Testing Thunderf00t’s Hypothesis

Over on Freethoughtblogs, Thunderf00t makes the following assertion about the subject matter addressed by that blog network:

The disproportionate amount of attention [is given] to sexism compared to other issues.

He does not assert this as a hypothesis, but rather, as a fact. But, Imma turn it back into a hypothesis and assail it with an ugly fact. Of the many Freethoughtblogs bloggers, some use a tag cloud. I randomly chose several and concatenated them to get a big giant tag cloudish thingie. If Thunderf00t is correct, that should stand out. Does it? You be the judge:

A metatagcloud from Freethoughtblogs.com

Hypothesis falsified. Too bad Thunderf00t was basing his whole argument on it.

Comments

  1. #1 alfonso
    June 29, 2012

    Over what time period was this done? Its only really recently that freethoughtblogs has turned from rationalism to all men are dirty pigs and need to be policed. Try doing a tag cloud for the past month.

  2. #2 Alan
    June 29, 2012

    WTF are you talking about? How can I check anything you assert about TF when you don’t link to the original context?

    Also “Sexisim” does stand out in the word cloud, it’s a top level topic. So no, you haven’t falsified the quoted claim, you have done the opposite.

  3. #3 Alan
    June 29, 2012
  4. #4 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2012

    Alfonso, what would that prove? Topics come and go. Why do you want to bias the sample to represent the particular period of time that happens to meet the expectation? That would be similar, methodologically, to what Thunderf00t did to obtain his “Thunderf00t is 100% correct” votes!

    Alan, shame on you for assuming that this was anything other than accidentally leaving off a link. Thanks for pointing it out, though.

    I absolutely have falisifed the claim. Your comment that “sexism” is a “top level” topic is just something in your head; we don’t have “top level” topics at ftb.com. Each of these tag clouds represents the tags individual bloggers have used. And yes, there’s lots of feminism and women’s issues and sexism and stuff. But then there’s all this other stuff that isn’t.

  5. #5 D4M10N
    blog.OklahomaAtheists.com
    June 29, 2012

    Looks like misogyny, patriarchy, and “god hates women” are
    getting top billing. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but surely those count.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    June 29, 2012

    The biggest tags are:

    Church State Separation
    Electoin 2012
    GLBTA
    Gun Control
    Occupy Wallstreet
    Atheism
    Canada
    Christianity
    Evidence
    Religion
    Science
    Got Hates Women
    Misogyny
    Patriarchy
    Religious Bullying
    Censorship
    Religious coercion
    Sexism
    The Backlash
    Atheism
    Biology
    Feminism
    Humor
    Atheism
    Christianity
    Religion

    Yes, there’s sexism and stuff in there among a sea of other things.

  7. #7 Phil
    June 30, 2012

    This isn’t a terribly helpful listing. Any way of listing in order of popularity with some numbers?

  8. #8 starskeptic
    June 30, 2012

    x = (b-a) (y-w)
    ———– + w
    (c-a)
    ;therefore God

  9. #9 Paul
    Taiwan
    June 30, 2012

    Wow, that’s sloppy. Posts discussing sexism would fall under several tags so you would have to add tags like feminism, discrimination, etc to the list where applicable. And a sample size of 5? With no actual data? Calling it falsified brings to mind Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner…

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    June 30, 2012

    Paul, you’ve gone over to Thunderf00t’s place and critiqued his polling methods, yes?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    Also, I did not address some of the questions that are being asked here about where the data come from because they are clearly known to anyone who knows what a tag cloud is. Here’s some information on that: http://bit.ly/smNic6

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    Phil and Paul: I would say that Thunderf00t’s point is so irrelevant and context free, and foundationless, that anything more than a brief look at the tag clouds would be a waste of time, and thus, VERY unhelpful. My intention here is to provide that brief look. The sampling method I use is flawed for a number of reasons that make the use of these data for more than that not worthwhile.

    Paul, regarding your specific point: Do you know what Tags are? They area way a blogger represents her or his work, and i a Tag cloud, size matters. Also, this is not a sample size of five. It is a graphical representation of thousands of blog posts that have been tagged.

    It is nothing more than I present here: The fastest quickest way to look at the range of topics covered on a selection of Freethoughtblogs that happen to have tag clouds. Thunderf00t’s hypothesis that we are mainly talking about one topic instantly evaporates when you look at this.

    Also, this is honest. Quick and dirty, informative and real, and honest.

  13. #13 qetzal
    June 30, 2012

    Generating cloud tags from FTB does not address the original claim:

    As such I personally see ‘freethoughtblogs’ as unrepresentative of the wider rationalist community in:

    1) The disproportionate amount of attention it gives to sexism compared to other issues.

    The claim isn’t about sexism discussions on FTB versus other topics on FTB. It’s about sexism discussions on FTB versus sexism discussions among the “wider rationalist community.”

    I agree that it was silly to try to prove that point by comparing FTB to YouTube. But you can’t disprove it by comparing FTB to itself, either.

    (Note: I have no opinion on the actual claim, b/c I haven’t followed the discussion/disagreement at all.)

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    The statement says that FTB gives a disproportionate share of attention to a particular topic. I’ve shown here that while sexism and feminism is a big topic on this blog network, atheism, religion, other aspects of secularism, progressive politics and electoral topics and science, among others, make up a very large proportion of the conversation on FTB. There is nothing disproportionate about sexism on this network. It’s a big topic in general, it is a big topic here, and it stands along side all the other big topics that are also well represented here.

    By the way, the tag clouds shown here, which are from only some of the FTB blogs, represent some of the bloggers writing most about sexism. If there were tag clouds from all of the blogs, and they could somehow be combined, sexism would become very minor in this community compared to the range of other issues, especially if change over time could be managed better.

    Hypothesis disproved. Really.

    The great absurdity of Thunderf00t’s assertion is not addressed in the post or the clouds, but is fairly obvious: Thunderf00t and his ilk, who indeed DO represent a kind of reactionary hive mind, have vehemently resisted two very simple and straightforward proposals, one made a year ago one made a few weeks ago. That, in turn, has caused all this discussion.

    Harassment at conferences is not the impetus for this extended conversation. Harassment at conferences was the impetus for the deployment of reasonable anti-harassment policies at virtually all secular,atheist, and skeptic conferences (done) and for the formation of the new organization, Secular Women (done). This conversation is not about those things. It is about the push back against these things. And, since those things are done, this conversation is moot.

  15. #15 Wow
    June 30, 2012

    Trying to work out what it is you “proved” here Greg.

    Rather ironically blind to complain on TF’s point being context free when, as a response to it, you have no context, just crowing.

  16. #16 Wow
    June 30, 2012

    Greg, here’s an experiment to try out to see group think.

    Try telling over at denialism blog or respectful insolence that an eco activist may have tried all legal avenues before trying direct action. Or that maybe they have reason to do as they do.

    Then you’ll see how groupthink works here. To some THERE CAN BE NO REASONS (because there are no reasons…) for someone being against their pet projects.

    Even where they accept violent protest, they don’t accept against their faith in their calling.

    You’ll see all the tricks that the YEC or fundie wacos use on people rejecting their faith.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    Wow #1: I have no idea what your point here is. I’ve simply demonstrated using tag clouds that FTB is highly diverse in topics. You may be overthinking the obvious.

    Wow #2 (we’ve GOT to get comment numbering turned on!) I also don’t understand the point you are making here. Are you talking about Group Think on Scienceblogs?

    BTW, I’ve written a fair amount about animal and eco-activism, and I’m pretty sure my opinion is different in some key areas from some of my fellow Sblings both present and past.

    Please clarify.

  18. #18 qetzal
    June 30, 2012

    The statement says that FTB gives a disproportionate share of attention to a particular topic.

    Yes, disproportionate compared to “the wider rationalist community.” To me, that doesn’t necessarily mean disproportionate relative to attention given to other topics on FTB. It means disproportionate relative to the attention given to the topic of sexism by the rationalist community as a whole.

    Like I said, I have no particular dog in this fight. But it seems clear to me that you’re not responding to the actual claim.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    Do you really think that Tunderf00t was NOT saying that we are talking about sexism too much to the exclusion of other issues?

    He gave no relative measure. He gave no point of reference to “disproportionate.” But he did make a point, which I refute here.

    I can’t do much about the fact that his argument is anchored in self aggrandizing fantasy.

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    If you want, you can take my blog post a little differently. You can look at the clouds and go “Oh, wow, FTB.com bloggers talk about all sorts of stuff!” and then compare that to Thunderf00t’s blog post about how we are a hive mind focused on one issue more than we should be (“disproportionate”) to the exclusion of other issues (“compared to other issues”).

    My point is really simple. Thunderf00t for reasons of his own made some stuff up and then supported it with a mind numbingly screwy analysis … and though you have no dog in this race you are valiantly defending that for some reason … and I’m standing up and pointing to the reality of the situation (great diversity of topical treatment on FTB) and saying “Huh? What? That’s not right!”

  21. #21 Wow
    June 30, 2012

    Greg, cut the histrionics.

    Try this characterisation: there are still lots of people who don’t listen to ideas they don’t like therefore never consider if they’re wrong.

    The very fact that TF isn’t in the group think indicates that your caricature is incorrect. That you made it despite it being obviously internally inconsistent shows you were not engaging your critical faculties and thereby proved the point.

    Rather than think about the myriad ways you can frame what was said so it could be shown wrong, the thinking up the says it could be right.

  22. #22 qetzal
    June 30, 2012

    He gave no relative measure. He gave no point of reference to “disproportionate.”

    It seemed obvious to me that his point of reference was the wider rationalist community. I guess you disagree. Fair enough.

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    Wow, you are still not making much sense. We are probably talking past each other. When you say “the very fact that TF isn’t in the group think” you are begging the question, asserting without proof that there is “a group think.” I don’t find “the thinking up the says it could be right” to be a very compelling argument for anything.

    One of the problems with this whole conversation, on all side, is that we’ve let this concept of “group think” sit there uncritically examined. One could imagine a version of the universe in which we strive for “group think” and “hive mind” because it means a group of more or less like-minded individuals, instead of being an unconnected set of single voices, gather together and synergetically produce something greater than the sum of its parts. To the extent that some (not even a majority) of the bloggers at Frethoughtblogs.com have come together with roughly similar points of view but with different backgrounds and experiences, and different takes on the matter, and spent considerable effort to develop, in concert with several other bloggers from elsewhere, a fairly coherent set of arguments is a good thing, and if that is what the terms “group think” and “hive mind” apply to then those are good things.

    At this point, the larger conversation has produced two tangible results: Every known secular, freethought, and atheist organization that runs conventions or conferences had created anew, revised, or taken out and dusted off a set of harassment guidelines. That’s a big deal. The other is the formation of an organization that will lobby for similar issues which is being joined by myriad interested parties and is busy raising money. To have Thunderf00t thunder in at this point and tell everybody else, the majority of this community, that they have it all wrong is kinda strange.

    Qetzal: I said he gave no relative MEASURE. You said his POINT OF REFERENCE was the wider “rationalist” community. These are not incompatible statements. He did not provide a pie chart of the greater rationalist community’s attention to various topics and then a pie chart for Freethoughtblogs.com. He simply made an unsupported statement and got all of his friends to agree with it, and claimed that this was good science, adding as evidence that it is good science his own statements about himself being a good scientist. His unsupported claim implied that FTB was overly concerned with one issue. The above rough guide (and I’ve not claimed it to be more than a rough guide) to the contents of several blogs shows that we are concerned with a great diversity of issues.

    And, again (and again and again) the assertion that we are “too concerned” with sexism is a personal opinion coming form someone who has explicitly stated that he himself is not very much concerned with sexism himself. Many of us at FTB.com are very concerned with sexism and have addressed that issue. There is not some rule that says we can’t or should not do that.

    What is really going on here is that Thunderf00t is either not personally concerned with sexism and for reasons that are beyond me wants everyone else to be like him, or he is somehow paying a cost for us being concerned with sexism and wants us to stop.

  24. #24 qetzal
    June 30, 2012

    Yes, I completely agree that his statement was unsupported and that his YouTube ‘experiment’ does not provide significant evidence that his claim is true.

    My only point, which you seem determined to ignore, is that your ‘experiment’ doesn’t provide significant evidence against his claim either.

    Your analysis is indeed evidence that FTB is concerned with a great diversity of issues, and that sexism & related topics is not an overwhelming focus. I accept that unreservedly. However, you have NOT addressed whether FTB is more concerned with sexism than the wider rationalist community, which is what was originally claimed.

    As far as I’m concerned, this horse has now been pounded to dust. I don’t know how else to make my point, so I’ll stop here.

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    June 30, 2012

    My only point, which you seem determined to ignore, is that your ‘experiment’ doesn’t provide significant evidence against his claim either.

    I’m not ignoring it! I’m not making the claims you think I’m making. I’m standing on a landscape with vast fields, cows, and the occasional tree. Some guy comes along and says “This is a forest and all my friends agree with me that it is a forest, so the only rational conclusion is that this is a forest.”

    And I look around and I go, “No it’s not. Look. No forest.”

    I’ve not done a survey of the vegetation (even though I actually know several different ways to do that). I just looked. I’m loaded down with cruising equipment. I’ve got my GPS, my hip chain, my Brunton Pocke Transit, my DBH tape, my counters, a camera, all the equipment I need to survey the landscape and actually count the trees. But instead I just look around and see hardly any trees and instead vast open landscape. I don’t need to do anything but take note of what is obvious.

    “you have NOT addressed whether FTB is more concerned with sexism than the wider rationalist community, which is what was originally claimed.”

    My sense it that at FTB.com, we are addressing sexism and feminist issues far more than the rest of the “rationalist” community, and it’s about time that this be done. But it is not disproportionate.

    Maybe we are differing on our understanding of the term “disproportionate.” I must admit I’ve not looked up the dictionary definition of it, but my understand is that when someone uses the word they generally mean “to much” (or “too little”) and are not referring to a simple numerical comparison.

    In my view, FTB is doing it about right.

  26. #26 wow
    July 1, 2012

    Greg, maybe TF et al aren’t making the argument you think they are making.

    Try thinking for once in your life on the subject instead of merely emotionally reacting.

  27. #27 wow
    July 1, 2012

    Maybe FTB aren’t doing it right according to others.

    On other opinion assessments you are OK with disagreement on a subject. Not on this one.

    Reflect on how this appears to people without the same opinion to echo the AIG crowds’ activities when someone with a different opinion turns up and voices it.

    Very similar. Consider if this is a consequence of the same unshakeable faith they have on their beloved opinion.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    July 1, 2012

    Wow, you need to reflect on the same possibilities in relation to yourself.

    I have a hard time believing that you don’t see Thunderf00t’s message as saying that FTB is doing it wrong. I understand his message, but he’s incorrect. 1) there is no “FTB” … the majority of bloggers have blogged almost nothing about the subject he wants us to stop talking about; 2) It is entirely appropriate that a certain amount of discussion of sexual harassment occurs after women at a Women in Secularism conference bring it up. That discussion is well into causing positive action and change when people who wanted that discussion to end came along and started blaming the women who were concerned with harassment with ruining everthing, and asking them to quiet down. 3) At that point, all the women and their allies could have said “OK, they want us to quiet down, so we’ll do that” but for some reason the discussion changed, instead, to discussing how quieting down was not really an option. 4) Once this all happened, there was in deed a lot more discussion of sexism in the “rationalist” community than there had ever been before. That discussion was needed. No on is imposing that discussion on anyone, one can read what one wants. But, the discussion does involve the organizers of every major conference (not all of that public and bloggy, but in a lot of fora). 5) Then Thunderf00t came along and said that there was too much. He used phraseology that said that there was a “disproportionately” large amount of discussion, more than there should be, without reference either a) a measurement related standard of how much there was at FTB or in his “rationalist” community or b) making an argument for why there should be some amount of discussion or c) making an argument for why he should be the one to set or evaluate any such standard. 6) In so doing he specifically characterized the FTB group as spending too much effort on this.

    For my part, I’ve merely shown that when you (literally) look at FTB blogging you see a great diversity of subjects being addressed, and I note that the extra discussion going on now about sexism is appropriate.

    You need to make this argument: That the rationalist community has no business speaking about sexism at all, or above some level.

  29. #29 wow
    July 1, 2012

    Ladies first, Greg.

    If you have the guts for it.

    But I guess you are immune to the idea you may have something wrong and that someone you don’t agree with on something you built your entire self-image on (much like xtians have done with their Bible) may have a point.

    Discussion with you on the subject is as futile as talking to a libertarian randian about the role of government being of some use. It just won’t happen with you, will it?

  30. #30 wow
    July 1, 2012

    PS why the hell do I need to prove your straw man?

    TF isn’t saying we have no business in it but that it is over-represented.

    Your straw man here is identical to the denialists saying “the ipcc say that only co2 changes temperature, but the temps are static!!!!111!”

    There really is no difference between you on this subject envied Monckton on Climate Change.

    None. You merely have a different subject you’re incapable with.

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    July 1, 2012

    Wow, the point I’m making is simple. I’m not sure why you disagree with it, but insisting that I change my mind to conform to your opinion or I am thinking like a creationist is strange. I don’t know why you are doing that.

    It may be that he “isn’t saying we have no business in it but that it is over-represented.” That’s fine. I take “it’s overrepresented” to be a personal opinion regarding his own blogging and vlogging but I don’t agree that it is his place to tell others that they have to stop.

    Have you ever watched any of Thuderf00t’s videos before? One or two? Many?

  32. #32 wow
    July 1, 2012

    You can’t see anything other than a claim you know is wrong, Greg. Just like deniers don’t heat anything other than “All Gore said Florida will flood really soon now” even though no such statement occurred in AIT.

    They, like you, KNOW it must say something like that.

    Read what is said, not the thing you’re expecting to see.

    Or be a fundie anti-male, seeing misogyny wherever someone says that a woman whining is a woman whining.

  33. #33 Camas Blues
    July 1, 2012

    I just love these commenter who whine that anytime anti-sexism topics come up, they think it’s anti-all-male and somehow it is ALL ABOUT THEM. Boo hoo hoo.

    Look, all this discussion lately at FtB boils down to, at conferences certain standards of behavior are expected. Which is true everywhere. It is not that big of a deal.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    July 1, 2012

    Wow. I think you’ve driven your point into the ground and I’d prefer you not continue. You’re starting to get a bit insulting and I don’t abide by MRA rhetoric on this blog. So just don’t go there. Thank you very much.

  35. #35 daedalus2u
    http://daedalus2u.blogspot.com/
    July 1, 2012

    Since as skeptics we claim to be scientists, and this is claimed to be a hypothesis, shouldn’t we figure out what is the null hypothesis and see what data we would need to refute the null hypothesis?

    As I see it, TF’s null hypothesis would be that there is not enough attention given to sexism. What data would it take to determine if there was not enough attention being given to sexism? If sexism still existed, that would mean that sexism has not been eradicated and so more attention needs to be paid to sexism.

    Has sexism been eliminated? My perception is that sexism has not been eliminated. Since there are many contemporaneous reports of sexism by others, it hasn’t been eliminated. The null hypothesis of not enough attention being paid to sexism is not falsified. .

  36. #36 Greg Laden
    July 1, 2012

    Yeah, but do you have any LINKS for any of that?

  37. #37 CherryBombSim
    July 1, 2012

    If Thunderf00t thinks there is too much discussion of sexism on FTB, maybe he should have blogged about something else. To even things up.

  38. #38 wow
    July 2, 2012

    He did.

    He discussed the prevalence of the topic.

    Then this thread about that.

  39. #39 wow
    July 2, 2012

    Why is it that if sexism still exists we haven’t talked about it enough?

    It doesn’t follow on.

    As a scientist, where is you causal relationship?

  40. #40 wow
    July 2, 2012

    Camas you too are reading the words you expect to be there.

    Go and show everyone where I’ve done this. After all, I have posted here therefore those posts would be included in your set of “all posts”.

    Thanks for making a very clear and obvious example of my thesis.

  41. #41 wow
    July 2, 2012

    Greg, what is it that atheists tell faithiests about the reasons for telling them to really look at the bible?

    Why do we “drive into the ground” the idea that the bible is not the word of god?

    Because we believe that the faithiest is not forming an opinion based on facts and that the only way to know if you’re right is by examining facts.

    We don’t accept “stop telling me to think like you”.

    Yet you want me to do it.

    Why do you think it will work for you? Because you’re not running your faith from a Bible?

    Why do you even ask, if you won’t accept it yourself? Double standard much?

    And lastly, why are you ignoring the points made about your reinterpretation of TF’s post? Uncomfortable with looking at your own core faith? Afraid that your basis for believing you’re a good man is based on as much self deception as a member of the WBC?

  42. #42 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2012

    Meds. Take them. Just a friendly reminder.

    Meanwhile, what is the WBC?

  43. #43 Greg Laden
    July 2, 2012

    Cherry: But according to WOW you are acting just like the Pope for saying that!

    I wonder who Wow is.

  44. #44 MarkH
    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism
    July 3, 2012

    Greg, here’s an experiment to try out to see group think.

    Try telling over at denialism blog or respectful insolence that an eco activist may have tried all legal avenues before trying direct action. Or that maybe they have reason to do as they do.

    Then you’ll see how groupthink works here. To some THERE CAN BE NO REASONS (because there are no reasons…) for someone being against their pet projects.

    Actually Wow, I ended that thread because you repeatedly made claims that were false, including attributing statements and positions to me that were incorrect. And when told to stop, you responded by saying that if you feel that’s what I said, than that’s what I said. Not so much. We engaged you in debate. You engaged in crankery. You mischaracterized news stories, refused correction, spat out red herrings, and made repeated false statements. There is only so much time we can devote to dishonest debate.

    But here I am, responding to yet another red herring. I’d personally disagree with Greg here on this post just because I personally stopped reading FTB a couple of months ago after to much of the sexism debate devolved into a tedious debate over whether various types of adult consensual activities were actually rape (porn/erotica/prostitution/BDSM) etc. Once people start arguing over what type of adult consensual sex is the correct kind of sex I tune out. It’s just not productive discussion. It also demonstrates the point that being atheist doesn’t mean that one doesn’t still believe in bullshit.

    Granted it’s not scientific, but a personal observation. To test this adequately why not try internal google searching. Internal google searching on the following terms generates the following numbers:

    Sexism: 14,200
    Patriarchy: 4,550
    Sexist:3,120
    Women’s rights: 7,590
    Feminism: 15,300

    Compared to
    Atheism: 45,600
    Christianity: 21,100
    Christian: 34,800
    Republicans: 8,530
    Obama: 7,350
    Romney: 4,790
    Cats: 4,600
    Homophobia: 11,400
    Racism: 6,880
    Race: 9,750

    So, based on some simple searches I suspect my initial impression was false. Most likely, I interpreted my distaste for a particular type of discussion as an “excess”, a common bias. It doesn’t take too much of something you dislike before you think there’s a glut of it out of proportion to its actual quantity. But overall sexism appears in about 1/3 as many articles as are devoted to atheism,about 1/2 as many as about christians, and about as many as address homophobia. It appears more popular than political topics and racial issues.

    So that’s two methods to test the hypothesis. I would interpret both as inconsistent with thunderfoot’s hypothesis albeit both methods have significant flaws. Anyone want to try any more? I’m open to suggestions.

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    July 3, 2012

    I think the only way to really settle this is with a series of colorful pie graphs.

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    July 3, 2012

    Or maybe just a series of pies. That always makes people feel better.

  47. #47 Daniel J. Andrews
    July 3, 2012

    I counted about a dozen categories under which sexism could crop up so I suspect it does come up more than many other items. However, what is a “disproportionate amount of attention”? This implies you know how much proportionate attention should be given to one topic vs other topics, which is rather a ludicrous assumption. It seems to me the hypothesis to test TF’s assertions fails to meet the scientific criteria to be called a hypothesis, unless TF has outlined how he has determined proportionate amounts needed for each topic.

  48. #48 wow
    July 3, 2012

    At least those ate important and relevant questions, David.

    Unlike the ones answered by the post that started this thread and Greg’s attempts at response within it.

  49. #49 wow
    July 3, 2012

    As to disproportionate, give Abbie has a thread lasting over a thousand, pz had two at least as long, and even years later it is still making long angry threads, I don’t see characterisation as “disproportionate” as unwarranted.

    Indeed a response could be ” In my opinion, the discussion is vary important and therefore not, as I see it, discussed enough”.

    Disproportionate is very subjective a term, even if you can define a level of proportion, that level is open to interpretation. Define “murder” for example. Subjective assessment there is required, but we don’t let that stop us from defining it in law.

  50. #50 Greg Laden
    July 3, 2012

    Years later than what?

    By the way, criminologists love murder because it is so un-subjective compared to other crimes, and the data are generally much better … even if there is a plea there is almost always a body. In the case of other crimes, but the time the records are fixed, it is very hard to tell what happened.

  51. #51 OwO
    July 3, 2012

    Greg, running a blog does not make you infallible.
    I’ve read the thread and I’m with Wow.

    If TF had written “Too much time is being spent on sexism” would you have tried to quantify that?
    Yes ‘disproportionate’ is a matter of opinion and refuting TF’s statement by font size is risible. Just admit it.

    Subjective assessment of murder would include, in my country, determination of intention; First degree, second degree, manslaughter, crime of passion, occurring in the commission of another crime. All these are circumstances
    which are weighed in determining the severity of the crime and the proportionate punishment due. Pretty subjective there.

  52. #52 Greg Laden
    July 3, 2012

    OwO, perhaps not, but it does allow me to state a pretty straight forward opinion that one or two fanboys (or one fanboy and a thinly disguised sock puppet?) of Thunderf00t can come by and troll for several days in a row.

    Subjective assessment of murder is, is the guy dead or is they guy not dead, then after that, there are of course other details.

  53. #53 wow
    July 4, 2012

    OwO thanks.

    It looks to me like the premise of the thread is Greg doesn’t agree with thunderfoot and he hasn’t any reasons for it. So, because that is an unskeptical position (if very human one) it cannot be looked at by Greg in much the same way xtians do not read the bits of the bible that they don’t agree with.

    Greg is too tied up in his self perception. He’s invested in a position and it cannot be wrong any more.

    PS Greg, if the guy is dead on the floor because he had a heart attack, is it still murder?

    That you make such a neophyte error indicates you dare not engage critical thinking on the subject.

  54. #54 Ian Kemmish
    July 4, 2012

    A word count gives no information about the underlying text, other than some hints about the author’s vocabulary. The word “revenge” for example, only appears twice in The Merchant Of Venice.

  55. #55 Greg Laden
    July 4, 2012

    Wow, you are too annoying.

    Ian, this is not a word count.

  56. #56 Wow
    July 4, 2012

    Greg, annoying != wrong. Else this would be enough to count you wrong.

  57. #57 Greg Laden
    July 4, 2012

    I’ve already told you that you are wrong. Now I’m just adding that you are annoying. And now you are just trolling.

  58. #58 SLC
    July 4, 2012

    Does Prof. Laden have any comment about his and Thunderfoot’s departure from FTB?

  59. #59 Greg Laden
    July 4, 2012

    SLC, I have commented. I commented on Justin’s blog post, but he then deleted all the comments. I posted it with some comments here: http://gregladen.com/blog/2012/07/my-response-to-justin-griffith/

  60. #60 Steve Vanden-Eykel
    July 6, 2012

    If you measure the attention given sexism by the tagclouds, you may have shown that sexism isn’t disproportionately focused on. But there are other metrics. How about the number of comments received on sexism-related posts, vs. posts on other subjects? You’ve got 60 comments here, whereas posts on other topics rarely have more than one or two. Granted, this isn’t FTB, but the same pattern seems to apply there.

  61. #61 Greg Laden
    July 6, 2012

    Steve, how much is too much.

  62. #62 Horace
    July 6, 2012

    I don’t think that the problem is that Ftblogs talks about feminism too much; the problem is that one side (PZ and Watson) will not accept any difference of opinion on this matter.

    You cannot expect us to be as certain about the question of how serious a problem sexism is and how to combat it as we are about the non-existence of god. This is also the case for a number of other issues: climate change, race, the question of govt debt, healthcare, gun control…

    Free thought blogs is becoming reflexivly left wing/progressive. I do not think that you can assume that an intelligent atheist will be left wing/progressive on every issue.

    When you look back at political debate 100 or 200 years ago you will see that often both sides believed things that we now think wrong and argued about questions that we find irrelevant. What are the chances that now, finally, at this particular point in human history either the left or the right are correct on every issue ?

    Freethinkers should try to extend their skepticism to both sides of the political scene. We should also be able to differ with each other without rancor.

    Best wishes from the slimepit.

  63. #63 str8d0pe
    Atlanta
    July 6, 2012

    Horace I could not agree more.

  64. #64 Greg Laden
    July 7, 2012

    Horace, the relevant issues of sexism and harassment were in fact settled years ago in other communities. it isn’t appropriate to ask the skeptics and atheist community to start contemplating that which society and the legal system has settled already, to see if they may eventually come to the same agreement.

  65. #65 Horace
    July 7, 2012

    So you don’t think that it is appropriate for atheists to disagree with society and the legal system ? Even if you have automatic faith in society and the legal system, which society and legal system has it right ?

    Secondly it is one thing to say that women at atheist conventions should be free from harassment, very few would disagree with that. What people disagree about is what constitutes harassment and what causes harassment.

    You could make a reasonable argument that sexual harassment is due to a break down in traditional roles
    as much as sexism itself. I have certainly seen women treated with deference in more traditional non-western societies.

    We should not have to be in complete agreement about the causes of harassment/rape culture/sex roles to be a good atheist. It seems to me that this is what Rebecca Watson and your side are asking.

  66. #66 Jason
    July 9, 2012

    Thunderfoot’s claim has 2 components:

    1) There is some percentage of prevalence given to discussion of sexism that is established, correct, or necessary.
    2) That Freethought Blogs’ incidence exceeds the percentage established by (1).

    There are huge, glaring problems with both of these claims.

    1) He’s made no attempt to quantify or explain where he’s getting the base rate from here. Nada. His claims are essentially without basis, so he can’t extrapolate what FTB should correct to.
    2) This idea that a blogging community can’t focus on certain issues is, absurd. FTB almost certainly focuses more on atheist issues than CNN, for instance, that doesn’t mean FTB has a problem of mentioning atheism too much. The problem could be with everyone else.

    Having said that though, the only claim that Greg’s blog post can debunk is a different one altogether: “Sexism is one of the most blogged topics on FTB.” That is clearly not true. It is certainly brought up a fair amount, but it doesn’t dominate posting. I am willing to bet, however, that it dominates the discussion if you look at the volume of comments, but there are a lot of reasons for that.

    Anyway, that was an interesting exercise even if it doesn’t prove exactly what you want it to Greg.

  67. #67 TByte
    July 10, 2012

    I see the following words a lot:
    Women. Rape. Feminism. Misogyny. Sexism. Harrassment. Privilege.
    Hypothesis supported. Women’s issues are receiving a disproportionate amount of attention, and Feminists are attempting to steer the Atheist dialogue towards their own ideology. Thank you for collecting this evidence.

  68. #68 Greg Laden
    July 10, 2012

    TByte: Is “a lot” too much? Thunderfoot is implying that there is too much. Do you think he is correct, or do you think there is “a lot” and that this is fine? That is the key question, the only one that matters in this discussion.

  69. #69 Adult Onset Atheist
    Utah
    July 10, 2012

    I like the idea of gathering data to develop a better understanding of this. Context is important. ThunderF00t probably measured attention based on how it affected him, and that is a subjective measurement. He may also have lumped several topics that are split in your cloud analysis [ The list of top subjects you gave has “God Hates Women”, “Misogyny”, “Patriarchy”, and “Feminism” listed in addition to “sexism”], but the subjective measurement hypothesis is one I would bet on.

    Your approach is much more civil than some others. Ophilia Benson’s response to Thunderf00t was a good example. She posted a particularly violent excerpt from a story about a woman journalist being gang-raped in Egypt, and then appended to it something like: “in other news Thunderf00t thinks there is too much attention given to sexual harassment”, with a link to the blog post that also irritated you.

    I think that if more people approached this issue with a –mostly- clear head and data the way you have it would not be such an embarrassment to the Atheist Community as a whole.

  70. #70 TByte
    July 10, 2012

    Greg: Yes. Feminist dialogue is overrepresented on Atheist forums, as is illustrated by your cloud charts. Why groups that favor one gender over another get any credence at all in supposedly rational communities baffles me, but I suppose it is similar to Hitchen’s observation that one can get away with saying practically anything of one wears the monicker of “Reverend”.

  71. #71 TByte
    July 10, 2012

    …and as evidence that women’s issues are over-represented, among all those female-oriented cloud topics I don’t see the word “circumcision” mentioned, even though it is a religiously based mutilation that is inflicted on nearly a quarter of our population. If you are going to argue that the ration of women’s references in those tag clouds is appropriate, then where are the corresponding male-oriented cloud tags?

  72. […] Testing Thunderf00t’s Hypothesis [Greg Laden's Blog] (scienceblogs.com) […]

  73. #73 beauxq
    September 19, 2012

    You don’t know what disproportionate. This test can’t tell you whether the hypothesis is true.

  74. #74 Greg Laden
    September 19, 2012

    Generally, one falsifies, not proves, hypotheses.

  75. #75 Loneliberal PK
    January 4, 2013

    What kind of nonsense was this?

    You realize that the topic of sexism is discussed using more words than just “sexism”, right? Gender, women, feminism, patriarchy, sexist, misogyny are all buzz-words in these discussions, and need to be counted in if you’re performing a crude word-cloud experiment.

    Not to mention, there’s no proof of what time, place or even forum that cloud was acquired from.

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