Thanks to PZ for the format/inspiration!

Be self-aware. You are the speaker in a room filled with dozens, hundreds, thousands of people. Especially at atheist/skeptic conferences, we are all very interesting people, but out of those dozens/hundreds/thousands of people who could have been chosen to give a presentation, you were chosen. Your opinion and your words are most likely highly valued, because other people want to hear them. Other people want to learn from you. Other people look up to you. Other people have not had the exact same life history, education, experience that you have had, and want to peek into your world, and hear about your perspective for a few minutes.

Not a round-table discussion where anyone can interrupt or disagree– you are a speaker, and the audience has chosen to spend their time with you. Not each other in the bar. Not with any of the other concurrent speakers. You. And if you are invited to be a keynote speaker, the conference stops, and everyone listens to you. All the more responsibility.

That opportunity requires one to be self aware. “Am I using words this audience understands?” “Am I taking the appropriate tone for this audience? Too stuffy? Too casual? Is it age appropriate?” “Will this choice of sentence advance my cause, or unnecessarily confuse the audience? Unnecessarily anger the audience?” “Could I be more articulate?” “Am I 100% this statement is true?” “Is the audience interested in this topic? Even if it is important to me, how can I engage everyone?” “Is this joke necessary? Could someone think this joke is offensive? Racist? Sexist?” “Am I talking down to the audience? Am I talking over them?”

All eyes are on you, so your own eyes need to be on you. Critically analyzing your every move, as critically as you would be critiquing an Enemy Speaker.

Be aware of your potential targets. Especially at atheist/skeptic conferences, we are pretty much always attacking/making fun of someone. Whether its Jenny McCarthy or Michael Behe or Deepak Chopra, or Sarah Palin, sometimes you need to talk about a person and their actions, not just purely vaccines or evolution or psychology or politics. Sometimes you might even feel the need to address the words/actions of someone in the audience. If you chose to do this, from a privileged position as The Speaker, where The Target will not have a fair opportunity to respond, you need to be Dexter. You need to be 100% sure. “Is this attack 100% necessary?” “Will pursuing this attack advance my goals?” “Will this attack take attention away from my primary goals?” “Is attacking this individual the best way to call attention to this issue?” “How would I feel if someone attacked me, maybe even misrepresented me, to a group of hundreds of people, and I wouldnt get a chance to respond?” “Am I 100% sure I understand this persons perspective/position myself?” “Is it possible that this persons opinions are equally valid as mine, I just dont understand their world view myself?” “Is this person really relevant to the topic Im speaking about?” “Am I abusing my position as speaker to ‘get back’ at someone on a personal level?” “If I pursue this attack, is it possible I will come out looking like an asshole? Have I honestly reflected on this attack, or am I actually being an asshole? (see ‘Be self-aware‘)”

Being a Decent Human Being is actually the best defense you can have against abusing your position as a speaker at atheist conferences. Dont abandon it for short-term gain: youre in a community, and youre going to lose that if you think of yourself as a predator on the make.

What about tactics? Lets say you are super passionate about an issue, but is a keynote speech really the best forum for your issue? Would a moderated, recorded brain-storming session be better? An official debate? An intimate, one-on-one conversation in a quiet side room? A light-hearted, open to everyone conversation in a noisy bar? Or maybe even an online discussion, where everyone can take time to think about their input and responses and questions carefully– where everyone can simply send links to others, so everyone is on the same page, even everyone didnt start on the same page? Using a keynote address to pitch an idea for a skeptics football league is no more appropriate than using a keynote address to confront someone who said something that you found personally offensive (while others did not) is no more appropriate to rant for an hour about how the rent is too damn high. Yes, you have been given the opportunity to give a speech at an atheist conference– but that doesnt mean a speech at an atheist conference is the appropriate tactic for what you are excited about 2 minutes before you give said speech. You need to put thought into this, or you will alienate your audience not because you are wrong or had a bad idea, but because you used the wrong tactic. People will think you capitalized on your invitation as a speaker, not to engage with the audience, but to pursue a personal interest (or vendetta). You abused the forum you were given. They might not be interested in providing you with that same platform in the future.

Of course, if any more experienced commenters would like to offer further suggestions, theyre welcome to continue…as long as they remember these are guidelines for Decent Human Beings, not assholes who will excuse someones bad behavior just because they are friends with the offender.


  1. #1 Southern Geologist
    July 10, 2011

    Spence, I found this interesting: “Most of the radfems view rape through the lens of a horny male looking to get his end away, and are thereby linking EG to potential rape, because that is how they perceive rape to come about.”

    In the past I have been called a misogynist and a rape apologist by commentators at feminist blogs for suggesting that rape is sexually-based in part rather than being based entirely upon power or control. Apparently the actual cause of rape varies based upon whatever point they’re trying to prove.

  2. #2 Wild Zontargs
    July 10, 2011

    @Southern Geologist and Spence: That’s like how the new anti-pr0n brigade is up in arms because pr0n makes men less likely to want actual sex, which is harming their relationships!!!11one

    It’s amusing to note the near-total overlap between the new and old anti-pr0n brigades. Remember: ‘realfacts’ are for those who are making decisions, ‘goodfacts’ are for justifying them to everyone else.

  3. #3 Agent Smith
    July 10, 2011

    Souther Geologist, most of the evidence is on your side of things. The rape as power theory is completely pseudo-scientific in origin, backed up by no empirical evidence, and originates from feminist arm-chair philosophy. The theory didn’t even stem from emperical data, however badly misconstrued or understood. It came from Susan Brownmiller, not a scientist but a feminist activist and journalist.

    Steven Pinker, the harvard experimental psychologist, said on the topic:
    “This grew into the modern catechism: rape is not about sex, our culture socializes men to rape, it glorifies violence against women. The analysis comes right out of the gender-feminist theory of human nature: people are blank slates (who must be trained or socialized to want things); the only significant human motive is power (so sexual desire is irrelevant); and all motives and interests must be located in groups (such as the male sex and the female sex) rather than in individual people. The Brownmiller theory is appealing even to people who are not gender {362} feminists because of the doctrine of the Noble Savage. Since the 1960s most educated people have come to believe that sex should be thought of as natural, not shameful or dirty. Sex is good because sex is natural and natural things are good. But rape is bad; therefore, rape is not about sex. The motive to rape must come from social institutions, not from anything in human nature. The violence-not-sex slogan is right about two things. Both parts are absolutely true for the victim: a woman who is raped experiences it as a violent assault, not as a sexual act. And the part about violence is true for the perpetrator by definition: if there is no violence or coercion, we do not call it rape. But the fact that rape has something to do with violence does not mean it has nothing to do with sex, any more than the fact that armed robbery has something to do with violence means it has nothing to do with greed. Evil men may use violence to get sex, just as they use violence to get other things they want.

    I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out.

    Think about it. First obvious fact: Men often want to have sex with women who don’t want to have sex with them. They use every tactic that one human being uses to affect the behavior of another: wooing, seducing, flattering, deceiving, sulking, and paying. Second obvious fact: Some men use violence to get what they want, indifferent to the suffering they cause. Men have been known to kidnap children for ransom (sometimes sending their parents an ear or finger to show they mean business), blind the victim of a mugging so the victim can’t identify them in court, shoot out the kneecaps of an associate as punishment for ratting to the police or invading their territory, and kill a stranger for his brand-name athletic footwear. It would be an extraordinary fact, contradicting everything else we know about people, if some men didn’t use violence to get sex.”

  4. #4 ERV
    July 10, 2011

    ZONTARGS! Y U KEEP GETTING CAUGHT IN SPAM FILTER??? Are you posting from Turkey or something???

  5. #5 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    I’m dubious, Spence. I’ve been trying to get Tom Cruise to rape me for like fi . . .oh, you said straight. Nevermind.

    One thing, among so very many, which is repugnant is that someone who wasn’t actually sexually assaulted is telling someone who actually was sexually assaulted that their opinion doesn’t count (and the explanations as to why are plenty and plenty divergent) in the same breath they’re demanding that their experience of being near someone who could have conceivably decided to rape them are completely fucking valid. In reality, neither person’s previous experience can tell us anything about a new situation. All it can do is justify negative emotions. Ok, but no one is saying people aren’t entitled to feel what they feel!

    I agree without any reservation – if something scares you, you’re scared. It’s a necessary artifact of evolution – the critters that don’t get scared and want to run away wind up being the food. But, that doesn’t make the emotion someone experiences an actual map of reality.

    A false positive is better than a false negative here. Yes, there’s an expense paid in the false positive; you burn energy running from something that isn’t there, the caloric expenditure on the stress, all of that stuff. It’s a price to pay. But to think there’s not a danger when the lion is bearing down on you, well, that kind of stops you from having to ever worry about a cost benefit analysis again. You lost that argument, and now you’re dinner.

    Yes, we ALL have this built in to us. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here talking about it. But that doesn’t make it the fucking highest ideal we should engender (is this word allowed anymore?) for how people interact: please, make sure you’re as scared as possible at every conceivable situation involving strangers. Strangers who are, incidentally, far less statistically likely to do fuck all to you than your wife/husband/brother/sister/neighbor when you get home to tell them about how fucking scared you were.


    With respect to your valedictory there, Spence, yes, some people whose views largely map onto mine got there for the wrong reason. It is unfortunate, but I have to do triage as I navigate this world. The level of wrong attendant to “stop playing victim for shit that didn’t happen” isn’t in the same league as what Rebecca Watson and Jennifer McCreight’s coterie of special brand of wrong. They’re just the same category of wrong.

    Thanks to anyone who’s linked to my blog about Jen. And for the comments there. This brings me to a video I watched a long time ago and forgot about, which is funny since Christina Rad is coming here and PZ’s all excited. I was like, um, does he know her views on feminism? She’s not a feminist like he’s a feminist: she’s interested in women making choices for themselves and bearing the consequences of those choices. Just like everyone else. Want to be a hooker? Here, let me get the door for you – have fun, and be good at it.

    Guy approaches you don’t like? Tell him to fuck himself. If he touches you, fingernails in the eyes will stop anyone. That kind of shit. If you do wind up being raped, or beaten, or mugged, or harassed, or abused or, and or, and or, that sucks. Now you do what everyone else does: you fucking respond; you file police reports, you document, you sue – whatever it is that needs to be done to punish the evil fucks who violated you.

    What shouldn’t you do?

    Sit around bitching about how your life sucks and it shouldn’t happen to you. No one is so goddamned special that they shouldn’t have to take the risk all of the time the everyone else has to take. Stop painting me as a victim; save that for your goddamned diary.

    That’s not an exact quote incidentally.

    Feminists: oppressing women since men aren’t doing a good enough job.

  6. #6 Southern Geologist
    July 10, 2011

    For the record, I don’t intend to get into an extensive debate here on the subject of whether rape is based on sexuality or power (or both); I was using that example to demonstrate the intellectual dishonesty of the attitudes of some of the feminist blogger movement. Clearly, switching gears on what the ‘true’ motivation behind rape is to make it fit whatever goal you want is wrong. I do have a couple of thoughts, though:

    The first is that it seems a bit over-simplifies as Pinker expresses the idea. To clarify: He seems to be setting up a false dichotomy. I agree with him on the point that declaring that rape is completely non-sexual has gone too far (though PLEASE note that this is based on a viewpoint I’ve formed after hearing stories from several victims, I have not done any formal research on the subject) but he seems to fail to address the issue that rape can be both sexual and based on power. It would not surprise me to find that some rapes are entirely sexually based, some are based entirely on power, and many fall into a gray area in between. I haven’t read The Blank Slate, though, perhaps he takes on that issue after the quote ends.

    Also, Agent Smith, your argument seems to be partly based on the fact that the germination of the rape as power idea came from an unreliable source. While I do think there is a case to be made for tracing the intellectual heritage of an idea (or argument) to determine if it has any merit one can easily rely too heavily on that and end up with a sort of reversed argument from authority. The originator of the idea may be an armchair scholar, but I’m curious to know what research has been conducted on the idea by professionals and their conclusions on the subject before dismissing it for that reason. A blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut, after all.

  7. #7 Wild Zontargs
    July 10, 2011

    @ERV: Uh, no? Did a Canadian send CHEAP V1AGRA messages to the programmer once? Maybe the spamfilter thinks my email address looks like an auto-generated one, or someone from my IP block is being an ass. Sorry to make extra work for you. 🙂

    @Agent Smith: From “The Blank Slate”, yes? I just read that recently. Amazing how so many of the online reviews state that this book is terrible, horrible, no-good very-bad science because of this section alone. Gee, rape can be about sex in situation a, but power in situation b, and both in c? Not possible! Just like killing is always about premeditated revenge. That’s why we don’t have different grades of murder, or charges of manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, etc. Because that would make killing less bad.

  8. #8 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    Grats to Rystefn! He got Jen to lock to the thread by posting to my blog entry on her mendacity!

    This is a hoot, Jen says:
    “Justicar is completely off his rocker and is known for filling Pharyngula comments with ludicrous crap. After he kept spamming me with tweets and multiple videos, I knew he was going to be a loony so I banned him early. That post only proved my point. It’s borderline libelous to suggest that I’m falsifying data in my research because he doesn’t agree with me on a certain topic.

    He can continue to b’aawwww over at his blog about how butthurt he is. He has the freedom to express himself over there. ”

    She says it’s borderline libelous. Note, that instead of just saying I’m crazy, implying I’m stalkrish (my last comment to her was like on the fifth? I gave her plenty of time to come clean) and that I should be ignored and dismissed, the one thing she didn’t do is show that I was wrong.

    She’s a turd.

    More from the, um, comment-battle – queue dueling banjos here:

    Ry: Off his rocker or no, I’d still say at the very least an “I’m sorry… those things I said never happened actually happened. My mistake.” is warranted.

    Jen: He hasn’t proved anything other than an amazing ability to twist my words. He’s arguing with a strawman.

    Ry: Yeah… taking “You’ve never been called…” to mean “you’ve never been called…” is so twisty that it amazed me, too.

    Jen: Yeah, and you’re also supposed to read things without context! Oh wait, no.

    Ry: So there’s some context where “You’ve never been called…” actually means “You’ve repeatedly been called…”?

    It’s a goldmine of comedy over there.

    But you can’t participate; she’s stopped that conversation too!

  9. #9 Spence
    July 10, 2011

    Southern Geologist, Agent Smith:

    I will confess I’m probably not the best person to ask. My GF was involved in providing a support service to rape victims in the recent past. I glean some info from her but she has probably forgotten more than I know on the topic. I might see if she is interested in weighing in.

    As with anything, though, it is not a simple either-or situation. Certainly there are situations when rape cannot be explained by the power thing. For example, drug rape does not involve any power/control so it is likely in those cases that sexual desire is a dominant cause.

    On the other hand, heterosexual male on male rape is very poorly explained by sexual desire. These almost always occur in bullying type situations, in which the power / control thing is the far more credible explanation. I think I did ask my GF about the possibility of repressed homosexual behaviour, but she said that wasn’t the case – I can’t remember the justification off hand.

    So unfortunately the answer is that there isn’t a simplistic explanation. Both are factors, depending on the case. But the het male on male rape seems to point to power / control in the vast majority of cases, and the situation of these cases carry over to many male on female cases as well.

  10. #10 Rystefn
    July 10, 2011

    See? That’s why I should be invited to give talks. I can come up with that kind of stuff all day. I’m at least as qualified as 80% of current speakers at these kinds of things, and it won’t be taking time and energy that could be better filled by doing research or juggling, since I do neither.

  11. #11 Wild Zontargs
    July 10, 2011

    @Southern Geologist: Regarding the quotation of Pinker above, I’m not sure if you’ve read the book, but that is just a small portion from a rather long section on the topic. He’s just explaining how “rape is never about sex!” is nonsense. Next comes the section promoting an effort to understand all the causes of rape, in order to better combat it. It’s actually a good read. He gets into several other “hot button” topics and explains why the public understanding of them is overly simplistic and counterproductive.

  12. #12 highjohn
    July 10, 2011

    Just got back from Barnes&Noble. I ordered Dawkins’ The Extended Phenotype. I’ve wanted to read it for a while, could never find it, figured now I could do it in a good cause.

  13. #13 Wild Zontargs
    July 10, 2011

    @highjohn: You know, that’s a very good idea. *clickety-click*

    This whole mess reminded me of a concept I saw on Eric Raymond’s blog a while back called Kafkatrapping.

    “Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of religious evangelism.

    One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap. In this essay, I will show that the kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument, without reference to whatever particular sin or thoughtcrime is being alleged. I will also attempt to show that kafkatrapping is so self-destructive to the causes that employ it that change activists should root it out of their own speech and thoughts.”

    Sound familiar to anyone? Maybe if we used the word “privilege”?

  14. #14 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    Ok, I edited my post to take into account this new information. Unlike some other people whom I won’t name this time, I take new information into account. I don’t dismiss the veracity of a claim because I think a person is crazy. Indeed. crazy people are usually pretty easy to deal with because their claims are so not in accord with reality, or even their own claims.

    I also do not juggle; I could never master playing with balls in anything but even numbers. It’s just how I roll.

  15. #15 Willem
    July 10, 2011

    Just posting to let you guys know I’m joining the anti-boycott and just ordered Unweaving the Rainbow.

    Also, kudos to ERV for being awesome, which is understating it.

  16. #16 highjohn
    July 10, 2011

    Hey what about those poor victims with uni-ball (or is that mono-ball)? That’s just two testicle privilige!!! By the way, you’re white.

  17. #17 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    Sam Harris sent out a tweet for examples of white lies gone wrong.

    I just e-mailed him.

    Dear Dr. Harris:
    I am glad to see that you have made it out of your cave without undue distress. Attendant to your recent Tweet with respect to asking after a white lie gone horribly wrong, I should like to direct you to the following situation.

    Picture it, Dublin, Ire, 2011, inside an elevator.
    “Don’t take this wrong way, but I find you interesting . . .”For the results, please see hashtag elevatorgate.”

    Do you think that’s what he was after?

  18. #18 highjohn
    July 10, 2011

    I went and looked at the comments at Skepchick again. No one except John Greg has expressed any discomfort with what I posted @480. This was the most recent post.



    Dear fellow atheist feminist. Note that you started as an atheist, then became a feminist atheist, but now you’ve graduated to being an atheist feminist
    Congratulations. I agree with nearly every word in this post except: “about how their goals so clearly overlapped those of the humanists and skeptics and secularists”.
    These new dogmas are simply methods for the patriarchal elite to shift power amongst themselves, again, and again. Humanism, skepticism, secularism are but godless outgrowths of Christianity.

    I as all humans, was born without religion, thankfully, I was never duped by my peers into beliefs, though some tried very hard. Patriarchy and modern religions are one and the same. Those who hold privilege and power in our society SAY they want equality for women, as long as that only means nearing their salaries and having equal access to jobs… equalism, AS LONG AS WE DON’T SHAKE THEIR POWER STRUCTURE: PATRIARCHY. As soon as feminists start knocking on the doors of patriarchy, that’s when men otherwise rational men become violent and stupid. Feminism is not equalism, I dot give a hoot about men’s “jobs”, as a feminist, I am interested in changing society, I just happen to never had any religious beliefs, so I start with a clean slate. On a a side-note, the reason LGBTs are so ‘welcomed’ in the atheist community, is that they’re only asking for equality… they’re not shaking the patriarchal tree of power. If feminism does not mean shaking that tree, then it means nothing.
    As we say in French: Bonne continuation

  19. #19 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    If you’re anti-boycott, that makes you a Gender Traitor because you’re then therefore womancotting.

    The ones with the uni-balls? Well, I’m sure the priests will pick up my slack.

  20. #20 Agent Smith
    July 10, 2011

    Another hilarious post and more evidence that they aren’t equality feminists but gender feminists. Notice those seeking equality are generally thought of as part of the secret “PATRIARCHY”!!!

    I was a trotskyite (still have the bizarre “journals” they publish in) in college I recognize that language any day. It is a bad written, vulgar form of marxism. Just replace “Patriarchy” with “bourgeoisie”. The rest of the rhetoric is the same.

  21. #21 highjohn
    July 10, 2011


    Wild, The article on Kafkatrapping was really good.

  22. #22 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    Highjohn, I didn’t comment on the earlier post because I’m not going to read through all of the skepchick commentary to see how it played into the conversation they were having. As such, I wasn’t in a position to have an opinion worth expressing, and thus didn’t.

    But I happy to hear you’ve enjoyed my thoughts, or perspective or something; I hope what you heard and read maps well what I was trying to say – in-artful as it has been at times.

    I still am not going to pore over the claptrap at skepchick, but I can safely stop reading that comment at “patriarchy.

    Women are not forced into submission, and are the majority of the population in my country. If they’re not liking something about the politics of my country, it is entirely within their means to change it. But it would seem that they are not all agreed on where the solution lies anymore than we are all agreed.

    This should give each of us a little humility in our positions – some of us have to be wrong. Since I know how wrong I am in my own field quite a lot of the time, I am not in turn then arrogant enough to think I have all the answers.

    That is what makes this so much more bizarre to me; I have asked many of these Right Feminists to explain where my reasoning fails, and I even write out specifically what I think, where I don’t see how they’re correct.

    All that prevents them from convincing me, as I’ve said over and again to them, is air, opportunity and good, cogent argument.

    So far, I’ve had no takers on that one.

  23. #23 John C. Welch
    July 10, 2011

    Things I’ve learned from Skepchick.douche:

    1) Men can’t be raped.

    2) It’s only rape if a male penis penetrates. So someone jam a table leg up your ass and leave you bleeding? Didn’t count. Someone drag you into an alley, cockslap you then jizz all over your face, maybe giving you cthulu knows what? Doesn’t count. Guy drags a woman into an alley and violates her with a pipe? Doesn’t count. No penis in orifice.

    The delusional shit these morons are bobbleheading to is ASTOUNDING.

  24. #24 highjohn
    July 10, 2011

    When you say your country you mean the United States, or did I infer that incorrectly from something else? As for waiting for a cogent argument, I don’t think you will ever get one. That would require that they back down the ladder of their ideology to the point where they could even possibly glimpse a shared reality with you.

  25. #25 highjohn
    July 10, 2011

    That sounded postmodernist, and I’m more of a logical postivist. Make that “possibly glimpse that they do share a reality with you.”

  26. #26 thememe
    July 10, 2011

    An interesting read:

    I think this articles holds some interesting implications for some modern feminist-memes..


    Reason as immune suppression: The reason I bring this up is that intelligent people sometimes do things more stupid than stupid people are capable of. There are a variety of reasons for this; but one has to do with the fact that all cultures have dangerous memes circulating in them, and cultural antibodies to those memes. The trouble is that these antibodies are not logical. On the contrary; these antibodies are often highly illogical. They are the blind spots that let us live with a dangerous meme without being impelled to action by it. The dangerous effects of these memes are most obvious with religion; but I think there is an element of this in many social norms…

  27. #27 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    John C. Welch, I have to say that the first part of your last post was arousing. The last part ruined it.

    Do not submit that one to “Dear Penthouse” until you’ve “cleaned” up, so to speak, the denouement. Thanks!

    Yeah, I live in the United States, highjohn. But the statistics are fairly uniform in the west with respect to population disparity. I suppose I could have left it off and the post would have been just as, um, “good” as it otherwise was “good”.

    Please make sure you get those posts into Sam Harris; you’re even free to not to use my example. You can use a real one from your lives!

    Anyone know some good plug-ins for blogger? I don’t like my comments there not being threaded!

  28. #28 Southern Geologist
    July 10, 2011

    Spence, Zontargs:

    Thanks for the information. I’d give a more detailed response but the conversation seems to have moved on and I don’t want to bring it back to an argument about causes of rape right now. That said, Spence, if your girlfriend wants to weigh in I’ll be happy to post a response.

    I made a post on PZ’s blog in response to his comment about jettisoning those from the atheist movement whose political views he doesn’t like:

    Unfortunately, I again found myself in a blind rage after reading his comment a second time so it is poorly written. So it goes.

    I would like to retrieve one thread of discussion that I feel hasn’t been properly closed up, though: The issue of Watson’s credentials and whether she should be speaking at conferences or given attention when she lacks credentials. I agree with the idea that a majority of speakers should be experts of some sort (preferably scientists covering various subjects) but where does this leave Christopher Hitchens? Or Sam Harris prior to his cognitive neurology doctorate? (His bachelors was in philosophy.) Granted, both of those men were already in possession of degrees of some sort or another at the time of their entry to the skeptical community and both radiate intelligence which certainly helps (I don’t know enough about Watson to say whether she radiates intelligence or not), but neither were ‘experts’ in the sense of being scientists when they got their start and they were both well accepted.

    For that matter, what about Penn and Teller? I will happily grant that as professional magicians they have a lot of practical experience in picking out scam artists, but they’re also not ‘experts’ in the traditional sense.

    I guess what I’m asking is, where do we draw the line for what constitutes a proper skeptic? Can we discredit Watson based on her lack of scientific experience or lack of a degree(s)?* If so, what degree

    *I apologize if she does have a college degree that I’m unaware of. My Google-Fu muscles seem to have atrophied from lack of use and I’m unable to find any relevant information beyond stuff that has been posted previously in this thread.

  29. #29 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    I remember A Year of Living Babblically. But an article like this is, I must confess, nearly gibberish to me. I have no training whatsoever in this area, and I barely have a child’s vocabulary in it.

    The only reason I can see that I’m compelled to agree with it is conclusion-wise. If this is saying anything more than bad ideas that aren’t immediately deadly manage to survive and get propagated, then it’s over my head. Otherwise, I suppose I can get behind it. Religion isn’t good – who knew? Next week: rocks fall downward, usually.

    Maybe someone here can translate the woo-sounding stuff here into something that I don’t envision Deepak Chopra fapping to.

    (maybe I’m laying myself too bare by this admission)

  30. #30 frank habets
    July 10, 2011

    @Wild Zontargs:
    Thank you for your link to Kafkatrapping. An insightful essay, and highly relevant here.

  31. #31 INTP
    July 10, 2011

    I made a post on PZ’s blog in response to his comment about jettisoning those from the atheist movement whose political views he doesn’t like:

    I found this attitude quite disturbing as well. I’m left-of-centre with a preference for Green Party policies myself, but I think it’s antithetical to freethought/skepticism to exclude a diversity of political perspectives. It would be like banana republic state banning every political party expect for the one in power.

  32. #32 windy
    July 10, 2011

    I guess what I’m asking is, where do we draw the line for what constitutes a proper skeptic? Can we discredit Watson based on her lack of scientific experience or lack of a degree(s)?* If so, what degree

    I don’t think that’s a good road to take – never mind Hitchens and Harris, what about people like Maryam Namazie or Paula Kirby who are also primarily known for their activism? This just seems like the mirror image of ‘can we weed out people who have the wrong political views from our conferences’.

  33. #33 Agent Smith
    July 10, 2011

    Southern Geologist,

    1) All those people you just mentioned had massive professional accomplishments before becoming spokespeople for the skeptical or atheism movements. They are not hangers-on that attempt to merely gain attention and speaking funds from their internet activity and stirring controversy.

    I don’t even know whether RW finished a basic communications degree from a TTT. Hitchens was a highly respected journalist and had a degree from Oxford. Harris had a philosophy degree from Stanford. Those are well thought of academic credentials anyway you think about it.

    2) Hichens and Harris aren’t so much involved in the scientific skepticism movement as they are involved in secular humanism/atheism movements. Atheism is a philosophic position informed by the scientific evidence- but is not a area of scientific expertise. On the other hand, I would not be comfortable with Harris discussing physics or Hitchens discussing geology.

    3) I don’t think any of this should “discredit” RW per se. It is fine to have lay people speak on occasion about their experience. However, I just don’t see what purpose she serves at skeptical events, especially as a “leader”. She has no real world personal accomplishments, she has no relevant areas of expertise and fails to bring anything new or interesting to the table. Listen to skeptics guide- she has no idea what is going on half the time. Not to mention her website is now prompting pseudo-scientific babble and extreme political opinions while calling it skepticism. In other words, her resume for skeptical “leadership” is really lacking (as mine would, I’m a low-life lawyer).

    I have a feeling her rise is due solely to tokenism- which is really too bad because there are lots of accomplished and charismatic women scientists out there. Provide girls with an real example of science- because RW is merely an example of hipster layabout.

  34. #34 The Armchair Skeptic
    July 10, 2011

    @529 Southern Geologist

    About what constitutes a “proper skeptic” – good question. Skepticism isn’t really a profession, or an academic discipline, so we don’t really have generally recognizable credentials that can be used to stand in for “skeptic.” Magicians do know something about how we fool ourselves, and that’s a reasonable contribution. Scientists know (hopefully) about the scientific method. But beyond that, I don’t think there are any reliable criteria that are widely used. Which is why we have to be skeptical of the people who do get chosen (for whatever reasons) to be our spokespeople.

    RW doesn’t really need credentials to still be called a leading skeptic campaigner and pundit, apparently. (For some reason, I keep thinking of Charo, who was sort of a “leading entertainer” 20 or 30 years ago… no real talent, but she kept popping up everywhere. )

    Thanks, ERV, Justicar, John, everyone for bringing some sanity, and some humor, to all this.

  35. #35 D.T.
    July 10, 2011

    I’m not an atheist nor a skeptic, and I stumbled upon this whole story via the Maverick Philosopher’s note about it:

    I must say I’ve found the whole thing highly amusing.

    I’ve heard of Dawkins, of course, and unfortunately PZ as well, but I never heard of this “skepchick” person who strikes me as an ego-tripping nut job of the highest degree.

  36. #36 highjohn
    July 10, 2011


    Southern Geologist,
    I would say we can’t draw a line. The only thing we can do is not attend if someone tries to venture into activities they aren’t suited for. (like me trying to construct sentences, apparently). I would happily attend a Penn & Teller demonstration of magic and how we can all be fooled. A Penn & Teller lecture on Natural Selection vs Neutral Drift – I’d be sceptical.
    And Science isn’t they only relevant expertise here. Philosophy (at least certain philosophies) is and should be a bedrock of atheism and scepticism.
    I think Sam Harris is kind of a special case. He wrote a book that the majority of Philosophy BA’s could never dream of writing.

  37. #37 Victoria Johnson
    July 10, 2011

    I’m new here. Thanks for the wonderful, rational site! PZ’s latest irrationality on the subject of feminism that made me sick at heart. He has gone over-the-top on this issue.

    My husband and I are attending TAM 9, and we plan on making our views known, in appropriate ways. Does anyone have any suggestions? I’m tempted to put “male” and “female” signs on the elevator doors, so the women who need to feel rapist-free could have their own elevator, but that would probably get me thrown out of the conference. We have already cancelled our tickets for the Rebecca Watson Show. The people who run these conferences are concerned about money, and the drawing power of their speakers, so we thought this was a good way of getting our message across.

    We were also at the conference in Dublin, and undoubtedly rode on the now infamous elevator-of-doom. We were never on it with Rebecca though. We avoided her like the plague, having previously accessed her personality as “toxic”. We sat in the audience in horror as she refused to talk on the subject her panel had been given, and instead went on a private rant, maligning four women from a previous panel for saying that women were welcomed in the atheist community, and had often held high positions in atheist organizations. Rebecca’s latest personal attack during a public speaking engagement is certainly not her first. My fond hope is that it will be her last, and that she either agrees to abide by the principles of common decency, or is denied her bully pulpit.

    By the way, my husband and I kept trying to figure out who the elevator guy might have been. We interacted with all of the conference attendees for at least three days, and nobody stood out as “creepy”.

  38. #38 Southern Geologist
    July 10, 2011

    Agent Smith:

    This is a very strong response and my reply should be thought of more as an effort to prolong the discussion than a critique.

    I agree with you that excellent academic credentials are valuable and help establish one as being legitimate, but the lack thereof doesn’t necessarily mean that one has no value, though I would expect some evidence of value.

    I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’ll use myself as an example to illustrate what I was speaking of: I have no formal degree* (dropped out of college as a result of being too miserable to handle the workload because I hated the city and college I was stuck in) but I’ve heard repeatedly that I’m an excellent writer and I also tend to widely read. If I was to start up a blog relating to atheism or skepticism I would expect this combination, combined with an appropriate skeptical mindset and a knowledge of my limits to garner me some respect. However, I would never expect to be given a speaking position at an atheism convention unless I had done enough high-quality writing on a given area of atheism or skepticism to prove that I could hold my own. I would expect to have to submit countless pages of writing to prove that I was capable and to prove that I had an established fan-base. Keep in mind here that I’m thinking of debunking things (or discussing a facet of atheism) that do not require an advanced knowledge of science. You don’t need to be a physicist to demonstrate why ghost sightings are bullshit, for example. However, as I said earlier I do feel that most presenters at a skepticism conference should be experts.

    Do you think feel this position is reasonable or is it not? Also, if you feel that I’m interpreting your point too literally here I can see that you’re speaking of Watson in particular because of her background (or lack thereof) and attitude rather than untrained atheist or skeptic advocates in general. I certainly wouldn’t disagree with the idea that a layman presenter should at least have a niche or bring something new to the table. No one wants to listen to several skepticism conversion stories in a row.


    “I think Sam Harris is kind of a special case. He wrote a book that the majority of Philosophy BA’s could never dream of writing.”

    I think you made an excellent point here. Nothing much more to say.

    *For those wondering, I selected this handle prior to dropping out and plan on using it for blogging if and when I move elsewhere and restart my degree. I’m using it currently to help establish a link between personality and blogger when my blog hits.

  39. #39 highjohn
    July 10, 2011


    Oh no, I got everyone mad at PZ. I feel bad…
    No wait, no I don’t. Watson says she feels betrayed by Dawkins, I feel betrayed by PZ. But that isn’t his fault, it’s mine. He’s a godless liberal, I’m a godless liberal. Which to me means I don’t believe in witchhunts and ideological purity. I should have read his posts more closely, and I’d never really read the comments. I feel he should have said something to ratchet down the comments before Dawkins felt compelled to attempt to do so with sarcasm, which of course worked like gasoline on a fire.

  40. #40 Southern Geologist
    July 10, 2011

    I apologize for double posting but I came across two posts that came in after my reply that I think should be addressed:

    Armchair Skeptic: Thank you for your reply.

    For that matter, thank you Abbie for letting us indulge ourselves so freely in discussion on this thread, especially the stuff that only tangentially relates to the originally post.

    Victoria: I’m glad to see that you’re putting your foot down on this matter and doing what you think is morally necessary. The elevator sign idea is hilarious. As for the ‘creepy’ guy…Frankly, as a recovered Shy Guy, I interpret the comment from Elevator Guy as being from a lonely, shy fellow who was looking for a friend (it didn’t seem to occur to anyone that he really DID mean ‘you’re interesting’) but was unfortunately a bit oblivious as to when and how to try to strike up a friendship with a female he had never spoken to before. (This would explain why the fellow didn’t put off any kind of a ‘creepy’ vibe.) Granted, this is just a guess on my part, but it’s as valid as any other interpretation that we’ve seen.

  41. #41 D.T.
    July 10, 2011

    “We sat in the audience in horror as she refused to talk on the subject her panel had been given, and instead went on a private rant, maligning four women from a previous panel for saying that women were welcomed in the atheist community, and had often held high positions in atheist organizations.”


    That happened before the elevator event?

    If so, then I tend to think the whole elevator event is a made up story. An exclamation mark on her night’s narrative.

  42. #42 ERV
    July 10, 2011

    windy, SouthernG– Like I said, everybody is good at something! I want to encourage groups to find that within their own ranks or nearby! For instance, the OKC Atheists has a ‘dialogues’ series where people talk about their cool stuff, whether its math or blogging or UFOs or we had the folks from Camp Quest drive up to talk. Yay!!

    From the presentations Ive seen, people are passionate and knowledgeable about their specialty, and I bet they could give damn good small presentations at national conferences like TAM, cause they gave damn good presentations in the OKC UU church.

    Headliners are a different story. We have some people who are REALLY DAMN GOOD at some things! Invite them to a million conferences all over the world and see em when you can! There are some truly extraordinary people within our global ranks. But I dont think Watson is at that level, nor have I seen much initiative from her to reach that level (is she writing a screenplay on feminism and atheism? a book? designing a strategic mission for including women in X, Y, Z? nope, just dicking around on the internet). I dont think *I* am at that level. A major difference between us is that I recognize that.

    Heres an analogy from my history with martial arts: You cannot give someone a black-belt before they deserve it. Their master has to *know* they are ready. *They* have to know they are ready. And then they can try for it. If you give someone a black-belt who doesnt deserve it yet, they *know* it, and spend the rest of their lives trying to prove they earned it. I think the French say the same thing about that pastry competition, Meilleurs Ouvriers de France or something… Anyway, I think Watson got her black-belt too early, and it shows. Thats how we get crap like YouTube comments at a student leadership conference.

    Also, SG– Going back to the “‘Im not passive aggressive’ says the person who is being passive aggressive” topic– I get it from a shy persons perspective. Not that Im shy, I just always say exactly what I mean, and I expect others to do the same. Ive totally been known for asking dates up for coffee after a particularly fun date just because everything is closed and I want to keep talking. We have coffee and keep talking :-/ No one has even made a move while we were doing so. If I saw Dawkins on an elevator at 4 am, by himself, damn straight Id clumsily think of an excuse to engage him in a one-on-one conversation, and ask him if he wanted to grab some coffee. Imagine my shock if he thought he was gonna get some ERV b00b. I just totally get why a shy person, or any person who wanted to engage with someone they thought was cool, would say something like that. I also totally get why people who are passive aggressive and do not say or do what they mean on a semi-regular basis would think said person had ulterior motives.

  43. #43 tas121790
    July 10, 2011

    @Victoria Johnson
    Sounds hilarious. If any other humorous signs get posted at TAM can you take pictures to share with all of us not going to TAM?

    Seems very likely many humorous signs will be posted on elevator.

  44. #44 ERV
    July 10, 2011

    Victoria– Thanks for the insider info! Did you relate your concerns to the program organizers? I mean, not from a ‘BAN WATSON FROM SPEAKING!!11eleventy’ perspective, but from a ‘Hey, you all need to figure out a way to keep speakers on topic. Thats not what we were expecting or wanting to hear about’ perspective. They should plan for that in the future– telling the speaker to stay on topic in advance, or have a moderator to nip that sort of thing in the bud in the future.

    If you dont tell anyone, I bet the conference people just assumed everyone was happy.

    But Im half Jewish (none of the religion, all of the stereotypes)– if I buy a product and I dont like it, I complain 😛

  45. #45 Agent Smith
    July 10, 2011

    I agree with everything you said above. I don’t want to discount lay people in the movement- they have done some of the best work like the 10/23 campaign (and my favorite UK skeptic Michael Marsh). Blogs, podcasts, grassroot campaigns by the lay public is great. Not to mention, beyond some critical thinking, I am not sure there can be much “expertise” in atheism.

    However, when it comes to scientific skepticism, I would rather have experts as leaders and speakers (Dawkins, Steven Novella, Orac, Jerry Coyne, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan are good examples). Or if they are going to be non-experts, please make sure they have professional accomplishments and/or bring something new and interesting to the table- Randi and Penn/Teller are great examples of this trend. They are really just donating time out of devotion. Such a standard also assures that internet attention whores like RW, thunderf00t or the AmazingAtheist don’t get massive platforms to spout sectarian crap.

    Also ERV, how about Julia Galef for speaking events for student groups? She does a good job on Rationally Speaking.

  46. #46 Phyraxus
    July 10, 2011

    I LOVE the fact that justicar called Jen’s shit out when she said that RD had never been called slurs.

    She responds that he is twisting her words.

    Rystefn calls her out on her shit.

    She says CONTEXT!

    Rystefn how did we take what you said out of context when that was exactly what you said?

    She says they dont hurt him because he doesn’t hear them every day and they aren’t tru.

    Rystefn replies slurs are only hurtful if they are true then huh?

    She says that isn’t what she said.

    On CONTEXT, Spence said, you mean like reading RD’s comments within the context of PZ’s blog?

    She says he only contributed to that “side”.

    Spence says that depends on context, doesn’t it?

    She subsequently locked the thread from further comments.

    Wow, that is amazing. I particularly love how long justicar’s post was just cutting up her argument. The ONLY thing she takes issue with is the fact that he suggested she might be dishonest in other realms of her life.

  47. #47 Victoria Johnson
    July 10, 2011

    Southern Geologist: I completely agree with you about the elevator guy. My first thought was that he was just shy, or may have a mild form of Asperger’s, or simply not be willing to risk being turned down in public. It also did occur to me that he may really have just wanted coffee and conversation. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! Rebecca may have automatically assumed that he was after sex because of her ingrained views about men. Also, elevator guy may have been in the group that was partying together at the bar; he may have spoken with Rebecca before the elevator incident. For all we know, he may have perceived some signal, unintentional or not, from Rebecca that she was interested. We do not have the full story- only one side’s perception of the events. These are all possibilities.

  48. #48 Phyraxus
    July 10, 2011

    I LOVE the fact that justicar called Jen’s shit out when she said that RD had never been called slurs.

    She responds that he is twisting her words.

    Rystefn calls her out on her shit.

    She says CONTEXT!

    Rystefn how did we take what you said out of context when that was exactly what you said?

    She says they dont hurt him because he doesn’t hear them every day and they aren’t tru.

    Rystefn replies slurs are only hurtful if they are true then huh?

    She says that isn’t what she said.

    On CONTEXT, Spence said, you mean like reading RD’s comments within the context of PZ’s blog?

    She says he only contributed to that “side”.

    Spence says that depends on context, doesn’t it?

    She subsequently locked the thread from further comments.

    Wow, that is amazing. I particularly love how long justicar’s post was just cutting up her argument. The ONLY thing she responds to is the fact that he suggested she might be dishonest in other realms of her life.

  49. #49 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    Agent Smith @ 534.
    I’ve been trying to resolve for myself for a while whether I could get behind tacking on more to “atheism” than just “not theism”. I am now quite certain it should remain distinct. This shit has rather well resigned me to not wanting to see that. I think Dawkins has it about right with the “BRIGHTs” thing, or Thunderf00t’s PEARLism. Or some model of those where they’re related to, but distinct from atheism. Atheism plus I guess.

    @ 536:
    Don’t believe all that you read. It’s going to take more than a handful of noisy fanpeople of Watson’s camp to tear a Richard Dawkins down, let alone limb from limb. Why? Simply he put, he’s smarter than Rebecca Watson by a large margin. It just so happens to look as though more is happening than not happening. He also does more for causes than the whole of her community. We aren’t going to be done with him because he pissed of some noisy people. Even if he is dead to rights wrong, which I don’t concede for a second, my money always goes on those who are making progress, and not those who point and complain.

    A good portion of Dawkins’ “fan” club are more reflective and less reactionary than this would appear to suggest. It’s like the Westboro Baptist Church representing Christianity. They make the news because they’re silly, offensive and loud, but we all know they’re silly, offensive and loud and have a good laugh before returning to the business of work.

    Richard’s error, if you can even call it an error, isn’t what he said. It’s where he said it. For that matter, it might be just that he said it at all. He has the oddity of being famous, which makes what would be a normal conversation into what we see here. If I had said it, it wouldn’t have registered notice. He’s right to point to out that we have someone here who’s complaining for the sake of complaining and should probably stop being so whiny about a perceived (putatively anyway) something that is in reality just an inconvenience of life. Hell, he might have weighed in so that these people would finally fully come out of the closet as ideologues, but that’s rank speculation on my part.

    Turns out, people will talk to other people. Sometimes without prompting. I was fucking shocked too! But Richard knows if he says something fairly innocuous, it gets more attention because of his station than because of what it is that was said. So, he has every right, as does anyone else, to say whatever he thinks, he might have thought better of saying something–anything at all–on pharyngula. That place is not a bastion of erudition. It’s a clique.

    As far skepchick goes, I hadn’t heard of her beforehand either if that tells you anything. Or, if I had, she didn’t warrant the energy expenditure for my brain to keep a log of it. But somehow I find out she’s a “leader” in the atheist/skeptical movement.

    If she’s a leader, I’ll have to be non-excommunicated. It has never been my custom to be lead around by the uneducated. Sure, they can be right too. It just doesn’t happen with the same regularity as it does with the educated. And it when it does happen, it seems to lack as many sparks.

    Victoria Johnson:
    I fully support the “male” and “female” elevator idea. Hell, I’ll bankroll it! Wait! Even better! Get Starbucks to sponsor it!

    No! Even better! Have a Starbucks elevator and a Maxwell House one – one is for those with sophisticated, discriminating taste, and one is for those who’ll fuck -err- drink anything! Bwahahaha!
    We can do eeet!

    The rest of it, Victoria, I’m sorry to say I couldn’t read. You’re only a woman and you’re not allowed in the boy’s club. We only let Abbie in because she’s a gender traitor. And no doubt a lesbian. Probably wears glasses and flannel as well. Oh wait, we already noted lesbian – that’s redundant.

    I have an idea who the elevator guy is. It was god. Or at least someone indistinguishable from god – you know, imaginary. She can’t tell us one feature about the guy? Other than apparently he drinks coffee, hangs out in elevators and occasionally talks to people. Not exactly a good working theory to suss out.

    It’s not “victim” blaming or shaming. She’s not a victim beyond the confines of her own mind. “I’m being oppressed as a keynote speaker because women aren’t valued in the community here!” Oh really now? Then put down your fucking microphone and grab me a sandwich . . . Paula Kirby’s about to talk and I’d rather listen to an adult.


    Um, I’ll say it again – if anyone here is thanking me for my perspective, you need help. I’ve been intentionally a dick to quite a lot of people. Constant refusals to answer simple questions while claiming knowledge and status tends to piss me off.

    But I was loving seeing Jennifer McCreight’s (rhymes with wrong) inner coward come out today. Thanks for that, Rysefn!

  50. #50 John C. Welch
    July 10, 2011

    This is why I wish I would hit the lotto one day: so I could rent a private jet and fly a huge chunk of everyone commenting here, esp. Abbie out to TAM, rent a shitload of suites, and then the night before, try to drink vegas dry.

    Then during any sessions where the Watsonoids/PZItes are speaking, have easily read t-shirts and signs with pithy shit on them like:

    “Being a victim makes you unlucky, not an expert”
    “Where was my privilege when I was getting fag-bashed?”
    “If I’d known it was going to start this much shit, I’d have asked her for a blowjob”
    “I thought skeptics were supposed to question?”
    “Tits, or GTFO”
    “Why is your right to be offensive so superior to mine?”
    “If Men can’t be raped, what, Abner Louima was making sweet, sweet love to the NYPD?”

    Basically, a glob of hungover, crotchety assholes in some kind of Grand Army of Dicks storming the Castle.

    Oh the legal fees would suck, but it would be epic indeed.

    And this thing really does illustrate why Carlin was so right about groups. These fuckers don’t care about rational discussion, it’s nothing but a big fucking popularity contest, and as long as they think their numbers are higher, they’ll keep on talking as if $DEITY itself was on their side.


    Highjohn, I don’t feel betrayed by PZ. He’s always been like that. On his blog, he is mad, bad and dangerous to know. In person, he’s a teddy bear. He’s a smart dude, but he’s passive-agressive and has a bad case of internet balls.

    Dawkins on the other hand, from what I can tell, is always Dawkins. His manner doesn’t change regardless of forum.

    Both are smart, but in the end, I tend to respect Dawkins more.

    However, none of these people are any better than anyone else. They are smarter in some areas, (although PZ trying to authoritatively comment on tech issues is hilarious in how wrong he gets things), and stupider in others. They may have degrees, or not, they are all varied.

    Sometimes they have things to say you’ll agree with, sometimes not. Don’t invest more in anyone than in yourself. I have no doubt that one day, Abbie will say something I really disagree with. Doesn’t mean I’ll feel betrayed, and I’m pretty sure I’ll at least be able to understand her POV, even though I won’t agree. who you are. If you’re an acerbic curmudgeon online, then be that same person in real life. If you’re a really mellow dude in real life, be that way online. It’s a bummer finding out that the person you think is cool doesn’t really exist.

  51. #51 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    John C. Welch:
    You should be the guy designing logos for my tshirts.

    It’s so odd, when I’m staring at a blank template, I have nothing witty to say. When I’m in conversation, I almost never don’t have something witty to say. I think I just need to hire someone to follow me around and say stupid shit while I’m writing.

    And I want to note that I am not suggesting she isn’t anything but forthright and honest in her science. I am saying that if I were her reviewer, seeing this kind of rejection of facts for ideology, or emotional attachment to a person or thing, I’d take a much closer look at her work product. The same is true of anyone else.

    I do not think that fairly entails implying she is anything other than perfectly scrupulous in her science. Does anyone else?

    Oh, and her biggest “argument” against me is in her opening move: I’m a nutjob, and a stalker, and I’m “well known” on Pharyngula. Yes, I’ve posted there in five, maybe six articles. That would make me not absolutely unheard of or completely unknown. I don’t think that grants to me being well known, but it is Pharyngula so anything that’s unreasonable is entirely possible, err, probable to be true.

    She could not be playing the game she’s playing any better than if she were Deepak Chopra. (No idea why I’ve mentioned him twice today. It’s probably some consciousness discontinuity of m-theory that’s to blame.)

  52. #52 Mark
    July 10, 2011

    #538 Victoria Johnson wrote:

    “‘male’ and ‘female’ signs on the elevator doors, so the women”

    This would be a fascinating experiment. What would the attendees do: ignore the patently absurd signs or meekly comply?

  53. #53 Victoria Johnson
    July 10, 2011

    D.T.: To the best of my knowledge, the panel discussion Rebecca was in was on the day of the elevator incident. Did Rebecca give a date for that? The panel was held the afternoon of Saturday, June 4th. By the way, one of the other panelists was Richard Dawkins.

    tes121790: I would be happy to take lots of pictures of any such humor. Have any ideas?

    ERV: Actually, I did not complain to the organizers of the Dublin convention. I’m usually a person who doesn’t complain a lot, and I understand that many points of view will be presented, sometimes in a manner I find offensive. I also figured that if they invited Rebecca, then they knew what they were getting. At this point, I will write them a letter of complaint. Sometimes it is bad to remain silent. Thanks for that suggestion!

    Justicar: How about “caffeinated” or “decaffeinated”? Decaffeinated, of course, means “no”.

  54. #54 Gabby
    July 10, 2011

    I really hesitate to bring this up, and I’ve never talked about it before(except to my wife), but could someone point to the comments where they downplay the idea of men being raped? I’m not looking to argue with them, but I’d like to see what they say about it. I have personal reasons and I’m sure you can see that I don’t care to share any details right now. A link would be appreciated.

  55. #55 Mark
    July 10, 2011

    Urgh, messed that quote up, but you get my drift.

    I also forgot to thank everyone here for being reasonable and non-crazy. I used to frequent SB a heck of a lot, mainly Pharyngula, but the comments sections (of Pharyngula) just started to creep me out.

  56. #56 thememe
    July 10, 2011

    #530, Justicar: I guess you are referring to my linked article? Well, I don’t think that its a good jerk-off material for Deepak Chopra, because memes provide a materialistic and mechanistic (which means real) explanatory framework for cultural information, ideas and behaviours. See for an overview. Steven Novellas take on Memes and Themes:
    But i am too tired right now (and lazy!) to give a common sensic recap.

    You know, the hole elevatorgate-thing made me think very hard about why smart people can become soooo dump and ideology-driven. And it made me think about dangerous bullshit-memes (aka bad ideas). I noticed that there are certain BS-memes that can easily bypass my rational cognitive firewall. These are usually “Sheep in Wolf`s Clothing”-memes which look reasonable and ‘good’ at first glance but can have some very bad outcomes (e.g. certain forms of feminism and political correctness)…and i have to admit that i often notice and find them in my own mind only accidentally … and why are they so resistant to rational inquiry?

    The only BS-meme antidotes i found so far are clear and open examination (what are the consequences when i belive in it?) and to rationally question the practical or empirical validity (whats the proof?) of the meme….a very hard thing too do when something is very emotionally loaded…..but real art seems to be to actually ‘find them’.

  57. #57 Wild Zontargs
    July 10, 2011

    @D.T.: “That happened before the elevator event?

    If so, then I tend to think the whole elevator event is a made up story. An exclamation mark on her night’s narrative.”

    Since I’m taking Dawkins at his word (that he said what he meant, and meant what he said, in the context he said it), I’ll also assume that Ms. Watson really met Elevator Guy. Even given that, the pattern she’s establishing makes me lean towards the shifting of attention to Dawkins as being a premeditated smokescreen to protect her livelihood. “Hijacks panels to pursue personal vendettas” is not a good reference if you want to be invited to speak at the next convention.

    [Godwin] Remember, a communist really did start the Reichstag Fire, it’s just that everything after that was a Big Lie. [/Godwin]

    @Gabby regarding rape: It has come up in most of the long-running comment threads, but check out this and search for “unwanted penetration” for a particularly vile example.

  58. #58 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    I love it! Caffeinated / decaffeinated! Thanks for the laugh!

    Shit, I missed a lot of posts for some reason.

    Erv: I think you sell yourself a little short. If you have offline the personality you have online, I see no reason to see why you wouldn’t do fabulous presenting on a topic you care about. But let’s assume that you’re right about you: I’m trying to replace a Rebecca Watson; you’d have a low bar to jump. =^_^=

    Your NAF post was written in a way that even though I know nothing about the field, I can still picture in my mind what it is you were doing, the dude on the phone, the PI, and, no less important, I can immediately understand the delicate footwork you do in your work to find just the right angle to make progress. There’s no reason I can see you couldn’t do the same in a talk.

    Staying on that subject, why haven’t we had Miranda Hale speaking at one of these big events? Think about it. She’s not a scientist. She’s not a mathematician. She’s not any of the things which come rushing to the fore when you think “skeptical” and “atheist” person. She’s the kind of model I have in mind when I think of an educated religious person – oh, some artsy fartsy person who’s all into that it’s what you feel that matters kind of woo.

    But there she is. There she is with her PhD in literature. What drew me to her blog was the article she wrote just ripping apart that Catholic “Study”; she tore apart the procedures, definitions, methodology, funding, conflict of interest, the whole lot. I was floored when I looked at her profile and learned she teaches and studied literature. It is that much of a one-off that if I hadn’t seen it in her own words, I’d have accused someone of yanking my non-gender-specific chain.

    But no. We get Rebecca Fucking Watson.

    They had a panel as earlier denoted, divvied up among four women who actually are known for something other than being known for that thing no one can really point to. Accomplished, well spoken, strong, intelligent, thoughtful women had to split their time for a panel. Rebecca Watson gets a keynote.

    And then she gets to share a panel with Richard Dawkins where she immediately proceeds to not discuss the topic.

    Oh, and to top it all off, on youtube, there was some minor chatter about how Richard was looking uninterested, and absent. Yet, in his 10 minutes, he addressed each previous panelist’s issues head-on in addition to his own. Not only does he stay on topic, but he’s generous with his already limited time for the sake of congeniality.

    But we get Rebecca Fucking Watson. She’s a “leader”.

    They shouldn’t swapped her ass out with Waters on that panel. But what would she know about communicating atheism? Well, I don’t know the answer to that. I’d like to find out though. But here’s what I do know: she knows enough about the topic of communicating atheism to understand it’s a topic that doesn’t mean “discuss my hate mail, responses I get on youtube and other minutia of my own life”.

    But we get Rebecca Fucking Watson.

    I second the “don’t feel betrayed” bit. I’ve said on other fora with people: I don’t make gods of men or women. It’s ok if they get things wrong. What matters isn’t that they’ll get something wrong, it’s what they do about it after it happens that matters.

  59. #59 thememe
    July 10, 2011

    Oh, i meant “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”-memes of course 🙂

  60. #60 mathguy
    July 10, 2011

    @Justicar: Watson called again. He really wants Rebecca to just stop.

  61. #61 tas121790
    July 10, 2011

    @ERV 456
    I know you said you don’t have alot of time so you cant speak at TAM but I really think you would be popular there. Based on your blog, I think you could present a lecture on your area of expertise that was, engaging, entertaining, humorous and most importantly informative.
    @Victoria 554
    I don’t have any ideas for signs, I’d just like to see what the Jesters of TAM come up with. Wonder how many people will take it in good humor, and how many will get offended.

    One other point i think most are in agreement with. I don’t think we should discourage non scientist from becoming prominent voice in skepticism/atheism. I pretty much give all credit to Penn and Teller and James Randi via Bullshit and youtube videos of Randi for getting me involved in Skepticism and atheism. As long as the person is engaging, informative, skeptical, and entertaining they are fit to promote skepticism. That’s why people like Sara Mayhew(Anime cartoonist) and George Hrab (fantastic musician and runs a podcast that everyone should listen to) are rising stars in skepticism with out being scientists. They are just interesting and good promoters.
    TL;DR Skeptic conferences should be open to lectures from anyone whose a good promoter of critical thinking.

  62. #62 John C. Welch
    July 10, 2011

    I am seriously beginning to think PZ is reading too much New Media Douchebag procedure. Just when it seems this entire thing is possibly going to start dying off a bit…

    Yes, yes, let’s keep pumping this shit up. sigh. He’s gonna have to change his last name to Dowdell if this keeps up.

  63. #63 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    I know what a meme is, but there was something written about the immune system and memetics and my eyes kind of glazed over.

    I am fairly certain that I have some things rattling around in my brain that are completely counter-factual. If I knew what they were, I’d excise them. But I can’t know that, so I do it piecemeal by talking to people. Smart people at that.

    I know that I also have some irrational fears. I know they’re irrational. I know they’re not based on anything real. But I still feel them. They just don’t make an argument for me to act on them, or ask anyone else to factor them into anything they do. I recognize the difference between fear as a result of a threat, and fear as a result of being an evolved primate whose ancestors needed that particular concern to be hardwired to survive long to have children.

    Other than what goes inside my head when I’m dealing with those fears, they are unimportant and must be dismissed. For instance, I am scared shitless by spiders. They creep. me. out. What do I about it? I deal with it and try to capture them alive to relocate them. I don’t go screaming, jumping up on furniture hoping someone with better rational faculties happens by and rescues with a well-placed shoe sole. And then cry about my potential brush with death for attention.

    Turns out: life happens.

  64. #64 ERV
    July 10, 2011

    Welch– I asked him to post something in support of Dawkins, because his silence is viewed as support of the anti-Dawkins lynch mob. PZ knows as well as all of us that Dawkins fully supports women in science and skepticism. PZ has *never* said a word to me otherwise. But if that post is the best PZ can do, that is the best he can do.

    PZ never asked me to elaborate on my opinion, but insisted he disagreed with me. So, thats the kind of discussion you all can look forward to at TAM, I guess.

  65. #65 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    From earlier today –
    Even though Dawkins has been sexually assaulted, they’re still carrying on that tripe that men are immune to its happening, and therefore don’t care about it. That’s the 10th post in on a new article from PZ.

    This was followed up by –

    But the discussion there seems to be trending towards me at the moment:

    Miles670 said in response to Jen:

    That isn’t what he said at all. You’re misrepresenting him and seeing as this is the internet, that’s a very silly thing to do:

    Stay-tuned over there and I’m sure you’ll catch some slices of what it is you’re asking after.

  66. #66 thememe
    July 10, 2011

    For instance, I am scared shitless by spiders. They creep. me. out. What do I about it? I deal with it and try to capture them alive to relocate them. I don’t go screaming, jumping up on furniture hoping someone with better rational faculties happens by and rescues with a well-placed shoe sole. And then cry about my potential brush with death for attention.


    Yes, and you don’t think that it’s the spiders fault to scare you….or that spiders are supposed to do not scare you. But thats exactly what RW did: Not seeing tru her own neurotic shit, fears and aversions…. she desperately wants to turn it into a feminist-issue..and any further rational enquiry is forbidden…

  67. #67 John C. Welch
    July 10, 2011


    It doesn’t matter any more, does it. The orthodoxy has spoken. Dawkins doesn’t just disagree with them, HE IS WRONG AND MUST BE PUNISHED.

    Anyone who doesn’t agree with them in lockstep is WRONG AND MUST BE PUNISHED.

    The skeptic movement doesn’t have time to allow people to have different opinions and still be “skeptics in good standing”. THEY MUST CONFORM TO THE ORTHODOXY, FOR WE ARE BUSY AND HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO! LIKE CONFERENCES!


  68. #68 Nick
    July 10, 2011

    Despite what PZ says, who wants to bet that TAM will be consumed by this bizarre controversy and will feature a great schism in the movement (the holy rebecca v. the female-hating Dawkins and gender-traditors)?

  69. #69 Southern Geologist
    July 10, 2011

    I don’t feel ‘betrayed’ by PZ as I’ve never been particularly fond of him; I’ve always felt that he can be irrational when it comes to political matters and that his blog’s lack of support for dissent is partly a result of his behavior. I’m a firm believer (gasp!) in the idea that a blogger largely sets the intellectual (or lack thereof) atmosphere of their blog. Generally speaking, a blog’s regular readers read that blog because they respect that blogger and follow their lead. That said, I DO believe he is being particularly ridiculous and insulting this time in regards to politics as I outlined earlier. (Post #529)

    Speaking of dissent…you know what would be a GREAT idea for the people who are able to attend this conference? Wearing some Support Dissent swag:

    It seems particularly timely given the bloggers on Skepchick thinking they have a right to decide who and who cannot speak at that conference. (Post #480.)

    Abbie: I think the local conferences idea is great for several reasons. Among other – obvious – reasons it gives speakers a sort of apprenticeship period where they can hone their chops and develop their research and speaking skills. I cannot imagine that anyone would want their first speaking position to be a national event with Richard Dawkins in the audience!

    The Black Belt analogy is excellent. There is a certain amount of maturity, knowledge, and age that should be expected of a keynote speaker and I think that handing them something important like that before they’re ready is going to do damage to them and to the community. Granted, I don’t know how old Watson is, but the genesis of this thread (her calling a blogger in the audience out mid-speech) tells me that she is not old enough.

    You have an excellent point about someone with a passive-aggressive nature interpreting things in that context; I’m pretty blunt and straightforward by nature and I expect the same of others (and tell them so). That said, and I say this as someone with a minor case of Asperger’s, there is something to be said for paying attention to a person’s tone and language. There is a very clear difference between ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?’ and ‘Hey, baby, wanna come back to my room for…coffee? *wink, wink*’ If I can figure out the difference, she should be able to. Frankly, every time I read his statement I become more convinced that the guy just wanted to talk with her and took the wrong approach by inviting her to his room. That said, it also leaves me convinced that her story is true. If she was going to lie, why not use the second sort of line to describe his attempt at conversation? It wouldn’t seem much less believable, that version of the story would give her a clear advantage, and I highly doubt she’s brilliant enough to concoct the idea that making the guy seem somewhat innocent will make her story seem more realistic.

    Victoria: According to Rebecca he had not spoken to her prior to the incident despite being in the bar with her which is part of what left her feeling creeped out. Frankly, I think supports my Shy Guy hypothesis. It’s difficult enough for a shy guy to ask a girl out even if he’s just looking to chat and strike up a friendship, so he’s going to avoid doing so and getting shot down in a public place if possible.

    Justicar: Don’t under-rate your posting here (and on the blog). Your reasoning has been consistently solid and there is nothing wrong with being a dick when people have it coming.

    In any case, thoughts on use of the Support Dissent swag at the conference, anyone? It may require a bit of a blog-based propaganda campaign so people know what it’s about, but I think it could be useful. And it’s not loud enough to get you thrown out!

  70. #70 John C. Welch
    July 10, 2011

    New data: do you log in from a service the cool kids don’t use? You have nothing of value to say.

    New way to disagree with someone: “Go drown yourself in a bathtub”

    If you disagree with the orthodoxy, then we have the right to twist whatever you say in any way we wish. If you agree with the orthodoxy, any disagreement with you is clearly twisting your words, and the person disagreeing should be treated like shit.

    Oh and if you disagree with the orthodoxy, you’re a sexual predator.

  71. #71 Justicar
    July 10, 2011

    Nick, unless my twitter app has missed the mark, apparently, discussion of elevatorgate is strictly a dismissible offense.!/BrianDunning/status/89921897030107136
    See? And PZ says it won’t be happening either. Therefore, you have a first and second opinion which are convergent and thus correct.

    But I don’t know how “science” works as I was told a few minutes ago. The person who’s telling me this, curiously enough, is giving me a lesson in how to quotemine – so, I’m learning a lot about the world tonight. I love being educated on how peer-review works by students; it’s absolutely amazing!

    thememe @567:
    It never occurred to me to blame the spiders for scaring me. lol. In the same way, it’s never occurred to me blame people who startle me either. Maybe if I started doing that, then I’d finally “get it”. Research project!

    Gabby: here’s another gem for you to read.
    Someone brought up that Dawkins has been sexually assaulted, though not specifically raped, so he does know what it’s like to be a victim of sexual abuse. This is one of the replies to that.
    Posted by: SC OM Author Profile Page | July 10, 2011 11:02 PM

    It already happened to him.

    No, “it” didn’t. And I’ve read TGD, as many here have. So you do not have a cynical, callous “Gotcha!” moment, you ridiculous ignoramus.

    Shut up.

    Dawkins is privileged you see. His being sexually assaulted just isn’t quite good enough for some people. If only he’d been molested just a little bit more, just a little harder, it would count. Perhaps if he’d resisted and gotten beaten? Oh, but that would be blaming the victim for not fighting back hard enough, and we all know that only applies against women.

    ERV: are you to blame for PZ’s latest post?

  72. #72 Gabby
    July 10, 2011

    Thanks Justicar, but I think I found what I was looking for on Blaghag. These links were about Dawkins, I wanted an opinion on male rape victims generally. What I found was pretty foul. It came from someone called wmdkitty.

  73. #73 Justicar
    July 11, 2011

    Gabby: you’re welcome. I didn’t do any research at all for it. I was just reading through the comments as they’re coming up on pharyngula. Those reminded me you’d asked, so I thought I’d mention them since they’re in the general area. I’m glad you found whatever it was you wanted.

    I don’t know if those shirts are going to do anything. I’m not sure what the tone of this year’s conference will be. I’m only confident enough to say that people are going to show up, and stuff will happen. Beyond that, who knows.

    If I were going, I’d pick one up.

    Also, PZ has said all of the topics were done before this, and it’s about space. I can’t wait to see how Rebecca Watson shoehorns sexism into that:
    when you look at the vacuum of space, not there can the outties avoid penetrating the innies. They’re popping in and out and in and out and in and out all the time. Sure, they have no staying power and it’s over as soon as it starts, but it’s still a violation!

    Exception 5R. Dawkins space; there it doesn’t count.

    In unrelated news, one of those steely-eyed researchers over there found out my real identity: I’m a 16 year old gamer who can’t get laid; therefore, I only come online to make an ass of myself. Also, this is the reason I hate women.

    I guess my secret identity as a thirty-something openly gay male is a thin veneer through which one may easily look. /sigh

    John C. Welch:
    I read that bit too. Further down the page, someone makes mention that what is important on Pharyngula isn’t the number of letters one has to write after their name, but the quality of their commentary. At least we’re getting some bounds on what counts there. Education? Doesn’t affect quality of commentary. Log-in location? That bears on how good you can argue, retard.

    Glad we solved that little problem.

    Southern Geologist, I’m always self-deprecating. I figure it’s the least I can do given how sardonic I am with other people. It just shows that I equally wield my Rabelaisian wit.


  74. #74 John C. Welch
    July 11, 2011

    I left a comment on Laden’s latest on this. ( -/2011/07/women_in_elevators_a_man_to_ma.php)

    I finally figured out the central theme that’s bugging me in this:

    “Women are helpless before a man. If he chooses to attack her, all she can do is pray”

    Um, bullshit? I don’t get this. Admittedly, the women I know, if attacked, may lose, but that fucker’s gonna look like he tried to make out with a honey badger by the time they’re done. They would PREFER to not be attacked, but they know it could happen, (as does anyone with a damned brain) and so do not wait for everyone else to secure their safety.

    But that is the edge case. Abbie? Edge case. Most of the women I know? Edge Cases. What’s the norm? Live your life in fear and hope guys one day make it better.

    Really? is that what is the norm now? Helplessness and fear?

  75. #75 Rystefn
    July 11, 2011

    I really wish I had the cash-flow to go get myself kicked out of TAM… Maybe I could get myself kicked out of local atheist events instead. I’m local to McWrong, so it could easily lead to hilarity and/or me being arrested.

  76. #76 Rystefn
    July 11, 2011

    John, I will concede that, as a general rule, a woman is less likely to win than a man in a fight. That said, if it’s a fight, the defender has already fucked up. When someone attacks you, you do not fight them. You either distract and run from them, or you fucking destroy them and run. Sand in the eye and run, or thumb in the eye and run. Anything else is not self-defense, it’s a fight.

  77. #77 Phyraxus
    July 11, 2011

    I brought it to Jen’s attention (assuming that she hadn’t seen her posts before) that wmdkitty was a raving mysandrist. She agreed and subsequently banned her from her blog. After I told her that I disagreed with censorship in all its forms, INCLUDING banning raving loonies. But its her blog she does what she wants. I think that her saying, “I completely and unequivocally disagree with her stance” would have been good enough. I dunno, censorship just leaves a bad taste in my mouth… I also said that I LIKE having a raving “feminist” around to show that all of us “raving misogynistic assholes” aren’t against good ol’ feminism, which is supposed to be about equality, but this version of “feminism.”

  78. #78 John C. Welch
    July 11, 2011

    Of course it’s a fight. That’s why I never taught “self-defense”, I taught fighting. It’s a difference in attitude, and it shows across the board. Given the stupid shit so many women wear on their feet, and the lack of free leg movement allowed by many fashionable bits of clothing, running is not a really good option in too many cases.

    But the bone-deep willingness to fight for yourself? That changes you. It changes how you walk, it changes how you interact with people, and there is a subtle message: “You may win, but you’re going to bleed to do it. How bad do you want it?”

  79. #79 Wild Zontargs
    July 11, 2011

    ‘I also said that I LIKE having a raving “feminist” around to show that all of us “raving misogynistic assholes” aren’t against good ol’ feminism, which is supposed to be about equality, but this version of “feminism.”‘

    Which is why those “feminists” get banned when attention is called to them.

    Ha ha, only kidding serious.

  80. #80 Justicar
    July 11, 2011

    as my mother used to tell me she was taught (in addition to martial arts), remember ladies, you run faster with your skirt hiked up than he does with his pants pulled down. Of course, that fails because he can always pull his pants up.

    You never hear of a blind person being charged with rape.

    I also almost never meet people who can imagine themselves gouging out someone’s eyes. You’d think somewhere along the way one of those should change.

    The way to make sure you’re prepared to do these things if you ever need to, is train to do these things in case you need to. Like so many other things, when in a tense situation, people will are more prone to act by instinct than anything else. It is therefore reasonable to expect that people will respond to an attack in the way they’ve trained themselves to.

    Note: thinking about what to do if the situation arises will not yield the results you want. Thinking doesn’t stop a rapist. A finger through his eye socket will. And I don’t mean any fingernails down the chalkboard kind of fingering either. The eye socket is a hole – get a finger to the other side of it and you’re way ahead of the power curve.

    I’m unsurprised. She’s taking to quote mining me now. It’s charming.

  81. #81 Rystefn
    July 11, 2011

    John, I have no interest in either teaching or learning how to fight. If you find yourself in a fight, you’ve already made a tactical or strategic error of the first order. As I said before, “a woman is less likely to win than a man in a fight.” I will extend that to “a person being attacked is less likely to win than an attacker in a fight.” Fighting is for dick-measuring contests. A pen through the eye socket is for dealing with a rapist.

  82. #82 Wow
    July 11, 2011

    “Dawkins was assaulted as a child, by an adult. There is an authority/privilege/strength differential there that is analogous to that between women and men (on average).”

    And there are still gay men in the world.

    There are also lots of women stronger than Richard Dawkins.

    There are also a lot of godbotherers who would love to degrade Dawkins.

    So it seems like you REALLY mean “Dawkins isn’t a man, therefore his experience isn’t relevant”.

    Well, you’re a nutjob and your beliefs are not relevant.

  83. #83 Wow
    July 11, 2011

    “By the way, Abbie, you are hilarious and I mean that in the best possible sense.*

    *Perhaps I should run that statement by the Feminist Brigade before publishing it to make sure that it doesn’t qualify me as a misogynist …”

    Could we back off that sort of thing?

    If you make a statement that the person you’re talking to doesn’t like

    a) they should say so
    b) you should say sorry or explain

    but going “I guess I need to pass that by the $JOKE_GROUP to see if it’s fine…” is only going to waste space and reading time with a chance of getting those feminists who DON’T have a problem with a guy asking, getting “no” and accepting that answer to feel like you’re pissing on them.

    If you want to continue, make it explicit: say you need to pass it by RW to see if it’s not exhibiting your privilege.

  84. #84 Wow
    July 11, 2011

    “Similar behaviour has been witnessed in both men and women; even though it is physically more difficult for a woman to commit rape,”

    With the advent of impotence remittance drugs, this is now eminently possible.

    Plus also remember that that little barstand gets up in the night when you’re asleep, something to keep in mind.

  85. #85 The Armchair Skeptic
    July 11, 2011

    @572 Justicar

    Not sure if you picked up on it, but @BrianDunning’s tweet was a joke. Although it sure looks like some folks didn’t get it.

  86. #86 cthellis
    July 11, 2011

    Yes, yes, let’s keep pumping this shit up. sigh. He’s gonna have to change his last name to Dowdell if this keeps up.


    Certainly, it’s all and only some random nutbars out there. There wasn’t a single overreaction at all from My Side(TM) and while you shouldn’t call Dawkins a misogynist, here’s a huge list of people who should apparently make all men ashamed to be men, and no mention of anyone who morph concepts of “feminism” beyond all rational and recognizable bounds.

    “I repeat, though, that the story Rebecca Watson told was tempered, moderate, and polite…”

    Except when sniping Paula Kirby by disrupting her own panel and attacking her in harsh, uncalled-for terms while not understanding what was said, and purposefully embarrassing-and-uncomfortable-and-could-be-construed-as-mortifying comments spoken to shut up a student feminist by interrupting yet another topic.


    Though to be fair… Dowdell? *shudder*

  87. #87 Southern Geologist
    July 11, 2011


    I should probably have not used that given that I haven’t been around here to use ‘Feminist Brigade’ in a long time, or I should have added a note defining it. Sorry. I am not speaking of feminists as a whole when I use that term, I am speaking of a certain sub-set of feminist bloggers that behave as if any compliment a man makes toward someone who happens to be a woman is automatically objectifying her and saying she is worthless as a human being. Remember the explosion a while back over people at Discovery blogs saying Sheril Kirshenbaum was pretty? I will happily grant that anyone who makes a comment to the effect of ‘You’re hot, I’ll read your blog’ is probably a fucking moron, but I will not grant that this person is a rapist in waiting. I’m speaking of that breed of behavior.

    That said, I again apologize for not making a note qualifying what I meant by ‘Feminist Brigade.’

  88. #88 cthellis
    July 11, 2011

    That said, I again apologize for not making a note qualifying what I meant by ‘Feminist Brigade.’

    Your mind is very pretty.

    But don’t worry, I’m sure you’re pretty on the OUTSIDE, too!

  89. #89 Southern Geologist
    July 11, 2011

    I didn’t say that kind of behavior wasn’t condescending; I said it was not grounds for accusing someone of being a rapist.

  90. #90 cthellis
    July 11, 2011

    I know. I was just being sarcastically reverse-sexist. 😉

  91. #91 Southern Geologist
    July 11, 2011

    Sorry. Hell, here I am apologizing again because I couldn’t pick up a joke when I saw it. And there I was earlier bitching about how a person can learn to detect tone…

    …Did I mention a bit of Asperger’s?

    (I should really quit reaching for the most convenient excuse on hand. I’m going to dig myself a hole here for offending other people that have Asperger’s.)

  92. #92 Prometheus
    July 11, 2011


    “Welch– I asked him to post something in support of Dawkins, because his silence is viewed as support of the anti-Dawkins lynch mob.”

    Considering 80% of PZ’s present notoriety is a direct result of his heavily touted close friendship with Dawkins, this omission makes him more than a bit of an asshole.

    If he demonstrates the same loyalty to the post-modern radical feminist movement as he does to his friends I guess we can start counting down to when he gets called into the provost’s office for regaling coeds with bad tentacle themed adianoeta.

  93. #93 Mark
    July 11, 2011

    I read something on Reddit yesterday (can’t remember where) where someone was saying that when people like RW claim that all men possess privilege it’s a bit like when Christians claim all humans possess original sin. Your guilt is established at birth, and there’s no way you can rid of it.

    The only way you can achieve salvation is to openly confess your ‘sin’ and pledge allegiance to a cliquee group of self-appointed ‘enlightened’ people. If you do not (or if you disagree), the message is circulated that you are not a decent person (or indeed that you are some way evil). It doesn’t matter what your *deeds* have been, that you don’t submit to this group’s belief makes you circumspect.

    Anyway, I thought it was interesting, that’s all.

  94. #94 Prometheus
    July 11, 2011

    “….when people like RW claim that all men possess privilege it’s a bit like when Christians claim all humans possess original sin. Your guilt is established at birth, and there’s no way you can rid of it.”

    That is dogmatically correct in post-modern radical feminism as part of the inherent patriarchy theory of society. Since all present human institutions have either a patriarchal basis or have been irredeemably compromised by patriarchy the only hope is to destroy all such institutions and begin again.

    Of course RW billed herself as a third wave sex positive feminist until it became politically expedient for her to “Do the Dwork”.

    Kind of a 180 for the former hostess of “Western Bordello” night….huh.

  95. #95 ERV
    July 11, 2011

    Its pretty pathetic.

    Richard Dawkins is not a misogynist, end of story. There is zero evidence, anywhere, that he is. Anyone saying that is using one comment as an excuse to grind their own personal axe (“I ALWAYS KNEW….”)

    Thats not hard to say.

    PZ cant say it like that. He has to say it with a qualifier (but hes WRONG!!!).

    While Richard always had his back.

    I repeat, pathetic.

    Also note the problem with all of this– there is no discussion. PZ says I (and Dawkins) are wrong. Ive never told PZ the reasoning behind my opinion, it doesnt matter, my conclusion is WRONG. Dawkins makes a remark. Its WRONG. He asks people to explain why. NO DISCUSSION. WRONG.

    No discussion.

    But its supposed to be ‘good for the community’.


  96. #96 Ericb
    July 11, 2011

    This was probably directed more toward right wing hysteria but it is just as applicable many on the left. Do you take offence? Just say no:

  97. #97 cthellis
    July 11, 2011

    Also note the problem with all of this– there is no discussion. PZ says I (and Dawkins) are wrong. Ive never told PZ the reasoning behind my opinion, it doesnt matter, my conclusion is WRONG. Dawkins makes a remark. Its WRONG. He asks people to explain why. NO DISCUSSION. WRONG.

    Come now, don’t be so gauche. I’m sure he’ll give you as MUCH time as you want to discuss WHY you’re wrong!

  98. #98 cthellis
    July 11, 2011

    Oh right, forgot to list the Exemplar Supreme tweet.!/pzmyers/status/90241642187071488

    That was the final straw that just made me have to tune them out, at least for a while. Until this fetid pile of excrement dries up enough to not stink so much.


  99. #99 Mark
    July 11, 2011

    PZ has declared his decision ex catherdra ex pharyngula. It is disrespectful to question his wisdom on matters of official doctrine. You should accept The Truth and shout down any unbelievers.

  100. #100 Justicar
    July 11, 2011

    Abbie, I’m glad to see that you’ve made this kind of progress.
    Admitting you’re wrong is the first step; welcome to the 12 step club to not being a Gender Traitor.

    Pick up a coin on your way out. Just kidding – offering a woman a coin for something related to gender is prostitution. Prostitution is rape. Here, have a cookie instead. It’s organic and made partly of unicorn sparkles.

    Ugh. How fucking repugnant; his post about International Day Against Stoning and his hoping it’s something we can all agree on.

    You know, until that post, I’d been a big fan of stoning women to death for imaginary crimes. But now that I’ve been shamed into being labeled a contrarian, you know, I’m going to give it up.

    I can’t view his current status on twitter by that link. I’m probably blocked. But we all know I’m stalker; I guess this I’m going to have to start making twitter socks to keep in the “know” or something? Any experienced stalkers out there care to give a newb some advice?

    Oh, and ERV, thank you for letting me “hold court” over here. Apparently, being not immediately banned means that I’m somehow elevated to some station. This would explain, of course, why it is that my remarks are immune from all criticism and everyone agrees with me, right? Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

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