When you get a chance (but not right now, only when you have absolutely nothing whatsoever else to do) have a look at Matt Nisbet’s latest thinly veiled attack on PZ myers*.

It is the usual crap. Atheists are not allowed to express annoyance, disgust, or anger, or to vilify, sillify, or nullify the religious, no mater how whacked-out those religious individuals are. If PZ reads this, he’ll probably ignore it, but it is entirely up to him to respond (or not), if he does indeed view it as a veiled attack.

I just wanted to point out one thing about Matt’s post.

The following comprises sections of Matt’s post, where I have replaced words like “religion” with “racism” and “atheism” with “anti-racism,” etc. I’ve also bolded comparison terms such as “but” and “or” in various places. I think that if you read through this you will get my point:

Ask yourself: What’s the best way you can promote racial equality in your community or on your campus?

Do you want to gain attention through polarizing attacks at your blog or in public statements, alienating even your moderately racist neighbors? Or do you want to be known as the community builder and leader who happens to also be an against racism?

The latter is a strategy for promoting racial equality at the local and national level that I discussed in a previous episode of the Point of Inquiry podcast.

While Kurtz has always been a respectful critic of racism, he has also been a brilliantly successful community leader. He has brought international attention and acclaim to the University of Buffalo, has built two thriving businesses that employ more than a hundred local citizens from a diversity of faiths….

Now notice the train of thought for readers in the Buffalo News article. The focus is on Kurtz as a community leader, someone who is dedicated to Buffalo and its people, and who has been successful locally and internationally. A secondary message is that he is a critic of racism but that he also stands for something else: living life to the fullest in an ethical manner. If every local newspaper in the country were to run a profile of a local against racism, the movement couldn’t ask for better publicity than this type of message.

If you skip over to The Intersection and check out the newspaper interview, and compare it with similar press on PZ Myers, I think you will find them remarkably similar.

Matt wants us to believe that someone like Kurtz … someone that Matt approves of … would never say anything to offend religious people. Such as:

A religious person “… invents religious symbols, which he venerates and worships to save him from facing the finality of his death and dissolution. He devises paradise fictions to provide succor and support…. In acts of supreme self-deception, at various times and in various places he has been willing to profess belief in the most incredible myths because of what they have promised him.”

That would be very offensive to most christians that I know. PZ, how dare you say something like this! .. Oh, no wait, that was Paul Kurtz who said that…

I would think that Matt would approve of something like this:

“I don’t think creationists are stupid. I wish people would not attribute that to me, because I simply don’t believe it. In fact, most of the active creationists are pretty darn smart.”

… OK, I’m getting confused … who said this last bit about creationists? Oh, right, that was PZ myers in a recent presentation at the Bell Museum.


  1. #1 Eamon Knight
    April 6, 2008

    Point acknowledged, but I don’t think “racism” exactly parallels “religion”. In particular, the “moderately racist” (say like: people who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the white sheets, but would also prefer that no brown people moved on to their street) are still harming the common good, whereas religious moderates are not (nexessarily).

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 6, 2008

    Eamon: An analogy is never exact. Or it would not be an analogy, it would be a … a clone-alogy. Yes, a clonalogy.

  3. #3 JNavarro
    April 6, 2008

    Exactly what I was thinking when I read it, I’m glad you brought it up. I believe the cheapest shot is the “living an ethical life” part. Is he saying that PZ is an unethical person? Those are serious words and he offers no explanation.

    I beleive that Nisbet’s main problem is his pandering to the religious fundamentalists, it does not matter what frame he uses, if it is not in the bible, they won’t believe it. I think he gives religious moderates no benefit of the doubt.

  4. #4 jdb
    April 6, 2008

    It’s not a “thinly veiled” attack. It’s a poorly framed one!

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    April 6, 2008

    If I remember right, Matthew was present at the time that PZ said his bit about creationists at the Bell Museum. I went over to Framing Science and quoted something Paul Kurtz had written in Free Inquiry last year.

    Matt has something personal against PZ, and I can’t figure what it is.

  6. #6 Abbie
    April 6, 2008

    are still harming the common good, whereas religious moderates are not (nexessarily).

    Well, I believe religious moderates *do* harm the common good, in the same subtle way that moderately racist people do.

    A racist would contrariwise claim that moderately racist people don’t hurt the common good.

    I think the analogy is dead-on.

    The deal is, the new atheist stance is inherently offensive to a lot of people. There’s no way around it. Feminism is inherently offensive to misogynists; egalitarianism is inherently offensive to racists; etc. The “new” atheist stance is pretty revolutionary. The stance that religious beliefs should be held to rational scrutiny is *not* going to go over well with a lot of people. I don’t see any way around it.

  7. #7 SC
    April 6, 2008

    Cuttlefish outdoes himself over there.

  8. #8 craig
    April 6, 2008

    I don’t personally like the name “new atheism.”

    In the 1970s in high school chemistry class, as I was confronted by the whole class including the red-faced chemistry teacher, yelling at me and berating me as I calmly held my ground and insisted that religion was complete nonsense, was I being a “new atheist?”

    Same thing happened in a different high school in my english class.

    Some of us have been “new atheists” since the day we were born.

  9. #9 poke
    April 6, 2008

    We need a word to embody the discriminatory aspects of religious belief. Let me use “religionism” for now. Extreme religionism would be hell and damnation for non-believers and apostates. Systemic religionism would be the sort of off-hand comments we’re all used to that imply you need religion to be a better person or to be moral or to live a fulfilled life. We could also include the negative portrayal of atheists as loud, obnoxious, vehement, etc, as being religionist in nature. But not all religious believers would have to be religionist and not all religionists would have to be religious believers.

    “Religionism” may not be the right word, since “religionists” is already a descriptive for believers, but I think we need something along those lines. Once you start playing around with it in your mind it becomes clear that this is a civil rights issue and much of the behavior directed towards atheists is similar to racism or sexism or any other form of discrimination. The very extremes of religionism might be long in our past but it clearly still exists as a systemic problem in our society.

  10. #10 charlie
    April 6, 2008

    I have commented a few times in this latest iteration of the Frame Wars and I reckon I’m done after this. Something really smells in the Matthew Nisbet camp. I like Chris Mooney’s books and think he is a good science writer. I know others have repeatedly urged him to separate himself from Nisbet and he has not done so, but if anyone has any influence please try again. My gut reaction is that there is not going to be a happy ending to any of this since I either don’t understand or get something very basic or I understand all too well. Power, position and insecurity make for bad communication, bad strategy/tactics and bad judgment.

  11. #11 paiwan
    April 6, 2008

    I transfer my post here:

    “The only reason that I could have thought of believing in God is for the sake of mental health.

    Carl Jung said, “I do not believe in God, I know there is God.” I have not yet in that stage, perhaps somewhere in the middle.

    The belief in God believes in the thing the way is; in fact, atheists are aiming at this goal also. What is the difference?

    The faith in God is to prevent the idol worship and self and collective narcissism, so to speak.

    We survive as an individual and in the community. And the history is continuously going ahead; tomorrow and the invisible truth are non-shakable foundation to sustain our mental health. To live in the past and now are not enough; that is the major dilemma of an atheist.

    In comparing to Carl Jung, Sigmund Feud had surrendered at his 80’s and found his experience in God- a good case study for atheists.

    Do religions help us to have faith and experience in God? My answer is yes and no. Everyone has to do his/her own assignment, just like to grow mentally mature is individual’s effort mostly.

    I guess, just guess, God doesn’t care if you are an atheist or not. I envisage that loving parents would not care too much their children’s choices to be with them under certain manner. The unconditional love doesn’t occupy. Even soul mated couple would be able to achieve more than possessiveness :-)”

  12. #12 Elizabeth
    April 6, 2008


    They always say they are done but they always come back for more.

  13. #13 Andrew
    April 6, 2008

    About “moderate” vs. extreme racists and religion … in any given context the acceptable line will be positioned by convention. With racism, what is “acceptable” is not even close to what is acceptable in speaking about atheists. A major public figure can say that it is “normal” to be a Christian in the United states, that a Christian religious symbol may not be an ideal lawn decoration for a public building but the annual erection of a Christmas tree on the white house lawn is an acceptable convention, set. But a major public figure can not make the analogous arguments regarding race because that has become unacceptable.

  14. #14 Raymond
    April 6, 2008

    Andrew: I was thinking the same thing. I think the “Net Atheists” feel they need to be a little extreme to move the bar. But they are not being very extreme. Extreme is burning buildings and shooting leaders on the other side and lighting piles of tires on fire.

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    April 6, 2008

    It’s not a “thinly veiled” attack. It’s a poorly framed one!


    yup. On Nisbet’s site, someone mentioned being interested in Kurtz’s response to his statements and arguments being used by Nisbet in such a fashion.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself, actually.

    I’ve grown weary of Nisbet, frankly. Boy thinks himself “all that” simply because he published one damn paper on communications in Science?

    come back in ten years, Nisbet.

  16. #16 Skemono
    April 7, 2008

    Some of us have been “new atheists” since the day we were born.

    And some others have been “new atheists” since before that.

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    April 7, 2008

    On Nisbet’s site, someone mentioned being interested in Kurtz’s response to his statements and arguments being used by Nisbet in such a fashion.

    btw, Nisbet is now heavily censoring his blog.

    the post I refer to where the author was calling on a reckoning from Kurtz was deleted.

    so were all references to it in that thread.

    be warned; not brooking disagreement on his blog only supports my contention that Nisbet is a bit of a narcissist.

    … to the point that he’s actually a problem for communication the more ears he manages to grab at AAAS.

    this guy has troubled me since he did such a poor job defending his Science article to begin with on his blog, and his actions and behavior suggest he’s more a problem than a help.

    I predict the problem will fester and grow if allowed to, and a couple of years from now, we will be regretting not raising an even bigger stink over Nisbet.

  18. #18 syntyche
    April 7, 2008

    Yet another example of what I think the “frame” should be

    Matt Nisbet is horrible at framing.

  19. #19 Torbj�rn Larsson, OM
    April 7, 2008

    I thought the framing debate was stuck in a rut, but here there are considerable changes. Nisbet now identifies outspoken atheism with a negative claim. (While Abbie here shows that it can be a positive claim on using more rational scrutiny.)

    Anon over there indirectly points out that such claims have moved the identification of atheism away from strawmen. While Nisbet now is more and more defining himself as a problem instead of a solution.

    “Religionism” may not be the right word, since “religionists” is already a descriptive for believers, but I think we need something along those lines.

    It ties neatly in with apologists frequent use of the strawman “scientism” though. “Belief in belief” and “special pleading” isn’t quite covering the same territory, so I think it is an excellent idea supporting a push for rational scrutiny.

    As for a better term I come up blank right now. Maybe the old usage will move aside as it has alternatives?

    An analogy is never exact. Or it would not be an analogy, it would be a … a clone-alogy.

    On the math blogs they discuss category theory as a mathematicians tool to study analogies. This is done by noting isomorphism between structures (analog parts) instead of equalities between them (exact “clone-alog” parts). (Thus coping with larger areas of similar structures applicable on the same object, or different objects.)

    I’m not saying that isomorphism is an exact analogy [sic!] for analogies, especially badly constructed such. But I think it points out what a good analogy is used for.

  20. #20 Rieux
    April 7, 2008

    Here’s the comment I just tried to post on Nisbet’s blog (the site told me that my post is being “held for review by the blog owner”–sounds ominous):


    Nisbet’s attempt to use Paul Kurtz as the shining example of everything that Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers should be but are not is an utter joke.

    First, anyone who has actually read Kurtz’s work–in books such as The Transcendental Temptation and Living Without Religion: Eupraxophy–is well aware that Kurtz is every bit as vicious toward religion, and every bit as offensive to mainstream religious sensibilities, as Myers and Dawkins have ever been.

    Indeed, and hilariously in the current context, Paul Kurtz was more-or-less singlehandedly responsible for the 1980 schism among American humanists that resulted in Kurtz and his allies leaving the American Humanist Association to found the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism (CODESH–subsequently renamed the Council for Secular Humanism).

    Kurtz’s reason for leaving, and savaging, the AHA (where he had edited the house organ magazine, The Humanist) was that he could not tolerate the substantial fraction of the membership of the AHA who–then as now–declared themselves “religious humanists.” Kurtz decided he could accept no association with such people, and his works on the subject drip with derision for them. In light of the events of the 70s and 80s, there are still plenty of AHA members who regard Kurtz as a disgusting, intemperate, monomaniacal anti-religious fanatic. I guess it was just the AHA’s bad luck that they didn’t have the services of a professional whiner to accuse Kurtz of alienating potential allies and thereby browbeat him back into the fold….

    How incredibly amusing, then, that Matt Nisbet is trying to use Kurtz as a poster boy for inoffensive anti-religious advocacy. In his heydey, Kurtz had no qualms about detailing the horrors and irrationalities of religions of all sorts. His severe rejection of the AHA for the religious humanism it harbored is the direct predecessor of the Dawkins/Myers/etc. critique of appeasement-friendly schools of skeptical thought–a critique that Nisbet now, conveniently, reflexively bashes. The only reason that conservative believers don’t hate Kurtz just as much as they do Dawkins is that, by and large, they have no idea who Kurtz is or what he’s written.

    As far as offensiveness to mainstream religious sensibilities is concerned, Paul Kurtz is Richard Dawkins, except that Kurtz is sixteen years older and considerably less well known. The idea that Kurtz is friendlier or more congenial to religion than Dawkins is is an utter misrepresentation of reality.

    Moreover, Nisbet is mendaciously misconstruing Kurtz’s own critique of Dawkins, Myers and company; the notion that Kurtz’s critique matches Nisbet’s is a full-blown lie.

    Kurtz has an axe to grind, one that indeed is his life’s work: humanism. I have yet to see Kurtz complain, a la Nisbet, that Dawkins and company are big anti-religious meanies who are therefore hurting the cause, boo hoo hoo. Instead, the sole complaint I have seen him voice about Dawkins and company (though, in Kurtz’s real context, it’s a very mild “faulting”) is that they’re not selling Kurtz’s product. But of course they’re not trying to sell humanism; they’re trying to promote science and reason (which are different, albeit closely related, products to humanism). Given the difference in intentions and the difference in audiences, it’s little wonder that there are differences in emphasis as well.

    Nisbet’s attempts, then, to twist the comments of Paul Kurtz–the fervent anti-religious loudmouth of a previous generation–in an attempt to support his own attacks on honest, forthright religious criticism like that of Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers are an embarrassment.

    Nisbet should be ashamed of himself, and this ridiculous vendetta against all things P.Z. must end.


    Given that Nisbet has to approve this, I suspect it will never see the light of day on his blog. What a joke.

  21. #21 Alethea
    April 7, 2008

    Physioprof wrote in comments: “There is room for both moderation and no-holds-barred honest advocacy.”

    From a self-termed “moderate” atheist point of view, I agree. I’m just spread too thin to deem militancy a high priority in my life right now. I always hated selling things, which is what proselytism is in my view. And I also hate getting aggressively sold at, leading to my avoidance of the souk in Marrakech, Baptist churches and most TV.

    So I let PZ and Richard and Eugenie speak for me, and I am grateful for it, even if they sometimes take it farther than I would. If I wanted to get out there on the front lines, then I would do it. Thank goodness for militants!

  22. #22 Peter
    April 7, 2008

    I don’t personally like the name “new atheism.”

    Then you have a disagreement with Gary Wolf of Wired because he coined the term in an article, titled “The Church of the Non-Believers”, published in November 2006.

    The title itself should give an idea of the spin he was putting on the story.

    “New Atheists” was then picked up by other journalists to fulfill their need to label people.

    It wasn’t coined by any atheist, out-spoken or otherwise.

  23. #23 Euripedes
    April 7, 2008

    It is amusing that the shrill and divisive ‘New Atheists’ are accused of nothing more than freethinkers have been accused of in the past, as obstacles in the way of the yellow brick road which the new High Priest of communication foresees.

    What would he think of Thomas Paine or Ingersoll? Too shrill in their promotion of reason over superstition? What good did Paine do America anyway? He should’ve been quiet about his decisive opinions, for the outcomes of his polemics did cause bloodshed after all, far more than PZ ever will.

    For example, does anything PZ says go any further than this from God and the State Mikhail Bakunin 1871

    The Bible, which is a very interesting and here and there very profound book when considered as one of the oldest surviving manifestations of human wisdom and fancy, expresses this truth very naively in its myth of original sin. Jehovah, who of all the good gods adored by men was certainly the most jealous, the most vain, the most ferocious, the most unjust, the most bloodthirsty, the most despotic, and the most hostile to human dignity and liberty–Jehovah had just created Adam and Eve, to satisfy we know not what caprice; no doubt to while away his time, which must weigh heavy on his hands in his eternal egoistic solitude, or that he might have some new slaves. He generously placed at their disposal the whole earth, with all its fruits and animals, and set but a single limit to this complete enjoyment. He expressly forbade them from touching the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He wished, therefore, that man, destitute of all understanding of himself, should remain an eternal beast, ever on all-fours before the eternal God, his creator and his master. But here steps in Satan, the eternal rebel, the first freethinker and the emancipator of worlds. He makes man ashamed of his bestial ignorance and obedience; he emancipates him, stamps upon his brow the seal of liberty and humanity, in urging him to disobey and eat of the fruit of knowledge.

    We know what followed. The good God, whose foresight, which is one of the divine faculties, should have warned him of what would happen, flew into a terrible and ridiculous rage; he cursed Satan, man, and the world created by himself, striking himself so to speak in his own creation, as children do when they get angry; and, not content with smiting our ancestors themselves, he cursed them in all the generations to come, innocent of the crime committed by their forefathers. Our Catholic and Protestant theologians look upon that as very profound and very just, precisely because it is monstrously iniquitous and absurd. Then, remembering that he was not only a God of vengeance and wrath, but also a God of love, after having tormented the existence of a few milliards of poor human beings and condemned them to an eternal hell, he took pity on the rest, and, to save them and reconcile his eternal and divine love with his eternal and divine anger, always greedy for victims and blood, he sent into the world, as an expiatory victim, his only son, that he might be killed by men. That is called the mystery of the Redemption, the basis of all the Christian religions. Still, if the divine Savior had saved the human world! But no; in the paradise promised by Christ, as we know, such being the formal announcement, the elect will number very few. The rest, the immense majority of the generations present and to come, will burn eternally in hell. In the meantime, to console us, God, ever just, ever good, hands over the earth to the government of the Napoleon Thirds, of the William Firsts, of the Ferdinands of Austria, and of the Alexanders of all the Russias.

  24. #24 Euripedes
    April 7, 2008

    That last part above should have been included in the blockquote. (A perfect example of poor framing ;))

  25. #25 Kaerion
    April 7, 2008

    Ichthyic and Rieux aren’t the only ones to face censorship on Nisbet’s blog, it seems. I posted a question several hours ago, asking him to qualify the differences he sees between Myers and Dawkins, and Kurtz, since I had problems seeing any. Since this was right after he posted his last comment (and right after I noticed several comments suddenly disappear, on a page refresh), he might’ve turned on moderation and gone to bed at that point (meaning we’ll see our comments appear later), but I’m not holding my breath.

    If he really is censoring his blog, not only of opposing viewpoints, but even polite questions to clarify his position, Nisbet has lost all credibility, even what little he had left after telling Dawkins and Myers to “shut up”.

  26. #26 J. J. Ramsey
    April 7, 2008

    I think Nisbet’s sentiments are closer to this:

    Ask yourself: What’s the best way you can promote racial equality in your community or on your campus?

    Do you want to gain attention through polarizing attacks at your blog or in public statements, alienating even your white neighbors? Or do you want to be known as the community builder and leader who happens to also be black?

    Of course, no analogy is exact, but considering that Nisbet is highly unlikely to see religion to be a good analog for racism, this is at least less of a strawman.

  27. #27 J. J. Ramsey
    April 7, 2008

    Grrr, curse the screwy “blockquote”: The paragraph “Do you want to gain attention …” is from Nisbet, not me.

  28. #28 Mike from Ottawa
    April 7, 2008

    Atheists are not allowed to express annoyance, disgust, or anger, or to vilify, sillify, or nullify the religious, no mater how whacked-out those religious individuals are.

    And some atheists want to express annoyance disgust or anger, to vilify, sillify or nullify the religious no matter how reasonable and rational those religious individuals are in every area of public life.

    If you want to stake the support, protection and promotion of good science on the elimination of religion, it makes sense, but not if you want to make the immediate aim the support, protection and promotion of good science.

    Greg (or anyone else of the same alignment on this issue), do you express annoyance, disgust or anger at or vilify, sillify and nullify the religious people you run into when you engage in politics, canvassing for a candidate, attending a meeting of your political party, etc.?

  29. #29 J. J. Ramsey
    April 7, 2008

    Mike from Ottawa has a point. BTW, here’s Merriam-Webster’s definition of vilify:

    1: to lower in estimation or importance
    2: to utter slanderous and abusive statements against : “defame”

    Synonyms: see “malign”

    An observation: Just about every time I’ve seen the word “vilify,” it’s been in the second sense mentioned.

  30. #30 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2008


    I think your question is a bit off the point, but it is still important. Religious/spiritual people often expect me to share their point of view, which I don’t. When I resist this there is often a presumption that being non-religious is not normal. Sometimes there is then an implication that being non-religious is suspicious, and in some cases there is even an implication of evil. And so on. It can get increasingly obnoxious.

    I prefer to engage in calm, rational conversation with people. But a calm rational statement in response to the presumption of religion or spirituality often invokes fairly strong reactions. This is not my problem, it is the problem of the recipient of this rational perspective. If I say to a christian that I believe that the bible is not the word of god, that can be considered a very insulting thing to say. I can say it as nicely and calmly as possible, and it is still deeply insulting. But that insult comes from a problem the christian has, not a problem I have or my failure to make the point in some painless way.

  31. #31 SC
    April 7, 2008

    Euripedes ? I?ve been meaning to share that excerpt here on Sb for some time now! Thanks! For anyone interested in reading more, ?God and the State? is available online here:


    (In some ways a product of its time, it is tainted by antisemitism, and is also vehemently anti-German, but I think both of these derive largely from Bakunin?s profound hostility to Marx. In any case, these views are incidental to his broader arguments. I have some criticisms, but it?s as powerful a piece of anti-religious/anti-authoritarian writing as you?re likely to find.)

    On another note, in response to part of marc buhler?s comment to Nisbet on the other thread, suggesting that ?Perhaps it is a ‘Social Scientist – Scientist’ thing behind the scenes??: While it?s clear from the conclusion of the sentence ? ??and that is something *you* need to work out for yourself? ? that he was referring to individuals (I see a strong element of this as well) and had no intention of implicating entire disciplines, I wanted to speak up for the sake of further clarification. MAJeff has expressed it well elsewhere, but I will add my own voice to those seeking to make a distinction between Nisbet?s ?social science? and social science as I understand and practice it.

    As a social scientist who has worked with cultural frames/framing for years, I find Nisbet?s presentation of framing, and our work in general, rather offensive. ?Framing,? in my field at least, is a conceptual tool that can be useful in understanding the dynamics of social movements. It is not a Grand Theory of Social Communication. Social scientists analyze cultural change using the conceptual apparatus we have available and attempt to draw conclusions based upon the evidence. Good researchers realize that this process is unavoidably political and that we do not stand outside or above the social reality we are trying to understand. In some cases (my own included), we draw upon this knowledge in our work as activists and advocates – I would certainly refer to my research findings in defending my position in internal debates in the movements in which I am involved. But neither I nor any of my colleagues would make the arrogant and untenable claim that our scholarly knowledge automatically trumps other positions by sheer virtue of its being based in social-scientific theory or research. Oh, and neither are we glorified marketers.

    OK, I needed to get that off my chest. I feel better now.

  32. #32 J. J. Ramsey
    April 7, 2008

    Greg Laden: “But a calm rational statement in response to the presumption of religion or spirituality often invokes fairly strong reactions.”

    True, but let’s not pretend that this is the entirety of atheists’ treatment of religion, or even yours. It isn’t as if there aren’t atheists who exaggerate the evils of religion or otherwise vilify religious people.

  33. #33 Alan B.
    April 7, 2008


    I think your question is a bit off the point, but it is still important. Religious/spiritual people often expect me to share their point of view, which I don’t. When I resist this there is often a presumption that being non-religious is not normal. Sometimes there is then an implication that being non-religious is suspicious, and in some cases there is even an implication of evil. And so on. It can get increasingly obnoxious.

    The last time I got treated this way was somewhere around 5th grade when one of my classmates called me stupid. Maybe the difference is that I have lived my whole life on the East Coast. But I think that it’s important that you understand that, for many of us, our experience of religion is very, very different from yours.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2008

    Alan: You have hit on a very important point. I’m certain that these experiences are regional. I lived on the East Coast as well, including 17 years in Boston. I’ve been in Minnesota for 10. I think the Boston/Minnesota comparison for me is the most valid because I was similarly educated and grow-ed up in both places. The difference is vast.

    This is probably why I am much less annoyed by religion than my wife, a native of Minnesota, is.

  35. #35 Euripedes
    April 7, 2008

    Thanks SC!

    If you haven’t read it I can highly recommend Rudolf Rocker’s ‘Nationalism and Culture’ for a good bit of anti-authoritarian/religion analysis.

    As a lay person, the little I have read about dealing with the religious is that having ‘thou shalt not lie’ hammered into you from childhood produces interesting effects when authoritarian/fundamentalist children start to encounter a wider world view, involving challenges to the truth claims about their religion.

    For example in Bob Altemeyers studies in Authoritarianism, he found that:

    Christian fundamentalism has three great enemies in the struggle to retain its children, judging by the stories its apostates tell: weaknesses in its own teachings, science, and hypocrisy. As for the first, many a fallen-away fundamentalist told us that the Bible simply proved unbelievable on its own merits. It was inconceivable to them that, if an almighty creator of the universe had wanted to give humanity a set of teachings for guidance across the millennia, it would be the material found in the Bible. The Bible was, they said, too often inconsistent, petty, boring, appalling, self-serving, or unbelievable.
    Secondly, science made too much sense and had pushed traditional beliefs into a tight corner. When their church insisted that it�s version of creation, the story of Adam and Eve, the sundry miracles and so on had to be taken on faith, the fledgling apostates eventually found that preposterous. Faith for them was not a virtue, although they could see why their religion taught people it was. It meant surrendering rationality. From its earliest days fundamentalism has drawn a line in the sand over scripture versus science, and some of its young people eventually felt they had to step over the line, and then they kept right on going.
    Still the decision to leave was almost always wrenching, because it could mean becoming an outcast from one�s family and community. Also, fundamentalists are frequently taught that no one is lower, and will burn more terribly in hell, than a person who abandons their true religion. What then gnawed away so mercilessly at the apostates that they could no longer overpower doubt with faith?
    Their families will say it was Satan. But we thought, after interviewing dozens of �amazing apostates,� that (most ironically) their religious training had made them leave. Their church had told them it was God�s true religion. That�s what made it so right, so much better than all the others. It had the truth, it spoke the truth, it was The Truth. But that emphasis can create in some people a tremendous valuing of truth per se, especially among highly intelligent youth who have been rewarded all their lives for getting �the right answer.� So if the religion itself begins making less and less sense, it fails by the very criterion that it set up to show its superiority.
    Similarly, pretending to believe the unbelievable violated the integrity that had brought praise to the amazing apostates as children. Their consciences, thoroughly developed by their upbringing, made it hard for them to bear false witness. So again they were essentially trapped by their religious training. It had worked too well for them to stay in the home religion, given the problems they saw with it.

    The full text is available at
    The Authoritarians

    But what Nisbett seems to be saying is that we shouldn’t tell the religious what we believe to be true, whereas the evidence tells us that at the very least teaching science and reason has a strong effect on fundamentalists, even if it only leads to a softer view of religion, which must surely be beneficial in the long run not only to atheists, but also the ‘moderates’ who feel that they are drowned out by the extremists?

  36. #36 Interrobang
    April 7, 2008

    I’m going to echo what SC said, in particular, “As a social scientist who has worked with cultural frames/framing for years, I find Nisbets presentation of framing, and our work in general, rather offensive,” except that I’m not a social scientist; my background is in rhetoric and communications theory, and I find Nisbet’s presentation of framing really offensive.

    As framing is practiced and understood within the field of rhetoric and communications theory, it is a tool for conveying a message in a way that will be most easily received by one’s audience. A lot of science communicators (and I find PZ Myers suffers from this one from time to time) seem to feel that whichever way they present the facts, it’s up to the audience to do the work of interpreting the message into something they can handle, which is not at all the case. (Obviously if a listener is not within the communicator’s intended audience, they’re going to have some catching up to do, which is not my point.) Audience analysis and subsequent tailoring of message — of which framing is a substantial component — is the communicator’s job.

    On the other hand, framing, as it’s understood from a discourse analytics perspective, doesn’t mean apologetics or mollycoddling one’s audience either, nor lying or spinning. Personally, I think Nisbet has done more to discredit the concept of framing (choosing words carefully to convey a point in a particular way) among the scientific section of left-leaning communicators than any other figure I’ve yet seen. By allowing the prevailing religious frame to stand, he’s effectively ceding the entire argument.

    For what it’s worth, I also do think there’s quite a bit to poke’s comment about what I’d call “religionormativity,” after “heteronormativity,” in that the two phenomena really are rather analogous — they’re ubiquitous, pervasive, and systemic, and you don’t notice either much until you’re outside them.

  37. #37 Philip H.
    April 7, 2008

    SO, may I politely inquire, what exactly is wrong with us “religious?” I have been a practicing Protestant Christian all my life, and I also have an M.S. in Oceanography. I’ve never seen a problem reconciling the two, nor do I think there should be. Each is a way of understanding the world, each can lead you to rational, moral action, and each has processes that I find compliment the other. So if your beef is with fundamentalist or literalists Christians, or any other stripe of fundamentalists, say so directly. To paint us all with a single brush is to dismiss many of your colleagues, and that’s not supposed to be a tactic of scientists, or is it?

  38. #38 Stephanie Z
    April 7, 2008

    Philip H., my problem with the religious is this tendency they have when I say, “I value rationalism very highly, and this thinking has led me to atheism,” to reply, “How dare you call me irrational? That’s not nice!” I know it’s terribly self-centered, but sometimes I just want to talk about me.

  39. #39 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2008

    Philip: You are totally correct except for one thing: A very very large percentage of people who are religious but don’t consider themselves overtly obnoxious in their judgment of atheists only think they are not being obnoxious. My grandmother in law went through pains at Easter to welcome all the people of all the different faiths (in her pre-food consumption prayer) and made it very clear that the important thing was to have faith. She had no idea how deeply insulting that was to a large number of people in the room, across three generations. We all, of course, dutifully ignored us, because we did not want to be uppity…..

    There is not a universal inability of the religious to understand this, but the problem is simply NOT confined to the evangelicals. It is very widespread.

  40. #40 jdb
    April 7, 2008

    Interrobang, can you suggest some authors in the field of communications theory who have a different take on framing than Nisbet? Nisbet and Mooney have a habit of dismissing all criticism as being from ignorant non-professionals, so I’m wondering if there’s another voice out there who they might actually respect.

  41. #41 Oran Kelley
    April 7, 2008


    First, replacing religion with racism in that passage isn’t an analogy, it’s Mad Libs. Let’s replace “religion” with “defecating dogs” now!

    (The basic trouble with the analogy is that it assumes what you are supposedly trying to demonstrate. Racism is ALREADY an object of extreme opprobrium. By sticking “racism” in where religion used to be all you demonstrate is that moderation is not the way to treat objects of extreme opprobrium. But the question at hand is precisely whether religion and racism are analogous in this way or not–whether or not it should be treated as an object of extreme opprobrium. So the analogy is completely boneheaded and pointless–it doesn’t make an argument on the way to a favored conclusion, it simply assumes that favored conclusion. Looks like a technique out of the religious apologist trickbag!)

    Sorry to hear about your awful, offensive Easter Dinner. It must be horrible to be so offended . . . Did you ever consider that your problem might not be religion–maybe you’re just a bit of a sissy? You’re a sensitive plant too easily injured by what you imagine others might be thinking about you. Where this insecurity comes from, I suppose you are in the best position to judge. But wouldn’t you think it more in keeping with your atheistic feeling to NOT CARE if even your mother-in-law erroneously presumes you believe in some God.

  42. #42 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2008


    Actually, I was not trying to make the point you are supposing. I was trying to demonstrate how a dialog sounds when you take words linked to a doctrine that is agree to be offensive for which we are linguistically sensitized and use those words to see what a doctrine that is also offensive but for which we are not linguistically sensitized sounds.

    Easter was mostly just fine for me, again, having been raised “out east” and having come from a long line of nuns and priests, it just rolled off my back. But I don’t think it rolled off everyone’s back.

  43. #43 Rieux
    April 7, 2008

    Just to update my comment above–there’s still no sign of my treatise on Paul Kurtz the Uppity Atheist being posted on Nisbet’s comment thread.

    And, regarding Kaerion’s post mentioning me, I seriously doubt that Nisbet has directed a censorship campaign at me personally. (Probably Kaerion didn’t mean to suggest otherwise, but I’m not certain.)

    I doubt Nisbet has any idea who I am; the most significant role I’ve played in this exchange is when I asked Nisbet a pointed question about atheism during the Q&A session of the Nisbet & Mooney vs. Greg & P.Z. debate in Minneapolis last fall. As a result, I can’t believe that he could have added a setting to his blog to blacklist me particularly. Instead, I’m reasonably confident that the moderation my comment received is just a broad prior restraint that Nisbet is placing on all comments (or perhaps all comments to atheism-related threads), not just mine.

    That’s still ridiculous censorship, of course. And the fact that my comment appears to have been memory-holed suggests how interested Nesbit is in open communication–about, say, who Paul Kurtz actually is.

  44. #44 Rieux
    April 7, 2008

    Whoops, addendum: it appears Ichthyic and I (among others?) have been silenced because we’re screechy monkeys.


  45. #45 Oran Kelley
    April 7, 2008

    I was trying to demonstrate how a dialog sounds when you take words linked to a doctrine that is [we] agree to be offensive for which we are linguistically sensitized and use those words to see what a doctrine that is also offensive but for which we are not linguistically sensitized sounds.


    You are demonstrating that different words have different meanings? That different meanings have different emotional valences? What exactly are you illustrating that isn’t . . . mmm . . . perfectly obvious to everyone already and aknowledged by everyone?

    I mean you acknowledge there are degrees of “offensiveness,” no? And isn’t the degree of the offensiveness precisely what is at issue.

    I mean if you wrote a post saying that children taking aspirin into school should not be punished by expulsion (as it has been) and I said well look what his post looks like if we replace the word “aspirin” with “crystal meth” and the word “analgesic” with “deadly poison” . . . wouldn’t you say I was missing the point, which was precisely that aspirin IS NOT ANYTHING LIKE CRYSTAL METH?

    Pointing out that we are “more sensitized” to words like “crystal meth” than we are to “aspirin” does not improve on the pointlessness of the analogy, because all the analogy accomplishes is to elide the very distinction made by the original writer.

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    April 7, 2008

    Listen: There is no way to calibrate across these analogies, and that is why they are analogies and not clones. But I think it is possible that you are totally misunderstanding what I’m saying.

    I am asserting that on balance the only real difference between the two tropes is level of sensitization. People are not sensitized to the degree of offense that religious presumption generates to the non-religious. Religious people have absolutely no idea how offensive they typically are.

    They are both offensive doctrines. But in society at a whole, these days, in the US, one is widely understood as offensive (racism) the other is not so understood even though it is. … most people have no clue.

  47. #47 the real cmf
    April 7, 2008

    re: “Matt has something personal against PZ”
    I don’t think so: I think Matt has something FOR positive messaging, even if the message is toned down for a minute–the message will outlive the sender if it is a positive one.

    It is basically just a clash of egos: one, a large bio-science based ego thaqt benefits every tinme the sciborg hit counter clicks on this controversy; the other a media savvy pundit and PR man who wisely has proven–in the very least–that framing works, especially the ‘conflict frame’.

    re: Abbie “Feminism is inherently offensive to misogynists; egalitarianism is inherently offensive to racists”

    Really? is that what US prison growth, spurred by the ever fearful voice of white, privileged female voices that has largely defined lower income men as criminals has done? Is that why the single mother raised sons have enlisted for a tour to Iraq instead of a four year stint in college, like their same age female counterparts?

    I am reminded of hard working Chinese women professionals, all of whom smirk at the idea of male privilege; and those same women who chase their husbands down the side-alleys of Chengdu with butcher knives in hand; those hard working Chinese women who out work and out-compete men daily yet, in stark contrast to white privilege entitled white women, seldom get involved in the ‘loudly complaining about inequity between the sexes’ routine.Hmmm…something in there about ‘doing, rather than talking about doing…’

    I think Abbie meant to say “egalitarianism is inherently offensive to feminists; and racism isn’t racism if it is the racism of priviledged white women.”

    There, that sounds more like it.

  48. #48 poke
    April 7, 2008


    I’m loving “religionormative.” I think homosexuality is a better analogy for atheism than race, generally, since homosexuality, like atheism, is something that needs to be discovered. Unless you’re a really flamboyant atheist.

  49. #49 anonymous coward
    April 7, 2008

    The analogy that I think best follows what I think you’re trying to demonstrate to Oran is that of how people react to mild acts public displays of affections depending on whether the couple is hetero or homosexual (obligatory “not that there’s anything wrong with that”). Many of these types would simply not even notice the first case but would take deep personal insult at simple hand-holding or (shock, horrors) a basic snogging if the pair were same-sexed. They’d be all a twitter with “How dare you force your evil ways upon me, blah, blah, blah”. So it is the same with these same religionists towards atheists. They don’t even notice the constant references to their religiousity (even to the point where they say offensive things like hoping that those who don’t think identically should “burn in hell” — if they really believed in hell, what a cruel unjust thought), but were one to whisper “I don’t believe in G*d” they take affront as if you had physically attacked them. It’s because we are sensitized, as a society in general, to the distinction of the two cases.

    I presume that one should just ignore “cmf” since it reads too much like one of those rants that PZ regularly gets and posts that just about unparsable.

  50. #50 the real cmf
    April 7, 2008

    anonymouse coward lives up to its name once again.

    Hey short stick: you don’t know me at all;so I paraphrase your ‘fearless’ leader: “fuck you very schmuck”

  51. #51 Elizabeth
    April 7, 2008

    OK, boys, enough of the screeching monkey act!

  52. #52 scote
    April 7, 2008

    Well, perhaps this comment I posted to Professor Framing Expert’s Blog will make it through his approval:

    I have to say that never knew about your blog before the recent dust up. I came and read the posts and the comments for the interesting and vigorous debate. Now that debate has been squelched and I can’t really see a reason to visit anymore–and that may be perfect for your goal of squelching unmitigated dissent. But, I’d been more impressed if you could manage criticism through your communications skills and reasonable argument rather than merely reaching for the comment’s “off” switch.

    I understand the need for some moderation, and I really wouldn’t begrudge you not posting my comment in “Paul Kurtz: The Local Leader Who Happens to Be an Atheist” which could have been more substantive and less ad hominem, however, my post to this forum was less so. While still within your rights not to post, the fact that you didn’t just shows how heavy a hand you are being in modding your forum.

    I see your need for heavy modding as a failure on your part–its a tactic that is common on anti-scientific blogs where creationists hang out. You could have just ridden it out like Chris is doing, and kept a more open stance on comments, but instead you decided to silence criticism–not all of it, to be sure, but enough to be rather suspect. Now we really can’t trust you to be open and transparent. I don’t think your latest move puts you in a good “frame.”

  53. #53 the real cmf
    April 7, 2008

    anonymousse: “like one of those rants that PZ regularly gets and posts that just about unparsable.”

    wut R U mumblin’ about? I don’t have time to parse it out…um…’gets an posts that just bout unparsable?”


    scote: you are right about this “you could have just ridden it out like Chris is doing,” but then you aren’t taking into account that Greg is for some odd reason,not drumming his chest as loudly when PZ is around, rather acting like a blackback for the cause…but he shines when he isn’t under the cultish influence of the pastoral sciborg kinship group spell…but don’t be fooled: Greg is one of the few who does not actively attempt to silence dissent, or alternative opinions….just wait, I think he is leading up to a greater display of knuckle ground-thumping;-)

    For now its just an issue of social spacing, and double grunts….

  54. #54 scote
    April 7, 2008

    @ cmf:

    My post above is a copy of what I posted to Nisbet’s Blog, it is directed at Nisbet and nobody else and definitely not Greg! I cross posted it as a blockquote on the theory that Nisbet my not post it at his blog. I apologize fort the confusion.

  55. #55 Stephanie Z
    April 7, 2008

    Come on, CMF. You know you sometimes prefer the rambling cross-chatter. It’s hardly fair to expect someone who’s never seen it before to know how to read it. Or to comprehend the radio silence that greets it. Next time, try responding articulately and on-topic (I’ve seen you do it). You’ll get the fun of confusing them more.

  56. #56 Terry Burton
    April 8, 2008

    Greetings! Just dropped by to say HELLO, and read over your blog. Nice set up. Your welcome to visit mine as well. Have a Great Day !!!


  57. #57 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    scote: the apologies are mine to give: I missed the first part of your comment, the disclaimer, and did not realize it was a repost–I am a kneejerk, dogmatic fan of Greg’s, even when he blackbacks around PZ…

    Stephanie Z, I absolutely reject your assertion! I ALWAYS prefer the cross-chatter;-) So many of these sciborg jerks merely couch dogma and opinion in the disguise of scioence, but it is refreshing when the real rational brains show up.

    Steph, it is iompossible to respond to semi- literate dogmatics with anything but tongue in cheek, and watch them expound upon the evils of cmf;-) If they only knew…

    As for the radio silence: I think you lve too close to the WCCO tower there downtown, or perhaps that sound you reference is your keypad?

    But you are right to some degree: between the bursts of megalomaniacal opinions that pass for pseudo brilliance of some here on my favorite blog-cult—the sciborgs–there are rays of real bright cross chatter….
    in fact I feel that I am pinned down here in my lonely foxhole*snipfff* with nothing to read but the propaganda leaflets that fall oh so delicately from the right, and the left, like charred parachute ashes, but which, for a time, suffice for literature….and then I start the nights fire with them…

  58. #58 Scote
    April 8, 2008

    @the real cmf

    No problem.

    And, big surprise, my comment has not appeared on Herr Professor Framing Expert’s blog. I must hide my shock and dismay. However, Nisbet has posted the following in response to another post:

    There are 2-3 commenters that were warned with emails. When their original comments came through, I emailed them back asking them to check the comment policy in the left side bar and to try reposting. These same individuals, however, have continued a relentless personal attack or have failed to engage in a serious discussion of the issues at hand. Or after receiving a response in the comment section from me, they persist in revisiting the same questions and points over and over again. In that case, they become just noise and off topic.

    I’m all for vigorous discussion and fair minded criticism, but I do not have time to deal with relentless personal assaults and attacks that have nothing to do with the substance of ideas. Nor do I have time to engage in the same circular debate with 2-3 commenters who feed on being intentionally belligerent.

    Warned with emails? What’s the point of an anonymous handle if you give out a real and trackable email? Anyways, Nisbet has just exempted himself from criticism by claiming it is “circular.” Darn right it is circular, in the sense that he never changes his behavior or positions so the same arguments against him continue to apply.

  59. #59 Stephanie Z
    April 8, 2008

    CMF, think of it as a challenge. Maybe a way to get some fresh air, too. Foxholes aren’t terribly nice places.

    “I think you lve too close to the WCCO tower there downtown”? This means you think you know who I am? Have you been cross-chattering off-blog with another Stephanie Z? Is she completely confused yet?

    I’m not sure whether you’re trying to intimidate me (not working) or flatter me (honey, I’m in a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship–sorry). You’ve got the Twin Cities part right, at least, but you might want to check your sources beyond that. You’re stalking in a state with large Slavik populations. Z is hardly an uncommon initial, even if you assume it’s a name and not an affectation. That last part isn’t always safe or accurate.

  60. #60 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    Stephanie Z: you button pusher…didn’t your mommie tell you that you can get burned if you touch the stove pipe?

    It is confirmed: you ARE a white woman–white women live in a “state of fear!!” with “predators” “everywhere” just trying to get at them….


    Every human gesture, or conversational tone that does not uphold their privileged whiteness is perceived by white women as a) an attempt to threaten,coerce or intimidate or b) sexual aggression c) more reason why the police state needs to monitor “conversation”.

    If fascism had a seed here in the US it was planted in the womb of whiteness, and second, in the belly of blackness that has been affected by that whiteness.

    Steph, don’t flatter yourself: ‘white’ women are long gone from my list of suitable mindsets or suitable love interests from within my bacchanalia filled life, and DON’T get invited to my parties. My ‘long term girlfriend ‘ of many years only laughs at them, as I do;-)

    Why? Because white female privilege precludes sensible, human-like conversation, and especially humorous banter, as white women lack the humanity gene–and in place of fun, they put PC rhetorical pl;oys, and political posturing whereby white women always win: They laugh seldom alright, and then, at their own mens jokes and foibles, unless of course they are laughing at the women of the rest of the world from the tinted windows of soccer mom SUV’s, and sniping at ‘those damn asian drivers’, or trying to get some blackness to rub off on them during an African dance class.

    And, um…Steph, why exactly IS it that you have posted after me on the last three posts? Were you ‘stalking me’ and waiting all day for my post?….hmmm white women have such a hard road ahead of them with that there PC bunch of rhetoric–like a poorly aimed slingshot–only goes in two directions, its ya alls’ turn now;-)

  61. #61 ildi
    April 8, 2008

    Thanks, cmf, for making Abbie’s point. The misogynists always crawl out of the woodwork when the “f” word is mentioned.

  62. #62 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    Scote: I wasn’t aware that he was censoring conversational flow over there. I thought only militant fenminists, PZ Myers, PC rhetoriticiansm,the religious right, and Creationists did that….oh, wiat, that is almost the entire blogobubble!
    “my comment has not appeared on Herr Professor Framing Expert’s blog”

    I think perhaps that is due to the way that other sciborgs have used flaming, scathing opinions and unfounded charges in the form of ad hom to sway the discussion.

    But you did get me curious, because I absolutely despise only one thing: *censorship*….second to misappropriation of meaning without recourse to response, followed by censorship…

    Scote, I like to think of this form of censorship as a very dangerous trend in most of the pseudo-sciences, and sadly, it has also infiltrated the hard sciences, causing the public some confusion as those we most expect to uphold the peoples rights become implicated in suppressing them ( Think of the John Yoo memos, or the Guantanaom psychologists; etc) and amongst the religious: ‘official commentary’ replaces open discourse; ‘official sources’ replaces those who were there; the guy who saw the cocaine on the US military plane is a ‘conspiracy buf’ because he can’t prove it…

    official this/that eventually comes to be everything you hear, but cloaked in only extreme right and moderate right, backed up by cronyism, and [packaged for mass consumption–‘consumption’ as in that old disease….
    I will mosey on over there when I get a minute…

  63. #63 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    ildi: was that yet another voice of white female privilege squeaking out of the seams of newly purchased designer jeans?

    I think Abbies point was ” Feminists hate egalitarianism only slightly more than white women have been the main cause of sweatshop labor for other womens children across the world…”

    was that right?

  64. #64 Elizabeth
    April 8, 2008

    I think you guys need to find a common enemy. There are many to pick from.

  65. #65 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    elizabeth: I think you might well be an interesting voice of reason;-)

    OK, let’s start here: I hate massageuserists…

  66. #66 ildi
    April 8, 2008

    Why do you hate white women so, cmf? What is it that you find so satisfying in your skewed image? I must admit that I have my stereotype of you based on your sad little rants – do you possibly drive a Hummer?

    No, I don’t have designer jeans, I just haven’t been laid in a while.

  67. #67 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    ildi, mind if I quote you ? “No, I don’t have designer jeans, I just haven’t been laid in a while”
    hawhawhawhaw……I love that look within, that brutal honesty, and that ability to know ones self. Doctors orders: stop cloaking that angst in that “word” of feminism, and go “live it”–get laid once in awhile, or always;-)

    But if you want a serious dialogue about white women, well, you better get ready for something more menaingful.

  68. #68 ildi
    April 8, 2008

    I don’t think you are able to have a serious dialogue about white women, because your idea of them must be gleaned from Desperate Housewives or some other weird fantasy world.

    To recap:

    “ever fearful voice of white, privileged female voices”

    “white privilege entitled white women”

    “egalitarianism is inherently offensive to feminists; and racism isn’t racism if it is the racism of priviledged white women”

    “white women live in a “state of fear!!” with “predators” “everywhere” just trying to get at them….

    “Every human gesture, or conversational tone that does not uphold their privileged whiteness is perceived by white women as a) an attempt to threaten,coerce or intimidate or b) sexual aggression c) more reason why the police state needs to monitor “conversation”.”

    “white women lack the humanity gene”

    “they are laughing at the women of the rest of the world from the tinted windows of soccer mom SUV’s, and sniping at ‘those damn asian drivers’, or trying to get some blackness to rub off on them during an African dance class”

    “white female privilege squeaking out of the seams of newly purchased designer jeans”

    Where is the starting point for a meaningful conversation when you spew this sort of nonsensical venom?

    (BTW, the getting laid part was a joke – all feminists just need some good sex to calm them right down, you know.)

  69. #69 Elizabeth
    April 8, 2008

    I am not a voice of reason, but I do think this discussion could get back to the original point.

    I find the method you used (laden) to make this point very powerful. At first I did not think so, but since reading this I have had the opportunity to see the presumption of religiosity in action. And it does remind me of the presumption of racism of days gone by (in my neck of the woods) and at present, I assume, in a lot of places.

  70. #70 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    ildi: yeah, you were joking…Whatever.Another woman who uses jest to hide her inhibitions behind. Whitever.

    Do i drive a hummer? What a belittling,misandrist comment that was. Yeah, that stereotype of men with limp dicks, needing to look big and important by driving SUV’s, blablabla…The cuckolding feminiSS sure do come out of the woodwork every time you mention “egalitarianism” and mean it…I use public transit, my bicycle( a guaranteed white women repellant)or walk at least two miles a day. What does that do for your implied, misandrist “little man” stereotype?

    But, yes, you pretty much encapsulated my view of privileged white women but forgot the importance (or in this case, the diminished importance–of their exhorbitant and exagerated fears when juxtaposed against tha actual, not middle class white american ‘feminist’ world of the other 90% of the worlds women who suffer from actual,real, *verifiable* oppression–not just the imagined oppression of white female academics and their spawn that built this great ol’ GW police state).

    And, yes, again you are right when to ask: “Where is the starting point for a meaningful conversation when you spew this sort of nonsensical venom”, but I am aware that perhaps you might be also sound like a white woman, so as you note, biased and useless to the dialogue.

    But the answer to your question? I personally have started that dialogue–many years ago–with ‘non-white’ women, who provide insight, and meaningful give and take in discussions about race, privilege, and particularly keen insight into flailing and failed white feminism.

    So, Elizabeth, the original point is wut I aim for, until I am attacked by the dogmatic (see my original post).

    I of all people think it is noble to call the kettle black, and in this case, we have the M&N approach being called unfit, but that shoe has a partner, and it is the fact that they too, have been taken out of context, and their meanings often misappropriated–so it is likely that the work highlighted above ( in this example, quote mining and decontextualizing whole entire dialogues, but with the noble intention of finding common ground) is just a sad plea for reason–but that plea only follows after the original intent of M&N, which was to lend voice to science and scientists.

    What they didn’t expect, as outlined in their writings, is this playground mentality from the Minncestuous ad hom PC rhetorical hornets nest that equates opinion with fact, and juvenile he-said-she-said attacks with meaningful progressive ‘framing’. As I recall, it was Laden here who brought this discussion( about the media concept of framing) into full swing here at sciborgs, and rightly so, but imagine the surprise of those young and successful academics M&N when they encountered the name calling of the Mincestuous crowd;-)

    I too would likely seek a more presentable, professional voice for atheism, even if it co-opted the quotes of the sometimes brilliant Myers by rote–even if they invented an automaton robot that did the same, and put it on Coney Island with a turban on its head, and a quarter slot in its hand–at least that way, they could control the hitcounter, and reap the benefits of not having some loose cannon spewing the venom of the incestuous left into dialogues that aren’t necessarily polarized by that yet.

    The mainstream isn’t necessarily polluted in this way, and for now there is some hope of the ‘masses’ considering the atheism option.

    The key phrase up there is “someone that Matt approves of,” and I think that is what rankles the a-PZists the most.

  71. #71 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    oops. I meant “a-PZers”

  72. #72 Stephanie Z
    April 8, 2008

    CMF, I got the message: suggest you’re flirting, and I have no sense of humor. Because I didn’t laugh or anything when you snuck that third comment in ahead of one of mine. Not me. Way to undercut my point without trying. And on privilege? Duh–can’t change it; can only be aware and broaden my own horizons. But where I started doesn’t mean I have nothing to offer a conversation now.

    As to your recent comments on topic, I don’t want a single voice for atheism or for science. I want lots of noise, lots of voices. I don’t think we’ll get that by telling the current voices to shut up. They’re talking because they’re not going to be quieted. Trying to squelch them will only discourage atheists and scientists who already have too much on their plates without worrying that standing up for their beliefs will earn them grief. That tactic reserves speech for the privileged.

    And while Nisbet may actually be trying to encourage speech of a sort he prefers in his last post rather than directly discouraging speech he doesn’t like, he ignored the context in which he posted (i.e., the recent firestorm). By doing that, he guaranteed his post would be misconstrued, which is just bad framing. Mooney is doing a much better job and getting a much better reception. People are arguing with him, but they’re hearing what he says first.

  73. #73 the real cmf
    April 8, 2008

    Steph: now I am *snuck*ing into things? See, white women can’t wean themselves from sneaking those misandrist’evil sneaky male’ stereotypes into everything–the 800 kilo Frankenstein in the middle of every discussion with one of you.

    In the very least, I would imagine that me boldly going where few will tread for fear of social isolation(the effect of what has been called reverse sexual aggression, a womans forte’)–is a not-veiled-at-all critique of fauxminism–and then to be routinely labeled misogynist in lieu of rational discussions that are in defiance of the outdated 80’s narratives of Mary Tyler Moore archetypes, or Dworkinesque rhetoric–why i would think that I am anything BUT sneaky.

    The label of misogyny(PZ,ildi and her ilk, et al) is so easily applied that it evokes only pity or disgust in any receiver of that fauxminist message, and any others that follow. Possible alliance is instantly broken, in favor of academic rhetoric spewing CSCL grad school language, and real substantive dialogues that deal with TODAY are rendered useless or co-opted, until regendered for yet another tomorrow.

    I wasn’t trying to undercut anyone, or anything. In fact, I don’t recall addressing that round of comments to you, but rather, to the now ‘not apparent’ *ildi and her ilk, et al* ( I just can’t say that enough…)I put my comment there because I was responding to ildi’s critique, not yours at that time.

    However, based on your other writings, I sense a sense of humor, even when you say “I got the message: suggest you’re flirting”…yet I am still vaguely clueless as to why you *once again* return to the topic of flirting…hmmmm…. here you are again.

    As for dialogue, M&N, etc, my main critique *everywhere* is primarily of the out dated rhetoric that eminates from some of these blogs, and especially of the polarizing non-inclusive tendency of the left to limit discussion to its favored dogmas–at the great expense of a better informed society; that overlaying of every issue with the leftern dogma is like taking fresh,new babies and putting shitty diapers on them, telling them ‘that’s the way it is’ rather than letting them learn for themselves, and helping them understand pitfalls.

    I recently posted elsewhere about a blog that has broken the dirty diaper mold and it is getting headlines because of its incorrect speech, and tolerance for the same: “Stuff white people like”. They refuse to censor even the idiots–the Nazis, the knee jerks from the left, and the plain ol’ stupid all hold court there ( I recommend the post about white guys and asian women–their #1 post).

    here is one of their spin-offs: http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

    The problem isn’t feminism so much as fauxminism; it isn’t antisemitism so much as antisametism; and it certainly isn’t racism as much as it is erascism…you get the point…and that problem has shown itself here in this M&N/sciborg dialogue too.

  74. #74 Stephanie Z
    April 9, 2008

    CMF, arguing with people who agree with me is no fun. They cave right away, and there goes the argument. Besides, what am I going to learn?

    I’ve never called you a misogynist (just a baby-hater, sneak, and other things so tangential to any discussion as to be deliberately silly), and I don’t think you are one. I do think you’re off on the degree to which agreement between individuals constitutes a shared agenda. I’m perfectly happy to argue about that on a case-by-case basis, when I can be sure that’s what you’re talking about.

    Be warned, though. My sense of humor is macabre, and the silly sneaks its way in even when I’m trying to be deadly serious.

  75. #75 ildi
    April 9, 2008

    cmf – you so funny!

    Again, to recap, your crazy diatribe about privileged white women started off with Abbie’s initial comment:

    “The deal is, the new atheist stance is inherently offensive to a lot of people. There’s no way around it. Feminism is inherently offensive to misogynists; egalitarianism is inherently offensive to racists; etc.”

    So, in your mind “feminism” = “privileged white women (PWW)” and off you go on your PWW stereotype rant. I make a little joke about Hummers, and I’m the one with no sense of humor? I’m glad you’ve found yourself women of color who don’t seem to threaten you as much as PWW seem to.

    However, I’m getting sucked in by your childishness. I suspect you’re a one-note wonder, sort of like Tara’s cooler over at Aetiology. His trigger is HIV?AIDS. Yours is feminists. Love to chat some more, but gotta go earn that bus pass!

  76. #76 the real cmf
    April 9, 2008

    ildi: you funny 2.
    Abbie injected feminism into a ddiscussion about atheism: again, the left is always inserting its agendas into debates where it doesn’t belong. So I merely pointed that out, in my special way;-)

    I hope you to appreciated my response to your joke: I aim to make you laugh, at me, at yourself, and at the foolishness of white female privilege.

    It isn’t that I am ‘threatened’ by white women so much as the planet is threatened by their middle class privileged ‘needs’. And it isn’t that I have ‘found myself women of color’ who are ‘less threatening’. They are just more interesting, and more enlightened, sans the trainloads of baggage of white female privilege–all of that humorless control oriented self aggrandizing whining….

  77. #77 Muse142
    April 13, 2008

    Fuck you, cmf. As a decidedly UNprivileged white woman. Because not all white women are rich, or racist, or obsessed with a police state. And you’re a real douchehound to insinuate that a woman speaking about misogyny equates to racist, privileged whining. (Sorry everyone. That kind of thing drives me mad. Feel free to attack any actual racist, privileged whining.)

  78. #78 elle
    December 27, 2008

    i’m sorry i missed this one! ole boy cmf is full of hatred and baggage. oh wait..i was off making a living instead of bitching about little shit you see from a window or TV rather than step outside of your box. white priveleged women as the theme to ..what…humanity’s downfall…or just his? come on, bro. wake the fuck up.