Feb 25 2013

Moving Forward

As movements grow, internal conflict becomes inevitable. A movement dedicated to reason, thoughtful introspection, and putting logic above emotion, one would think, should be able to deal with such conflict in a constructive way. If the events of the last couple of years have taught us anything, however, it is that we are all still biased and flawed humans, despite our striving for reason.

There is, perhaps, some sign of a light at the end of the tunnel, if you bear with me for a bit more preamble.

I have not been a direct participant in the recent drama over sexism in the movement, but I have had a front row seat. It has struck me throughout that many of the people involved, steeped in critical thinking, firmly believe they are correct and are being reasonable and yet are in such heated conflict with other critical thinkers who also believe they are correct and being reasonable.

There are, it seems to me, three general sources of this conflict. One is sincere and real ideological differences. If you read the recent exchange between Harriet Hall on SBM and Will on Skepchick, and a sample of the comments to each, these differences become apparent. Where exactly to draw the line between free speech and the avoidance of offense is one recurrent theme. Still, this by itself should not be enough to cause such a rift, for our common ground dwarfs these differences.

A second source of conflict are those who have chosen cyberstalking and daily harassment as their chosen mechanism of activism. Rape threats, threats of violence, sexually charged and grossly offensive language have no place in this discussion, but have infiltrated our community. The result has been to raise the level of emotion and defensiveness and pushing all sides toward the more radical extreme. This is, unfortunately, part of the new social media world we have created. We have to find ways to marginalize and ignore these elements, and not confuse them for those who have reasonable and friendly disagreements.

The third source of conflict seems to be avoidable misunderstandings on all sides. This is something we can fix, with a few helpful rules of conduct and more open communication.

Ray Hyman wrote an excellent article for CSI in 2001 called Proper Criticism, containing 8 rules that skeptics would do well to consider when criticizing pseudoscience. We should at least grant each other the same courtesy.

One particularly relevant rule is the principle of charity – one that I have advocated many times myself. Before you set out to criticize someone’s claim or position, you should endeavor to grant that position its best possible case. Don’t assume the worst about your opponent, assume the best. Give them any benefit of the doubt. At the very least this will avoid creating a straw man to attack, or opening yourself up to charges that you are being unfair.

Hyman added to this the principle of understanding – make every effort to truly understand your opponent’s position before attacking it.

It seems to me that in our current conflicts these principles have not been adequately appreciated, leading to unnecessary misunderstandings, and fueling further conflict. One such series of unfortunate events emerged out of TAM 2012, when Harriet Hall wore a T-shirt expressing her support for the JREF and her personal approach to her own feminism. This was interpreted as an attack against the Skepchicks, and ugliness ensued.

Both Harriet Hall and Amy Davis Roth (who was at TAM and became embroiled in the T-shirt hubbub) had spoken to me about their feelings on the matter, and so I was able to assure both of them that a direct communication would likely resolve the misunderstanding. They both enthusiastically agreed, wanting nothing more than to see the beginning of the end of this feud. Below are the e-mail exchanges that resulted, which they both wished to be reproduced here.

Dear Amy,

I am so happy you have reached out! I hope we can become friends and put all the unpleasantness behind us.

First, I’d like to say that I admire you and value the work you have done. I bought one of your necklaces years ago (“Quackery is for the birds”) and have worn it frequently and gotten a lot of compliments on it. I particularly appreciate your artistic talents, since I have none of my own – can’t even draw a decent stick figure. I applaud your raising money for scholarships to bring more women to TAM. I appreciate the hard work you have done promoting the participation of women in skepticism.

I also value the Skepchick organization and appreciate what it has accomplished. It has done a lot to raise consciousness and promote women in skepticism. I don’t agree with everything it has done, and I don’t personally choose to join, but I certainly support those who do, and I would not want to do anything to discourage them.

I apologize for putting the word skepchick on my shirt. I honestly did not intend to target the organization, but rather the concept of “chick” in general. I did not foresee the reaction, and I should have. My social skills have never been very good. If I had it to do over again, I think I would have just said “I’m a skeptic. Not a woman skeptic. Just a skeptic.” I sincerely regret that I inadvertently contributed to inflaming the harassment that was directed at you. I was truly appalled by some of the venomous over-reactions and egregious abuse that you were subjected to online. I felt very sorry for you and what you were forced to endure. There is no excuse for the behavior of your persecutors.

And I have always admired Rebecca. She adds spice to the mix of personalities on SGU and has her own unique style. She is smart, hip, and eloquent. Rebecca had always been a big part of TAM; she had been good to it, and it had been good to her. That’s why I was so distressed by her announcement that she would not be attending TAM. I was also very distressed to hear that her former “immense amount of respect” for me could be totally destroyed from one week to the next by one action of mine that she disapproved of.

Dr. Novella has laid out a list of the things he thinks we agree on:

• gender equality
• judging people by the content of their character, and not by physical or gender attributes
• creating a safe and open environment regardless of sex or gender
• the concept of sex and gender are complex and multifarious, and it’s all within the spectrum of what it is to be human.
• condemnation of sexism in all its forms
• respect and recognition of the dignity of all people regardless of their sex/gender

Do you agree with these? If so, we have a starting point and can build from there.

No two skeptics are exact clones, and there will always be areas of disagreement. We should be able to respect each other even when our opinions differ. We may be able to get our opinions closer together through courteous discussions, or in some cases we may have to agree to disagree.

Even when we pursue different strategies, we can respect each other and tolerate our differences for the good of the whole. Next time we meet, I hope we can shake hands and maybe even share a hug.

Yours in skepticism,
Harriet

And then the reply from Amy:

Harriet,

First of all, thank you for taking the time to open a dialog with me and thank you for the apology. It is very kind of you and I appreciate it.

I too would like to apologize. I am sorry for raising my voice to you at TAM in the speakers lounge. I never really gave you a chance to speak. I was, as you could probably tell, very upset at the time. At that point in time things had gotten so bad for me that I went to the speakers lounge to hide and the undercover harassment specialists had to be called in to take a report. When you happened to walk into the room I had already dealt with, among other things, all the stress leading up to the event and at least one full day of being belittled and targeted with nasty comments online via the TAM event hashtag. Various blogs were posting misinformation about me and Rebecca during my time at the event. Some of the people that were saying rude or inaccurate things also included photos from the event so I knew that these people were in attendance. I still, to this day do not know the real identities of many of the people posting. I had witnessed people showing off fake necklaces that they had created, that were made to mock and belittle me. That the necklaces were meant to upset me was not an assumption. The people who created them were open about their intent to make fun of me. Some of these people were posing for photos with you and complimenting your shirt. I assumed at that point, you were aware of the harassment that I and the blog I write for was dealing with prior to TAM, and the nastiness at the event, and that your shirt was also intended to insult me and our blog specifically. I realize now, that was not your intention. I still disagree with your decision to wear the shirt, especially after I told you how upsetting it was, but I certainly respect your right to express your opinion. None of this excuses the fact that I yelled at you. And for that I am sincerely sorry.

Things we agree on.

*gender equality

*judging people by the content of their character, and not by physical or gender attributes

*creating a safe and open environment regardless of sex or gender

*the concept of sex and gender are complex and multifarious, and it’s all within the spectrum of what it is to be human.

*condemnation of sexism in all its forms

*respect and recognition of the dignity of all people regardless of their sex/gender

Yes, we agree on everything on your list. The only thing that we seem to squabble over is the wider definitions of gender and how it can feed into heterosexism and cissexism but this is definitely not my area of expertise and so I am not going to delve any further into the conversation for fear of not getting it right myself. I am still learning about these issues. You have to forgive my partial ignorance, as I only started to identify as a feminist about a year ago, when the harassment became focused on me. It was when the MRAs and certain people from within organized skepticism and atheism started calling me a feminist did I even realize that I might indeed be one. I was a skeptic first, and only recently have I taken on the feminist moniker. I am still educating myself on some of the history and current status of the movement itself.

Speaking of harassment, this is where I think we may be able to find some common ground and work together to make things better in the broader skeptical community.

To give you an idea of the harassment we deal with, every single day we get hate messages via social networks or email. We get rape and death threats on a regular basis. In certain instances law enforcement has been contacted but unless an actual physical crime is committed they are not much help to us beyond taking reports. They contact my customers online and say things like my jewelry is toxic. They photoshop our faces onto pornography or make images of me crying and post them online.  There are multiple blogs that write about us daily and try to ruin our reputation so that when you search for our names now, hatred and lies pop up.

And let me emphasize here that disagreeing with me or Rebecca doesn’t mean that you are part of a hate group. That is not what I want to convey here at all and I don’t want to silence legitimate criticism. I am completely aware that many of the people who have sided with you on this issue are genuine, good people and sometimes the criticism is valid and taken to heart. My reaching out to you with the help of Steve should be testament to that fact. My hope here, is to make you aware of the fact that you are also being used unfairly by some as a reason or an excuse to attack us further. I am hoping we can work together to shut down some of these avenues that are taking advantage of both of us by putting the T-shirt issue and any animosity between us, behind us.

We are both feminists and skeptics after-all and while our approach may differ many of our goals can be in harmony. Let’s work together to promote the things we agree on instead of focusing on the negative.

I look forward to hearing back from you and I hope we can work together to makes things better.

A hug would be welcome. :)

This sounds like a good first step in moving forward toward a movement where we celebrate our common goals, while politely debating, yet tolerating, our differences. I thank Harriet and Amy for having the courage to publicly apologize and admit their role in the misunderstanding.

I also have no delusions that this one exchange will magically dissolve all conflict. Relationships are a never-ending process, but perhaps this may help us correct course to a more productive direction.

Share

363 responses so far

363 Responses to “Moving Forward”

  1. Marc David Barnhillon 25 Feb 2013 at 8:16 am

    This is good. I’d hoped you might act as a go-between in such an exchange, Steve, and I think it’s extremely helpful — to all of us — that Harriet and Amy agreed to make this opening conversation public.

  2. arnieon 25 Feb 2013 at 8:22 am

    Steve, Thanks for sharing that very encouraging exchange. Together with the continuous education I receive from Neurologica and SBM blogs, your wisdom, caring, and respectful approach to everyone, especially those blog responders who lack the same, are key elements in why I find your blogs especially worth reading without fail. This was an excellent example of how productive such an approach can be.

  3. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 8:29 am

    They make images of her crying. Interesting, I thought the responsibility of one’s actions laid with the actor, not with the the satirist who depicts them or with the reporter who comments on them. Alas, never let objectivity and personal responsibility impinge on the narrative of victimhood feminism.

    I’m not aware of any photoshopped porn and certainly none which was produced by the many skeptical satirists who took an interest at this drama. I follow them on Twitter and most appear to gather and publish at the slymepit. I wonder why these ugly pieces always manage to elude my attention.
    Rape and death threats are also nowhere to be found, with both sides strongly united in condemnation and disdain. But, together with sexism and misogyny, they keep on being pinned – by one side – on the community at large and mischaracterized as a widespread internal problem.

    I find these manipulations despicable and unless the slander and libel cease, I don’t see a good reason for “peace talks”.

  4. NicoleIntroverton 25 Feb 2013 at 9:04 am

    Thank you so much for acting as a mediator in this and using your blog to help remedy this situation. I have felt so conflicted being a fan of both Skepchick/SGU and SBM and again, am very thankful that you are using your position in being involved in multiple areas of skepticism for the better of the entire community.

  5. SandraMcEwenon 25 Feb 2013 at 9:06 am

    Great post- thanks for that. It’s frustrating to see two groups of people whom I respect go at each other’s throats cheered on by an angry internet mob.

  6. Murmuron 25 Feb 2013 at 9:15 am

    @Decius

    “…I thought the responsibility of one’s actions laid with the actor, not with the the satirist who depicts them or with the reporter who comments on them.”

    It does indeed, but it is also the responsibility of the commentator to depict the issues in context and not to sensationalise or deliberately misrepresent the “actor”.

    As for the rest of your post, I am not going to engage you as you clearly come from a different place to where I do, there are other commentators on this blog who will say it much more concisely. Suffice it to say, I think you are misguided.

  7. justinvaculaon 25 Feb 2013 at 9:28 am

    Dr. Novella, it is with much regret that this post addressing what some consider to be sexism in the skeptical movement is absent of discussion of women using sexist language to describe other women (‘kissa**es, ‘gender traitors,’ chill girls,’ trying to preserve token status, or implying that women speak and write to gain the attention of men, etc.) and women using language unfairly calling men ‘rape apologists,’ ‘misogynists,’ ‘women haters,’ ‘anti-woman leader,’ etc. It’s probably not worth going into specific examples here, but I can if you would like me to in a follow-up comment.

    Second, what are these rape threats and threats of violence you [and Amy] speak of? Who is saying these things? Where can I find these comments? Day in and day out I hear these claims and see no evidence attesting to them; I see only troll-like comments like ‘go die in a fire’ and ‘go kill yourself’ which — although unacceptable — are not at all ‘rape threats’ or ‘threats of violence.’

    Many who are veterans of the internet and share controversial opinions — especially if they engage in character assassination campaigns against others in a ‘call out culture’ of social blogging/networking — will receive less than charitable pushback. This is not something women exclusively face. This is not something that happens because people are women (how someone would demonstrate this, anyway, is beyond me). I’d like to think, too, that this sort of negative criticism follows certain behaviors of certain individuals and can see — in many cases — why certain people are targeted by negative criticism and others are not. Individuals who are professional, respectful, charitable, etc. — I would venture — are far less likely to receive negative criticism while those who are unprofessional, disrespectful, and uncharitable are far more likely to receive negative criticism.

    The principle of charity you speak of is an ideal and something many should consider/adhere to. Unfortunately, though, you have one ‘camp’ of people — those complaining about these alleged ‘threats’ — failing to adhere to the principle of charity constantly quotemining, unfairly assigning the worst possible motives to others, and smearing respected figures in skepticism (again, I won’t go into detail on this, but can if you’d like in a follow-up).

    It’s nice that Dr. Hall and Amy could come to a sort of understanding through private messaging. Perhaps this can be a future standard, but what about the attacks on Dr. Hall and the misrepresentation by people like Amanda Marcotte — to just provide one example — who suggest Dr. Hall is trying to ‘preserve a position as a token?’ This comment is most offensive and egregious…and the accompanying article is trumpeted by many friends of Amy. I won’t say Amy is guilty by association, though, but it hardly seems to be the case that there can be ‘ceasefires’ or mutual respect and comments like these linger and are trumpeted by those under the banner of feminism. Perhaps there is some hope…

  8. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 9:35 am

    The thing is, Murmur, despite your poisoning-the-well dismissive rhetoric, I would be more than just appalled to be part of a community that not only harbours misogynists, sexists and people who issue death threats, but ignores the signs of its malady.
    The evidence for this to be the case, though, is hardly compelling. Instead embellishing and outright fabrications have been incontrovertibly exposed more than once.

    Furthermore, when disagreement or mild criticism are immediately equated with sexism, and outstanding members of the community are routinely labelled as “chill-girls” or “sister punishers” for no good discernible reason, it is sure sign that ideology has hijacked the discourse.

  9. ccbowerson 25 Feb 2013 at 9:40 am

    “It has struck me throughout that many of the people involved, steeped in critical thinking, firmly believe they are correct and are being reasonable and yet are in such heated conflict with other critical thinkers who also believe they are correct and being reasonable.”

    Do you think this a problem that is particularly true for people within the skeptical movement, or is what we see in the skeptical movement on par with the general population? What I am referring to is an excessive level of certainty, perhaps an intellectual overconfidence, which can interfere with being open to the idea that that person is mistaken. In some ways, I think that its easier to convince people who identify as skeptics of a fact that they didn’t know (or thought otherwise), but once that person is intellectually or emotionally committed, it becomes nearly impossible (at least in the short to medium term).

  10. thunderbirdon 25 Feb 2013 at 9:54 am

    I’m glad to see a little light shining out in this tempest–bravo for facilitating it. I believe one of the major problems is that people get so used to argument that they forget the other side are people who share the same complex inner state they enjoy and just immediately attack. The internet echo chamber reinforces their decision because their followers applaud their “courage.” I used to, for instance, follow professor Myers on a daily basis, but he’s just so SURE of everything that I can’t take him any more. Extreme certainty is plausible in some cases, but not ALL of them. (Your observation about the professional trolls can’t be overlooked, either–they’re a major reason it’s tempting to model the opposition as uniform asshats).

    I don’t know how you avoid such a thing, either–it’s natural for groups to sort themselves out on the basis of mutual agreement. It seems like it would take a fearless commitment to intellectual honesty that would be difficult to maintain in the long run. Certainly you couldn’t allow the kind of dogpile that you see in comment threads on various popular blogs, where incivility is the rule. And that incivility guarantees that the only opposing viewpoints will be the tribe across the river running past flinging poo, which reinforces the assessment of them as one-note jerks.

  11. ccbowerson 25 Feb 2013 at 9:55 am

    decius,

    Perhaps you missed the comment about the principle of charity. You criticism in your first comment seems to be based upon (a lack) your own personal knowledge, and I’m not sure why this is relevant:

    “I’m not aware of any photoshopped porn and certainly none which was produced by the many skeptical satirists who took an interest at this drama. I follow them on Twitter and most appear to gather and publish at the slymepit. I wonder why these ugly pieces always manage to elude my attention. Rape and death threats are also nowhere to be found”

    OK, well you are unaware of photopshopped porn, and you wonder why they ‘elude your attention,’ and you cannot find rape and death threats? Umm… ok. So the obvious implication here is that if you are unaware of something, it probably doesn’t exist or is exaggerated. Perhaps you are ‘just asking questions?’

    “Furthermore, when disagreement or mild criticism are immediately equated with sexism, and outstanding members of the community are routinely labelled as “chill-girls” or “sister punishers” for no good discernible reason, it is sure sign that ideology has hijacked the discourse.”

    If ideology has “hijacked” a person’s perspective away from skepticism then that person should be called out for that, but it appears you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  12. windyon 25 Feb 2013 at 10:00 am

    Resolving misunderstandings through direct communication is commendable. However, this post leaves out the background to the misunderstanding between Dr. Hall and Surly Amy. That is understandable for a first step, but moving further, are there any plans to address the misinformation and smears on JREF and TAM that preceded Dr Hall’s decision to wear the shirt? The message on the front of the shirt seems more salient to identifying real differences.

  13. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 10:01 am

    Murmur, apologies for forgetting to address the meat of your post.

    “It does indeed, but it is also the responsibility of the commentator to depict the issues in context and not to sensationalise or deliberately misrepresent the “actor”.”

    What was misrepresented and how, in your opinion?

    If calls to “ban the fake jewellery” and turning on the waterworks at the sign of printed t-shirt cannot be parodied in an adult, what can?
    If I were engaging in that sort of censorious and capricious behaviour, I’d fully expect my mates to make light of it until I regain composure.

  14. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 10:17 am

    ccbowers, I’ve discussed this in a previous thread, so forgive me for not rehashing the entire argument.

    Lot of material get shared and offered as evidence for harassment or even crime, only for the claims not to withstand scrutiny (I previously offered an example in another thread, but feel free to visit the places where the arguments are dissected without intervening censorship). Therefore, I would fully expect the most serious items to be made public as well in order to silence the doubters.

    Also, I’ve just been reliably informed that, in the US, it is a federal crime to issue death threats via correspondence. Declaring that authorities wouldn’t get involved in the absence of physical violence is an extraordinary claim per se. I’d go with the more parsimonious interpretation that the narrative looks like an overblown caricature of reality, as soon as independent observers look at it.

  15. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 10:21 am

    To clarify, I wasn’t implying that this blog is censored – FTB and Skepchick are.
    But I don’t feel comfortable to hijack the thread with specific examples, with so many other dedicated places in existence.

  16. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 10:36 am

    I have been cc’d on e-mails to Rebecca that were outright sexist or misogynist. She has certainly made public numerous others with statements to the effect – you should be raped in some horrible manner. She has also reported actual threats to the FBI and police.

    Just use your Google skills and you will find many sites dedicated to cyberstalking everything coming from Skepchick and those who tend to agree with them, and taking an incredibly unfair and harsh critical approach. They take the principle of charity and turn it on it’s head, taking a maximally negative and nitpicky interpretation of everything they write or say. It’s all incredibly counterproductive, it is anathema to logical discourse, and a lot of it is hateful trolling.

    But of course, there is a spectrum. They do latch onto legitimate criticisms and run with those as well.

    Amy made it clear above that she does not equate criticism with hate or sexism. Moving forward is not about obsessing over perceived past slights, but acknowledging when people accept common-ground principles.

    Decius – your denial and uncharitability seems to be transparent to the other commenters here.

  17. Zhankforon 25 Feb 2013 at 10:50 am

    Decius,

    Rebecca Watson made a post on Skepchick no more than three weeks ago with a specific, graphic, and horrifying example of the abuse she receives on a regular basis. That these instances have eluded you suggests either an unwillingness to make even a small effort to find them, or, and perhaps as well as, a willful blindness towards them.

  18. tmac57on 25 Feb 2013 at 11:04 am

    My observation on this is that the trouble makers in this battle are on high alert to be offended,and have their confirmation bias turned up to 11.
    Steve’s recommendation to employ the principle of charity,should be a no brainer for a a person who claims to be a critical thinker. It seems like people who forget this are focusing on the ‘critical’,and completely forgot about the ‘thinking’ bit.

  19. Murmuron 25 Feb 2013 at 11:18 am

    @decius,

    The only poisoning of any well I see is your assumptions that Amy Davis Roth is making up her allegations. You are clearly hijacking the spirit of this post in order to further your own agenda. If you feel she is fabricating anything I would ask you to challenge her directly and not via a 3rd or even 4th party on the comments of a blog that is commenting on her recent disagreement.

  20. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 11:21 am

    justin – “less than charitable feedback” does not begin to cover it. Please Google “Rebecca Watson” and see what you find. Really try to imagine that you were the target of such attacks. Do you imagine that any online activist, blogger, etc. could stand up to this level of obsessive negative scrutiny?

    In any case – this post is not about assigning blame, cataloguing past transgressions, and pointing fingers. I only singled out certain trolling behavior that is truly hateful and counterproductive. I also pointed out that this has tended to heat up discussion and radicalize all those concerned.

    Now is the time to step back, focus on the positive and on common ground, and begin (emphasis on begin) a process of better understanding where everyone is coming from.

    I agree that the principle of charity needs to be spread to all sides.

  21. Murmuron 25 Feb 2013 at 11:31 am

    Also… refresh before you post after tabbing out for a while. My most recent post is clearly redundant.

  22. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 11:32 am

    Steven, what I always liked about scientific skepticism was its respect for the integrity of lexicon and ease with which one could parse a paragraph without falling into semantic traps.
    This feature has quickly vanished as soon as politicised rhetoric made its appearance.

    Having heard your type of criticism elsewhere before, I must ask. When you say cyberstalking, you mean “The use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include the making of false accusations or statements of fact (as in defamation), making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information that may be used to harrass”.

    Or is the feminist Newspeak’s definition which runs something like “take public statements made on social media and public internet sites and dissect, ridicule them and expose real or perceived errors”? Because, as uncharitable as the second process may be, it actually meets the original definition of cyberstalking by making false accusations (of cyberstalking) to critics.

    Assuming the first case be true, then I already declared my shared disgust for professional troll and sleaze sites, which are nevertheless – and contrary to a certain narrative – not associated with skeptical movement in any shape or form. Their sole mission is to feed internet drama, upon which they prey and thrive. They smell controversy and act like vultures, like everyone who’s been on internet longer than a week knows.

    This leads me to Zhankfor’s objection. As I pointed out in another occasion, the picture you mentioned originated with Encyclopedia Dramatica (removed since) and is still available on another sleaze site, where the file properties reveal that it was posted there one full day before it was emailed to Rebecca.

    This situation was pointed out to her, together with reassuring remarks, but she chose to delet the comments and ban those who dared challenge the official hyperbole.
    I happen to be counted among the ever-increasing ranks of those who find it unacceptable that the result of anonymous troll activity be laid at the doorstep of fellow skeptics and atheists, under the barely concealed agenda of gaining political capital.

    http://s9.postimage.org/3kofsh3mn/Capture.jpg

    The aforementioned example is just precisely that. Nothing really seems to check out and you people should be worried, but in a more neutral manner than what’s on display here.

    In conclusion, far from wanting to engage in denialism, I would appreciate all solid evidence thrown my way helping to prove the case for misogyny and sexism infecting the movement in any appreciable measure.

    So far, I’ve seen the reputation of good people being thrashed for no good reason whatsoever.
    Unless of course, one is so gullible to believe preposterous unevidenced notions, such as the act of carrying a monopod around is per se an indication of sexually-deviant behaviour.

  23. Murmuron 25 Feb 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Clearly, it wasn’t as redundant as I thought.

    “… the result of anonymous troll activity be laid at the doorstep of fellow skeptics and atheists…”

    Please can you point out where in this whole discourse on this blog where anyone has done this?

  24. MKandeferon 25 Feb 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Steve, thanks for starting a mediation process. Your skills at communicating are a gift to the skeptic community. I know it isn’t the point of this post, but I think a more nuanced discussion on free speech and taking offense would be a good topic for the future. I can sympathize with freedom of speech concerns, but also think some speech isn’t without harmful consequences.

  25. loyalbon 25 Feb 2013 at 12:26 pm

    “A second source of conflict are those who have chosen cyberstalking and daily harassment as their chosen mechanism of activism.”

    Another source of conflict is that legitimate criticism, including satire, of public figures is being cast as harassment. The people calling Rebecca Watson rude names are not the same people sending her the rape-wish emails. The former are crude, probably misguided, and usually not as funny as they think they are; the latter should be on an fbi watch list. Stop conflating the two groups, there is a big difference.

    And speaking of grossly offensive language, didn’t your SGU co-host once wish Mike Huckabee would “go f*** a blender?” I don’t like Mike Huckabee, either, but I’m content to leave his genitals intact. She’s also mocked her critics for being virgins, which must be some kind of new sex-positive feminist statement. I’m not sure. I don’t really mind that she does these things. I just think, if you’re going to preach civility and charity, you should start in-house.

    Here’s my theory: we should try to like each other, but we shouldn’t always repress our passionate disagreements. Sometimes, full-throated criticism needs to cross some lines. I feel like there’s one side that thinks we need to always be offensive, and another side that thinks we need to always bottle everything up. What we really need is some balance. Sometimes you have to be offensive to shock people out of their complacency. Sometimes you need to be patient with people. Sometimes you need to be forgiving of other people’s faults and missteps (Amy Roth and Harriet Hall both give a great example of doing this.) Charity is usually nice, but it can make you a pushover sometimes.

    Above all, what we really need is free and open dialogue to express ourselves. To get the bad feelings out and move on. In this regard, one “side” is clearly deficient, and until they address this problem, the conflict will continue.

  26. PharmD28on 25 Feb 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I am a fairly casual reader of this blog…and I listen to SGU when I can….I am also aware vaguely about all the sexism controversy and such.

    It just seems to me that folks on both sides get too damn inflamed. People when they feel so strongly that they are right can indeed lose the ability to imagine their opponents as having good intention but just diagreeing….and if I may…it would seem that is the root of this…I think steve you pointed this out with your comments about needing to be charitable.

    I am happy to see that some prominent actors in such a debate are finding ways to disagree with more tact.

    I am not at all an expert on the subject of feminism…so I will claim total ignorance on the subject….but from that standpoint in being a casual observer…it makes most of these folks arguing from both sides look like raving lunatics…the audience effect from my standpoint is as such…my 2 cents….

    I will say that I think the subject deserves some attention and it is a reasonable dialogue to have….some feel it is overblown, some feel it is under-appreciated…I have no frickin clue…but if I am to be swayed one way or the other it will be based on the merits of various arguments, the reason, the logic, and the evidence….hard to get to that with all the drama…

    Glad that it looks like we are getting past it in part?

    Take care everyone.

  27. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I did not conflate anything. That is a straw man of your making. What you are calling the labeling of legitimate criticism as harassment is filed under “misunderstanding.”

    You then commit a false dichotomy and straw man by blaming “one side” – there are not such simple “sides” in this and you appear to be conflating a lot of individuals and groups as one “side.”

    And again, you appear to want to go backwards by focusing on past perceived transgressions. There have been many mistakes all around. Amy and Harriet have admitted some of theirs and wish to make this into a learning experience.

  28. tyroon 25 Feb 2013 at 12:56 pm

    That’s heartening, thank you for posting that and for facilitating the reconciliation.

    I reacted very negatively towards the t-shirt at first. I didn’t see it as specifically attacking Amy or the skepchick group, but when one group of women says that they are getting threats, the statement “I don’t feel threatened” appears to me to be diminishing or dismissing their genuine concerns. I thought it was in bad taste and not well thought out, but I think now that Hall’s heart was in the right place. We’ve all said or done things out of good intentions but which ended up going badly wrong. Hopefully we can chalk it up to that and extend Hall the benefit of the doubt given her many valuable contributions.

  29. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Murmur, I just posted a link to the refuting evidence to RW’s implications and allegations that the picture originates from fellow skeptics.

    It’s all here, included the header of the email she received, showing it was sent a day later than publication on at least one extraneous site.

    http://skepchick.org/2013/02/objectified/

    This has been going on for close to two years now. Lots of good people have been directly accused of horrible and unforgivable flaws on a whim. I’m not going to glorify those lurid accusations by making yet another digital copy, but the list is incredibly long.

    I dare speculate everyone here is a fellow egalitarian. How would you like to be branded a racist or a supremacist? Is it possible that many seem unable to understand that being called a misogynist without being one hurts as much and is entirely unacceptable?

    If you think the pushback – harsh, rude, snarky and juvenile as it might be – constitute “cyberstalking”, you simply don’t understand how people will react to injustice in order to defend themselves.

    Steven, I’ll ask you directly – does a site like Elevatorgate (which I do not represent nor endorse) fit your bill of “cyberstalking”?

  30. loyalbon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:19 pm

    I’m all for charity, Steven, but not at the expense of being able to read between the lines. Who were you referring to when you wrote the paragraph about daily harassment? Specifically,

    “Rape threats, threats of violence, sexually charged and grossly offensive language have no place in this discussion, but have infiltrated our community.”

    That is pretty much the definition of conflation. You’re including much lesser offenses (which arguably aren’t even offenses) in the same pot with rape threats. I don’t think you meant to, but you did. The strawman is yours. Literally nobody is defending the rape-wish emails to Rebecca Watson. We all find them abhorrent. So why include them in the same sentence with, e.g., “grossly offensive language?” If I’m misunderstanding you. can you at least see how your formulation is misleading?

    I completely agree that there aren’t only two sides (hence the scarequotes, if you’re reading my comment charitably), but there are sides, and the boundaries are pretty clear on the various issues.

    I like you. I appreciate what you do for skepticism (which is way more than I will ever do), but, dude, you have got to approach this problem with some self-awareness. The problem isn’t just everybody besides you and your friends.

  31. Zhankforon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Decius,

    You have a problem with such trolling being “laid at the doorstep of fellow skeptics and atheists,” yet earlier you complained that you hadn’t seen any evidence of the trolling. How, then, would you have the evidence come out? It seems you find fault with either allowing the evidence to come to light, and with stating that it is a real problem yet not producing the smoking guns.

  32. Zhankforon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:30 pm

    loyalb,

    Steven was obviously not conflating rape threats and offensive language – I would suggest you are willfully misinterpreting his statement. By including the items he did in that list, he was not suggesting that they are all equal. He was suggesting precisely what he said he was suggesting, that they “have no place in this discussion” – that they are all unacceptable and unproductive. Not equally unacceptable – no one would deny (and no one is doing so!) that rape threats are much, much worse than offensive language – but certainly all the elements of the list are well below what ought to be the threshold of acceptable behaviour within our community.

  33. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:31 pm

    decius – I don’t think you have provided evidence for anything. The picture linked to from Rebecca’s blog was posted the day of the blog post. The link you provided had a “date modified” but I am not sure that is the same as the date uploaded or the last time the picture itself was modified, and you don’t provide evidence for who uploaded it. Seems like you are making a pretty serious accusation based on nothing.

    Regarding cyberstalking – it’s all a matter of degree. A certain level of obsession and persistent negativity does rise to the level of stalking, but there is no bright line. The elevatorgate site is targeted and unfairly negative and hostile, but you seem to want to focus on semantics to avoid the obvious facts here.

    The point is – this kind of behavior is not helpful. I have seen counterproductive behavior all around, but it is not equivalent. Some of it is over the line and rises to the level of poisoning discourse.

  34. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I must have expressed myself poorly. I meant to say that every time I looked at some purported smoking gun, which recently I did with a lot out of sheer exasperation, nothing really checked out.

    In other words, I’ve yet to see a single piece of evidence supporting the notion of a community infected with misogyny and sexism. It’s only by loosening the definition thereof, until the words are no longer recognisable, that one could make such a claim. Secondly, all the obscene materials and purported threats are either taken out of context, or originate from troll sites.
    When anything resembling an actual threat came from within, condemnation has been unanimous and offenders were driven out of sites and fora critical of RW and her fellow feminists.
    This supports the notion of a healthy community, by all objective standards.

  35. errollon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:43 pm

    “to avoid the obvious facts here. ”

    Steve perhaps it would help to state what you think the obvious facts are.

  36. windyon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:50 pm

    And again, you appear to want to go backwards by focusing on past perceived transgressions.

    What was this post about, if not “past perceived transgressions”?? If you mean that they shouldn’t be dragged up simply play the blame game, fine; but as long as they’re dealt with constructively, why impose some arbitrary cutoff point?

  37. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Steven, I would never make such an accusation lightly.

    I must beg you to verify on your own. Please, point your browser here and inspect the file properties. Depending on browser, the procedure might change. The “date modified” tag, on internet refers to the day it was last uploaded or overwritten.

    http://rule34-data-000.paheal.net/_images/7eeb4425a87e4cd391a7b21f4c508356/1033240%20-%20rebecca_watson.jpg

    By comparison, the header of your blog was uploaded Wednesday, October 19, 2011 12:42:27 AM

    I couldn’t make this shit up, could I?

    Then let me know if you need screenshots of the banning, because nothing goes unnoticed or undetected any more. The community has had enough.

  38. Oracon 25 Feb 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I have been cc’d on e-mails to Rebecca that were outright sexist or misogynist. She has certainly made public numerous others with statements to the effect – you should be raped in some horrible manner. She has also reported actual threats to the FBI and police.

    Methinks Justin must be lacking in Google skills if he is unable to find evidence of sexist and misogynistic materials directed at Amy, Rebecca, and others. Either that, or he doesn’t find what he doesn’t want to find. Whatever the situation, Steve has briefly discussed such e-mails/posts with me. Although he didn’t forward the actual e-mails to me (and why should he, given that they’re private?), I trust Steve and have no reason to doubt his word on the matter.

    That being said, I can only hope that Amy and Harriet’s example will inspire similar behavior by others.

  39. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 2:00 pm

    decius – you dodged my question above about the photo and your accusations.

    In any case – I am not arguing that the worse sexism and misogyny is coming from within the skeptical community. I think a lot of it is coming from troll sites or from misogynists who are coming onto our sites just to attack feminists. But, it is hard to tell online whether someone is a skeptic who happens to be a sexist or a sexist who isn’t really a skeptic, or whatever.

    I am criticizing the behavior itself. Also, regardless of the source, daily harassment has a negative emotional effect on people (its intended effect). I do ask for a little understanding of the targets. They are being beaten down.

    The “obvious facts” here are the one I have already enumerated. I have already stated being personal witness to sexism targeted against Rebecca – over years, even before Elevatorgate. The Skepchicks have documented many instances on their site.

    Decius is essentially accusing them of lying (please correct me if I am wrong). One major point of this post is that of charity – don’t assume horrible motives on the part of someone you disagree with. I happen to know many of the Skepchicks personally. To you they may just be internet personas, but to me they are people I actually know. They all are sincere and well-meaning. This does not mean they haven’t made mistakes, or that perhaps they are operating from a certain perspective or set of assumptions.

    What I would like is to be able to maturely discuss valid points of disagreements. Assuming they are lying for shallow motives is not fair, charitable, or productive. Also – don’t conflate them with everyone who is taking up feminism. I have read some very uncharitable and unproductive things on all sides. The point of this post is to move past all that. Clearly some people are going to make that very difficult.

  40. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 2:09 pm

    decius – but who uploaded that photo? So – someone made the photo, uploaded it, then e-mailed it to Rebecca. What am I missing. Who exactly are you accusing of making and/or uploading this photo and what is your evidence?

    And again – you seem to be offering this as evidence that the Skepchicks are not the target of frequent harassment, but there is plenty of evidence that they are.

    Windy – wan’t it clear that I am talking about using past perceived transgressions to play the blame game?

  41. wellerpondon 25 Feb 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Decius:

    “Rape and death threats are also nowhere to be found, with both sides strongly united in condemnation and disdain. But, together with sexism and misogyny, they keep on being pinned – by one side – on the community at large and mischaracterized as a widespread internal problem.”

    Do these count?

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/10/sexism_in_the_skeptic_community_i_spoke_out_then_came_the_rape_threats.html

  42. erikthebassiston 25 Feb 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Decius,

    As a regular at Pharyngula, I can and must point out that your line on this smacks of the typical MRA, anti-RW, anti feminist BS.

    We have spent countless hours trying to reasonably debate with people like you. At the end of the day what it boils down to is that your ilk wants to defend the use of sexist language and deny that there is a problem with sexism within, or outside of the Movement™.

    When they are called on it, they scream about their “Freeze Peach” rights and hurl insults, sexist insults, claim feminists are professional victims and deny that we live in a patriarchical society.

    When you deny sexism exists while using sexist slurs, yeah, you’re going to be called a misogynist.

    No one ever said the problem was worse with in the skeptical movement. What people complained about, rightly, was that women were under represented and that simple steps like anti-harrasment policies might go a long way to make women feel more welcome at conferences and in online spaces. None of this should be controversial but when the suggestions were made, the sh*&t hit the fan.

    I’ve been watching this play out since “Guys Don’t Do That”. The only way you think there is any merit to the slymepitter POV is to be willfully ignorant of the history of events, or quite frankly, to be a misogynist.

    It’s simple, one side is saying “Women are people to and deserve to be treated with respect” and the other side is saying “My right to free speach is more important than women being treated as equals.”

    When one argues on behalf of the pitters they are clearly shoosing a side, the side of the all white he-man women haters club, and yes, that can even include non-white and females.

    Steven,

    I admire what you are doing here and I commend you for finally taking a stand, but I don’t think there’s any chance of mending the Deep Rifts™ until the pitters realize they are on the wrong side of history here.

  43. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Not sure what I dodged, since it’s all information publicly available, as detailed by the provided direct link to a troll site.

    Obviously, I don’t personally know who posted, but given its provenance, it’s presumably a troll and not a skeptic. That would be the safer assumption over claims of an inside job. What’s more, evidence contrary to the narrative was summarily ejected and the messenger banned. If that’s normal for you, then colour me surprised.

    It seems to me that both Rebecca and you have failed to make a case for misogyny in the community, regardless of how much shit is thrown at her over the internet at large. Your blogs on the subject do not seem to differentiate sufficiently, in my opinion.
    Incidentally, you just said “regardless of the source” – this cavalier attitude is entirely unacceptable when dealing with grave accusations such as sexism and other forms of supremacism.

    I agree with you that abuse may drive people to the edge. However, no culture or ethical system condones retaliatory bullism regardless of the severity of the abuse received. You may want to revise that rather paltry line of defence of yours.

    I also don’t buy the notion that we’re dealing with a group of fundamentally good people, for certain actions are simply too revealing to be ignored. Also, good people do not associate with rabid ideologues and hate-mongers like Amanda Marcotte.

    Finally, Sam Harris spoke eloquently on the secondary and long-terms effects of internet defamation by organised lynch-mobs.
    I guess that makes him a misogynist, too.

    As always, thanks for your hospitality. All the best.

  44. ivoryboneson 25 Feb 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Maybe I’m being facetious but I see this no where else except the world of text based correspondence. Maybe another suggestion for the article Steve mentioned; Proper Criticism.

  45. errollon 25 Feb 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Steve I think that is decius’s point, we don’t know who created the photo, or where the threats are coming from, but they are being used as leverage against the community, and as a shield against legitimate criticism.

    I don’t think all the threats are from non-skeptics/atheists but I also don’t think they represent RAMPANT sexism and misogyny in the community. Or that that is why there are so few females in the community. The recent poll showed that 74% of atheists were male. So it would seem that women for the most part are over represented at TAM, etc.

    Anyway we should have solved this already with some panels, and debates, and an eagerness to get down to the hard facts. I think it`s an embarrassment that this issue has not been solved yet.

  46. Shelleyon 25 Feb 2013 at 2:59 pm

    “Here’s my theory: we should try to like each other, but we shouldn’t always repress our passionate disagreements. Sometimes, full-throated criticism needs to cross some lines. I feel like there’s one side that thinks we need to always be offensive, and another side that thinks we need to always bottle everything up. What we really need is some balance. Sometimes you have to be offensive to shock people out of their complacency. Sometimes you need to be patient with people. Sometimes you need to be forgiving of other people’s faults and missteps (Amy Roth and Harriet Hall both give a great example of doing this.) Charity is usually nice, but it can make you a pushover sometimes.
    Above all, what we really need is free and open dialogue to express ourselves. To get the bad feelings out and move on. In this regard, one “side” is clearly deficient, and until they address this problem, the conflict will continue.”

    I will apologize at the outset if this is not terribly coherent as I am home ill and my head is a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to make this quick point:

    It is a common belief (here and elsewhere) that venting, ‘crossing lines’, and broad self expression allows us to “get the bad feelings out.” It is a popular sentiment, and many people subscribe to the idea. However, there is clear consensus against cathartic theory (which was based on Freudian models and had only mixed support at best), with a literature that demonstrates that cathartic aggression actually increases aggression and has a number of negative psychological, interpersonal, and physical consequences (see for example: Carlsmith et al, 2008; Bushman, 2002, Bushman, Baumeister & Phillips, 2001).

    Overall, venting fuels the fire, discourages reasoned discourse, and pushes your opponent into a defensive or counter attack position. A charitable interpretation allows for clarification and possible enlightenment.

    Okay, back to bed for this puppy.

  47. SandraMcEwenon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:00 pm

    If people can’t even agree to be civil to one another, I don’t see how we can move forward. Steve, kudos to you for attempting to bring some semblance of reason and kindness back to the table, but it seems like an uphill battle.

    I don’t really participate in online forums and such, mostly because it can so quickly turn into a mess of ugliness and, frankly, it’s demoralizing. I know that leaves the loudest and most extreme members of the community to appear to have the mainstream viewpoint.

  48. Gojira74on 25 Feb 2013 at 3:09 pm

    “I guess that makes him a misogynist, too. ”

    This is a good example of the immaturity displayed in a lot of posts on the sexism topic. However, the problem this current blog is dealing with isn’t sexism. It is immaturity and the inability to act as an adult. To communicate as skeptics and as human beings, we need to be adults and human beings.

  49. windyon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:11 pm

    wan’t it clear that I am talking about using past perceived transgressions to play the blame game?

    Thought so, thanks for the clarification; but then how do you know that loyalb was trying to play the blame game, rather than pointing out a possible double standard?

    What about the recent comments/articles that dragged the t-shirt into the discussion again and where Dr. Hall was labeled a “token” and other charming things- would you classify those as playing the blame game?

  50. oldandslowon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Dr Novella,

    I am so thankful to have come across your blog. I had found other ‘skeptic’ blogs or sites, and became very disappointed in the ‘skeptic community’. I was looking for people that questioned things, like I do, except I am not of the ‘scientific community’, just a stay at home mother looking for truth to teach her children. All I seemed to find was a bunch of children calling themselves skeptics because they didn’t believe in bigfoot or the bible, but fell hook line and sinker for global warming. I very much appreciate the truth and honesty in your words, and your questions of the world and people. I don’t know who these people are that you are talking about, it makes me sad that we have to fight with each other over nuances, when the real result should be to educate the uninformed. Thank you for trying to bring peace between those that could be doing so much for humanity, if they weren’t fighting over who is right about this, or who is right about that. And it is absolutely terrible that because these women are trying to bring truth to the world, that their health and lives are threatened. These ‘trolls’ are the epitome of what I think true skeptics are fighting against. Ignorance and bullying.

    Not very scientific or enlightening, but I wanted to say my part, and thank you for your time on your blog.

  51. loyalbon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:22 pm

    “Steven was obviously not conflating rape threats and offensive language – I would suggest you are willfully misinterpreting his statement.”

    No, not willfully. Why would I want to misinterpret him? I want him to be right. I want to believe that if we all just mind our “p”‘s and “q”‘s we can stop this interminable argument. I really want that, because I’m naive and idealistic.

    “By including the items he did in that list, he was not suggesting that they are all equal. He was suggesting precisely what he said he was suggesting, that they “have no place in this discussion” – that they are all unacceptable and unproductive. Not equally unacceptable – no one would deny (and no one is doing so!) that rape threats are much, much worse than offensive language – but certainly all the elements of the list are well below what ought to be the threshold of acceptable behaviour within our community.”

    If skepticism means anything to me, it means, above all else, being honest with ourselves and with each other. Honestly, if I’m parsing his sentences exactly, precisely, literally, maybe you’re right. But if I’m reading him in the context of the two-year+ civil war in the a/s community, he obviously is referring to the (dubious) behavior of some of the slymepit along with the (intolerable) behavior of some anonymous trolls.

    He is listing grievances. He cannot list these in the same breath with each other and not expect people to make a connection.

  52. loyalbon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:34 pm

    We don’t have to be civil. We’re a community, which is a kind of family. We have to be understanding and forgiving, but we also have to sometimes be honest and unkind. Again, most importantly, we can’t shut out each others’ voices. That is the absolute worst thing you can do in resolving a conflict and, disappointingly, the only thing Novella leaves out of his advice.

  53. justinvaculaon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:35 pm

    “Methinks Justin must be lacking in Google skills if he is unable to find evidence of sexist and misogynistic materials directed at Amy, Rebecca, and others.”

    I’m not denying this. What I am questioning, though, is the “hundreds of rape and death threats from atheists” and the “avalanche of rape and death threats from skeptics.” We keep hearing about these things, but time and time again we fail to see evidence. When evidence is presented, it is not rape and death threats but rather trollish Youtube comments and comments like ‘you are so ugly’ and similar silliness. While nasty comments are not productive or fair criticism, they are much different than rape and death threats. All Rebecca has to do is make these alleged “hundreds of rape and death threats” public and all of the critics will be quelled. Why isn’t this happening?

    Re: ‘move on and stop focusing on the past’

    Dr. Novella, if we are to move on and stop focusing on the past, why is it the case that the alleged threats Rebecca receives are being discussed and others’ grievances are shut out of the discussion? Are her grievances permissible to be voiced while others’ grievances should not be voiced? You aren’t necessarily advocating this, but this seems to be the message being sent.

    Many — I am sure — would be happy to move on and cease criticism of Rebecca and friends when they stop attacking fellow atheists and skeptics by unfairly representing them (being uncharitable) and assigning the most unpalatable labels. When the people who demand civility (Rebecca and friends) fail to model civility and instead ‘dial up’ the character attacks, I can’t take their concerns seriously (or really have much empathy for them).

    Of course, I must add, rape and death threats are not permissible. I don’t think you would find many who disagree. The message, though, that Rebecca and friends seem to cast is that these are commonplace and women are exclusively targeted – that the atheist and skeptic communities are unsafe places. It’s simply not the case. Not all critics are horrible people making nasty comments, but it the message sent is that so many of them are or that this is a majority position.

    “Really try to imagine that you were the target of such attacks. Do you imagine that any online activist, blogger, etc. could stand up to this level of obsessive negative scrutiny?”

    I know of many fellow activists who have stood up to the level of negative scrutiny in a professional and productive manner. Personally, in 2009, I had a whole community of real-life people with names attached living minutes away from me constantly sending hate mail (and some threats I reported and openly documented) for weeks following my complaint about a courthouse nativity scene. They also sent letters to my college demanding I be expelled, lose financial aid, be suspended, reprimanded, rebuked, etc. Donors threatened to cease funding the school and some outright vowed to boycott. People also sent ‘snail mail’ to my parents, family members, and associates filled with invective. Comment sections of local newspapers glew with hate and character attacks. I handled it well, though, and know what it is like. If people want to play the ‘oppression olympics’ I can play along, too.

    With Rebecca, it’s a polar opposite. When she receives criticism, no matter how mild, it’s the end of the world and an army of misogynists or ‘chill girls’ are allegedly ‘invalidating her experiences,’ ‘parroting misogynist thought,’ etc. If Rebecca handled the criticism more professionally and was civil, I doubt this level of pushback would exist. There are several women (and men) online who incur criticism, handle it professionally, and the haters go away or otherwise aren’t as vocal. With Rebecca, it’s transgression after transgression after transgression. She displays poor behavior and is so amazed when the negative feedback is received.

    Why is it, I wonder, that so many women in the skeptical community receive little to no hate while Rebecca receives it? Perhaps it is something to do with Rebecca’s unprofessionalism and character attacks on skeptics and atheists? If it really were because she is a woman or a feminist, I would expect many more to receive hate…but this simply isn’t the case.

    Surly Amy, I must admit, is making great steps toward a positive direction. She ‘freed the art’ and now she’s here communicating with Dr. Hall. She also contacted me quite nicely on Twitter asking for attribution for an image rather than resorting to other options. A point for her, I must say.

    I would be happy for Rebecca to ‘move on,’ but it probably isn’t going to happen.

    Here are some tips, anyway, for Rebecca and anyone who faces criticism/hate to reduce the criticism/hate:

    Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters.
    Avoid commenting on websites of your ideological opponents.
    Refrain from attacking individuals; stick to criticism of ideas rather than persons.
    Consider how people might respond to what you write. Can something be reframed so as to not lead to undesirable criticism?
    Avoid sharing content when experiencing heightened emotions (great anger, disgust, stress, etc)
    Consider sharing something with friends before it becomes public. A second (or third) set of eyes might suggest helpful edits which would avoid negative feedback.

  54. Halfdeadon 25 Feb 2013 at 3:57 pm

    With Rebecca, it’s a polar opposite. When she receives criticism, no matter how mild, it’s the end of the world and an army of misogynists or ‘chill girls’ are allegedly ‘invalidating her experiences,’ ‘parroting misogynist thought,’ etc. If Rebecca handled the criticism more professionally and was civil, I doubt this level of pushback would exist. There are several women (and men) online who incur criticism, handle it professionally, and the haters go away or otherwise aren’t as vocal. With Rebecca, it’s transgression after transgression after transgression. She displays poor behavior and is so amazed when the negative feedback is received.

    Wow…the story of the pot and the kettle come to mind….

  55. Venomon 25 Feb 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Hello everyone,

    Steven Novella wrote: “One particularly relevant rule is the principle of charity”. That sounds really nice indeed. Only last week I read on PZ Myers’s blog (in reply to Ben Radford): “Yeah, right. Fuck the principle of charity. No charity for you, Radford.” Here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/02/22/i-am-so-over-the-skeptical-movement/

    I think it’s important to remind that it’s the kind of discourse (or tone) we are facing today in the community of the rational. Not the very sensible approach advocated by Steven Novella on this blog.

    At the end of the day, I think too much damage has been done. I’m just talking about myself here, but I really lost a big part of the trust I had in the skeptical movement, especially its rationality (including the ability to have rational discussions). In a way, those dramas opened my eyes. Whatever who’s right and who’s wrong, not everybody can be right, but everybody claims to be “skeptical”, “rational” and so on. It’s obviously BS. Ideology are clearly blinding people.

    Today I stopped listening to lots of skeptical podcasts I was one a huge fan of in the past, including SGU (can’t stand to listen to Rebecca Watson anymore, sorry to say). An today I feel more and more uneasy with the label “skeptic”, and I hesitate more and more to apply it to myself, when once I was a big proponents of it.

    At the end, I think it’s a good thing. All those dramas made me more and more critical of the skeptical movement (as a movement, not skepticism as a way to look at the world). I learned a lot reading all those dramas. For me, the “moving forward” Steven Novella is talking about is probably synonymous of “let’s move away from the skeptical movement”. I don’t wish to support CFI anymore (because of the actions of Melody Hensley, for example). I don’t want to go to TAM anymore (because you have to be careful of the kind of T-shirt you wear there).

    Well, at the end, just thank you all for the hard job you did making people realize that the skeptical movement wasn’t so much worth promoting after all, and making someone sympathetic to feminism a few years ago really critical of it today. Nicely done. Now, let’s “move away” with our life…

    Sincerely,

  56. gusrineharton 25 Feb 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Would it be too silly to propose a code of conduct for the skeptic’s community to adhere to when discussing thing on various popular blogs and other social media? How about some simple frame work to allow criticism without it becoming personal? Steve’s proposals are a good start. Formalize it and call it the “Novella Accord.”

  57. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Please try to understand what people are actually saying and not make unsupported inferences. A lot of comments are simply addressing straw men.

    I never said that the threats and harassment were coming from skeptics and atheists. I have received e-mails claiming to come from skeptics, or listeners of the SGU, and probably some of them were being honest. But I have no idea about the source of anything online that is not coming from a named source.

    In terms of the effect this is having on the conversation, and the fact that such behavior is unacceptable, the source does not really matter. In terms of the question of whether or not the skeptical/atheist community has a particular problem with sexism, I have not commented on that at all, so you can’t infer what my position is. I tend to agree that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that we have a particular problem. I anyone is making that claim that is certainly a legitimate point of polite discussion.

    I am only point out the harassment because it seemed that certain commenters were denying their existence or authenticity. I never commented here on the behavior of others, and I certainly never set out hear to catalogue all the various violations of polite discourse that have occurred and still are occurring. Obviously, if I am advocating for being charitable and constructive I do not support behavior that in uncharitable or counterproductive.

    The goal here is make the conversation more productive, rather than negative. Since I am not defending anyone’s bad behavior I’m not sure why certain people feel the need to constantly point it out to me. Justin – you specific recommendations at the end of your last comment are all reasonable.

  58. Steven Novellaon 25 Feb 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I have heard from “both sides” now (there aren’t really two sides) something to the effect that – “we will never make progress until the other side changes its ways or realizes that we are right and they are wrong.”

    That’s not going to work.

    I have now provided you evidence that two people who perhaps thought that way realized it wasn’t true, they were much closer than they thought, and some reasonable communication was all that was needed.

    I am not saying there aren’t real difficulties here, but sometimes you do have to give people a chance.

  59. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Forgive me, Steven, but this:

    “I never said that the threats and harassment were coming from skeptics and atheists.”

    came after this:

    “I have not been a direct participant in the recent drama over sexism in the movement, but I have had a front row seat.”

    So, if “sexism in the movement” is the stated bone of contention, the veracity of the charge becomes salient to a honest discussion, without anyone necessarily wanting to strawman your unstated position.
    Please realise that if threats and ugly stuff do not significantly originate from within the community, then “sexism in the movement” is a gargantuan non-sequitur, and from the POV critical of the notion it represents an unacceptable framing of the debate.

    If you can’t see it, I’d like to invite you to a polite debate over “the problem of defamation and slander perpetrated by feminists in the movement”.

    You say:

    “I tend to agree that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that we have a particular problem. I anyone is making that claim that is certainly a legitimate point of polite discussion.”

    Please, take a second to realise the implications, because this isn’t about inconsequential problems like the existence of chupacabras.
    If a side is accusing the other (on insufficient evidence) of heinous prejudice and discrimination, then it isn’t the subject of polite conversation over tea.

    Supremacists will rightfully end up shunned by civil society and slanderers will typically end up in a court of law. These are serious and life-changing consequences and the lack of strong evidence should take the front seat and shape the debate, not the other way around.

  60. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 5:36 pm

    To the nice fellow who accused me earlier of being an MRA and other funny things, I’d recommend to expand his world-view beyond that simplistic manichean narrative.

    As a gender-blind egalitarian, I’m appalled and puzzled at groups who approach humanitarian issues from parochial perspectives.

  61. loyalbon 25 Feb 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I just realized something, since you haven’t addressed it: was I wrong? Did your co-host/employee suggest genital mutilation for an opponent or not? Do we do that now? Did she insult somebody for being a virgin or not? Do we do that now? I’ve tried to be nice, but you’re full of crap. Either these things are ok (funny!) or not ( misogynist :( ) What is your stance, and how will it be reflected in your popular skeptic podcast?

  62. Michaelon 25 Feb 2013 at 5:43 pm

    And thank you, Venom, for helping me realize what has been a growing sense within me as well.

    I have been feeling less and less comfortable with this “Skeptical Movement” over the past few years. There are personalities that are growing in prominence and influence within this movement. They are driving this movement more and more to place that I don’t want to be. I used to read several different blogs and have stopped — can’t take the nasty, arrogant tone. Of course, whenever someone makes a comment about tone, that quickly gets dismissed and derided. I used to think I wanted to go to a skeptical meeting. Not for a while though have I felt that way.

    I am about ready to give up on the SGU for the same reason you listed (in fact I can even recall when that first started — a well-meaning and completely innocent-sounding emailer asked a question about atheism and RW proceded to humiliate him (in my opinion). I find her at odds with the rest of that podcast panel.

    I find myself slowly moving toward the exit. And apparently a line is forming!

  63. Aidanon 25 Feb 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks Dr. Novella, it is so nice to see a dialogue starting on this issue. I hope more people can get on board and find productive solutions to these issues. I for one will do my best to take these ideas to heart and apply them in the future.

    I’ve been frustrated by what I have seen as many people deliberating misinterpreting other’s arguments. But, when I look at the history they are writing from (such as Watson’s history of abuse) suddenly their responses make a little more sense.

    It seems that a lot of these arguments are arising because everyone has a different view of events based on their personal history, the blogs they read, and the comments they read. Which is why your principal of charity is so important. But I fear that many bloggers won’t take this to heart. As Venom pointed out, PZ already criticized the principal of charity and refused to apply it to Ben Radford. This is the biggest problem that I see in these debates. When prominent bloggers like PZ choose to frame issues in ways that inflame their readership (rather than using the principal of charity) they derail conversations from the start. I’ve been trying to figure out how to look at PZ’s accusations against Radford charitably but I have a hard time doing so. Perhaps evidence of my own bias so I would love to find out why he refuses to use the principal of charity here. My best guess is that he thinks the principal of charity is a cop out for those who know they did something wrong.

  64. ConspicuousCarlon 25 Feb 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I think Steve Novella’s charity principle can easily turn into a habit of helping one’s friends excuse inexcusable behavior. It is a good thing, but not exactly an antidote without qualifications. It’s more like chelation. Sometimes life-saving, but also able to induce a different harm if overused.

    Also, NOT THAT ANYONE HAS ACTUALLY SAID THIS, but just to be preemptive, the overwhelmingly hideous threats sent to Rebecca and others from unspecified trolls are not an excuse for Rebecca’s nasty comment on Harriet Hall’s post. In fact, nothing is.

    Maybe instead of us all just getting along and moving on, Steve should come out and tell his co-podcaster, “sorry, but in spite of everything else, you were just wrong there.” It’s not like Harriet Hall has some equally crude offense and it all just cancels out.

  65. erikthebassiston 25 Feb 2013 at 6:21 pm

    “As a gender-blind egalitarian, I’m appalled and puzzled at groups who approach humanitarian issues from parochial perspectives.”

    I suppose you’re also ‘color blind’ when it comes to race issues? Do you really think it’s possible to be ‘gender blind’ or ‘color blind’? If you do, that’s your privilege talking.

    See this is the problem, claiming to be above racism or above sexism is sexist and racist in and of it’s self, but you can’t see it because you’re so convinced of your own apparent inability to be biased.

    To furthermore deny that not only can you not be sexist but that sexism doesn’t exist, denying the very existence of it, well that’s just unbelievable. I see sexism around me all the time, and I’m a white guy!

    We all carry cultural baggage about race and sex, no one is above it. It’s only provileged white dudes who think they can be, and usually fail miserably at trying.

  66. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Eric, I can only once again invite you to stop making assumptions based on parroting simplistic narratives which only betray your own lack of worldly experience.

  67. erikthebassiston 25 Feb 2013 at 6:42 pm

    “Eric, I can only once again invite you to stop making assumptions based on parroting simplistic narratives which only betray your own lack of worldly experience.”

    Right, so ad hom me and ignore anything I’ve said, while misspelling my name. Stay classy decius.

  68. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I didn’t mean to misspell you, sorry.

    There was nothing of substance, only assumptions and political mantra, so I can safely ignore your comments and invite you to consider that there exist experiences and places, which largely differ from yours and from the regurgitated bullshit you treat as acquired wisdom.

  69. Aidanon 25 Feb 2013 at 6:49 pm

    “claiming to be above racism or above sexism is sexist and racist in and of it’s self, but you can’t see it because you’re so convinced of your own apparent inability to be biased.”

    @erikthebassist you are likely correct that no one is really sex blind or color blind because of unconscious internal biases, but calling someone sexist and racist for believing that they are gender and race blind isn’t helping. Imagine how that is received… If I try to treat everyone equally regardless or race or sex and then you tell me that I’m being sexist and racist for doing so I will think you are crazy. That’s how your words will come across from the other side. Of course, I agree that we all have biases and we must do our best to overcome them. But calling someone sexist because they don’t think they have internal biases isn’t really fair or productive.

    @conspicuousCarl: isn’t the point of the principal of charity that we might be wrong and what appears to us to be inexcusable was actually just misinterpreted? If we refuse to apply the principal of charity because its used an excuse for bad behavior then that means we are refusing to accept a differing interpretation of an event. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this circular logic? It seems like you are saying: I won’t interpret what you said charitably because, under my interpretation of what you said, you said something inexcusable.

  70. Halfdeadon 25 Feb 2013 at 7:14 pm

    Steve, I owe you an apology, In previous threads I was a little upset with you for not addressing obvious falsehoods people were stating as facts. I now see you are bending over backwards to maintain civility and give people charitable interpretations of what they are saying. you may be trying too hard though, denigrating Rebecca and other women is all some of these people have, take that away and they have nothing to talk about.

  71. erikthebassiston 25 Feb 2013 at 7:19 pm

    “invite you to consider that there exist experiences and places, which largely differ from yours and from the regurgitated bullshit you treat as acquired wisdom.”

    Oh can you teach me oh wise one? Please? Please? I promise to wax your car and sand your deck for you if you do! I must learn of these places and experiences without which I am nothing but a flea on the back or your profound and wordly POV!! /sarcasm

    like I said, stay classy.

  72. Jacob Von 25 Feb 2013 at 7:22 pm

    “As a gender-blind egalitarian,…”
    Clearly the profound privilege of your ascendency is to be admired.

  73. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Another assumption and a poor attempt at comedy.

    Eric, there’s nothing that anyone can teach you. You have already been successfully indoctrinated by neo-marxist rhetoric. Now it’s up to you to check out reality against the 2-bit model you inhabit. Have fun with that.

  74. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Hey Jacob, why don’t you join Erik and help him explain me and my family to me? Does clairvoyance come with sanctimony upon indoctrination, or is it installed in the blinders?

    I don’t remember how it works, it’s been a long time since I lived under socialism. It was good to forget all about it, trust me.

  75. maudellon 25 Feb 2013 at 8:01 pm

    @ decius

    The concept of gender-blind equalitarianism sounds good. However, studies seem to indicate that it’s a lot more complicated than that (surprise…).
    In this case, I’m talking about studies about race, but the concept is similar (it doesn’t refute the “gender-blind” assumption, just something to think about). First, I’d like to say that there aren’t enough of these studies for them to be very solid, and that they are always performed on WEIRDs (EIRDs in this case). So lack of representative sample. Nevertheless, I think we can see a trend.
    This is one of those studies from MIT, but I have read other ones too. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_EACITlY-6BbkRlVjUzWG1OMUk/edit
    Anyway, the overall findings is that people who consider themselves to be “race blind” in social interactions end up making more decisions based on race when they interact with other people. It’s not that they’re racist as a person; but they have biased assumptions based on race. We all have that.
    So I think the problem raised with “gender blind” is that we all see gender, whether we want it or not, whether we realize it or not. If we want to strive for a more level playing field for all to compete, we have to acknowledge realize. I.e.: gender exists and we make decisions based on that. If we want to change that, ignoring categorization might not be the best way. In other words, it makes inequality impossible to see.
    [or I might have misunderstood what you meant]

  76. windyon 25 Feb 2013 at 8:17 pm

    A charitable reading of “gender-blind” would be that it refers to an ideal, not a claim that one (or society in general) already lives up to the ideal. Kind of like “skeptic”.

    ConspicuousCarl: agreed.

  77. Catsyon 25 Feb 2013 at 8:28 pm

    decius, you have acquitted yourself very poorly on this thread.

  78. Catsyon 25 Feb 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I am very glad that Amy Roth and Dr. Hall talked things out. I’m very glad Dr. Hall is not on the side of the haters.

    The haters have taken a big blow today. But they will try and spin this to their advantage. They will continue to play “tu quoque” (But PZ said! Yeahthehateanstuffisawful BUT what about that time Rebecca said…!?)

    They will continue to hate. It’s their raison d’etre.

    Principles like “reading charitably” are good heuristics, but, as others have said above, they can be used to deflect criticism of uncharitable (and dishonest) arguments.

    And “ignore the bullies” isn’t good advice. Ignoring them doesn’t stop them. It just further marginalizes their targets.

  79. ccbowerson 25 Feb 2013 at 9:07 pm

    The title of today’s post is “Moving Forward.” Apparently this is difficult for some.

    “Eric, I can only once again invite you to stop making assumptions based on parroting simplistic narratives”

    If you can recognize this pattern, why can’t you apply this inward?, because that quote applies to many of your comments here today. For example:

    “Finally, Sam Harris spoke eloquently on the secondary and long-terms effects of internet defamation by organised lynch-mobs.
    I guess that makes him a misogynist, too”

    Who here said that last statement (besides you)? No one else here even mentioned Sam Harris. It looks like you are the one parrotting a simplistic narrative.

    “It seems to me that both Rebecca and you have failed to make a case for misogyny in the community”

    This is not even what this post was about, perhaps you should read it. No where was he attempting to “make a case for misogyny in the community” so its not surprising that he failed at doing so. You are bringing other baggage into this discussion and it is not helpful. Perhaps the only way it is helpful is by demonstration of what is unhelpful.

  80. Halfdeadon 25 Feb 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Also, NOT THAT ANYONE HAS ACTUALLY SAID THIS, but just to be preemptive, the overwhelmingly hideous threats sent to Rebecca and others from unspecified trolls are not an excuse for Rebecca’s nasty comment on Harriet Hall’s post. In fact, nothing is.

    Hi Harriet,

    I won’t bother commenting on the sex/gender argument, as Will is more than capable of handling that. I will echo a few other commenters and point out that your “queer” statement doesn’t do you any favors in convincing anyone that your knowledge of these topics is anything close to approaching Will’s.

    You didn’t mention me as a person included amongst your feminist critics, but I suspect many people reading this will assume I’m in there somewhere, possible because your t-shirt at TAM did directly call out my website and you’ve mentioned that incident specifically in your post. So, I figured I’d respond briefly because I’ve never really discussed it publicly and never talked with you about it at all.

    When you made your “I am not a Skepchick” shirt, I did consider writing a blog post about it. Then I changed my mind and I composed an email to you in which I explained my feelings on the subject, since you seemed confused by the reaction you received. I pointed out that no one to my knowledge had ever called you a Skepchick, and I had never asked you to become a contributor to the network. I then used an analogy in which I pointed out that if a physician like Steve Novella went to the effort to create a CafePress shirt that read something like “I am not a SkepDoc. I am a skeptic,” you would be confused, a little hurt, and, when he wore it three days in a row, concerned for his personal hygiene. Your hurt feelings would be completely understandable, especially if he did this following a year in which you received a nonstop avalanche of insults, slurs, rape threats, and death threats from skeptics.

    So I wrote the email, tinkered with it for a few days, and eventually I deleted it without sending. The reason was that after reflecting on it for so long, I came to the realization that while a week prior I held an immense amount of respect for you, I suddenly had lost that respect so completely that I had no interest in getting it back. I realized I was stressing out over someone who was so proud of an immature t-shirt she made that she wore it for an entire weekend. I realized that anyone who needs an explanation of why that was silly and hurtful doesn’t actually deserve an explanation, and they certainly don’t deserve real estate in my head. So I let others argue over it while I moved on to more interesting things.

    I’m writing all this to you now because I want to be sure that you know that I do not think of you as my enemy. In fact, I don’t really think of you at all. The most one could say is that when you are occasionally brought to my attention, as happened with Will’s recent posts, I simply think of you as ill-informed on social issues.

    So, having now spent ten precious minutes on the subject, it’s once again time for me to move on to more interesting things.

    I’m not finding the nastiness. Perhaps you could underline it.

  81. Catsyon 25 Feb 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Given the ample evidence of daily attacks on Rebecca and other feminist bloggers–they are NOT all coming from “outside the community”–we have ample evidence of misogyny in the community.

    In the comments, somebody equivocated by claiming our feminist bloggers are saying that “misogyny in our community” is WORSE THAN “misogyny everywhere else. Nobody has claimed such a thing. Is it *worse* than misogyny elsewhere? Probably not. It may even be a bit better.

    So what? That’s a very very low bar. We should be better than the wider community. Misogyny should be unacceptable in our community.

  82. deciuson 25 Feb 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Sam Harris disagreed with PZ and was therefore snidely crucified as a racist. Sorry, my bad, I remembered wrong. I can’t keep track of who is a rape apologist, who a privileged old white misogynistic scum, who a garden misogynist, and so on, in the community .

    I’m glad that you, excellent FTB people and RW the Unwrong worshippers, can keep track of all that noble stuff for us.

  83. ccbowerson 25 Feb 2013 at 10:08 pm

    “I can’t keep track of who is a rape apologist, who a privileged old white misogynistic scum, who a garden misogynist, and so on, in the community .”

    Oh so you can’t keep your made up strawmen straight. Understood.

    If anyone is making unreasonable claims, then feel free to take them to task for it, but stop talking about these as if they are legitimate positions that people are taking (ocassional outlier aside). You are bringing this baggage with you, and that seems to be the source of your problem. And charitable, I am being.

  84. Biohazardon 25 Feb 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Steven Novella wrote: “Regarding cyberstalking – it’s all a matter of degree. A certain level of obsession and persistent negativity does rise to the level of stalking, but there is no bright line.”

    No “bright line” indeed unless we are willing to give credence to similar accusations made by creationists like William Dembski who claimed that Wesley Elsberry and Richard Wein are “Internet stalkers”

    Dembski: “My most obnoxious critics have been Internet stalkers (e.g., Wesley Elsberry and Richard Wein), who seem to monitor my every move and as a service to the Internet community make sure that every aspect of my work receives their bad housekeeping seal of disapproval.

    Source: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/dembski/docs/bd-meta098.html

    Steven Novella wrote: “The elevatorgate site is targeted and unfairly negative and hostile…”

    A creationist might similarly characterize a blog like Pandas Thumb, Pandas Thumb being the place that Freethought Blogs owner Ed Brayton responded to William Dembski’s “internet stalking” accusations thusly:

    Ed Brayton: “William Dembski has this odd habit when someone publishes a criticism of his writings. Rather than engage in substantive refutation of those criticisms, he often claims either to be the victim of some cosmic unfairness by the Darwinian Inquisition, or he claims that the person criticizing him is obsessed with him. As an example of the first, I point you to his frantic complaints of copyright violation and ethical mistreatment by Rob Pennock in early 2002, after Pennock had included a couple of essays of his in an anthology he edited called Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics. He accused Pennock of copyright infringement, but in fact he had the written permission of the actual copyright owners, Metanexus. The owners of Metanexus published a public exoneration of Pennock in the matter.

    For an example of the second strategy, I point you to his having called Richard Wein, Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit his “internet stalkers” because they – gasp! – read and criticized his work. And in public. The nerve of these people, actually analyzing and critiquing the work of a scholar! He hasn’t done much to actually answer their critiques, mind you, but he’s called them “obsessed” and it appears that he thinks that actually defeats their arguments.”

    Source: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/10/dembskis-obsess.html

    A lot of this language is eerily familiar.

    I have not been a participant in this conflict and am not taking sides now. I just wanted to point out this interesting repeating of history.

    Re-lurking.

  85. ChrisHon 25 Feb 2013 at 11:23 pm

    People need to earn our respect. Dr. Hall and Ms. Roth have earned our respect by discussing their issues like adults. They have realized where they made errors, and have admitted them. This is a good thing.

    Perhaps others will learn from their example.

  86. Chason 26 Feb 2013 at 12:18 am

    @gusrinehar

    That sounds cool and all but Dan Fincke has already done the heavy lifting on this front with his civility pledge. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2013/02/the-camels-with-hammers-civility-pledge/

    Let’s all try to follow the lead of Surly Amy and Harriet Hall and give charity a chance.

  87. rafalon 26 Feb 2013 at 1:16 am

    Now, if only this type of thing happened more often.

  88. erikthebassiston 26 Feb 2013 at 1:43 am

    “Now, if only this type of thing happened more often.”

    So then feminists and MRA’s could lay down in a bed of roses and kiss and make up…

  89. erikthebassiston 26 Feb 2013 at 1:46 am

    decius… WTF does feminism have to with socialism and neo-marxism?

  90. erikthebassiston 26 Feb 2013 at 1:48 am

    have to do with*

  91. erikthebassiston 26 Feb 2013 at 2:11 am

    ok seriously… JV, you’re reading this comment thread, do this:

    Renounce the pit, renounce reap paden, he is clearly off the deep end.

    Every one renounce thunderfool…..

    ERV has some splainin to do…

    The ftbullies# stops now….

    You want a cease fire…. Call a cease fire, no more bashing of RW, no more bashing of Skepchick or FTB, admit that feminism is a voice that will be heard, acknowledge that women are people, and should be treated as equals at secular events. Start fucking there.

    Thunderfool doesn’t get to gnaw on people’s extremities without their consent. RW doesn’t have to get propositioned in an elevator at 4:00 AM when she’s clearly there to talk about women in the secular movement and not get hit on in enclosed spaces by strangers.

    Women don’t attend secular events so you can try and fuck them. Start there JV, admit that, admit that men can make things uncomfortable for women when they act like predators, admit that women want to be seen and acknowledged for their intellectual contribution, and not their vaginal worth.

    Start there……

  92. Murmuron 26 Feb 2013 at 4:44 am

    I think the discussion in the comments of this blog entry are quite interesting. The original post was made with the best of intentions and in the spirit of clearing the air and creating a forum for fair discussion. There will always be those who will not accept any kind of conflict resolution and who will bring their own agendas to any discussion, and as much as we can try to be charitable, it is hard sometimes to figure out what real arguments they may have.

    I have noticed a trend in this and other posts that some people seem to have the most laboured and “vomitted dictionary” style of writing. As a proponent of speaking plain Enlgish I find it very funny, and if I didn’t have a job would love to go through each post and boil their alphabetti-spaghetti splurge into something that makes sense without having to decode what they are trying to say through context and other clues they may drop during their diatribes.

    Back to the topic though, ccbowers and ericthebassist have pretty much said exactly what I would have said, so no point repeating it all.

  93. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 6:13 am

    The framework is the same, Erik, at least in the form that is being pursued and peddled in the movement.
    The basic tenets and modus operandi are very similar.
    Both are based on binary divisions, which make sense only very superficially.
    People are not regarded as individuals, but as members of their sex or class. Either they’re party members or enemies of the people. Hatred and mistrust for the ideologically-impure drives the aeternal witch-hunts and purges.

    It’s like an old movie, one I had hoped not to see again. But whatever rocks your boat, mate. You will one day wake up in the same place as your intellectual predecessors.

  94. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2013 at 6:56 am

    Carl wrote: “I think Steve Novella’s charity principle can easily turn into a habit of helping one’s friends excuse inexcusable behavior.”

    I disagree. The principle of charity is not about making excuses, but about making a sincere attempt to understand the position that someone else actually holds, and giving them the benefit of the doubt when there is ambiguity or incompleteness in how their position was stated. It also means not making negative assumptions about motivation and not inferring motivations or goals that are not expressly stated.

    The constructive response when you suspect someone has an ill motive or goal is to simply ask them for a clarification, not to make negative (and often self-serving) assumptions.

    Again – we point this out in non-skeptics all the time. True-believers often accuse skeptics of being afraid of the truth or being on the take. We also are often careful not to assume that someone peddling snake oil is a con or fraud, perhaps they are just sincerely wrong. These are the same violations of charity as assuming someone is being sexist, or of self-promotion, or fomenting drama,etc.

    We owe our fellow skeptics at least the minimum courtesy that we grant to our adversaries. But allies do make the bitterest enemies.

  95. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:02 am

    erikthebasist – it is easy to make a list of grievances you want the other side to own up to and correct.

    Try this – make a similar list of the things that what you consider to be your side can and should acknowledge and improve.

  96. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:05 am

    biohazzard – don’t commit the “False continuum” fallacy. Just because there is a continuum does not mean that we cannot meaningful label the extremes.

    Of course creationists are going to use the “stalking” defense. Any “watchdog” effort could be spun as stalking. One might argue that the ID crowd are stalking evolution, pouncing on every evolution-themed news item and spinning it with their propaganda. They need skeptical watchdogs.

    This is significantly different than a site dedicated to smearing an individual.

  97. oolonon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:10 am

    Wow Justin Vaculas comment giving “advice” on how to avoid harassment campaigns is rather inappropriate… Comes across as shut up or I’ll carry on punching you in the face (Or in his case – his mates will carry on punching you in the face). Really shows how clueless he is at times. Let me give it a go …

    Justin when you hang out at the Slymepit which is dedicated to finding the least charitable interpretation of anything and everything said by Skepchicks/FtBers and anyone on the periphery you are not in a position to give advice. Especially when that forum creates “disagreement” along the lines of this without so much as a whimper of complaint from you.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/02/02/what-is-more-important-than-peace-nsfw/

    That’s not even the worst of it… The “skeptics” at the Slymepit have recently targeted Ellen Beth Wachs, cheered on by the queen of the forum ERV of scienceblogs, to side with the fundamentalist Christian Sheriff and his allegations against her designed to smear and undermine her secular activism. Here is James Randi’s opinion of Ellen ->
    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/1399-polk-county-sheriff-grady-judd-loses-fight-against-humanist-activist.html
    Here is ERV encouraging her internet mob to “carry on trolling” Ellen, by trolling she means continue spreading the Sheriffs false allegations against her.
    https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/559922_575610799116647_1451923567_n.jpg

    That is still not the worst of it…. Really! Avicenna is a new blogger on FtBs, who has the great minds at the Slymepit trying to deny him his massive £1 income a day from blogging. But even more worryingly the great “freethinkers” over there have been supporting and encouraging a particularly nasty MRA who engages in some pretty nasty rape apologia over the recent Indian rape cases. Big cheer for “freethought” there!
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/02/22/conflict-in-atheism/

    So Steven Novella will find some push back for his call for both sides to be more charitable. I agree with him there is a continuum of criticisms the Slymepit etc pick up on … But when the “reasonable” people criticising, like Justin Vacula, hang out with a group of despicable bullies and say nothing why should anyone listen to them?

  98. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 7:24 am

    Maudell, I know that egalitarianism is difficult to pursue and that as imperfect humans we’re prone to faux pas and errors.
    That doesn’t validate any competing world-view, though, particularly one that comes laden with an extremely divisive ideology.

  99. arnieon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:25 am

    Thank you, Murmur. I suspect there were others, besides me, who were trying to formulate something akin to your words, but you said it very well.

    It is so hard to not to “bite” when someone presents themselves as truly believing that they have somehow managed to achieve the well-documented impossible, namely that they are truly gender-blind or race-blind and imply that they speak totally bias-free. However, I think that the ensuing exchanges with “decius” reveal once again the utter futility of getting diverted into attempting meaningful dialogue with someone who apparently sincerely believes he or she has achieved such bias-free purity.

    Dr. Novella’s fair-minded and constructive efforts in posting his original comments above deserved better than such dead-ended diversions

  100. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 7:34 am

    Arnie, fantastic exercise in ascribing words, thoughts and generally missing the point. Bravo.

  101. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2013 at 7:42 am

    @erikthebassist:

    WTF does feminism have to do with socialism and neo-marxism?

    Radical feminism uses the same dialectic approach as marxism:

    - Both divide humanity in two arbitrary groups, with one group systematically oppressed by the other (workers vs. bourgeoisie, women vs. men).

    - Both hold that individuals are primarily defined by the group they belong to, and that any individual’s instinctive loyalty is to the group with the proviso that members of the oppressing group only favour members of their own group, whereas members of the oppressed group want the best for all of humanity.

    - Both feel a better society will arise when the perceived roles of the groups will be reversed. In other words, the currently oppressed group is morally better than the oppressing group, and will not oppress the defeated group once in power.

    - Both redefine and create language (comrade, sister, class war, rape culture, entitlement, etc.) and develop pseudo-philosophy and pseudo-science around their core dogmas.

    - Both hold that those they identify as members of the oppressing group cannot have valid criticism of the core beliefs. In fact, criticism is seen as proof of membership of the oppressing group.

    - Both believe that purported past injustices against members of the oppressed group (even if the circumstances were different and the “members” of those days did not perceive their situation as injust) justify retaliatory action against living members of the oppressing group (even if these individuals personally never did anything “oppressive”). The group is more important than the individual.

    - Both believe a self-defined victim status intitles them to the moral high-ground, and both believe that doubting their victim status is the same as oppression.

    - Both believe the members of the oppressing group are aware of their privileged status and maliciously protect and promote the injust privileges of their group.

    - Both ignore evidence showing their worldview is too simplistic.

    Basically, both are a non-religious expressions of the group-building behavioural patterns that allow humans to build large, cooperative societies. While in earlier days the grouping was based on genetic relationships (tribe vs the rest) and used religion, Marx used the worker/bourgeois division and socialism. This doesn’t mean there is no good in socialism or religion, just that the ideology+group pattern is a very powerful organisational tool. One only has to look at history to see it occur over and over (mormonism, scientology, moonies, companies such as Apple, etc.). It becomes problematic when the group claims universality and moral authority over those not formally part of the us/them divide (this is the case for religions such as christianity and islam, or political ideologies such as marxism).

    Does this answer your question?

  102. arnieon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:42 am

    Decius, Of course. Thank you. I rest my case.

  103. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2013 at 8:00 am

    Folks, let’s not forget it is all about individual humans. Some are very nice, some very nasty, and the rest are somewhere inbetween, but pretty decent overall. When we stick on labels, it is to further understanding, not to force individuals in our more or less arbitrary pigeonholes. Statistics give valuable information on populations, not on individuals — this has been said before, but it should be said louder and more often.

    Another oft-forgotten fact is that humans are social animals. We form groups, and defend them against other groups. Once individuals identify with a group, they subconsciously adopt the values of the group, even if these values were not the primary reason for joining. Once part of a group, even skeptical individuals will subconsciously jostle for position. Some are leaders, and will do what is required to affirm their leadership. Some are lieutenants, and will attach themselves to successful leaders.

    Leaders adopt the viewpoints that ensure them of the largest following — one of the defining characteristic of a leader is the ability to “embody” the ideas that live within the vast majority of their potential supporters. In doing so, they take the ideas to their extreme (as far as they can go to promote the growth and strength of the group). One only has to look at populist political parties to see this pattern in operation.

    The problem with Steven Novella’s (and Harriet’s and Amy’s) laudable attempts to close the “rift” is that the leaders of the opposing sides benefit from widening it, and will subconsciously do whatever is required to keep it open.

  104. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2013 at 8:15 am

    Bill – I disagree. You are oversimplifying. Not all leaders seek to maximize their following or will be motivated to maintain rifts. Some leaders are “value based” in that they base their role on promoting a certain value system or ideology. That value system may include principles of polite skeptical discourse.

    I believe our community generally values skeptical discourse, and therefore those who violate this to promote their perceived “side” may risk marginalizing themselves.

    We also have to consider how we are viewed by the general public. It is actually possible for people to put the movement as a whole above their personal motivations.

    Many of the more cynical comments here I find to be self-fulfilling. If we assume it’s hopeless, then it will be. If we assume that people (dedicated to reason) can be reasonable, then there is hope.

  105. utiboon 26 Feb 2013 at 8:20 am

    I think its positive whenever people put their differences aside in order to engage in some rational debate, as Roth and Hall have done here. So well done them.

    There are, it seems to me, three general sources of this conflict. One is sincere and real ideological differences. If you read the recent exchange between Harriet Hall on SBM and Will on Skepchick, and a sample of the comments to each, these differences become apparent. Where exactly to draw the line between free speech and the avoidance of offense is one recurrent theme. Still, this by itself should not be enough to cause such a rift, for our common ground dwarfs these differences.

    If you were to write it out as a list then I would agree that common ground dwarfs these differences. I think you’re missing the value that people place on certain beliefs and positions. When PZ Myers says, to paraphrase, “if skepticism won’t allow for advocacy of feminism, then fuck skepticism” he is entirely justified in placing his value of feminism above all else. To the extent that it can nullify all of the common ground he might have with other skeptics and atheists. I think the proper response to this kind of behaviour should be to wave him a cheery goodbye, a no hard feelings and best of luck in the feminist movement. It shouldn’t be to accomodate him and fundamentally change the focus of the skeptical movement in doing so.

    This doesn’t mean that ideological differences can’t be discussed, nor that some of the feminist concerns can’t be discussed and addressed. Just that at a certain point our goals obviously diverge and at that point our differences do become more important than our commonalities.

    A second source of conflict are those who have chosen cyberstalking and daily harassment as their chosen mechanism of activism. Rape threats, threats of violence, sexually charged and grossly offensive language have no place in this discussion, but have infiltrated our community. The result has been to raise the level of emotion and defensiveness and pushing all sides toward the more radical extreme. This is, unfortunately, part of the new social media world we have created. We have to find ways to marginalize and ignore these elements, and not confuse them for those who have reasonable and friendly disagreements.

    First off, yes obviously, rape-threats, threats of violence, sexually charged language and grossly offensive language have no place in any discussion. What actually constitutes “grossly offensive language” is an area of disagreement but suffice it to say that just outright calling a person an offensive name while claiming to be engaged in discussion with them is not on.

    Another fundamental disagreement between the two sides though, is what actually constitutes cyber-stalking and daily harassment. A recent article by Stephanie Zvan (linked by oolon above) implies that talking on a forum about her is enough to constitute harassment and that reading her blog is enough to constitute cyber-stalking. To my mind, if you are going out of your way to find things that offend you, you aren’t being harassed. I think its important that people are very clear about what they mean when they use these terms if there’s any chance of moving forward.

    The third source of conflict seems to be avoidable misunderstandings on all sides. This is something we can fix, with a few helpful rules of conduct and more open communication.

    There is a lot of misunderstanding on all sides. A lot of it is intentional. I think this can be addressed but only with the good faith of all participants. I’m not holding my breath for that.

  106. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 8:21 am

    Bill, thanks for your post about the analogies between marxism and feminism. I’m not knowledgeable enough to answer Erik’s question so eloquently.

    I don’t think you will find much in the way of leaders and hierarchy on the side of the divide which opposes the feminist takeover, though, unless I missed something
    What you will find is impatience for the continuous waste of time and distraction from common causes. The wound being entirely self-inflicted for motives irrelevant to anything we spontaneously coalesced around for, there’s no great motivating force other than shared exasperation and self-defence from ideological attacks.

  107. windyon 26 Feb 2013 at 9:10 am

    …admit that feminism is a voice that will be heard, acknowledge that women are people, and should be treated as equals at secular events.

    Agreed. As equals, I don’t think we need to be protected from exposure to occasional awkward advances, snarky t-shirts that we disagree with, harsh critiques of poorly conceived presentations, or ‘dangerous’ ideas like the possible existence of some persistent average gender differences in psychological traits.

  108. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2013 at 9:12 am

    Steven – I merely observe that the subconscious drive to gather the troops by defining an enemy and villyfing them is operating in the “skeptical community”. I am loath to name names, but I found PZ’s comment on the reconciliation of HH and AR typical of the pattern:

    arriet Hall and Amy Roth have reconciled. I’m pleased to hear it; I wasn’t worried about Amy, but Hall was going to hit mantle at the rate she was digging. It is a great relief that she stopped, looked around, and considered her situation thoughtfully, and then responded well.

    “Damning with faint praise” comes to mind. You only have to read the comments in this thread to observe a bunch of faithful lieutenants hard at work fanning the flames.

    It is for the leaders to see how, for all their claims of skepticism, rationality and science, they are running some of the oldest programs of organised humankind. If there is any value to skepticism and a science based approach, they should prove it by taking a long, hard and objective look at their behaviour, see where they are ideologically motivated, and correct that by becoming inclusive instead of exclusive. And as far as I am concerned, they could try and include those a lot of vocal atheists and skeptics love to insult and belittle, such as the conservatives (“wingnuts”), religious believers, and yes, even the pope :) .

  109. rafalon 26 Feb 2013 at 9:37 am

    A cool thing I noticed about applying the principle of charity is its ability to subtly influence the views of the other person.

    When you make a positive interpretation, the other person has the choice whether to agree with that interpretation or not. This eliminates some of the inherent vagueness in arguments, forcing them to either adapt the more charitable interpretation – which is great, or rebel against it and so burring themselves into a less defensible position, and making it easier for you to checkmate them argumentatively.

    And if they do yield to your charitable interpretation, they’ll start defending it in order to be consistent, slowly internalizing it.

  110. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2013 at 10:14 am

    Bill – yes, tribalism kicks in. It is something to be aware of.

    rafal – you are giving away my secret :)

    Seriously – it does have the advantage of being an effective strategy, as you point out.

    If you will indulge me in some counseling 101 – it is most helpful not to focus on what others should do (or speculate about what they will or will not do), but rather to focus on what you should and can do. Waiting for everyone else to start behaving better does not help, you have to just do it yourself and hope others will follow.

    Also – counselors talk about the notion of the “identified patient.” Within a group people often blame problems on one person or subgroup, when the real issue is the dynamics of the interaction of the whole group. Again, it is most constructive to be introspective about your role in the group dynamic and how you can improve it, rather than blame one segment (which always happens to be someone else).

  111. erikthebassiston 26 Feb 2013 at 10:16 am

    Bill Openthalt,

    Odd how I have no problem at all imagining some one making the same argument during the civil rights movement.

    Steven,

    I would love to able to make a charitable interpretation of the other side’s demands, but I can’t fathom such a list that doesn’t include women shutting up.

    Windy,

    Your list reads like a straw fest. In isolation, none of these things are particularly egregious. It’s when such behavior is done with the intent of creating a hostile environment that it rises to the level of harassment and should not be tolerated if we expect to create an open and welcome environment for every one.

  112. thetalkingstoveon 26 Feb 2013 at 10:24 am

    “erikthebasist – it is easy to make a list of grievances you want the other side to own up to and correct.
    Try this – make a similar list of the things that what you consider to be your side can and should acknowledge and improve.”

    Steve…do the comments here not give you a pretty good idea of which side needs to do the vast majority of the corrections? I appreciate you’re trying to be a mediator, but you’re dealing with people who think feminism is at best irrelevant and at worst (apparently) dedicated to subjugating men.

    On one side are people saying ‘let’s respect women. men should think about how they approach them. we shouldn’t use gendered slurs. We shouldn’t ascribe gender differences where there isn’t much evidence that they exist. Here’s some robust criticism.”

    The other side says “women should just put up with it. I’ll say what I want. It’s obvious that there are differences even though I don’t have any evidence. don’t criticise Sam Harris. no, wait, not criticise – don’t LYNCH him. now here’s some photoshops, stalking websites and fake twitter accounts.”

    The things which our side should do, Steve? Vacula pretty much told you what it would take: for Rebecca Watson (in particular, but I’ll take it it applies to the rest of Skepchick and FTB) to shut up.

  113. Murmuron 26 Feb 2013 at 10:33 am

    “…it is most helpful not to focus on what others should do (or speculate about what they will or will not do), but rather to focus on what you should and can do. Waiting for everyone else to start behaving better does not help, you have to just do it yourself and hope others will follow.”

    This deserves repeating… everywhere that everyone can repeat it.

    It should be the quote of the week on the SGU.

  114. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2013 at 10:46 am

    thetalkingstove – the comments here are not representative, and there are more than two sides in this. It is probably not a good idea to paint the perceived “other side” with one extreme brush (hey, maybe that can be the first thing on our list).

    Harriet and Amy perhaps represented the lowest hanging fruit, in that they were never very far apart and are both exceptionally nice people. There are plenty of people in the middle ground, who mean well but have said things that were perhaps not helpful, and perhaps can do a better job of promoting their perspective while making a genuine attempt to understand other perspectives.

    What I do see some of in the comments are people saying – the “other side” is incorrigible – just look at these worst examples I cherry picked.

    We can start in the middle and work our way out. Sure, some people are going to be over the line and irreconcilable. But let’s not worry about them. Let’s focus on what we can do, and who will be amendable to reason.

  115. Coelon 26 Feb 2013 at 11:11 am

    # thetalkingstove:

    In the spirit of Steve’s request, here are two starting suggestions for ideas one’s own “side” could adopt:

    “The other side says “women should just … “”.

    #1: Not see everything in terms of binary “sides”, and thus not automatically assign anyone who disagrees with you on anything to some opposed “side”.

    #2: Produce summaries of an opponent’s position that there is some chance they might accept as fair!

  116. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2013 at 11:32 am

    Erik — You don’t have to believe me, but I am an lapsed marxist-leninist (full disclosure: I am also a lapsed catholic, who started out as an altar boy, making a detour through Opus Dei and ended singing Gregorian masses before moving to “the other side”). I have first-hand experience of ideology-based groups, and how they affect the way one interprets reality.

    The filters that are put in place are very strong, and they do effectively colour the perceived opponents morally bad. I known the visceral disgust towards the opponents and their ideas, the total incomprehension at their incredible stupidity, the certainty they had to know they were doing wrong, but still chose to do it for their selfish purposes. I even know how it feels to be certain that killing these people and their associates, especially the “innocent bystanders” (whom I did not consider innocent, but supporters of the regime though their guilty inaction) would bring along a better world. I was lucky not to go beyond the hot air before snapping out of it all. I don’t know why, it just happened, and I am thankful it did.

    I am not saying the feminist movement is violent (though some extremists no doubt are). I am just saying it’s an ideology like marxism is an ideology. Like marxism, it starts from real issues only to transform them into grotesque manichean caricatures. Reality is not like this.

    Reality is so much more. Drop the glasses for a moment and look at the other side. They are like you, and you could well be them. Find what unites, not what divides.

  117. rafalon 26 Feb 2013 at 11:44 am

    I like the point about the real issue often being the dynamics of the interaction of the whole group.

    It’s as if feuds get too complicated for our brains so instead of manoeuvring around conflict, best option we see is to not lose the next skirmish. We buckle down, get defensive, focus on the flaws of the other side and rationalize our own. The key problem being, that even if we’re more correct than the other side, we can still be a fundamental part of the problem.

    So just reinterpreting the victory condition as moving ALL participants toward a better place, as opposed to triumphing over the villains can go a long way.

  118. Cunning_personon 26 Feb 2013 at 11:58 am

    “Renounce the pit, renounce reap paden, he is clearly off the deep end.
    Every one renounce thunderfool…..
    ERV has some splainin to do…
    The ftbullies# stops now….”

    RENOUNCE, RENOUNCE, RENOUNCE!!

    Do you have the slightest idea how ridiculous you sound? Are you a freethinker or a cult member?

    What else is in your repertoire? Struggle sessions? Self criticism? Not for you of course – there is absolutely nothing you need to be criticized for.

    This kind of garbage is why I am no longer a supporter or reader of freethought blogs.

  119. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 11:59 am

    Frankly Bill your comparison of feminism to Marxism looks like a house of straw. I’m resisting the temptation to Fisk the whole thing, but really; “Both feel a better society will arise when the perceived roles of the groups will be reversed..” is not true of feminism at all. No one is arguing that men should be subjected to the kind of sexism women have to put up with.

    The rest of your list isn’t much better. The only caricature here is the one you’re presenting and it’s not very helpful.

    Asking that we not condone or dismiss or ignore harassment, wherever it’s coming from, is hardly a radical idea. Neither is the suggestion that we might strengthen our community by finding ways to make under-represented demographics more visible, welcome and comfortable in our midst.

  120. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Not a former communist myself, but I used to travel extensively beyond the Iron Curtain, then moved to the DDR in the crucial weeks of its demise and lived through the reunification process in East Berlin.

    From my window, I can literally still see the remnants of the Wall erected by the regime’s priesthood, in order to “protect” the citizens from bourgeois decadence and all the hateful influences spreading from the opposite side of the ideological – but ultimately non-existent – divide.

    Just like Bill, I can spot the hydra as soon as it rears one of its ugly heads.

    It’s amazing that anyone, in this day and age, would take any of that ideological bullshit seriously, but it feels like a civil duty to oppose it.

  121. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Steve Novella,

    While I appreciate your pointing out that there are more than two side to this–that is true–I would also remind you that there is one simple binary proposition here that deserves a yes or no response:

    Is sexism a problem in the skeptical community?

    The answer is obvious.

    Premise 1: Sexism is a problem in this society and culture. (Whether you’re in the USA or elsewhere, this is true; there are, as far as I know of, zero countries on the planet where there are no gender inequalities to address, though some countries have fewer and some have more.)

    Premise 2: The skeptical community is composed of people who grew up with and exist within this culture and society.

    Conclusion: Sexism is a problem in the skeptical community.

    Those who claim to be skeptical about this are making the claim that either sexism is not a problem in our society–and there is some overlap between self-proclaimed skeptics and people who believe this obvious falsehood–or that there’s something about adopting the label “skeptic” that magically erases all of society’s programming about gender roles, sex, consent, homosexuality, and all the rest of it.

    I know of nobody who has claimed that sexism is WORSE in the skeptical community than out of it, although I will cop to starting to wonder if this is the case after two years of sustained, targeted harassment against women known for being feminists in the skeptical movement. I doubt it, though. But for a person who has the facts, and who applies critical reasoning to the facts, claiming that sexism is not a problem is simply not a supportable claim. And in order to move the conversation forward, we need to stop stalling out at the “Is/isn’t sexism a problem?” conversation. Which means excluding those who claim that sexism isn’t a problem from the conversation, just like we exclude climate change denialists in order to have meaningful conversations about what to do to mitigate or adapt to climate change.

  122. Oracon 26 Feb 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Harriet and Amy perhaps represented the lowest hanging fruit, in that they were never very far apart and are both exceptionally nice people. There are plenty of people in the middle ground, who mean well but have said things that were perhaps not helpful, and perhaps can do a better job of promoting their perspective while making a genuine attempt to understand other perspectives.

    Indeed. Most of the Slymepitters, as far as I can tell, are a lost cause, but I am hoping that Amy and Harriet’s example will rub off on some of the combatants within the movement who are not.

  123. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Right Orac. I will renounce Reap Satan and the Flame Pit, after all She was threatened for our sins.

  124. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Re: Justin Vacula’s suggestions above:

    “Do not directly or indirectly engage with dissenters.
    Avoid commenting on websites of your ideological opponents.”

    These first two might be taken by a less charitable person than I as a polite suggestion to “shut up and go away”…not good advice at all.

    The rest of them are sensible enough:

    “Refrain from attacking individuals; stick to criticism of ideas rather than persons.
    Consider how people might respond to what you write. Can something be reframed so as to not lead to undesirable criticism?
    Avoid sharing content when experiencing heightened emotions (great anger, disgust, stress, etc)
    Consider sharing something with friends before it becomes public. A second (or third) set of eyes might suggest helpful edits which would avoid negative feedback.”

    I would suggest that Mr. Vacula himself might do a better job of following that advice and would add one more suggestion; avoid running to websites which promote hatred of a group of people to attack individuals who may belong to that group…http://www.avoiceformen.com/author/justin-vacula/

  125. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Sallystrange, your reasoning omits to consider that the single biggest contributor to sexism is our society still is religion, which is remarkably under-represented in our movement.

    The current biggest contributor is the feminist contingent, who continue to act as if our genitalia is what define us.

  126. rafalon 26 Feb 2013 at 1:11 pm

    @Orac
    Actually, I disagree with the idea of labelling some people as a lost cause.

    While a 360 transformation might be unlikely, progress can be made with anyone.

  127. MCORon 26 Feb 2013 at 1:21 pm

    It’s good to see some progress being made. While I could debate and quibble and discuss and cavil about all the controversies and conflicts involved, personally I think that the worst part of all this in-fighting is just how dull it all is. As if there weren’t enough problems in the world…

    I just find it disappointing to see so many talented people arguing over internet drama. And I think this applies to both “sides”.

    I look forward to everyone talking about science and skepticism again.

    Keep up the good work.

  128. parseon 26 Feb 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Justin Vacula, I see that you have some tips for Rebecca (and other people who are the recipients of abuse) to minimize the grief they receive. Though I strongly disagree with some of them, there’s others that are useful to people that haven’t heard or considered them before.
    Per Steven Novella’s comments around 7:00 am this morning, could also you make a list of some of the things your side can and should acknowledge and improve? Do you have any advice for them, on how to minimize grief and abuse?

  129. utiboon 26 Feb 2013 at 2:15 pm

    @SallyStrange

    The answer is obvious.

    Premise 1: Sexism is a problem in this society and culture. (Whether you’re in the USA or elsewhere, this is true; there are, as far as I know of, zero countries on the planet where there are no gender inequalities to address, though some countries have fewer and some have more.)

    Premise 2: The skeptical community is composed of people who grew up with and exist within this culture and society.

    Conclusion: Sexism is a problem in the skeptical community.

    Those who claim to be skeptical about this are making the claim that either sexism is not a problem in our society–and there is some overlap between self-proclaimed skeptics and people who believe this obvious falsehood–or that there’s something about adopting the label “skeptic” that magically erases all of society’s programming about gender roles, sex, consent, homosexuality, and all the rest of it.\

    Premise 1: Violence is a problem in this society and culture (Whether you’re in the USA or elsewhere, this is true; there are, as far as I know of, zero countries on the planet where it does not occur in some form, though some countries are worse than others.)

    Premise 2: The skeptical community is composed of people who grew up with and exist within this culture and society.

    Conclusion: Violence is a problem in the skeptical community.

    Obviously, i’m being slightly ridiculous here but I think its sometimes useful to look at arguments divorced from their original subjects. If there are problems within the community based around gender and sex then they should be based on logical foundations far less shaky than this one. I think a lot of the misunderstanding that Steve Novella mentioned come about through a reflexive dismissal of this kind of normal skeptical exercise and an automatic jump to the conclusion that the person doing it must be unaware or unconcerned about any problems women might face in either this movement or society as a whole.

    Despite this, if we actually conclude that yes, sexism is actually a problem in the skeptical community (no more or less so than society at large). There are certainly some things we can try to combat that. Harassment policies are probably a good thing. More female speakers. Treating the men in the community as if they’re unaware idiot-children who constantly need to be reminded of sexism, that is not a good thing. There are only so many times that we can decry trolls and kooks and highlight some of the misogynistic language online before we have to move on and accept that doing that really has little effect. The primary focus of the skeptic movement should always be the promotion of skepticism and rational thought. If your focus is on gender equality in society and feminism there is another vibrant movement for that. Depending where you’re from, there is most probably a feminist wing of a political party that could use people like you.

  130. Halfdeadon 26 Feb 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I would suggest that Mr. Vacula himself might do a better job of following that advice and would add one more suggestion; avoid running to websites which promote hatred of a group of people to attack individuals who may belong to that group

    Woah woah woah, that advice is for them uppity womenz its not for menz.

  131. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Halfdead, at the Pit I argue with the few resident MRAs all the time, like many others do. Their talking points are critically examined and their arses nitpicked like it would never be possible in certain echo chambers.

    It may seem like too little, because they don’t get photoshopped or publicly parodied like the feminists, but the crucial difference is that there is no MRM contingent seeking to conform the skeptical movement to its political agenda. The moment they try to do that, the situation will be reversed.

    Moreover, it is the fundamentalist attitude of those who want to impose their “progressive” policies, which pushes us to join forces with anyone who democratically opposes them, even though some of us are politically very distant.

    You should give this some thought, rather than caricature us as women-haters.

  132. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 2:41 pm

    “The current biggest contributor (to sexism) is the feminist contingent, who continue to act as if our genitalia is what define us.”

    Wow.

    When did we get transported to Bizarro World where everything is backwards?.

    Feminism is the idea that people’s identities, whatever their gender, shouldn’t be defined or limited by their genitalia. Feminism is a reaction against sexism, not the cause of or a contributor to it.

  133. Halfdeadon 26 Feb 2013 at 2:48 pm

    You should give this some thought, rather than caricature us as women-haters.

    I don’t think you hate all women, I just think you live in a Just World surrounded by your own privilege.

  134. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Halfdead, you don’t know jackshit about me or where I live, face it. But I’ll gladly give you a guided tour, should you happen to visit the place.

    “Privilege” is the new original sin – white noise to my ears.

  135. Halfdeadon 26 Feb 2013 at 3:00 pm

    decius when I was 14 i spouted similar bullshit to what you spout here, eventually you need to grow up and realize the world is not how we wish it to be, it is how it is, and everything must be taken in the context of what the world is really like instead of trying to take each action as if you were in a vacuum.

  136. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Hermit, socialism is the idea that people’s condition, whatever their accident of birth, shouldn’t be defined or limited by their social class. Socialism is a reaction against class warfare, not the cause of or a contributor to it.

  137. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Halfdead, when I was 14 I had ideologues such as yourself telling me how the world is and what I ought to do to change it the way it suited them. Nowadays, I look with my own eyes and pick my battles according to interest, perceived priorities and available resources. But thanks for your concern.

  138. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 3:16 pm

    “…they don’t get photoshopped or publicly parodied like the feminists”

    I wonder Decius…do you think that what you call “public parody” (like this example from AvFM contributor Mykeru ) contributes to a healthy debate about issues? Can you even name an actual issue in any of this? Is that the kind of thing that will serve to move us forward, as Dr. Novella is asking, or does it merely contribute to a hostile atmosphere?

    There’s a whole thread at the slymepit (one of the most active on that forum) devoted to this kind of …I was going to say childishness, but that would be an insult to children…this kind of mediocre, lowbrow “humour.” If you’re proud to be a part of such efforts that’s your business I suppose, just don’t expect me, or any mature, rational thinker to take you very seriously.

    “Socialism is a reaction against class warfare, not the cause of or a contributor to it.”

    Socialism is a reaction against class based inequality, from which class warfare might well emerge. But socialism isn’t the cause of the class divisions being fought against. Analogies…you’re doing them wrong…

  139. utiboon 26 Feb 2013 at 3:32 pm

    I wonder Decius…do you think that what you call “public parody” (like this example from AvFM contributor Mykeru ) contributes to a healthy debate about issues? Can you even name an actual issue in any of this? Is that the kind of thing that will serve to move us forward, as Dr. Novella is asking, or does it merely contribute to a hostile atmosphere?

    Wait, do you think it was supposed to move us forward or contribute to a healthy debate?

  140. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I can only respond for my own stuff, Hermit. The Pit doesn’t have a monolithic position about anything and is uncensored. The only unifying factor is that we find the current political split both unhelpful and ridiculous, so we do laugh and bitch a lot.

    However, I have advocated for higher comedic standards many a time. If you want to know my position, here is an excerpt from a post of mine.

    You’re mistaken in attributing prudery to us, Cowherd.
    The aesthetics boundaries of satire should be drawn by the context in which it operates while keeping in mind the political goals one is trying to achieve. Therefore, attacking someone’s physical appearance isn’t off-limit in an absolute sense. For example, it would be in order to ridicule for their size an obese person who portrayed themselves as a lifestyle guru.

    But we are waging a war against bad ideas and a certain type of imagery is the artistic equivalent of an ad-hominem logical fallacy. It is absolutely irrelevant and tells more about the author than about the target.

    I know that many people find it funny, but it just gives free ammo to our critics and achieves nothing.

  141. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Hermit, my point is that I consider both socialism and gender feminism dangerous and divisive tripe.
    I wasn’t after a perfect analogy, just illustrate how the sloganeering is similar, self-absolutory and ultimately meaningless.

    Not sure how much clearer I could make that point.

  142. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Conclusion: Violence is a problem in the skeptical community.

    Obviously, i’m being slightly ridiculous here…

    That seems like a completely un-ridiculous statement to me. I think that the causes of violence, and strategies for reducing it, are an appropriate target for skeptical inquiry, and I would not be surprised to find that there are self-identified skeptics who have either experienced or perpetrated violence. Their experiences would certainly be a valuable resource for anyone wishing to bring skeptical inquiry to bear on the problem of violence, whether within the skeptical community or not. Any level of violence within the community qualifies as a problem, and thus the statement that “There is no problem with violence within the skeptical community” would be a claim falling under the “extraordinary” category, i.e. it would require extraordinary evidence, just as the claim that “there is no problem with sexism within the skeptical community” would.

    As far as the correlation between religiosity and sexism goes, I find that response quite humorous. Indeed, religious IS the source of a lot of justifications for misogyny. Which makes the non-religious skeptical resistance to critically engaging with the sexist stereotypes they unwittingly subscribe to baffling. You have observed that people who stop believing in god sometimes continue to subscribe to other unevidenced beliefs, such as psychic phenomena or ghosts, yes? One only rejects previously held beliefs if one takes the opportunity to examine them. In order to reject sexist beliefs, one must first examine the content of one’s beliefs about gender, sex, masculinity, femininity, etc. Examining the content of one’s beliefs about gender, sex, masculinity, femininity, etc., is precisely what feminists are encouraging, and it’s something that’s not going to happen as long as the default assumption is that there is no problem with sexism in the skeptical community.

  143. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 3:59 pm

    So which is worse in your opinion decius? the nasty and unfunny “parody” crap, or people objecting to being the targets of said crap? `Cause you seem to be more upset about the latter…

    “I consider both socialism and gender feminism dangerous and divisive tripe.”

    And what specifically about feminism (ie the idea that people’s identities, whatever their gender, shouldn’t be defined or limited by their genitalia..) is “dangerous and divisive?” What s the actual, substantive objection here?

  144. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 4:04 pm

    The primary focus of the skeptic movement should always be the promotion of skepticism and rational thought. If your focus is on gender equality in society and feminism there is another vibrant movement for that.

    Observe the embedded assumption that gender equality and feminism are not compatible with the promotion of rational thought. It leaves open the possibility that there might be something rational about treating women as lesser beings than men.

    Sorry, but I’m passionate about skepticism AND feminism and I will continue to try to ensure that the space between them grows smaller and smaller. This means that eventually there will be no place in the movement for misogynists or misogynist thought. Unless you sincerely believe that misogyny is based on rational thinking, this shouldn’t be a problem.

  145. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Sally, the only humorous part was your failing to distinguish between subsets and self-selected subsets, which invalidated your entire line of reasoning.

    Does the lack of religiosity exclude all sexism a priori? Of course not. Show us the evidence and we’ll deal with it on a case by case basis, like all healthy communities do.
    As far as the preaching and shaming goes, I’m not interested, thank you.

  146. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 4:09 pm

    “Privilege” is the new original sin – white noise to my ears.

    Sociology denialism should not enjoy any more respect in the skeptical community than climate change denialism does.

  147. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Preaching and shaming, right.

    Who have I shamed? At whom have I preached. You destroy your credibility further with every response you write, decius.

    Or, as Walter once said, “Calmer than you are, Dude. Calmer than you.”

  148. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Show us the evidence and we’ll deal with it on a case by case basis, like all healthy communities do.

    Healthy communities don’t deal with systemic problems on a case by case basis.

  149. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Everyone else, please notice how this conversation has suddenly been turned into an indoctrination class.

    Sally, your “systemic problems” are an artefact of feminist pseudoscholarship of which you’ve regrettably just given us another taste. It’s assumptions and a bunch of propping rationalisations which vanish under scrutiny.

    If this is how the future of the skeptical movement looks like, I want nothing to do with it.

  150. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 4:28 pm

    “If this is how the future of the skeptical movement looks like, I want nothing to do with it.”</I

    Right, `cause we wouldn’t want to subject our own assumptions to a little skepticism, would we? o_O

    Seriously, what are you so afraid of?

  151. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Hermit, all what’s been asked for is evidence in exchange for cooperation. Tackling individual problems will help collect data point to establish a systemic problem not concocted out of thin air for possible political gain.

    Skepticism begins with analysis of the available evidence. What is your problem?

  152. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Here’s an example of what passes for feminist scholarship.
    A twelve-year-old could debunk parts of this text, and yet it has been a staple for many years.

    Why are we supposed to take any of it on faith, Skeptics?

    http://chronicle.com/article/Persistent-Myths-in-Feminis/46965/

  153. errollon 26 Feb 2013 at 5:15 pm

    From what I’ve read of the slymepit no one there is anti equality, that is actually what they seem to want. The problems are rape culture, rampant misogyny, privilege, patriarcy etc.

    Patriarcy seems to be a conspiracy theory blaming all of socities problems on ‘half’ the population without examining the issues of that demographic, which seems a bit myopic. Rape culture seems to be the opposite of the culture we live in as rape is thought of as the worst crime one can commit even murderers shun rapists in prison. Privilege is an adhominem attack. Those are some examples that seem to be at odds with the evidence, but I am very open to contrary evidence, and that i might be wrong(as all skeptics should be).

    I’m not sure what kind of feminism is being advocated and there is often an equivication happening, and redefition of terms.

    Perhaps a website could be set up specifically where this equity feminism/gender feminism, and the application skepticism could be debated. (Isn’t there a piece project being talked about)These conversations need to happen and need to cross the devide, so that both “sides” can perhaps understand why there are dissagreements.

    Thanks for any info adressing the above!:)

    So thanks for the space Dr Novella. And thanks to the other “side” for the info and comming here to discuss.

  154. Karmakinon 26 Feb 2013 at 5:19 pm

    As an old-school online progressive, it’s interesting to me to see all the stuff against Photoshopping and satire and all that. Namely, because a lot of that is how the progressive blogosphere cut its teeth. In fact, those sorts of things are still fairly common today, although not nearly as common as they used to be, which is a bit to be expected, as the movement gained its own intellectual momentum and as such could start to move away. Although you still see it, in terms of things like “Puppet Theater” and the like.

    “Preznit giv me turkee” anyone?

    Of course, nearly nothing is as good as that was (and nothing will probably ever be), but it comes more or less from the same place. Generally speaking, that’s not a place I in particular want to be, but it’s not like it’s coming out of right field (get it?) or there’s no precedent for it. Actually, to be honest a lot of what goes on out there reminds me a lot of John Cole of Balloon Juice and the rotating “obsessions” first, with Andrew Sullivan (Who by the way has had some REALLY nasty things said about him that I’ve seen in the past), and more recently, Megan McArdle.

    Point is, what we see going on these days simply isn’t that abnormal.

    The second half of the equation, that’s been mentioned, is the “call out culture”, really escalated the conflict much more than it really had to be. And yes, it was people on my “side” at the time who started it. People thought it was acceptable to use social power in order to affect change upon a larger group. Didn’t think it was acceptable at the time, still don’t.

    This is actually one battleground of a much larger conflict, one that’s still in the process of forming. Try as you like, you can’t put the worms back in the can without one side basically winning. That’s the unfortunate reality. Now, I wish it was more of an intellectual debate than the current debate, where one side is ideological/authoritarian and the other side is mocking/irreverent, but that’s what we have right now.

    Yes, there are a lot of us who truly believe that yes, getting rid of overt and restrictive gender roles is a good thing, and yes, that some what goes for modern feminism thought and culture is actually in the way of that. Until that debate gets hashed out…and it may never…you’re never going to see this conflict end.

  155. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 5:28 pm

    “Hermit, all what’s been asked for is evidence in exchange for cooperation.”

    As Dr. Novella has pointed out there is plenty of evidence out there if you’re willing to look. it seems to me that too many self described skeptics have no problem accepting charges of sexism against religious organizations at face value, but when it comes to our own community they demand video evidence or CSI-type forensics before even acknowledging that there might be a concern here…

    One of the things being asked for here is a cessation of the hostility and harassment and the use of demeaning images (what you call “parody”) to attack our fellow skeptics. You’re on record above as being opposed to the latter tactic; do you really need more evidence of something you’ve already admitted exists in your own little corner of the community?

    And if by “cooperation” you mean “agreeing to not harass and demean people” I don’t think that should even be up for negotiation.

  156. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 5:33 pm

    As I said to doctor Novella, the evidence sucks and I suppose he already knows that.

    All her major claims in support of endemic systemic sexism have been debunked. Feel free to visit us at the Pit and we’ll be happy to give you all the pointer without embarrassing our gracious host further.

  157. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Sorry, forgot a piece.

    No, we will caricature and parody everyone we see fit. It’s called free speech and no one is beyond satire, particularly self-proclaimed skeptics.
    If they cannot stand scrutiny and criticism, they have no business calling themselves skeptics.

    Of course, if the false or poorly-substantiated accusations of misogyny, racism and sexism ceased, there would be no need to keep the attention high, for there would be no problem with politicos hijacking the movement.

  158. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Oh, and Hoff-Sommers has her own issues with reliability…see for example here:Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes

    and here: Wapo review of “The War Against Boys”

    “Examined carefully, Sommers’s case does not hold up well. She persistently misrepresents scholarly debate, ignores evidence that contradicts her assertions, and directs intense scrutiny at studies she opposes while giving a free critical ride to research she supports…

    If Sommers is where you’re getting your ideas about feminism you are starting out with a rather pronounced deficit in knowledge of the subject….

  159. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 5:56 pm

    “Feel free to visit us at the Pit”

    I have. The name at least is appropriate…

  160. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Sorry, just one more..

    ” if the false or poorly-substantiated accusations of misogyny, racism and sexism ceased, there would be no need to keep the attention high”

    In other words if the feminists would just stop complaining about being harassed there would be no need to harass them…

    Yeah, that sounds reasonable…o_O

  161. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I’ll see you there and have a look at your links. Thanks for now.

  162. deciuson 26 Feb 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Oh, missed that one. Well, if satire equals harassment, then I definitely need to order a copy of feminist Newspeak dictionary.

  163. Bill Openthalton 26 Feb 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Hermit —

    “Both feel a better society will arise when the perceived roles of the groups will be reversed..” is not true of feminism at all. No one is arguing that men should be subjected to the kind of sexism women have to put up with.

    You don’t know much about marxism, and you stopped reading before you could parse:

    In other words, the currently oppressed group is morally better than the oppressing group, and will not oppress the defeated group once in power.

    Of course, the idea was not to treat the bourgeoisie like they treated the workers. The workers were the morally superior group, and after the revolution, the world would be a better, egalitarian, harmonious, utopian society. See the parallel?

  164. Crajaon 26 Feb 2013 at 6:28 pm

    @erroll, if I may explain what is generally understood by these definitions.

    “Patriarcy seems to be a conspiracy theory blaming all of socities problems on ‘half’ the population without examining the issues of that demographic, which seems a bit myopic.”

    Patriarchy, literally meaning “Rule of the Father”, is generally understood as the disproportionate leadership status given, in some cases exclusively, to men relative to women. Assuming that one person is a better programmer or more suited to be a programmer than another because he is a male over a female would be considered a patriarchal notion (and there is some evidence that suggests that this indeed does happen). There is no blame on men for this, even women can believe women to be inferior at X task.

    “Rape culture seems to be the opposite of the culture we live in as rape is thought of as the worst crime one can commit even murderers shun rapists in prison.”

    For brevity, I’ll talk about rape as a man raping a woman. Yes, there are cases where women rape men or same-sex rape, but that’s a different topic. Rape Culture is a complex set of beliefs that promote sexual aggression in men, where rape is considered the norm (meaning women are blamed for their rape). Arguing that a woman “deserved it” because she was wearing a skimpy outfit at the time and out at night alone is Rape culture. Rape may be considered a serious crime, but it’s very under-reported (often because the woman believes it to be her fault), and even if reported rarely results in a conviction due to the difficulty of proving non-consent (further leading it to be under-reported).

    “Privilege is an adhominem attack.”

    Privilege is and advantage based on social status, namely it’s a benefit that other people give you. “Male privilege” is referring to advantages given to you due to being male. It is the benefit of the doubt given to me, as a straight white male, when I fuck up, rather than anything being blamed on my heritage, age, or in terms of male privilege, gender. It’s not because men are emotional, or not good at math, etc.

    Privilege often comes up in response to “I am color-blind, I don’t see black people or white people, I only see people”. That is “white privilege”, because colored or non-white people normally can’t afford to see the world that way. It is your “privilege” to delude yourself into thinking that race/ethnicity isn’t important to people when what you are really arguing for is that everything should be more like white people. Similarly point to “gender-blind”.

    @decius Free speech means I can’t have you arrested for it, but I can still criticize it. That’s my free speech. When I argue that you *cannot* satirize or parody, then that would be a violation of your free speech. But I can and will argue that the satire and parody that goes on in there is disgusting, unhelpful, and despicable, and anyone who takes part of it is not worth taking seriously and that we would all be better off without any of you.

  165. windyon 26 Feb 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I wonder Decius…do you think that what you call “public parody” (like this example from AvFM contributor Mykeru ) contributes to a healthy debate about issues? Can you even name an actual issue in any of this?

    To hazard a guess, part of the idea was probably that many people could take themselves less seriously, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. I wouldn’t call the South Park episode featuring Richard Dawkins constructive or clever, but hardly an effort to silence him, either. Instead of calling it a dumb bit of satire and moving on, should he have kept referring back to it as evidence for all the hate directed at him from fellow non-believers?

  166. LMUon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:31 pm

    erikthebassist on 26 Feb 2013 at 10:16 am said:

    “I would love to be able to make a charitable interpretation of the other side’s demands, but I can’t fathom such a list that doesn’t include women shutting up.”

    Why do people keep saying that their opponents are trying to silence women? This and the “Bitches ain’t shit” trope are frustrating because it is *extreme* strawmanning. In the case of the slymepit I could understand not knowing what they want because there are many of them and they don’t all want the same things, but as far as I am aware nobody thinks like that.

    Erik can’t fathom a list of “demands” from his opponents that doesn’t include “women shutting up”. Here’s one to help cure their lack of imagination: http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=250 Please note that I don’t claim that this is representative of the slymepit, but it is one possible list of demands.

  167. SallyStrangeon 26 Feb 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Patriarcy seems to be a conspiracy theory blaming all of socities problems on ‘half’ the population without examining the issues of that demographic, which seems a bit myopic.

    See, I didn’t even do any gender studies classes, like, ever. But I’ve done enough reading of feminist scholarship to recognize this as an argument on par with “If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?”

    If patriarchy “seems” like an anti-man conspiracy to you, then odds are you’ve been listening to anti-feminists.

  168. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 8:25 pm

    “You don’t know much about marxism…”

    That’s quite an assumption on your part, since I haven’t said anything about Marxism. I do know the word should be capitalized, and also enough to know a gross oversimplification when I see one.

    ” See the parallel?”

    No, I see a badly stretched analogy with not much of a relationship to the real world. Trying to jam your straw version of feminism into the same mould as your radical Marxism is just silly.

    Decius, what you’re calling “satire” looks to me like cheerleading the harassment. I’ll ask you again, since you seem to be waffling on the subject; is that kind of vicious mockery of people who say they are being harassed helpful, or is it divisive and damaging?

  169. errollon 26 Feb 2013 at 8:33 pm

    @ Sally

    That sounds like something a 911 truther would say!

    I didn’t say it was an “anti-man conspiracy”. If applied to 911 that would mean that skeptics think there is a conspiracy against the government story. I think that 911 truthers have fallen for an unfalsifiable conspiracy theory, not that they are perpitrating a conspiracy. Hopefully an example not involving feminism will make it more clear.

    Please read what is typed without strawmanning it.

    Perhaps it seems like a conspiracy theory, because it is one. I’ve read feminist sites and patriachy looks like an unfalsifiable conspiracy theory, that like creationism/god arguments defines itself into existence. But like I said I’ll fallow the evidence, and I am willing to be convinced.

  170. errollon 26 Feb 2013 at 8:38 pm

    hermit could you define what you mean by feminism? that way no one can strawman it.

  171. Halfdeadon 26 Feb 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Of course, the idea was not to treat the bourgeoisie like they treated the workers. The workers were the morally superior group, and after the revolution, the world would be a better, egalitarian, harmonious, utopian society. See the parallel?

    You do realize you are saying that you acknowledge men are in a position of power over women, you just seem to think they should stay there.

  172. hermiton 26 Feb 2013 at 10:47 pm

    “hermit could you define what you mean by feminism? that way no one can strawman it.”

    I already have. Twice. Do pay attention…

  173. Catsyon 26 Feb 2013 at 11:49 pm

    “Agreed. As equals, I don’t think we need to be protected from exposure to occasional awkward advances, snarky t-shirts that we disagree with, harsh critiques of poorly conceived presentations, or ‘dangerous’ ideas like the possible existence of some persistent average gender differences in psychological traits.”

    Nobody wants to “protect” you from occasional awkward advances, etc.

    People DO want to be able to critique these things and have their critiques engaged honestly. Airy dismissals and strawmen suggest bad faith.

  174. Catsyon 26 Feb 2013 at 11:58 pm

    “Many of the more cynical comments here I find to be self-fulfilling. If we assume it’s hopeless, then it will be.”

    I empathize with this. Really, I do.

    On the other hand, while there are people who haven’t given the issues much though and are caught in the middle, there clearly are some serious and possible intractable divides here, Dr. Novella.

    And there are actors in our community whose behavior is beyond the pale. I think we would all be well served to see that fact acknowledged more often.

  175. Catsyon 27 Feb 2013 at 12:01 am

    Um, possibly.

  176. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 12:17 am

    Decius, what you’re calling “satire” looks to me like cheerleading the harassment. I’ll ask you again, since you seem to be waffling on the subject; is that kind of vicious mockery of people who say they are being harassed helpful, or is it divisive and damaging?

    If you want an argument for the utility of incivility and mockery, the case has been made countless times on FtB and related sites, more eloquently than is possible here. Have you perused any of those examples? Curiously, many of the same people who’ve argued in favor of it in the past are now shocked, shocked to find themselves mocked on the internet.

    It would be an excellent idea to have a discussion on when these tactics are counterproductive to skepticism, but it ought to be done across the board, rather than using ad hoc arguments designed to come to a predetermined conclusion.

  177. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 12:31 am

    People DO want to be able to critique these things and have their critiques engaged honestly. Airy dismissals and strawmen suggest bad faith.

    That is exactly what most people on all ‘sides’ want to be able to do, I’d reckon. Hope you aren’t suggesting my statement was “airy dismissal” or in bad faith? I know no one has explicitly argued for protection from those things, but can you understand why it might sometimes appear that it’s the goal? (The same way that it might appear that some people want certain female activists to “shut up”, although that’s not necessarily the intent?)

  178. ConspicuousCarlon 27 Feb 2013 at 12:39 am

    Steven Novella on 26 Feb 2013 at 6:56 am

    Carl wrote: “I think Steve Novella’s charity principle can easily turn into a habit of helping one’s friends excuse inexcusable behavior.”

    I disagree. The principle of charity is not about making excuses,

    I didn’t say it was “about” making excuses, I said it can turn into that. You can say “it’s not about ___” in regards to almost anything to deny the risks.

    The constructive response when you suspect someone has an ill motive or goal is to simply ask them for a clarification, not to make negative (and often self-serving) assumptions.

    Kind of hard to ask Rebecca Watson for clarification when, in her first and only comment to a blog post, she declares that she is leaving and not going to waste any more “precious time” on it.

  179. Skep tickleon 27 Feb 2013 at 4:04 am

    @ubito

    The primary focus of the skeptic movement should always be the promotion of skepticism and rational thought. If your focus is on gender equality in society and feminism there is another vibrant movement for that.

    The list of areas of agreement that Steve Novella suggested, and that Harriet Hall & Amy Davis Roth endorsed, did not include “skepticism” (for example, whether they might agree that claims about society & culture, including feminism & sexism, should be subjected to skeptical inquiry).

    I think that the role of skepticism in these topics is a KEY aspect for participants in these “discussions” who consider themselves part of the skeptic movement to clarify & air. Are there some aspects of these topics for which skeptical inquiry is felt to be unacceptable, perhaps because one conclusion is assumed to be so obvious or correct? Some people, in some quarters, seem to think that’s the case. That’s what frustrates me the most, as a skeptic.

    Clearer definitions would also be very useful; as has been mentioned in this thread, “feminism” means different things to different people. More on definitions in another post.

    Whether you (the general “you”) seek to avoid logical fallacies or simply to apply the principle of charity, please remember that just because someone won’t call himself or herself a “feminist” (whether a precise definition or a vague description or no definition to speak of is being used) does not mean that person is an “anti-feminist” or a “misogynist”. Just as someone who doesn’t call himself or herself an “atheist” is not necessarily anti-atheist, or theist, or any particular fill in the blank term you can come up with. Without discussing it further, you won’t know where they’re coming from – and what you might actually agree on, once you both get past the rancor.

  180. Skep tickleon 27 Feb 2013 at 4:14 am

    Here’s the definition of feminism hermit gave, twice:

    Feminism is the idea that people’s identities, whatever their gender, shouldn’t be defined or limited by their genitalia.

    Perhaps others here find this definition captures “feminism” for them; it doesn’t for me.

    I read hermit’s sentence above as referring to gender identity, given the use of the words “identities” and “gender” and “defined by” and “genitalia”, rather than referring to “equality” and “women” and maybe “rights”, which are the key ideas & terms in any definition of “feminism”, for me.

    I’m not saying my definition is right; I’m simply saying that I do not agree with the definition hermit has given, and I suspect several others won’t either, and therefore fruitful discussion about feminism isn’t going to be possible until we have discussed & reached agreement on the meanings we will both or all be understanding for the terms we would both or all be using.

    It seems likely that this isn’t an isolated example; there seem to be widely different assumptions about what some of the words key to the discussion mean, as well as assumptions that others share the same understanding, when that hasn’t been checked & discussed.

  181. Bill Openthalton 27 Feb 2013 at 4:56 am

    HalfDead –

    You do realize you are saying that you acknowledge men are in a position of power over women, you just seem to think they should stay there.

    You still don’t get away from the binary classification. And you still want to place me in the group of your baddies because I don’t buy your ideas wholesale.

    As far as the marxist (the lowercase m is on purpose; and yes, I know it’s a tad childish :) ) analysis of the world is concerned, it is obvious there are, as a rule, gross inequalities in power and wealth between those who controlled the means of production (factories), and the workers. I never argued the contrary. What is simplistic is the concept of the class struggle, the division of humanity into the good and the bad. What is simplistic and fallacious is the reduction of the human experience to the social status (and again, I did not say this is not important, or even preponderant for a section of the population). What is dangerous is the preeminence of the group – a person is good or bad depending on the group the marxist arbitrarily places that person in. Whatever characteristic they are based on, groups are figments of our imagination. Groups don’t suffer, people do. Groups are not happy, people are.

    I never argued that in the political sphere, or parts of the economic sphere, women are not underrepresented, or that they should not take part in these spheres. As far as I am concerned, any individual should be able to enter any field of endeavour based solely on their competence and their motivation. I believe individuals should be judged on their actions, not on their gender, skin colour, age, weight, social class of their parents, etc. I don’t think discrimination based on these characteristics against an individual today compensates in any way for past discriminations. I don’t care why an individual doesn’t like a particular field of endeavour — nature or nurture, we have no bsuiness telling others how to behave or what career to choose because we believe in some or other simplistic generalisation.

    I don’t believe the world will be a better place when a particular metrics reach particular targets (like a 50/50 split on gender in all jobs). The world will be a better place when we stop imposing our views (no matter how noble we think they are) on others, when we accept each human has the same needs as us, each human matters as much as us, each human has as much right to have their needs met as any other, and humanity is as inclusive as possible.

    No barriers, no classifications, just individuals in their incredible diversity, getting a fair shot at making their lives, responsible for their failures and proud of their successes, underpinned by empathy, care and generosity. This is my dream.

  182. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 6:35 am

    Hermit, I don’t think I’m waffling.
    But I tend to walk away from loaded questions and words redefined according to a politicised lexicon.

    I made it clear that I personally prefer high-brow satire, focussing on bad ideas and their pedlars. Although, I see no need to put a cap to its incisiveness, regardless how uncomfortable the target feels as a result. Harassment has a precise meaning in the English language and in the legal jargon – ridicule and mockery aren’t synonymous with it.

    From our experience as a movement, it seems that everyone understands the difference, except creationists, religionists and, more recently, our beloved feminists. Even students in their formation years are taught to grow a thicker skin.

    From the policy sheet of a randomly-selected American college, please read carefully:

    Speech or other expression constitutes harassment if it:

    is intended to insult or stigmatize an individual or an identifiable group of College-related individuals on the basis of their race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national/ethnic origin, or other characteristic that is intrinsic to a person’s identity, and
    is addressed directly to or at (though not necessarily in the presence of) the individual or individuals whom it insults or stigmatizes, and
    makes use of words or nonverbal symbols that convey hatred or contempt for human beings on the basis of their race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national/ethnic origin, or other characteristic that is intrinsic to a person’s identity. Harassment may also be constituted by nonverbal acts, which would also be punishable as, for example, vandalism, physical assault, or destruction of property. Other examples of harassment include:
    epithets or “jokes” referring to an individual’s group-based attributes;
    placement of offensive written or visual material in or on another’s living quarters or work area;
    offensive messages sent through email;
    undesired physical contact; and
    physical violence or threat of the same.

    1. For verbal utterances to be punishable as harassment they must fall under the precise definition stated above. They must be directed at an individual or an identifiable group of College-related individuals (for example, the Black Student Union), must be uttered with an intent to insult or stigmatize, and must not be protected under any of the exempt categories, which are listed and described below. For example, however lamentable, the telling of racist jokes is not harassment unless directed at a member of the scorned group for the purpose of insulting or stigmatizing that person by his or her group membership. Similarly, group libel (e.g., “all Jews . . .”), however revolting, is not harassment by this definition if it is not directed at particular individuals or an identifiable group of College-related individuals.

    2. The intention, design, or reason of the person charged with violating this policy may be inferred from that person’s contemporaneous conduct or statements, before, during, and after the conduct or expression which is the subject of a complaint or grievance, including any racial, sexist, or similarly offensive slurs or epithets, and by the totality of the facts, circumstances, and conduct surrounding the subject conduct or expression. While the mere fact that some particular thing was uttered does not determine intention, prior knowledge that an expression or action is offensive is an indication of intent.

    3. Exempt Categories: Because harassment can take the form of speech, it is necessary to clearly distinguish harassing speech from the protected speech which is vital to the intellectual enterprise of the College. Thus:

    a. Speech that conveys reasoned opinion, principled conviction, or speculation is not harassment. For example, the assertions that “all whites are racist” or “affirmative action is wrong” or “Christians are foolish to believe …” are not harassment. Of course, the mere claim of engagement in reasoned opinion is not sufficient to lift the charge of harassment. For example, shouting racist insults under a residence-hall window at night cannot disguise itself as
    “reasoned opinion.” However, debates, discussions, arguments, however lively, do not give grounds for harassment charges.

    b. Political commentary and satire are not harassment. For example, satirical comments about the Laramie Project are not harassment. Putting a Confederate flag on one’s own door would also not be harassment, however offensive it might be deemed by many. Again, the mere claim of political commentary or satire cannot excuse what is really harassment.

    c. Speech that occurs in the ordinary course of classroom discussion and teaching is especially sacrosanct. That is, any opinion, including that of Hitler, for example, has to be allowed for discussion and even advocacy in the classroom. A racially-tinged tirade directed against a particular student or students, and unrelated to the academic content of the class, however, might be deemed harassment.

    (Approved by Campus Senate May 1990; last revised January 2011)

    It seems to me that the ones guilty of anything at all, here, are the feminists themselves, when they mischaracterize their critics as sexists, patriarchs, or misogynists, for libel and slander are forms of written and verbal intimidation.

  183. Murmuron 27 Feb 2013 at 7:12 am

    So Decius… you are basically telling feminists to “grow thicker skins”. This seems to be the whole basis of what you are now arguing. You are reducing it all down to semantics and what you define as “high brow satire” is apparently called harassment by others.

    This, I think, is something you need to grow some thick skin over yourself; sometimes people won’t laugh at the same things you do, sometimes people will feel your “satire” crosses a line with them, sometimes your joking behaviour can hit an emotional chord with someone else and cause them some kind of emotional trauma. Trust me on this, I have a very cutting sense of humour and had to learn at a very young age to internalise it when it was not appropriate. My friends know I am joking, but if I were to type some of those jokes on a blog or in the comments to someone’s blog… I would rightly be shot down and probably be made to apologise.

    We all need to respect other people and in doing that we respect that their sense of humour might be different, that they might actually not like it if we pat them on the head and say “now now girlies, calm down, we were only joking”. Steven Novella said it above and I repeated it and even posted it on Facebook:

    “…it is most helpful not to focus on what others should do (or speculate about what they will or will not do), but rather to focus on what you should and can do. Waiting for everyone else to start behaving better does not help, you have to just do it yourself and hope others will follow.”

    To me, it feels like there are a lot of people who like the sound of their own keyboards here and just want to justify why they think someone shouldn’t get offended, or they want to vent here about how certain people should act. The better option would be to try and understand why they got offended and perhaps, if it really interests you so much to approach that person in an open and honest manner directly. Passive aggressive comments on the bloggosphere do not constitute building bridges or any kind of long term meaningful discourse.

  184. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 7:24 am

    Murmur, that’s not my position. If the feminists wanted to photoshop me as a patriarch or fucking Hitler, I’d laugh it off, of course.

    But that’s not what they are doing. Let’s not be disingenuous about this, please.

  185. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 7:31 am

    We don’t get to redefine the lines of what is appropriate according to our innermost feelings, that’s an argumentum ad misericordiam.
    Which is rich coming in defence of a bunch of authoritarians who treat other women who dare criticise them as sub-humans.

  186. Murmuron 27 Feb 2013 at 7:53 am

    Decius, I think you will find that everyone on this planet has a line that they would rather not cross humour wise. When talking about something as subjective as satire and humour you cannot fob me off on an Appeal to Emotion fallacy because the very foundations of humour are based on emotion.

    What I gather from your posts is that what you are really trying to say here is that there is a subset of the feminist movement that you do not agree with. This is your right, and I would agree that there are extremes that are not very savoury. In the spirit of the original post though, surely you can agree with the central point of this whole blog post:

    • gender equality
    • judging people by the content of their character, and not by physical or gender attributes
    • creating a safe and open environment regardless of sex or gender
    • the concept of sex and gender are complex and multifarious, and it’s all within the spectrum of what it is to be human.
    • condemnation of sexism in all its forms
    • respect and recognition of the dignity of all people regardless of their sex/gender

    I fully support and endorse these, can we agree on those points?

  187. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 8:20 am

    Murmur, sorry I must disagree.

    A cursory reading of the history and raison d’être of political satire, starting with Aristophanes’ plays, should disabuse you of the notion that humour is or should be part of it.
    Even if it was, the feelings it elicits in its target are absolutely irrelevant to the standards of propriety of which I already provided documentation. Such standards – for both humour and satire – have been drawn by ethicists and legal experts with the intent to strike a balance between the right of free political commentary and the right of not being harassed. If not objective in an absolute sense, they provide us with some guidelines more objective than anyone’s feelings.

    We certainly agree about this:

    Equality – nothing more and nothing less.

    Everything else is and has been used as a trojan horse for the feminist authoritarian agenda, as PZ Myer’s disgraceful chest-thumping dance has abundantly demonstrated.

  188. Murmuron 27 Feb 2013 at 9:04 am

    There you go drilling down into the semantics again. Everyone is different, sometimes satire can be offensive to some people, no matter what your lawyers and ethicists may say. Satire itself is a controversial subject and often the satirists are in fact trying to cause offence.

    So, you agree on equality, but you will not agree on the following, this implies to me the following under each point:

    • judging people by the content of their character, and not by physical or gender attributes

    So people should be judged on their gender attributes? How can equality exist without this?

    • creating a safe and open environment regardless of sex or gender

    You do not think a safe envrionment is required? You require everyone to have “thick skins” and to not get upset up anything negative said about them.

    • the concept of sex and gender are complex and multifarious, and it’s all within the spectrum of what it is to be human.

    Do you not think this concept is complicated? Would you call it simple? Is it not human to be male or female?

    • condemnation of sexism in all its forms

    You would allow people to be sexist and sit by while they engaged in sexist activities.

    • respect and recognition of the dignity of all people regardless of their sex/gender.

    You would say that some people are not deserving of respect and dignity based on their sex/gender?

    Can you please explain how equality can exist without those.

  189. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 9:21 am

    It isn’t semantics, sorry.

    You’re pushing the notion that there’s such thing as the right to not be offended – well, I couldn’t disagree more.
    There is nothing in history or in philosophy which supports that position, except under authoritarian and theocratic systems.

    Sorry, I do not wish to discuss feminist buzzwords and political theory. It’s all white noise to me.

    Here is my personal position in finer grain, if you wish.

    I will strive to treat all fellow skeptics (and humans) as equals. Should I fail to do so, please don’t hesitate to denounce me and expel me.
    Anyone’s baggage, social or historical grievances as part of whatever subset of mankind are not what I signed in the movement to hear about, nor should they entitle anyone to special status or consideration.

    I have no idea how more egalitarian than this you can get.

    About political theories and social justice wars, let me spell it out for you: I don’t give a shit.

  190. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 9:55 am

    “Other examples of harassment include:
    epithets or “jokes” referring to an individual’s group-based attributes;
    placement of offensive written or visual material in or on another’s living quarters or work area;
    offensive messages sent through email;
    undesired physical contact; and
    physical violence or threat of the same.”

    Yes decius, and that’s precisely what these women are being subjected to, while you and your slymepit buddies join in the fun with your cheerleading forum. And you’re happy to participate in communicating those offensive messages, aren’t you?

    Some of our stuff gets retweeted ad nauseam and it’s pretty cool to watch the babboons squirm.

    “They block us anyway, but they cannot avoid reading messages sent to #ftbullies or #atheismplus, if they frequent the hashtags.”

    So I’ll ask you again, do you really think sending deliberately offensive and demeaning messages to people (as you advocate doing there) is helpful in building a more open, welcoming community?

    It appears there is literally nothing that you will acknowledge as rising to the level of harassment. Because that would mean acknowledging that the pure utopia of the skeptical community might be less than perfect. So you run from the facts of the matter like a creationist from Archeopteryx.

    Let’s be honest, that’s what’s really happening here. A few people have suggested that there might be something of a sexism problem even in the supposedly enlightened skeptical community, but the purists can’t have that; can’t have anyone questioning things so they’re lashing out at the dissenters, like fundamentalists everywhere when their preconceptions are challenged. The goal here is to marginalize and silence those uncomfortable voices so we can all back to the way things used to be when no one was daring to talk about this stuff.

    Well its’ too late for that I’m afraid; the issue and been raised and you can’t make it go away by pretending it’s not there or that it’s something other than what it is.

  191. Halfdeadon 27 Feb 2013 at 9:56 am

    @Bill Openthalt

    You can write 30 paragraphs that explain what you want, in the end you keep saying men are on top and it would be dangerous to let women up there because “its complicated”. The argument sounds familiar.

    @Windy there is a huge difference between satire, mockery of ideas, and racial and gender slurs, if you can’t see that, then there is little point in talking to you.

  192. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 9:57 am

    And now, having visited the slymepit again, I’m going for a long hot shower…

  193. Murmuron 27 Feb 2013 at 10:08 am

    I didn’t say anything about a right to not be offended, I am just stating the fact that sometimes people say things or make cartoons or pictures that will then make someone else upset. You appear to think it is ok to create whatever cartoons or pictures of someone under the umbrella of “high brow satire” and expect them to not have a reaction. These things are often created to induce a reaction… as I said before, this is often the reason the satirist does it.

    Sometimes people’s buttons get pushed too much, sometimes they go off the rails. We have to decide for ourselves what we do with that reaction. Tarring them with a authoritarian or theocratic brush just because they don’t like your kind of satire is not fair on them and makes you look like a pompous ass.

    You will not engage my “feminist buzzwords” because in your eagerness to appear to be the perfect egalitarian skeptic you end up being the guy who stands there and demands to see proof for everything before he will even consider it. This is not science my friend, this is not skepticism, this is hiding from the world. You need to get out from under your flowery words and start experimenting with trusting others, with testing whether what you believe might actually be wrong. The essence of charity is to give people a little bit of faith and then work from there, we are humans and we are fallible, and god forbid the day you finally realise that you are too.

  194. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 10:12 am

    Bill Openthalton 27 Feb 2013 at 4:56 am

    I never argued that in the political sphere, or parts of the economic sphere, women are not underrepresented, or that they should not take part in these spheres. As far as I am concerned, any individual should be able to enter any field of endeavour based solely on their competence and their motivation.

    And if an individual encounters resistance to their participation there in the form of social pressures based on their gender, race, etc should they just accept that as the way it is and either grow a “thick skin” or go away? Or might it be worthwhile to try and change that environment so that other individuals in the future won’t have to overcome the same identity based barriers?

    I guess if one is an “every man is an island” type libertopian one might think the former is reasonable. Anyone with any sense of the nature of the human being as a social animal shouldn’t have a problem with the latter.

  195. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 10:22 am

    Hermit, I hope that we will be able to continue this conversation under the banner of intellectual honesty and therefore collectively refrain from quote-mining. This isn’t Pharyngula, after all.

    I agree to be held responsible for any tweet of mine attacking a person for their group-based attribute.

    Please notice, subscribing to a political ideology doesn’t qualify as being part of “an identifiable group of individuals on the basis of their race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national/ethnic origin”.

    Secondly, all I’ve seen is unsubstantiated claims of endemic sexism in the community, which are virtually indistinguishable from some historical precedents, seeking to establish victimhood status on a political or ideological group and absolve them from personal responsibility.

    Once again, let’s deal with problems on an individual and empirically-verifiable basis.

  196. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 10:25 am

    Murmur, we shall just agree to disagree at this point. I have no problem with it.
    It’s been a useful conversation to have and I’m certain that I would enjoy your company at skeptical events.

  197. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 10:28 am

    @Windy there is a huge difference between satire, mockery of ideas, and racial and gender slurs, if you can’t see that, then there is little point in talking to you.

    The discussion was about “vicious mockery” in general, not “racial and gender slurs”. Try to respond without using bait-and-switch and guilt by association arguments, or there is little point in talking to you. Do you think mockery that the target may experience as “vicious” is always inappropriate, or could it be allowable in some situations?

  198. LMUon 27 Feb 2013 at 11:05 am

    SallyStrange on 26 Feb 2013 at 7:47 pm said:

    ” ‘Patriarcy seems to be a conspiracy theory blaming all of socities problems on ‘half’ the population without examining the issues of that demographic, which seems a bit myopic.’

    See, I didn’t even do any gender studies classes, like, ever. But I’ve done enough reading of feminist scholarship to recognize this as an argument on par with “If evolution is true, why are there still monkeys?”
    If patriarchy “seems” like an anti-man conspiracy to you, then odds are you’ve been listening to anti-feminists.”

    One of the nice things about the question “If evolution is true, then why are there still monkeys?” is that it is so easy to answer. If someone has such a basic misunderstanding of evolution, then it is usually the matter of a few words or sentences to clarify it, for example: “Because they’re our cousins.” And then take the discussion from there. Now they may be arguing disingenuously, but if they are then that will be clear from how they react to a good faith attempt to explain, and it will reflect poorly on them. What doesn’t look good is to dismiss the question out of hand and insult the person for asking it. I know this kind of thing happens a lot, and people will get tired of answering it. If that happens then use copy and paste from an old reply, or link to where someone else answers it, and then if they have further questions they can come back. There’s also the option of being patient until you can make a good response or be silent and let someone else come forward, because there are often many people excited and interested in the topic who would be happy to explain it.

  199. Bill Openthalton 27 Feb 2013 at 11:05 am

    HalfDead –

    You can write 30 paragraphs that explain what you want, in the end you keep saying men are on top and it would be dangerous to let women up there because “its complicated”.

    You are a marvellous example of the blinkered ideologue. You keep putting people in your good/bad categories, and then re-interpret their behaviour based on their classification. The baddies can do no good, the goodies can do no bad.

    Hermit –

    You too are pretty good at putting words in people’s mouths. My objective is to remove barriers for real, living people. You don’t do that by putting barriers in front of others based on exactly the irrelevant distinction you are trying to eradicate, in the hope the future will be better. Mutatis mutandis, this is exactly the communist idea that it is possible to get rid of injustice by more injustice (which in their view was merely retribution for the historical crimes of the group they were eliminating). Like pain, discrimination is felt by individuals, not by groups.

    I am well aware of human nature, which is why I know that the ideology people use to come to power doesn’t matter. Once in power, they are all the same. I also know human nature well enough to realise getting rid of humanity’s ideological bend is neigh impossible. But the only way to be sure to fail is not to try.

  200. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 11:10 am

    I didn’t put words in your mouth Bill, I asked you a question. There is a difference…

  201. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 11:12 am

    Can you please explain, Bill, where you see anyone in the skeptical community “putting barriers in front of others based on exactly the irrelevant distinction you are trying to eradicate…”

    Is asking not to be harassed “putting up a barrier?”

  202. Bill Openthalton 27 Feb 2013 at 11:32 am

    Hermit –

    1. Leading questions aren’t honest questions. I have not advocated growing a thick skin.

    2. You have moved the goalposts. I wasn’t talking about the “skeptical community”.

    As far as harrasment is concerned, ideas cannot be harrassed. Any idea, ideology, religion, conviction, theory or belief can and should be probed, examined and attacked as vigourously as possible. People should be treated with respect whatever their ideas or beliefs, and this includes people whose ideas or beliefs we find offensive.

  203. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 12:15 pm

    “1. Leading questions aren’t honest questions. I have not advocated growing a thick skin. “

    The question is what do you think people should do when they run into those barriers? You haven’t said…

    “2. You have moved the goalposts. I wasn’t talking about the “skeptical community”. “

    Then you need to catch up because what’s the rest of us are talking about, isn’t it?

    “People should be treated with respect whatever their ideas or beliefs, and this includes people whose ideas or beliefs we find offensive.”

    Right, we all agree there. So what should people do when they are being harassed? When it is their personality, their mental health, their appearance that’s being “probed, examined and attacked as vigourously as possible?”

    And what should the rest of us do when we see that happening, even if it isn’t happening to us personally?

    You said this earlier:

    “No barriers, no classifications, just individuals in their incredible diversity, getting a fair shot at making their lives, responsible for their failures and proud of their successes, underpinned by empathy, care and generosity. This is my dream.”

    That, to me, is what feminism is all about. But dreaming about it isn’t enough. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

  204. daedalus2uon 27 Feb 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I have been away for a while, but I have read through the comments (briefly) and want to say a few things. To some people, certain terms for female humans are extremely loaded. In my youth, I remember women refusing to use the term “girl” (because they considered it derogatory) and referred to female infants as “baby women” and not as “baby girls”. “Chick” as a term for a female human had (in the past) a derogatory connotation. Somewhat worse than “girl” but not as bad as “babe”, “broad”, “skirt” or “dame”, but a lot worse than “lady”. These change over time and the Skepchicks have done a lot to rehabilitate the term “chick”. I still don’t (and can’t) use it in regular conversation. It is not at all surprising to me that Harriet would not want to be referred to as a “skepchick”.

    My primary identification is as a logical, rational, thinking person. “Skeptic” has the unfortunate connotation of defaulting to cynical dismissal of claims rather than defaulting to “I don’t know” (the true default of a rational person).

  205. daedalus2uon 27 Feb 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I agree with Dr Novella’s prescription of charity and the absolute need to understand where someone is coming from and what they actually mean. This can be very difficult to do because humans can only understand something if their own neuroanatomy has the structure to instantiate the idea. There is no “blank slate” that can hold arbitrary ideas. The brain has to remodel itself so that it can instantiate ideas. That remodeling is what happens during learning. Once that is done, then thinking about those specific ideas is easier, and thinking about incompatible ideas is more difficult. I discuss this (in a different context) on my blog in terms of a “theory of mind,” “theory of reality” and xenophobia.

    Skepticism is pretty much pure “theory of reality”. Social interactions are mostly “theory of mind”. “Theory of mind” is mostly about subjective feelings. How is it that people feel when they are communicating with someone.

    The only things that can be communicated are mental concepts. Mental concepts get converted into language (verbal, body, emotional, etc) the data stream of language gets conveyed and then up-converted to mental concepts by receiving person. There is only “communication” to the extent that the mental concepts of one person are instantiated with high fidelity in a second person. That is where Dr Novella’s prescription of charity comes in. If you don’t understand where someone is coming from, from their perspective, you don’t understand them. If you do not understand someone from their perspective, you are not communicating with them and you cannot communicate with them. To understand someone you have to remodel your neuroanatomy such that you can instantiate the mental concepts they are trying to convey as the person trying to convey them instantiates them.

    What people who do not understand are doing is substituting their own up-conversion scheme to the incoming data, and translating it to something they can understand, rather than applying the inverse of the process used to convert the mental concepts into language so that they can understand what the original speaker was intending to convey. This is often called psychological projection.

    If you want to communicate with someone, what you want is for them to understand the mental concepts that you are trying to convey. There are conscious mental concepts, but there are also unconscious mental concepts that unavoidably “leak over”. This unconscious “meta-communication” is mostly what is important in social contexts and can be roughly translated into “how do I want you to feel about what I am communicating with you”.

    What do the slyme-pitters want the objects of their “communication” to feel about that communication? Presumably if the objects of the communication were getting the “wrong message”, the communicators would modify their communication until the right message was being received. If the objects of the slyme-pitters report feeling badly about what is being communicated to them, and the slyme-pitters don’t modify their communication (in style and content), then presumably how the objects of the slyme-pitters’ communication are feeling is how the slyme-pitters want them to feel.

    This is the charitable interpretation of what the slyme-pitters are doing. They may tell themselves that they don’t “really” want to hurt the objects of their communication, just make them feel bad. But we know that feelings do have effects on physiology. Making people feel bad does affect their physiology and in characteristic ways. It does hurt them.

    I don’t want people in the skeptical community who want to hurt others in that community. I don’t want anyone in any of my communities who wants to hurt others in my communities. I don’t want to hurt those people, I just want them to leave my communities until they have matured and figured out how to be a human being without trying to hurt other human beings. There is nothing about being a skeptic that requires or depends on hurting or trying to hurt other people.

  206. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Daedalus, what you say is generally correct, but offers no consideration for the women who have been essentially declared suppressive persons by the feminist contingent with total disregard for their feelings.
    It is therefore entirely one-sided and unacceptable.

  207. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 4:04 pm

    The message coming from the Pit is very simple: don’t dish out what you can’t take. Until then, the hypocrisy will be documented in great detail for all to see.
    Personally, I find satire and ridicule far less contemptible than creating non-persons in the community. But it’s just me.

  208. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 4:12 pm

    ‘what you say is generally correct, but offers no consideration for the women who have been essentially declared suppressive persons by the feminist contingent”

    Followed immediately by:

    “The message coming from the Pit is very simple: don’t dish out what you can’t take.”

    So, criticizing the ideas of women you agree with is “suppressive” and “unacceptable. Calling those who criticize those ideas “c#nts, photoshopped their faces onto porn, laughing about their weight, age and appearance are “satire” and justified by the fact that they criticized an idea.

    The only hypocrisy here is yours decius.

  209. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Hermit, they have not been simply “criticised” and you know it.

  210. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 5:25 pm

    “Other examples of harassment include:
    epithets or “jokes” referring to an individual’s group-based attributes;
    placement of offensive written or visual material in or on another’s living quarters or work area;
    offensive messages sent through email;
    undesired physical contact; and
    physical violence or threat of the same.”

    Yes decius, and that’s precisely what these women are being subjected to, while you and your slymepit buddies join in the fun with your cheerleading forum. And you’re happy to participate in communicating those offensive messages, aren’t you?

    “Some of our stuff gets retweeted ad nauseam and it’s pretty cool to watch the babboons squirm.

    “They block us anyway, but they cannot avoid reading messages sent to #ftbullies or #atheismplus, if they frequent the hashtags.”

    How do you know that the tweets decius is talking about fit the above definition of harassment, or are directed only at women? And do you realize the “#ftbullies” hashtag was originated by a few people, including women, who felt they were being bullied by FtB bloggers and commenters, but was then overwhelmed by those same FtB members mocking the very idea that they could be bullies? Now, I wasn’t a fan of the original idea behind the hashtag, but making fun of people who voice concerns about bullying and swamping them with mocking tweets – doesn’t that fit your definition of harassment? It seems that you are quite happy to ignore twitter harassment when it doesn’t fit your narrative, Hermit.

  211. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 5:54 pm

    daedalus2u:

    This is the charitable interpretation of what the slyme-pitters are doing. They may tell themselves that they don’t “really” want to hurt the objects of their communication, just make them feel bad. But we know that feelings do have effects on physiology. Making people feel bad does affect their physiology and in characteristic ways. It does hurt them.

    How would you say this person wants their opponent to feel?
    “Rather than worry overmuch about civility, I pledge to be as kind as possible. And sometimes the kindest possible contribution to a discussion with someone acting in bad faith and harmfully is to tell them to go fuck themselves sideways.”

    You’re welcome to make the case, but you’re going to have a tough row to hoe here if you apply this principle consistently, not just to “slyme-pitters”. With regard to your suggestion that we refrain from making people “in our communities” feel bad – do you think it is consistent with skepticism to have different ethical rules for treating the in-group and the out-group? Or what if a legitimate criticism makes a person in “our community” feel bad, should we still refrain from it?

  212. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 6:02 pm

    “Hermit, they have not been simply “criticised” and you know it.”

    No, I don’t know that they have been subjected to anything more than criticism of their ideas.

    I do know that no one has created a whole forum dedicated to mocking their appearance and inventing “funny” names like “cobweb c#nt” for them

    I know that there aren’t multiple twitter accounts being created to “parody” and impersonate them.

    “do you realize the “#ftbullies” hashtag was originated by a few people, including women, who felt they were being bullied by FtB bloggers and commenters”

    I know it was created as another forum for bashing and bullying the FtBers…I saw plenty of tweets mocking the idea that the freethoughbloggers are bullies, but I didn’t see the kind of personal insults your slymepit friends specialize in.

    You have a quite the double standard going, don’t you?

  213. daedalus2uon 27 Feb 2013 at 6:14 pm

    decius, Interesting that you use a term from Scientology, but I guess labels like that come easily to you.

    Skepticism and feminism are the opposite of a cult like Scientology. That you are not able to understand that is about your inability to understand what feminism is and what skepticism is. Scientology and all cults are run from the top-down, sort of like the Patriarchy and all the Patriarchal religions. That is why Hubbard started a religion, he wanted to be its top-down leader. Skepticism and feminism are not run from the top-down. They are hierarchies where being right does not depend on who is higher or who is lower.

    When interacting with a group of people causes you pain, what is the rational person to do? After trying to reason with them about not doing things that cause you pain, the only rational option is to avoid those people as much as possible.

    Why don’t those people in the slyme-pit do that? What are they trying to communicate to feminists? That feminists don’t want to get down and wallow in the slyme-pit or the slyme-pitters will beat them at being slymey? Feminists already know that, or they would not be feminists. The slyme-pitters don’t understand what feminism is, they project that it is another slyme-pit just like the one they are wallowing in.

  214. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Perhaps if people were not harassed IRL, their livelihood threatened, their invitations suspended, their employer contacted with misleading information, their docs dropped, their physical integrity itself threatened, I would have used a different metaphor.

    But feel free to turn all sanctimonious on me.

  215. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I know it was created as another forum for bashing and bullying the FtBers…I saw plenty of tweets mocking the idea that the freethoughbloggers are bullies, but I didn’t see the kind of personal insults your slymepit friends specialize in.

    Blaming the victims for speaking out, questioning their motives and excusing harassment if it’s not as bad as something else? Weren’t you just complaining about when others do things like that? Thanks for admitting you support harassment when it suits you, Hermit.

    You have a quite the double standard going, don’t you?

    Seriously? I’m not the one complaining that the same standards are applied to both sides.

  216. Bill Openthalton 27 Feb 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Hermit –

    I know the technique :-) . This isn’t about what I do or don’t do, but about the correspondence of feminism (in all its variants) and marxism (in all its variants), and by extension, if feminism is an ideology.

    Being an ideology doesn’t mean being wholly invalid or erroneous. Marxism is partly based on very real exploitation of workers by factory owners (and partly on Marx’s fertile imagination), and appeals to the nobler side of humans. It has resulted in very real progress, and most of its adherents were, and are, truly nice people. What is wrong in marxism is the simplistic manichean worldview of two classes, the oppressors and the oppressed. In its “gentle” form, it is secular humanism with a musty flavour. In its extreme form, it is responsible for the atrocities of stalinism, maoism, Pol Pot, and North Korea.

    Feminism has the same core problem – a simplistic manichean worldview of two genders, the oppressed and the oppressors. We observe the same spectrum of variants we see in marxism, from gentle to extreme. And we observe the same antagonism between the variants, and the same simplifying and caricaturing of the position of the opponents. You don’t need to look farther than this thread to see the polarising trends in operation.

    The facts are simple: there is gender disparity, but society isn’t organised along gender lines in favour of the men at the expense of women. To solve a problem, it needs to be diagnosed correctly, and neither marxism nor feminism offer the correct diagnosis because they are based on emotionally satisfying but simplistic and erroneous good versus bad concepts. And you are enough of a skeptic to know humans are masters at shoehorning facts to fit their beliefs.

    ==============

    I would like to pay tribute to Stéphane Hessel, who died yesterday aged 95. He was an inspiring, thought-provoking, courageous, humble, profound, funny, poetic, and truly nice person. The world is a poorer place for his passing. If you haven’t read his “Time for Outrage!”, please do.

  217. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Why don’t those people in the slyme-pit do that? What are they trying to communicate to feminists? That feminists don’t want to get down and wallow in the slyme-pit or the slyme-pitters will beat them at being slymey? Feminists already know that, or they would not be feminists. The slyme-pitters don’t understand what feminism is, they project that it is another slyme-pit just like the one they are wallowing in.

    This is complete confabulation. Some members identify as feminists and most are fully supportive of gender equality. You’re welcome to come and “wallow” over there and ask some questions if this seems confusing. (also see above comment to you that just came out of moderation)

  218. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Windy, I would say that perhaps a couple out of hundreds do not support gender equality, and that’s only because every community has its wingnuts.

  219. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 7:34 pm

    if people were not harassed IRL, their livelihood threatened, their invitations suspended, their employer contacted with misleading information, their docs dropped, their physical integrity itself threatened…

    I’m not aware of anyone being harassed IRL by anyone form Skepchcks or FtB, no one’s livelihood has been threatened or employers misled that I’m aware of (there is a myth going around about this but the real story is quite different…), the only doc dropping I know of is Justin Vacula’s doxxing of Surly Amy and the only physical threat I know of coming from a member of FtB resulted in that person being kicked off the blog…

    If there has been actual harassment from that quarter then I would condemn that too. You’re the one’s always demanding proof, show me some.

    Meanwhile as long as you’re still cheering on the slymepit’s obsessions then you are being a hypocrite.

  220. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 7:38 pm

    “Feminism has the same core problem – a simplistic manichean worldview of two genders, the oppressed and the oppressors.”

    As I pointed out before this is a straw version of feminism. You’re tilting at windmills.

  221. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Hermit, if your information about the FTB activities come from FTB, it is no surprise that you are unaware of the gravity of the situation. There’s all the evidence to prove each and every allegations I just made.

    Like I said earlier, I don’t want to soil this thread and this blog, whose owner I deeply respect, with the lurid stuff. If you are in doubt and genuinely curious, feel free to visit the Pit and ask questions.

  222. LMUon 27 Feb 2013 at 8:08 pm

    daedalus2uon on 27 Feb 2013 at 3:29 pm said:

    “What people who do not understand are doing is substituting their own up-conversion scheme to the incoming data, and translating it to something they can understand, rather than applying the inverse of the process used to convert the mental concepts into language so that they can understand what the original speaker was intending to convey. This is often called psychological projection.”

    You make some good points. It is often the case that people misunderstand each other, and having different meanings of terms can be a big source of that. I think a good way to try to address this is to ask for clarification when someone says something that doesn’t seem to make sense. For example I once described a friend as a “field [x]“, and they reacted with sudden outrage. I asked why they were upset and they said that I had called them a “failed [x]“. Because we cleared up the misunderstanding so quickly, I would be surprised if my friend even remembers the event. One of the keys to being able to clear that up, was that my friend was able to talk to me even when they were upset in order to clarify what was meant.

    Thought experiment: Pretend for a moment you are having a discussion with a person promoting a pro-life view and they state something like, “Abortion should never be allowed!” Now for sake of argument assume that such a strong absolutist statement seems strange to you, but make no other assumptions about your position on this issue. Because you are concerned about the problem discussed above (errors arising from projecting their map of definitions and concepts onto your map) you decide to ask for clarification. So you ask: “Are you sure you mean ‘never’? What about ectopic pregnancies where the mother is likely to die?” Note that you aren’t saying that you disagree, we haven’t made any assumptions about your actual position, you are just trying to clarify what the speaker believes. Now what happens is interesting: instead of answering your question the person accuses: “You just want to kill babies! Babykiller!” The discussion goes rapidly downhill from here. You try to defend or explain yourself calmly and the person accuses you of lying or arguing in bad faith and insults you. You’re attempts to engage with them further to get them to explain their view or understand yours only results in them insisting in their initial accusation. If you return their snarky insults back to them, then they take offense, turn their back on you and walk away. Alternatively if you don’t return their insults, then eventually they declare that you are boring and turn their back and walk away anyway.

    The specific topic in the above thought experiment isn’t particularly important, for instance it could have been a discussion about god with a religious person insisting that atheists only want to sin and are therefore devil worshippers. What is important to what I am saying is that this is how the people at FTB and that “side” appear to me. I was reading Pharyngula during “Elevator Gate” and I started from the view that the people there were probably right, so I looked forward to them answering questions clearly. They didn’t though, they just insisted that anybody who asked questions was a PUA, an MRA, a sexist, a misogynist, or something similar. Those who persisted were banned either for responding in kind to the attitude they were recieving, or for being pedantic and boring. Erik’s comment to Steve above that he “can’t fathom such a list [of the other side's demands] that doesn’t include women shutting up,” suggests that they still aren’t dealing with what the other “side” actually says. The question at the end of all this is how are you supposed to communicate with this type of person?

  223. erikthebassiston 27 Feb 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Bill,

    You seem like a a really smart guy but this thread is not the place to dispute feminism. This thread topic was originally about two people on opposite sides of a divide coming together and working things out. This is very much inside baseball to the community.

    You however want to make it your soapbox to disparage all of feminism by erroneously comparing it to socialism or Marxism. Others have pointed out where your comparisons go off the rails.

    You ignored my one sentence dismissal of your position earlier, so it bears repeating. Every argument you’ve made so far that compares feminism to Marxism could also be made about the civil rights movement, and that didn’t turn out anything like North Korea or Pol Pot.

    So much for slippery slopes.

    Your assumption that feminists have a Manichean view of the world, “men bad, women good”, is just ridiculous. Many of us are men. Most of us recognize the cultural baggage we were raised with and don’t run around trying to string up every man (or woman) that says something sexist. We don’t assume they are bad people. Most people just haven’t taken the time to think about it, especially those privileged enough to not have to. What we do try and do is educate and raise consciousness of these issues.

    The problem that feminists in the skeptical movement have with the slymepitters is simply that most of them are blatantly sexist and blatantly misogynistic assholes who give the skeptical and atheist movements a black eye. Some of us have been in the trenches with these jerks for the last two years and watched as deceit and vitriol became the weapons of choice when logic, evidence and their own humanity failed them.

    The slymepit in and of it’s self is all the evidence any one should ever need to know that yes, sexism is a problem here, as it is through out the rest of society.

    I’ve heard some people quibble over what defines harassment. Here’s an easy litmus test, if it would get you fired from your job at most companies, it’s harassment. If it would get you kicked out of any professional space, like say a con, it’s harassment.

    The pitters think they should be free to say anything thing they want, anywhere they want. They don’t recognize boundaries or personal space. The mere mention of rules of conduct for a professional con gets them all in a tizzy. There mere mention that maybe some women at these cons are there to talk about science and skepticism and not get laid sends them in to a child like fit.

    They are no better than school yard bullies who get off on making other people miserable.

    Windy and Decius please, we have eyes, we can read. The pit is not some bastion of equality with a few bad actors making all the disgusting jokes and parodies.

    Decius, I have noticed you in particular seem to comport yourself well both here and there and that’s appreciated, but when your comments there are surrounded by the kind of bile they are, and you don’t seem to have an issue with it? Well, your silence in a situation like that implies your tacit approval as Sam Harris might say.

    You might be the kind pf person that many feminists could have a decent conversation or debate with, but many of your pals at the pit spew some of the most disgusting spittle I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have to expose myself to.

    Step pretending that you’re representative of the typical pitter, you just aren’t, and anyone one who spends any amount of time reading that tripe can tell from a mile away.

  224. deciuson 27 Feb 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Erik, thanks for the personal appreciation, but I think you’re overestimating me or perhaps you don’t know the Pit too well. I’m just as foul-mouthed as the others (just exercising restraint here) and I can assure you that that overwhelming majority of them are committed egalitarians or even feminists (not of the gender-based variety, or whatever it’s called).

    I suppose it would do us all a lot of good if we dropped the prejudices and got to know each other better.

    I blame PZ, and a couple of others, for their successful agit-prop-style disinformatija campaigns, however.

  225. hermiton 27 Feb 2013 at 8:30 pm

    “Hermit, if your information about the FTB activities come from FTB, it is no surprise that you are unaware of the gravity of the situation. There’s all the evidence to prove each and every allegations I just made. “

    No decius my information comes from hearing these charges before and looking into them from all sides. I didn’t come into this as a partisan for one side or the other.

    ………………..

    Bill…I actually agree with this: “To solve a problem, it needs to be diagnosed correctly…”, but I don’t see you offering a diagnosis or any solutions, just reasons to reject an ideology no one here has actually expressed.

  226. jcwelchon 27 Feb 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I’m not aware of anyone being harassed IRL by anyone form Skepchcks or FtB, no one’s livelihood has been threatened or employers misled that I’m aware of (there is a myth going around about this but the real story is quite different…), the only doc dropping I know of is Justin Vacula’s doxxing of Surly Amy and the only physical threat I know of coming from a member of FtB resulted in that person being kicked off the blog…

    Hermit, well, there’s Justin Vacula who was driven from a position in a skeptical group by Zvan. Whether you agree or not, is that not harassment? By a member of FTB?

    As far as the “myth” going around, I assume you’re talking about Abbie Smith, and the multipronged campaign to drive her off of Scienceblogs, and when that failed, they contacted her employer in an attempt to silence her. That’s not myth, that’s fact. You seem to be in favor of it, but that’s still harassment. By members of FTB.

    Then there’s the incident that got Laden kicked off of FTB, wherein he threatened Justin Griffith. That’s not a myth, the email is still up on his FTB site. Is that not harassment?

    There’s the offer from one of Ophelia’s twitter followers to helpfully track down ‘pitters and vandalize their property. Is that not harassment? Not by a member of FTB directly, but Ophelia didn’t actually say “No, that’s not right. We don’t do that kind of thing.” I guess vandalism isn’t harassment if the targets are SPs.

    FTB followers have engaged in Twitter campaigns designed not to end people they don’t like communicating with them, but to get their accounts suspended. That’s harassment.

    So, it would appear there are rather a lot of things you aren’t “aware” of. But they still happened. And they’re still harassment.

    You seem to define harassment in a curiously monodirectional fashion, which is something I’ve noticed a lot about skeptchicks/FTB/Et al

    When Hensley and Surly Amy attacked Sara Mayhew, they seemed to have the most remarkable problem accepting that she might not be thrilled with that. Almost as if Sara’s feelings didn’t matter.

    Yet when Sara responded in an inconvenient fashion, the hue and cry about her evil harassment was not small. Funny how that worked: bagging on Sara = Okey Dokey. Sara returning fire = OMG HARASSMENT.

    Over and over, the hypocrisy from that side is astounding, the incidents of harassment well documented, and yet you are blissfully unaware of anything happening in an inconvenient direction.

    One might think you’d made up your mind that harassment is only something that happens *to* your side, and that if it comes *from* your side, well, that’s not harassment at all, how ridiculous to even suggest it.

    If “peace” requires only one side to admit any form of error whatsoever, then that is not peace via any form of respectable settlement of hostilities. It is peace via capitulation, and if that is what you and your side require, then I’d not hold my breath, were I you.

  227. windyon 27 Feb 2013 at 9:36 pm

    erikthebassist, your opinion of decius seems to have evolved quite a bit since your first comment in this thread- are you sure you aren’t mistaken about the motives of some of the other participants as well?

    In fact, there is a lot of disagreement on where to draw the line, but I’d say the “disgusting jokes and parodies” are largely not intended to disparage one gender but to parody the moral panic surrounding the debate. You might consider them analogous to the “porcupine” insults popularised by a certain blog- would you want someone to condemn the whole community based on those?

  228. erikthebassiston 27 Feb 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Windy, don’t over estimate the depth of my good will towards decius. I still find him wrong, I only thought it was worth mentioning that he isn’t your typical pitter, still vile, still sexist, but at least his rhetoric doesn’t rise the level of harassment.

    I’ve been reading quite a bit over there the past few days. I can see that there’s some legitimate discussions going on, and not 100% agreement on everything. You’d find the same thing at Pharyngula BTW.

    But the outright sexism I do see is appalling, and motives aside, when you post a picture of a bunch of prominent skeptics, all women, and proceed to rip them apart and talk about how ugly and fat you find them, cast aspersions to their oral hygiene, that’s not parody Windy.

    The false equivalence the pitters engage is amazing quite frankly. The porcupine meme has long since died, when it was pointed out that it’s basically wishing for someone to be sodomized in the worst way imaginable. It always eked me out a little, but once I realized what was really being said, I decided never to use it again, and so did most at Pharyngula.

    The Horde™ changed their behavior when they realized it was wrong, the very thing pitters accuse them of being incapable of doing. Thank you for providing such as easy way to illustrate a very important difference between the two sides imho.

  229. daedalus2uon 27 Feb 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Windy, you say:

    “With regard to your suggestion that we refrain from making people “in our communities” feel bad – do you think it is consistent with skepticism to have different ethical rules for treating the in-group and the out-group? Or what if a legitimate criticism makes a person in “our community” feel bad, should we still refrain from it?”

    I would say yes. But I don’t consider having discourse that doesn’t make certain people feel bad as having different ethical rules. If you can convey the same information, ask the same question without making someone feel bad, you should. If you can’t accomplish the information transfer without making someone feel bad, you should ask yourself “is making someone feel bad my objective?”

    It is pretty clear that much of the bullying, images and “jokes” are designed to make people feel bad and they do make people feel bad and the originators of those communications have been informed that they make people feel bad, they understand that they make people feel bad and they continue to use the same style and content that makes people feel bad. I get the message. Their intent is to make certain people feel bad. Their intent is to generate a hostile environment.

    I get it. Why don’t those trying to make people feel bad just admit it so that those of us who want to be in a community where some members have the goal of making other members feel bad can choose to not associate with those members? Or better, why don’t those people who want to make some people feel bad go off and form their own group? Oh right, because then they won’t have any victims to make feel bad except themselves.

    I don’t want to be in any group that has members with the goal of making the group a hostile environment for some of its members.

    Regarding your question:

    How would you say this person wants their opponent to feel?
    “Rather than worry overmuch about civility, I pledge to be as kind as possible. And sometimes the kindest possible contribution to a discussion with someone acting in bad faith and harmfully is to tell them to go fuck themselves sideways.”

    If someone is acting in bad faith, it is not possible to have a rational communication with them. If the discussion involves multiple parties, then being explicit about the bad faith of the party acting in bad faith is protective of others in the discussion who may not be aware of the bad faith actor’s bad faith. Allowing the bad faith actor to continue to act in bad faith against other participants is not being kind to those other participants. That is one of the things that can bring out the harshest comments in me, someone harming others in bad faith. When I make harsh comments to such people, what I want them to feel is shame at being called out on acting in bad faith and harming people and for them to stop acting in bad faith and harming people. What I want them to then do is to go away and not come back until they have changed to no longer act in bad faith and so as to harm people. If they can’t change, then if they never come back it is no great loss to me.

  230. erikthebassiston 27 Feb 2013 at 10:55 pm

    “I suppose it would do us all a lot of good if we dropped the prejudices and got to know each other better.”

    I was having a smoke outside during a break at one of my gigs recently, and a guy I didn’t know was hanging around with a guy I did know. It’s a busy street, especially at night, and a group women walked by, all about college aged, all looking very attractive.

    As all the male heads swung in their direction and watched as they walked away, the guy I didn’t know felt so comfortable with the moment of chop licking to outright say “We should just be able to rape women, throw them down and f87k them right there in the street and nobody can say a word.”

    I learned all I needed to know about that guy in two sentences. I had no more interest in getting to know him. It also reminded me of why I’ve become a feminist, because guys talk like that all the time when they think they can get away with it.

    I see rape culture everywhere, you deny it exists. I see sexism everywhere, in my workplace, embedded in my family dynamics, and I see that it hurts people, and corrupts them.

    I don’t like sexism, just like I don’t like racism. Calling someone a c*&t is just as sexist as calling calling someone a ni&%er is racist.

    There is no excuse for either in my book. You want to insult someone? Insult their ideas, insult their thinking, don’t insult the things they can’t do anything about. Don’t be a bully or a bigot to make a point. That s&it should be universally reviled by decent human beings.

  231. OaringAbouton 28 Feb 2013 at 3:12 am

    erikthebassist said:

    The Horde™ changed their behavior when they realized it was wrong, the very thing pitters accuse them of being incapable of doing. Thank you for providing such as easy way to illustrate a very important difference between the two sides imho.

    That “The Horde™” has changed at least some of its ways is certainly good news, and something which more than a few have noted: the leopard can change its spots, although it is still an open question whether or not those changes are only skin deep.

    However, I have to wonder whether you – and they – have ever given any thought to the idea that “The Horde™” has contributed very substantially to the poisoning of the well that is, arguably, a very substantial cause of the roiling of the waters at the intersection of atheism, skepticism, and feminism? And that you – collectively – bear a very substantial burden of responsibility for that state of affairs?

    And that, more specifically, many of those languishing in Myers’ dungeon are there because they happen to have disputed and criticized that porpupine “joke” along with other equally unsavoury “standards” of behaviour there? That that contribution is ongoing as evidenced by Myers’ recent [Dec 6] assertion that, in effect, of those who criticize and reject his definition of feminism, “every one of them has the name Marc Lepine”? A contribution and view of feminism that is underlined by his offer to discuss feminism [An experiment: why do you despise feminism? Dec 21] that was subsequently proven to be a “poisoned chalice” by his banning of someone merely because she happened to have commented on the SlympePit. That isn’t rationality and skepticism but demagoguery and dogma speaking.

    In addition, while I’ll readily admit that sexism is unfortunately rather ubiquitous, your suggestion that the simple use of gendered epithets always qualifies as that betrays the use of a definition that is not supported at all by the dictionary – as I’ve argued in some detail here – and that motivates totally discreditable accusations directed at a great many people, including Michael Shermer.

    And while I quite agree with you that we, as skeptics if not as humanists, should be addressing each others’ arguments, and not their physical attributes, I also figure that FTB in general, and Pharyngula in particular, has a substantial amount to make amends for before much progress can be made.

  232. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2013 at 5:38 am

    Hermit –

    As I pointed out before this is a straw version of feminism. You’re tilting at windmills.

    This is the same argument that can be made about marxism. In its gentle form, it tackles a genuine problem, albeit using the wriong diagnosis, and hence proposes ineffective solutions. Looking at the mud-slinging in the “skeptical community”, it is clear there is ideology at work.

    It’s not just feminism, but also the more extreme form of atheism. Again, we could argue that atheism is not about anti-religionism (style “the pope is an asshat”), and in a sense, the name is less inherently divisive than feminism, but the fact remains that those who vocally affirm to speak for atheism do so by attacking religion and religious people.

    I am not casting aspertions on you, or any individual. Even (the overwheming majority of) the most extreme people (those who, like me at an inglorious moment of my life, felt that killing people for a better world was morally defensible) are motivated by moral feelings — they want to do good. They end up doing harm because the innate tendency of the human mind to engage in binary classification.

    It was truly sad to see how PZ reacted to this post by taking a final dig at Harriet Hall (I quoted his response in this thread). It is truly sad to see how in the comments on this thread the controversy flared up again after a few nods of approval. This is why I jumped at the opportunity to point out the similarties between marxism and feminism. Incidentally, religion is based on the same simplistic good/bad, us/them divide, and even though generations of theologians and philosophers have added subtlety and complexity, the fact remains religion only managed further to divide humanity. Large denominations emerge only to give rise to schisms and divisions.

    Recently, there were attempts at dividing skepticism (if there is such a thing as skepticism) into bigfoot skepticism and engaged skepticism, similar to the split between “there is no proof of god” atheism and “religion must die!” atheism, and comparable divisions in feminism, socialism, etc. This does not need to happen, all the more because we need a tool to tackle belief systems, we need a way of thinking about humanity and the world that is inclusive and not divisive.

    With the challenges to the survival of humanity that lie ahead, we desperately need it.

  233. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 6:07 am

    The false equivalence the pitters engage is amazing quite frankly. The porcupine meme has long since died, when it was pointed out that it’s basically wishing for someone to be sodomized in the worst way imaginable. It always eked me out a little, but once I realized what was really being said, I decided never to use it again, and so did most at Pharyngula.

    How long did it take you to realize that?? Of course that’s what the meme says, that was the whole point, that such wishes are hyperbolic and shouldn’t be taken seriously! Now it seems you’ve changed your collective mind about that, meaning that the Pharyngula community was actually guilty of promoting rape culture by using those memes?

    And since the majority at the ‘pit frown on jokes based on involuntary physical characteristics, and they’re largely not used anymore, it seems the equivalence is not false at all.

    The Horde™ changed their behavior when they realized it was wrong, the very thing pitters accuse them of being incapable of doing. Thank you for providing such as easy way to illustrate a very important difference between the two sides imho.

    What if I don’t agree that the behavior was wrong? Changing your opinion based on arbitrary fashions and peer pressure is not necessarily a virtue.

  234. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 6:19 am

    Erik, while I fully share your contempt for rapists (and presumably axe murderers), I cannot logically conclude from your anecdote that anything like a rape culture exist. An acquaintance of mine was forced, as a child, to help dispose of his mother’s body part by his father and sister, so that they could carry on their illicit relationship. Someone later made a movie about it, which got decent reviews and box-office success.
    It doesn’t follow that people find axe murder culture incest, matricide and uxoricide arousing.

    In fact, I can think of few crimes so universally despised as rape is and I firmly object to the dissemination of moral panic on such flimsy grounds.
    Let individual criminals and psychopaths bear full responsibility for their actions, including the isolation from civil society they richly deserve.

  235. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 6:27 am

    Sorry, the above should have read: ” It doesn’t follow that people find incest, matricide and uxoricide arousing within the contest of an axe-murder culture.”

  236. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 6:54 am

    windy

    And since the majority at the ‘pit frown on jokes based on involuntary physical characteristics, and they’re largely not used anymore, it seems the equivalence is not false at all.

    The bold is a problem. The bold/italic/underline is a possible major problem. What voluntary physical characteristics are there which is permissible to joke about in the ‘pit?

  237. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:16 am

    This is the same argument that can be made about marxism. In its gentle form, it tackles a genuine problem, albeit using the wriong diagnosis, and hence proposes ineffective solutions. Looking at the mud-slinging in the “skeptical community”, it is clear there is ideology at work.

    Bill, I don’t entirely agree with your analysis, but I’ve appreciated your thought-provoking comments in this thread. There’s ideology at work, if the internet “social justice warrior” culture deserves to be called an ideology. I don’t think the non-radical forms of feminism or socialism get the diagnosis totally wrong, we just need to find ‘stable’ forms of those ideologies that don’t depend on continuing division and/or denunciation of enemies (social democracy instead of communism, etc.)

  238. Catsyon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:26 am

    “Daedalus, what you say is generally correct, but offers no consideration for the women who have been essentially declared suppressive persons by the feminist contingent with total disregard for their feelings”

    Citation needed. You need to provide evidence of the “women who have been essentially declared suppressive persons by the feminist contingent” and context.

    And if you’re all that concerned about women’s feelings being regarded, let’s take an honest look at how the Slymepit and its members treat its enemies’.

    “In fact, I can think of few crimes so universally despised as rape is and I firmly object to the dissemination of moral panic on such flimsy grounds”

    Flimsy grounds?

    Rape is common. Conviction for rape is rare.

    ://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2009/11/12/rapists-who-dont-think-theyre-rapists/

    If you disagree, you need to provide evidence.

  239. Catsyon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:28 am

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/100000-assaults-1000-rapists-sentenced-shockingly-low-conviction-rates-revealed-8446058.html

  240. Catsyon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:29 am

    “we just need to find ‘stable’ forms of those ideologies that don’t depend on continuing division and/or denunciation of enemies”

    Take it to the Slymepit.

  241. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 7:40 am

    Catsy, thanks for proving my point about feminist pseudo-scholarship.

    “Shocking new statistics”, “Anonymous accounts of sex assaults taken from The Everyday Sexism Project (www.everydaysexism.com)”.

    What were you saying about citations needed?

  242. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2013 at 7:45 am

    erikthebassist –

    I see you are using flattery to try and get me onto your side. This is a well-known gambit to try and co-opt interesting individuals into one’s group.

    Actually, I am (try to be :-) ) a Martian anthropologist studying human group formation. Humans have the ability to form very complex groups without the genetic closeness and associated chemical information exchange of ants, bees or termites. My theory is that humans have an innate group-forming program based on mental closeness using human language to exchange information. The first prediction based on my theory is that humans adapt their mental processes to fit in the group they join, and adopt a language that allows them to identify if other humans are part of their group or not.

    Am I on the right track?

  243. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:48 am

    What were you saying about citations needed?

    It was even in the first paragraph. The statistics were “according to the new research by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.” The anonymous accounts, i.e. the words describing the accounts, were taken from everydaysexism.com.

    I hate that you went all out and blasted someone for pseudo-scholarship when you failed reading even reading for comprehension. Or maybe you were being disingenuous, I can’t really say.

  244. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 8:01 am

    There’s no link to the actual research, only weasel words and interpretations on a partisan publication.

    Take this:

    “Only 1,070 rapists are convicted every year despite up to 95,000 people – the vast majority of them women – suffering the trauma of rape –”

    This wording includes men and who knows what.

  245. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 8:11 am

    “Suffering the trauma of rape”, apart from being emotionally-charged loaded language unworthy of journalism, would include also those with a fervid imagination, by the way.

  246. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:18 am

    The bold is a problem. The bold/italic/underline is a possible major problem. What voluntary physical characteristics are there which is permissible to joke about in the ‘pit?

    I didn’t post that to justify that behavior, so I don’t think it’s necessary to go into details, I was pointing out an analogy with what erik described was going on in Pharyngula. Do you think it was a “possible major problem” that a major atheist blog was cheerfully promoting behavior they now seem to think was wrong, and if so, why should we accept their moral authority now? Even more so when they rage against “civility” arguments when directed at them? Drop the tribalism for a second and stop assuming everyone ought to draw the line in the same place you do.

  247. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:20 am

    That doesn’t explain why you made it appear you associated the statistics with everydaysexism.com. Now you’re saying the problem is with the lack of links or that the results weren’t explicit enough for you. Backpedal up the hill…

    All this deflection about pseudo-scholarship because you can’t do as Catsie asked and “provide evidence of the “women who have been essentially declared suppressive persons by the feminist contingent” and context.”

    Instead you use the phrase they used to ask you to back up your claims, against their actually presenting you with something for you to immediately dismiss.

    Fair’s fair.

    “Suffering the trauma of rape”, apart from being emotionally-charged loaded language unworthy of journalism

    OK. I’ll go tell my mother that she never actually suffered and that her rape wasn’t traumatic. Because it’s totally not accurate or anything. Rape is just rape! Why actually describe what it causes? I mean, seriously, emotions? Those things are for women! Amirite guys?

  248. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 8:26 am

    All I’m asking is a link to the original research, so everyone can meaningfully comment on the actual data.

    Pointing out the weaknesses of yellow journalism is part of the mission of this blog as well, and says nothing about your mother, my dear simple friend.

  249. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:28 am

    daedalus2u:

    If someone is acting in bad faith, it is not possible to have a rational communication with them. If the discussion involves multiple parties, then being explicit about the bad faith of the party acting in bad faith is protective of others in the discussion who may not be aware of the bad faith actor’s bad faith. Allowing the bad faith actor to continue to act in bad faith against other participants is not being kind to those other participants. That is one of the things that can bring out the harshest comments in me, someone harming others in bad faith. When I make harsh comments to such people, what I want them to feel is shame at being called out on acting in bad faith and harming people and for them to stop acting in bad faith and harming people. What I want them to then do is to go away and not come back until they have changed to no longer act in bad faith and so as to harm people. If they can’t change, then if they never come back it is no great loss to me.

    Indeed. You have described exactly why many “slymepitters” feel like they can make harsh comments to people who make bad faith arguments about “misogynists”, “MRAs” and “rape apologists” in the skeptical community.

  250. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:31 am

    I didn’t post that to justify that behavior, so I don’t think it’s necessary to go into details

    Because you know the answer, and the answer is that the voluntary physical characteristics which the Slymers think it’s perfectly fine to joke about is being fat.

  251. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:40 am

    Pointing out the weaknesses of yellow journalism is part of the mission of this blog as well, and says nothing about your mother, my dear simple friend.

    I’m so unaffected by your weak jabs. If you had ANY integrity, whatsoever, you’d have put two and two together, and googled the attested sources. PLUNK! Guess what I looked up to find that… You’ll never guess… “Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.” It was the first goddamn link. So pull the other one about how you’re only interested in the data. If it mattered that much to you, then you’d have followed the clues.

    Now put up on your side of the ‘citation needed’ front.

  252. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:45 am

    throwaway: actually I was thinking of people who use their appearance to further their agenda. But you’re showing your bias again, not all Slymers think fat jokes are “perfectly fine”, I don’t for one. We just don’t think censorship and moral panics are the solution, so please stop derailing the discussion with this irrelevant sidetrack. We get it already, you don’t approve of the jokes.

    I ask again: Do you think it was a “possible major problem” that a major atheist blog was cheerfully promoting behavior they now seem to think was wrong, and if so, why should we accept their moral authority now? Even more so when they rage against “civility” arguments when directed at them?

  253. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2013 at 8:53 am

    Windy –

    The essence of my idea is that one cannot have stable versions of such ideologies. The good/bad, us/them division that underlies even their gentle forms will force splits and divisions once the groups based around them become large enough to support multiple leaders.

    Ideologies, or the ideological treatment of all group-forming ideas might be the inevitable consequence of the way human social behaviour has evolved. In other words, when a concept like skepticism, which taken by itself doesn’t seem to have many divisive aspects, becomes the basis of a group, it will acquire these divisive aspects once the group becomes large enough to split.

  254. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 8:56 am

    So, 5.9% of all women between 16 and 59 yo have been the victims of serious sex crime such as rape and assault. The figure includes attempted rapes and assaults (vast majority), and sexual crimes carried out by family members and by female offenders (only 71% of the perpetrators were male).

    Compare to the spin by the Independent, which is the Daily Mail for socialists.

    I rest my case.

  255. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 9:05 am

    actually I was thinking of people who use their appearance to further their agenda

    Like whom? Those rascally youtube women who use their boobs to get views when so many men have better things to say?

    not all Slymers think fat jokes are “perfectly fine”,

    Are you telling me that if I went there and made fat jokes that I would be banned?

    We get it already, you don’t approve of the jokes.

    Neither does William Shatner.

    Do you think it was a “possible major problem” that a major atheist blog was cheerfully promoting behavior they now seem to think was wrong, and if so, why should we accept their moral authority now?

    Authority? I don’t think skeptics dig authority. Arguments, yes. You should accept moral arguments. Especially if they came to the conclusion that what they were doing was wrong based on the same arguments, which you also happen to agree with. Then it would be contrarian not to accept their moral arguments.

    Even more so when they rage against “civility” arguments when directed at them?

    I saw a lot of mocking of civility pledges, with actual arguments as to why they were unacceptable for one side to accept when they have been civil the whole time. I didn’t really see raging at all. Raging laughter, maybe.

  256. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 9:13 am

    Bill, your idea could be interpreted as an ideological stance against ideologies! :)

    Joking aside, there’s probably some truth behind that, but it doesn’t explain why some ideologies don’t seem to lead to “eating their own” as often as others. And many extremist ideologies have been able to grow (by assimilating or exterminating the opposition) instead of splitting into smaller groups.

  257. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 9:24 am

    So, 5.9% of all women between 16 and 59 yo have been the victims of serious sex crime such as rape and assault. The figure includes attempted rapes and assaults (vast majority), and sexual crimes carried out by family members and by female offenders (only 71% of the perpetrators were male).

    Compare to the spin by the Independent, which is the Daily Mail for socialists.

    I rest my case.

    What figures do not match up? I did not see a 5.9% figure in the PDF I linked you to (charitably). It’s not readily apparent where you got that percentage from. From what I see, the figures match up in the article and in the statistics. The chart on page 7 shows where some figures come from for the article. What are you on about?

  258. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2013 at 9:26 am

    Daedalus2u, Windy –

    The problem stems from a lack of common ground. We expect people in our group to adhere to the same principles as us, share the same overall worldview. The feeling of bad faith arises when a person whom we think is part of our group attacks the principles we feel to be part of the group’s common ground. These principles need not have any link to reality (cf. religions and their belief in their holy book), they just need to be perceived as having been accepted as (part of) the group’s common ground to be real and important.

    We tolerate dissenting ideas from members of other groups with more equanimity than from members of our own group. The latter should know and share the common ideas, and when they show they don’t accept them, we perceive that as “bad faith” or malice.

  259. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2013 at 9:39 am

    Windy –

    it doesn’t explain why some ideologies don’t seem to lead to “eating their own” as often as others. And many extremist ideologies have been able to grow (by assimilating or exterminating the opposition) instead of splitting into smaller groups.

    It’s not anautomatic process, and, humans being individual agents, it depends a lot on people and circumstances. Just look at the history of the race – the moment groups get to a certain size, sooner or later they fragment into smaller groups. The internally most stable societies are composed of groups, which are in turn composed of smaller groups, until we reach the individual. With increasing group size come decreasing information sharing and increasing difference. Groups at the same level compete with each other (families with families, sports clubs with sports clubs, villages with villages, etc), and cooperate through the higher level. The internally most stable societies are pluralistic democracies, where ideology plays a rather limited part in the decision making process (even though the participants in the political arena are organised in ideology-based groups).

  260. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 10:07 am

    Throwaway, with a little effort you can find the figures as stated, I’m sure.

  261. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 10:12 am

    Just remember that we were discussing rape, not the conflation of everything else.

    I’m looking forward to a comment about the fact that 29% of perpetrators are women and how feminists square this realisation within their simplistic narrative.

  262. throwawayon 28 Feb 2013 at 10:18 am

    You are an artful dodger, I’ll give you that. You still haven’t provided any citations for your claim.

    I also asked you to clarify which figures do not match up. You’ve failed to do that as well.

    Finally, find me a feminist who ever actually seriously put forth the argument that women don’t rape, and also can you frame what “simplistic narrative” you were referring to which does not square with the majority of rapists being male…

  263. ConspicuousCarlon 28 Feb 2013 at 11:53 am

    I missed Aidan’s response.

    No Aidan, that’s a total straw man. I didn’t say we should refuse to do it, I implied that we should be careful not to take it too far because it could turn into something else. I even compared it to something which can be good when needed.

    And, as already stated, we can’t ask for clarification from someone (Rebecca) who refuses to read or address replies.

  264. PieterBon 28 Feb 2013 at 12:00 pm

    decius:
    http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/criminal-justice/sexual-offending-statistics

    It is estimated that 0.5 per cent of females report being a victim of the most serious offences of rape or sexual assault by penetration…

    Around one in twenty females (aged 16 to 59) reported being a victim of a most serious sexual offence [defined above as "rape or assault by penetration"] since the age of 16. Extending this to include other sexual offences such as sexual threats, unwanted touching or indecent exposure, this increased to one in five females reporting being a victim since the age of 16.

    Where the hell did you get your figures?

  265. daedalus2uon 28 Feb 2013 at 12:17 pm

    decius, ah yes, dismiss all evidence that is not 100% corroborated or given under oath (with penalty of perjury) under cross examination by a hostile lawyer. Make the “cost” of truthful testimony too high and victims can’t and won’t testify. That does not make them non-victims, it simply adds another type of victimization.

    That is sort of what the slyme-pitters are doing, making the cost of expressing and implementing a particular idea too high and people are inhibited from doing it.

    Bill Openthalt, someone operating in bad faith is not operating from different values or different ideals, they are being deceitful and lying about their motivations and imputing different motivations to others. That can start out as “honest error”, but honest error can be corrected by continued communication. When people refuse to understand their opponents viewpoint after considerable communication, they are acting in bad faith.

    You can disagree with someone in good faith, but you can’t disagree about facts in good faith. That is the easiest way to show that someone is acting in bad faith, show that they deny facts, as desius is doing with the rape statistics, trying to spin them to not mean there is unacceptable amounts of rape and that when rapes happen they are not dealt with appropriately, largely because there is a stance of denialism by rape-apologists and misogynists who blame the victim by saying she was “asking for it”.

    If she is “asking” for it, it is not rape by definition. I don’t disagree that to some misogynists, a woman screaming “NO, NO, NO” and trying to run away is (by their perception) “asking for it”. Such people are acting in bad faith.

    I have no doubt that there are men who do feel that no amount of “saying no” on a woman’s part actually means “no”. Such people are delusional (holding an idea after there is overwhelming evidence that it is not correct). What do we call people who continue to try and hurt people after being given overwhelming evidence that what they are doing is hurting them? I call them bullies and psychopaths. What do you call them?

  266. hermiton 28 Feb 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Jwelch says “If “peace” requires only one side to admit any form of error whatsoever, then that is not peace via any form of respectable settlement of hostilities.”

    Oh I happily admit there have been errors and bad behaviour on both “sides”, I also know that a lot of the alleged bad behaviour you refer is not what you allege it to be, you are parroting the mythology which has been embraced rather uncritically at the “slymepit” (it’s useful to have a narrative to justify all the shouting over there, isn’t it?) and I also know that the volume of bad behaviour and harassment is a lot heavier in one direction than in the other.

    ……………………

    Bill, there is certainly truth in what you’re saying in a general sense that can applied generally to any generality, but you have to admit it’s an oversimplification at best. And to the people getting the daily hate mail, the blogs and forums dedicated to mocking and belittling them your little intellectual exercise isn’t very useful, is it?

    There is indeed a divisiveness in the skeptical community, and an attempt to create an “us vs them” atmosphere, but from what I’ve seen it’s being directed at the feminists, not created by them. They’re just asking that we think about how we relate to one another and critically examine our own biases and presuppositions. Isn’t that what skeptics do?

  267. ccbowerson 28 Feb 2013 at 1:18 pm

    “They’re just asking that we think about how we relate to one another and critically examine our own biases and presuppositions. Isn’t that what skeptics do?”

    *It should be, but in practice it is not that simple. Some people are under the delusion that their use of skepticism means that don’t have significant biases, and this creates a “blind spot” in their self perception. I think this is one way that skeptics can be very good skeptics in many realms, but may have an area or two in which they do not apply the tools of skepticism appropriately (e.g. they may use many of those same skills as a tool in insulate their biases).

    I believe this topic has brought out some flaws in how many people use skepticism, and this is most obvious when people cannot see how their ideological committments motivate their reasoning. If the many sides of this topic would take the principle of charity seriously, and apply the tools of skepticism just as vigorously inwards as they do outwards we wouldn’t see the kind of unnecessary conflict we currently see.

  268. daedalus2uon 28 Feb 2013 at 2:02 pm

    CC, well said. This goes with the principle of charity, and charity begins at home. As skeptics, our position is that what matters are the facts and logic of an argument, not the person who is putting forth the argument. The same argument from different people is the same. You don’t get to privilege your opinions unless you have facts and logic to back them up.

    Feelings don’t matter in skepticism. Feelings are mostly all that matter in social interactions. If you try to make people feel bad to “win”, you have lost both in skepticism and in social interaction.

    Top-down power structures, such as the Patriarchy, and the Patriarchal Religions concentrate social power at the top by making those on the bottom feel bad. That is the essence of bullying, moving up the social power hierarchy by pulling other people down.

    This is a very common tactic of those trying to achieve top-down power, find a minority, marginalize them and turn them into the other. People who don’t want to be on the bottom, will join together to marginalize those who are not like them. That works for a while, but as Martin Niemöller found out, eventually you can be in the group that is marginalized.

  269. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 3:45 pm

    PieterB and assorted others, what exactly is the difference between around “1 in 20″ and 5,9%?

    I went straight to the figures inside the report, which I quoted faithfully. If you can’t find them within a very short pdf, I don’t really know how I can help you.

    However, I have now a long weekend ahead of heavy partying, so talk to you another time. You know how to find me, anyway. You all have a great time, too.

  270. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Daedalus, what a dishonest bunch of crap. I never said or implied any of that, you verbal bully.

  271. deciuson 28 Feb 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Don’t bother reply, I’m truly done. Have a nice life as true believers.

  272. daedalus2uon 28 Feb 2013 at 4:48 pm

    decius, it is called “hyperbole”. Don’t you recognize when it is applied to you?

    I didn’t realize that you were so sensitive that you could not tolerate a little bit of sarcastic hyperbole and now need to run away and hide.

    Don’t worry, Dr Novella moderates this board pretty well and anything that he considers truly and directly hurtful he will moderate out. That won’t protect you from narcissistic injury, but that is the whole point of skepticism, to expose our ill conceived ideas, even those that strike to the core of our being.

    The usual function of slime is to provide a protective layer that insulates an organism from the real world. I don’t begrudge anyone what ever protective tools or heuristics they need to protect themselves, provided they don’t harm others in the process. Feel free to wallow in as much slime as you need to insulate and protect your core being. Just keep your slime away from those who don’t appreciate or need it.

  273. ildion 28 Feb 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I was very curious about the finding in the report that 71 percent of the perpetrators were male. Alas, decius is off to enjoy the weekend. So, first I searched for “71 per cent;” the only hits were:

    The most serious sexual offences of ‘rape’ (16,000 offences) and ‘sexual assault’ (22,100 offences) accounted for 71 per cent of sexual offences recorded by the police.

    The proportion of recorded sexual crimes in the most serious sexual offence category of rape or sexual assault (71 per cent) differs markedly from profile of crimes experienced by victims responding to the CSEW, of whom 20 per cent reported being victim of the most serious sexual offences.

    Searching for just the number 71 did not provide any relevant hits in the tables.

    Searching for “perpetrator” resulted in:

    Around 90 per cent of victims of the most serious sexual offences in the previous year knew the perpetrator, compared with less than half for other sexual offences.

    Then, I searched for “offender” (a lot more hits) and came across these paragraphs strewn about:

    Demographic breakdowns of offenders convicted for sexual offences
    In 2011, males accounted for the vast majority of offenders found guilty for sexual offences (99.0 per cent). More specifically, males aged 18 and over accounted for 91.8 per cent of offenders found guilty for sexual offences, with similar proportions for rape (94.0 per cent) and sexual assault (90.3 per cent) proceedings (see Table 4.8).

    While the number of offenders sentenced for sexual offences has been increasing over time, from 4,729 in 2005 (of which 98.8 per cent were male) to 5,955 in 2011 (of which 98.6 per cent were male), the way in which offenders are dealt with by the courts has seen little variation.

    In 2011, there were 10,832 male prisoners in custody for sexual offences, a rise of 4 per cent since 2010. There were 103 female prisoners in custody for sexual offences, a fall of 15 per cent since 2010.

    Although there has been a general upward trend in the number of female prisoners in custody for sexual offences, it remains very low and is a very small proportion of the overall female prison population (2 per cent). For both the remand and the immediate custodial sentenced populations of prisoners in custody for sexual offences, the vast majority have an offence type of other sexual offences.

    Characteristics of offenders supervised under community orders or SSOs for sexual offences
    Almost all (99 per cent) of those offenders supervised by the Probation Service under community orders or SSOs for sexual offences are male. Similarly, a large proportion (88 per cent) are adults, i.e. aged 21 and over. For those supervised under post release supervision, the proportion of females is also very small, but has risen from 0.6 per cent to 1.5 per cent between 2005 and 2011.

  274. hermiton 28 Feb 2013 at 5:35 pm

    So decius implies here that photoshopping people’s faces onto porn images, calling them fat, mocking their age and appearance, making up nicknames for them based on their age and the alleged condition of their genitals (…all good fun at the slymepit…) is just “satire” and no one should be upset about it…that in fact it’s a good idea to share this material with the intended targets on twitter.

    …and then cries and runs away when his ideas are actually criticized.

    A less charitable person than I might make a few comments at this point about pots and kettles and the heat in kitchens etc…

  275. Iamcuriousblueon 28 Feb 2013 at 6:03 pm

    erikthebassiston writes: “When they are called on it, they scream about their “Freeze Peach” rights and hurl insults, sexist insults, claim feminists are professional victims and deny that we live in a patriarchical society. “

    I would suggest, sir, that if you wish to have a serious, civil discussion about these issues, that you drop divisive shibboleths like “Freeze Peach”. You might well note that those of us who are part of the skeptical movement but don’t buy into the ideology you’ve outlined above aren’t going anywhere, and if you’re going to change hearts and minds among skeptics, you’ll have to appeal to reason, rather than beating people over the head with ideology and cliquish rhetoric.

    SallyStrangeon writes: “Sociology denialism should not enjoy any more respect in the skeptical community than climate change denialism does.”

    Of course, you misrepresent the soft science of sociology if you think there’s much of anything in that field that’s anywhere close to as solid as climate science. Especially the kind of politics in the guise of sociology routinely trotted out by sources like Sociological Images. “Privilege” and “patriarchy” are political frameworks, not empirical facts about the world. Various kinds of politics may, to varying degrees, be informed by empirical facts, but in and of themselves, represent opinions, not facts. Rational people can disagree with opinions and interpretations without being “denialists”. That much should be glaringly obvious.

  276. Iamcuriousblueon 28 Feb 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Getting back to the original topic of this post, it was very big of Harriet Hall to apologize to Amy Roth, considering that Hall didn’t owe Roth any apology at all, or at best, a “sorry you were offended” type of apology. Basically, I continue to maintain that Hall did nothing wrong, and that Roth severely overreacted.

    At issue is whether the statement “I am not a Skepchick” or “I feel safe and welcome at TAM” should be treated as a “harassing” statement in any way. Because if we say it is, if we say that the simple statement “I don’t want to be part of your group” or “I want to be part of this other group” is an aggressive statement, then we are massively shutting down the scope of intellectual liberty in the larger skeptical milieu. Quite simply, one should not have to belong to one or another clique or interest group within skepticism, or even be particularly friendly toward it, to be part of the larger movement.

    I’m sure at this juncture, somebody will chime in with the kneejerk response, “I’m not the government, so I don’t have the power to censor you.” No, nobody here represents state power, but the intellectual diversity, freedom of thought, and intellectual integrity of the skeptical movement is at issue, and attempts by certain factions to impose party lines and political litmus tests on other skeptics deeply damage to these imperatives.

  277. Iamcuriousblueon 28 Feb 2013 at 6:22 pm

    BTW, the kind of “My negative rhetoric is criticism, your negative rhetoric is harassment” trope that’s going around is an utterly toxic expression of bad faith. Either everybody plays by the same rules, or there are no rules that anybody should have any respect for. And I think some people are setting a low bar indeed for what they’re saying rises to the level of “harassment”.

  278. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 6:56 pm

    We tolerate dissenting ideas from members of other groups with more equanimity than from members of our own group. The latter should know and share the common ideas, and when they show they don’t accept them, we perceive that as “bad faith” or malice.

    That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – there are good reasons to view a scientist fudging data as a greater “betrayal” than a creationist fudging theirs, for example. But in the current argument among atheists and skeptics, there seems to be significant disagreement on what the “common ideas” actually are. Some feel that there’s an attempt to impose some “common ideas” on them by fiat.

  279. hermiton 28 Feb 2013 at 7:06 pm

    “Some feel that there’s an attempt to impose some “common ideas” on them by fiat.”

    For example…?

  280. windyon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:12 pm

    What do we call people who continue to try and hurt people after being given overwhelming evidence that what they are doing is hurting them? I call them bullies and psychopaths. What do you call them?

    daedalus2u, you don’t seem to realize that you’ve admitted that you aren’t above hurting people when it suits you:

    That is one of the things that can bring out the harshest comments in me, someone harming others in bad faith. When I make harsh comments to such people, what I want them to feel is shame at being called out on acting in bad faith and harming people and for them to stop acting in bad faith and harming people.

    Don’t harsh comments and shaming tend to make the target feel bad? Didn’t you just argue that making people feel bad is hurting them? Are you a bully and psychopath, then, since you admit to intentionally trying to hurt people?

    (I’m not arguing that shaming is always wrong, mind, just that the argument from hurt feelings fails.)

  281. Bill Openthalton 28 Feb 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Windy –

    But in the current argument among atheists and skeptics, there seems to be significant disagreement on what the “common ideas” actually are.

    This is what I observe, and what leads me to conclude the “community” reached critical mass and split up. Part of the problem is that atheism and skepticism are not the same. Another issue is the fact that a lot of atheists are rather extremely anti-religion. Finally, most people are “partial skeptics”, because it is extremely difficult to be skeptical of one’s core beliefs (those things your gut tells you are true).

    Some feel that there’s an attempt to impose some “common ideas” on them by fiat.

    Your perceiving the imposition of common ideas is a sign of the split. Leaders and their lieutenants are trying to get as many troops on their side, and part of the tactic is to be as forceful, decisive and divisive as possible. Subconscious group dynamics are fascinating, and totally invisible to the participants who think they are making rational decisions.

  282. Aidanon 28 Feb 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Sorry ConspicuousCarl didn’t meant to straw man you. It appears I failed to give you the principal of charity, so again my apologies. I think the primary reason I misread your remark was the use of the word “inexcusable” in the phrase “[the principal of charity] can easily turn into a habit of helping one’s friends excuse inexcusable behavior.” Unfortunately I tied your remark to other people who have called specific behavior “inexcusable” that was only inexcusable if you interpret it differently than the author stated they intended.

    My intent was to argue that you can’t say something is inexcusable until you have applied the principal of charity to see whether or not they really made an inexcusable remark. I misunderstood and thought you were arguing we should bypass this principal in cases of behavior we found to be inexcusable. So again, my mistake.

    I actually agree that the principal of charity could be over applied and make someone’s past words much more positive than they really were but I don’t see this being that big of an issue. Which is where I think I still may disagree with you (correct me if I’m wrong). I don’t think the principal of charity would “easily” turn into excusing friends behavior because the whole idea is just to interpret things in the best possible light. If behavior is bad in the best light it is still bad. On the other hand, if people come back and try to correct misunderstandings I believe in giving them the benefit of the doubt, but that’s just me. I’m fine with saving the word “inexcusable” for those people who not only say something ambiguous, but also admit that they meant it to be offensive.

  283. daedalus2uon 28 Feb 2013 at 8:59 pm

    windy, what is most important in a cooperative group is not common ideas, but common understanding of terms and the charity to try and work together to understand each other. When people act in bad faith, they prey on the charity of those acting in good faith to hurt them and to destroy the common understanding of terms and the common good will to work together to understand each other.

    You can’t have a cooperative community without a common understanding. That is even more basic than common ideas, or common goals. Acting in bad faith destroys that common understanding and degrades the ability of the group to cooperate. In the limit it destroys the group. Often that is the intent of those acting in bad faith, to destroy what they cannot control. That is only a characteristic of those who seek top-down social power. There is no “top-down social power” in a group of skeptics.

    Yes, I will try to expose and shame those who are acting in bad faith. Does that “hurt” them? I don’t think it hurts them too much because they could completely avoid that hurt by acting in good faith. They choose to continue to act in bad faith. What am I supposed to do, allow them to continue to act in bad faith without exposing them so that they can destroy the good-will in a community that I am a member of and of which I care and hurt people that I care about?

    I would rather that they change their behavior and act in good faith. I am willing to help them do so. But acting in good faith is not something that can be imposed by someone else. The person has to want to act in good faith. That means being honest with everyone, including yourself. As we all know (because Feynman told us), fooling yourself is the easiest thing to do.

    My exposing and shaming is not gratuitous. It is to try and get the objects of my shaming to change their behavior and not continue to act in bad faith or to leave the group so as to not damage it.

    I have no doubt that my comment did make decius feel bad, and so in that sense did “hurt” his feelings. Boo-hoo. My goal was not to make him feel bad, my goal was to get him to either stop acting in bad faith, or leave. He has chosen to leave. Not my first choice, but if he can’t bring himself to act in good faith, then my preference is that he stay away.

    The first step of change is the recognition of the need to change. If your core principles are wrong, then those core principles need to be recognized as wrong so they can be changed. This is why groups are helpful. The different perspectives allow for different biases to be recognized and dealt with.

    Realizing that your core principles are wrong can be very painful. Having it pointed out in a public forum that your core principles are wrong can be very painful. But to someone who wants to be a skeptic, it should be less painful than continuing to have wrong core principles. I appreciate that some people are not sufficiently mature in their skepticism to be able to appreciate that.

    I don’t tolerate bad ideas from anyone, not from people in any group, not from myself. I try to apply the same standards to my own ideas as I apply to everyone else. I do apply the principles of charity to others, because I don’t know many of the details about where they are coming from. I don’t know how to articulate ideas such that they can be understood by the person I am trying to communicate with. If I did know, then I would communicate that way. But when someone is acting in bad faith, communication is not possible and understanding is not their goal. Destruction of the common understanding and the common good-will of the group to understand each other is their goal.

    Some groups have different goals, some groups have the goal of putting one person at the top and having that person exercise extreme top-down power. Many religions are like that. If the goal of the group is only to amass power, then I am not sure what acting in bad faith means in that kind of a group. In a group of skeptics it is quite easy to understand what acting in bad faith is, it is being dishonest and not adhering to the principles of skepticism.

  284. clodon 01 Mar 2013 at 8:08 am

    Steven: The instant one attempts ANY sort of critique (however polite) of feminist ideology at FtB or similar sites you are immediately stereotyped as misogynist, evil, psychotic, violent, or at best a loser. It is simply not allowed. If you do not believe this, try it. Some of the trademarks of ideological thinking and strategy are shunning, banning, shaming, silencing, history re-writes, deletions, edits etc etc etc. All of these are on daily display at Pharyngula, B&W and elsewhere.

    It is a noble aim to be a peacemaker, but at some point one has to acknowledge that the weight of actual evidence accumulated pointing to intellectual dishonesty is not tipping towards Myers, Benson, Watson et al.

    To expect skeptics to tolerate this in the community is simply unrealistic.

  285. Bill Openthalton 01 Mar 2013 at 8:57 am

    daedalus2u –

    What makes you the arbiter of “bad faith”? How do you know your core principles are right? Maybe your opponent is convinced you are acting in bad faith, and your core principles are wrong.

    I accept you are acting in good faith when to try and shame decius. What you don’t get is that decius is not ashamed, but angry at your attempts to destroy the community, just as you are angry because of your perception decius is trying to destroy the community. When decius replies, he is also acting in good faith.

    The core of the problem is that you and decius disagree on concepts such as The Patriarchy and Rape Culture (from their definition to their existence). Both parties honestly believe their arguments stellar, and the other party’s arguments bunkum. Both parties feel the other party is acting in bad faith, or is hopelessly misguided.

    There is no easy way out of this conundrum.

  286. Steven Novellaon 01 Mar 2013 at 9:48 am

    Clod – what you are saying it pretty much what I hear from both sides – most people seem to feel that the “other side” is behaving badly and is hopeless.

    The point of moving forward is not to endlessly complain or point fingers but to model changes in behavior that mighjt be more contructive and open.

    I don’t accept the premise that people are hopeless, especially self-identified skeptics. Let’s at least try to sort out some of the misunderstanding, to focus on what we can do to make the sutation better (as opposed to what we think others should do), and see what happens.

  287. daedalus2uon 01 Mar 2013 at 10:37 am

    Bill Openthalt, I appreciate that decius has different definitions for different terms. But his definition of “feminism” is not what feminists are practicing and trying to practice and he refuses to try and understand the definition of feminism that feminists are using.

    I actually do understand decius. He does not understand the feminists he is bullying. He has projected his “idea” of what feminism is onto people he disagrees with. He has taken his Patriarchal world view of male privilege and inverted it into a world view where females take the role of the top-down authority in the Patriarchy and have female privilege. That is not what feminism as promoted by the Skepchicks is.

    I think this is the difference between you and decius. My perception is that while both of you hold many of the same views, you are still open to trying to understand what people mean with they say they are a feminist. Perhaps that comes from your earlier experiences where you did discover that deeply held beliefs were wrong and changed them. Decius has decided that he knows what feminism means and it means imposing a patriarchy but with females on top.

    This is the typical stance of oppressors. They imagine that they must retain their oppressive power, because if they allow the oppressed to be not oppressed, the oppressed will rise up and the former oppressors will become the oppressed. This is what the whites were afraid of in South Africa, that if the majority blacks came to power, that they would oppress the whites the way that the blacks had been oppressed. But guess what, that didn’t happen. The belief that it would happen was projection. The white oppressors projected that blacks would oppress whites if they had the opportunity because that is what they would do and that is what they did do. The whites could not imagine that blacks could have the political power to be oppressors and yet not be oppressors.

    This is decius’s problem. He can’t imagine a social structure where some people are not oppressed, and he doesn’t want to be one of the oppressed, so he has to be one of the oppressors. He doesn’t deal in good faith, so he projects that everyone else is not acting in good faith either, that it is all just trickery to obtain power by females so they can oppress males the way that males have been oppressing females for recorded history. That is the problem of privilege. You can’t see anything that is not filtered through your privilege, so you can’t see anything except what your privilege allows you to see.

    I was a little surprised that decius called me on my (very mild) hyperbole, while defending as “satire” degrading images of women. I think that is actually why he left, he caught himself in an inconsistency and had to retire while he repaired his facade so as to keep his cognitive dissonance manageable.

    Most oppressors also need to convince themselves that they are not oppressors. That is a major factor in many religions where the oppressive actions of the leaders are attributed to “God’s Will” and not to the whims of the leader. Atheists who are oppressors need to come up with other rationalizations, and they do; evolution made males like this, genetics makes some races smarter than others, females are bad at math, females are irrational, the poor don’t want good jobs or good health care, slavery was good for blacks.

    They use the same kinds of fallacies that other non-fact based systems use and they are unwilling to examine their unstated premises or to even allow them to be talked about because then it is apparent that their conclusion is already in their premises.

  288. hermiton 01 Mar 2013 at 11:13 am

    “The core of the problem is that you and decius disagree on concepts such as The Patriarchy and Rape Culture (from their definition to their existence). Both parties honestly believe their arguments stellar, and the other party’s arguments bunkum. Both parties feel the other party is acting in bad faith, or is hopelessly misguided. “

    And Bill floats serenely above the fray dealing in abstractions and chuckling at the frailty of us poor mortals below…

    I’m sorry Bill, but I think you’re pushing a false equivalence here; there is bad behaviour on both sides, yes, both sides aren’t creating whole forums dedicated to smearing the other “side” or creating fake twitter accounts or circulating photoshops and porn images designed to demean and humiliate people on the other “side”.

    If we really want to make the situation better we have to stop pretending that this kind of behaviour doesn’t cause harm.

    “There is no easy way out of this conundrum.”

    Well let’s start by going back to Harriet hall’s suggestions in her letter above and see if we can all agree to these points:

    • gender equality
    • judging people by the content of their character, and not by physical or gender attributes
    • creating a safe and open environment regardless of sex or gender
    • the concept of sex and gender are complex and multifarious, and it’s all within the spectrum of what it is to be human.
    • condemnation of sexism in all its forms
    • respect and recognition of the dignity of all people regardless of their sex/gender

  289. hermiton 01 Mar 2013 at 11:14 am

    Sorry, that shold read “…there is bad behaviour on both sides, yes, BUT both sides aren’t…”

  290. clodon 01 Mar 2013 at 11:55 am

    Steven: Thanks. Of course both sides play bad, shout foul etc it’s the nature of the beast I’m afraid.

    I wish you every success, I really do. It’s not my premise that people are hopeless but that the trenches have been dug too deep and the hatred grown too strong to achieve reconciliation, especially when using the internet as the main medium of communication.

    A footy match in no-persons-land might be better. I hope you’ve a good stock of red cards and a loud whistle.

  291. daedalus2uon 01 Mar 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Bill Openthalt, to address the last part of your comment. Yes, decius and skepchick-style feminists disagree about the existence of rape culture. But when data about sexual assault and how it is dealt with is brought up, decius exhibits denialism-type behavior, on this very thread. He attempted to dismiss data on rape and sexual assault statistics and declare that women are rapists too (tu quoque), therefore….what? Rape doesn’t matter? Said no feminist ever.

    The last US election had a fair number of rape apologists on the GOP ticket. It is my understanding that “jokes” and “satire” about rape are common fare on the slyme-pit. Maybe not everyone participates in them, but if they remain and are condoned, then they are accepted as being within cultural-norms.

    To me, condoning “jokes” about rape and “satire” about rape only occurs in a culture that condones rape under some circumstances. To me, that is a rape culture. A culture that needs to parse “rape” into “legitimate rape”, “non-legitimate rape”, “illegitimate rape”, “forcible rape”, “truly raped”, or the truly appalling “gift from God rape” or “God intended rape” is a rape culture. A culture where some members witness multiple sexual assaults on an unconscious woman and do not intervene to stop it is a rape culture. A culture where rapes witnessed by multiple witnesses are not prosecuted is a rape culture. A culture where tens of thousands of rape kits are not analyzed is a rape culture. A culture that forces a raped woman to bear the child of her rapist is a rape culture. A culture that allows a rape victim to be publicly slut-shamed is a rape culture. A culture that does not criticize men who fantasize out loud about raping a woman and wishing for the laws to be changed to allow that is a rape culture (as erik pointed out).

    I appreciate that my definition of what is and is not a rape culture is different than what decius’s definition is. My definition is that any culture that condones rape is a rape culture. Decius might even agree with that definition, but I am certain he would disagree as to what constitutes “condoning rape”. Decius doesn’t even agree that there is such a thing as “trauma of rape” and to even mention it is to engage in “yellow journalism”, but he doesn’t mean to disparage how anyone who was “legitimately raped” feels, other than to imply that there are so few women in that circumstance that their feelings don’t matter (hyperbole, aka “satire”).

  292. Diane Bruceon 01 Mar 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Whether consciously or unconsciously there are obvious signs of propaganda tactics being used on all sides.

    Name calling is one of the first and simplest tactics used, the idea is to dehumanize and demonize your opponent. Such terms used as ‘Slimepit’ or ‘baboons’ take away the fact that each and every single one of us is first and foremost a human being, in an attempt to form a common enemy. I know and cherish my friendships with people on all sides, I know these people are not evil. I refuse to allow propaganda tactics to affect my own thinking about the individuals I call friends.

    Another standard tactic of propaganda is ‘card stacking’ which has been brought up before time and time again by such writers as Jean Kazez, Ben Radford, Jeremy Stangroom and by yourself as ‘charity’. If one is doing classic propaganda, one deliberately chooses not to give charity to one’s opponent.

    I cannot say whether propaganda tactics are consciously being used, but they sure look like propaganda tactics to me, and the divisive effects are still the same.

    I concur that we all need to examine our behaviour honestly but let’s give respect where respect is due. We all need to remember that we are imperfect human beings.

    For what it is worth, I gave a talk on propaganda at a recent Ottawa skepticamp. The slides are here http://www.db.net/~db/propaganda

  293. hermiton 01 Mar 2013 at 1:08 pm

    “Name calling is one of the first and simplest tactics used, the idea is to dehumanize and demonize your opponent. Such terms used as ‘Slimepit’ or ‘baboons’ take away the fact that each and every single one of us is first and foremost a human being …”

    It should be noted that “slymepit” is the actual name of the forum where the harassers like to hang out. That’s the name they chose for themselves…these are the people who insist on their right to call people names like “baboons” and “cobweb c*nt”.

    Not to say there aren’t occasional ;apses on the other side, but it’s really not the case that both sides are just as guilty. One side is asking for civility and the other is insisting that their right to call women “c*nts” is more important.

  294. Diane Bruceon 01 Mar 2013 at 2:13 pm

    hermit “It should be noted that “slymepit” is the actual name of the forum where the harassers like to hang out. That’s the name they chose for themselves…these are the people who insist on their right to call people names like “baboons” and “cobweb c*nt”.”

    I’ll simply point out that ‘slimepit’ is the name they were given by others originally, and they took a variant of ‘slymepit’ to poke fun at the name. Note very very carefully, I do not condone name calling by anyone. slimepit, baboons, chill girls, gender traitors, prune.

    There are no sides, there are individuals. As sceptics we should be adults and responsible for our own words.

    The moment we take sides we are doomed as a movement, and if we are going to move forward, we all have to keep that in mind.

    Once again. I repeat. There are no sides here, there are individuals. There is a lot of hurt going around. People are lashing out and on the Internet this is easy.

  295. errollon 01 Mar 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Steve, but if the perceived flaws of an argument are not allowed to be critiqued, without silencing tactics then how can there be the necessary discussions for moving forward?

  296. ConspicuousCarlon 01 Mar 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Aidan,

    You could be right about the “easily” part. We would need to do some kind of lengthy research to distinguish the easy from the merely possible. I do still suspect that it might be one of those things where we don’t realize that we are doing it, but maybe such non-conscious apologism requires a narrow range of situations.

  297. Iamcuriousblueon 01 Mar 2013 at 4:21 pm

    both sides aren’t creating whole forums dedicated to smearing the other “side”

    Really, Hermit? Because the Slymepit and the AtheismPlus Forum look pretty damn parallel to me, basically, spillovers for the outright crazies on each side that neither knows quite know what to do with. Of course, the parallels between the two are old news:

    http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2012/10/30/a-tale-of-two-communities-part-13/
    http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2012/11/04/a-tale-of-two-communities-part-23/
    http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2012/11/11/a-tale-of-two-communities-part-33/
    http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2013/01/15/slymepit-vs-atheism-plus-race-to-70k/

  298. Iamcuriousblueon 01 Mar 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Steve – Adding on to what Clod has been saying, I just don’t find it acceptable to be asked for my critical thinking and skepticism to end where feminism begins, and the way I see it, that seems to be the price of peace with the “feminist” faction of skepticism. Those people are free to correct me where I may be wrong here, but the outright *abusive* rhetoric I’ve been on the receiving end of for being critical of *some* aspects of feminist ideology does not leave me with good feelings about there being a way out of conflict. To simply shut up and accept being gagged is not acceptable to me, nor should it be acceptable to anyone else.

  299. Diane Bruceon 01 Mar 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Iamcuriousblue Steve: There are many variants of feminism. That’s one problem. Fighting about your brand of feminism, when it is immaterial to the battle for secularism, seems to me counter productive.
    The minimum I have seen from skeptical thinkers everywhere, agrees with the statement “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”

  300. PieterBon 01 Mar 2013 at 7:34 pm

    decius, first you wrote

    So, 5.9% of all women between 16 and 59 yo have been the victims of serious sex crime such as rape and assault. The figure includes attempted rapes and assaults

    I pointed out that the summary of the reseach findings, to which I supplied a link, said

    Around one in twenty females (aged 16 to 59) reported being a victim of a most serious sexual offence [defined as "rape or assault by penetration"] since the age of 16. Extending this to include other sexual offences such as sexual threats, unwanted touching or indecent exposure, this increased to one in five females reporting being a victim since the age of 16.

    That means (pay attention; I know arithmetic is hard) that 5% of women surveyed had experienced rape or assault by penetration. When attempted rapes and other types of sexual assault are included, it rises to 20%. Yet you still respond with

    PieterB and assorted others, what exactly is the difference between around “1 in 20″ and 5,9%?

    Exactly? Well, 5.9% is one in seventeen, a discrepancy of 15%. Before you accuse me of nitpickery, you’re the one who said “exactly,” but that’s not the major inaccuracy of your comment.

    I went straight to the figures inside the report, which I quoted faithfully

    No, you didn’t quote faithfully. When attempted rape and assault are included, the rate is 20%, or one in five, a fourfold error on your part. Was that carelessness or deliberate obfuscation? I’ll let others make that judgement.

  301. daedalus2uon 01 Mar 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Diane, it is my understanding that “slymepit” is a self-chosen identifier. I could be wrong, I have not been following this drama very carefully.

    I agree with the heuristic that you quote from Bertrand Russell. However that is about how one should make their own decisions about what to study or believe, not on what should enable one to impose or be allowed to impose on others.

    It is easy for an ideologue to believe they are arguing from facts, and that their “facts” allow them to dictate to others what to do; for their own good, the good of any movement they are in, and for the good of society. That is all the YECs are doing, trying to impose the “facts” that their Bible tells them on the rest of society. That is all the Climate Change Denialists are trying to do.

    You are mistaken if you believe that there are no “sides”. There is one “side”; individuals who have banded together so as to form a “side” to attack individuals they perceive to be the other “side”. Perceiving there to be no “sides” is a form of false-equivalence. Sort of like the Democrat/Republican false equivalence. One side is voting together lock-step and severely criticizes or expels any member who dissents. The other side doesn’t do that.

    Iamcuriousblue, No one that I am aware of is asking anyone to abandon skeptical principles in favor of feminist ideology. I certainly don’t. My skepticism informs and reinforces my understanding of feminism as a necessary component of a better society for all humans, male, female and other. I am aware of many facts and chains of logic that reinforces my acceptance of feminism. I am aware of no facts and no logic that could lead one to conclude otherwise. Could you give me a few examples of facts that you have been asked to deny and/or facts that are incompatible with feminism?

  302. windyon 01 Mar 2013 at 11:43 pm

    daedalus2u:

    It is my understanding that “jokes” and “satire” about rape are common fare on the slyme-pit. Maybe not everyone participates in them, but if they remain and are condoned, then they are accepted as being within cultural-norms.

    Take this thread from ERV at Scienceblogs for example: http://tinyurl.com/bk9nffu
    Peg posts a joke about rape at comment #18. You comment several times after that, but make no reference to the joke. Are we to conclude from this that you condone rape?

    As a long-time commenter at ERV, you don’t seem to have had too much of an issue with the rather colorful insults used on the blog over the years. However, now that this tradition continues on another forum, it’s considered a pressing issue of sexism in the online atheist community. There is nothing wrong with re-evaluating your standards, but condemning others for behavior you’ve participated in or condoned in the past is bound to create resentment.

    Diane, it is my understanding that “slymepit” is a self-chosen identifier. I could be wrong, I have not been following this drama very carefully.

    Diane is right, it was an epithet that was reclaimed as a self-parodying name. Just like PZ’s “Horde”. It’s like joking about being a “baby-eating atheist”.

  303. daedalus2uon 02 Mar 2013 at 8:44 am

    What is your point windy? Tu quoque? Did you read the thread? Or did you just take the first link when you googled “daedalus2u”, “rape”, “erv” to try and prove that I condone rape jokes and so am so thoroughly immersed in rape culture that all my comments about rape culture can be discounted to zero?

    Did you read my comment #13?

    http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2011/07/01/bad-form-rebecca-watson/comment-page-2/#comment-23250

    where I articulate my conceptualization of what it is to be a feminist and what it is to be a skeptic and how those two things are completely compatible and can be practiced by anyone and everyone. No special training or education is needed.

    I notice that the numbering of the comments has changed since originally written. Presumably some comments were deleted. I have no idea what they said. I looked to see if any of my comments were deleted and I don’t think so, but short ones I don’t always save. I did find this comment to a different blog about the same topic.

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/07/05/women-in-elevators-a-man-to-ma/#comment-79623

    This comment articulates the problem with the slymepitters.

    “If you intimidate someone, and trigger their fight-or-flight state, so they can’t respond with skepticism, that doesn’t mean that you have “won” the argument because they stopped being a skeptic, it means you lost the argument by ending it by being a dick.”

  304. Diane Bruceon 02 Mar 2013 at 9:27 am

    daedalus2u:

    ‘This comment articulates the problem with the slymepitters.
    “If you intimidate someone, and trigger their fight-or-flight state, so they can’t respond with skepticism, that doesn’t mean that you have “won” the argument because they stopped being a skeptic, it means you lost the argument by ending it by being a dick.”’

    Some women would not feel intimidated in an elevator at 3am, some women would. It depends entirely on the circumstances. In this instance Rebecca Watson had every right to feel intimidated and no one has said any different even at the slymepit. What she does not have the right to do, is to claim she speaks for all women. and in all circumstances. To Rebecca Watson’s credit, she was not trying to speak for all women as it was a minor incident to a long night. All Abbie Smith and many of us ever wanted is for people to “listen to the wimmin”. This does not mean listening to one singular woman, then insulting women who do say something different than one woman. The insults and stalking from all quarters have silenced and frightened many women, myself included.

    The slymepit is very diverse, there is no one philosophy they all agree upon. To listen to propaganda and conclude they are all alike and evil proves my point. Name calling and other propaganda tactics used against the Slymepit, FtB or any other group is counter productive and hurtful to us all. The tactics destroy the nuances and polarize us all.

    To move forward we all have to be rational with emotionally charged subjects. Talking openly and reaching out, instead of reaching for an insult or believing propaganda instead of facts is our only way forward. Again, Jean Kazez is one of the sanest writers on this topic I have read.
    Please read:

    http://kazez.blogspot.com/2011/08/feminism-and-atheism.html
    http://kazez.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/elevator-story-deux.html
    http://kazez.blogspot.ca/2012/07/bullying.html

    Steven Novella, if you are still following at all. Thanks for trying but I am giving up.

  305. daedalus2uon 02 Mar 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Diane Bruce, I agree with you, and RW agrees with you that not all women would feel intimidated by being propositioned by a strange man in an elevator at 3 AM. RW did not feel intimidated at that incident. What she was saying is that a man who is a stranger to a woman has no way of knowing if she will be intimidated or not by being propositioned by a strange man in an elevator at 3 AM. If she is intimidated, it will be a crummy interaction for her, even if “nothing” happens. If she is intimidated, what happens is that her fight-or-flight is triggered and that affects her for at least hours. She might not be able to sleep that night. If she was once raped in an elevator, it might trigger a PTSD flashback that could affect her for days or even weeks or longer. A stranger has no way of knowing if that is what his proposition is going to do.

    RW was not saying that all women should feel intimidated if propositioned by a strange man in an elevator at 3 AM. What RW was saying was “guys, a woman you don’t know might be intimidated if you proposition her in an elevator at 3 AM, so don’t do that”.

    What she was saying is that some women might be intimidated and so men who are strangers should pick different times and places to proposition women they don’t know. I think that RW’s point was that such interactions will be more satisfactory for both parties if they occur at a different time and in a different place. In other words, a woman who does not feel intimidated by a strange man propositioning her is more likely to react positively.

    It is not a woman’s fault for feeling intimidated by being propositioned by a strange man in an elevator at 3 AM. She is not blameworthy for feeling intimidated. The strange man is not blameworthy for propositioning her (unless he intends to intimidate her). The “problem” is that male-female relations have been damaged and poisoned by the culture and by the actions of a relatively few men (who do intimidate and rape women in elevators) such that women propositioned in elevators at 3 AM are (sometimes) justified in feeling intimidated because sometimes intimidating things occurs between strange men and women they don’t know at 3 AM in elevators.

    I don’t doubt that there are women who would welcome propositions by strange men in elevators at 3 AM. Such women do not speak for all women either. If society had sufficiently changed that no woman ever felt intimidated by being propositioned by a strange man in an elevator at 3 AM, then fine, there would be no utility in men not doing that.

    Telling women they should not feel intimidated by strange men in elevators at 3 AM is not productive and is in fact disingenuous until there is, in fact, zero chance of anything intimidating occurring in an elevator between a woman and a strange man she does not know. Not a low chance, not a 1% chance, not a 0.000001% chance, but a zero chance. We are not there yet. Not by a long shot.

    Triggering PSTD flashbacks in some women by making “rapey jokes”, by photo shopping their faces onto porn, by objectifying them in figurative ways that would be criminal offenses if done IRL is not “helping” women who have PTSD from sexual assaults to feel not intimidated. I don’t doubt that some people who do such things do not appreciate that they are not helping women with PTSD from sexual assault to get over their PTSD.

    No doubt some people think it is like “vaccination”, give a woman a little bit of “rapey joking”, and they will then be more resilient if they are ever sexually assaulted. Physiology and PTSD doesn’t always work like that. Maybe such a “vaccination” will make someone more resilient, but maybe it will trigger anaphylaxis. If you don’t know someone well enough to know if a proposition at 3 AM will trigger acceptance or fight-or-flight, don’t do it. If you don’t know someone well enough to know if “rapey jokes” will trigger a sexual assault PTSD flashback or uproarious laughter, don’t expose them to it. That means only posting such things where from the context it is known that such things are posted there, or by putting a trigger warning on a public post. When you are posting on a public forum, you don’t know who is going to read it. If you want your readers to respond rationally, you will warn them of potential triggers. If you don’t want them to respond rationally, then you won’t.

    People who have had fight-or-flight triggered cannot respond rationally. It is irrational to expect them to. It is irrational and disingenuous to expect to have a rational discussion with someone while using language known to trigger PTSD flashbacks. If you are trying to have a “discussion” with someone while using language known to trigger PTSD flashbacks, then you are being disingenuous and acting in bad faith because you are not providing an environment where they can respond rationally.

    Some people do try to trigger flashbacks as a rape tactic. There is a thing called “rape paralysis” also known as tonic immobility, experienced by ~ “37% to 52% of sexual assault survivors”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19531633

    “This literature suggests that a relatively high percentage of rape victims feel paralyzed and unable to act despite no loss of consciousness during the assault.”

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2489204/

    Is everyone who makes “rapey jokes” trying to trigger rape paralysis so they can rape someone? I don’t think so. Are some? Probably.

    But of course we all “know” that if she doesn’t “fight back”, then it isn’t “legitimate rape”, or “forcible rape” and even if it was plain “rapey-rape”, there can’t be any “harm” because there is no such thing as “rape trauma”.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18523613

    I know, because an “expert” on rape (decius) told us so (hyperbole/sacrasm).

  306. S. Madisonon 02 Mar 2013 at 3:58 pm

    The title of the blogpost was “Moving Forward”.

    Based on the vast majority of the comments, the title of the comment section should be:

    “At a complete standstill with so much inertia that forward motion is an impossibility.”

    Nice try, Steven!

  307. Diane Bruceon 02 Mar 2013 at 4:07 pm

    # daedalus2u

    Then we are furiously agreeing. Now, wasn’t that easy? ;-)

    The message that came out was that of RW telling other women what and how they should feel. If everyone can agree that it all “depends”, we can all walk away and shake our heads at a misunderstanding.

    We all need to learn to stop lashing out with insults even if we hurting and just try to talk. There is still no guarantee we will agree on everything. Life is too complicated for that. But I do make the promise that I will respect your point of view and will not insult you for it.

    Can we go this far? Or is this a bridge too far?

  308. hermiton 02 Mar 2013 at 4:21 pm

    “The message that came out was that of RW telling other women what and how they should feel.”

    No, the message was that we should all be mature enough to respect each others boundaries.

    Watson was just saying that when someone has expressed their dislike of being propositioned in certain contexts and expressed a desire to go to bed and sleep that it’s probably not a good idea to proposition her in that context.

    And that was enough for some people to declare open season on feminists…

  309. Iamcuriousblueon 02 Mar 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Diane Bruce – The problem with invoking “many varieties of feminism” is that it so often turns into a shifting goal post argument. Basically, I think the vast majority of people in these arguments (other than the outright misogynist trolls, who in my estimation don’t represent a serious “side”, though the Skepchick/FTB/A+ crowd likes to conflate all opposition with these types) subscribe to the idea of basic gender equality, and hence, we’re all “feminist” by that definition. However, in most of these discussions where this definition is advanced, you’ll just as quickly find those who will attack as “anti-feminist” those rejecting such political constructs as “patriarchy”, “sexual objectification”, “rape culture”, etc. Or, in the case of radical feminists, if you don’t accept their whole line of antiporn, anti-sex worker, anti-BDSM, and often anti-trans vitriol, you’re painted as a huge antifeminist who hates women. Evidently, some people believe that such concepts are self-evident once one accepts the idea of basic gender equality; I beg to differ.

    Daedalus – Given some of your heated rhetoric in previous posts, and in particular, the painting of opponents as “oppressors”, I’m not sure if you’re arguing in good faith and not so sure I wish to engage at this point. I could give a number of examples of feminist ideas or positions that I object to on an intellectual or reasoned ethical level, but unless you’re going to engage with those arguments in good faith, rather than just look for some pretext to denouncing me as an idiot based on gross misconstrual of what I’m actually saying, I’m not really interested. Been there, done that with bad faith denunciation coming from the ultra-feminist skeptic crowd already.

  310. Iamcuriousblueon 02 Mar 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Hermit writes:

    Watson was just saying that when someone has expressed their dislike of being propositioned in certain contexts and expressed a desire to go to bed and sleep that it’s probably not a good idea to proposition her in that context.

    And that was enough for some people to declare open season on feminists

    Maybe some people, but speaking for myself and several other people on my “side”, I am very *over* this, and actually waiting for people like you to simply drop it. Basically, I don’t feel that “Elevator Guy” was guilty of anything other than flirting really badly. I don’t feel that Watson’s “guys don’t do this” was out of line either. If I have any beef with Watson, its some of the inflated rhetoric of her’s down the road that definitely poured gasoline on those embers. Her painting the entire skeptical movement as a den of misogynists in need of an full-scale purge wasn’t exactly helpful either.

    I actually had much more of a beef with “Elevatorgate II” at TAM a year later, and the nasty accusations against Harriet Hall and the renewed calls for purging the skeptical movement of Skepchick critics. If you want to identify the issues that’s really sticking in the craw of your opponents, Hermit, at least identify the right ones. And, yes, of course, Hall and Roth have patched things up, and that’s all very good. But I think they underlying issues remain at play and are not really resolved – I’d almost be willing to put money that at the next Women in Secularism or TAM meeting in a few months, there will be some incident, something said, or some fight picked that will set the whole thing off all over again.

    The only thing I would throw out there is the idea of “agreeing to disagree” and being “agreeable in disagreement”. Not sure if there isn’t so much bad blood at this point that this can happen, though.

  311. JJ Borgmanon 02 Mar 2013 at 4:51 pm

    (chuckle)

    We beta dogs never have to deal with this kind of nonsense. Propositions in a hotel elevator at 3am? For what? I have to scratch my head and wonder about that one.

    And ladies, that guy is probably not an alpha dog or a beta dog. Neither would be soliciting under those circumstances. Whatever the reason, I’d want to get away from that guy asap. Just sayin’.

  312. windyon 02 Mar 2013 at 6:47 pm

    What is your point windy? Tu quoque? Did you read the thread? Or did you just take the first link when you googled “daedalus2u”, “rape”, “erv” to try and prove that I condone rape jokes and so am so thoroughly immersed in rape culture that all my comments about rape culture can be discounted to zero?

    No, it’s a reductio ad absurdum, to show that your definition of rape culture is absurdly broad. Now you’re trying to move the goalposts, but this is what you originally argued, and by that definition you’ve condoned rape jokes, and thus are a willing participant in rape culture:
    “Maybe not everyone participates in them, but if they remain and are condoned, then they are accepted as being within cultural-norms.”

    where I articulate my conceptualization of what it is to be a feminist and what it is to be a skeptic and how those two things are completely compatible and can be practiced by anyone and everyone. No special training or education is needed.

    I don’t need you to explain feminism to me, I read your comments back in 2011 and found them shallow and irrelevant. I want you to stop your irresponsible scaremongering and moral posturing, it’s triggering my fight-or-flight response.

  313. daedalus2uon 02 Mar 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Diane Bruce, if you read carefully, you will notice that we are not agreeing.

    RW was not telling women how to feel or how to react. When RW talked about elevator guy, she was not saying that she was offended or that she felt intimidated. She was not saying that any women in that situation SHOULD feel offended or intimidated. She was saying that some women in that situation MIGHT feel intimidated and that it would cause her to have a bad time, so “guys don’t do it”. She was not saying guys should never proposition women, she was saying that for a guy to proposition a woman he does not know; alone, in an elevator at 3 AM is a bad time and place because it might trigger some women.

    RW never identified elevator guy. My guess is that she didn’t want him to get caught up in the shit-storm that followed. As I remember, he apologized immediately and they went their separate ways. But if RW did have rape trauma, and if RW did have PTSD from being raped, and if RW did have a PTSD flashback, RW would have had a “bad time”, even if everything else was identical. An apology a few seconds after a PTSD flashback is triggered doesn’t make the PTSD flashback go away.

    Depending on how the “apology” is given, it could make it worse. If the “apology” mimics things the perpetrator said during a prior rape, it could make it worse. If you don’t know someone, you don’t know what will trigger them, you don’t know what will anti-trigger them.

    Remember, during a PTSD flashback, the person is (sometimes) not capable of thinking rationally. They are in fight-or-flight mode. The gain on threat detection gets turned to 11. Lots of stuff gets turned off to divert resources to muscles for action. That is a state where people can lift cars off of people, by themselves. There are substantial costs to invoking such a state, emotional and physical. It can “wreck” your ability to do stuff for a few days and undo weeks of trying to keep things pulled together.

    I appreciate that many people don’t understand PTSD and don’t appreciate what it can do to people. I am happy for such people that they have never experienced PTSD. Don’t dismiss the knowledge and experience of people who have experienced it, and who have studied it and understand some aspects of it. This is where skeptics who don’t know about such things should default to “I don’t know”.

    Iamcuriousblue, you may be “over” it, but you continue to not understand what RW said, what she meant and why she said it.

    RW didn’t think that elevator guy was guilty of anything other than flirting badly. She didn’t bring it up as a way to trash him. Notice he remains unidentified? RW’s objective was to educate clueless guys that propositioning a strange woman you do not know at 3 AM, alone in an elevator is not a good idea. Despite being very clear in her language, there are still many people who can’t hear and understand what she said. They hear something different.

    Agreeing to disagree is not something that a skeptic can do while being honest and working in good faith.

    http://projecteuclid.org/DPubS?service=UI&version=1.0&verb=Display&handle=euclid.aos/1176343654

    If two individuals have the same priors (the same facts), and know that the other individual has the same facts and knows what the other person’s conclusion is, they cannot disagree if they are both working in good faith.

    Robert J. Aumann won the Nobel Memorial prize for economics for this proof.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_J._Aumann

    Usually disagreement occurs because people do not have the same facts. Some people may have wrong ideas that they think are facts but are actually false. The idea that there is no such thing as “rape trauma” is a false idea, one for which there is no good evidence because it is in fact wrong.

    People of good will try to ensure that their “facts” are indeed factually correct. People acting in bad faith do not.

  314. Iamcuriousblueon 02 Mar 2013 at 11:23 pm

    “Iamcuriousblue, you may be “over” it, but you continue to not understand what RW said, what she meant and why she said it.

    RW didn’t think that elevator guy was guilty of anything other than flirting badly. She didn’t bring it up as a way to trash him. Notice he remains unidentified? RW’s objective was to educate clueless guys that propositioning a strange woman you do not know at 3 AM, alone in an elevator is not a good idea. Despite being very clear in her language, there are still many people who can’t hear and understand what she said. They hear something different.”

    What the hell? Did you even read a word I wrote before launching into that, because I never said RW said anything otherwise. In fact, I specifically said I had no disagreement with what she was saying at the time of “Elevatorgate”, and that any issues I have with her come from later contentious rhetoric of hers. But, it seems, you’re so intent on strawmanning me that you launch into this diatribe that has nothing to do with my actual response.

    “Agreeing to disagree is not something that a skeptic can do while being honest and working in good faith.”

    And I think that’s nonsense. Basically, what it looks like to me is that you’re carving out a radical epistemological stance that there is no such thing as opinions or interpretations, but that all ideas are factual claims that are either objectively right or wrong. Hence, no such thing as political opinions, only correct and incorrect political positions. I think you’ve just made an extraordinary claim here, and I want to hear an extraordinarily good proof of this if I’m going to take it seriously.

  315. daedalus2uon 03 Mar 2013 at 12:01 am

    Iamcuriousblue, In reading what I wrote, I see that I did misstate what you said about RW and elevator-gate-I. I apologize for misstating what you said and by implication imputing bad faith on your part. I am truly sorry for that.

    I gave the citation to the proof. If you think the proof is wrong, please show how it is wrong.

  316. Diane Bruceon 03 Mar 2013 at 10:04 am

    daedalus2u IamCuriousblue,

    Perhaps I can offer a third alternative here. Maybe this hypothetical rape culture really does exist, but it is not homogenous. I’d offer the anecdotal evidence of rape in India as an extreme case. Is it possible that in reality some areas really do suffer from a rape culture and other areas simply do not? I simply don’t know and I don’t claim to know.

    How do we distinguish good natured flirting between adults from behaviour in this given rape culture? Perhaps, if there is no power imbalance we have a healthy mix? And I’m quite well aware that there are still cases of power imbalance. Then there are the battles between those who think prostitution should be decriminalized and those who think it is exploitative. Morality is not easy is it?

    This is not physics, where there is one answer per problem. This is a multivariate problem, with many factors. Which factors do you try to maximize and which factors do you minimize? That’s why it is such a hard problem. When it comes to hard problems like this, which variables you find important will bias your conclusions. That’s what makes it frustrating to all of us and leads us all to lash out so angrily.

    In the end, what is more important to all of us? Is it more important to be right, or is it more important that we all agree that abuse of one human being by another is morally reprehensible?

  317. daedalus2uon 03 Mar 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Diane Bruce, thank you for your comment. You are right, it is not people of good will who disagree that are the problem. People of good will, eventually will come to agreement based on common facts and valid logic, as in the paper I cited. Many of the issues are too complex to arrive at via facts and logic in one person’s lifetime, but in principle they could be, given enough time.

    The problem is people who are not acting in good faith, trolls. Some people of good faith exhibit trollish behavior because they have been lied to about what the facts are. That is the goal of those not working in good faith, to poison the atmosphere such that people of good faith don’t know what the facts are, and to make it difficult for those facts to be known and disseminated such that people reach erroneous conclusions which align with the goals of the trolls. That is the goal of propaganda, a distortion of what reality actually is.

    Get people angry and upset and their ability to be rational goes down. In hindsight that is the only explanation that I have for misstating what Iamcuriousblue said. It wasn’t anything that Iamcuriousblue said that made me upset, it was what windy said.

  318. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Iamcuriousblue says:

    I think the vast majority of people in these arguments (other than the outright misogynist trolls, who in my estimation don’t represent a serious “side”… subscribe to the idea of basic gender equality, and hence, we’re all “feminist” by that definition. However, in most of these discussions where this definition is advanced, you’ll just as quickly find those who will attack as “anti-feminist” those rejecting such political constructs as “patriarchy”, “sexual objectification”, “rape culture”

    Problem is it’s easy to pay lip service to the idea of gender equality, but if someone is ignoring those other concepts;one has to wonder of lip service is all it is. I see a lot of misunderstanding, straw-manning and dismissal of those concepts and precious little real, substantive criticism.

    Re: Watson and the elevator thing you say :

    I am very *over* this, and actually waiting for people like you to simply drop it.”

    Except it’s not me or “people like me” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) who keep bringing it up…in fact there’s a whole blogsite called “elevatorgate” (which is closely aligned with the slymepit) which is dedicated to keeping that whole controversy alive and bashing Watson.

    I just don’t see that level of creepy obsessiveness on the other “side”…

    I only mentioned in response to YOUR comments about it.

    I actually had much more of a beef with “Elevatorgate II” at TAM a year later, and the nasty accusations against Harriet Hall and the renewed calls for purging the skeptical movement of Skepchick critics.

    Have you read the post above these comments? Dr. Hall has admitted that she was in the wrong and acknowledges that Amy and her colleagues have been subjected to a campaign of harassment. There has never been a call to purge the skeptical movement of critics. No one I know of has any objection to good faith, rational, respectful criticism and disagreement. It’s the harassment and the trolls we need to be pushing to the sidelines here.

    Here again is the list of things Dr. Novella, Dr. Hall and Surly Amy have all agreed on:

    • gender equality
    • judging people by the content of their character, and not by physical or gender attributes
    • creating a safe and open environment regardless of sex or gender
    • the concept of sex and gender are complex and multifarious, and it’s all within the spectrum of what it is to be human.
    • condemnation of sexism in all its forms
    • respect and recognition of the dignity of all people regardless of their sex/gender

    Can the rest of us agree to those things; and have the integrity and courage to acknowledge the existence of the harassment and speak out against it as Dr Hall has done?

  319. Diane Bruceon 03 Mar 2013 at 2:30 pm

    hermit: I think the problem has been all along that most of us have always agreed on the list of things Dr. Novella, Dr. Hall and Surly Amy have signed onto, but this message was being distorted on all sides because we refused to talk to one another.

    As far as EG, I would suggest that this community attracts many who fall upon the Asperger (or HFA) spectrum. Computer programmers for one, scientists etc., and they are not the greatest at social skills. It is supposedly rarer in females, but I know a few personally and a few online. I could see an Asperger male making a very socially unskilled comment to RW in an elevator. I might also add (as carefully as possible) that Prosopagnosia is comorbid with Aspergers. Personally I think we should move on from EG but perhaps maybe all of us can reflect upon how we deal with others who may not be as socially skilled. Maybe we could use more awareness of Asperger/HFA in the community?

    “Except it’s not me or “people like me” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) who keep bringing it up…in fact there’s a whole blogsite called “elevatorgate” (which is closely aligned with the slymepit) which is dedicated to keeping that whole controversy alive and bashing Watson.”

    Actually, it has nothing to do with the slymepit. I hope once everyone realises we are willing to talk, it will go away. The author has stated as much and I think he will keep his promise.

    You are right of course in that we should all strive to be more civil around each other even if that is difficult and stop bashing each other. I’m reminded of a family feud. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feud

    “The dispute is subsequently fuelled by a long-running cycle of retaliatory violence. This continual cycle of provocation and retaliation makes it extremely difficult to end the feud peacefully.”

    It is going to take very strong will power by all of us working together to end this feud, and not all of us are capable of this, though I’d love to think we are all rational to do so.

    What say you?

  320. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 3:37 pm

    “Actually, it has nothing to do with the slymepit. “

    Well I was probably overstating it with “closely aligned”, but are you seriously trying to tell us there’s no crossover between the slymepit, “elevatorgate” and Franc Hoggle and all those twitter “#bravehero” twits? I think you have to some some pretty big blinders on not to see the connections. The same handles turn up all the time…

    “You are right of course in that we should all strive to be more civil around each other even if that is difficult and stop bashing each other.”

    And from what I’ve seen the only discernible purpose of the slymepit IS to provide a forum for bashing people and patting each other on the back for the latest photo-shop triumph or twitter put down. That place is going to have to undergo a serous transformation if they’re going to move forward…as it is now it’s just a bad joke and a black eye on the skeptical movement. How doe a thread like this one contribute to fostering civil debate? http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=21&p=70514#p70514

    “Maybe we could use more awareness of Asperger/HFA in the community?”

    I’m so sick of this cop-out. Frankly I think it’s a dodge and an insult to people with Asperger’s. (And I’m not talking about the elevator here; no one, Watson included, ever said that was anything more than awkward.)

    You know my “hermit” appellation isn’t entirely a joke; I’m not exactly the world’s most gregarious person myself, but I don’t use my own in-person social awkwardness as an excuse for bad behaviour on the ‘net. What we’re seeing here isn’t social awkwardness or misunderstanding; it is in many cases deliberate harassment; it’s not just a lack of charity, it’s contempt and cruelty; it’s people treating their own desire to “win” as more important than facts, or skepticism or simple human empathy.

    We have to do more than pay lip service to civility, and until I see the people running the ‘pit taking it seriously and cleaning up their own act I see no reason to take them seriously on the subject.

  321. Diane Bruceon 03 Mar 2013 at 4:39 pm

    hermit:

    “And from what I’ve seen the only discernible purpose of the slymepit IS to provide a forum for bashing people and patting each other on the back for the latest photo-shop triumph or twitter put down. That place is going to have to undergo a serous transformation if they’re going to move forward…as it is now it’s just a bad joke and a black eye on the skeptical movement.”

    Others have said the same thing about the FtB. Pointing fingers at each other is not going to stop a feud, each one of us as individuals can only be responsible for our own behaviour. What are you going to choose?

    Peace be with you.

  322. S. Madisonon 03 Mar 2013 at 5:09 pm

    It’s quite amusing to hear that history is being rewritten by the “bad people” so that they can continue casting aspersions on feminists.

    History has, in fact, been rewritten by both sides to continue a narrative that suits their purposes as a way of casting aspersions on the other side.

    It was 4am in an elevator in Dublin, and Rebecca said, more than “Guys don’t do that.” in her video about the incident. In fact, she also said “it makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner”. People like Stef McGraw didn’t question Rebecca’s right to tell guys not to do that, or Rebecca’s feelings of creepiness. They did question her characterization of the event as a clear-cut case of sexualization.

    At least some of the initial objections from those who identify as skeptics were about Rebecca’s treatment of Stef McGraw at the CFI Student Leadership Conference, and not about the incident in the elevator. To say otherwise is a misrepresentation of the facts.

    And, so that I am not dismiss as someone who really had a problem with the “Guys don’t do that” statement rather than other issues which came up at the time:

    Rebecca has every right to tell guys not to do whatever she does not want them to do in their dealings with her. All of us should set boundaries about behavior which we find acceptable or unacceptable, and state what those boundaries are so that others will be aware of our expectations. Moreover, when we have made those boundaries clear, and those boundaries have been crossed, we have every right to object, and even fight back if necessary. (I once tackled a man and pinned him to the floor after he slapped my face. He crossed a serious boundary with me, and I made sure he couldn’t do it again.)

  323. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 5:43 pm

    “Others have said the same thing about the FtB. Pointing fingers at each other is not going to stop a feud, each one of us as individuals can only be responsible for our own behaviour. What are you going to choose?”

    I’ve chosen all along to watch my own behaviour, to speak out against sexist,abusive and harassing behaviour and not to participate in communities where that kind of behaviour is not only tolerated but is actively encouraged and even celebrated as it is in the slymepit. I have no interest in being part of a culture where calling someone “cobweb c*nt” is considered an acceptable part of civil discourse and objecting to that kind of sexist crap is called “censorship.”

    How about you?

  324. Iamcuriousblueon 03 Mar 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Hermit writes: “I’ve chosen all along to watch my own behaviour, to speak out against sexist, abusive and harassing behaviour and not to participate in communities where that kind of behaviour is not only tolerated but is actively encouraged and even celebrated as it is in the slymepit.”

    Well, if you’re not going to participate in communities where abusive and harassing behaviors are encouraged, I guess that means having absolutely nothing to do with the Atheismplus+ Forum or most of the Freethoughtblogs comments sections. Have you fully distanced yourself from those self-righteous abuse-havens? Either lead by example or your rhetoric is empty.

  325. Iamcuriousblueon 03 Mar 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Hermit writes: “Problem is it’s easy to pay lip service to the idea of gender equality, but if someone is ignoring those other concepts;one has to wonder of lip service is all it is.”

    So by the same token, do you see those who strongly support the labor movement, but reject Marxism as merely paying “lip service”. In other words, you’re basically arguing that unless you buy an entire ideological framework, you can’t support the concept of women’s equality or labor rights.

    That, sir, is just so much ideological chest-pounding, and has little to do with anything resembling skepticism or rationalism. Not being able to fundamentally question political ideology is just as bad as not being able to question religion.

  326. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 7:26 pm

    “Well, if you’re not going to participate in communities where abusive and harassing behaviors are encouraged, I guess that means having absolutely nothing to do with the Atheismplus+ Forum or most of the Freethoughtblogs comments sections.”

    Sorry, I don’t buy the false equivalence. There’s nothing in either of those forums that I’ve seen which comes close to the contemptuous, obsessive personal attacks celebrated at the slymepit; no fat joke photoshops, no nicknames mocking anyone’s age or genitalia…Not that I’ve spent any time t the A+ joint, but in my experience when any commenters at FtB start down that road they get jumped on pretty quickly.

    Of course moderating that kind of behaviour gets the FtB crowd accused of “censorship” and “Bullying”…. They really can’t win either way.

  327. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 8:01 pm

    “That, sir, is just so much ideological chest-pounding, and has little to do with anything resembling skepticism or rationalism. Not being able to fundamentally question political ideology is just as bad as not being able to question religion.”

    So what does calling the people you’re criticizing childish names have to do with skepticism or rationalism? It is possible to question ideologies without calling people “bitch” or “cobweb c*nt.” I do it all the time…

  328. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 8:17 pm

    And in a bit of convenient timing, Michael Nugent has posted a few examples of some of the rhetoric we find at the slymepit. Maybe you can tell us which of those 50 quotes are examples of skepticism and rationalism, and why they are necessary for the purposes of questioning anybody’s alleged ideology…

    http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/

    Posted with the following caveat: “Please note that:

    I am not blaming all of the members of the Slymepit website for publishing these comments.
    I am aware that there other comments published on the Slymepit website that are not similar to these.
    I am aware that some people published some of the above comments intending them to be jokes.
    I am aware that some of the comments are made by women, and that some are directed at men.”

    I encourage you to take some time, peruse that list and pick out the ones you feel best exemplify what the skeptical community should be striving for…

  329. Diane Bruceon 03 Mar 2013 at 8:31 pm

    hermit: You are not a good example at all. I promised I would respect other’s beliefs without name calling. You have done nothing but name calling since you started engaging me. You have indirectly insulted me and frankly, I do not want your brand of feminism ‘helping’ me. You are no sceptic in reality, you are a dogmatic social justice warrior who I assume to be also an atheist. You are recruiting for your cause, insisting that only you have all the answers, rather than have honest discussion about the things we can all agree upon.

    If you honestly feel I am mistaken, please feel free to correct my perception. If you are honest in wanting to move forward, then you need to examine your own behaviour critically. Until then, I see no point engaging with you any further as you are hindering not helping any move forward.

    Stil, I do see some patchworks of possible broad agreement happening with others. You cant please everyone. ;)

  330. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 9:17 pm

    ‘hermit: You are not a good example at all. I promised I would respect other’s beliefs without name calling. You have done nothing but name calling since you started engaging me. “

    I do feel you are mistaken. I have not engaged in any name calling whatsoever here and I invite you to post a direct quote of me doing so if you can find one. If I slipped up and did that I wall apologize without qualification.

    In fact, all I have done is object to the name calling and personal attacks so popular at the slymepit. I’m not sure why you would take that as name calling or an insult to you personally.

    If you’re this upset by my disagreeing with the use of “cobweb c*nt” as an insult on the slymepit can you imagine how the woman who is the target of that particular epithet might feel?

    Which should we be more offended by; an objection to that particular insult, or the insult itself?

  331. daedalus2uon 03 Mar 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Talk of “equality” always reminds me of the quote by Anatole France:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

    People can’t be “equal” until they are in an “equal” state of non-desperation. That is until everyone has the “equal privilege” of being non-desperate, “equal” treatment is not necessarily equitable treatment.

  332. rezistnzisfutlon 03 Mar 2013 at 10:37 pm

    @Diane

    You are recruiting for your cause, insisting that only you have all the answers, rather than have honest discussion about the things we can all agree upon.

    This is what you get when engaging ideologues like Hermit. Ultimately, it’s not constructive because that’s the nature of ideology – we’re right, they’re wrong, it’s black and white, us versus them. We see this on many sides on many subjects: GMOs, vaccination, fluoridation, environment, politics, and religion, to name a few.

    It’s a dogmatic mindset that is seen at places like FtB where sincere challenges to the ideology and any dissenting thought is not only derided, but silenced, however mild or innocent they may be (this does not include mere trolls).

    Personally, I could care less if they want to run their blog that way. Whatever, it’s a free country. What I personally have a problem with is when they put their foot in the door and demand that everyone else within the skeptical community adopts their philosophy and positions without any say-so in the matter.

    IMO, true skepticism is as much an inward-pointing tool as it is outward. For those who do not allow challenge to their own core beliefs and create an echo-chamber where the members can pat themselves on the back while their challengers and dissenters languish in their dungeon, aren’t skeptics. You don’t see that happening here – it seems that Dr. Novella welcomes any criticism, as long as it’s not abusive, of course, even if he vehemently disagrees. Heck, he’s allowed the most egregious and self-serving creationists and pseudoscience proponents to engage him on this blog, and he’s respectfully and honestly engaged back, shining skepticism on himself as much as them.

    Before anyone calls me on having some sort of bias or unbalanced view, the only reason I am using FtB as an example is because they are the ones coming here to make their arguments and making demands on the community at large. I understand that in any debate or issue, different sides will make mistakes or bad arguments, not always listen well, or utilize logical fallacies. I’ve been guilty of it in the past, and I’ll make them in the future (the point is trying to reduce them as much as possible, but no one is perfect). The difference seems to me that I’m willing to admit that I’m wrong and own up to mistakes, and I welcome being called on my BS.

    Others, like Halfdead and Hermit, only seem to be interested in pointing fingers and pushing their ideology rather than having an open and honest discussion. There are people in the Slymepit (I’ve only recently become aware of that group) who are equally as guilty. I’m not taking sides with either or them here, they both make good arguments, but I resist ideology and dogma in any form, even if it comes from myself. It seems to me that others aren’t as open to that kind of self-scrutiny.

  333. hermiton 03 Mar 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I’m amazed at how quickly I can be labelled an “ideologue” just because I think calling someone “cobweb c*nt” is not compatible with the goal of civil discourse…o_O

  334. Bill Openthalton 04 Mar 2013 at 6:47 am

    daedalus2u –

    People can’t be “equal” until they are in an “equal” state of non-desperation. That is until everyone has the “equal privilege” of being non-desperate, “equal” treatment is not necessarily equitable treatment.

    Some people will be desperate even when they are given more than their fair share of support (or, to avoid that loaded word “fair”, more support than almost anyone else). Of course, nobody asked to be born in the circumstances and with the abilities that were foisted upon them. I have seen people born in misery become successful. I have seen people born in wealth squander it all and die under a bridge. I have seen people born to alcoholic parents become community leaders, and people born to community leaders become alcoholics. I have seen people trying their damndest and not getting a job, and people trying their damndest not to get a job.

    I don’t know if people really have choices. Maybe nature and nurture conspire to make some of us succeed, and some of us fail, and choice (or free will) is just an illusion – life flows inexorably from birth to death while we cling to the idea our decisions matter. What I do know, is that at a number of junctures in my life, several options were open, and I sometimes went in a direction that I knew to be far more difficult than the alternatives, because I thought is was the moral choice. Was it free will? Can I claim some credit for what turned out to be a decision that lead to more happiness than I could anticipate? I am thankful, and I remind myself on a daily basis how fortunate I am. Should I feel guilty because some are less fortunate (though sometimes they have far more money) than me? If I am not responsible for my own fortune, how could I be responsible for the misfortune of others?

    I would like to be able to look at two people and know from whom to take and to whom to give. Once, I believed I knew who deserved to live and who deserved to die. The only thing I know now is that I do not want to judge others, and that it’s sweeter to help out of gratitude than out of guilt.

  335. ildion 04 Mar 2013 at 11:47 am

    rezistnzisfutl:

    Ultimately, it’s not constructive because that’s the nature of ideology – we’re right, they’re wrong, it’s black and white, us versus them. We see this on many sides on many subjects: GMOs, vaccination, fluoridation, environment, politics, and religion, to name a few.

    You took the words out of my mouth. I am not interested in participating in a movement that is dominated by libertarian ideology.

  336. Iamcuriousblueon 04 Mar 2013 at 1:32 pm

    “Sorry, I don’t buy the false equivalence. There’s nothing in either of those forums that I’ve seen which comes close to the contemptuous, obsessive personal attacks celebrated at the slymepit; no fat joke photoshops, no nicknames mocking anyone’s age or genitalia…Not that I’ve spent any time t the A+ joint, but in my experience when any commenters at FtB start down that road they get jumped on pretty quickly.”

    Ah, Hermit, the “false equivalence” card – you really must be playing Social Justice Bingo if you’re coming out that series of canned responses. The sick, obsessive dogpiling and, yes, name-calling that takes place on the Freethoughtblogs comments sections (and quite often, in the writers themselves) and the Atheismplus Forum are self-evident to any objective party who will read first-hand how anybody with the slightest disagreement with the party line is treated in those spaces. Just because they happen to choose less politically incorrect insults means little.

    “Of course moderating that kind of behaviour gets the FtB crowd accused of “censorship” and “Bullying”…. They really can’t win either way.”

    In a word, nonsense. Why those forums are in particular accused of bullying is because of extremely bad-faith moderation policies where those who dissent from the party line are either banned immediately, or put under the threat of ban, while those supporting the party line are given carte blanche to be as base, insulting, irrational, and engage in as much dogpiling as they wish. Of course, FTB is free to regulate its comments any way they wish, just as others are free to call FTBers out on their bad faith.

    “So what does calling the people you’re criticizing childish names have to do with skepticism or rationalism? It is possible to question ideologies without calling people “bitch” or “cobweb c*nt.” I do it all the time…”

    and

    “I’m amazed at how quickly I can be labelled an “ideologue” just because I think calling someone “cobweb c*nt” is not compatible with the goal of civil discourse…”

    And now both shifting goalposts AND putting words in my mouth, and in other peoples. Wonderfully “rational” arguments here, Hermit! For the record, I think both of those things are pretty uncivil – remember, I’m the one pointing out that the Slymepit gets more than its share of crazies on that side of the argument. Where I disagree is the double standard that claims the kind of insults lobbed by Slymepitters are some special form of incivility that deserves particular opprobrium, while somehow the similarly extreme incivility by the FTB and A+ crowd gets a free pass.

    If I could name one reason why I don’t see any peace between the two sides to develop any time soon, I’d point to profound double-standards like you’re trotting out here. I’ll say it again – there are either rules of engagement that apply equally to everyone, or there are no rules! And if its the latter, welcome to a state of war and Hobbsean anarchy – you’ve done your part to make it happen!

  337. Iamcuriousblueon 04 Mar 2013 at 1:55 pm

    daedalus2uon writes: “Talk of “equality” always reminds me of the quote by Anatole France:

    ‘The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.’

    People can’t be “equal” until they are in an “equal” state of non-desperation. That is until everyone has the “equal privilege” of being non-desperate, “equal” treatment is not necessarily equitable treatment.”

    I understand this line of argument, but I really don’t entirely buy it. What’s your alternative? One set of rules for people who can claim to be “oppressed” and another set for those deemed “privileged”? I can just picture the jockeying to get your favored group into the ranks of the “oppressed” if that were the case.

    No going into the question of political goals I believe in (and, as I’ve been at pains to point out, I think this is a different question from rational, skeptical evaluation of facts about the world), while I agree class, race, and social equality is in fact a worthwhile goal, I think in the short term that some sort of balkanization of basic human rights and civil liberties, in a quest to be “equitable” until we reach some far-off state of perfect equality (such as is characteristic of the legal approach of somebody like Catherine MacKinnon), is an absolutely terrible idea. Rights and liberties are not a zero-sum gain, and the goal should be to maximize them for everybody. Of course with an emphasis on bettering the condition of those most deprived of their rights and liberties, but without thinking you have to degrade or drag down those who are more secure in their rights and liberties (in other words “privileged”) in order to do so.

    I think when it comes down to it, there are really two kinds of egalitarianism – those that, like myself, would like to promote equality by raising the status of those without privilege to a common state of maximal freedom, and those who would promote equality by dragging down the “privileged” into a state of common oppression with everybody else. The latter model was perfectly exemplified by the historical Soviet Union and its offshoots, and it seems to me like too many (maybe – hopefully – not all) “social justice” ideologues have a similarly impoverished vision. This is why, as a matter of opinion, I have a big problem politically with social justice warrior types and a large portion of the feminist movement.

  338. daedalus2uon 04 Mar 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I don’t have a solution and I don’t know what a solution would look like. I agree with you that these things are not zero-sum and should not be approached with a zero-sum mentality. Unfortunately that is how all top-down power structures operate, as a zero-sum, because top-down power always is zero-sum. Only the single entity at the top can have all the top-down power.

    I think it would require reconfiguring society such that making some people desperate didn’t enrich and reward other people. That was not how the Soviet Union was configured. The ruling elite was enriched by the fear and exploitation of the non-rulers. That is the essence of a zero-sum approach, where for every winner there must be a loser.

    “Privilege” doesn’t mean “rights”, it means special status, rights or immunities granted by society to a limited group.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privilege_%28law%29

    Removing someone’s “privilege” simply restores them to the same status as the non-privileged. It is only “pulling them down” to the same level that everyone else already is.

    Privilege is a zero-sum concept. If everyone has the same status, rights or immunities, then no one has any privilege because no one has any special status. For anyone to have privilege there must be unequal status.

    All top-down social power structures operate through the granting of privilege to those at the top which gives them special status over those at the bottom. If there was no privilege, there would be no top-down power hierarchy.

  339. Diane Bruceon 04 Mar 2013 at 5:47 pm

    hermit: Come back when you can tell us what “fanny pack” means.

  340. hermiton 04 Mar 2013 at 5:53 pm

    If I could name one reason why I don’t see any peace between the two sides to develop any time soon, I’d point to profound double-standards like you’re trotting out here.

    No double standard here; I have never denied that there is bad behaviour on both sides and that I am against all of it. Still not sure why that makes me an “ideologue…”

    But I defy you to find a place on FtB that is specifically dedicated to smearing any identifiable group of people, There is, on the other hand, a whole section of the slymepit set up for just that purpose. There really is no equivalent activity on FtB. Is there bad language and insults and occasional nastiness in the comments there? Sure, and the worst example get jumped on and either modify their behaviour or kicked out. But there is no place where that crap is collected and celebrated the way it is on the slymepit.

  341. hermiton 04 Mar 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Diane Bruceon 04 Mar 2013 at 5:47 pm

    hermit: Come back when you can tell us what “fanny pack” means.

    Thanks for the non-sequitur…????

    Have you found an example of me calling you names yet Diane? Or are you prepared to withdraw that false accusation?

  342. Diane Bruceon 04 Mar 2013 at 5:57 pm

    If you don’t take intersectionality theory into account when talking about so-called ‘privilege’ it’s pointless. Privilege itself is a sociological term, and as such it applies as a generality to groups not individuals.
    A very easy example is that rich privileged white guy who is confined to a wheelchair or is blind or [fill in blanks]. Too often I see the term ‘privilege’ being thrown around as a means of silencing dissent. If you think about it, ignoring a person’s potentially valid critiques because of their claimed privilege, is really just a form of the association fallacy.

  343. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Mar 2013 at 6:18 pm

    If you think about it, ignoring a person’s potentially valid critiques because of their claimed privilege, is really just a form of the association fallacy.

    This is exactly what I’ve been getting at, and it doesn’t stop with the term “privilege”. There are terms that are freely tossed about like “rape apologist”, “rape enabler”, and “misogynist”, often when there is no indication that the person in question is any of these things, and often in response to valid, and benign, criticisms. It is a shaming and silencing tactic. I don’t think anyone is denying privilege exists, just that the wild and baseless claims often leveled at people who may be the least bit critical of the status quo are inappropriately labeled. That kind of behavior is indicative of dogma and something one would expect for strident creationist sites.

    Speaking of labels, yes, hermit, I do consider you an ideologue, or an adherent or advocate of a specific ideology, often blindly so. Not because you don’t think using the term “cobweb c*nt” is not appropriate for civil discourse, but for, well, pretty much everything else you’ve brought up here. Your “side” can do no wrong, is perfectly legitimate, and the other ‘side” is bad, wrong, and should be avoided. You fit this to a tee because all I’ve seen from you here have been accusations and arguments in bad faith. I don’t think many people here are from the Slymepit (I’ve never heard of it until recently) and it’s a false equivocation to make arguments about points of contention here by wildly pointing at what they do. You are a fine example of what is often seen at FTB, and what I find the most ironic is, what you say the Slymepit is so guilty of, that’s what FTB has done for the past 2.5 years. It’s an echo chamber full of ideologues, with it’s very own dungeon, memory hole, and shaming that smack of dogmatism.

  344. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Mar 2013 at 6:25 pm

    But I defy you to find a place on FtB that is specifically dedicated to smearing any identifiable group of people

    Yes, that is a challenge, considering dissenters and challengers (and not just the trolls) have themselves and their posts disappeared and the banhammer wielded like a scepter. This is complete conjecture on my part, but I submit that one reason this is done, among others, is for this very situation, so that proof of their bullying, shaming, and silencing is hard to come by and they look innocent of the very thing they so often accuse others of doing. However, these things can be found. There is a reason why there’s such a backlash to FTB, and it’s not because of some rampant insidious conspiracy by the patriarchy to undermine and suppress women.

  345. windyon 05 Mar 2013 at 6:07 am

    Get people angry and upset and their ability to be rational goes down. In hindsight that is the only explanation that I have for misstating what Iamcuriousblue said. It wasn’t anything that Iamcuriousblue said that made me upset, it was what windy said.

    I’m sorry to hear that. What you said could have made me upset as well, but I tried instead to see the humor in the situation. But if I don’t think your “facts” are correct, should I back down because you have an emotional reaction? That seems like a very unskeptical attitude.

  346. hermiton 05 Mar 2013 at 11:13 am

    Speaking of labels, yes, hermit, I do consider you an ideologue, or an adherent or advocate of a specific ideology, often blindly so. Not because you don’t think using the term “cobweb c*nt” is not appropriate for civil discourse, but for, well, pretty much everything else you’ve brought up here. Your “side” can do no wrong, is perfectly legitimate, and the other ‘side” is bad, wrong, and should be avoided.

    In fact I think I’ve been quite clear that I don;t think either side is blameless, so I’ll thank you not to put words in my mouth.

    In fact some of the loudest voices here are from the “slymepit” forum (decius, iamcuriousblue, and windy for example) so when I’ve been responding to them I have used examples from their little community there.

    If you aren’t aware of what’s been going on here maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge…

  347. Diane Bruceon 05 Mar 2013 at 12:02 pm

    hermit: I asked you to come back when you could tell me what “fanny pack” means.

    hermit: “Thanks for the non-sequitur…????”

    http://septicscompanion.com/showletter.php?letter=f

  348. hermiton 05 Mar 2013 at 12:16 pm

    What’s your point Diane? That words can have different meanings depending on the context? No doubt they can. So what?

    You accused me of calling you names and insulting you, I’m still waiting for you to show me where I did anything of the kind.

  349. windyon 05 Mar 2013 at 1:18 pm

    hermit:
    Not to say there aren’t occasional ;apses on the other side, but it’s really not the case that both sides are just as guilty. One side is asking for civility and the other is insisting that their right to call women “c*nts” is more important.

    Excuse me, but have you actually read FTB? Many there seem to feel that civility is a tool of the oppressor against the marginalised. That’s different from arguing for civility all around, as people like Novella are doing. There’s something to be said for both of these approaches. One of the issues people are having with the former is that they often appear to be arguing for “civility for me but not for thee”.

  350. hermiton 05 Mar 2013 at 2:33 pm

    “Excuse me, but have you actually read FTB?”

    Yes I have; and you’re oversimplifying the argument there, aren’t you?

    The occasional incivility there is nothing compared to the deliberate, targeted abuse found at the slymepit. There are no forums or threads there dedicated to mocking, demeaning and dehumanizing identifiable individuals as there is at the `pit.

  351. windyon 05 Mar 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Yes I have; and you’re oversimplifying the argument there, aren’t you?

    You can hardly accuse me of oversimplifying after I pointed out you had left one “side” out of the equation altogether!

    Have you read this post for example:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/02/14/the-desert-tortoises-with-boltcutters-civility-pledge/

    It’s clear that it’s not just a question of occasional “lapses”, it’s questioning the concept of civility altogether. No, this is not a claim that they are equivalent to the slymepit. IMO their approach to abusive language is rather inconsistent but at least I try to understand their justifications, not just pat them on the head and say they’re really “asking for civility”.

  352. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Mar 2013 at 3:25 pm

    I really don’t have a problem with slymepit, not because of what they’ve said, done, or stand for, but because, unlike FTB and many of the feminist activists, they aren’t trying to shoehorn themselves into the skeptical movement and all but force their ideology on everyone else. Your constant comparison of FTB to slymepit is really beside the point, because they aren’t the ones coming here and trying to convert people or using shaming tactics on other blogs because they think they’re under represented at skeptical conferences. In other words, it’s the FTB people who are making the environment hostile to anyone who isn’t in near-perfect lockstep with their ideology.

    So, your continued complaints about slymepit are lost here, because slymepit members aren’t the ones making the fuss here, it’s the FTB people.

  353. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Mar 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Hermit, it seems to me that you have a big beef with slymepit. I suggest you go there and start your business – it’s doing no good coming here and complaining about it. There’s really very little we can do about it here, unless they decide to come here an start something themselves. I understand that they are being provocative to the feminist movement and you don’t like that, but honestly that’s not the onus of this blog to handle that for you.

  354. hermiton 05 Mar 2013 at 5:28 pm

    “Hermit, it seems to me that you have a big beef with slymepit. I suggest you go there and start your business – it’s doing no good coming here and complaining about it. “

    As I explained to you I brought it up in response to members of that place who was talking to. Seemed relevant in that context…o_O

    “I really don’t have a problem with slymepit, not because of what they’ve said, done, or stand for, but because, unlike FTB and many of the feminist activists, they aren’t trying to shoehorn themselves into the skeptical movement and all but force their ideology on everyone else. “

    No, they’re just trying to get people who would like to talk about those subjects to shut up and go away…I personally have a problem with people who do that sort of thing.

    And the feminists aren’t trying to “shoehorn themselves in” (it’s interesting that you put it that way…) They are already here. And they are asking that we try to make things more welcoming fro women and minorities. Is that a problem for you?

    “You can hardly accuse me of oversimplifying after I pointed out you had left one “side” out of the equation altogether!

    Have you read this post for example:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/02/14/the-desert-tortoises-with-boltcutters-civility-pledge/

    Yes I have, that’s how I know you’re oversimplifying…there’s a quite a lot of discussion about how far civility extends and under what circumstances it might be used as a cover for inaction etc.

    See also here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2013/02/21/the-pros-and-cons-of-the-civility-pledge/

    and here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/02/19/actually-i-hate-the-word-moron-used-as-an-insult-thank-you-very-much/

    and here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/02/unmeasured-vituperation-on-the-side-of-the-prevailing-opinion/

    and no doubt there’s more, but you get the idea. There is no one-size-fits-all opinion over there. You are oversimplifying.

  355. hermiton 05 Mar 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I really don’t have a problem with slymepit, not because of what they’ve said, done, or stand for, but because, unlike FTB and many of the feminist activists, they aren’t trying to shoehorn themselves into the skeptical movement and all but force their ideology on everyone else.

    What you’re saying is that you want to keep people whose opinions differ from yours out of the movement.

    And you call ME an ideologue? What nonsense.

  356. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Mar 2013 at 11:59 pm

    What you’re saying is that you want to keep people whose opinions differ from yours out of the movement.

    Nope, that’s what FTB does and I have no interest in it. You don’t see very many people here being derided, shamed, and banned for simply disagreeing. There have (recently) even been staunch creationists debating us here, responses in the thousands, that I suspect would have gone no further than one or two posts on FTB. No, you’re projecting.

    You complain about slymepit, but we don’t see them coming around here pushing their ideology or agenda, pushing their agenda at conferences, bullying other bloggers for supposedly not including them at conferences (in other words: not taking up their mantle and walking in perfect lockstep to the same degree and intensity they do) or having their blogs be someone else’s ideology. You don’t see them foisting their ideology on others or trying to make others behave the way they want them to. I have yet to be called a misandrist, feminist, or male rape supporter by anyone from the slymepit, or any MRA whatsoever, even when I’ve disagreed with them and declined membership into their little movement. Yet I’ve been called all those things for no good reason other than not agreeing with everything.

    It’s not about differing opinions, it’s about how those opinions are delivered and how those who are critical of those opinions are received. Not everyone is going to see it your way, or FTB’s way, and they aren’t always bad people and their views aren’t always wrong views.

  357. rezistnzisfutlon 06 Mar 2013 at 12:01 am

    This should read: “Yet I’ve been called all those things, in their opposite meanings, by feminists and FTBers for no good reason other than not agreeing with everything.”

  358. windyon 06 Mar 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Yes I have, that’s how I know you’re oversimplifying…there’s a quite a lot of discussion about how far civility extends and under what circumstances it might be used as a cover for inaction etc.

    So you knew about those discussions, yet you came here and represented the argument as “one side is asking for civility…”, and then accuse me of oversimplifying. I don’t think any more needs to be said.

    Hermit, I agree that civil, HONEST discussion beats incivility every time. Try it sometime.

  359. hermiton 06 Mar 2013 at 10:46 pm

    “You complain about , but we don’t see them coming around here pushing their ideology or agenda, pushing their agenda at conferences, bullying other bloggers for supposedly not including them at conferences (in other words: not taking up their mantle and walking in perfect lockstep to the same degree and intensity they do) or having their blogs be someone else’s ideology.

    It’s all in how you characterize it, isn’t it? I see women asking for more consideration for their point of view, you see feminists trying to shoehorn themselves in and pushing their ideology. Which one of us is over-reacting I wonder…

    “I have yet to be called a misandrist, feminist, or male rape supporter by anyone from the slymepit, or any MRA whatsoever, even when I’ve disagreed with them and declined membership into their little movement

    I have.

    So you knew about those discussions, yet you came here and represented the argument as “one side is asking for civility…

    Yes, because I have yet to see anyone from the slymepit side asking for civility. They seem to more concerned with preserving their right to call women cunts…

  360. rezistnzisfutlon 06 Mar 2013 at 11:29 pm

    It’s all in how you characterize it, isn’t it? I see women asking for more consideration for their point of view, you see feminists trying to shoehorn themselves in and pushing their ideology. Which one of us is over-reacting I wonder…

    Yes, leave it to an ideologue to twist words and otherwise entirely miss the point. It’s all fine and good to ask for equal consideration and treatment, as long as that doesn’t mean that all other considerations and treatments aren’t put on the backburner or that everyone adopt a specific ideology, or get out. Furthermore, if a particular skeptical conference is about specific subjects that are not feminism or atheism, what’s the problem with that? One of the big criticisms coming from PC, RW, and others at FTB is that many conferences don’t feature, or at least include, their ideology, as if EVERY topic revolves around that.

    The reason I don’t care what they do or say at slymepit is because they haven’t made it a public campaign to change the face of skepticism into something that isn’t really skepticism. They haven’t gone out of their way (at least from what I’ve seen) on OTHER people’s blogs to change the very nature of the blog to be more like FTB. They haven’t systematically attacked certain persons at other, unrelated blogs, for “not being feminist enough”, whatever that means.

    In other words, FTB isn’t satisfied with having their own forum – personally, I can live with that. I may not (ever) want to go there, just like I wouldn’t ever want to participate in, say, a “race realist” blog (aka racists)(other than to see where the problems are). That doesn’t seem to be good enough for FTBers, though.

    I have yet to see any actual slymepit representatives here. I’ve seen MANY FTBers here, activists who bring their brand of shaming, silencing, and defaming tactics with them. If slymepitters came here brandishing their ideology the same way, using similar tactics, I’d be just as resistant to them as I am with you and your kind.

    So, it’s fine to have more consideration for a point of view, but not at the cost of every other point of view out there, much less the silencing of alternative points of view or of criticisms. NO idea or claim should ever be above scrutiny or criticism – that is the nature of skepticism – yet that is what is demanded at places like FTB.

    Sorry, but FTB is not a valid model of skepticism, and it’s a travesty that many of their speakers have become so prominent of the movement. It is THEY who have created this schism.

  361. rezistnzisfutlon 06 Mar 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I have.

    Ok, I should have been more specific. I have yet to see that done here, or at any other skeptic blogs. No, the only time the word “misandrist” has been used is in the context I’ve used it above. However, “misogynist” has been thrown out several times, erroneously and maliciously, as an accusation for anyone simply critical of FTB, not even getting into the subject of gender equality.

    If I were to go to a MRA forum, I would expect to eventually be called a misandrist. If I were to go to FTB, or any other intractable feminist forum, I too would expect to eventually be called a misogynist (which I have). What am I, a misanthrope then?

    However, a real skeptics forum would first establish whether I’m one or the other, or both, through the use of reason and perhaps asking me what my specific views are, before drawing any conclusions. I would also expect that a skeptics forum would not deride, ban, and quickly erase all but the hostile rebuttals, any sort of disagreement, criticism, or facts contrary to popular opinion, especially in matters of opinionated ideology.

    Case in point: I was accused, here on Neurologica, by a FTB apologist, of being a misogynist, without ever uttering a word about the subject of gender equality, simply for being critical of how FTB handles content and their readership. There was no way anyone could have concluded what my stance was on feminism (other than I had mentioned in my original post that I consider myself, by definition, a feminist). That didn’t stop them from calling me a misogynist. Yes, great example of skepticism – that’s what ideology brings.

  362. hermiton 07 Mar 2013 at 12:02 am

    “One of the big criticisms coming from PC, RW, and others at FTB is that many conferences don’t feature, or at least include, their ideology, as if EVERY topic revolves around that.”

    I think you’re exaggerating just a little aren’t you? Suggesting that conferences consider other topics and be more inclusive is not the same as forcing an ideology on anyone.

    “I have yet to see any actual slymepit representatives here.”
    .
    Then you haven’t been paying attention; I named three of them earlier and pointed out to you that I was only talking about the slymepit because I was speaking to people who hang out there.

    “So, it’s fine to have more consideration for a point of view, but not at the cost of every other point of view out there, much less the silencing of alternative points of view or of criticisms.”

    And criticism is fine, I’m all for it. Photoshopping people’s faces onto porn, calling them fat, making up nicknames based on their genitals and harassing them with abusive e-mails, tweets and blog posts isn’t what I would call criticism. It’s that kind of behaviour, the things Dr Hall refers to in her letter as “venomous over-reactions and egregious abuse” which I’m objecting to, nothing more.

    ” it’s fine to have more consideration for a point of view, but not at the cost of every other point of view out there, much less the silencing of alternative points of view or of criticisms.”

    Except when the alternative point of view is a feminist one I guess…since any suggestion that such issues get a hearing are met with such fierce resistance…

  363. rezistnzisfutlon 08 Mar 2013 at 3:30 pm

    You say criticism is fine, you’re all for it. That sentiment is NOT shared by your fellow FTBers or by Myers himself. The level of criticism tolerated there is very narrow. Obviously, I’m leaving out outright threats, actual trolling, puerile statements, or any other destructive content. No, I’m talking about legitimate posts with any sort of criticism or dissent. There is a reason you won’t find much of it there, or that those who have criticisms or dissension don’t last long.

    Yes, pull the feminism victim card. That’s not what anyone is suggesting. If MRAs did the same thing, there’d be resistance to that equally. No one wants someone else’s ideology stuffed down their throats. That is what the social justice “warriors” are doing – they’re demanding that their ideology be a part of conferences, whether the conference is about that issue or not. As of now, the only group I can see doing this is feminists, and they aren’t stopping at mere awareness. They want everyone to adopt their attitude, ideology, and abide by their behavior demands, whether they want to be part of that movement or not. In other words, they want every place to be A+. Well, not every place is A+ – there are other people in the world who don’t share their kind and level of activism and who may see how to tackle those social justice issues a little differently.

    What you’re doing is VERY typical of FTBs. Twisting words, misrepresenting, and turning it around to make it look like feminism is under attack and the posters there are all just victims. Sorry, but not every criticism is an attack, not every dissenting opinion is invalid.

    NO subject should be above criticism or be beyond scrutiny. NO statement should be beyond evaluation, and no valid, non-abusive opinion should be silenced. That’s why I have no desire to reside in the echo-chamber that is FTB.

    And the matter of the so-called slymepitters here, no, they didn’t acknowledge that they’re slymepitters. And so what if they were? I still don’t see them coming here trying to change this blog and force everyone to abide by their rules or adopt their ideology. That’s what apologists like you do.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.