I escaped in time!


I got out of Facebook, but the stench still follows me. Yesterday, a reader told me about a new Facebook group that was recruiting. It’s called “Skeptic Revival”, and its aim is to resurrect the old skeptical movement, you know, the kind of antique skepticism that existed before the Deep Rifts shredded everything, the kind of skeptical organization that Don Draper would have loved to join. The first problem is that Barbara Drescher is leading this effort, and I couldn’t imagine a worse person to rally a modern skeptical movement…until I saw the rogue’s gallery she’s assembled in her big tent.

There’s DJ Grothe, former president of the JREF who ignored sexual harassment complaints and lied about them.

There’s Ben Radford, creepy litigious sex pest who believes that girls have an evolved preference for pink.

Russel Blackford, generic philosopher and waffler in the middle ground who dislikes all those SJWs.

Abbie Smith, deranged hate-blogger (I thought Drescher despised those?) who started the Slymepit.

Just seeing these few names has me throwing up in my mouth a little bit — I wouldn’t want to be seen in public with any of these people, let alone join the same club. These are the people the rifts formed to separate us from their regressive brand of conservative skepticism, but there they are, standing on the far side of the chasm.

If you want to join them, feel free: here’s a link to Skeptic Revival. I will think less of you for joining, but I won’t know, I won’t be following their shenanigans, I’m not on Facebook, so you can secretly join the narrow-minded skeptic harasser’s club. No one who matters will know. Except yourself, of course.

Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    “….an evolved preference for pink….
    -thus ignoring historical instances of pink being associated with males.
    FYI , the stench of evopsych has reached all the way to sunni hard-core salafists.
    -In a recent debate David Haqiqadju used evospych arguments for the position of women as defined by sharia (I am talking hard-core sharia, a la isis and the taliban).
    .
    I suppose it is a good thing to have the weirdos in a sigle place, rather like Stormfront. I am looking forward to them producing “documentaries” we can watch alongside Flat Earth Clues and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

  2. mathman85 says

    Hard pass on that one. If I want to be deluged with shite opinions, I can just tweet about something from a leftist perspective.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Wow. Not being Merican, I overlooked PZs reference to “revival” as in Elmer Gantry- style religious charlatans.

  4. Snarki, child of Loki says

    When the history of this age is written, assuming there are any survivors that they manage to keep that whole “writing” thing, TwitFace will get a lot of the blame.

  5. says

    So its the “not quite as famous as Sam Harris crowd” – I wonder if they’ll pick up Bike Shorts, Richard Carrier, or Boghossian. In any case, since the slate appears to be chock full of wankers, I expect they’ll implode in acrimony and maybe lawsuits within a year.

  6. says

    This is why I stick to Intersectional groups rather than atheistic ones. There’s more respect for women, LGBTQIA people, Global Majority people, more pro-science, etc. Even the ones who are religious seem to understand that cooperation and being informed is key, not proselytizing.

  7. says

    I very much appreciate this post by Drescher in the feed:

    I expect everyone in this group to be civil and as kind as humanly possible.
    What I hope we all remember about the demise of the skeptic community that we used to love is how it became impossible to express an opinion without being accused of racism, sexism, apathy, or some other horrible thing.
    That isn’t going to be how we roll here.

    Notice, it’s not that racism or sexism are bad, but accusations of them. The worst thing that can happen is to be accused of being a bigot.

    And if your refusal to do anything about bigotry gets you labeled apathetic, well, that’s just as bad innit?

    If what you want is to tell other people what their personal priorities should or shouldn’t be, or to accuse people of not caring about X because they don’t believe it should be within the scope of organized skepticism, this might not be the right group for you.

    This, taken with the post PZ linked to above where Drescher is eagerly manning the wall of separation between skepticism and atheism, feels like the height of irony. I suppose it’s possible that she’s gotten better in the intervening decade.

    But I’m skeptical.

  8. Derek Vandivere says

    I’m guessing I’m not the only one checking out of morbid curiosity…eh, nothing but self-congratulatory stuff and “don’t accuse people of being racist”

  9. says

    Oh, I missed this one, about the cause of the Deep Rifts (also by Drescher):

    That’s good to hear. What happened here in the U.S. involved multiple factors, but one of them was that a large number of people (mostly people who had found skepticism through atheism) began to criticize skeptic organizations for failing to focus on political and moral causes like social justice.
    Of course, that’s not really what the arguments were about, but that’s where they directed their anger.

    At least two posts in the feed about the Principle of Charity, and it’s in the rules that this isn’t the right place to tell people what their priorities should be, but all the SJWs came to skepticism through atheism and didn’t actually believe their criticisms anyway.

    What a great start. So inclusive. Truly a momentous revival.

    I don’t know Ani Aharonian, but I appreciate what they’re trying to do:

    Maybe we can make racism or social justice part of the conversation. There’s room imo… just a matter of framing.
    It’s not about scientific ideas. It’s about applying a process or framework.

    Naturally, schisms already, and the silly little SJW has had her head patted and been told not to worry about it, and also everything is up for debate, as it should be.

  10. dali70 says

    So glad I never joined any social media sites, they’re all toxic cesspools of misinformation and abuse.

  11. says

    Toxic masculinity + skepticism = toxic masculinity
    Skepticism – toxic masculinity = skepticism
    That’s how I look at it. It doesn’t matter if you believe in science or god, if you’re an asshole, you’re an asshole.

  12. JoeBuddha says

    Yeah, well. I’m there for friends and family. Many of whom are out of state. I pretty much ignore all of the chat groups.

  13. billseymour says

    Abbie Smith was that PhD student somewhere in Arkansas, right?  I used to read her blog regularly until Elevatorgate when she went totally off the rails.

    (I forgave her inability to form a simple declarative sentence without some obscenity in it by thinking that she was still a child.  In retrospect, that should have been a clue.)

  14. DrVanNostrand says

    It looks like all the people who had their applications to the Intellectually Dim Web rejected for being too obscure started their own club!

  15. says

    I put brackets around the parts I noticed the most. “Being a dick” is associated with accusations. Accusations are claims with characteristics and features. So you can’t make claims about bad personal characteristics of posters and admin. Claims like bigoted behavior.

    They have made the “safe space” of the defensive reactionary liars.

    And “don’t be a dick” is vague and sexist to the point of uselessness. Beyond labeling accusations of bigotry as “dickish”.

    “I wrote a some of this in comments, but I want everyone to hear it while I work on setting up rules.
    Less than 24 hours have gone by since I created this group and I am mostly thrilled and excited for what’s to come. I love some of the discussion that’s already begun. But I do feel the need to say a few things because I don’t want us to just pick up where we left off.
    [Don’t be a dick].
    I expect everyone in this group to be civil and as kind as humanly possible.
    [What I hope we all remember about the demise of the skeptic community that we used to love is how it became impossible to express an opinion without being accused of racism, sexism, apathy, or some other horrible thing.]
    That isn’t going to be how we roll here.
    If what you want is to tell other people what their personal priorities should or shouldn’t be, or to accuse people of not caring about X because they don’t believe it should be within the scope of organized skepticism, this might not be the right group for you. If you are here primarily to make fun of believers, this might not be the group for you.
    I don’t want anyone in this group to be afraid to say what they think, except when it comes to each other. When it comes to each other, be careful. Be kind. Be charitable.”

  16. says

    @3 & PZ: Drescher explicitly offered that same revival-tent photo as a possible masthead.

    Someone else offered a really cool phoenix pic. If they’re not smart enough to vote for the latter, then there’s no hope for them.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    Raging Bee @ 18
    Isn’t there a Stephen King horror novel with a “revival” theme ?
    He can write a sequel; Return of the zombie ideas. “You can defeat them, but they will not stay dead”.
    They naturally have their yearly meetings in the Overlook Hotel.
    Don’t enter the labyrinth with Jack!

  18. says

    This looks like DARVO.

    “What I hope we all remember about the demise of the skeptic community that we used to love is how it became impossible to express an opinion without being accused of racism, sexism, apathy, or some other horrible thing.”

    This statement is what is impossible. People make claims in an accusation and they are simply pretending. They offer no examples of what they want their community to avoid. I have no problems disbelieving what is itself an accusation.

    If they actually cared they would already have examples ready to discuss instead of nebulous sexist non-literal language.

  19. Tethys says

    If you name yourself the slyme pit, you don’t get to pretend that those who found the misogyny and entitlement disgusting are to blame for the deep rifts.

    The revival tent reminds me of the inspiration for horror writers. It’s the circus tent from ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’. I hope it doesn’t contain any dust witches, creepy fortune tellers, or doorways to Eldritch horrors.

  20. PaulBC says

    its aim is to resurrect the old skeptical movement, you know, the kind of antique skepticism that existed before the Deep Rifts shredded everything

    From this description, I thought it would have referred to CSICOP or even people who used to post to sci.skeptic back in the day. I have never heard any of these names.

  21. beholder says

    @6 Intransitive

    This is why I stick to Intersectional groups rather than atheistic ones. There’s more respect for women, LGBTQIA people, Global Majority people, more pro-science, etc.

    Uh-huh, you’ve got the pulse on a whole demographic from the actions of a pitiful Facebook group desperate for attention. The pollsters researching these sorts of questions for a living have consistently shown that atheists are far more likely to support social justice, women’s equality, LGBTQIA equality, and up-to-date scientific consensus than their agnostic, nonreligious, and religious counterparts. I’m not worried about a few regressives who are already shunned by the larger movement organizations managing to reverse that trend. They’ll say something awful again and atheists will tell them to fuck off, again.

    I get where you’re coming from specifically regarding the need for an organization to state up-front that it doesn’t tolerate regressive right-wing elements in its midst, though. I value that, which is why I stick to socialist and communist orgs; I’ve found that intersectionalism hasn’t done a good job of cleaning up bad faith Libertarian actors and other corporatist shills among their ranks, unfortunately. Maybe do something about them and you’ll convince me.

  22. Tethys says

    PaulBC

    I have never heard any of these names.

    Lucky you. It was an epic flame war and most of those names are on the white entitlement, slyme troll side of the deep rift. Radford is especially odious.

  23. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    They should name their group “Remember Us? No, Really… Please Remember Us!”

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the rogue’s gallery …

    Where are Edwina Rogers and Justin Vacula? And the Ghost of Ayn Rand?

    billseymour @ # 14: Abbie Smith was that PhD student somewhere in Arkansas, right?

    Oklahoma, IIRC – bigger & dustier, but with a larger & more active atheist community in OC, according to some I’ve met.

  25. chesapeake says

    I don’t understand the reason for all the complaints here about FB. My experience is very different. I just looked at everything for the past few days and there were about 15 posts from friends and maybe 8-10 from advertisers, most of which are places I have visited. The New Yorker, The Times, Clothing Arts(very nice pants), a couple more clothing sites, Salvation Army (I don’t visit them),and a few other innocuous sites-nothing that annoys me. I wonder why so many of you are seeing such objectionable things and I am not. Something to do with where you visit online?

  26. says

    @24 beholder:

    Uh-huh, you’ve got the pulse on a whole demographic from the actions of a pitiful Facebook group desperate for attention. The pollsters researching these sorts of questions for a living have consistently shown that atheists are far more likely to support social justice, women’s equality, LGBTQIA equality, and up-to-date scientific consensus than their agnostic, nonreligious, and religious counterparts.

    That may be true of atheists, but in my experience isn’t really true of the Atheist Community. I remember what happened when we tried to apply the “atheists tend to be more accepting of people logic” in organizations, when we tried to get it enshrined in conference rules, when we tried to have it used as a guideline for leadership positions. It didn’t go well. I even remember when we tried to start an atheist community specifically about intersectional issues. The commenters in that Facebook group are still blaming it for the collapse of Atheoskepticism (but, strangely, have not discussed the role of the prominent atheists/skeptics who decided to cozy up to the far right).

    Atheists are great. I’m an atheist, and I’m great. But my experience of atheist communities is why I no longer participate in atheist communities.

    I’m not worried about a few regressives who are already shunned by the larger movement organizations managing to reverse that trend. They’ll say something awful again and atheists will tell them to fuck off, again.

    I just checked the CFI page, and it’s a big banner promoting a Dawkins award and a retweet of Steven Pinker. Michael Shermer and Lawrence Krauss are on the Advisory Board for Atheist Alliance International. What larger movement organizations have told the harassers and bigots to fuck off?

    I value that, which is why I stick to socialist and communist orgs; I’ve found that intersectionalism hasn’t done a good job of cleaning up bad faith Libertarian actors and other corporatist shills among their ranks, unfortunately. Maybe do something about them and you’ll convince me.

    I’ve run into plenty of problems with bigots and class reductionists in socialist and communist spaces. No organization is immune from shitty people.

  27. billseymour says

    Pierce R. Butler @27:  yeah, Oklahoma…I remember now.

    And was it Elevatorgate when she lost it, or was it Dear Muslima?  I think I remember her getting wildly obscene at even the mildest criticism of Dawkins.

    My entry to the atheist/skeptic community was The Skeptic’s Dictionary by the late Robert Todd Carroll, so I was a newbie then and didn’t really know the backstory of everything that was going on.

  28. beholder says

    @30 Tom Foss

    I’ve run into plenty of problems with bigots and class reductionists in socialist and communist spaces. No organization is immune from shitty people.

    Class reductionists? What a strange turn of phrase — would you elaborate?

  29. PaulBC says

    Tethys@25 Well, it’s not a community that interests me all that much (as opposed to evolution and creationism, which is what brought me to PZ and Panda’s Thumb around the time of Kitzmiller) so yes, I missed all the “fun.”

    Needless to say, there have been skeptics around since before most of those people, and sci.skeptic was an active group in its time, CSICOP is older than that, and so on. It seems a bit presumptuous to claim the mantle of a “Skeptic Revival.”

  30. says

    @32 beholder

    Class reductionists? What a strange turn of phrase — would you elaborate?

    Leftists, typically cishet white men, who at best believe that if we just eliminate capitalism, all the other axes of oppression—racism, misogyny, etc.—will disappear too, so marginalized people should put their pet issues on the back burner and focus on class issues. At worst, some class reductionists will argue that intersectionality is a deliberate plot by the ruling classes to divide the working class, or that things like gender identity are bourgeoisie decadence rather than real issues, like courting white working-class Trump supporters who are our natural allies in the fight against capitalism (and if that means marginalized leftists have to stop talking about racism so they don’t alienate the easily-frightened Trump voters, then that’s a small price to pay for solidarity).

  31. consciousness razor says

    Class reductionists? What a strange turn of phrase — would you elaborate?

    Legendary creatures that haunt the corporatist liberals who only want to make mildly pleasant noises about race/gender when provoked (and will feature such sentiments in Coca-Cola commercials, etc.) but never actually do anything serious about class. Truly terrifying beasts.

  32. says

    @35 consciousness razor:

    Legendary creatures that haunt the corporatist liberals who only want to make mildly pleasant noises about race/gender when provoked (and will feature such sentiments in Coca-Cola commercials, etc.) but never actually do anything serious about class. Truly terrifying beasts.

    See beholder, like this. Class is the only thing that matters, and if you’re talking about intersectionality, it’s because you’re a corporatist liberal and don’t really care about doing anything about those issues either. Marginalized people in leftist spaces never have any issues with other leftists taking their issues seriously, as long as they’re Real Leftists who are focused on the Real Issue of class and not distracted by liberal nonsense.

  33. consciousness razor says

    I did not say and have never said any of that, Tom Foss. I suppose a figment of your imagination told you to write those things down and attribute them to me. Please just tell it to shut up for a while, so that you’ll be able to hear the others who are actually talking with you.

  34. beholder says

    I was curious, so I looked it up.

    Class reductionism was a critique of some of the foundations of Marxist theory from Marxist feminists. From what I understand, the needed adjustments were made and Marxism overcame the class-reductionist problems it previously had; women involved in the struggle reminded the rest of us that while making the world a better place for the poor and working classes is critical, making it a better place for poor- and working-class women is also necessary and means making additional safeguards, which I agree with. I certainly don’t have the lived experience or the theoretical chops to dismiss the notion out of hand.
    /mansplain

    Of course, the term also became an uncreative smear lobbed at Marxists from pseudo-left elements in the orbit of the Democratic party, which consciousness razor is probably alluding to, much in the same vein that fascists throw around the terms “Cultural Marxist” and “Critical Race Theory” to make postmodernism into a new right-wing boogeyman. I wonder, Tom Foss, do you believe Marxists have any degree of control over U.S. politics? Is class reductionism a decisive angle in your struggle to overcome leftist oppression in your day-to-day life, or is this a term you picked up from liberals who view any discussion of class, in any context, as threatening to their interests?

  35. says

    I wonder, Tom Foss, do you believe Marxists have any degree of control over U.S. politics? Is class reductionism a decisive angle in your struggle to overcome leftist oppression in your day-to-day life, or is this a term you picked up from liberals who view any discussion of class, in any context, as threatening to their interests?

    It’s a term I picked up from fellow leftists who have watched (primarily) white cishet men dismiss their concerns as counterproductive “identity politics” in the very specific ways I outlined in my previous response to you. It’s nice that you did some brief reading, but if you came away from it with the idea that Marxists, in toto, solved the problem of class reductionism at some point in the past by engaging with women on women’s issues, then I would recommend reading some more contemporary writing. You might start with the Black Socialists in America’s statement of Principles, in particular #2, #7, and #8. You could also read this relatively thorough piece on recent issues with class reductionism among the DSA by Tatiana Cozzarelli, or this theory-heavy piece by David I. Backer on the problem of separating race and class analyses.

    See, it’s kind of like how those dang pesky liberals think that stuff like racism and sexism only exists in the past, and since a few important people said some stuff and some laws were passed, now everything’s hunky-dory.

    But I do appreciate you breaking out a real one-two punch of a leading question and a false dilemma. Makes me feel right back at home on the ol’ skeptical blogosphere. Why, next thing you know, I’ll be suggesting that people break out the rusty porcupines!

  36. says

    @37 consciousness razor

    I did not say and have never said any of that, Tom Foss. I suppose a figment of your imagination told you to write those things down and attribute them to me. Please just tell it to shut up for a while, so that you’ll be able to hear the others who are actually talking with you.

    You’re right, it was rude of me to draw the conclusion that since you said class reductionists were “Legendary creatures that haunt the corporatist liberals,” you were thus implying that people concerned about such “legendary” class reductionists were “corporatist liberals,” of the sort who might “only want to make mildly pleasant noises about race/gender when provoked.” I shouldn’t have used your dismissive condescension as precisely the kind of thing that makes marginalized people feel like their issues aren’t being taken seriously, when instead I’m sure it was meant to be dismissively condescending in a way that was very respectful of the actual concerns.

  37. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sadly, thanks to these bozos and others, I’m finding Leftist spaces becoming more and more hostile toward atheism and skepticism while the cancer of religion spreads in the forms of “progressive” Christians, leftist Wiccans, Marxist Pagans, and Tik-Tok Astrologers.

    Looks like this is an opioid-of-the-masses epidemic in the Left.

  38. John Morales says

    Akira, if you are correct, it just shows “Leftist spaces” are not very cluey.

    (What, “Leftist spaces” don’t have bozos?)

    chesapeake @29:

    I don’t understand the reason for all the complaints here about FB. My experience is very different.

    Um, those two sentences together imply that you believe the reason to be one’s experiences; that noted, multiple people have multiple times expounded on their reasoning, and it generally boils down to its deleterious effects on society.

  39. beholder says

    @41 Akira

    Sadly, thanks to these bozos and others, I’m finding Leftist spaces becoming more and more hostile toward atheism and skepticism while the cancer of religion spreads in the forms of “progressive” Christians, leftist Wiccans, Marxist Pagans, and Tik-Tok Astrologers.

    Looks like this is an opioid-of-the-masses epidemic in the Left.

    Perhaps. I won’t deny that minority religions fly under my radar when they keep it to themselves, which non-Christians generally do in the U.S.

    As far as regressive atheist bozos are concerned, I don’t believe the actions of atheist orgs register with most religious people. This is a continuation of atheists being one of the least trusted demographics in America; they invent stories about us to reinforce their distrust. I don’t see any way around it in our present society — not when upbringing is what counts and religious parents have every unethical advantage in the matter.

  40. John Morales says

    beholder:

    This is a continuation of atheists being one of the least trusted demographics in America; they invent stories about us to reinforce their distrust. I don’t see any way around it in our present society — not when upbringing is what counts and religious parents have every unethical advantage in the matter.

    If upbringing were what counted, atheism would not be increasing. Duh.

    (Look at the statistics)

  41. John Morales says

    BTW, beholder, it’s not the first comment where you apparently conflate movement atheism with personal atheism. Different things.

  42. beholder says

    If upbringing were what counted, atheism would not be increasing. Duh.

    (Look at the statistics)

    It is still overwhelmingly normal for children to be the same religion as their parents. The increase in atheism in the United States hasn’t gotten close to denting that. Maybe the increase in nonreligious parents will, but I doubt I’ll see the effects of that in my lifetime.

    BTW, beholder, it’s not the first comment where you apparently conflate movement atheism with personal atheism. Different things.

    I am aware of the distinction, but I don’t find it particularly relevant in my earlier comments in question. Hostility towards atheists are very much about the person, not a response to an atheist organization’s failures.

  43. John Morales says

    beholder:

    It is still overwhelmingly normal for children to be the same religion as their parents.

    What’s normal is for children to be inculcated in the religion of their parents.
    And sure, a lot of people maintain identification with the religion with which they were inculcated; that noted, it’s pretty clear a greater proportion of people become irreligious (even if not professedly atheist) having than become religious post-indoctrination, once they grow into adulthood.

    The increase in atheism in the United States hasn’t gotten close to denting that.

    Well, many people don’t identify as atheist though they’re not actually goddists, given the milieu. They kinda play along.

    I am aware of the distinction, but I don’t find it particularly relevant in my earlier comments in question.

    @24, you replied to Instransitive’s comment about groups with a response about individuals.

    Hostility towards atheists are very much about the person, not a response to an atheist organization’s failures.

    Yeah, but that’s not the topic, is it? Neither of the OP nor of that comment.

  44. says

    @beholder 24
    Intransitive wasn’t selling you anything so your feelings about their experiences aren’t relevant.

    And your need to tie the behavior of other people to Intransitive when they are describing their experiences is noted.

  45. lotharloo says

    To be honest, I could live with their whining, and stupid priorities if they had learned at least the minimum from the past years; given that a number of prominent people were very credibly accused of sexual harassments/assaults they should put in guidelines and strict rules as well as other protecting measures to at least try to reduce the chances of those incidents. But it looks like the only thing they have learned is that “accusations bad! No accuse!”

  46. PaulBC says

    The sci.skeptic FAQ still makes good reading, though its emphasis is dated in places (crop circles, the “face on Mars.”)

    I know that isn’t the topic being discussed in the comment thread. I feel it fits the OP, specifically, what would an actual “skeptic revival” look like? I humbly submit that it wouldn’t be a gathering of some johnny-come-latelies (or janey-come-latelies for that matter) known for loudly proclaiming their right to engage in sexual harassment or that evolutionary science legitimizes the patriarchy. How the fuck did they get to be the “skeptic movement”?

    True, vintage skepticism was largely dominated by white males of a certain socioeconomic status (Martin Gardner, James Randi, Isaac Asimov), so it was no golden age either. At least its value is apparent to me.

  47. Kagehi says

    @49 lotharloo

    Honestly, given the “stance” these people had one the issues I suspect this would be like asking the GOP to promise it would stop claiming it does everything, “for the children”, or implement rules to prevent lying. There is no point in implementing rules that contradict what you “intend” to do in the first place, right?

  48. Owlmirror says

    I feel it fits the OP, specifically, what would an actual “skeptic revival” look like?

    Well, I think it would target false and confused beliefs like gender essentialism and race essentialism/”scientific” racism. Another obvious urgent group of targets is medical woo and conspiracy theories, and political woo and conspiracy theories.
    It might also use actual surveys of belief to prioritize debunking efforts — something like this survey of paranormal beliefs. No matter how tempting it might be to have another Bigfoot debunking, belief in Bigfoot is at 21% (or was in 2018) and can be deprecated, whereas belief in ghosts/hauntings is high, as is ancient advanced civilizations and ancient aliens, so they ought to work with physicists and real archaeologists getting correct messages out and debunking psychics and pseudoarchaeologists.

    I wonder if the History and A&E channels could be persuaded to have shows debunking each episode of Ancient Aliens (or whatever) immediately after Ancient Aliens? “Let the viewers decide what to believe!”

  49. beholder says

    I feel it fits the OP, specifically, what would an actual “skeptic revival” look like?

    I like the idea of practical self-defense applied as skeptical inquiry. Identify the professional liars who are trying to get their hooks into your brain and counter their bullshit. Start with the small-time liars (who are still ruining people’s lives, by the way): the call-center scammers, the snake oil salesmen selling COVID cures, other con men who are trying to convince you that you don’t need to take all those medications, etc. Move on to the big lies: the lies about a “stolen election”, about Benghazi, Russiagate, child sex trafficking, a manufactured crisis on our southern border, the Pentagon’s straight-faced lies that keep us embroiled in forever wars, the lies demarcating who our allies and enemies are supposed to be, the lies about just why we’re sitting on a mountain of nuclear weapons and why we’re ready to hand a few over to Australia, just to name a few.

    All of these things require us to examine our information about the world through a skeptical lens. Of course, an organization like that steps on a lot of toes, and its leaders may find themselves in a prison cell next to Julian Assange. I can understand why almost no one would want to be slowly broken down by loud, nonstop, state-sponsored harrassment, so I don’t expect a skeptical organization to approach most of those topics. It’s a shame, though — the public needs it badly.

  50. John Morales says

    beholder:

    … the lies about just why we’re sitting on a mountain of nuclear weapons and why we’re ready to hand a few over to Australia

    Whatever makes you imagine the USA is gonna give nuclear weapons to Australia?

    (An ironic claim given you’re going on about scepticism)

  51. says

    Wow, I hadn’t said anything about one of these people for several years because I thought they were presumably doing good science and were young and ignorant and should be given a chance to grow, etc. Alas. Maya Angelou and all that.

    beholder @ #32:

    Class reductionists? What a strange turn of phrase — would you elaborate?

    One can be a reductionist along any line of oppression: class, race, gender (I think species is in a sense the ultimate axis and potentially a legitimate reductionist basis, but that’s for another time!). I was listening to a Jacobin podcast the other day, and someone argued in a discussion about the Texas anti-choice legislation that people often attribute these policies to (allegedly solely) misogyny when it’s really about the neoliberal project of forcing individuals (ahem) to bear the costs of social reproduction. They made a number of good points about broader neoliberal assaults on healthcare, etc., but at some point…just recognize the reality of misogyny (which long predated capitalism) and racism, you know? It’s tiresome and counterproductive. Now, I think these podcasts have value in general or I wouldn’t be listening to them, but class reductionism is a weakness of theirs. As Tom Foss has suggested, some class reductionists suggest that feminism, anti-racism, etc. are distractions from the “real” struggle, which is quite stupid and requires a high level of willful ignorance and mental acrobatics to sustain.

  52. says

    PaulBC @ #50:

    True, vintage skepticism was largely dominated by white males of a certain socioeconomic status (Martin Gardner, James Randi, Isaac Asimov),…

    Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre, Ernestine Rose, James Baldwin,…

  53. says

    That FB group is hilariously inane.

    “The Good Old Days were killed by a loud minority who spent far more energy criticizing their allies than the charlatans — and the charlatans saw that. Spoiler alert: none of us here are perfect, but we’re still allies trying to do the world some good.”

  54. logicalcat says

    The skeptic community fell for the same bullshit that the gamers did and now the leftists did…purity politics. I will never tire of warning about it. Purity politics means that you cannot have self reflection in the face of the purity of the thing. You either gotta be the most wokest asshole in the world blind to how you come across and the fact that you are exploiting social justice issues for their desire to bully people into your impossible puritanical standards looking at twitter here). Or a hard left commie moron who believes that leftism can only flourish if you constantly complain, and shit on the very people who you require to build a coalition with because otherwise that would compromise your ideological purity. Meanwhile never actually obtaining any real political power in the process. Or they are the gamers who foolishly made a hobby into an identity and yell frantically “Get politics out of gaming!” in a desperate bid to keep that hobby at their level of pure. Or the skeptics who did the same thing. Dictionary atheists anyone? Atheism and skepticism must remain pure. Feminism is not part of it.

  55. John Morales says

    logicalcat, sure.
    Atheism and skepticism can certainly incorporate feminism, but that’s not a necessity.

    (Similarly, they can incorporate racism and misogyny, but that’s also not necessary)

  56. says

    billseymour @31: Elevatorgate came first, then Dawkins wrote the “Dear Muslima” bit in direct response to Elevatorgate. Basically it was Dawkins making a big deal out of a brief anecdote by Rebecca Watson, and accusing Watson of making a big deal out of nothing. That’s basically how the Slymepit started.

  57. Pierce R. Butler says

    billseymour @ # 31: … was it Elevatorgate when she lost it… ?

    Raging Bee has the timeline right @ # 60, but Abbie Smith “lost it” – or at least had many of us looking askance at her – in stages leading up to that. I for one hung up a little mental mourning wreath (her scientific posts often seemed pretty good, at least to a genetics ignoramus like myself) when she endorsed a Pepsi corporate blog as part of the scienceblogs.com community.

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