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 Wow
    July 14, 2011

    “Ok, Wow. Are you not following? Do you not see that I TOTALY agree with you?”

    Um, you say they’re the same. I say what RW did with Stef is worse than what EG did with RW.

    This doesn’t look like agreement.

    And I’m still not clear what you’re on about referring to RD, because it’s not pertinent whether you think the RW/Stef vs EG/RW is equal or different either way.

    PS Abbie, weren’t YOU worked up in the GMO thread? You certainly seemed somewhat hysterically against the actions.

  2. #2 thememe
    July 14, 2011


    Not being an english speaker, I think I have dificulties bringing my points across.

    So am I. This can be a huge problem sometimes, because I don’t know enough four-letter words to express my anger appropriately 🙂

  3. 803:


    Havoc ensues…

  4. #4 Wow
    July 14, 2011



    Mind you, “poot” is four letters. No havoc (and ensuing hilarity) ensues.

  5. #5 Chidi Baptiste
    July 14, 2011


    It’s mostly insufferably natural 😀 (why is that creepy?).

  6. #6 thememe
    July 14, 2011

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I will try to memorize them…I am always interested in improving my English conversation skills.

  7. #7 Chidi Baptise
    July 14, 2011


    Silly me, that last part was supposed to read “Why do you ask? Is my optimism creepy?”

  8. #8 dustbubble
    July 14, 2011

    Ooh! What a palaver! Just caught sight of it in a side bar on blog, and thought “Eh? This sounds mental. Better have a quick shufti”.
    Initially decided “Yuk. American campus politics, as per. Ugh. If I close the door very quietly and stay downwind I should be alright.”
    About sixty-eight metres of comments in tiny print across the blogs later, and I still have not a scooby as to what on earth is this really about.
    Now, having endured that footage of Dawkins and Co. at the conference in question, I’m coming round to the view that he lobbed the hand-grenade posts intentionally, a desperate attempt to emphatically decouple himself from these ninnies, and damn the torpedoes.
    Can’t see why they’re suddenly all so affronted. Professor Yaffle has been arsey like that for as long as I can remember. How could they not know?
    Might even buy one of his bloody books now, instead of nicking them. His writing is the only interesting thing about the man, as far as I can see.

    I’m very pleased that this miserable episode has profited me, at least, in that I found your interesting (and sane!) blog. Although it does make my head hurt a bit.
    If Myers went back to writing about his work, as well as you do about yours, I might start reading his stuff again.

  9. Dustbubble: welcome 🙂

    I’m still reading through all the comments, and am cureently around 280.

    Regarding these:

    I have been the victim of abuse, rape, and associated pictures when I was 11. My handle is my real name, anybody wanting to check these claims out can refer to the French police.

    Yet, I don’t feel any creepy feeling or offence when another man walks the street and doesn’t change sidewalks. Am I a mysoginist for that?

  10. #10 Disappointed
    July 14, 2011

    I just drove home in my Shrodinger’s car. I would like everyone to know that I got home safely and without being bitten by any pitbulls. It’s a dangerous world out there, but I knew I was safe because all the decent guys were across the street and all the rapists were on mine. I’m a chick, so I’m easily spooked. Nice to meet y’all. I think this is the only place in the atheist “community” where I can possibly feel comfortable. Sigh.

  11. #11 bluharmony
    July 14, 2011

    @DustBubble I think Watson got on Dawkins’ nerves when she hijacked her panel speech with her own agenda: YouTube Threats(AKA Atheism IS Too Scary For Womyns). Dawkins looked utterly disgusted with skep “chick” and I felt his pain. Then she made an unnecessary and snide remark about Bill Maher halfway through.

  12. #12 ERV
    July 14, 2011

    Dont get too comfy, Disappointed. Theres a vicious pitbull sitting in the corner *points to upper left*


  13. #13 Justicar
    July 14, 2011

    Don’t listen to her, Disappointed! Just do what I do: carry a couple of steaks to toss out for a distraction.

    Hey, Abbie, have you thought of doing short videos on like chemistry in the kitchen, or something that all of us non-chemist types can enjoy some of what it is “you people” do in the lab without any of the work?

    Just a thought. =^_^=

  14. #14 dustbubble
    July 15, 2011

    Uh-oh. Getting hooked now. Watched some more vids, and tried to reconstruct the *actual* sequence of events. Fascinating! It’s a rare privilege to see a full-on Kremlin power struggle played out in real time, with pictures.
    Why do I feel safe in predicting that Lift-Geezer’s identity will go with her to the grave?

  15. #16 ERV
    July 15, 2011

    Sigmund– Its particularly funny considering her hateful dismissal of AA president Dave Silvermans appearance on the ‘O’Reilly Factor’.

    Watsons meme is forced, and not really that great.

    Whereas Silvermans appearance gave us not only a fantastic meme, but a rage comic panel which no one can live without now.

  16. #17 Sigmund
    July 15, 2011

    I agree, the Watson meme has no great value in of itself. She isn’t really a stereotypical feminist – too many “hot college girls tickle parties” in her past for that.

  17. #18 Sophie
    July 15, 2011

    ERV, how was she dismissive of Dave Silverman? I must have missed that.

  18. #19 ERV
    July 15, 2011


    I forgot how awful that article was.

    So now I wont feel bad about mentioning out loud that Watsons hair is incredibly unattractive and in desperate need of professional corrective dying and a professional cut, and I, personally, will buy her a bra that fits, since she apparently doesnt own one. You know, since its okay for us all to give each other grooming/wardrobe advice. ‘Truths’ and such.

  19. #20 Phyraxus
    July 15, 2011

    Ahh abbie, don’t forget Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

  20. #21 Phyraxus
    July 15, 2011

    Damn, someone needs to get RW meme and combine it with the scumbag meme.

    Something that might say, “Scumbag Feminist says”
    “Men are Rapists till proven innocent”

    Or make it funny, I don’t know how that might happen though. Other than being presented in meme.

  21. #22 Ihaveaspergerspleaseexplainsimplethingstomelol
    July 15, 2011

    Okay, Rebecca is complaining that guys are hitting on her all the time at conferences.

    Well, okay but what does she mean by that?

    Does that mean guys are flirting with her and that annoys her because flirting is sexualizing? Or does she mean that men are straight out constantly propositioning her for sex?

    If it’s the first case then I think she’s a hypocrite because she does that to men. (as has been noted by previous bloggers) If it’s the second case then maybe she’s just interpreting men as propositioning her? I mean based on her knee jerk assessment of a guy asking her out for coffee, it sounds like she kind of projects sexual intentions on to men. Am I naive for thinking that way?

  22. #23 Justicar
    July 15, 2011

    I almost never get memes. I guess I have to turn in my nerd cred or something.

    Well, off to see Harry Potter!

  23. #24 cthellis
    July 15, 2011

    Today’s SMBC seems pretty apt, especially the red button:

    Also, “You are starting to creep me out, Brian.

    You know there’s a LOL coming.

  24. #25 Disappointed
    July 15, 2011


    Mansplaining = Accusing someone of demanding equal rights, but preferential treatment. Pointing out that men have feelings and experiences too.

    You just don’t get it = I don’t have a valid justification for my position.

    You get it! = You agreed with whatever I just said, no matter how nonsensical. Good boy.

    I get it! = I’m sexualizing you very much. Do you want to go back to my hotel room for coffee?

    Privilege = Anything different about your background or heritage that I can use against you to justify discrimination and/or needless accusations. (When the first one fails, there’s always another. E.g. “You’re a white straight male, therefore you don’t get it.” “No, I’m gay.” “You’re a white male, so you don’t get it.” “No, I’m part Native American.” “You’re male, so you don’t get it.” “No, I’m a butch-looking lesbian.” “You’re an educated rape apologist.” “Omigod, how did you know? That’s exactly what I am!”)

    Sexualizing = Substantially shy of objectification, but sounds controversial enough to garner attention. After all, we all know that men don’t actually mean what they say. *Wink.*

    Creepy = Nerdy, socially awkward, and/or unattractive. (As compared to threatening, menacing, scary, abusive.) harassing.)

    (I don’t think the crowd at Laden’s will appreciate my definitions.)

    Is there any reason to believe EG even exists?

  25. Disappointed #826

    Is it original work on your part? because, let’s face it, that’s fucking spot-on!

    Kuddos aplenty!

  26. #27 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 16, 2011

    It’s my original work. I was trying to argue rationally on Laden’s blog, then realized that it’s just like talking to a fundie, but worse, it’s under the name of reason. BTW, here’s a phrase from the Privilege Delusion in Watson’s blog:

    “I knew that eventually I would reach a sort of feminist singularity where I would explode and in my place would rise some kind of Captain Planet-type superhero but for feminists. I believe that day has nearly arrived.”

    So I guess she’s, you know, their new superhero or prophet or something. I suppose this happens with all movements. People give in to social pressure and stop thinking independently. And then the most opportunistic and shameless creep to the top and start advancing their own goals.

    It’s official. Skepticism has become a cult. I think Myers and Plait will eventually come around (and I’ll always like Drescher), but the rest of them are a lost cause.

    Also if I read “women are scared of men” one more time, I’m going to vomit. Apparently, I never got that memo. Am I supposed to start being scared of men now? And elevators? And coffee? And propositions? And walking alone? Fuck, why bother living, then? Also, take a look at this: In particular, read the comments (there are only two). I like how Laden thinks he can identify a male voice online. Apparently we females even sound weak. Gag me.

    I’m overreacting. Because I’m a hysterical female, of course. K. Gonna go hide under the bed in case an asteroid hits Seattle or something.

    You guys are fantastic. (And so are pitbulls.)

  27. #28 Monado
    July 16, 2011

    Sigh. Bluharmony, some women are afraid of men. Some women are exercising a judicious caution. Some women are dangerously overconfident. And quite a few people have pointed out that physically isolating a woman and then pushing her boundaries is a typical first step for a sexual predator. Among the signers of the Open Letter to Richard Dawkins are women who have been raped in elevators. YMMV, but it’s not appropriate to tell people that they aren’t entitled to their feelings.

  28. #29 ThreeFlangedJavis
    July 16, 2011


    And quite a few people have pointed out that physically isolating a woman and then pushing her boundaries is a typical first step for a sexual predator.

    That’s loaded language. Pushing boundaries, or politely asking if someone might consider changing their mind, maybe. Physically isolating, or taking an opportunity to speak one-to-one – it’s not as if he pushed her into the elevator. Maybe the guy is a social phobic and doesn’t do well in crowds. Besides, I would bet that ‘Please don’t take this the wrong way’ is not the usual opening line for a rapist. The point is that I don’t know what was in his mind, and neither do you. He made a mistake, clearly, partly in who he approached in this way. Another woman may have responded entirely differently. Maybe most wouldn’t have, who knows? RW may have been concerned for her safety, although I would suggest that given that she has previous with regard to inserting her agenda into things a cynic might think that ‘Fuck me, am I going to milk this one’ was more her line of thinking.

    The point is, that even if she was scared shitless, nothing happened and it makes it no more or less likely that an actual rapist is ever going to get into an elevator with her. She had every right to make her displeasure known and to voice her opinion. On the other hand, others have a right to say that however big a deal this was to her, it doesn’t give license to anybody to lay down the law as to what happens at atheist events and to make blanket statements on behalf of women in general, and then to dismiss dissenters as being traitors or delusional.

    The whole kerfuffle is now about far more that social etiquette, it’s become about a particularly intolerant and dogmatic form of feminism being pushed on certain supposedly skeptic blogs by people who take their own OPINION to be fact and take dissent as proof of all manner of traits not even remotely in evidence. It’s exposed what many see as a kind of ‘Cargo Cult’ skepticism, particularly at Myer’s place. His habit of closing threads with passive- aggressive, dismissive, verging on straw man posts is being noted.

  29. #30 dustbubble
    July 16, 2011

    That’s a pretty recherche source, bluharmony. But thanks, most illuminating, especially Laden’s prebuttal-quick comment. (Now there’s keen! Hunting down “Wales Online”)

    ” I have every bit of trust, however, that he’ll be coming out with something, perhaps at TAM now in progress in Las Vegas that re-endears him to the masses.”

    Uh-oh, chongo! … and the Tiber foaming with much blood. It’s indicative of the fast-gathering insularity of this claque that they should seriously entertain the delusion that a cantankerous old git like Dawkins gives two curly shits about what they, thee, me, or “the masses” think of him. That’s what makes him worth reading.

  30. #31 Notung
    July 16, 2011

    Thank you for being one of the rare voices of reason in all of this. I agree especially with the last few comments – the whole issue has a distinctly anti-skeptical flavour. Please see my post if you’re not too tired of reading about it!

    bluharmony – Greg’s comment on that article you posted is most certainly sexist. How can a comment on a blog have a ‘male voice’?! Crazy!

  31. #32 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 16, 2011

    I agree with every word of what ThreeFlangedJavis said. I like PZ, but I take him for what he is: internet entertainment.

  32. #33 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 16, 2011

    @dustbubble He posted that link to RW’s Facebook page. That’s how I stumbled on it.

    By the way, I see nothing wrong with propositioning a single woman leaving a bar. There’s often a correct assumption that a single woman is there for a reason – she might want to have some fun too. Have I been living on a different planet to think that this is actually a common practice? Did I imagine all the propositions I’ve received in the past? Who cares what Rebecca said to other people about being tired and who knows if he heard? He politely asked a question that hadn’t been asked before, and respectfully took no for an answer. According to her own account.

    Having men with good intentions change their behavior won’t keep women any safer from criminals. And it’s ridiculous to say that men can’t imagine a woman’s experience. Of course you can. We’re all human. All of us have been bullied, taken advantage of, raped, assaulted, or hurt somehow.

    And I take EG’s words at face value. He probably was interested in Rebecca. But I bet he doesn’t feel that way now.

    Laden is wrong to assume that this is the minority position. (Check the “like” stats on her video, for instance.) It’s by far the majority position outside the core of this insular community. And calling all of us misogynists and rape apologists is ridiculous. Most Western men aren’t rapists, and I refuse to treat them as such.

    Further, women who participate in their own objectification and also objectify others should be the last to complain about it. And people who don’t understand that being a public figure, especially a snide and condescending one, leads to internet trolling should find something else to do. To equate internet trolling with sexism in the atheist “community” is preposterous. If you feel you’re facing a tangible rape or death threat, contact the police, don’t do a self-obsessed presentation about it. I can read YouTube comments directly on YouTube if I have nothing better to do.

  33. #34 dustbubble
    July 16, 2011

    It’s a posh hotel in the classy bit of a tiny Western European provincial capital. On an island. In the ocean.
    The guests are all registered and accredited. It’s silly o’clock in the morning, so any random jackeen strolling in the front door would be carefully inspected by the staff to make sure he wasn’t arseholed, after a sly post-chucking-out drink. (“Open to non-residents” does have limits. Legal ones.)
    And even the Republic, like the top end, and the island next door, is heaving, I mean crawling, with intense surveillance and very, very discreet security. The Old Woman Of Windsor Herself was in town just a few weeks before, a hair-raising first in itself (for the 10,000 Gardaí and so on who had to turn out).
    A posh hotel in Dublin city centre?
    Elevator Guy had better be real. I’m guessing there will be cam tapes. And disks. And microphones. And metal detectors. Motion sensors, sniffers, and stuff I can’t even imagine. The streets outside, the service entries, the bars, the lifts, corridors, kitchens, even the bloody toilets, aircon, and drains, I bet.
    Not for us peasants, of course. In case some Person of Consequence gets billeted there. Say, a Euro Finance Minister who’s not averse to discussing Uganda. Or the Pope 😀
    “Because they haven’t gone away, you know ..”

  34. #35 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 16, 2011

    But who cares about religion when we must first battle this global male conspiracy!? Quick, tag everyone who doesn’t agree with the “misogynist” label, even the womyn. That’ll show’em.

  35. #36 Jillian
    July 16, 2011

    I’ve been following this imbroglio since it began, more or less. As an atheist, a former blogger, and a recipient of the “you just don’t get it assault ” in a different iteration of the Endless Feminist Wars, it reminded me of why I retired from this stuff in the first place. I swore I wasn’t going to say anything. But after reading this on however many blogs at this point, I finally have a question I’m really curious about, and I figured this is probably the best place to ask a question and have a chance of getting it answered. Without having an entire agenda assumed to be behind the question.

    Does anyone know how Rebecca ended up banned from the JREF forums?

  36. #37 Rystefn
    July 16, 2011

    Does anyone know how Rebecca ended up banned from the JREF forums?

    If I recall correctly, for using mod privileges to ban people with whom she had a personal issue but who had broken no rules… also sockpuppetry.

  37. #38 Dalek
    July 16, 2011

    Considering RW’s sockpuppetry history, who wants to bet that elevator guy was also a sockpuppet?

  38. #39 Justicar
    July 16, 2011

    If you want the story on Rebecca Watson’s dismissal from JREF, read my blog post on it. It goes down the reasoning, with screen caps by the admins themselves.

  39. #40 Jillian
    July 16, 2011

    Thanks. She keeps making the same mistakes and not learning from them, doesn’t she?

    I can’t speak for all women, but she – and people like her – are a big part of the reason I’m not involved in the community.

  40. #41 Justicar
    July 16, 2011

    Jillian, it’s one thing to say it here. It’s quite another to let the event organizers know about it. They seem to work under the premise that nothing she’s done is a big deal; one gentleman from the last event has said that they don’t owe anyone an apology for it. Doing what she did to Stef, therefore, is in keeping with their vision as to how these conferences should go.

  41. #42 bluharmony aka Disappointed
    July 16, 2011

    I went on a cruise (Amazing Adventure style) with her about four years ago, then met her again when I was doing a short presentation at Dragon*Con. My impression was that she does not want more women in the “skeptic/atheist movement,” and that I was extremely unwelcome, especially one the cruise. Obviously, the men and couples didn’t make me feel that way, although they were both overprotective and making socially inappropriate passes. I’d rather have the latter without the former, though.

    Rebecca won’t learn from her mistakes until she’s actually punished for them. So far, they’ve worked in her favor. Any controversy is publicity. So with every word we type, we’re helping her in some small way. Perhaps not here. But everywhere else.

  42. #43 highjohn
    July 16, 2011


    Regarding Watson’s Captain Planet reference: In her panel section in Dublin, she mentioned an email to the cast of SGU that told the cast to grow up (no discussion of the writer’s actual complaint). She found it ironic or funny that the writer also included the tagline ” With great power, comes great responsibility” from Spiderman.
    Apparently, her superhero allusions are better than anyone else’s allusions. Just as her illusions are better than anyone else’s illusions.

  43. #44 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    My question is this:

    If she didn’t know who EG was, and no one else knew him or saw him either, then how would she know that he’s a member of the atheist community?

    Makes no sense.

    (Ah, I wouldn’t recognize the Spiderman reference because I’m a woman, not because I don’t like comics, of course.)

  44. #45 highjohn
    July 16, 2011


    Blueharmony, That goes along with something that puzzled me. In her presentation on the Communicating Atheism panel in Dublin, she talked about some really horrible youtube comments and email she has received, and I mean really horrible, threats of rape, murder, etc. But I was struck when she said that these comments came from members of the atheist community. How would one know? Even if the writer said he was an atheist, that doesn’t mean he is? In fact you don’t even know “he” is even a he? Or even an adult?

  45. #46 bluharmony
    July 16, 2011

    There’s nothing to indicate that the emails or comments are from anyone in the atheist community. They’re anonymous or under a fake name.

    And given the “Always name names,” rhetoric, she should be naming real names if she wants to make the argument that they’re from atheists. Did people just go crazy or something? What’s next? She’s going to tell skeptics when the world’s going to end, and they’ll believe?

  46. #47 Jillian
    July 16, 2011

    I know it’s one thing to say it here – this is actually an argument i’ve been having with myself for some time now. The irony is that I probably share a huge number of views with Rebecca, Amanda, et. al. – my politics are comfortably left-wing. I care about women’s issues, racial issues, all of it. I was a women’s studies major at UNLV under Ellen Rose. I used to house sit for Kate Hausbeck. I don’t name drop to prove how cool I am; I do it to show I’m not BS ing. I did feminist talk radio. I was a crisis intervention counselor on a domestic violence hotline. I care about these things.

    I really think that the postmodern, New Left approach that dominates social justice issues nowadays is totally misguided and usually makes things worse, not better. But I also think that any attempt to discuss this with the people who currently engage in it is worse than useless. It turns into a Jerry Springer-esque brawl that makes those involved look stupid, and makes the attempt to work for improving things look disreputable. So I argue with myself – should I speak up, or should I say nothing. And I can’t decide.

  47. #48 ThreeFlangedJavis
    July 17, 2011

    As someone who first became aware of the online skeptical community at the height of the ID wars when the likes of Sal Cordova were regularly being given a kicking at Pharyngula, I find the current state of affairs a little sad. There’s a seductive delight in seeing one’s enemies torn to shreds with a well-reasoned argument followed by some witty insults. When faced with such obvious wrongness as ID it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to be inflexible, dismissive and sometimes just offensive. Unfortunately a kind of gradual mutual reinforcement of the offensiveness seems to have happened along with a more ideological flavour to the content. The end result is a very aggressive, intemperate defence of opinions on issues not quite as clear cut as the evolution/ID one and it doesn’t look all that clever. Unfortunately just about any criticism will be taken as tone trolling and the rotting porcupines will be invoked.

    Despite all of that, the Prof can has quite a turn of phrase and is still worth a read even as he gets crustier. I’d like to think that RW is PZ’s Wormtongue and that the spell can be removed, but the signs are that their agendas overlap.

  48. #49 bluharmony
    July 17, 2011

    I’m far to the left myself, but only in terms of economic policy, foreign policy, and equality — not special privilege. (Although I do support diversity programs.)

    Perhaps we could try to create a place for reasonable people to speak up. On the web, there’s always room for new ideas. I’m not afraid of the consequences. It’s not like atheists, skeptics, or feminists are well-liked groups in the first place. But then, isn’t that how the so-called skepticism movement started?

    This should be a discussion about rape shield laws and economic conditions that facilitate violent crimes. We should be talking about how to recognize and deal with sexual abuse in the family, where it’s most prevalent. We should be educating women on how to be independent and take care of themselves. Instead, we’re debating if a non-violent man should cross the street when a woman approaches. But why should he? It’s his right to be there too.

    You can’t fix past wrongs by creating new ones.

  49. #50 highjohn
    July 17, 2011


    Blueharmony, There’s also a youtube video of a Watson presentation where she’s discussing email that she’s gotten from “pro-life” (specifically, life begins at conception) atheists and how this is a problem in the atheist community. While atheism just means you don’t believe in God period, I would still expect that atheists, while possibly having a variety of opinions, would tend not to be “prolife” with that definition. So, I was wondering once again if she assumes that all her communications are from atheists and does she assume that a significant proportion of atheists always disagree with her (when all I can see is that some individuals do)? It’s like she’s a missionary and atheists are the heathen that she’s bringing salvation.

  50. #51 highjohn
    July 17, 2011


    well said

  51. #52 bluharmony
    July 17, 2011

    @847 Unfortunately, all you can conclude from the fact that someone is an atheist is that they don’t believe in gods. That’s all, nothing else.

    Obviously I’m pro-abortion. But I can’t honestly say when “life” begins. I think the more important question is when life independent of the mother is possible, or when sentience begins, and that’s certainly not set in stone.

  52. #53 Justicar
    July 17, 2011

    In response to this last exchange that’s going on, I have to say that all of this “offensive” talk that gets tossed hither and tither makes my asshole want to suck a lemon. I grow weary of all the yammering about “tone” and word choice.

    I grew up in North Carolina where, despite all of its failings as a center of social progression, there exists a good concept of what is polite and what is not. Politeness entails honest representation of one’s thoughts and feelings. It’s not reduced to high diction, careful prose, clever word choice or some idealistic exchange of equanimity. I might not put things in a form that lacks robust language, but it cannot be this that makes the thing impolite.

    After all, if I tell someone I fucking love their ideas, I’ve yet to see anyone take offense at this. No, the word selection seems to only matter when there’s disparity in views. It therefore, to my mind at least, entails the ideas themselves. I’ve yet to find a polite way to tell someone they’re idiotic, or full of shit. However, telling them as much is to extend to them the courtesy that they might know where they stand in my estimation. This gives them information on how it is they should grade me along some continuum of friend/foe.

    Our Revolutionary War here in the states was crafted in calligraphy, high diction and on weighty parchment. It was phrased in as prosodic fashion as one could want. This did nothing whatever to ameliorate the meaning behind it: we disagree and will kill you if you attempt to protest our disagreement. No, the language isn’t what did it – it was the idea. The “offense” taken would have been equal had our forebears merely written, “Dear King Asshat: please go fuck yourself; we are in rebellion.”

    People in this issue, among others, make a point to tell me I’m being unpleasant in the same breath they’re invoking Schrodinger’s Rapist as a guide to how a good society should function. But I’m the unpleasant one for saying “Rebecca Twatson”.


  53. #54 John Greg
    July 17, 2011

    I really must admit I am absolutely taken by, destroyed by, and completely destracted and blown away by the idea of assholes sucking lemons … I mean, well, just WoW!

    I think justicar, and of course our loving host ERV, is/are my new hero/rroine.

    And, by the by, in case you didn’t know, I am, in deepest secrecy, and with my arch assistant Baldrik, Schrodinger’s Rapist. Yes, I am. Ooh!

    I am just waiting for the right moment to, er, um, ah, pounce.

    Yes, that’s it … pounce. Kitteh like.

    Hmmm. So, where’s the tender vittles.


    Actually, to be serious for a moment. One of my favourite comments elswhere is the one that describes Watson as the Skeptical movement’s version of Paris Hilton, i.e., all PR and no substance.

    True enough, I think.

  54. I think I’m taking some issue with this “Schrodinger’s Rapist” schlik.

    Shouldn’t it be “Schrodinger’s male”, who may or may not be a rapist? For me, “Schrodinger’s Rapist” is akin to “every male is a rapist who may or may not rape you”. I find this strongly offensive. Of course, I don’t have the right to be offended, I’m a priviledged white male.

    Also, my AtBC handle of Schroedinge’s Dog is at least 3 years old and has nothing to do with this case. I chose it because the bloody cat gets all the attention…

  55. #56 Rystefn
    July 17, 2011

    For me, “Schrodinger’s Rapist” is akin to “every male is a rapist who may or may not rape you”. I find this strongly offensive.

    That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Shall I link you to some posts which say exactly that? Hell, Greg Laden said it specifically of me, though he wouldn’t go so far as to call himself a rapist directly (though, as a man, he obviously must be).

    The thing that drives me most crazy in all this is all the “skeptics” insisting that anecdote = evidence and that something that happened exactly once in their entire life is a statistically significant sample size. “I was raped in an elevator, therefore all women SHOULD be afraid of all men in all elevators always and forever.” You’re more likely to be killed by a toaster than raped in an elevator, do you have a toaster in your home?

    I really, really don’t get this. People who were mauled by sharks are generally more likely than the average person to understand how long the odds are and don’t advocate for shark hunting and they all go back out on the water after. When people ask “aren’t you scared it’ll happen again?” they generally answer things like “what are the odds that’ll happen?” Yet apparently, your average surfer is more rational than a community that self-describes as “rational people.” WTF?

  56. #57 dustbubble
    July 17, 2011

    Ok, bored now.
    Think I know what’s up.
    Fortunately it’s too libellous to publish.
    1) Americans Say the Funniest Things.
    2) They also Rule the Universe.
    3) I have shoes older than these people (except RD).

    Back to mugging up on biol. Yay! Exciting!

  57. #58 cthellis
    July 17, 2011

    Alls I know is I want to see a band started called “Arsey Like That” with lead singer Professor Yaffle.

  58. #59 bluharmony
    July 17, 2011

    Why do we stop at Schrodinger’s Rapist?

    Why not:

    Schrodinger’s Mugger?
    Schrodinger’s Robber?
    Schrodinger’s Killer?
    Schrodinger’s Thief?
    Schrodinger’s Sociopath?
    Schrodinger’s Criminal?
    Schrodinger’s Nice Guy You’ll Never Meet Because of Your Irrational Fears?

    It strikes me that we’re only focusing on rape because any other serious crime would lead to acknowledging that men face danger too. And that would be… unbearable.

    And wouldn’t it be sexist to assume that ever woman is Schrodinger’s bitch?

    How about Schrodinger’s Radical Feminist?

    This is the type of thinking that’s a problem for me. Why don’t you men just wear “I’m not a rapist” stickers on your forehead and back. That way we stupid women will know for sure. Except for this tiny problem: rapists will wear them too.


  59. #60 ThreeflangedJavis
    July 17, 2011


    Don’t necessarily disagree. Tone is not relevant to the soundness of an argument. You’d better be damned sure of your ground before going nuclear though, or you can look very silly. Besides, nobody is backing down after the ‘go fuck yourselves” have been exchanged, so that approach probably shouldn’t be first port of call.

  60. #61 Rayshul
    July 17, 2011

    I realised what confused me about the Schroedinger’s Rapist argument a few days ago.

    When I’m walking about in the dark in the city (which I do often, because I like walking about in the dark in cities and have done since I was a teenager), I’m scared of exactly two things. A) Getting mugged and B) ghosts, because I might be a skeptic but I also watch a lot of horror movies and creep myself right out.

    I’m also 100% more worried about getting mugged by women – particularly where I live now, which has a leetle problem with female gangs.

    I don’t understand why everything always goes straight to rape. That’s not even on my top 10 list of fears-about-strangers.

  61. #62 Justicar
    July 17, 2011

    As noted, this is a feature of the conjecture. To make it more clear, each man is simultaneously a rapist and not a rapist. One doesn’t know which state a given man is until the wave (rape?) function collapses in the form of a sexual assault attempt. This is why it’s so repugnant. Any person one happens across is potentially any number of a host of different unpleasant things: rapist, murderer, burglar, mugger, car thief, pick pocket, scam artist . . .

    As the Schrodinger’s Rapist thing posits, it isn’t possible to know until the function collapses into the attempt to commit x offense. This is true enough I suppose. But then it goes further to argue that because the potential set of events that might happen can’t be known in advance, we are therefore invited to treat everyone as though they are the worst case of thing that we individually happen to fear most.

    This is xenophobia in a very base form. It’s also on its face stupid. It is entirely possible that the next person I meet will murder me. After all, there exist people who are murdered and people who do the murdering. So, it is something of which I am well-advised to be aware of. However, almost no one is a murderer. Given these two realities, my concern over being murdered is legitimate, but should be constrained by the fact that almost no one I meet will be a murderer. Even much less often is that one meets 1.) a murderer and 2.) the kind of murderer who wants to murder you.

    I decline the repugnant invitation to presume in advance that because it’s slightly possible someone I meet will do me harm, that I should then treat them in some way as though they have already harmed me.

    Concern is appropriate because there’s a non-zero chance something might happen. Fear about it is irrational because it almost certainly will not happen to me. If I happen to find myself in a warzone, then my level of concern might justifiably rise to the level of a rational fear of near imminent attempts to kill me. That I’m in a war and people are constantly killing and dying around me gives me good reason to think that it’s a far more likely probability I am in actual mortal danger at nearly every turn.

    Walking down the street? Not so much.

    To apply this kind of logic to condom use, say, consider that condoms almost never fail to work. But they do sometimes fail to work. Therefore, I should treat them as though won’t be effective and dispense their use since, you know, I can’t know if this particular condom will fail or work properly. Be aware the guarantee isn’t perfect and factor that in. Do not act as though the slight chance of failure is so high that it gives one cause for outright fear.

    I’m glad to see my lemon metaphor did not fail to charge one’s imagination. =^_^=

  62. #63 John Greg
    July 17, 2011

    ROFL. In reflection of their deep degree of willingness to dialogue and to condone dissent and disagreement, I have now been kicked off of Presumably for quite calmly and rationally pointing out some of the more egregious hypocrisies of Watson, and, ooh the shame of it all, repeating the opinion stated elsewhere that she is the Skeptical community’s Paris Hilton.

    Oh well. So much for dissent and dialogue.

  63. #64 ERV
    July 17, 2011

    For the record, there are two people banned at ERV: John Kw*k (whos ban is liftable if he opens his own blog), and Andrea Whittemore (permabanned– if you threaten me, you have no right to comment on my blog).

    Just putting that out there… Also, no closed comment threads on ERV, ever… Though if this one gets too cumbersome, I will open a new one for you all.

  64. John@864: don’t do that! Ever! Bad John!

    Justicar@863: why do I feel you somehow read my mind?

  65. #66 bluharmony
    July 17, 2011

    A few men are rapists. Most men are not. Even if a man has rape fantasies, as long as he does not act on them, he is not a rapist. Rape fantasies are common for men and women. In any case “Schrodinger’s Rapist” (every man is both a rapist and not a rapist) is a logic fail.

    The “privilege” argument is an ad hom and a logic fail.

    “You don’t get it” is a useless statement. It’s far better to say, “It seems you didn’t understand, let me explain…”

    Statistically speaking, focusing on the threat of stranger rape over all other more common and severe threats is a logic fail.

    Stating that all women are walking around afraid of rape is wrong. If anything, I think about being robbed or mugged, which is far more common. I rarely think about rape because given my lifestyle it’s improbable (but not impossible). In any case, my existence proves the statement untrue.

    Believing that women are capable of everything, yet require special concessions, is a logic fail.

    Name-calling (misogynist, gender-traitor, rape-enabler, etc.) is a logic fail.

    Generalizing based on an anecdote is a logic fail.

    Constant use of loaded language and hyperbole is a logic fail.

    Blowing insignificant incidents out of proportion is counterproductive.

    Finally, our society is no longer a patriarchy because women are not largely excluded from power. In fact, in many important fields (like the present generation of attorneys), women have a greater than 50% presence. Further, in the hard sciences, all else being equal, a job is more likely to go to a woman. The doors really are open, and this would be a great time to walk through them.

    Sexist men do have a tendency to think that women are illogical and hysterical. And now, it seems, they need to look no further than feminist theory to confirm their beliefs. That’s one of the reasons I’m so offended. It seems feminist theory is all about judging people based on stereotypes rather than who they are.

    Bringing this type of feminism into skepticism is a tremendous skepticism fail.

  66. #67 bluharmony
    July 17, 2011

    I don’t bother commenting on Skepchick (prior to this incident, I’ve never even read it) because I know my comments aren’t welcome & will be deleted, exactly the way most critical comments are.

  67. #68 John Greg
    July 17, 2011

    Surprisingly, the comment I posted that is probably responsible for my being banned has not, at least not yet, been deleted.

  68. #69 Justicar
    July 17, 2011

    On my blog, only Abbie’s dog is banned. Pee on my leg and you lose the right to write there!

    Phil: I don’t need to be a mind-reader. The points I made are profound . . . in their obviousness.

    But, you know, as my parable counsels: if a spider startles you, you should blame the spider for your irrational reaction. It simply should know better.

    I can’t even stand to read skepchick, let alone attend its comment section.

  69. Did you read the latest PZ post?

    There is something there I don’t like: hypocrisy. FSM knows I enjoy PZ a lot, and respect him even more, but I think my mind will indeed be changed unless he starts using his critical thinking abilities.

    And a mirror…

  70. #71 Prometheus
    July 17, 2011

    Phil Giordana@#871

    “Did you read the latest PZ post?”

    Wow. That is some serious multitasking….ass kissing, piggybacking, coat tailing and all after enthusiastic backstabbing, white knighting and turncoating.

    If he were not old, flabby and probably under endowed Meyers could have a hell of a career in porn.

    I know that the first man to raise a fist is the one who runs out of ideas but if I were Dawkins, I would sock Meyers right in his hairy fat disloyal face….both of them.

    The man is a swine.

  71. #72 Rystefn
    July 17, 2011

    I remember a time when there was almost no way to get banned over at Skepchick. In fact, there was apparently a great deal of discussion and debate before they even temp banned me for saying that I hoped someone would die. How things have changed.

    I’m like Abbie, myself, in that I’ve never banned anyone (no one has threatened me) and it would take quite a lot to get me to do so. Once I put up a moderation filter because a couple of people were howling at the gates to verbally abuse my girlfriend and I declared that they would not be able to say anything to her through me, so it would be better to drop the subject. Oh, and I deleted a bunch of comments at the request of the person who made them for safety reasons. That’s it.

  72. #73 Justicar
    July 18, 2011

    Per a twitter conversation I just had, I have no found out why Rebecca Watson was justified in being afeared. In the United States, 1 in 4 female university students is raped.

    How crime statistics relating to the population of female university students in the US applies to a non-university student in Ireland wasn’t exactly explained. But it was noted that I’m an idiot for not understanding how.

    Further, every other minute a man, woman, or child is raped in the United States. How this relates to Rebecca Watson in Ireland (or even the US for that matter) was, again, not entirely clear. Again, it’s because I’m an idiot.

    Although, there was something mentioned about the fact that since Rebecca Watson grew up in American with its customs and social structure, she’s entitled to carry that over to Ireland with her. Whether or not this justifies her thinking she can vote in their elections was, again, not immediately clear.

    I wish I knew how to save a whole twitter conversation!

  73. #74 Notung
    July 18, 2011

    Jen McCreight just liveblogged the TAM Diversity Panel on The Friendly Atheist:

    “DJ says he doesn’t want to be telling people the content that people should believe, that we should just talk about the methods of critical thinking. He doesn’t want reorganization away from science and to politics.

    Observation: From looking around, only white dudes were clapping for that. SHOCKING.”

    So this is what passes for rebuttal in the skeptical movement nowadays. What is happening?!

  74. #75 John C. Welch
    July 18, 2011


    Oh she’s just full of precious little bon mots:

    DJ still disagrees, saying that historically skepticism has been about evidence, not social movements. Uh, who the hell cares about history when we’re trying to make things better?

    Yeah, Fuck all that shit that happened before! We’re too smartier to make any mistakes! Especially mistakes other non-smartier people made!

    Hemant, what have you done letting me blog the diversity panel? I’m going to convert your blog to a feminist cesspool.

    I prefer “idiot collective” but sure, your phrasing works too.

    Jamila and Debbie and Greta enthusiastically say yes. They get in from maybe one issue, they meet people they like, they make friends, they have fun, and they build communities.

    Until you find out you’re not wanted because you disagree with TEH FEMINIZT WIZDUM!!!! Then you realize it’s just as stupid as any other group.

    exists. Greta adds that these issues aren’t mission drift. We’re just applying our mission to topics that will bring in more diverse people.

    Um…that’s…mission…drift. Also, emperor? Yer Nekkid.

    Apparently we’re going to be whizzing through physics and astronomy, which means my reporting will probably be horrible. I apologize ahead of time.

    Ptolemy. Something. Oh FSM, I want to go to sleep so badly.

    …Sorry Jennifer. I feel a certain kinship since we share a name, but I’m burnt out. I’m going to stare at your pretty photos while Hemant snarfs down his very very late lunch.


    Could she be more lame? Well, at least she’s not into that hir and sie idiocy, so I suppose, yes, yes she could.

  75. #76 Notung
    July 18, 2011


    Yes, she certainly switched off when the science talk came on. “I’m going to stare at your pretty photos”. Call me ignorant, but isn’t this the polar opposite of feminism?

    Also, she left off the important details of the science talk. Of those who applauded it, what were their genders and racial characteristics?

  76. #77 Spence
    July 18, 2011

    #875, #876

    Just astonishing. It is self-evident that Jen’s idea is that diversity in skepticism means more people that share her political viewpoint, and alienating as many people as possible that don’t share her view.

    Of course, should anyone want to alienate any of her little group, they must be teh evil personified.

    History of astronomy? Pfffffft. What’s THAT got to do with critical thinking and skepticism? /PicardFacepalm

  77. #78 Southern Geologist
    July 18, 2011

    “Greta adds that there’s a difference between feeling unwelcome because people disagree with your opinions, and feeling unwelcome because people are making sexist and racist jokes, or if there’s no child care, or if it’s totally unaffordable to students.”

    This comment pissed me off; what a load of shit. Conservative or libertarian atheists do not feel unwelcome (generally speaking) because people disagree with their opinions, they feel unwelcome because certain bloggers feel the need to slur them and make straw men of their politics as often as possible rather than opening up any kind of a serious dialogue, and even go so far as to lie and claim that conservative or libertarian atheists have contributed nothing to the movement.

    Granted, I don’t give a fuck personally — for the most part — and these things would not stop me from making it to a conference if I had the time and money, but then, I have thick skin. I’m a gun rights advocate and a wilderness advocate and broadly libertarian to boot, so people from all over the political spectrum hate me. You get used to being informed that you’re a long haired, filthy, dope smoking, capitalism hating, violence craving, poor hating hippie scumbag after a while and eventually your give a shit breaks.

    However, some people aren’t as thick-skinned at me, and don’t like it when bloggers frequently assert that conservative (or libertarian) atheists and skeptics hold the exact same views as religious nut Republicans, because, well, clearly conservatives are one monolithic movement with no room for dissent because they disagree with my views, ya know. For fuck’s sake, I’ve even seen the claim made that you can tell a commenter is libertarian if they’re an atheist and want abortion banned. This is some seriously bizarro world bullshit given that the standard libertarian position on abortion is ‘What a woman does with her body is none of the government’s fucking business.’ This kind of behavior is commonplace, unfortunately.

    I’m not saying this kind of thing will necessarily hurt someone as badly as a slur about race or gender, but it’s certainly does have an effect. I think we also need to realize that a person who likes to pretend that they are correct about every fucking political matter and go so far out of the way to avoid having any serious discussion of their views that they make a straw man out of all of their opponents is not a good skeptic. (I mean this in a general sense. We at ERV seemed to have picked up on that based on the comment thread thus far.)

  78. #79 Southern Geologist
    July 18, 2011

    Also, does anyone else read this as being extremely condescending toward women and minorities, or is it just me?

    “Greta: What you’re saying is historically we had issues that were interesting to middle class educated white men, and we should still only talk about those issues. That’s why we’re not attracting diverse people.”

  79. #80 Wow
    July 18, 2011

    “In the United States, 1 in 4 female university students is raped.”

    If true (and I suspect that if it isn’t, the difference is a definitional problem: is a bit of smooching rape? What about “I know you want it”, which is commonly a prelude to that sort of thing, but not always, then again I’m not USAian) then this is a big problem in the USA. It may be a problem with the repression the generally puritanical streak that the US embraces enacts.

    Then again, the “Summer party” seems to be merely girls getting their tits oot fer the lads and the lads getting a boner over it. As an outsider, that’s about all I know about the summer student parties anyway.

    This isn’t a problem with atheist conferences, though.

    It’s a problem with US Student life. Maybe US culture full stop.

  80. Scented Nectar pointed out that 1 in 4 fallacy in a comment on Justicar’s blog:

    And I think you meant “spring break”… 🙂

  81. #82 windy
    July 18, 2011

    Yes, she certainly switched off when the science talk came on.

    Added irony in that it was a woman talking about traditional ‘middle class educated white men’ issues, could there be some kind of lesson in that wrt to the previous panel? nah, IGNORE

  82. #83 Notung
    July 18, 2011

    Added irony in that it was a woman talking about traditional ‘middle class educated white men’ issues

    Yes but she’s probably just a misogyny-apologist a la McGraw.

  83. #84 Prometheus
    July 18, 2011

    Re: 40 year old misquoted statistics.

    The cited campus rape statistic is just one, there are lots of them and they self perpetuate in a context where they are not held up to scrutiny because to criticize the veracity of the assertion is, in itself, to take a side and to deny post-modern feminism the reparative power of a lower standard of intellectual honesty.

    And aye there’s the rub.

    Why Dawkins will probably not be giving RW a good groveling any time soon….

    ERV pointed out a disjointed gibber on the IBP blog from its post-punk perpetual student turned food critic(there are too many white people in this restaurant) turned rich white lady sponge etc..

    Dawkins was referred to as a “a knob about the global humanitarian crisis of patriarchal oppression”

    He was so branded, for agreeing with a lecture wherein Christina Hoff Sommers called out a popular American law textbook, rife with factual error and defended by its authors on the grounds of its being related to women.

    Now I certainly don’t agree with everything Sommers has to say, Dawkins would not either, but that a free pass has been given at the expense of truth is undeniable.

    I believe this “pass” deeply damages the feminist movement in this country and is killing in others.

    There are a great many feminists who are excusing themselves from the kind of stare-into-our-navels fabulism that Jen McCreight and a RW are finding advantage in touting.

    I agree with Sommers and I disagree with her but the one line on which Mckinnon, Dawkins, the Ghost of Dworkin and I could all fist bump in agreement is:

    “Worst of all, misinformation about violence against women suggests a false moral equivalence between societies where women are protected by law and those where they are not.”

  84. #85 Rystefn
    July 18, 2011

    “Yeah, fuck that reason and logic at our meeting about reason and logic! It should be all about appeals to emotion and political agendas! That way we can get women and gay people and stuff to come!”

    Are these people even aware of what they are saying? Are they next going to suggest that the meals include fried chicken and watermelon to attract more brown people? I wish I could be joking when I say this, but given how they’ve completely abandoned reason in favor of emotion, to the point that bringing up the idea that women even try to use reason is met with vicious attack, I am sadly, completely serious.

  85. #86 bluharmony AKA Disappointed
    July 18, 2011

    “Apparently we’re going to be whizzing through physics and astronomy, which means my reporting will probably be horrible. I apologize ahead of time.

    Ptolemy. Something. Oh FSM, I want to go to sleep so badly.

    …Sorry Jennifer. I feel a certain kinship since we share a name, but I’m burnt out. I’m going to stare at your pretty photos while Hemant snarfs down his very very late lunch.”

    Giggle, I’m too dumb to understand science. Gonna look at something pretty instead. Can I knit a sweater for anyone?

    How stupid is this person!? I’m sorry, but if this is what women thought like, who would want us involved in skepticism? We’d belong at home, making soup or something. Fortunately most women don’t. They are just as bright and capable as men.

    As for libertarians, I disagree with their political views. But our disagreement is about values, not substance. We understand each other perfectly well. Same with some republicans. That doesn’t prevent friendship or interesting discussions from occurring, and that doesn’t lead to personal attacks. Occasionally we get frustrated with each other, but so what?

    Also, it is irony of the highest order that “feminist” white men are dismissing, marginalizing, and shaming the voices of liberal feminist women in favor of their wives or women that belong to the “in-group.”

    You should see how many times I’ve been called an idiot over on Laden’s blog. Ganging up on a “weakling” woman to do that doesn’t bother them. And what is it that makes me an idiot? The belief that women are strong and capable of taking care of themselves. As for the belief that we shouldn’t sacrifice intellectual integrity for the sake of diversity? I’m sure I’d be stoned or excommunicated if I even brought it up.

    Why would I want to be involved in their community? Fuck that. I’m better off hanging out with fundie housewives. If there’s a difference.

  86. #87 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    “If this were” what women thought like.” (correction)

  87. #88 Southern Geologist
    July 18, 2011

    “As for libertarians, I disagree with their political views. But our disagreement is about values, not substance. We understand each other perfectly well. Same with some republicans. That doesn’t prevent friendship or interesting discussions from occurring, and that doesn’t lead to personal attacks. Occasionally we get frustrated with each other, but so what?”

    This is exactly what I’m talking about, actually. There are many people like you who write comments on blogs that have a relation to the skeptic or atheist community and happen to disagree with libertarian or conservative atheists. Do they give a fuck about that? No. Well, in most cases no. My experience with other conservative or libertarian atheists (including ones I disagree with) is that they accept that their politics should not dictate their entire life and are perfectly willing to mix with people who share different political views.

    However, a relatively small and extremely vocal contingent of bloggers act as if any atheists or skeptics who disagree with their political views are useless and slur them every time they get the chance. It is this group that send out e-mails to polite bloggers saying that they would like to attend skeptic conferences but will not do so because of the way they’re treated by members of the skeptic movement. Greta is either being intellectually dishonest or completely clueless by claiming that the problem these conservative or libertarian atheists have is the former rather than the latter.

  88. #89 Southern Geologist
    July 18, 2011

    Shit, I should have done some proof-reading before posting that. In the second paragraph an error occurs: “It is this group that send out e-mails to polite bloggers saying that they would like to attend skeptic conferences but will not do so because of the way they’re treated by members of the skeptic movement.” That should have been “It is because of this group that people send out e-mails to polite bloggers saying that they would like to attend skeptic conferences but will not do so because of the way they’re treated by members of the skeptic movement.”

  89. #90 Spence
    July 18, 2011

    Agree with comments by bluharmony and Southern Geologist. Whilst everyone can agree on platitudes (“we want peace”, “we want to save the planet”), real discussion about politics is all about compromises and choices, and those compromises usually require comparing apples and oranges – hell, not even that, comparing apples and rocks. Those require value judgements that reasonable people can disagree on. But to the RW/PZ’s of the world, their viewpoint is the only valid one and everyone else is just a moron for not seeing it.

    On other points – I was going to post on the 1-in-4 rape stats on Justicar’s blog, but it seems that you now need an account somewhere to post, which is the very reason I don’t post at Pharyngula. Is the spam already that bad, Justicar?

    I stumbled across this at JREF as well, not sure if it has been raised here. An example of Rebecca Watson and co driving women who disagree with her perspective from the skeptic movement, posted by mod Darat:

    So much for encouraging diversity, and more women. It seems skepchick’s main achievement is driving women away from the movement.

  90. #91 Prometheus
    July 18, 2011

    “It seems skepchick’s main achievement is driving women away from the movement.”

    While the opposite of Skepchick’s (the organization) mission statement, it is necessary to their survival.

    As more women with qualifications beyond a blog and the preferred genital configuration participate, less and less of what Jen, Rebbecca, street jugglers, producers of novelty t-shirts and Marcotte have to say remains pertinent or even give the continued appearance of being lucid.

    Certainly PZ Meyers and Laden have a vested interest in keeping women of a certain gravitas away. As long as pseudo-intellectual hipster chicks remain the most prominent female voices PZ et al can tout their progressive feminist street cred while controlling the messages as aging straight white guys.

  91. #92 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    In respect to my correcting his definition of ad hominem, Laden just said “fuck dictionaries.” Then he said that anyone who resorts to pointing out the use of ad hominems on his board doesn’t have a valid argument. Moreover, he said that complaining about the use of ad hominems in response to arguments makes me a whiner, and I should just suck it up. Finally, he concurred with people calling me an idiot. I’ve seriously never been so insulted in real life or online. I don’t want to sound like a girl or anything, but they’re making me want to cry. All in the name of feminism.

  92. #93 Rayshul
    July 18, 2011

    I used to consider myself quite liberal until I came into contact with the spit-flecked, teeth-gnashing, privilege-whining contingent of “liberals” who seemed so very, very determined to tell me that I was some kind of strange underclass of human being that could only survive in the real world with the assistance of ‘allies’ and people-like-them.

    That was when I realised I would do anything just to get away from idiots like them.

    This whole RW thing has absolutely confirmed to me that there is absolutely nothing for me at these conferences. Sure I’d like to see Dawkins talk but I don’t think it’s worth it given the company. Also. They’re freaking insane. They’re freaking insane cultists. This is not what I want in my skepticism.

  93. #94 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    “It seems skepchick’s main achievement is driving women away from the movement.”

    That appears to be Rebecca’s main goal. In the end, the fight is mostly about this (and I think it’s particularly true when it comes to attractive single women). It’s a fucking cat fight with deluded white knights defending someone’s honor, when that someone has none. She can’t stand the thought of sharing the spotlight or being replaced. All in my opinion, of course. Unlike some people, I can’t read minds.

  94. #95 bluharmony
    July 18, 2011

    BTW, it appears that Grothe is actually on our side, though he can’t come out and say so. He did say on Stef’s blog, “I tend to agree with you.”

    You’re completely right about aging white men feeling threatened by women with actual credentials. As for Skepchick, her priorities were obvious to me from day one.

    I’m liberal in my politics in that I favor a welfare state with a free market economy on everything but the essentials: minimal food & shelter, education, health care. And I favor purely defensive foreign policy as well as race, sexual orientation, and gender equality. But I don’t know if this is possible (or even “best,”) and I’m willing to admit that. Because these are my political, non-evidence based views reflecting my personal values.

  95. #96 Justicar
    July 18, 2011


    I think SouthernGeologist hit on what leaves me put off by this rhetoric.

    From my understand, I think an issue like gay rights is a Big Deal. But it’s not an atheist issue. Maybe it can comfortably find a home in a skeptic club or something. But I don’t need that. I’m not so petty as to throw away progress one group is making on one issue of mine because they aren’t explicitly inviting me in to be there as a class of person who requires prodding to participate.

    Start killing some gays, or beating the shit out of them, or having meetings about why we hate them, and I’ll have a problem. Leaving it out of the conversation altogether? This doesn’t disenfranchise me in the slightest.

    And guess what? When I’m in a group of people and something happens to which some nitwit says, “that’s gay”, I use my big boy mouth and say, “I don’t appreciate that and I’ll thank you pretend as though your home training isn’t as bad as it is.” I don’t need to go make a youtube video about it to get support about how Teh Gays aren’t being welcomed in the atheist community.

    It’s not the platform. I don’t go to an Italian restaurant and bitch about not finding Chinese food on the menu as being some kind of systemic problem to keep the Chinese down. It’s just not platform.

    Are women as a whole really so weak that without a special invitation and super special sets of rules ruthlessly enforced, they aren’t capable of walking among the godless?

    Of course I’d love to live in a society where looking out into an audience is a fair statistical representation of the general population. It just doesn’t happen for purely statistical reasons, in addition to other things. It doesn’t mean there’s a problem in the society, or that the group isn’t accepting of people who show up. Not targeting a demographic for handheld invitations to a thing isn’t to say the group is excluding them. Want to be a part? There’s the door – use it. Don’t want to be a part? Same thing – there’s the door, don’t use it.

    If someone gets handsy with you, knee him in the balls and shout at him for accosting you. It works in bars. It works outside bars. I have every confidence that it will work inside an atheist conference.

    Being made to think of myself of some kind of emotionally vulnerable group requiring kid gloves before I can brave all the adults in the room puts me off. Before I found out that my gayness was an issue requiring special sensitivity in atheist groups, I was perfectly capable of walking into one without thinking about being a gay atheist. Now, I guess I should wear a sign so you people know to pity my poor lot in life.

    Send flowers and condolences to
    123 Fuckme Runninga Way
    Upyours, USA 06969

    Or make a donation to your favorite non-gay charity. Or gay charity if you feel that the guilt money needs to be spent.

    The religious right in America doesn’t have shit on the feminist right in America with respect to diminishing women.

    “My experience with other conservative or libertarian atheists (including ones I disagree with) is that they accept that their politics should not dictate their entire life and are perfectly willing to mix with people who share different political views. ”

    What’s all this hogwash about “different” opinions and shit? Toe the line . . . or else, motherfucker. We are freethinking and open-minded so long as you agree with what we tell you to agree with.

    How the dynamics change if the guy next to me is republican, democrat or other form of lunatic escapes me.

    Of course, I’m what PZ derides as a “dictionary atheist”. Yes, I am. That’s because it’s what the word means; your political agenda to bootstrap every idea you have onto atheism and atheists doesn’t mean we have to let them stick. Go find a new word for that particular brand of whatever – atheism has gotten along just fine without this nonsense being foisted onto it.

  96. #97 Eneraldo Carneiro
    July 18, 2011


    If I quoted a snippet of something you wrote and declared you homophobic at a large convention, when you dont think (and many other dont think) what you said was homophobic, and you had no means of responding to that accusation, that would be wrong, and you would be (rightly) mad.

    First AFAIK Watson didn’t call her misoginystic, but her arguments yes.

    It doesn’t matter what Macgraw thinks she said herself, or what she thinks she did herself. It does matter what she actually said and did. She did mischaracterize Watson and did parrot misoginystic arguments. Sorry. That’s the point she should have been addressing instead of whinning about been a so-poor-little-student-that-couldn’t-respond-on-a-plain-even-field-life-is-soooo-unfair.

    Watson didn’t start this. Her orignal complain take 1 min of an 8+ min video. It would have ended there if so many people, men and (for MY surprise) women (including McGraw), didn’t start to chastisize Watson for that 1 min in an 8+ min video. It’s telling how so many of these (including McGraw) that critisize Watson’s original 1 min in an 8+ min video, invariably choose to mischaracterize it (‘She’s against men hitting on women in any circunstances’), or just to play stupid (‘what? He just asked for a coffee! A COFFEE for Dawkins sake! At 4 am! Without have ever spoken to her before! What’s possibly wrong with THAT?’).

    Now, why I have this feeling that, if the elevator episode had ended badly, either Watson had accepted the ‘invitation’ or not, that these same people would be saying things like: ‘how could she be so naive to think that an invitation for coffee at 4 am, could possibly means anything but sex?’, or ‘didn’t she knew that a woman should not take an elevator alone with a stranger, in a foreign country, at 4 am?’?

  97. #98 Prometheus
    July 18, 2011


    That’s well said. Why do I give a fuck what a Minnesota cow college evolutionary biologist has to say about Obama or economic theory.

    Yet somehow I am supposed to care what a may or may have not graduated from communications college 30 something malignant narcissist has to say about not only the western intellectual tradition but post-modern feminist interpersonal and political theory?

    Fuck that.

    The Bride is looking for an obstetrician. By that logic we should just tell Marv (the guy who fixes our cars) to be ready to crank her up on the rack in 8 months.

    For 600 bucks not including travel and board I am not going to listen to some random hippie hobo hold forth on anything.

    Amazing Meeting my ass. Clip joint and mutual admiration society.

    Post 900 coming up. What will they win Don Pardo?

  98. #99 Justicar
    July 18, 2011

    this post by you strikes me as being thought up by the kind of mind who gets language put into laws that differentiate between “incidents of genocide” and “genocide” as though there’s a difference of note.

    Let me put it another way: I’m not saying you’re a racist, I’m just saying that all the words you say are racist. I’m sure you’re not a racist even though what you say is nothing but racist.

    It’s disingenuous.

    What does it matter that she spent 1 minute on it or 2 minutes? The content of what is said doesn’t fluctuate because of the length of time required to say it.

    If I give a six hour long speech and put in, “And all niggers should be executed” does this become less bad because it wasn’t the whole of my speech? If I reverse that and have a six hour long speech advocating that position but put in a line “I send my father birthday cards every year, unfailingly”, is my speech improved?

    Then again, I think you’ve answered all of my questions in your last paragraph: you have a “feeling”. QED huh?

    I get that set of steak knives! 900, bitches!

    I too have political opinions. Why the rest of the atheist community is somehow obliged to listen to them is not immediately obvious. It’s not the topic. It’s not the subject. It’s not implied by the subject beyond the political position that the government should remain secular. That may or may not imply some shared politic we should all have. It’s just irrelevant to the theme: there is no god. Stop passing laws to tell me there is.

    Beyond that, find a different group, or a sub-group in the atheism movement. Whatever form it might take on the personal level, it is not a fitting topic for a panel discussion on atheism.

  99. Justicar, I think I should, by right, propose to you at a TAM convention! Damn, I wish Prof. Dawkins would invite you to a panel! Rarely have I seen such rational thinking (well, except for your privilege, of course, it shows)!

    Could I write this in french so I can get understood?

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