly dating. I know, it doesn’t reward you with quick sexual gratification, if that’s what you’re after, but if you really want to know someone as a human being, talking works. Start there. We humans evolved to have some very sophisticated and subtle means of communicating information-rich signals, and women are just as good at it as men. Try it! There’s something wrong with you if you think women don’t send signals or are sending confusing signals.

Also, an atheist conference isn’t an 80s disco, usually. People don’t usually go there to hook up, they’re there to learn and share ideas and be inspired. I do not recommend that women attend the anti-theism international conference, since it’s going to be full of strange awkward men peering you at you looking for the “please fondle me” signal, and if you don’t give it, they might intentionally misinterpret your “please stop staring at me” signal. Or they’ll only hear the first word of your “Fuck off!” signal.

By the way, Gregorchuk is listed on the conference home page as the “marketer of the event”. He is quite possibly the worst communicator I’ve ever witnessed with a lead role in an organization.

Comments

  1. swk444 says

    Exactly right. If you don’t think women send you signals, you might want to get checked for autism.

  2. says

    We humans evolved to have some very sophisticated and subtle means of communicating information-rich signals, and women are just as good at it as men. Try it! There’s something wrong with you if you think women don’t send signals or are sending confusing signals.

    In my late teens I tried flirting. I simply couldn’t do it. I’m pathetic at deciphering other people’s nonverbal signals. Usually I don’t even notice that they made some gesture; even if I notice, I cannot correctly interpret it. On top of that, I cannot send any of these signals. I have read theory about human body language and what are the things people are supposed to do while flirting, but I just cannot imitate these motions in a way that doesn’t appear forced and fake.

    Back when I tried flirting and dating according to the usual rules, I ended up involuntarily celibate. Nowadays, I just ask people for sex directly, as in, “Do you want to have sex with me.” Of course, I try not to be creepy. I never touch anybody without asking for permission first. I will get to know some person first, find out basic facts about them (are they single, what’s their sexual orientation, are they even potentially interested in the kind of relationship models I prefer). I won’t offer sex in situations where the other person might feel scared of coercion (for example, if the two of us are alone in some isolated location). But ultimately I just have to ask for sex directly. I cannot flirt or do all that nonverbal communication.

  3. says

    @4 WMDKitty

    “If you don’t think women send you signals, you might want to get checked for autism.”
    Ableist, much?

    QFT.

    Also, hooray for #1 and also PZ’s There’s something wrong with you if you think women don’t send signals or are sending confusing signals. for the implication that those of us who have trouble receiving such signals belong alone. Gregorchuk’s a shit and Krauss is a predator: they are not actually having signal problems, they are refusing to care about women’s boundaries and trying to excuse their bad behavior with this bullshit.

    Meanwhile some of us really have that trouble. Not to mention experiences where behavior that could not possibly be interpreted other than “they’re interested” was part of… they weren’t. Somehow people like me manage to go through things like that without being accused of assault, because we bother to respect the women in question and make sure.

    This is the main reason I gave up dating. Because I can’t read these very well, because I do occasionally encounter someone whose particular quirks seem to include accidentally sending powerful ones, and because I don’t ever want to risk being the sort of person Krauss is and Gregorchuk seemingly wants to be. This is already painful, so it would be nice to not be obliquely mocked for it too.

    I guess they’re right; there is something wrong with me. How nice to know that apparently places me in the same category with the predator and his apologist.

  4. says

    It’s not a secret among my friends that my antennae are completely insensitive to signals people may be sending to each other or to me. One of them said to me, “You don’t pick up that people are flirting with each other till they’re actually rolling on the floor together—and maybe not even then.” For an extreme outlier in social interaction like myself, I don’t think it’s been a problem, since I’ve never understood why people twist themselves into emotional pretzels over the objects of their affections. Good thing being single doesn’t trouble me. But even I understand that behaving like an entitled jerk is a bad thing, and it’s depressing to see it become acceptable to certain people in our national politics. And it’s doubly depressing to see it excused among folks who style themselves rational.

  5. vucodlak says

    Count me as another who doesn’t get a lot of nonverbal cues, but still manages not to assault anyone. Certain signals I get, because part of surviving growing up in an abusive household is learning to recognize when the eggshells have broken, but flirting? Nope. I don’t get flirting. If I notice it at all (which I rarely do, according to friends who’ve told me this or that person was flirting with me after the fact) it reads to me as cruel mockery, and I find it upsetting.

    The only serious relationship I’ve had was with someone who approached “flirting” with all the subtlety of a hammer to the face. It’s not that she was incapable of subtlety, but we’d been close friends for a couple of years before we started dating, and she knew me well. At the end of our first real date, we were sitting side by side on a low wall. I wasn’t really sure what to do and working up the courage to ask when she gave me a gentle kick and said “hey, kiss me, idiot.”

    I appreciated that. No, really. I like it when people just come right out with what they mean, and what they want from me. If you don’t say it out loud, then I’m either not going to pick up on it at all, or I’m going to second guess everything I think I might have picked up on until the cows come home. Speak plain, or ain’t nothing gonna get done. I’d rather be labeled hopelessly dense than assault someone.

  6. chrislawson says

    ‘I only held up that bank because I didn’t understand their please don’t rob us signals. Who hasn’t?’

  7. wzrd1 says

    ‘“Is it right to platform Lawrence Krauss given the sexual assault allegations?”’

    Absolutely, it’s called giving an asshole enough rope to hang himself.

    That said, still trying to figure out what “flirting her hair” actually fucking is. One wife, two daughters, plethora of female acquaintances, no clue what flirting her hair is, other than a gesture signifying uncertainty in the face of a fucking asshole and that required being present for such encounters. Typically, the insulted woman was capable of handling matters, but I’ve deferred to my wife’s opinion and supported her.
    After all, none should ever attempt to top She Hulk. Of course, were the perpetrator a super villain from hell, I’ve always been welcome to join in as the Phenomenal Bulk.
    Hulk SMASH, bah! BULK CRUSH.
    Back to flirting hair, still have no fucking clue. Is that asshole on the same planet, or doesn’t he comprehend basic human body language and gestures?

    Asked to kiss her, yeah, I also believe that Moses had blow up dinosaurs.

    @1, swk444, I still miss signals and I’m about as social as one can be. Some claimed I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. ;)
    Still, 38 years of marriage, I still miss signals, she still misses signals, welcome to the world of actually communicating!
    “I thought that you…”
    “No, I thought that you…”
    “Hell no, my back is killing me, maybe tomorrow, when the weather settles?”
    “Sure!”
    The direction of conversation, mutually mirrored. Downside, what sets my injuries off is opposed to what sets hers off.
    Yeah, welcome to life. :/
    Being an adult, we deal and sneak in when the weather is less guarded. ;)

    @2, Andreas Avester, I learned that, when in doubt and even when one is not, ask the other participant what is and is not comfortable.
    Once, as I felt we were growing comfortable with a neighbor’s family, the husband out of town flying royals about, his wife grabbed my hands and pressed them against her chest.
    Totally outside of my comfort zone, happily married, shame she wasn’t, but still, not about to get into such a mess, totally not interested. Fuller disclosure, as some find such attractive, she was nearly 20 years younger than me and just, no.
    If any shenanigans were to go on, she’d have to negotiate with my wife and obviously, I’d have input, the same is true in the converse and neither of us have found any so mentally stable as to consider such things.
    Found plenty of good friends though, once those ground rules were learned.
    Wish the other soul luck, as neither of us are very interested in such things.

    @7, vucodlak, incessantly got mixed signals, my wife usually clues me in, as disinterest tends to blunt, well, interest.
    Suggest it to say, I’m disinterested in anyone as old as our children and they’re nearing 40 years old. Not especially interested in other children either.

    @8, chrislawson, just what is a bank and why would either of us have to traffic with such an institution. ;)
    We do have direct deposit and most transactions tend to be from savings to checking. Thank you, tRump.

  8. lucifersbike says

    @1 @4 As somone with mild autism, my wife is not very good at reading other people; but I have no trouble reading her, and nor did our kids when they were small. We just learnt to tell her how we felt when she found our signals confusing. We had no trouble understanding when the moment came for our first kiss!

  9. says

    For me romantic relationships and sex are important. I cannot give it up just because I’m clueless about nonverbal language.

    Besides, if I worried about accidentally hurting/offending other people all the time, I would have to give up all relationships imaginable. For me it would be easy to accidentally offend or annoy a friend without even noticing that there’s a problem.

    This is why instead I try to act so as to minimize the risk of hurting another person. For example, I always warn my friends in advance that I’m unable to perceive indirect communication. I also ask them to just tell me directly if I do something that annoys or irritates or offends them.

    But, yeah, the insecurity still occasionally causes problems. Technically I qualify as bisexual. In practice, I have only been with men. Approaching some man and offering sex feels easier/safer than doing the same with a woman. In past I have gotten answers like “no, but thanks for asking anyway,” because the guy felt flattered that I had asked (I’m still young, and I qualify as beautiful according to some arbitrary standards currently prevalent in our society). The society teaches men to feel flattered when other people perceive them as sexually attractive. The same society also teaches women to feel offended when somebody offers them casual sex.

    Vucodlak @#7

    The only serious relationship I’ve had was with someone who approached “flirting” with all the subtlety of a hammer to the face.

    When some guy tries to flirt with me so blatantly that even I can notice it, my instinct is to run away. In relationships, I prefer to be in charge, initiate things, feel like I’m in control. When some guy blatantly flirts with me and spends an entire evening discussing at length how beautiful each of my body parts are, I feel that I’m being treated like a piece of meat. I don’t necessarily want my date to be shy (though I do like being with shy guys), but I definitely want him to be somebody who won’t try to jump on me. When some guy acts like the stereotypical pickup artist, that’s extremely off-putting for me.

    I like it when people just come right out with what they mean, and what they want from me. If you don’t say it out loud, then I’m either not going to pick up on it at all, or I’m going to second guess everything I think I might have picked up on until the cows come home. Speak plain, or ain’t nothing gonna get done.

    This sounds exactly like my current boyfriend. I never perceived him as shy (he worked as a debate teacher back when we first met), but he was very hesitant in some social situations, and just like me he also was miserable at perceiving nonverbal language. Back when we were dating, it was… interesting. We were friends, but I liked him and was interested in more than just being friends. At first I tried to test the waters and try to figure out whether he could be potentially interested. There was no reaction from him. I almost assumed that he’s not interested. At some point I decided, “What the hell, I’ll just ask directly, he’ll say “no,” and then at least I will be sure what to think.” When I just asked directly, it turned out that he was very interested after all.

    @ PZ Myers

    There’s something wrong with you if you think women don’t send signals or are sending confusing signals.

    Obviously, I know that people send signals. I have read books about nonverbal language. I understand the theory. Unfortunately, having memorized theoretical information doesn’t help with actually figuring out what the other person is trying to convey.

    Sexual predators are people who understand perfectly fine that their advances aren’t welcome. They simply choose to ignore said signals.

    People who are simply bad at deciphering nonverbal signals usually aren’t the problem. Most of us are aware of our limitations and we try to be careful. Many such people just prefer to never initiate anything and wait for others to approach them.

    I cannot do that. I’m somebody who simultaneously wants to take initiative in dating and also sucks at interpreting nonverbal language. Thus I try to be as careful as possible. So far nobody has complained about my attempts at dating. Yes, I will directly ask people for sex, but I also try to make sure that other people don’t feel threatened or offended as a result. And I always respect it when other people refuse my advances.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

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    blockquote>Also, an atheist conference isn’t an 80s disco, usually. People don’t usually go there to hook up, they’re there to learn and share ideas and be inspired.

    I confess, in my younger, more sexually optimistic days, I would go to the local game convention hoping that I would meet the geek girl of my dreams, fall madly in lust, and end up spending at least one moment of carnal bliss in between the sessions of D&D. To my disappointment, this never happened, partially because most gamer women of appropriate age for me are already married, but mostly because that women come to these events to (Shock! Surprise!) play games, not to causally fuck the first guy who compliments the pop culture reference on her t-shirt. After a few long, lonely Saturday nights at Gary Con or Gamehole Con quietly weeping in the corner, I’ve long since resigned myself to the fact that I’m not the sort of guy that women would want to recreationally copulate with anywhere, even at a gathering of nerds and freaks.

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    Ugh! Sorry for the HTML tag fail. It’s early, I’ve got a cold, and the Adderall hasn’t kicked in yet.

  12. says

    Akira MacKenzie @#12

    I confess, in my younger, more sexually optimistic days, I would go to the local game convention hoping that I would meet the geek girl of my dreams, fall madly in lust, and end up spending at least one moment of carnal bliss in between the sessions of D&D.

    I go to conventions for the convention and because I consider the topic interesting. I do keep an open mind, who knows, maybe I will find a new friend or a boyfriend, but the probability is extremely low. Most people, myself included, aren’t interested in having sex with somebody they met just a few hours ago. The only way how this might possibly work is that I meet somebody I like, it turns out that we live in the same city, we exchange contact information and arrange to meet some time after the convention. A relationship can progress from there.

    I have met people because of shared hobbies, but never in a convention. Such events simply aren’t suited for hooking up.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Andreas Avester @ 14

    I go to conventions for the convention and because I consider the topic interesting.

    Well, I didn’t go to cons for the sole purpose of finding a partner. I may be lonely, but I’m not that shallow. I only hoped that large group of like-minded individuals in one place, the chances of finding someone who might be interested in me would increase and then… who know? Sadly, it seems that in even the oddball world of tabletop gaming, women have the good taste to avoid my blubbery carcass like the plague.

    I have met people because of shared hobbies…

    Yeah… that’s never going to happen. My local gaming community is a sausage fest and the few female gamers I know are all happily married. That and I’m too fat, too ugly, too crazy, and now, too old to attract a mate. Time to invest in that 50-gallon drum of Astroglide, I guess. :(

  14. ravensneo says

    So true PZ! One of my best male friends (women loved him) always said that women weren’t hard to understand or figure out at all. You just have to LISTEN to them. HA!

  15. says

    Akira MacKenzie @#15

    I only hoped that large group of like-minded individuals in one place, the chances of finding someone who might be interested in me would increase and then… who know?

    That’s not how it works. A large group of people who stay together for one or two days mean that (1) you will have short conversations with many people; (2) you won’t stay there long enough have an opportunity to get to know better any one of them. Most people aren’t interested in having sex with somebody they haven’t known for at least some days.

    Yeah… that’s never going to happen. My local gaming community is a sausage fest and the few female gamers I know are all happily married.

    I met my first boyfriend via an online art community. I met my second boyfriend in my university’s debate club. And so on. Nowadays art is my job (back then it was a hobby), debating used to be another of my hobbies.

    Time to invest in that 50-gallon drum of Astroglide, I guess. :(

    I hope I don’t sound obnoxious right now, but whenever people mention brands like Astroglide or K-Y, I feel the urge to give links to resources about potentially harmful ingredients in lubricants. Some of the most commonly known lubricant brands use really nasty ingredients for their products.

    I once spent several days in pain and got a pretty nasty fever because of a lubricant that had irritating ingredients in it (and no, it wasn’t even an allergy). Some lubricants simply suck that much.

    http://dangerouslilly.com/lube-guide/ Anyway, here’s one such article.

  16. ColeYote says

    Oh boy, a guy defending his association with someone accused of sexual assault making it sound like he’s also committed sexual assault, my favourite.

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