I got a message today about a corner of the internet with which I was unfamiliar — I post it here after doing minimal investigation on my own. I really don’t want to get sucked into another rift.
Hi Prof Myers,
Not sure if you’re aware, but the Admin (and creator) of Agnostic.com (which is mirrored @ humanist.com) has been revealed to be also the creator of slug.com (the IDW site) – and after his outing on their Community Senate group, he posted to confirm and promised to ‘answer all questions in the morning’.
I am (or was) a level 8 at Agnostic.com – which means regular poster over nearly 2 years. There are no levels 10s. There is a small handful of level 9s.
I updated my profile this morning to remove all identifying elements and change my bio to explain my reticence to be involved anymore – and my account was instantly – like, instantly suspended. Looks like an algorithm to suspend.
I think that shit is going to go down now at agnostic… I hope so. It would be interesting if you know more including who he is? Admin created a ‘David Silverman’ group a while back and tried to get him socially reinstated – bringing him in at a level that everyone else has to earn through time and contributions. That got shot down by the members, and David left again very quickly.
I’m a bit surprised that anyone wanted David Silverman in that group. For years, his message has been that there is no such thing as agnostics (or humanists, for that matter) — they’re all just closet atheists who need to come out. Why would you want to bring in someone, without even considering their recent scandalous history, who was antagonistic to the premise of the group?
I had not looked into agnostic.com before — I’m not antagonistic towards them, but personally disinterested — so I had a peek, and saw that it’s a fairly typical social media site covering a wide range of topics. The format seemed disorganized, a real hodge-podge, but OK, again not my thing, but fine for those who wanted that particular community.
I hadn’t even heard of slug.com before, so again I took a look. It’s obvious that agnostic.com and slug.com are using the same exact software. Then you take a look at the topics…hoo boy.
So “Biblical Christianity” is a place for
for friendly, helpful, and honest discussions of Christian subjects, while
Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, and they’re
Laughing at the Hateful Left? As for their Intellectual Dark Web bona fides, here is their ‘about’ page which incoherently declares simultaneously that they are
a non-political social community based on open inquiry, the free exchange of ideas, intellectual curiosity, honesty, and responsibility, and that they believe in
conservative values and that
The IDW is liberalism, as that concept is meant philosophically. Oh boy. “Classical liberals”. Where have I heard that line before?
Oh well, the assholes have staked out another domain under the banner of godlessness. Disappointing.
Sean Boyd says
Hey PZ, it looks like you included some of your commentary in your Comic Sans in the next to last paragraph. Either that, or slug.com has gone ’round the bend and now criticizes itself for legitimate reasons. Or something.
Matt G says
With friends like these who need enemas, who needs…wait, I haven’t gotten this quite right.
“I am a level 8”???
This sounds like some prime scientology-esque nonsense. One wonders quite how one becomes a level 8 agnostic. Is it based on how unsure you are of the existence of gods? Is a level 8 merely 15% less certain than a level 7, or is the scale logarythmic and a level 8 is actual ten times less certain? What happens when you reach level 10 – you are capable of holding no knowledge at all in your mind and exist purely on unfounded opinion?
Rob Grigjanis says
cartomancer @3: The level seems to reflect duration and frequency of posting rather than ‘degree of agnosticism’.
Yeh, my first thought was that sounds more like Gnosticism than agnosticism. Though I guess that Rob’s interpretation is right (though rather more boring).
Susan Montgomery says
I wonder how much of this is nihilism and contrarianism rather than any firm convictions. It seems to me that they’re operating on the level of a child writing dirty words on the blackboard as opposed to this being any serious intellectual enterprise.
“Level 8” poster still sounds like some crazy messed up scientology-esque crap. Or a socially void weirdo who plays way too much dungeons and dragons by the dice and has never figured out that girls are humans too. Either way it’s incel all the way.
I wonder though, who is ultimately behind it all.
Do these doofuses realize that’s not actually a good thing? That this sort of liberalism is something almost no philosopher still tries to defend? Oh, yeah, that’s right, they’re far-right crackpots trying to normalize their ideology to the point where questioning it is almost unthinkable for most people like neoliberalism did. Bastards.
Also is it just me, or is slug.com a really weird name for a site that’s about…well, anything other than slugs?
Ray Ceeya says
Classical Liberals still exist. The just all vote Republican now. It’s why I get pissed off at anyone who calls me a Liberal.
The level thing seemed to me just the guy explaining he was at a certain posting level and he was annoyed that the bigwigs wanted to hand someone else seniority. The “level 8” sounds like many (most?) forum software which labels you according to your number of posts (and perhaps sometimes other metrics?). You know, “ninja” or whatever. No big perks there, I’m sure, but why shouldn’t he be annoyed anyway.
PZ Myers sacrificed some his brain cells and lifespan so we don’t have to.
I won’t be going to agnostics.dumb or slug.hate ever.
As to the level 8 nonsense…there is always a Simpson’s reference:
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
Unquestionably, this is not a case of agnostics building a site devoted to agnosticism and bringing in Silverman, it’s the now-familiar right-wing tactic of building a fake “community” for an interest group (or, sometimes, taking over an existing real one) which looks normal superficially, so they can pull people in and then indoctrinate them with the wacko fringe stuff. It’s how the gamer community became so tied in with the alt-right, for example. It’s not a coincidence, it was a plan of action that the fringe right put together a couple of decades back, modeled on the way corporations used the “Third Way” nonsense to destroy the left in the 80s and 90s. IIRC the first Internet “community” they targeted was 4chan, and we all know how that went. They (the alt-right, particularly the ones who are consciously white supremacists) are still actively following that plan now — why wouldn’t they? It works.
“explain my reticence” is an oxymoron. For some reason, everyone in the world suddenly started to think that reticent meant reluctant. Stop it.
As I said yesterday though, the nazis, eventually, won the second world war. With the help of the internet and Rupert Murdoch.
A lot of “Freethought” sites on Faceache are chock a block with RWNJs and conspiracy theorists.
I wander through them fairly calmly but any questioning gets attacked pretty savagely. Some threats of violence.
“indoctrinate them with the wacko fringe stuff.”
Or just do what Fox News and Alex Jones have done -saturate media with so much conspiracy theories and pseudoscience that no one knows anything at all, as actual facts drown in the BS.
If the sites are for RWNJs who consider themselves superior thinkers, I want to introduce a new member to them:
” Trump Schooled Online After Claiming ‘1917’ Flu Pandemic ‘Probably Ended’ WWII ” https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-1917-flu-pandemic_n_5f31ebfdc5b6960c066b3e1d
-Fucking history books, how do they work?
As someone who labelled themself “agnostic” for a long time, before briefly being persuaded to switch to “agnostic atheist”, I had never heard of the site. Also, I don’t find it very appealing either, especially since it looks more like a dating site. I do appreciate the tolerance displayed by PZ towards this subsection of the non-religious, by pointing out how David Silverman’s narrow views on the matter don’t really fit there at all. Diversity of thought should be celebrated, within reasonable limits, of course, since we don’t all have all the answers, and may never.
Besides, going all-out atheist never sat well with the agnostic me, and I’m starting to realise that maybe that’s because I’ve been a closet panpsychist or even (naturalistic) dualist all along. :-/
consciousness razor says
But there isn’t a naturalistic form of dualism. Those are generally understood to be incompatible views, so at least you’d have some trouble spelling out what that is even supposed to mean. (So … maybe you shouldn’t worry about that, since it’s impossible?)
If you ask someone like me, what it takes for naturalism to be true and dualism to be false is for all mental phenomena to reduce to the fundamental stuff which is just physical. There aren’t two distinct fundamental types of things in that picture (as dualism proposes), just the one, from which a variety of complicated phenomena emerge in various situations.
I think it’s important (and helpful for some people) to recognize that this isn’t a claim that there are no mental things, processes, etc. They’re just not fundamental like lots of other mundane stuff that you probably don’t find all that mysterious, such as tables and chairs, third birthdays, legal proceedings, the weather in Tulsa right now, and so forth. Also, it’s a claim about the real world itself, not an epistemic one about what we think/believe about that world, how we should think about it, nor is it saying for example that we have it all figured out already or know all the requisite details about how things reduce to physical stuff. In fact, we don’t (and may never) know that, and that’s okay. That’s consistent with naturalism, which doesn’t stipulate that we need to know (or think we know) anything in particular.
Now, panpsychism would be a different story. It’s not that there’s this mental stuff over here that’s distinct from the physical stuff over there. Instead, it’s all mental in some sense, even something like an electron for example. I guess there’s nothing to stop you from attempting to make that dualistic…. There could just be two fundamentally different types of panpsychic stuff (who knows what either of them might be). Of course, that’s not to say it’s even remotely plausible, just that you wouldn’t necessarily be contradicting yourself with a view like that.