Eight choices we can make to help move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities

by Michael Nugent on March 15, 2013

I decided a week ago to take time out from the recent discussions about the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities, in order to get some perspective on what I had learned from the discussions up to then. I would also like to thank the people who have contacted me privately to make helpful suggestions.

Many of these issues have been most visible in disagreements between members of some specific websites and forums. However, the way that the issues have been addressed has had a knock-on effect on the wider atheist and skeptic communities in real life.

Many people have been unfairly misrepresented and hurt, and many have been alienated in recent years from what was evolving into a stronger international support group and advocacy voice than we have today.

Here are eight choices that I think it would be useful for each of us to voluntarily adopt, not because we are obliged to do so, but because we believe it would be useful to do so, all things considered, as a starting point for productive dialogue.

The first five choices are general

1. We can choose to robustly debate our disagreements about ideas, while not personally insulting or mocking people who disagree with us.

2. We can choose to want to de-escalate, rather than escalate, the hostility and hurt that has been one outcome of how we have addressed some disagreements.

3. We can choose to accept that, just as we know that others are mistaken about our motivations, we may also be mistaken about their motivations.

4. We can choose to charitably interpret ambiguous statements, or ask the person to clarify them, rather than unilaterally attacking the worst interpretation.

5. We can choose to give people the space to reconsider previously stated beliefs, and to either clarify or easily disown off-the-cuff statements.

The next three choices relate to specific issues

6. We can choose to actively tackle the problems of sexism and harassment in our communities, regardless of the scale of those problems.

7. We can choose to robustly debate disagreements about aspects of feminism, without labeling people based on our interpretation of their motivation.

8. We can choose to unilaterally retract any statements that we personally have made that, in retrospect, we now believe were wrong or unhelpful.

Summary

These suggested choices are intended for people of good will who want to discuss these issues reasonably, and who also want to make it easy for people of good will who disagree with them to discuss their disagreements reasonably.

I would welcome any feedback.

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{ 262 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Northernskeptic March 15, 2013 at 3:56 am

The mockery and ad-hominems need to stop. I’m so very tired of seeing leaders in the community carrying on childish attacks. It has moved beyond sexism since many of the fights are not from men attacking women but rather women attacking women for holding differing views. Many of us feel uncomfortable expressing our opinions lest we too become targets. I felt that the Harriet Hall/Surly Amy reconciliation could have been a good start to healing the wounds yet I’m saddened to see that it still continues amongst other parties. One day either cooler heads will prevail or we will forever be divided along lines in a flame war which the generals won’t stop fighting despite the troops leaving.

2 Chas Stewart March 15, 2013 at 4:51 am

I really appreciate these tips and will try to remember them when I am in heated conversations with anyone (not just atheists).

3 Eshto March 15, 2013 at 5:53 am

But how do these choices drive up drama/blog hits/ad revenue??

4 Thaumas Themelios March 15, 2013 at 6:03 am

I can fully endorse these suggestions because they are all true and useful in most/many contexts. I reserve the right to engage in mockery and satire, even of people, even condescendingly, but I certainly *can* choose to hold back on that when, for various reasons, depending on the context, it would not serve the purposes of the discussion, debate, or conversation. Indeed, that’s the approach I’ve been taking in this affair, and I’ve found it very effective — to be up front and stand my ground while simultaneously and voluntarily refraining from ‘pushing buttons’ with jabs and snipes at people.

Thank you, Michael, for taking the time to reflect on this controversy and offering these level-headed suggestions in the manner you have. I especially liked your emphasis on this being an individual’s choice regarding the pragmatic usefulness of dialogue and discussion, rather than a top-down decree that we must all behave the same way regardless of context. I fully support that distinction (having been trying to say the same thing myself on several occasions), and I believe you’ve said it better than anyone else so far.

I’m very happy to have made your acquaintance, and with any luck hope to engage with you again. Cheers!

5 Robin Hilliard March 15, 2013 at 6:22 am

To which, I would add:

9. When rational, evidence-based discussion proves impossible or counter-productive, then one should withdraw to avoid contributing to the problem.

6 Thaumas Themelios March 15, 2013 at 6:53 am

Sorry, Robin, can’t agree to that. In a public forum, which most of the internet is, continuing to engage even with deeply entrenched folks with irrational beliefs is still a useful and important service, because of the vastly larger number of people looking on from the sidelines. I am always conscious that what I write will be read not just by my direct debate adversary, but by many other people besides — some/many of whom may be ‘on the fence’ or otherwise open to reason. Planting seeds of doubt and skepticism in such circumstances is a goal worth pursuing. Of course, there’s little point in contributing to *drama*, but Michael’s suggestions cover that quite well. When one engages without generating drama oneself (e.g. without ‘pushing buttons’, etc.) one can give a principled defense of reason without backing down, without acquiescing obsequiously, and — importantly — without doing anything wrong oneself. It is actually quite a powerful response to entrenched dogmatism. The only counter-response to it is either to pony-up with evidence-based reason, or to go batshit in front of a public audience (strangely, the batshit response seems to be more common, even though it’s the worst response possible, credibility-wise 😉 ).

7 Thaumas Themelios March 15, 2013 at 7:08 am

Useful thought:

When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humour.

~ John Lennon

8 Jeremac March 15, 2013 at 7:13 am

Ding ding ding…

We have a winner!

“7. We can choose to robustly debate disagreements about aspects of feminism, without labeling people based on our interpretation of their motivation.”

But without the witch of the week, how are the FTB folks going to draw traffic into their web site?

9 Bjarte Foshaug March 15, 2013 at 7:21 am

As I see it, the rifts are a feature, not a bug. The greater the schism the better. There is no possible benefit of having a community that can begin to outweigh the cost of having to share it with the scum (those whom I have come to think of as “the other skeptical movement”) who have flooded every social medium, forum, website, youtube channel, and blog with toxic waste since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that”. If I had to chose between an atheist movement that included these people or no atheist movement at all, I would chose the latter any time.

10 Coel March 15, 2013 at 9:01 am

Dear Michael,
Yes, a very sensible set of suggestions. +1 in support,

11 Coel March 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

Bjarte,

“The greater the schism the better. There is no possible benefit of having a community that can begin to outweigh the cost of having to share it with the scum …”.

You have previously stated that the people you don’t want to share the community with include people such as Paula Kirby, Richard Dawkins, Russell Blackford, and Michael Shermer. I would suggest that these are not people “flood[ing] every social medium, forum, website, youtube channel, and blog with toxic waste”, they are instead people who agree with you on much but have an honestly held difference of opinion on some matters, or are simply a bit fallible, as are we all.

It seems to me a pity if people such as yourself can’t abide being part of the same broad community as people such as those, and can’t at least interact civilly with them.

12 Jack March 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

Thanks Michael for putting a lot of thought into this. There are one or two items which I feel are unrealistic (trolls will be trolls and one persons offence will be another’s reasonable comment) however the sentiment is positive.

I’ll be interested to see how this develops.

13 Pitchguest March 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

Very well, Bjarte. You’re excused.

I’m going to read this more thoroughly later. Busy now.

14 Michael Kingsford Gray March 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

If I had to chose between an atheist movement that included these people or no atheist movement at all, I would chose[sic] the latter any time.

Vis: “the scum”
I am saddened to know that your loyalty to tribal allegiances outweigh any anti-theism, or ant-church brutality.
Depressing, really.
You appear to have subscribed to another tribal dogma. Holus bolus.

15 Maureen Brian March 15, 2013 at 11:42 am

Shorter Coel:

“There are people spray-painting rude words on all the walls. They are naughty. There are others who buy them cans of pain and cheer them on. This second lot are not naughty at all. See! They have no paint on their hands and and are therefore innocent.”

OK, Coel! Explain to me why.

16 Luther March 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

They all sound great. I would only add that #7 should apply to all discussios of all political ideology such as libertarianism or conservatism not just feminism. Best to leave all political discussions alone but when discussing them stick to object claims.

17 Michael March 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

Three cheers to Michael Nugent for writing this piece.

18 Coel March 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hi Maureen,

“OK, Coel! Explain to me why.”

I don’t see the people I listed as “cheering on” unacceptable behaviour. I see them as having an honestly held difference of opinion on some matters.

This is one of the basic problems. Some don’t accept the possibility of an honestly held difference of opinion, and don’t want to agree to differ, while retaining civil interactions, with people with whom they agree on 90% but disagree on 10%. Instead any disagreement is taken as placing people beyond the pale, and then lumped in with much worse. This is a pity.

Michael’s suggestions are a good antidote to this. We should accept that we can have honestly held differences of opinion with people, while still respecting them, interacting civilly with them, and valuing them as members of our broad community.

19 Jack March 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

‘Luther March 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

They all sound great. I would only add that #7 should apply to all discussios of all political ideology such as libertarianism or conservatism not just feminism. Best to leave all political discussions alone but when discussing them stick to object claims.’

One of the issues is that one person may claim political beliefs are based on hard science where the other claims they are not. The ones who believes it is hard science see no issue with imposing those ideas on a skeptic community and get very upset when they are rejected.

This post-modernist way of thinking is a major element of the dispute.
It is highly divisive as all our beliefs are complex and varied, one size does not fit all and for anyone to claim it does then reject all who do not agree is fundamentaly against everything a rationalist would agree with.

You get then the issues of guilt by association which an earlier post illustrates well. People associate with a group for many reasons without having to agree with all of that groups tactics. I agree with the Slympits core principles, that does not require me to agree with everything posted there. As rationalists I am allowed to say that there however, it is not an echo chamber.

I do not care what someone’s political beliefs are, I care about secularism, humanism and rational thinking. Politics and ideology is an arena best dealt with elsewhere as trying to agree on that would be like trying to herd cats. I would welcome people from all political beliefs with very few exceptions, including radical feminists. If only they do not try and impose on others all is good. That is the only way we can be truly inclusive.

I see a political ideology being imposed on a group that has no political ambition. That to me is not a way to advance our mutual causes and, more importantly, does not help in dealing with sexism or racism which I fully agree should be looked at critically and dealt with. But it won’t be dealt with by imposing a political dogma of any type. In fact on the Slympit there are many women and we are very much an international group from a diverse range of backgrounds. That should say more than anything about how sexist or racist we are.

20 Coel March 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Dear Maureen,
Here’s another reply, having just read Pharyngula this morning. PZ quotes a woman saying “No one at St. Peter’s ever called me a stupid cunt because I disagreed with them”, and says that we should feel ashamed that this does happen in the atheist community, and then asks: “What can I do better?”.

My answer is that, if he doesn’t want a community where people are insulted just for disagreeing, then he should start by adopting that standard on his blog. Currently it is normal, and even encouraged, for anyone disagreeing on Pharyngula to be routinely insulted, and called a “f*ckbrained asshat” or similar.

PZ should realise how much responsibility he shares for setting the tone of the online-atheist community over the years, so he can hardly object to its current tenor. It is hypocritical to object when the insults are directed at those he agrees with, yet actively encourage insults directed towards anyone he disagrees with.

21 debaser71 March 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

1. stop calling people rape enabling misogynists child molesters if they don’t happen to agree with your brand of gender feminism

2. apologize to the people you called these things

3. promise to not do so in the future

4. ask for forgiveness

5. talk about atheism without referring to cis white privileged men or using other gender feminist jargon

6. stop lying about people

7. stop making shit up

8. show skepticism

9. stop appealing to emotions

10. tone down the tribalism (us vs them)

22 Patrick March 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

“6. We can choose to actively tackle the problems of sexism and harassment in our communities, regardless of the scale of those problems.”

There is no disagreement that sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other form of bigotry is not acceptable in this community. There is, however, no evidence that sexism is a particular problem. I suggest that your #6 be restated:

“6. We choose to be inclusive, to welcome anyone who shares our values of atheism and skepticism and wishes to work toward creating a more rational world. We do not accept harassment of any member of this community.”

We’re a small enough subset of the population as it is without schisming. There are many fora and organizations dedicated to advancing feminism of whatever flavor, varying political views, different social justice visions, and any other goal you’d care to name. This movement isn’t about those, it’s about atheism and skepticism. Those are our common causes. We must focus on what unites us if we are to have any chance of making progress.

23 Maureen Brian March 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Coel,

I would say it is not possible to have an”honestly held difference of opinion” on whether women are human. Nor would I waste much time in a civil discussion of whether or not I get to choose who gropes me. Intelligent people have moved past both of those, intelligent people like Michael who are impressively concerned that we should learn to listen to each other, as a two-way process.

As for PZ, he is quite big enough to look out for himself and make his own decisions. The regular commenters at Pharyngula are a self-selected bunch of people who enjoy boisterous argument. It is, though, one of the few places where someone could, after various attempts to educate, get himself banned for refusing to address any point raised by someone with a woman’s name while arguing about sexism. We were laughing our heads off then as he was happily engaging people like Caine that everyone else knew were women. So there goes your tu quoque!

No-one has ever been forcibly taken to Pharyngula and obliged to read it daily. Not that I know of, anyway! There is abuse there, abuse of ignorance and of arguments repeated which were discredited a century and more ago. Do you not want us to move on?

24 debaser71 March 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm

“I would say it is not possible to have an”honestly held difference of opinion” on whether women are human. Nor would I waste much time in a civil discussion of whether or not I get to choose who gropes me. Intelligent people have moved past both of those, intelligent people like Michael who are impressively concerned that we should learn to listen to each other, as a two-way process”

Rift widened.

25 Patrick March 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Maureen O’Brian wrote:
“I would say it is not possible to have an ‘honestly held difference of opinion’ on whether women are human. Nor would I waste much time in a civil discussion of whether or not I get to choose who gropes me.”

Poisoning the well fallacy. I have not seen anyone in this online kerfuffle suggesting that women aren’t human or that anyone should grope anyone else without consent.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

26 JPaper March 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Just no.

We don’t need to be nicer to the misogynists and blatant liars. We need to decide that we don’t want them in this movement. If you want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them and admonish others to be nicer / more charitable to them, you don’t get to stand shoulder to shoulder with me.
I’m not interested in closing the rifts with homophobes, racists, sexists, ageists, ablists etc. I’m offended that supposed allies keep suggesting we should.

27 vivienne trulock-hardy March 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Well said Michael… great to hear a voice of reason :)

28 JPaper March 15, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Patrick,
…and if you haven’t seen it yourself, she must be lying?

Misogynists are not nice things and I don;t know why anyone would want to keep them.

29 Jeff Wagg March 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

This is a great piece, and I hope it has more success than I’ve been able able to produce. The last time I tried to bring the “sides” together, members on both sides “unfriended” me.

Any “us and them” is an illusion. There is only us.

30 debaser71 March 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm

“I’m not interested in closing the rifts with homophobes, racists, sexists, ageists, ablists etc.”

Rift widened.

31 Patrick March 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

JPaper wrote:
“and if you haven’t seen it yourself, she must be lying?”

We’re supposed to be skeptics. If you make a claim, support it with evidence. I would certainly join Maureen or anyone else in defending against such ideas.

32 Doubtful News March 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Will this help at all?

http://doubtfulnews.com/media-guide-to-skepticism/

It was a collaborative effort.

33 Gurdur March 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm

@ Maureen Brian —

yet again, let’s point out that it was perfectly OK on Pharyngula till very recently to indulge in homophobic, mysogynist, anti-transsexual hate-speech. Want the links? The only reason it is no longer so OK to do all that is because of pressure from outsiders, and there is still some misogyny going on, witness the spitefulness directed against Harriet Hall, Miranda Celeste Hale, Abbie Smith, Paula Kirby, etc. Or would you like to comment on the banning of a transsexual from Pharyngula because the person protested against homophobic, anti-transsexual hate-speech used by PZ Myers and some of his commentators?

To call an atmosphere of routine personal abusiveness merely “boisterous” is disingenuous. This is the reason for the very narrow focus on certain gendered slurs instead of general personal abusiveness; it’s because some want to stay abusive (and dishonest in characterization of others), while attacking the abuse of others. This is not impressive, not impressive in the slightest.

I will also point out some types of gendered slurs are still in vogue on Pharyngula. Notably, it is still OK to slur Abbie Smith as doing what she does only to win the approval of men, or to so slur Miranda Celeste Hale, or others. It is still OK to viciously and spitefully attack Harriet Hall, even though Harriet Hall is the epitome of women accomplishing things despite entrenched sexism and hostility.

Very clearly, some on Pharyngula etc. want to stay abusive. It’s not a matter of abusing bad arguments, it is a matter of dishonest personal abuse. Deal with it.

And until you deal with it, your moral standing to object to other forms of abuse is close to zero.

34 Lumen222 March 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I’m a lurker on a large number of skeptical blogs. SBM, Skepticblog, Respectful Insolence are what initially drew me in to this movement, and my interest grew from there. I’ve been following this controversy for the last couple of weeks, ever since I became aware of it through Dr. Hall’s posts on SBM.

As an observer of all this I feel the need to point out to many of the commenters that a lot of you seemed to have missed the point of this post entirely. These are not rules that you take out and hit other people with, or use to “prove” how nasty others are. These are guidelines that are intended to be SELF APPLIED. They are about you. They are voluntarily adopted and they are designed to allow you to have more meaningful conversations with people who disagree with you. Meaningful conversations with people who will probably behave badly. What PZ says or the Slympit says, or anyone else says is irrelevant to this post. You can disagree, hold your ground, offer counter points and evidence, and have a very strong opinion while following these guidelines. And if you do, it is far more likely to make your point of view understood or change minds. Lets be frank. Your odds of changing minds are still terrible. But change comes slowly and if you insist on trying then you should be giving yourself the best odds possible.

I want to thank Michael Nugent. This controversy brought me to this blog and reading your posts and your attempts to engage with people gave me faith that the skeptical movement does in fact have a place for me. I have been very turned off by the hostility and the attacks made on various men and women in the movement for casual statements that they have made. Some of these statements I found to be rather boneheaded and silly at times. But as an outsider looking in, the vicious over the top crucifixion of some of these people was frankly disgusting, immature and unproductive.

For the record, after visiting pretty much every website mentioned in this mess, I do in fact have a pretty strong opinion on all of this. I am not attempting to make a false equivalency or some idiotic statement that the “answer is somewhere in the middle”. But I will say that there are people on both sides who have behaved poorly and, who have done little to further discourse and who have allowed their emotions to drive too many of their words. But we as individuals help shape the tone of the conversation, and if you want productive conversation you must hold yourself to the highest possible standard first.

35 Kareem March 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

I don’t think this article is telling people to be nice to misogynists. It’s telling people to calm down and listen to what people are saying and not what you think they must be thinking just because they disagree with you.
Is it so hard to simply not assume the worst and ask others to do the same?

36 Coel March 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Maureen,

“I would say it is not possible to have an”honestly held difference of opinion” on whether women are human.”

You illustrate one of the worst aspects of FTB: whenever anyone disagrees at all with the FTB line they are accused of not regarding women as human. Of the people I listed, I am willing to bet that every one of them fully supports women being treated and respected as equal human beings with full human rights.

You are not engaging sensibly with people who disagree with you if you simply accuse them of outlandish crimes that bear no resemblance to anything they have actually said. “X disagrees with me” is NOT — contrary to FTB ideology — equivalent to “X regards me as sub-human”!

37 Roxee March 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

This article came through on my newsfeed on FB, posted by an atheist friend. I thought the visible blurb sounded worthy of a more detailed look and clicked on the article.
I read the article and thought the points sounded reasonable. I was a little bemused by feminism being given “special issues” status, so I proceeded to the comments section……..
I stopped reading FTB when the shit storm happened. When was that? Over 2 years ago? Regardless of whether anyone had anything interesting to say in either the blog posts or comments sections it just ended up seeming like a bunch of people who had differing opinions or experiences yelling at each other with no discernable movement toward resolution or compromise.
It’s amazing to me that it is apparently still going on, if I am correct judging by some of the comments here. Could it be that some of us are captive within a FTB bubble? I am busy making friends with, and accepting friend requests from, believers in far flung places (I’m in Australia); places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, India, and locally. We are having great conversations and slowly but surely more often than not I am helping them to question what they have been taught to believe. This is the work we should be engaged in, at least that’s my motivation. Hopefully none of these new skeptics I’m helping to encourage are visiting FTB if these sorts of discussions are what they’re going to be greeted by. I haven’t ever recommended they do and have been reminded here why I don’t.

38 Notung March 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Very good – I agree with all 8 points.

I still think boredom will be the thing that finally ends all this, but your efforts are appreciated!

39 Lumen222 March 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm

More to the point Kareem. Even if you are already convinced of the other person’s motivations, there is nothing to be gained in the argument by discussing them. This is true if you are arguing with a bigot, a misogynist, an atheist, a feminist, a naturopath, or a psychic. Accusing anyone of evil motivations is a really great way to make them and anyone who is even mildly sympathetic to them dig in and entrench. You aren’t going to convince them or anyone watching of anything.

40 Jack March 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm

‘ Maureen,

“I would say it is not possible to have an”honestly held difference of opinion” on whether women are human.”

You illustrate one of the worst aspects of FTB: whenever anyone disagrees at all with the FTB line they are accused of not regarding women as human. Of the people I listed, I am willing to bet that every one of them fully supports women being treated and respected as equal human beings with full human rights.

You are not engaging sensibly with people who disagree with you if you simply accuse them of outlandish crimes that bear no resemblance to anything they have actually said. “X disagrees with me” is NOT — contrary to FTB ideology — equivalent to “X regards me as sub-human”!

It’s the old and well worn Kafka trap. It simply states that unless you agree with someone’s position you are part of the problem http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122

It’s similar to poisoning the well as in ‘When did you last beat your Wife’ or ‘Feminism is the radical concept all women are people’

This all leads to ‘Agree or you’re a misogynist…..rape enabler….’

The thing is, many of us have been debating and discussing with Theists and the like for years so we spot such a trap in seconds. It is not a rational position to take and leads me to question that person’s ability to understand these simple logical fallacies and therefore use skeptisism.

I just thought I’d mention that as some posts over the last week or two are peppered with them. No one wins an argument like that, at least when talking to someone with a rational mind.

41 The Good Atheist March 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Well, I’m going to start applying this right now for the comments. I’m going to give Bjarte Foshaug the benefit of the doubt in terms of her use of rhetoric, and assume that she’s talking about the more extreme elements that make up a disproportionately small portion of the scene. Yes, there are some pretty vile things being said, but is that really representative of people who object to the way feminism has been discussed in the scene? Is using “scum” really the best way to express yourself with someone you disagree with, especially if these terms are used so liberally that they could apply to anybody?

Please clarify what you mean.

As for the rest of the advice, it’s hard to argue with it, but we should remember that the same passion that drove people to speak out against the evils of religion can be misdirected when dealing with the complicated issue of gender equality. The fact of the matter is, I don’t think anyone has any answers, and assuming we do as non-believers is the height of hubris.

42 Derek Walsh March 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

@ Bjarte Foshaug (9):

As I see it, the rifts are a feature, not a bug. The greater the schism the better. There is no possible benefit of having a community that can begin to outweigh the cost of having to share it with the scum (those whom I have come to think of as “the other skeptical movement”) who have flooded every social medium, forum, website, youtube channel, and blog with toxic waste since…

Up to this point in your message I had no idea which side of the feud you were on. That might be something worth reflecting on, not just for you but for all who insist on clinging to this division.

43 tina March 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Pharyngula Standards & Practices @7 March 2013
“This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.”

Pharyngula Standards & Practices @15 March 2013
“This is a rude blog. We like to argue — heck, we like a loud angry brawl. Don’t waste time whining at anyone that they’re not nice, because this gang will take pride in that and rhetorically hand you a rotting porcupine and tell you to stuff it up your nether orifice. If you intrude here and violate any of the previous three mores, people won’t like you, and they won’t hold back—they’ll tell you so, probably in colorful terms.”

1. We can choose to robustly debate our disagreements about ideas, while not personally insulting or mocking people who disagree with us.

You can choose that, if that is what is on offer. It isn’t. What is (still) on offer is a dogmatic feminist/social justice rhetoric: one that you must accept or you are out. Myers, Carrier, Zvan and others have made that abundantly clear. It is a power play to control the narrative and to negatively stereotype and slur any who posit alternative views.

44 John C. Welch March 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Since Maureen & Bjarte have chosen to, in a few comments, hit all the strawmen/false assumptions, I’ll talk to those points first.

Bjarte said:

As I see it, the rifts are a feature, not a bug. The greater the schism the better. There is no possible benefit of having a community that can begin to outweigh the cost of having to share it with the scum (those whom I have come to think of as “the other skeptical movement”) who have flooded every social medium, forum, website, youtube channel, and blog with toxic waste since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that”. If I had to chose between an atheist movement that included these people or no atheist movement at all, I would chose the latter any time.

Ah, the first one, and the one that PZ et al have pushed heavily, namely, that 100% of the people bagging on Watson are angry because she said “Guys don’t do that”. Well, no, the actual reasons are a bit less simplistic. For example, the first post about it on ERV, “Bad form Rebecca Watson”, (the post that brought me into it) was not about “Guys don’t do that”. It was Abbie’s reaction to Rebecca’s calling out of Stef McGraw, accusing her of “parroting misogynistic thought” and needing a refresher in “feminism 101″, because Stef disagreed with Rebecca’s video. I happened to agree with Abbie on her points, and in my view, regardless of how “polite” Watson was, that was a dick move. It abused the power of the podium to shame disagreement. It was condescending, patronizing, and had a man done that, things would be on fire.

When Stef had the audacity to not feel good about that encounter, both PZ and Rebecca both proceeded to say that Stef was *wrong* for not feeling the respect that calling her out by name should have engendered. Note that both PZ and Rebecca were both happy to explain how wrong it was for people who weren’t Rebecca to dictate how Rebecca should feel about Elevator Guy, because that’s wrong, and often “mansplaining”. But when Rebecca or PZ tell someone ELSE how they get to feel, well, that’s okay then?

That, not “guys don’t do that”, and the later somewhat unthinking defense of Rebecca’s actions, (no bad words were used, she didn’t raise her voice, IT CAN’T BE AN ATTACK! WTF???) were what brought a lot of people into things and not on Rebecca/PZ’s side.

So the first step here is to stop telling people what they really think? Your assumptions are wrong, as are the actions you base on those assumptions.

Maureen said:

I would say it is not possible to have an”honestly held difference of opinion” on whether women are human. Nor would I waste much time in a civil discussion of whether or not I get to choose who gropes me. Intelligent people have moved past both of those, intelligent people like Michael who are impressively concerned that we should learn to listen to each other, as a two-way process.

Isn’t it handy then that no one is saying women aren’t human, women aren’t deserving of equal opportunity, women aren’t helpless infants etc. Nor are we saying that groping is okay.

It’s kind of you to provide those strawmen, but that’s all you’ve done. What is happening is that there are people who aren’t onboard for every wave of feminism, and that what would be groping and bad to you might not be that to someone else, and that neither person is wrong to interpret that situation the way they choose to.

Rather a lot of people are saying that no, you don’t have to agree with everyone who calls themselves a feminist or every single bit of feminist philosophy, (some of which is ASTOUNDINGLY transphobic).

Rather a lot of people are saying that disagreements in philosophy does not render one a misogynist, a chill gurl, a sister punisher, a rapist, or any of the other oh so clever names given to those who won’t “fall in line”. Some of even have the truly bizarre idea that no, bad words, or lack thereof grant neither inherent goodness, or inherent badness to a person, thought or philosophy. As an example, here:

http://openjurist.org/60/us/393

There’s not a “bad” word to be found. No “cunts”, “Bitches”, “dicks”, not even an “asshole”. It is the very exemplar of formal language. The fact that it’s the SCOTUS ruling for the Dred Scott decision, and one that is, to my mind at least, *completely* obscene in intent, language, and result is not mitigated by the “quality” of the language.

A ridiculous obsession with a minuscule part of the language leaves one open to truly obscene communications that cause us infinitely more problems. Tell me should you fear more: “CUNNNNNT” or this:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ199/html/PLAW-104publ199.htm

Maureen then said:

As for PZ, he is quite big enough to look out for himself and make his own decisions. The regular commenters at Pharyngula are a self-selected bunch of people who enjoy boisterous argument. It is, though, one of the few places where someone could, after various attempts to educate, get himself banned for refusing to address any point raised by someone with a woman’s name while arguing about sexism. We were laughing our heads off then as he was happily engaging people like Caine that everyone else knew were women. So there goes your tu quoque!

Oh bullshit. That’s the only word for this, bullshit, and it’s the kind of hypocrisy that flows so easily from your “side”. Here, allow me to summarize:

“When WE pile on and abuse people, it is to EDUCATE them, and if they won’t learn, why should we care about their feelings at all! But if YOU pile on and abuse people IT IS HEINOUS BULLYING AND YOU SHOULD BE DRIVEN FROM HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS UNTO THE TENTH GENERATION.”

Baloney. Bulldookey. If you are going to tell anyone that certain behaviors are wrong, then they are wrong even when you, and the people you agree with do them. If PZ’s commentariat are naught but a boisterous lot, and even if not the most polite sorts, well, they have good intentions so the ends justify the means, then spare me, spare everyone any form of hand wringing about the ‘pit and others who are in the end, only evil because we disagree with you and won’t toe your line.

If you cannot be bothered to live up to your own standards, then do have some form of ethical consistency and stop lecturing anyone else for failing to live up to them either.

Maureen also said:

No-one has ever been forcibly taken to Pharyngula and obliged to read it daily. Not that I know of, anyway! There is abuse there, abuse of ignorance and of arguments repeated which were discredited a century and more ago. Do you not want us to move on?

Really? So let me get this straight, we should stop obsessing about Pharyngula because, as you say No-one has ever been forcibly taken to Pharyngula and obliged to read it daily. Now, let me make sure I’m clear on this: Because Pharyngula is a website, you can choose to not read it. If you choose to not read it, then the words said there, even if they are about you can’t really affect you, right?

SO HOW IS THE SLYMEPIT ANY DIFFERENT?

It too is a website, and might I note one with almost no google juice. You can’t even stumble across it in Google results the way you would FTB and Pharyngula. Yet, somehow, somehow, the simple, easy to follow advice you give for website A is COMPLETE UNPOSSIBILITY FOR WEBSITE B.

How. How. How does that work? Please, tell me?

This, Michael, this is what I and many others are talking about. How do you, how can you have “peace” or “move beyond the rifts” when one side is so continuously self-unaware and screamingly, *screamingly* hypocritical?

I can’t possibly trust anything that the FTB/Skepchick lot writes or says, because they are willing to engage in such large-scale dishonest and hypocritical behavior that were PZ, Rebecca Watson, and the entire cohort of the A+ forums to stand in front of an unshaded window to tell me it was raining, I’d not believe them until I went outside to see it for myself.

There has to be some. small. level of trustworthiness, and yet, in the space of about a page, Bjarte and Maureen exquisitely showed why trusting their “side” to accurately report the results of 2+2 is a really bad idea.

45 debaser71 March 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

“There is no possible benefit of having a community that can begin to outweigh the cost of having to share it with the scum (those whom I have come to think of as “the other skeptical movement”) who have flooded every social medium, forum, website, youtube channel, and blog with toxic waste since a woman had the audacity to say “Guys, don’t do that”.”

Rift widened.

46 kntk March 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm

I agree with Bjarte about one thing. We really should be encouraging the likes of him in their noble plan to disappear right up their own collective fundament.

47 Lumen222 March 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Jack,

I have to look askance at some of your posts. You are spending an awful lot of time talking about the poor arguments made by a side you disagree with but you use no examples of the terrible arguments made by many self proclaimed Slympit users. I have seen posts in this very thread that simply imply that the only reason FTB holds the points of view they do is to encourage page views. That’s not listening to someones arguments. That’s making crass assumptions about motivations.

I have gone to the slympit and perused some of the public posts. I respectfully submit that your argument that because the Slympit has female posters then there is little to no sexism there is in and of itself a fallacy. I could say that the catholic church is not sexist because it has females in it’s population. This argument makes the same amount of sense. Which is none. Women posting in the slympit does not prove or disprove that there are not any sexist view points held by it’s members. Sexist comments are not at all uncommon in the slympit. You are free to disagree. However the argument that you have female posters is not evidence of anything.

Now if I was to take a page from your argument style I would add that “I must question your ability to understand these simple logical fallacies and use skepticism”. Of course that would come across as condescending and would be counter productive. Every one of us screws up in debate and falls into poor arguments. We have all held entrenched beliefs. Even the most skilled debaters will make a bad argument occasionally. That doesn’t instantly invalidate their entire point of view. Perhaps you should be more forgiving since you yourself are capable of making poor arguments.

48 Bruce McGlory March 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Mr. Nugent, have you noticed how quickly the bigots among us turned your suggestions into “women need to STFU and apologize to men”?

Does this make you reconsider your list at all?

Has it become clear to you yet that these people do not want a rift-free movement, they want one in which women are decorations without a voice?

has it become clear to you yet that you can’t make nice with people who hate women?

Has it become clear to you yet how telling women to be nice to those who actively and proudly tell them to shut up and sit down, is a cowardly move?

Your suggestions would work wonderfully if you were addressing ethical adults actually interested in a diverse, strong atheist movement. It’s very clear from all your comment threads about this topic that the slimepit is anything but.

once again, did you notice how quickly your suggestions became “women need to shut up and apologize to men”?

49 Bruce McGlory March 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

“You illustrate one of the worst aspects of FTB: whenever anyone disagrees at all with the FTB line they are accused of not regarding women as human.”

Translation: I think women are people . . .. people who need to agree with men, be pretty and be silent.

50 Coel March 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Bruce McGlory,

“once again, did you notice how quickly your suggestions became “women need to shut up and apologize to men”?”

I for one hadn’t noticed anyone saying that. I suspect that in your post you may have constructed a whole bunch of strawmen.

51 Felonious Munk March 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Gurdur:

it was perfectly OK on Pharyngula till very recently to indulge in homophobic, mysogynist, anti-transsexual hate-speech. Want the links?

Yes, please.

52 debaser71 March 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Bruce, (I’d cut and paste, but it’s your whole post).

Rift widened.

53 Coel March 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Bruce McGlory,

“Translation: I think women are people . . .. people who need to agree with men, be pretty and be silent.”

Your translation is badly wrong.

54 kntk March 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Translation: I think women are people . . .. people who need to agree with men, be pretty and be silent.

Translation: I am a pompous blowhard who can’t understand a nuanced position. Good thing FTB doesn’t have any.

55 Patrick March 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Bruce McGlory writes:
“Mr. Nugent, have you noticed how quickly the bigots among us turned your suggestions into ‘women need to STFU and apologize to men’?
. . .
as it become clear to you yet that these people do not want a rift-free movement, they want one in which women are decorations without a voice?

has it become clear to you yet that you can’t make nice with people who hate women?

Has it become clear to you yet how telling women to be nice to those who actively and proudly tell them to shut up and sit down, is a cowardly move?
. . .
once again, did you notice how quickly your suggestions became ‘women need to shut up and apologize to men’?
. . .
Translation: I think women are people . . .. people who need to agree with men, be pretty and be silent.”

Please provide any evidence for your claims about what has been said in this thread. Everyone can read exactly what has been written and your restatements are clearly unsupportable.

If you cannot support your defamatory claims, intellectual honesty demands you retract them and apologize.

56 loyalb March 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Those are great guidelines, Michael. As chair of Atheist Ireland, you can take a leadership role by inviting speakers to your events who agree with the principles behind the guidelines.

The problem is, as Tina pointed out above, charity and civility aren’t really on the table as far as some atheist leaders are concerned. Until those leaders learn that shunning and silencing aren’t appropriate tactics — especially against their own community — the rift continues…

57 Jack March 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Lumen222 (22)

I accept your point about women in the Slympit, it was a poor argument which I can’t prove one way or the other. However many women from there have and are speaking here perhaps they will deal with that.

I am trying to illustrate the approach used by the various sides and that they are substantially different. This is not an argument between people that just disagree on fact it is about people that disagree on how to examine beliefs and they way they present them and aggressively vilify, in the public arena, those they disagree with (Dawkins is being attacked right now for stating a simple opinion based on his scientific knowledge)

Of course I am open to error but to be honest I’ve been very disappointed with the responses from some today. Rather than allow some to continue with Ad Hominems, thinking they were effective, I wanted to point out what is obvious to most; that they are not.

I am not claiming I am immune to stupid mistakes and fallacies. I certainty am not but I do hope to change my opinion if presented with a good argument supported by evidence if necessary.

58 Skepsheik March 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Michael, while I think this set of suggestions are a good starting point, I would like to caution against a too strict application of point one.
The use of satire, parody or ridicule of particular ideas or actions has a long tradition in intellectual discourse. As Thomas Jefferson said: “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them”
I need go no further than the facebook page for Atheist Ireland to see this being practiced in abundance.
Indeed, Michael, your own career to date has involved no little amount of parody and satire against some particularly deserving targets.
My own philosophy is one of applying the golden rule to my online actions. I am quite prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of Bjarte’s excruciatingly unfunny cartoons that Ophelia Benson regularly posts on Butterflies and Wheels. And in turn I sometimes choose to return the favor.
I don’t see any reason why fellow atheists should be exempt from satirical comment. Nasty personal attacks, I agree, have no place in our debate but when someone, believer or non-believer, says something ridiculous, perhaps ridicule is appropriate.
And if it is not, Michael, are you going to lead the way by removing the multitude of mocking posts from your own AI facebook page and group?

59 Jack March 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Sorry my post 56 meant to reference Post 46 (Lumen222) not 22.

60 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Test

(if that works, I’ll probably chime in. Sorry Michael, no idea what’s going on with my ISP that throws my posts in moderation).

61 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Yeah!!! It worked!

Michael: it seems your heart is in the right place. But it also seems you went all blazing guns against the Pitters with your original posts about this mess.

A bit of inquiery would have been welcome. How many times have we had people coming to the Pit and posting as an opening “I thought this was going to be a foul place from what I heard, but it seems I was wrong”? Well, many times. Many, many times. Some of the regulars at the Pit came to it in that very way.

The propositions you are offering now are all fine but, at least to me, they are basics in online interactions with anyone, friend or foe.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Maybe just go and visit the place. Make friends, joke around, have fun. And if the Pharyngula/FTB/A+ denizens want to do the same, they are more than welcome to do so.

Yeah, ok, 6:30pm on a friday evening. Beer may have been coming aplenty…

62 Chas Stewart March 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm

@Michael Nugent – Can you add “You can either attempt to translate or paraphrase someone’s point by reading the minds of your interlocutor or you can honestly argue with what has been explicitly argued” to your list of choices?

63 Chas Stewart March 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Ah never mind. #4 does exactly that.

64 Corylus March 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Good list, Michael.

I would add something though. Something specific to those posting articles on their widely read blogs.

I think these people should give general consideration to the question of whether or not they (consciously or unconsciously) ‘priming’ their readers to give certain types of responses, and to make certain types of judgements.

I am using the term ‘priming’ in the psychological way here. From The Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods:

“Priming is a psychological process in which exposure to a stimulus activates a concept in memory that is then given increased weight in subsequent judgment tasks. Priming works by making the activated concept accessible so that it can be readily used in evaluating related objects. For example, hearing news about the economy may prime individuals to focus on economic considerations when assessing a president’s performance because economic concepts are activated, accessible, and presumably relevant for this type of evaluation. In this way, priming affects the opinions that individuals express, not by changing their attitudes, but by causing them to alter the criteria they use to evaluate the object in question.”

A good example of this would be for someone to quote an example of speech that they see to be sexist/misogynist/unacceptable/whatever and to also make a comment like “bitchez are shit, eh?” This to indicate that in the writers viewpoint the person to whom they are referring does indeed feel that ‘bitchez are shit’.

This swearing and snarling is BOTH a prod in the lizard brain of those of us with any nasty memories of being referred to in sexist terms AND immediately presents the possibility to all of us of assuming that, yes indeed, this person obviously does think ‘bitchez are shit.’ This response can be elicited in people who are normally very practiced in making charitable judgements about the motivations of others; people who can assess material calmly and rationally.

As I say, this priming can be engaged in by people both consciously and unconsciously. I am making no accusations here. Psychologists and advertisers prime people consciously, either to better understand reasoning or to sell washing powder. We can do it unconsciously as well though. This is because, while we humans are not always rational (bit of a struggle to be honest!) what we nearly always do is act in ways that help us to meet our goals, be they short term, emotionally driven ones.

The average person likes people to see where they are coming from; to agree with them; to validate them; to give them emotional support where needed, and to get cross when they do. No wonder that we get ourselves settled into certain rhetorical stratagems, no wonder we use words that have elicited agreeing responses to us in the past.

It would be nice if an awareness of this strategy could be raised so that people can recognize it and immunize themselves from it. It would also be nice if this method was abandoned as well, as it is not pleasant to see it used. It is also not kind to use it. In fact, it is rather like stirring a stick in the bottom of your water-butt and then expressing surprise when people complain about a sudden smell.

65 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Forget my last post. Just invite me to Dublin, I’ll be more than happy to face and challenge Myers and friends. In a very civil way, of course.

😉

66 Astrokid.NJ March 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

7. We can choose to robustly debate disagreements about aspects of feminism, without labeling people based on our interpretation of their motivation.

None of the 8 points are new to any reasonable person. Re:7 It appears as if Mike is ignorant of the history of the schism. Uganda Freethinker James Onen’s Letter to the Slymepit is a great resource.
http://rationalugandan.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/letter-to-the-slime-pit/

Following their initial commentary, these bloggers, together with their hordes of commenters, embarked on an aggressive campaign to demonise their detractors wherever they could be found – the ‘bigger’ the fish, the louder the screams of condemnation. Call-out culture reared its fangs and if anyone dared step out of line, that person was to be the subject of ridicule, denouncement and castigation spanning several articles and blogs.

I personally don’t think that this prolonged skirmish will be won by trying to advance cogent arguments for fence-sitters to consider, and playing nice. It’s going to be won by letting FTB continue to speak for itself, and letting them marginalize themselves in the process. I think they’re doing wonderfully so far.
To be clear, I’m not saying that cogent arguments are useless per se; I’m just saying that in the grand scheme of things, those cogent arguments are little more than decoration. Remember – you are dealing with ideologues here.

And this is not restricted to Atheist community. People from all walks have talked about certain sections of the Political Lefts utter intolerance. For e.g
1) Dr Drew & Adam Carolla discuss leftist anti-free speech campaigns
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1z8VIPlllg
2) Federalist Society | UC – Davis Chapter
Ms. Bruce talked about her book, The New Thought Police: Inside the Left’s Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds, published by Prima Publishing. The book discusses the Left’s impact on cultural issues in the United States. Ms. Bruce argues that the Left has created an environment in which legislation is used to control how people think and McCarthyite tactics are used to destroy those who express politically incorrect ideas.
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/169711-1

Feminism is no different. You have prevented the telling of the male-side of the story for 4 decades now. NOTHING NEW.
When Warren Farrell’s talk at Toronto was protested, the ugly underbelly was caught on tape for all to see.. but google ‘Lace Curtain’ if interested to see how feminism prevented male side of the story from being heard.

Ex-Feminists have come out to speak of their atrocities.. just like religious become atheists. (Never the other way round.. thats an indication of truth value.. isnt it?).. such as Ex-RadFem Janice Fiamengo
Dr. Janice Fiamengo interviewed on the Charles Adler show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BomcF5XF_YQ

I am an atheist as well as an MRA. Feminism will not get away with its totalitarianism any more. You can not kick a dog forever and expect it to not bite back. This is a fight to the end, both in the Atheist community as well as in the wider world.

67 Lumen222 March 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Jack,
Thank you. As an observer who only recently stepped into the commentary I too am frustrated by the ad hominem and name calling on both sides. I am also frustrated by what I see as a level of hypocrisy represented in many arguments.

But I do disagree with you that the two sides differ in their approach of how to examine beliefs, or the tendency to vilify. I am unaware of what is currently going on with Dawkins (I shall try to find out). But I do know about the controversies surrounding Harriet Hall and Michael Schermer. And I would say that yes, there was an over reaction to their actions and statements and a lot of poor arguments made, and yes vilification. There were also some reasonable arguments that got lost in the storm.

However,
The other “side” of this argument (and I don’t entirely agree that there are only two sides but that’s another conversation) is the treatment of someone like Rebecca Watson. When I became aware of this entire issue I spent quite a lot of time looking into as much of the back story that I could find. And honestly what I saw of the extreme over reaction, vilification, nasty slurs, anger and rage levied at this woman was so over the top that I was saddened. Despite not agreeing with her about some topics it is very hard for me to watch someone be attacked and slurred so completely and for so long without feeling an intense amount of sympathy. And yes I’ve looked at what has been said about Shermer, and about Dr. Hall. Much dumb, offensive, inexcusable commentary. But the sheer mountain of hatred aimed at Watson is absurd. The name calling against Dr. Hall pales in comparison when I account for the sheer quantity and tenacity of the attacks against Watson. Not against her arguments. But attacks against her as a person. Please remember, I came into this late. I am responding to what I found written all over websites of the skeptical community. Every time I see the word “elevatorgate” it is inevitably accompanied by an incomplete and fallacious argument filled with name calling. And I am given the impression that if I voice any sympathy at all for Rebecca, even qualified sympathy, that I will be labeled a extreme feminist, and told that I am “toxic” to the skeptical movement. So I find it hard to swallow that one side of this argument can even pretend to a moral high ground. Neither can. Perhaps this is your point, but your comment seems to imply that the Slympitters are somehow more reasoned and less willing to vilify. I simply do not find that to be true. Of course I also don’t think we should be drawing a line down the room and making everyone pick a side. Which honestly how I’ve felt watching it all go down.

What it boils down to for me is an attitude that I have seen multiple times from the camp that generally refers to itself as “equity feminists”. “Real Skeptics” use facts. “Real Skeptics” are logical. “You aren’t a Real Skeptic” because you are brainwashed to believe your feminist dogma. A “Real Skeptic” is dispassionate and not emotional. It reminds me all too clearly of a certain female politician who liked to talk a whole lot about “Real Americans”. A divisive and fallacious argument if ever I heard one.

Real skeptics try to use facts. Real skeptics work hard to use logic (and often fail). Real skeptics are often extremely passionate and can often be very emotional…because they are human.

I submit that it is enough to point out that someone is making a fallacious remark. And to do so again. And again. And again. Every time they do it. But given the size and scope of this controversy, the diversity of viewpoints and the large amount of bad behavior, it seems to me to be very much a problem to start claiming that one side is more skeptical and less prone to name calling than the other. Even if you personally believe it to be true. It serves nothing. And it will not not change attitudes. It will certainly not help us work together to advance the many other skeptical causes that we almost certainly agree about.

68 Jack March 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

@ Corylus (64)

Michel asked a question last week which made me think. He asked (paraphrase) ‘If that post/picture had been from a regular would you hold the same opinion of it?’

The answer is, no I would not as I would look at the totally of a persons history on the forum. I might consider that person was high or drunk when he did it. I would try and be charitable, within limits.

However to the target of that post it is just as bad whoever did it.

So I agree there seems to be triggers and the conversely, suppressors. We all suffer from it but having said that there is still lines no one is allowed to cross. The picture posted on the Slympit last week from a previously identified troll crossed that line and my reaction would have been the same. At least I hope so.

This does get to the tribalism issue. However tribalism is part of human nature and I do not feel it gets us far discussing it. I feel open discussions such as this are far better. People such as the poster Bruce McGlory show how much misunderstanding wilful or not, there is out there. That needs to be addressed.

I would rather people reject ‘leaders’ who willingly exploit their readers propensity to believe a certain narrative they are being fed and follow people who are less inclined to push emotional buttons at every available opportunity.

The leaders themselves will not change. People like Michael show that it is possible to have a different philosophy yet be able to have a constructive conversation. That way people who are not interested in exploiting anything can get a clear picture of what is going on and make their own minds up without being told what to think and how to feel.

69 debaser71 March 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Where some people “look into” or read about things that happened other people were directly involved with what happened as it happened in real time.

I used to be subbed to rkwatson and I used to admire PZ Myers. Then I saw how things went down, in real time, as they were occurring. What I saw disgusted me. So I left Sb and FTB and to unsubbed to some youtube channels. I’m sure many others share a similar story.

Note that many of these early interactions have been memory holed. Feel free to browse over people’s stories and the odd screen cap at the slymepit for examples of the things that disgusted me.

70 Percentage March 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Part of it is that the two “sides”, are pushing each other to greater extremes. Myers and his minions aren’t “radical” feminists, but at this point they are definitely “extremists”, and I’m aware this is partially a result of the pushback. But I’m sorry, retroactively inserting an controversial, extremist platform into an established community is going to be very difficult. The atheist community is self-selected; there are a lot of passionate antitheists in the ranks, but they’re welcomed because the rest of the community basically shares their views, even if they might not go as far. On the other hand, not everyone in the community is self-selected for feminism. There are disagreements as to even the basic tenets of modern feminist thought, especially the (to be frank) unpleasant, accusatory, blamey, presumptuous, judgmental, groupthinkish clusterfuck that is the Internet feminist blogosphere at the moment. I don’t blame the Slymepitters for having an aversion to that Tumblr SJW shit. I don’t want that crap in my business either. FtB isn’t that anywhere near that bad, but tbh, part of it is just guilt by association.

At this point, Pharyngula is basically a completely different website than it was 2-3 years ago; it’s now more of a feminist website with a secondary focus on atheism. Which is fine- it’s Myers’ space and he can do whatever he wants with it. I was never a regular anyway. The issue stems from the fact that PZ is still, for better or worse, mostly associated with atheism. In the end, the Pharyngulan commentariat is really no more heated than it ever was- it’s just that it’s now mostly turned inward at “misogynists” in the atheist community, instead of creationists or whatever. And fine, if sexism is the new black- but I see so much presumption, so many instances of putting words, motivations, entire belief systems into other folks’ mouths based on the most spottiest of evidence, and so much (sorry) moblike hysteria rather than calm reasoning, that I just can’t really take them seriously. (And of course, to question any of this is “tone trolling”). I’m pretty sure no one at the Slymepit thinks that “women aren’t people”, but FtB continually uses that as their dishonest rallying cry. Whatever.

71 Jack March 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm

@ Lumen222 (66)

Thanks for that post. I do not want to go into detail as that is well documented here and on Michaels previous posts.

In summary:

Rad Fem/SJW doctrine uses post modernist argument methods, I do not. That is a fundamental difference. So although I appreciate what you are saying closer analyses may lead you to different conclusion. Here is a long post at JREF you may or may not have seen dealing with the skeptisism side http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=242361&page=136

As to the behaviour of certain parties there has been extreme issues both sides, including people loosing jobs and positions over this. Things get personal. Again that is well documented. As I have never (yet) been attacked by anyone I keep out of that.

It’s Friday night and I have obligations with a pint of beer so I am going to be lazy and leave it at that.

72 Percentage March 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm

To clarify, I don’t have any problem with, like, harassment policies or whatever. Actually, back in June 2011, when Elevatorgate happened, I probably would have mostly sided with the FtB crew.

Encouraging diversity is one thing. Strong harassment policies are great. Childcare, we can talk about that. Women in Secularism is a great idea. But I say again… inserting obsessive SJW dogma into this movement is not going to end well. Especially when a good chunk of the community are made up of those evil straight white male punching bags. Sorry, Horde! There are plenty of other spaces on the internet you can do that. And if PZ wants to allow you his own little corner of the atheist blogosphere, I guess you get limited access here too. But no more than that. And I plan on trying to make sure it stays that way.

73 Corylus March 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Jack (at 67)

“I would rather people reject ‘leaders’ who willingly exploit their readers propensity to believe a certain narrative they are being fed and follow people who are less inclined to push emotional buttons at every available opportunity.”

Yes Jack, I would rather that they were rejected too. It is just that people need to know HOW their buttons are being pushed before they are able to get all ‘meta’ on it.

I recall reading an account waaay back of various sexual assaults posted by (I am pretty sure PZ Myers, but I am COMPLETELY open to correction here) which included a lady talking about an her experience of gang rape whilst serving in the military.

The account itself utterly broke my heart – I felt nauseous and tearful. This poor lady was attacked by people who she was serving with; people she had every right to trust; people who were actually laughing at her behind her back, and plotting her emotional and physical destruction. It was a betrayal almost beyond compare.

Now this account was linked to in the background of talking about men and sexism in the atheist arena. In relation to a place where women were used to fighting alongside men against irrationality and anti-scientific arguments…

As I say, priming. “Yes ladies, sometimes the low-lifes don’t have your backs – aint the bitchez just shit.”

74 Eshto March 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm

So are there any meaningful examples of “women need to shut up” because I’ve never heard anyone say that. Although I admit I’m not on the Slymepit (despite that PZ Myers has claimed I am…). But I have seen the Skepchick/FTB/A+ crowd try to silence and demean women who disagree with them.

75 Jack March 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Corylus (72)

Thanks for that post and I do agree it is something people need to be aware of. Making them aware is of course another matter. I do feel an open forum which is much more than an echo chamber is a good start.

Eshto (73) You are referring to a symptom Corylus identified, I doubt that reader had even read most if any of what was posted here.

Also everyone here is more than welcome to go to the Slympit and ask questions or express your views. You do not need to worry about following the herd. It is like a pub, you will get all sorts of reactions but you will not be banned for expressing an opinion.

76 Lumen222 March 15, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Thanks for the conversation Jack. Have a good beer.

If you see this later on, I’m confused about the link. To be totally honest the page of the thread it sent me to is not all that amazing, and it’s not helping me understand how everyone on one side of this argument is using post modern arguments while the other side is largely reasoned skeptics. But at 5444 posts it’s going to take me a little bit to get through… so yeah. I’ll give it a chance. But as you pointed out it’s Friday and I’m also taking off.

(Also thank you again Michael Nugent. I’m sorry it was this particular topic that led me to this blog, but I’m not at all sorry I wound up here.)

77 Eshto March 15, 2013 at 9:30 pm

“you don’t have to agree with everyone who calls themselves a feminist or every single bit of feminist philosophy, (some of which is ASTOUNDINGLY transphobic).”

THANK YOU John. It seems some of the loudest people uncritically promoting “feminism” in the skeptic/atheist community have no idea what it is, or that there are different schools of feminist thought, or that there is disagreement WITHIN the sphere of feminism (which isn’t surprising to me at all, since the loudest voices also appear to have very little background in social science).

Yes, some types of feminism and feminist writers have been extremely bigoted toward trans people. As a matter of fact it was only weeks ago that prominent self-described militant feminist Julie Burchill made egregious comments about trans women, characterizing them as men who have their “cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women”. Disgusting remarks.

And yet “feminism” has been carelessly thrown around as a blanket synonym for “equality”. In reality it’s neither monolithic nor that absurdly simplistic. Nor are all people who question part or all of any feminist ideology automatically “misogynists”. And as you’ve pointed out, many, many people are angry with Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers and the like because of their *routinely atrocious behavior toward others*. The targets of their insults and ridicule have included women as well as men. They’ve included gay folks such as myself (I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how obnoxious I find it, being lectured on my “privilege” by straight, white, cisgender men and women…). Furthermore, rather than all their detractors being dreaded conservatives or libertarians, many of us have been politically liberal, which only makes the petty infighting that much more unnecessary and tragic.

Again, if people spent more time getting their information from qualified social scientists rather than opinion/drama bloggers, they might be better equipped to handle criticisms of the ideology they think they’re defending.

78 Rayshul March 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm

What I would love – as a first step for *both* sides – is to stop using “white” and “male” as an insult and a way to invalidate someone’s opinions. This reasoning is horrifically common on the FtB and Skepchick side and continues to infiltrate the Slymepit (which I tolerate, as I’ve already spoken my piece on this.

It would be absolutely wonderful if both sides decided not to bring these arbitrary characteristics into debates and use them to denigrate their opposition.

79 Rayshul March 15, 2013 at 10:34 pm

I thought I might address Lumen’s post about Slymepit women before I meander off to breakfast!

From what I have observed, women seem to come to the Slymepit for a few reasons:

1. They find the “victim” narrative of gender feminism offensive to them as women – they consider *this* an example of sexism (often referred to as benevolent sexism, where women are meant to be treated in a special way). They do not see themselves as victims but as powerful individuals who do not need any special treatment based on their gender identification.

2. They prefer to be seen as people (and adults!) and be valued on the basis of their own contributions. They dislike the idea of segregating people by gender. They are (for example) scientists and professionals first.

3. They have been attacked by the other side or are intimidated by them, due to having different opinions on these political/gender issues. This has been very common lately, with many women leaving A+, FTB and Skepchick spaces because the Slymepit is seen as “safer” for those who dissent. If you have been silenced it is natural I expect to see a forum where you can express yourself without fear of not “toe-ing the line”. It is very important, I believe, to recognise that all women have different opinions on different issues, and see different behaviours as sexist or not sexist depending on their upbringing or surrounding culture.

4. They like the sexy Hitchens pics and find the offbeat, silly, and yes, often offensive! style of the Slymepit right up their alley. They also like a good internet argument!

I admit I am a very early member of the Slymepit, mainly because I found PZ’s support of RW’s attack on Stef McGraw very unsettling… but I stayed there because I was very disturbed by Greg Laden’s subsequent posting about how to treat women (crossing to the other side of the road so she won’t assume she will be raped!?) and other FtB bloggers posts that seemed to be encouraging special behaviour to get men laid at conferences (what?! I thought skepticism conferences were about getting to see great speakers!).

It was very clear to me that I did not belong in this environment – I simply did not understand these people on any level! – and the Slymepit seemed to be a community with a skeptical focus that seemed more welcoming of women like me. I’m also an ERV fan – a close friend of mine has HIV – and I bet the first people to hear about AIDS being cured will be on the ‘pit!

I’m sure this is a case of different strokes for different folks, and there is a market for everyone. I would say again that anyone is welcome on the ‘pit, so if you do want to engage please drop by. :)

80 Pitchguest March 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Oh, but don’t you see? Michael is once again providing a platform for us Slymepitters to rule the narrative. It’s so obvious!

Right?

No?

Okay then.

81 Jack March 16, 2013 at 12:15 am

Pitchguest (80)

Oh, but don’t you see? Michael is once again providing a platform for us Slymepitters to rule the narrative. It’s so obvious!

Right?

No?

Okay then.’

People won’t come out to play . The concept of testing ideas in the arena of public scrutiny is not something idealogues want I suppose. Colour me surprised.

82 Felonious Munk March 16, 2013 at 3:00 am

no links from Gurdur?
:-(

83 Percentage March 16, 2013 at 3:41 am

Here’s a list of things that NO ONE at the Slymepit thinks:

– Women are in any way inferior to men
– Women should be barred and/or discouraged from participating in the atheist movement, as either members or leaders.
– Women should be forced to endure any kind of harassment or shitty behavior from men.
– The atheist movement should be made up exclusively of white men.

Until FtB/Skepchick can acknowledge this, I don’t think there’s anything to discuss. They’ve got their strawman (sorry, strawperson). And if they are going to keep misrepresenting us, I think we’re entitled to riff on their arbitrary bugbears about a few specific words.

84 oolon March 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Felonius Munk, Gurdur likes to throw around accusations with no proof so I’ll provide Aratinas recent blog post for you…
http://aratina.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/transphobia-thread.html

The whole original thread is there and despite his assertion that “tranny” was used it clearly was not. Aratina also apologised for the incident as changing Becky Transsexuals nym he accidentally found an obscure transphobic slur in “trans fatty” being a play on words for trans fatty acid. Looking at that thread and how Becky arrived calling everyone Nazis and later called Aratina a “Jew hater”, I’m surprised Aratina apologised for the slur that no one even noticed apart from an eagle eyed Gurdur.

Again fallen for the Slymepit Gish Gallop. None of the Slymepitters seem to have a problem with trans people being described as “S/H/IT” on their forum. So if you care one bit about transphobia you’d probably stick with the bunch who actually apologise for it and *try* not to use transphobic slurs… Not the hypocritical assholes from the pit.

85 oolon March 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm
86 Astrokid.NJ March 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm

@oolon:85
Its already been explained. As usual, you choose to see the what your ideology and amorality wants you to see.

On #IWD remembered the nearly 0 wimmin – Nobels in science, highbrow art, chess GMs, great standups, but 100s of pop-culture hos #ftbullies

10 Mar Astrokid NJ ‏@AstrokidNJ
#ftbullies I am not a slymepitter. I posted a lil bit there long ago and moved on. They dont influence me. Leave them out of this.

#ftbullies stmt is factually true. At high end, 1 woman for 100s of men.Rebut Roy Baumeister,and Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory, not me

feminists have been doing social engineering for 4 decades, and they wont stop until they realize a cultural-marxist world of equality of outcome. 50% CEOs, atheist leaders, etc. This will never happen.. because men and women are motivated differently.. as well explained by Baumeister in his 2010 book “Is there anything good about men: How cultures flourish by exploiting men”. And thats just one of the numerous academic voices in that direction.. another one being Darwinian Philosopher Helena Cronin..
_http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_10.html#cronin

More dumbbells but more Nobels: Why men are at the top
What gives rise to the most salient, contested and misunderstood of sex differences… differences that see men persistently walk off with the top positions and prizes, whether influence or income, whether heads of state or CEOs… differences that infuriate feminists, preoccupy policy-makers, galvanize legislators and spawn ‘diversity’ committees and degrees in gender studies?

Even in the most gender equal society.. the Nordic Countries which have rolled out forced social engineering since 70s.. the rather astounding conclusion was “The MORE free a society, the MORE gender-roley jobs men and women pick”..
Brainwash (1/7) – The Gender Equality Paradox
_http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ2xrnyH2wQ

The baboons (and feminists in general) are no different from the economic marxists of old. They wont recognize that women are assholes just like men are. To them, women can do no evil, or whatever they do its because of ‘patriarchal bargain’. Men are rapists, pedophiles, violent, blah fucking blah, but women are never xxx (ooh.. would that violate the commenting policy?). Like the eastern europe communist-bloc, they will go on with their social engineering until we reach collapse point.

87 oolon March 16, 2013 at 7:07 pm

LOL, astro is distancing himself to save his friends now… Shame he didn’t think to do that when someone far more eloquent than me wrote a piece about shit heads like him in the Slymepit…
http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/01/21/you-are-judged-by-the-company-you-keep/

I mean there are ONLY 58,800 hits for “astrokid.nj wrote” on the slymepit… He was ONLY on the old ERV slymepit as well posting away years ago… But yeah totally NOT a Slymepitter in any sense and all those years of conversing about “Baboons” and evilz feminists definitely had NO effect on him… I can say with certainty is is no sceptic anyway.

Embarrassed by them or for them? Who knows, but an ex-slymepitter he is at the very least!

88 Astrokid.NJ March 16, 2013 at 7:34 pm

@oolon:
site:slymepit.com ‘oolon wrote’ returns 61,200 hits. Are you a slymepitter too?

I spent time on the Pit, and I respect and learnt from several people there, they are 100s of times better than baboons. my fav Pitters being James Onen, Franc Hoggle and DavidByron from the early days. There’s a piece of advice DavidByron gave (elsewhere) thats superior to anything I have heard from the atheist community, let alone the baboonosphere.

I hadn’t really thought in terms of “skepticism” as a concept but it matches a lot of what I have thought independently. It’s a good word. Here is what I think: people are not good at seeing things from different directions. They are very good at one direction. But trying to do two is very hard work. There’s an easy solution which is to get two people together with different views. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. That is how you learn to think better. That is why I go to places to meet people I know I will disagree with because I want to know more stuff and have better thoughts.
But people apparently just NEVER do this so instead I am a “troll”. Since when does a troll type out ten page comments?

People ought to do it but they do not. You ought to be on FreethoughtKamapala right now, debating that guy who I am sure is a much nicer person than me and won’t insult you or tell you about his pet theory that predicts you are in a hate movement. OTOH I do have more original material :)
And I deliver to your door.
I don’t understand though, why skeptics do not do this already. Is it because there’s too much science not enough philosophy? Maybe you do visit eg. religious boards but just don’t know how to handle being on the other end of things?
I tell you this because I want you to know that talking to people isn’t easy. It’s hard. It’s very hard. It’s so hard that we are probably not going to be able to pull it off. I happen to think if it’s even 1% likely then I’ll give it a try.

In the end, baboon oolon, while you are stomping your feet being sanctimonious animals proving Franc’s observation “Nothing makes a person feeling purer than decrying impurity in others“, DavidByron tries to walk in others shoes, learn more and empathize with their condition and get a global picture.

What did you feminists do with womans studies graduate, feminist Norah Vincent’s journey? Learn anything? “In the end I am happy to be a woman, cause I am MORE privileged”
Self Made Man, for 20/20
_http://vimeo.com/28614921

89 Justme March 16, 2013 at 7:47 pm

It should be noted that the definition of “Slymepitter” was broadened (I believe by Myers) to include anyone who has issues with FTB, Skepchicks, Pharyngula, AtheismPlus, or any of their members. It’s no longer necessary to have ever visited or posted at the Slymepit to be a Slymepitter. Harriet Hall’s been labeled a Slymepitter, and I doubt she even knows it exists.

90 Jack March 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Oolon, at least you respond here and other places. I wish others would do that. You went onto ReapSowRadio show which I listened to, have you considered going on any others or been invited?

You can then clearly lay out your social philosophy, why you think it is correct and why anyone else should take it on board. Mudslinging gets nowhere, rational discussion does.

91 Astrokid.NJ March 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

@oolon:
Addendum:
I will agree with you that I am an ex-slymepitter.. I meant that I moved on a while ago, and that while I learnt a good deal there, they dont influence me at all now.
If its any consolation to you, technically you can call me a slymepitter. A lot more appropriate identity for me would be an MRA. My time and effort in the Slymepit is miniscule compared to my time in the MRM. It is in your best interests to understand your adversaries properly.

92 P Smith March 16, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I agree with pretty much everything that was said. However, I have two addendums for that list:

(a) We can choose not to be dogmatic and puritanical about language.

The reality of debate and thinking independently is that some are going to disagree, some are going to use different words or have slightly different definitions of subjects or what is true. Far too often I’m seeing debate on atheist and freethinker sites degenerate into near-religious fervour (i.e. “how many agnostics can dance on the head of a pin?”).

I’m not referring to stuff that with an obvious right and wrong (e.g. sexism and harassment), this is about arguments over minutiae. For example, if I call someone “a human being” instead of “a person”, it is not sexist language because “human being” contains letters spelling “man”. I am not “anti-LGBTQ” because I don’t use “CIS man/woman” to speak of those still the gender they were born (I say “human” or “man/woman”, regardless of whether born or changed). Yes, I’ve actually encountered at least one person who did each.

In some places, it’s getting to the point where if one doesn’t use the *exact* *approved* *terminology*, some will assume and openly accuse others of being theists, trolls, MRAs, or whatever. Why bother reading or interacting with people as reactionary as any fundamentalist christian?

(b) We can choose not to assume the worst.

Too often people jump to conclusions about others have said. When one doesn’t understand, the right thing to do is ask questions – if you didn’t get it, ask and correct your own reading mistake. If a statement borders on offensive, give the chance to back off, correct and/or make amends. If someone speaks from ignorance or from privilege, educate them instead of assuming it’s intentionally offensive. And if none of that is true, let them show their true colours, let them hang themselves with their own rope instead of making them feel like “victims”.

As with the first addendum, some don’t just misunderstand, some go out of their way to misconstrue and pretend something was said that wasn’t, just to make a cheap point, silence disagreement or pretend that genuine disagreement was a “personal attack”. Too often it seems everything spoken is assumed to have been said in the worst possible context. Certain people – no names mentioned – are becoming as dogmatic as any theist. It’s just not worth the effort anymore or the risk of being falsely accused.

Call me old fashioned, but when I grew up if you didn’t understand, you reread what was said and then clarified, and before you spoke you checked whether or if you or the other person were right. Such niceties have gone the way of properly written English. I’ve given up reading and posting on some sites and blogs because of these two points.

93 Jack March 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm

P Smith (92)

Identity politics requires Ad Hominem. That is a major issue. Arguments are accepted from emotion or feelings and there is an anti-intellectual approach to examining claims. Identity is recognised by the use and avoidance of certain words. If you do not accept these words or their definitions you are seen not only as an outsider but someone who is part of the problem and who needs to be vilified.

So part (a) is a fundamental part of some people’s philosophy and they are lost without it.

As to (b), assuming the worst, this is because of the issue I mention earlier, your either with them or against them, there is no nuance. As social belief is hard to define, justify and critically examine then it is easier to assume the worst in an opponent as that helps to avoid discussion. That is not something that is favourable at all so it is better to avoid it by painting detractors in the worse possible light.

Therefore we get called Misogynists, rape enablers, racists etc as that allows someone to assume the moral high ground and use that as an excuse not to discuss. Those are incredibly offensive terms to use on anyone. If believed it can lose people their livelihood and even affect relationships. I find that far more offensive that using a part of the female anatomy to describe someone’s behaviour for doing a finite thing. In some parts of the world such words are used by males and females and not considered sexist at all. It’s a very colonialist attitude that everyone should take the same issue with words as others do.

They shut down ‘trolls’ who is anyone who disagrees with them, demand someone accept and understand their version of feminism ‘101’ before being allowed to contribute, set up ‘safe spaces’ which are simply echo chambers and generally avoid and kick out those who do not buy into their philosophy.

The Slympit is deliberately open in direct response to that. As an open and largely unmoderated forum it is trivial to find offensive posts. You will find a lot of off topic conversation. However that does not mean it does not have a serious purpose.

Now someone like Oolon at least has the guts to stand up for what he believes. Others have come here too but in small numbers. It is a shame that many others are not willing to interact. They use the excuse ‘we won’t talk to Misogynists/racists ‘ but that does not wash with me.

94 oolon March 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm

@Astrokid, tip for Google — it doesn’t like single quotes so while ‘oolon wrote’ returns ~60K hits — site:slymepit.com “oolon wrote” returns ~6K hits…. Strangely I’m mentioned on there a lot more than on posts I wrote O_o … What a weird bunch, I’ll happily admit to being totally uninteresting, so why talk about me!

@Jack, why are the creationists not laying out their world view on the Slymepit and arguing their case? Why are there no archaeologists arguing that the pit should address more ancient Roman history and less Photoshop? There is no need for “rational discourse” between any two groups or communities…. It just seems like A+/FtB’ers etc should because for some reason the Slymepit spends a lot of time talking *about* the A+’ers/FtB’ers etc. You wouldn’t have thought they’d find people they totally disagree with and at times find totally repellent so interesting. The poor creationists, pseudoscience purveyors and radical islamists hardly get a look in at an atheist forum described by Al Stefanelli as “primarily a group of skeptics and critical thinkers”…

Even if there was rational discourse do you really think there are any SJ/feminist issues that would be argued out between A+ ppl and Slymepitters and any agreed on conclusion reached? A+ are not the experts on, originators of or only proponents of these concepts…. There is nothing to determine other than there are differences of opinion on these issues. The validity of these will be determined outside of a couple of internet communities. Academics study and create papers on these issues FFS.

As for my own “social philosophy” that sounds far too highfalutin to me… I basically think treating people of all types with respect is an ideal, but not their ideas or actions, I’ll ridicule and insult those happily. Anyone’s intrinsic attributes are irrelevant to their ideas and actions so I’ll try hard not to criticise those. Finally any mistakes made are not hypocrisy or unforgivable if they are apologised for or the person is trying to be better. I really dislike how things apologised for are being raked up to spread the muck – to err is human and holding people to unobtainable standards or applying religious ideas of a stain on their character is awful imo. Not sure how any of that could be “debated” on the pit…

95 tina March 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Social relationships are predicated on the economic circumstances that make them possible. In a global economy, government serves to protect the interests of capital, not the interests of gender. I don’t think it’s bothered about the gender makeup of the ruling class. It seeks to persuade that its hegemony is ‘in the interest’ of all. In fact, that’s how all ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’ seek to operate, including feminism and, dare I say, atheism.

But I’d expect, and even hope, that my promotion of a Marxist analysis in providing a better explanatory model of social reality over and above a feminist analysis based on patriarchy theory, would get ripped on in the interests of understanding shit. I don’t care if I get called a commie cunt in the process; nor does it interest me to accumulate grievance points, or to construct such responses into some sort of ‘victim’ narrative, or to spend any time at all lobbing werd grenades from my keyboard over any personal attacks or abuse I might trigger.

That is a dumb-ass way to spend time, best left to professional, privileged, whiners.

By the by…if the pit is so full of sexist, misogynistic assholes, what are so many women doing there?

Women who can eat chumps like that for breakfast?

96 tina March 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Not that some toast and a nice marmalade wouldn’t be preferable, of course.

97 A Hermit March 16, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Lumen222 March 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I feel the need to point out to many of the commenters that a lot of you seemed to have missed the point of this post entirely. These are not rules that you take out and hit other people with, or use to “prove” how nasty others are. These are guidelines that are intended to be SELF APPLIED. They are about you. …

This hit the nail on the head. There’s no point in going over the same old ground complaining about who said what to who when. We can only decide for ourselves whether we will behave like adults or not.

98 John C. Welch March 16, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Tina, well that’s the problem with the narrative about the pit. It’s all misgynists, even the women. It’s all racists, even the non-honkies. It’s all homophobes, especially the gays.

On and on.

99 Shiraz March 16, 2013 at 10:51 pm

“The Slympit is deliberately open in direct response to that. As an open and largely unmoderated forum it is trivial to find offensive posts. You will find a lot of off topic conversation. However that does not mean it does not have a serious purpose.”

The currently active thread on the slymepit was started off by a site admin, and a couple active users, taking turns ridiculing a group of feminists for their physical appearance.

But yeah, you can keep believing that the only reason people dislike the slymepit is because of a few isolated trolls.

100 John C. Welch March 16, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Right. That’s the entire subject of the pit. Making fun of how people look. Welp, I guess you sussed it out.

101 Jack March 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Oolon (94) So my belief that everyone should be treated equally is the same as Creationism? Who do you think people should not be treated equally? What inherent right should someone have by accident of birth? What’s right should be lost by accident of birth?

You are the one saying people should not be treated equally it is for you to prove that I am wrong in thinking they should be treated equally.

If your philosophy is the same as Evolution could you please point me to the extensive body of work that has been subject to a double blind experiment many times and has a logically consistent framework to explain it? One that has been examined using skeptisism and real data, not something distorted to fit a pre conceived ideology. One that has support by a large body of scientists. You know, experts.

Your comparison of my views to a Creationist is fundamentally flawed as you are presenting a Social Philosophy. By definition that is a soft science and while it can be critically examined it is notoriously hard and with results which may or may not apply to any given group or demographic. From data that is very hard to get reliably. By saying that you consider it to be a done deal you are clearly unaware of what a theory is.

If your views are so robust why are you all so afraid of airing them? Why do so many disagree? Why are there so many varieties of feminism and social justice models? Why all the safe spaces and echo chambers? There’s nobel prizes to be won, go for it. You could revolutionise society. I’ll be right behind you because if something is shown to me to be true I WILL believe it.

Your philosophy is a simplistic, naive, unsupported ideology that I consider deeply racist and offensive to women and to men. It removes agency, denies individuality and choice and invents a ‘monster’ to hate, the Patriarchy. Just like Religion produced the devil. Like all dogma’s it seeks to control others and brain wash the gullible. It is dismissive of data that does not support it and misrepresents data that might. It is a cult in all but name.

Finally if it is all too complicated for you well I agree, the whole thing is an inconsistent mess, there as many beliefs as people. Just like Religion, no surprise there. So perhaps you should consider, as a rational person, that until PROVEN otherwise one persons views is as good as yours.

You also don’t get to play god of the gaps. If there is not one answer that explains the complexity of human social interaction it is not for you to fill it with something you or anyone else made up. It is not for you to vilify those that resist you doing so.

The only way to get to any sort of truth is to do what has been done for centuries, test ideas and accept, amend or reject as required. The refusal of so many to do that or simply flame when they do tells me what I need to know about their sincerity.

102 oolon March 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm

The Slymepit has a “serious” purpose? What purpose could be anything other than seriously bizarre that is predicated on the need to discuss what FtB/Skepchick/A+ commenters and bloggers have to say, look like etc etc ad nauseam?

I mean other than Commander “We are saving skepticism” Tuvok’s delusions, what is this “serious” purpose? Note I’m assuming the majority of pittizens are not that potty… Could be a tactical error.

103 Jack March 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm

@Oolon, I meant to thank for for replying to my post.

104 oolon March 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm

LOL, great example of why it is not a good idea for “rational discourse” between A+’ers and Pittizens…

So my belief that everyone should be treated equally is the same as Creationism?

WTF! If anything I likened A+ to “creationists” as the ones going to the pit with very different views to talk, so I was expecting that to be used to laugh at us not “You called me a creationist!!11!”…. Analogy is not a strong point for one of us. Where did “everyone should be treated equally” come from anyway?

Who do you think people should not be treated equally? What inherent right should someone have by accident of birth? What’s right should be lost by accident of birth?

Wuh? Wut? Did you read my comment… At all? Maybe the “creationist” thing confused you..

Your philosophy is a simplistic, naive, unsupported ideology that I consider deeply racist and offensive to women and to men. It removes agency, denies individuality and choice and invents a ‘monster’ to hate, the Patriarchy

Pretty sure I laid out my “Philosophy” and it involved no chimeric patriarchal monsters… I think… *reads own comment again*… Nope none I can see.

You also don’t get to play god of the gaps. If there is not one answer that explains the complexity of human social interaction it is not for you to fill it with something you or anyone else made up. It is not for you to vilify those that resist you doing so.

Hmmm, okaaay… Still pretty incoherent but I think I have one salient point to make here.

I really couldn’t give a flying fuck about the words “patriarchy”, “rape culture”, “microagressions”, “stereotype threat”, “trigger concept X for anti-feminist idiots” … I personally parse any of these concepts through the pretty basic “philosophy” I laid out in comment #94. If they conflict then I decide they are not for me, although I suppose as a “sceptic” I have to leave the possibility open I may change my mind on the basic principles even. So yeah my limited understanding of these concepts as espoused and explained by A+ bloggers and commenters have not conflicted… Yet.

Maybe you should read my comment again as its hard to respond to a reply that is so far off what I said…
http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/15/eight-choices-we-can-make-to-help-move-beyond-the-rifts-in-the-atheist-and-skeptical-communities/comment-page-1/#comment-201319

105 Jack March 17, 2013 at 12:08 am

@Oolon

I do not care what someone’s social philosophy is although if examining that gets us to a closer understanding I’m all for it. What I DO care about is the vilification of prominent members of the community for not toeing the line and for trying to impose an ideology on others within the community.

The A/S community is NOT a feminist movement nor is it a SJ movement. Equality for all is expected and outreach to others a good goal. Differences in the demographic of speakers or activists should be examined critically to find a solution, not blamed on some vague patriarch or race theory that provides no solution at all.

That is not done by imposition it is done by expectation of standards of behaviour normal to any decent community and being rational about it.

I do NOT want to go to a conference or activist meeting to be lectured on anything except that which I am interested in, namely Atheism and Skeptisism. If I want radical feminism or ‘social justice’ narrative I go elsewhere for that.

What’s galling is that many of us all agree on such a large proportion of what matters; the terrible injustice imposed by religion all ovetr the world and the complete lack of critical thinking in the general population that thinks not taking a vaccine is a good idea.

We should be united in fighting that not ourselves.

106 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 5:56 am

“The whole original thread is there and despite his assertion that “tranny” was used it clearly was not. Aratina also apologised for the incident as changing Becky Transsexuals nym he accidentally found an obscure transphobic slur in “trans fatty” being a play on words for trans fatty acid.”

What disgusting apologetics, oolon. You should be ashamed. Sadly, I doubt you are.

107 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 6:14 am

Oolon: “Even if there was rational discourse do you really think there are any SJ/feminist issues that would be argued out between A+ ppl and Slymepitters and any agreed on conclusion reached? A+ are not the experts on, originators of or only proponents of these concepts…. There is nothing to determine other than there are differences of opinion on these issues. The validity of these will be determined outside of a couple of internet communities. Academics study and create papers on these issues FFS.”

That’s what happens when your ideology isn’t based on evidence. You can’t reach agreement with anyone who disagrees reasonably, because you’re not using reason. It’s exactly the same reason nobody can agree on god(s). Think about it. If there was actual evidence to support the FTB/Skepchick dogmatism, it wouldn’t be dogma anymore, it would be fact, like climate change or the effectiveness and safety of vaccines. You’d have *no problem* discussing these issues, even with dissenters, because *the evidence would be on your side*.

And why do you think that when we’re able to discuss things on a neutral forum, such as here, that all the questions and challenges for evidence from us stand unanswered? Why the crickets in response? Why the resorting to ad homs and numerous other fallacies?

Why not just pony up the evidence?

Dogma. That’s why.

108 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 6:35 am

Perfect example: If PZ wants to discredit a creationist, he dumps loads and loads of evidence over their nonsense (or he *used* to, anyway).

If PZ wanted to shut me and other dissenters to FTB/Skepchick dogma, he has only to do exactly the same thing: pony up the evidence. He would instantly discredit me, as I’ve been asking for evidence from the very beginning, and have seen nothing that stands up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. He has the perfect neutral forum to do it in, too, right here in this thread.

In fact, you, Oolon, could do exactly the same thing. You could literally change my mind, since I go by evidence to the best of my ability. I’ve had my mind changed many times before by evidence, and I’m very open to having it changed again. So, go for it. This is the perfect neutral forum for you to do so. If you really believe the FTB/Skepchick dogmas (i.e. their particular brand of feminism/etc.) then present your reasoned, evidence-based case. Heck, even if you don’t convince me (maybe I’m biased; I try not to be, but it’s hard to spot one’s own biases, so maybe I am), you would be able to convince *every reasonable person reading this*, now and into the future, that you are right, and I am wrong. I’m willing to be shown wrong. So show me wrong.

109 Michael Nugent March 17, 2013 at 6:51 am

Comment #109 has been deleted for linking to violent fiction about a named person.

110 franc March 17, 2013 at 6:54 am

Oolon: Shame he didn’t think to do that when someone far more eloquent than me wrote a piece about shit heads like him in the Slymepit…
http://freethoughtblogs.com/amilliongods/2013/01/21/you-are-judged-by-the-company-you-keep/

Being more eloquent than you is about on the same difficulty as breathing Chester. That’s a good link folks should read – a “how to” guide for strawmanning and guilt-by-association. As for the rest of your giberrish here – it’s the same old problem that plagues absolutely everything to do with A+/FTB/Skepchick. And that is cherry picking the anomalous, using tortuous sophist chicanery to “normalise” it and then presenting it as representative before slamming your fist on the desk and yelling “case closed!” And in fact, this is precisely the methodoly Michael Nugent has used in these blog items here.

It’s also excessively amusing coming from you to Chester – considering you automate the censorship process to shut down conversation on twitter with your block bot; show up at even the most insignificant blogs/fora on these subjects and inject the same kind of debunked nonsense; and obsess about alleged kiddie porn on the ‘pit, which you dutifully downloaded, and as likely as not, posted yourself in the first place to smear. You are that deceitful and treacherous a toad even Pharyngula won’t have you. You are a very ugly and unpleasant piece of work Oolon. But do carry on. You are the best advert for everything that is wrong with the SJW fifth column that is poisoning our communities.

111 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 7:00 am

The comment, “109 Recess March 17, 2013 at 6:51 am”, is link spam and cyberbullying of a minor (and possibly worse, I didn’t read the whole thing), and should be removed for violation of ethics, IMO.

112 oolon March 17, 2013 at 11:08 am

@Thaumas Themelios, so where is the evidence for “equity feminism”? Seems the pittizens proclaim to be “feminists” but not the same “brand” as FtBs etc…. I’m sure its all well evidenced then?
I’m too lazy to look much up but on my “side” an aptly named page from Jadehawk ->
http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/no-its-not-my-job-to-teach-you/
or anything on Stereotype Threat ->
http://www.reducingstereotypethreat.org/bibliography.html

Of course you have reams of debunking for all these social science papers and psychology papers and lots and lots of “evidence” that props up the “equity feminist” viewpoint…. Don’t you? Well?

113 oolon March 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I do not care what someone’s social philosophy is although if examining that gets us to a closer understanding I’m all for it. What I DO care about is the vilification of prominent members of the community for not toeing the line and for trying to impose an ideology on others within the community.

Personally I couldn’t care less how “prominent” someone is, if they say something stupid then criticise them! Avoiding this to protect their reputation smacks of religious ideas of prominence being above criticism. Villification means to speak ill of someone, I’m happy for Dawkins or any atheist/skeptical grandees to be subject to robust criticism, even speaking ill of them! Pittizens leaping in to protect their idols just because the nasty FtB’ers hurt their fee-fees doesn’t impress me. They can criticise back and they do… Or in Shermers case they go nuclear and scream about witch hunts over a minor mention in an article from months previous. How people handle criticism is also interesting to me :-)

We don’t need to hold hands and sing “Kumbayah my Dawkins” in unison to beat religion and woo. Strength comes from diveristy of approach and opinion, something with their hierarchical power structures imposing dogma religion will never have. We however have accommodationists being all wishy washy, firebrands sticking it to them, “SJWs” mopping up the bleeding heart liberals and “Liberturds” showing the millionaires its cool to be an atheist as well :-) I’m not being totally serious there but that diversity is a strength – a unified atheism will fail in unison.

Just because I personally like the A+ way of doing things and think its the right way and I’ll argue for that doesn’t make it the absolute right way or the only way… It will evolve and change itself. I’m not “imposing” this on you by arguing my corner — You are a free thinker, no one can “impose” on you, right?

The A/S community is NOT a feminist movement nor is it a SJ movement. Equality for all is expected and outreach to others a good goal. Differences in the demographic of speakers or activists should be examined critically to find a solution, not blamed on some vague patriarch or race theory that provides no solution at all.

There are atheist-sceptic feminists and atheist-sceptic SJ movements. Get over it. Just think of them as feminist or SJ movements if that helps. Examining demographic of speakers critically is exactly what they are proposing – just dismissing with “Its a guy thing” is a massive problem regardless of if you think that’s what Shermer said. Unless you think there is something inherent in women or PoC or any “minority” -> what is the reason for them not participating? Must be some coercive outside force, most likely cultural norms imposed on them? *cough*patriarchy*cough* … You do realise “patriarchy” covers religious views of women as meek and mild and how they must not speak up? The recent islamist debacle with Krauss is a good example of a religious patriarchy imposing behavioural norms onto women because they are women. They have to sit separately and have to write questions not put their hands up… Cos we all know women are shrinking violets! Fucking idiots. Tell me christianity doesn’t do they same in the US/UK/etc, or that all the “freethinkers” are free of this bias and cultural conditioning.

That is not done by imposition it is done by expectation of standards of behaviour normal to any decent community and being rational about it.

You mean *you* don’t think its done by imposition… Have you missed all the positive action for getting women, PoC, LGBTQI ppl into business and politics? Its worked, it is working… Burden is for you to prove not doing anything and hoping things change is a better approach.

I do NOT want to go to a conference or activist meeting to be lectured on anything except that which I am interested in, namely Atheism and Skeptisism. If I want radical feminism or ‘social justice’ narrative I go elsewhere for that.

Good, don’t go. Or don’t go to those lectures at that conference… No one is forcing you. If there is no market then they will fail. If there is a market then what right have you to say what people should be interested in? Start your own conference. What happened to the pit e-conference proposed by Welchy, I liked that idea!

What’s galling is that many of us all agree on such a large proportion of what matters; the terrible injustice imposed by religion all over the world and the complete lack of critical thinking in the general population that thinks not taking a vaccine is a good idea.

We should be united in fighting that not ourselves.

Then stop fighting. I see one forum that is obsessed with what the other “side” are doing. Check the stats for mentions of the Slymepit in the A+ forum or on FtBs compared to mentions the other way. One side really wants attention, the other wouldn’t blink an eye if the pit died tomorrow.

Get on with vanilla scepticism and atheism, no one is stopping you by saying they want to do more than that.

114 tina March 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Welch @ 98
Yeah well, I can’t count the number of times Pitters have told me to shut up, intimidated me into silence, negated my opinions or deemed my thinking to be stupid, inconsequential or of little interest, because I am a women.

No, wait, I can. It’s zero.

Michael won’t be the last person to get fooled by the radfem victim narrative. It continues to be a highly effective strategy worth billions of dollars of state funding. He will, however, if he is a true skeptic, have to evaluate for himself whether true diversity and inclusiveness is best served by rigid adherence to feminist ideology or by unfettered open debate and discussion, and which of those two approaches is, in fact, more welcoming to women.

115 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

“@Thaumas Themelios, so where is the evidence for “equity feminism”? Seems the pittizens proclaim to be “feminists” but not the same “brand” as FtBs etc…. I’m sure its all well evidenced then?
I’m too lazy to look much up but on my “side” an aptly named page from Jadehawk ->
_http://jadehawks.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/no-its-not-my-job-to-teach-you/”
Dodge.

“or anything on Stereotype Threat ->
_http://www.reducingstereotypethreat.org/bibliography.html”

A link to a bibliography is evidence of a bibliography. What is the specific claim that you are making and supporting? What are the specific papers which support that claim? I’m not a mind-reader, Oolon, I don’t know what point you’re trying to make if you just wave your hand vaguely at a pile of books and papers, saying, “Read all those, then talk to me.” I have finite time in this universe. Make your point, support it with evidence. That’s how this works.

P.S. you can bypass moderation of links by tweaking them as above.

116 oolon March 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

@Thaumas Themelios, now I need to be specific? You are the one with the vague accusations of “FTB/Skepchick dogmas” when you have no idea what you are talking about it seems…

So lets hear what these “FTB/Skepchick dogmas” actually are.

117 oolon March 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I don’t know what point you’re trying to make if you just wave your hand vaguely at a pile of books and papers, saying, “Read all those, then talk to me.” I have finite time in this universe.

Hehe, sort of the point as I’ve certainly not read them all… But you know all about their unevidenced “dogmas” and have reviewed the literature and come to that conclusion. Or maybe you have jumped to a conclusion based on your own pre-judgement without actually doing any work… I know which I think it is :-)

118 John C. Welch March 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Sigh. Let’s make this simple.

If, as Oolon links and agrees with, that “the company you keep”, aka “guilt by association” is “good” and “correct”…

then why is it not also “good” and “correct” when theists use it to associate atheists with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot?

119 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

” @Thaumas Themelios, now I need to be specific? You are the one with the vague accusations of “FTB/Skepchick dogmas” when you have no idea what you are talking about it seems…

So lets hear what these “FTB/Skepchick dogmas” actually are.”

I know what *I’m* talking about. I don’t necessarily know what *you’re* talking about if you don’t tell me.

Examples of FTB/Skepchick dogmas (depending on the blog/person, I’ll go with whatever your definitions are, these are just examples off the top of my head): Patriarchy theory, privilege theory, rape culture theory, Schrodinger’s Rapist, etc.

Call. Show me what you got.

120 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm

“Hehe, sort of the point as I’ve certainly not read them all… But you know all about their unevidenced “dogmas” and have reviewed the literature and come to that conclusion. Or maybe you have jumped to a conclusion based on your own pre-judgement without actually doing any work… I know which I think it is :-)”

I think you don’t.

I don’t tell them what they think (same as I don’t tell theists what ‘god’ is). I *ask* them. When they give me some definition I can grasp, I ask for evidence of what *they’ve* claimed. I’ve repeatedly said I’m no expert on these topics, just as I’m no expert in theology. *However*, for every theory I’ve heard from self-declared feminist A, I’ve heard basically the opposite from self-declared feminist B. So, I’m trying to sort out the ‘more true’ versions of feminism from the ‘less true’ versions. I do that by examining the *evidence* they provide to support *their claims*.

If you have some specific claim I’ve made that you’d like me to provide evidence for, just point it out and I’ll provide evidence or retract my claim if I can’t. Just provide a quote or a link to my claim.

Now. What is *your* position on these various theories. Maybe you don’t support all of them. *I* don’t know. Different people believe different things. I’m not going to guess at what you believe. You’re going to have to tell me, if you want to reason with me.

121 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Ooh, here’s a more salient dogma I just remembered not to forget: The alleged prevalence of misogyny, sexism, and/or harassment (sexual or otherwise) in a) the online self-identified atheist/skeptic communities, b) at atheist/skeptic conventions, c) of Stef McGraw’s allegedly ‘parroted’ thoughts.

What is your position on those?

122 Shiraz March 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm

“then why is it not also “good” and “correct” when theists use it to associate atheists with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot?”

It would certainly be “correct” against any atheists (or theists) that routinely huggled with Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, but not for those who don’t. Hell, people did criticize Sartre for his infamous remarks about Stalinism – and rightly so!

“Stalin shares a trait with X” is not evidence against X.

“Stalin and X are drinking buddies and X routinely consoles Stalin over all the flak he’s taking” is.

Just to add a data point: franc@110 is a prominent pitter.

123 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm

“Just to add a data point: franc@110 is a prominent pitter.”

Not sure what position you’re arguing for, but just in case, here is another interesting data point: I’m also a member of the slymepit.com message forum and have on several occasions taken issue with some of franc’s snipes and jabs at people. I don’t consider franc as representative of me, and he definitely does not take me as representative of himself (he’s said so on numerous occasions). Not everyone at the pit is the same. Not by a long shot. I’ve also taken issue with specific points with other SP members. However, to my knowledge, I have not witnessed any of the prominent members of SP do anything I would consider unambiguously unethical. The same cannot be said for certain people associated with FTB and Skepchick. I don’t consider these unethical behaviours of certain people to be representative of *everyone* at FTB or Skepchick. Indeed there are several FTB bloggers and commenters I highly respect.

124 oolon March 17, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Ooh, here’s a more salient dogma I just remembered not to forget: The alleged prevalence of misogyny, sexism, and/or harassment (sexual or otherwise) in a) the online self-identified atheist/skeptic communities, b) at atheist/skeptic conventions, c) of Stef McGraw’s allegedly ‘parroted’ thoughts.

What is your position on those?

c) is a non sequitur, how can someones opinion that another persons thoughts are “parroted” be a dogma? Weird…

As for the rest I have my very first blog post to refer to… http://www.oolon.co.uk/?p=8 Although the Slymepitters are trying hard to disprove it by being sexist harassing misogynists. PZ Myers says “I think atheist culture is actually better than the norm…“ — Not sure I agree with him given he has no evidence and I’d personally expect misogyny to be as prevalent in a group that is not focussed on removing or reducing it. Why wouldn’t it be as bad as the general background level?

SO as usual the Slymepit “dogmas” are of their own imagining…. Keep fighting the good fight against those straw feminists Thaumas.

125 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm

“c) is a non sequitur, how can someones opinion that another persons thoughts are “parroted” be a dogma? Weird…”

Silly Oolon, because when it is *questioned*, the questioning is deleted, modified, and/or blocked. I’m using the colloquial meaning of ‘dogma’ as ‘belief which is unquestioned and/or unquestionable’. When I and others questioned peoples’ interpretations of Stef McGraw’s comments, my comments were modified and deleted. Others have been banned for the same thing. Have you really not heard of this?

c) is not a non-sequitur. Indeed it is the *very first* dogma that raised red flags for me.

126 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm

“As for the rest I have my very first blog post to refer to… http://www.oolon.co.uk/?p=8 Although the Slymepitters are trying hard to disprove it by being sexist harassing misogynists. PZ Myers says “I think atheist culture is actually better than the norm…“ — Not sure I agree with him given he has no evidence and I’d personally expect misogyny to be as prevalent in a group that is not focussed on removing or reducing it. Why wouldn’t it be as bad as the general background level?”

That doesn’t answer my question. I asked what *your* views are. If you don’t think that there’s a prevelance of misogyny in the atheist/skeptic community, then you don’t adhere to that dogma. Fine. I’m interested in the dogmas you *do* support. I also said I’d go with *your* definitions of various issues. For example, your blog defines the position you’re attacking as claims that “FtBs say the atheist community is full of misogynists”. Well, I’m not actually making that claim (if you think I am, please quote me saying it). So, by your definition, I’m not one of those you are addressing with that blog. The blog post does not apply to me.

So, again, what is your position, and what evidence do you have to support it? If you don’t think misogyny is a more-prevalent-than-background problem in the atheist/sketpic community, which of the other dogmas do you support? Rape culture? Patriarchy? Their version of privilege theory? What? I can’t keep guessing forever. You’re going to have to fill in the blanks.

127 oolon March 17, 2013 at 9:49 pm

What way is the prevalence of misogyny a “dogma”? I seem to disagree with PZ, who in turn disagrees with your bullshit definition of it as unquestioningly defined as “prevalent”.

It ain’t a “dogma” in any sense….. So try again.

128 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 9:50 pm

By the way, for the record, I noticed your accusation here: “Although the Slymepitters are trying hard to disprove it by being sexist harassing misogynists.”

I’ve been a member of the Slymepit.com message forum since July 2012, since pretty much since the beginning. (See http://slymepit.com/phpbb/memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=133)

So, are you claiming here and now in this thread that I’m a “sexist harassing misogynist”? Because your post doesn’t contain any nuance.

129 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm

“What way is the prevalence of misogyny a “dogma”?”

When it is questioned, questions/questioners are deleted, blocked, dogpiled, and/or banned. Questioning of this idea is not tolerated. For example, when I asked the question on several occasions (I usually stick to neutral territory), I was smeared as a misogynist/etc. Others have been banned/blocked etc. for questioning the assumption that there’s a more-than-background prevalence. DJ fricken Grothe was publicly smeared and attacked over this very issue, among other things.

130 Thaumas Themelios March 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm

“I seem to disagree with PZ, who in turn disagrees with your bullshit definition of it as unquestioningly defined as “prevalent”. ”

Again, I’m perfectly willing to go by your definitions. Let’s hear them.

131 John C. Welch March 17, 2013 at 10:18 pm
“then why is it not also “good” and “correct” when theists use it to associate atheists with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot?”

It would certainly be “correct” against any atheists (or theists) that routinely huggled with Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, but not for those who don’t. Hell, people did criticize Sartre for his infamous remarks about Stalinism – and rightly so!

However, any and all who disagree with PeeZus et al are labeled as ‘pitters regardless of how often they go there. In some cases, if you haven’t spoken out against the pit, regardless of going there, you’re not a pitter. Which, incidently, is the same sort of logic used to tie stalin/mao/pol pot to atheism.

So again, why is it wrong when used in an inconvenient manner, but right when used in a manner you agree with.

“Stalin shares a trait with X” is not evidence against X.

Stalin was an atheist. Therefore, he is a part of the group of people known as atheists. Theists say all atheists are the same, (even though they are wrong to do so), therefore, atheists support stalin.

Why is that wrong, yet saying all people who post, or in some cases, don’t post, but still disagree with you are all misogynists is correct and “good”? After all, if Stalin is a part of the atheist group, then is not “the company you keep” also a group you belong to? By that token, you, stalin, what’s the diff? Why won’t you disavow such an awful group?

“Stalin and X are drinking buddies and X routinely consoles Stalin over all the flak he’s taking” is.

PZ and his cohort have made and encouraged misogynistic statements. So, by the definition you like to use for ALL PITTERS, PeeZus is in fact a Pitter. In fact, by defending him, and his cohorts, you also defend the misogynistic and sexist attacks against Abbie Smith, Miranda Hale, Sara Mayhew, and all the women who post in the pit?

Why do you hate women? Why are you a misogynist?

PZ and his cohort have made threats of violence against those who disagree with them and explicitly supported people who make threats of violence against those who disagree with them. Therefore, all who support PZ and his cohorts support threatening violence against those who disagree with them.

See how easy this kind of bullshit you support is? All you have to do is set up your definitions correctly, and ta-da, you can link anyone. It’s not too much work to link PZ to Fred Phelps if you are willing to suspend thinking in the name of supporting your cause.

Just to add a data point: franc@110 is a prominent pitter.Just to add a data point: franc@110 is a prominent pitter.

As am I. But nice Ad Hominem by inference there. “Franc is a pitter, (therefore, because of that, everything he says is invalid.)”

Awesome.

Why are ad homs bad when used against you, but when you use them, they’re totes okey-dokey

132 oolon March 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm

@Thaumas no one gets dog piled for questioning the prevalence of misogyny and you well know it. PZ saying the atheist community is better than the norm got him some shit in that very thread…. NO ONE was banned.

For some reason when slimy shit bags come along being hyper-sceptical about someone’s personal experience of harassment they may get banned if they double down. DJ Grothe was “mistaken” when he said there were no harassment incidences reported to him… As a very charitable statement…. So he got some heat… I’m sure you are pleased he instituted a harassment policy and paid people to enforce it? Contra to the Slymepits insistence they are not necessary… Right? It was roundly derided as amazingly awful by FtBs, but they had one. So one lost for the pit there.

133 oolon March 17, 2013 at 10:51 pm

SO 100% BULLSHIT for prevalence of misogyny… Oh and…

1. Patriarchy “theory”, NOT a dogma… You try arguing for Kyriarchy and see if the “dogma” for Patriarchy is a dogma… It clearly is not as there is at least one accepted competing theory within feminism. So 100% BULLSHIT called there.
2. Privilege “theory”, Can you define what this is? White privilege, male, class, do you mean to include intersectionality? Ingroup/outgroup dynamics all come into this. Far too vague to contend with so BULLSHIT until you define specifics
3. Rape culture “theory”, Whats with all these “theory” modifiers? Are you saying “rape culture” does not exist? I’ve even argued with MRAs that admit it exists but only in some country in Africa. Not in our lovely westernised world! Steubenville calls 100% BULLSHIT
4. Schrodinger’s Rapist, this is a womans *personal* experience and how she deals with the threat of rape in her life. You can disagree that her approach is the best, but how can it be a dogma? You cannot deny someone’s *opinion* unless you think she is lying or something? So no idea what you mean about this one so I’ll assume given your track record this is also BULLSHIT?

Frankly if you had any well thought out objections to any of these “dogmas” I’d be interested as I’ve seen none. For example this one…
>>>skepticink.com/lateraltruth/2013/03/08/chuck-your-privilege/<<<

First line: – "Privilege, we’re told, comes in many flavours, all of them bad."

Wrong, wrong, wrong, the only people who have tried to make me feel "bad" about my privilege are the Slymepitters (http://atheismplus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2901&hilit=oolon&start=0#p49386). Because they don't understand it. A+ would love everyone to have the privilege that comes from not having to even think about sexual assault and allow you to be an arse about SR… Well maybe not the arse bit, but not having to worry? Totally!

So much BULLSHIT, so little of me giving a fuck… Keep repeating that mantra, A+ ideologues, FfTB'ers dogma… Night from me and Nigel!

134 Jack March 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Oolon, it didn’t take long to get personal did it? I’ve never known anyone change goalposts as fast as you. In future please properly define what you believe and state what you believe clearly. Once you have done that don’t then decide other beliefs are suddenly yours or not depending on your mood or time of day.

Also Ad Hominems get you nowhere. Try and avoid them, deal with the specific points and stop strawmaning all the time. People see through that and it does your arguments no favours.

135 J. J. Ramsey March 18, 2013 at 1:29 am

Mr. Welch, there is a big difference between being associated with someone in the sense of having some trait in common, like atheism or vegetarianism, and being associated with someone in the sense of engaging with someone socially. To be fair, even in the latter case, it is possible for there to be false guilt by association if, for example, one socializes with someone in spite of certain negative traits rather than because of them. There’s also the matter of being part of a social group in spite of it having people that you don’t like.

However, associating with certain people can be a warning sign, though. For example, if one associates with those who frequently engages in puerile personal attacks, or who sometimes make up strawmen and even occasionally slander [*], one has to wonder why one seems to tolerate such flaws.

[*] Examples of such people are left as an exercise to the reader.

136 Eu March 18, 2013 at 2:29 am

@Shiraz – Oh really? A PROMINENT PITTER? if you have a problem with pitters being here you’re on the wrong site. They’re here to stay.

137 Eu March 18, 2013 at 2:33 am

@Michael is my blog blocked or something? You could have at least emailed telling me why.

138 Eu March 18, 2013 at 2:33 am

I’ve been unable to post, site or not actually, for a bit and now its just if I add the site. Hmm.

139 Michael Nugent March 18, 2013 at 3:21 am

@Eu – No, you are not blocked. I don’t know why you are unable to post. Please send me any relevant details via the contact page and I’ll look into it.

140 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

Oolon, your vitriol might be more convincing if it wasn’t so *trivial* to find references to, for example, DJ Grothe being likened to a sexist and one who ‘defends’ and ‘rationalizes’ supposed ‘misogynistic threats of violence': _http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/01/10/d-j-grothe-replies-and-i-reply-back/

JREF President D.J. Grothe has responded in the comments to my previous post, in which I expressed serious concerns about his responses to sexist and misogynistic behavior in the atheist/ skeptical community, and his attitudes towards bloggers who point it out. In that comment, he expressed concern that his comment might be overlooked. So I’m posting it here, with my responses.

But I want to say this first: I fucking hate this. There are about twenty million other topics I’d rather be writing about right now. (I haven’t even done my Project Runway: All-Stars recap, and I haven’t blogged about our kittens in way too long.) And despite the accusations that D.J. has made, I’m not writing this to generate controversy and draw traffic. In fact, I strongly suspect that most people are sick of this now, and that this will be among my less-widely-read pieces.

But I think this is important. I think it’s important to speak out against sexist behavior, and defenses and justifications of sexist behavior — especially when it’s exhibited by a prominent leader. I hope I make it clear throughout this piece why I think it’s important, but I’ll spell the crux of it out right here at the outset:

When people don’t speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which sexism and misogyny flourish. When people do speak out about sexism and misogyny, it creates a climate in which sexism and misogyny wither. Like it or not, D.J. Grothe and other leaders set a tone: if D.J. is setting a tone of excusing and rationalizing misogynistic threats of violence, and of impugning the motivations of people who call him on it, that fosters an environment where it’s seen to be okay. That’s important.

Remember, this is the same Greta Christina who participated in the promulgation of the *demonstrably false* rumour about upskirt photography. Here, she’s spreading false allegations that DJ Grothe is “excusing and rationalizing misogynistic threats of violence, and of impugning the motivations of people who call him on it”. No evidence of any of this has been brought forth. Do *you* have evidence that DJ Grothe excused and rationalized misogynistic threats of violence? Do you have any evidence that these alleged threats *actually exist*?

Greg Laden, at the time a prominent member of FTB, wrote this: _http://gregladen.com/blog/2012/05/perhaps-it-is-time-that-dj-grothe-resign-as-the-president-of-the-jref/

Perhaps it is time that DJ Grothe resign as the President of the JREF
By Greg Laden | May 30, 2012 | Skepticism

But now it is, I suggest, time to move on. Over the last several months there has been an increasing realization that the Skeptics Movement has fallen behind much of the rest of thoughtful and progressive society in the area of women, anti-sexism, and feminism. … A modern movement should not need to counter all, or even any, levels of sexism and misogyny from within. Those problems shouldn’t have been there to begin with. But, as it turns out, large areas of the Skeptics movement are very unfriendly to women, and there is an overall anti-women undercurrent ranging from a simple lack of active feminism, which is bad enough, to a vocal denial that there is a problem, to downright intentional misogyny. And, against this backdrop, DJ Grothe has positioned himself, explicitly, right in the middle, which is exactly where a leader in this movement at this time should not be.

Oolon, I’m surprised you’re not aware of the degree of smearing that went on. These two links are from a quick google search. If you read the whole blogs and their comment sections (I encourage readers to do so), it just goes on and on and on. And this is just *two* of the many blogs that were involved in this uproar over nothing.

So, do you Oolon, agree with Greta’s and Greg Laden’s characterizations of Grothe’s involvement, and their stated beliefs about the prevalence of misogyny, sexism, etc.?

Will you actually answer that question, or will you resort to spluttering insults and denials like a typical dogmatist? Oh. I see you’ve already gone there. Well, I’ll give you a chance to recover. Once you catch your breath and wipe your chin of spittle, perhaps you’d like to actually engage in reasonable conversation? You know, like with evidence.

Oh, and *by the fucking way*, you can see an example of two people getting banned on Greta’s blog post (in the comment thread):

I don’t normally ban people just because I think they’re being assholes — but I reserve the right to do so, and I am doing so now. Justicar and Munkhaus have been banned.

Of course Greta tries to justify her banning, but if you actually read that thread, following Munkhaus, he/she did nothing actually wrong. In fact, Greta herself admits this earlier in the thread:

And everyone, I’ll repeat what I said in yesterday’s thread: My understanding is that Munkhaus is a known troll from other blogs. He hasn’t yet said or done anything here to merit being blocked; but unless you genuinely think he’s being sincere and/or think his comments merit response, I’d appreciate it if you just ignored him. Thanks.

So, consider your claim that “NO ONE was banned” debunked by … evidence. You may still believe it, but no reasonable person reading this thread will.

Now it’s your turn.

You want to include kyriarchy? Fine. Please explain what patriarchy and kyriarchy are from your point of view, and provide evidence that these concepts are true. I’m eagerly awaiting your evidence. Would be *great* to see just *some* evidence, rather than none.

141 Steersman March 18, 2013 at 8:29 am

J. J. Ramsey said (#135):

However, associating with certain people can be a warning sign, though. For example, if one associates with those who frequently engages in puerile personal attacks, or who sometimes make up strawmen and even occasionally slander [*], one has to wonder why one seems to tolerate such flaws.

Yes, absolutely true, Mr. Ramsey. Why, I couldn’t agree more. For instance, consider this (1) egregious bit of “puerile personal attacks”, “slander”, and egregious “strawmen” which I happened to quote in a discussion with the original author of it on another blog (2), to wit:

SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says:
22 February 2012 at 1:51 am

Shorter Steersman: Bitch was askin’ for it, cuz bitches be crazy.

Got any more idiotic sexist stereotypes to spew asshole? That was a rhetorical question.

I’m sure you do. Fuck off and spew them elsewhere.

Oh, you’re probably wondering which blog the original comment was on as I seem not to have provided the information. It was in fact Pharyngula (3). Do you happen to associate with those who post there? Do you know any who do and who should not be tolerating “such flaws”?

Warning signs, indeed. Surprising that so few noticed them before and that so many others took so long to do so ….

1) “_http://i46.tinypic.com/eg464p.jpg”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/03/13/philosophy-dudebros-grassroots-dont-mix/#comment-148260”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/02/21/not-as-much-fun-as-it-sounds/comment-page-1/#comment-272084”;

142 windy March 18, 2013 at 9:04 am

Oh, you’re probably wondering which blog the original comment was on as I seem not to have provided the information. It was in fact Pharyngula (3). Do you happen to associate with those who post there?

Not likely, since he’s banned there.

143 tina March 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

Thaumas: While Oolon is cooling off. The notion of the subservience of women to men is deeply embedded in religious mythology but also pre-dates Christianity into the pagan era and is explicitly stated by the ancient Greeks, particularly Aristotle, Plato et al. There may well have been more egalitarian cultures existing prehistorically but I’m not sure how certain we can be about that. Anyway, the notion of patriarchy, (lit: rule by fathers), extended outwards towards the structure of social relations between genders. When science, technology, and culture developed to the point that enabled gender roles to expand beyond those proscribed by survival imperatives, the first wave of feminism stepped up demand its share of the goodies and quite rightly so and subsequently made massive strides helping us move towards a more egalitarian society. I think in subsequent waves of feminist thinking, the notion of ‘the patriarchy’ has been rather shoe-horned into the foundation of sociological theories that have bent it out of shape somewhat. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept has lost all useful purpose entirely, does it?

144 J. J. Ramsey March 18, 2013 at 11:23 am

windy: “Not likely, since he’s banned there.”

And indeed, what Myers said about me is a case of pulling moral defeat out of the jaws of victory. He had an arguable moral high ground, but lost it through making things up about me. Luckily, he tipped his hand by contradicting himself, though that hasn’t helped me much.

And Steersman, when I wrote, “those who frequently engages in puerile personal attacks, or who sometimes make up strawmen and even occasionally slander,” I wrote it with full awareness that it didn’t describe people on only one side of the conflict.

145 oolon March 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

@Thaumas,

Please explain what patriarchy and kyriarchy are from your point of view, and provide evidence that these concepts are true.

Nah I’ll pass, if you can admit there are two competing theories in the same space then decide to not admit your “dogma” assertion was plain wrong then I’ll assume I’m wasting my time. Jack has it right about changing goalposts (Although not much else) – one minute *all* these “theories” *are* “dogma” now I need to justify two competing concepts in the same space after proving you wrong. Have a chat with Notung at the pit, he is on the record for dismissing this ridiculous MRA-101 assertion that feminism is dogma huh huh huh…. You may even attempt to argue in good faith with him given he is on your “side”.

@Jack, bad werdz is not an Ad-Hom, I think you need to brush up on fallacies 101 cos if I call you a shit weasel, scumbag, tell you to piss off or fuck off that is not an Ad-Hom and if you don’t know why… Well… Poor you… Especially as you presumably hang out at the forum for Ad-Hom generation where the irrelevant aspects of FtB’ers and Skepchicks are held up as relevant to their arguments.

General observation, why are all the “free speech” Slymepitters taking to the fainting couch due to some bad werdz? You’d think they are hypocrites or something…

One parting funny, “So, consider your claim that “NO ONE was banned” debunked by … evidence.” … Hehe reading comprehension is another reason why its a waste of time discussing with Thaumas. There seems to be a step up from Jack to you given he didn’t seem to comprehend anything. Read again, I said no one banned *in* *that* *thread* where PZ claimed the level of misogyny was lower in the atheist community. So nice one “debunking” my statement by not understanding it and finding your own imagined meaning to “debunk” … All you need to know about the Slymepit right there 😀

146 oolon March 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Interesting rape culture link from someone also arguing with an idiot about the existence of rape culture… But doing a much better job than me!
http://atheistlogic.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/how-prevalent-is-rape-culture/

Comments not from AVfM where you’d expect victim blaming and rape apologia, but from CNN… Of course all just trolls to the Slymepit!

147 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Oolon: “Nah I’ll pass, if you can admit there are two competing theories in the same space then decide to not admit your “dogma” assertion was plain wrong then I’ll assume I’m wasting my time.”

They’re both dogma, Oolon, the same way both Christianity and Islam are both dogmas. So you’ve got two brands of theists. Big deal. They’re both still theists.

The point is *there’s no evidence* for either of them.

So, folks, this is what it comes down to. You point out their bad behaviour, they abuse you, you prove it, they run away (on a neutral forum, such as this), or ban you (on their own turf).

They have nothing. No evidence, just rhetoric, spluttering insults, and endless endless dogma.

148 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

“Read again, I said no one banned *in* *that* *thread* where PZ claimed the level of misogyny was lower in the atheist community.”

This is the level of pathetic apologetics you get from these folks. Oolon called me a “lying shitbag” over this issue, and now that I’ve proved he’s wrong he retreats to his far distant goal posts.

Sorry Oolon, I *wasn’t* talking about that specific thread. I was talking about FTBers in general. If you’d taken the time to have a *reasonable discussion* instead of your attempt at so-called “rhetorical assassination” (yes, that’s what they’re calling it these days, ugh), you might have been able to *understand* that. Sadly, all you’re interested is in defending your dogma from any questioning. Just like a theist apologist.

149 John C. Welch March 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Thaumas

Let’s see, arbitrary banning on FTB:

1) I’m presumably banned from Pharyngula because I’m part of the slime/slyme/chyme/moldpit. I’ve made perhaps…4 comments? on Pharyngula, all before the existence of FTB, probably the last in connection with Pepsigate.

2) Greta, in response to a SINGLE comment I made, which, by the way was in keeping with the supposed tone she sets for her site banned me due to her rule #9, the same reason she banned munkhause.

note: they do in fact have the right to do this, but don’t pull the same shit creationists pull, then expect to be taken seriously when you complain about your treatment. Don’t ban/mod/edit posts, then, when another site DARES to moderate you, get the vapors. Seriously.

JJ @ 135:

However, associating with certain people can be a warning sign, though. For example, if one associates with those who frequently engages in puerile personal attacks, or who sometimes make up strawmen and even occasionally slander [*], one has to wonder why one seems to tolerate such flaws.

Indeed. One might, by such logic wonder why you are such an ardent defender of a group that has not only made threats of violence and attempted to trigger PTSD reactions in one of their own (Laden against Justin Griffith), but had other members of the group defend those actions, (Zvan, Thibideault) as being excused because Laden was attempting to “shock” Griffith back to “rightthought” via an exercise similar to the “Patton Slap”. That might make, were we to apply your logic, one wonder how YOU feel about such things, when you are such an ardent defender of a group that does that.

Given your rather sad attempt to ad hom franc, rather than directly address his arguments, I think we can see that your defense of FTB and their tactics is not mere accident, but rather the actions of someone who fully and enthusiastically consents to said tactics, as long as they are used against the “right” people, aka SPs.

Given your treatment by PZ, one must wonder why you defend them so.

150 John C. Welch March 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm

One would think that someone from the ‘pit slapped Oolon’s entire family with their nethers, based on how he does go on about them. Or that he was banned.

Neither is true of course, although to Oolon, individual people ignoring him is ‘the same as a ban’. Which I think gives you some major insight into Oolon.

151 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm

“Thaumas: While Oolon is cooling off. The notion of the subservience of women to men is deeply embedded in religious mythology but also pre-dates Christianity into the pagan era and is explicitly stated by the ancient Greeks, particularly Aristotle, Plato et al. ”

Thanks for that interesting background research, tina, much appreciated. I’m aware of the concept of patriarchy itself, I’m asking about the dogma of Patriarchy Theory as espoused by some/many modern feminists (specifically those associated with FTB and Skepchick).

Specifically, I agree (and have since I was a kid) with this:

“When science, technology, and culture developed to the point that enabled gender roles to expand beyond those proscribed by survival imperatives, the first wave of feminism stepped up demand its share of the goodies and quite rightly so and subsequently made massive strides helping us move towards a more egalitarian society.”

It’s this that I’m interested in applying my skepticism to, to determine the extent to which it’s true:

“I think in subsequent waves of feminist thinking, the notion of ‘the patriarchy’ has been rather shoe-horned into the foundation of sociological theories that have bent it out of shape somewhat.”

Now, this:
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that the concept has lost all useful purpose entirely, does it?”

You are quite right. I don’t doubt the general concept of patriarchies (Catholic Church anyone?), I’m questioning the specific ‘patriarchy theory’ that is espoused by some/many feminists as explaining so many various situations where an *actual* patriarchy doesn’t seem to be present. I will leave it up to feminists themselves to define what they mean, and how prevalent ‘the patriarchy’ is. It is their *claims* which I want to sort out. Oolon seems to think that *I* have to define what *feminists* mean. He’s got it quite backwards. He/they have to define what *they* mean.

And, to the extent that it’s *not* dogma, I have no issue with it. But to the extent that it is, I do. When people are insulted, accused, lied about, banned, have their posts deleted or modified, etc., just to keep the dogma afloat, you know something’s wrong. This is not good skepticism.

152 Eu March 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm

@ John C. Welch, thought lsuoma said he was and then others said he was… so I share my title alone? I feel a bit better now. No offense Oolon.

153 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

With Oolon’s bigger blunders out of the way, let’s pick apart the rest of his comment, shall we?

” one minute *all* these “theories” *are* “dogma””

Fallacy! Straw man! I have not said all these theories are dogma. That is an *assumption* on your part. If you think I did, then *quote me*. I gave as examples, the *names* used by some/many feminists associated with FTB that *they use* to label their beliefs. My position has always been to sort out the ‘more true’ versions of feminism from the ‘less true’ versions. So, to the extent that a belief is a dogma, I have an issue with it. To the extent that it isn’t, I don’t.

I have repeatedly asked *you* for your definitions of these terms. This is a most generous ground I’m conceding for you. In most debates, you have to argue back and forth to figure out the terms of the debate. I’m giving you carte blanche. You can tell me whatever you think these terms mean or should mean. I will accept your definitions.

Because I’m not concerned about proving ‘all feminism is dogma’, which is not something I believe. I am an equity feminist myself, for example, and I’m very open to having discussions about that, even if someone is questioning my beliefs on that.

I’m concerned with finding out where the *real* nuggets of truth are in modern gender feminism, especially as it is espoused by those prominent bloggers and regular commenters at FTB/Skepchick/A+/etc. So, if you’ve got a version of ‘patriarchy theory’ that has sound definitions, and has evidence to support it, *I’ll agree with it*! Don’t you get it? This is how reasonable discussion goes! Tell me what the fuck you’re talking about, show me it’s real, and I’ll say, “Wow! That’s awesome! I just learned something new. Thank you.”

But you actually have to *engage* in discussion to do that. You can’t just hurl insults and run away at the first sign of a query for evidence that you can’t weasel out of.

” now I need to justify two competing concepts”

Fallacy! Straw man. You don’t *need* to do anything. As Michael Nugent’s points so wonderfully embrace, this is *your choice* about how you are going to engage in discussion.

I’m plainly asking you to define what *you* mean, and defending only that. Why do you find this so difficult? If you don’t want to do that, fine. That’s your choice. But all it does is leave everyone who’s reading this thread, now and into the future, with the impression that I’m right, and you *really don’t* have anything to back up these theories. As I said earlier, PZ freakin Myers himself could *easily* dump loads and loads of evidence in this thread if he wanted to, and — crucially — if he *could*. So, why doesn’t he. The only reason I brought you into this was to show that it wouldn’t even take PZ Myers to do it. Even *you* could dump loads of evidence in this thread and *completely* demolish our skepticism and dissent.

So. Where is it? Where is all this evidence that show that we’re disingenuous in our dissent? I’ve never seen it. I’d love to see it.

In fact, before getting involved in this mess, I had expressed *exactly* this sentiment, that I would love to see a kind of ‘rational feminism’ that is based on reason and evidence instead of just assertion.

To the extent that I’ve found it, all I’ve found is the very very basic form of equity feminism which I already believed in since I was a kid, and which more rightly falls under the umbrella of humanism.

All the other stuff. The shaming and shunning of men, the jingoistic jargon like patriarchy theory, privilege theory (the kind espoused by people on FTB, where it’s not just the general dictionary concepts of ‘patriarchy’ and ‘privilege’, but where it’s used to label people and attack them with ad hom rather than reason), etc. All of *that* dogma doesn’t stand up to rational scrutiny.

You think I’m saying all feminism is dogma. You’re flat out wrong. That’s not what I’m saying, and I’ve *never once* said that. You think I must necessarily agree with everyone (or even a majority) at the SlymePit. You’re flat out wrong. I don’t necessarily agree with *anyone* there. I’ve disagreed *strongly* with several of those forum members. We don’t pretend we are a like-minded group, and we don’t enforce like-mindedness. In fact, I like it there *because* there are so many varieties of opinion there. I like being around people who aren’t afraid to challenge me if I’m wrong on something. But I don’t just automatically believe their challenges. I ask them to back them up with evidence.

That’s how you have a reasoned discussion.

“Have a chat with Notung at the pit, he is on the record for dismissing this ridiculous MRA-101 assertion that feminism is dogma huh huh huh…. ”

Extension of your straw man. You know what’s easier than pretending to know what a person’s position is? Asking them what their position is. Like I’ve asked you. Repeatedly.

“You may even attempt to argue in good faith with him given he is on your “side”.

There are no ‘sides’ in this Oolon. I’m an individual. I’m concerned about ethics and the future of our planet and humanity’s long term sustainable survival on this Pale Blue Dot, and on that basis, I’m concerned about the long term success and sustainability of the atheist/skeptic movement(s).

If we *skeptics* can’t even cooperate together without *dogma* infesting our communities and creating arbitrary ‘us vs. them’ flame wars, then who the fuck are *we* to tell other people we’re the rational, reasonable ones who should be listened to?

We need to clean up our own yards, and that starts with examining ourselves, both individually, and as a group.

154 Lumen222 March 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I would also like to point out that the accusations of “Ad Hominem” are often being misused. Insult is not Ad Hominem, unless it is specifically being used to discredit the argument. Insult is irrelevant to judging how soundly an argument is made. It’s rude and counter productive, but it is ultimately beside the point.

I’m also concerned by how many actual Ad Hominem arguments are allowed to pass without comment, simply because they do not contain out right insults. Not to mention the existence of an Ad Hominem in an argument does not discredit a persons entire position, nor does it prove the opposite of the position. It simply flags that specific argument as unsound. For instance examples of “Ad Hominem Tu Quoque” are rampant in pretty much every discussion on these events I’ve seen. Which is a good reason for all of you to go back to the original post and remember what it was actually about. Since most of the discussion in this thread has nothing to do with Michael’s post.

155 Eu March 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Yup, Ad Hominem IS being misused. It seems people are fond of using a label against someone just because it’s in the pile of fallacies. Let’s say some retarded hick did declare insulting someone was a “fallacy.” If you had a brain, you would realize that it makes no sense to tell someone they’re not allowed to insult someone or else their argument is invalid or fallacious… that in itself is a fallacy…

Ad Hominem is when you use something, anything, insult, whatever, that is irrelevant to someone’s argument and try to rebut their argument with it. “You’re fat, so you don’t have knowledge on this” (when it has nothing to do with fat), “You’re a retard, so I won’t listen to you,” are ad hominems. “You are ignorant, and you’re fat too” and “What you said is retarded” are not ad hominems.

156 Eu March 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm

@Lumen

I really doubt you would misuse Tu Quoque (sp?), you seem rather smart when it comes to actually rationalizing whats a fallacy, whether its a label or not, but just to make sure… what exactly do you consider a Tu Quoque?

I also think there’s an issue with people bringing up that others are hypocrites, or deserved revenge and saying it’s tu quoque (basically trying to invalidate the entire concept of revenge or hypocrites by saying “Tu Quoque!”

Tu Quoque is when you use their actions to invalidate their argument or pretend its a reason not to listen to them…

Kinda like those logs of Setar found… he would keep telling trini he was making a “Tu Quoque” whenever he pointed out that Setar is always bumrushing people and badgering them, but don’t think trini was trying to say, “Your argument, ‘people shouldn’t badger others,’ is invalid because you do it.” I think all trini meant was to see Setar acknowledge that he does it all the time… it can be pretty frustrating to have someone who does something all the time bitch at you when you do it.

157 John C. Welch March 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Above, I said that JJ made the comment about Franc being a pitter. That was a complete error, and I apologize for it.

158 Eu March 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm

John C Welch, using your entire name like that, are you famous? Related to the Welch jelly family?

(If you are… can I have some free jelly?)

159 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

John uses his full name because a) there’s a shitload of John Welch on the internet, and b) it’s a habit he got from the military.

160 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Also, c) he likes to own up to what he writes…

161 Lumen222 March 18, 2013 at 4:54 pm

In response to Eu:

Discussions of hypocrisy are certainly valid. But if you are asked “do you stand by this statement that many feel is slanderous?” , you are not actually justifying your statement by pointing out that the person you are slandering did it first. It points out hypocrisy sure, but that is a different discussion. One you are free to open. But you still need to respond to whether you stand by *your* slanderous statement. Perhaps it was made in the heat of an argument. Perhaps you do not believe it to be slander and can support it with evidence. But if you don’t back down, or offer evidence that the statement is not slanderous… if instead you simply resort to Ad Hominem Tu Quoque then I raise an eyebrow and start to doubt your willingness to engage in productive argument.

In much the same way, a mother who smokes and tells her child that smoking is terrible and he shouldn’t engage in it could rightfully be called a hypocrite. However, this does not invalidate her argument that there are strong reasons that the child shouldn’t smoke, and if the child argues this then they are engaging in Ad Hominem Tu Quoque. The position is not refuted.

I specifically see examples of Tu Quoque in these arguments (I’m speaking broadly not just this comment section) in that when asked about statements made on Blog/Message Board X the response is made that Blog/Message board Y is just as bad or worse. I recall that Michael had an earlier post where he wanted to be specific about certain posts on the Slympit and was trying to address them specifically in the context of another writer’s previous commentary. While some people addressed the actual question, others spun the conversation straight to FTB and Previous posts by RW and abusive comments that were made. But to me as an observer this is irrelevant to .. oh pretty much everything. One person making a slur does not justify another person responding with a slur. None of these things advance a conversation or a consensus. You just wind up with the current situation with constant escalation of name calling and insult. Some of these insults are now months old. More than a few made by prominent individuals have been backed away from by said individuals. Yet many people continue to use them to justify continuing bad behavior.

That’s not to say you can’t discuss the insults in retrospect. But you need to be making a very specific argument and use them as justification. For example if someone says: “No one who posts at the slympit is sexist.” I would object and I feel its justified to use quotes from the slympit to back that up. However “Not everyone from the slympit is sexist.” seems to me to be a reasonable statement.

Of course none of the really interesting conversations are about such stupidly simple statements. The real debates are much more complicated, so I suggest that it is all the more important to stop with the broad and easily-refuted statements.

162 Lumen222 March 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I would point out that many respected people do not use their full name when they write on the internet and have solid reasons for doing so. Orac for example uses a handle, and has specifically discussed why he does so. An argument that I find compelling, as I have very similar reasons for using a handle. Chiefly, I do not wish my opinions on matters not related to my professional life to be the first thing someone sees when they Google me for information about my business.

163 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Lumen222: “I would also like to point out that the accusations of “Ad Hominem” are often being misused.”

For the record, I am very aware of this distinction, and have made the same point myself for at least 7 years now. In each case where I’ve charged ad hom, I *mean* that insult has been used *in place of* an actual argument. Just clarifying.

164 AndrewV69 March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I can offer evidence for what I see as being banned for being a SP and not for anything else here:

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/07/25/congratulations-to-the-civilized-scots/comment-page-1/#comment-412584

88
PZ Myers

26 July 2012 at 3:17 pm (UTC -5)

Ick. AndrewV69, proud slimepitter and MRA, with in.malafide in his email address? No. Just no. Fuck off.

165 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Lumen222: “For instance examples of “Ad Hominem Tu Quoque” are rampant in pretty much every discussion on these events I’ve seen.”

You must also be careful not to confuse arguments showing *hypocrisy* with tu quoque. In most (nearly all, if not all) cases where members of the pit point out one side using bad werdz, for example, it is to point out the hypocrisy of arguments being made by FTBers/et al regarding the usage of bad werdz. Most SPs don’t really care about these words; they don’t think they are bad werdz at all. Many of them, myself included, don’t see words as capable of being inherently bad in themselves.

Tu quoque is when A says B is logically wrong because B did X, and then B comes back to say A is logically wrong because A *also* did X. In this case, B is using a fallacy of tu quoque because B’s objection ignores A’s initial *valid* objection and does not refute it.

Hypocrisy is when A says B is *morally* wrong because B did X. B doesn’t agree that X is morally wrong. Also, B remembers when A did exactly the same thing X, so B points out, “Hey A, who are you to talk? You did X too. Get off your high horse. Stop pretending X is wrong when you don’t even live up to your own standards, hypocrite.”

In the case of hypocrisy, B is not arguing that A is morally wrong because A did X. B is arguing that A is morally wrong because A *pretends* to be a moral authority, yet A does not live up to A’s *own arbitrary rules*. It really has *nothing to do* with X. It has to do with A’s hypocrisy in complaining about something which A also blatantly engages in. Remember, B doesn’t necessarily consider X to be morally wrong.

166 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:28 pm

“Since most of the discussion in this thread has nothing to do with Michael’s post.”

Really? All of my discussion does. I’m taking Michael’s post to be about the “choices we can make to help move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities”, and specifically that these are ” choices that I think it would be useful for each of us to voluntarily adopt, not because we are obliged to do so, but because we believe it would be useful to do so, all things considered, as a starting point for productive dialogue.”

So, I’m attempting to engage in productive dialogue, while at the same time choosing to follow these suggestions to the best of my ability. Are you getting something different out of it?

167 CommanderTuvok March 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I am enjoying Ool0n’s attempts at defending PZ and his cesspit, especially since Oolon was banned there as well. It really doesn’t take much to get banned at PZ’s, and we have plenty of evidence of bannings taking place simply because they challenged the echos of the chamber. However, if you toe the Pharyngula agenda, you can get away with all kinds of abuse.

I refer everybody back to NoelPlum99’s excellent deconstruction on PZ, which left the Baboon King responding with an almighty strawman and plenty of misdirection. Notice how when you get PZ on neutral terf, he is simply destroyed. That’s why he turned YouTube comments off. The wider community call him out on his bullshit, and he retreats back to Pharyngula where he thinks his rabid fringe community represents the wider community. THE PEOPLE SPOKE.

168 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Lumen222: “But you still need to respond to whether you stand by *your* slanderous statement.”

I’m not sure what specifically you’re referring to there, so I’ll just clarify, in case you might be referring to me: I don’t believe I’ve made any slanderous statements. If I have, I wish sincerely that people (anyone) would point it out to me so that I could retract it and apologize. I’m not in any way engaging in tu quoque, as far as I can tell. If you are indeed referring to anything I’ve said, please quote it so I can get an idea of what you’re referring to.

169 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Lumen222: “I specifically see examples of Tu Quoque in these arguments (I’m speaking broadly not just this comment section) ”

Oh, I guess I should have read your whole comment first. Sorry, was just jarred by your example of slanderous statements. If you’re referring to this overall issue in general, then yes, I’d agree that tu quoque is often abused. However, I would also maintain my point that in most cases when people point out examples of behaviour on the pit (or indeed in these several blog post comments sections on Michael’s blog) it is to point out the hypocrisy of people who are trying to impose their arbitrary rules (disguised as ‘morality’) on the community as a whole.

170 Jack March 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Thaumas Themelios (166)

I’m also attempting to have a productive dialogue. However with one or two exceptions it seems unless the discussion is about attacking one side (SP) many have little interest in it. There’s many notable commentator’s from FtB et al who have said nothing here since this all started. There is no requirement that they should but the fact they do not is very telling and rather disappointing.

It’s easy to make a blog, post or tweet about it and have your supporters echo what you say but that is useless unless there is willingness to discuss with people who do not agree with you.

171 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm

“One person making a slur does not justify another person responding with a slur. ”

Assuming one or the other is *actually* a slur, which is assuming quite a bit, actually, when you consider that over-the-top humour and satire is rampant on the pit. Michael’s examples were largely taken out of context, and in more than one case were clear sarcastic caricatures, even in their out-of-context state. I didn’t examine all 50. The point is if you cherry pick only the bad-looking stuff, you get an inaccurate picture of the whole site. I don’t think anyone was defending *actual* slurs by saying “you did it too!” If you think they were, then I would ask you to please provide specific examples, preferably with links and/or quotes so we can all understand the context you are referring to.

172 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm

“Some of these insults are now months old.”

Some literally years old.

173 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:47 pm

“Yet many people continue to use them to justify continuing bad behavior.”

I have never done this, to the best of my knowledge. I don’t justify bad behaviour. Period. If I ever have, it was in error, and I would appreciate it being pointed out explicitly so that I can apologize for it and correct it. Links/quotes would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

174 tina March 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Jack @ 170

Productive dialogue is not in FtB’s strategic interests.

I predicted early on that non of the main pretenders would appear here, except for a few grunts like Oolon.

As you say though, the fact that they have not will have been widely noted by the A/S community at large, so their strategy is largely self defeating.

175 Eu March 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm

@Thaumas, stop jocking off of me. I already asked Lumen if he was mistaking pointing out hypocrisy (or wanting revenge) for Tu Quoque and he isn’t.

176 Astrokid.NJ March 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm

“Have a chat with Notung at the pit, he is on the record for dismissing this ridiculous MRA-101 assertion that feminism is dogma huh huh huh…. ”

Firstly, “feminism is dogma” is a generalization akin to Hitch’s “religion poisons everything”. Surely religion doesnt poison EVERY THING.
MRAs acknowledge that feminists got a few things right.. If I do a quick-and-dirty search for “feminism got right” at AVFM,

So What is a Zeta Male Anyway? | A Voice for Men
http://www.avoiceformen.com/…/so-what-the-fuck-is-a-zeta-male-an…May 11, 2011 – One of the few things feminism got right was the abundance of options that it gave to women. Now that men are starting to analyse all this more …

A gender-transition was needed.. both for men and women. Our contention is that Feminism most certainly is not it. A recent study shows that the happiness of American Women has apparently gone down since the 60s, while men’s has stayed put. How ironic is that?

Secondly, its not just MRAs that say this.. A whole lot of ex-feminists do.. including ed-RadFem Janice Fiamengo recently.. She even says (PARAPHRASED) “Academic feminism isnt a scholarly enterprise. Its not really about studying the woman’s condition. Its just an academic arm of a special interest group that does indoctrination”.
And turns out that many atheists are rejecting all the big-ticket items of feminism.. such as Patriarchy Theory, Rape culture, Male Privilege over Female Privilege pretty much always, XXX Gaps and Glass Ceilings.

MRA JohnTheOther issued a challenge to PZ a while ago.. Anybody is free to take it up, including Notung. Take up big-ticket items, rather than nitpick.. thats the best way to demolish your opposition. And yeah.. leave sanctimony and accusations of misogyny back home. FTB did it to you guys. You guys did it to other guys within your group. There’s a lesson there.
_http://www.avoiceformen.com/misandry/if-you-cant-fight-wear-a-big-hat/

However, I’ll leave PZ with a challenge.
Address the substance of anything I’ve written in my last 100 articles on this site in a manner befitting an academic celebrity and intellectual. Show me where I’m wrong, and change my opinion. And do it without recourse to the usual tactics of censure, identity-politics and attempted shaming tactics.

177 tina March 18, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Thaumas @ 151
“Thanks for that interesting background research, tina, much appreciated. I’m aware of the concept of patriarchy itself, I’m asking about the dogma of Patriarchy Theory as espoused by some/many modern feminists (specifically those associated with FTB and Skepchick).”

They’re not coming out to play, so I will.

Accepting that feminism functions as a doctrine, (it is, after all, part of what an ‘ism’ is), one of the characteristics of doctrines is that they function to be somewhat self-sustaining. Let’s, for the sake of discussion, take patriarchy theory as foundational to all branches of feminism, shall we? It might not be, but hey…

If patriarchy does function in that way and achieves sufficient impetus to sustain itself beyond the point where actual cultural conditions warrant it: though not in all places or all at the same time, (somewhat like a religion that exceeds its sell by date).

Ok, but we still have the rump of it to deal with, and a very great deal of it to deal with in farfaraway land. Concentration on it here though creates a tension about dealing with the dwindling patriarchal attitudes here, and the highly problematic ones that exist elsewhere.

Anyway, the social conditions that enabled our movement away from it are still only relatively recent: the possibility of woman being economically independent of man, without being forced into penuary; social mobility, technology, expansion of the labour market, job opportunities, universal education, equalities legislation, the list goes on and on. Despite all of that advance, I notice that both men and women are still subservient to Capital; reflected in the fact that, even in deep recession, the rump of patriarchal politics does not actively legislate to remove women from the workforce. On the contrary, it uses the opportunities thrown up to encourage both into the labour pool into an ever increasing number of part time, low paid and temporary work, or with the introduction of work ‘schemes’ (sic), for the unemployed that border on forced labour, thus keeping both sexes, whether in families or not, in effective hock to economic insecurity.

The powerlessness felt by all in that turns in on itself and hunts both for someone to blame as well as for liberation strategies.

Patriarchy theory may be one of them: the idea being that what is necessary to change all this is to change the men, because it is the men who are the root of all these problems.

Easy enough then, to see how that could turn into dogmatic ideation leading to radical feminism targetting its venom at the, in this case, gender, considered to be responsible for the mess.

Feminism may be divided then, because it is, at one and the same time, aiming at both the wrong target AND the right target.

I dunno. Wot anyone think? This all speculative for the sake of discussion. bla bla bla…

178 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

“Eu March 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm”

Sorry Eu, hadn’t read it yet. Jumped the gun. :-)

179 oolon March 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm

However, the atheist and skeptic movements will leave people like Ophelia and PZ behind in the dust. We don’t need them and we don’t want them.

Weird that PZ has one of the most popular blogs in atheist-sceptic circles… I guess it must be Tuvok and his mates just checking to see when the end times are starting. The eschatology of the Slymepit foretells a Vacuous WonderBoy will battle the great tentacled beast, while all ridicule and mock him one day he will join the Slyme with the Free From Thought ones. On that day he and his disciples Tuvok the Dim and Franc the Kooky will lead us to a glorious new movement and sweep religion from the face of the internet!

180 Eu March 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Aw, it’s okay.

181 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Does anyone (tina?) have specific links to specific claims about patriarchy, privilege, etc. from these specific people (prominent bloggers and/or regular commenters at FTB/Skepchick (let’s leave the egregious stuff from the A+ forums out of this, that’s just too easy)), which would be a good encapsulation of specific dogmas? Bonus points if dogmas are directly being enforced against reasonable dissenters. I confess I rely largely on the diligent work of SPs who’ve been keeping closer track of these URLs than I have. I don’t spend as much time on FTB as I used to.

If the FTBers themselves aren’t willing to show up, we can at least present our case like Ken Miller did in his awesome video debunking cdesign proponentism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVRsWAjvQSg

182 monkeymind March 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm

“2. We can choose to want to de-escalate, rather than escalate, the hostility and hurt that has been one outcome of how we have addressed some disagreements.”

What purpose is served by letting these comments go on and on and on? It seems that it is only serving to escalate the hostility and hurt. Is anyone even paying the slightest bit of attention to the suggestions in the original post?

183 tina March 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Thaumas: No, I don’t. Academic texts from gender studies should be easy enough to find. I really don’t know what the FtB version of feminism is. I might go hunt some out.

Monkeymind: the purpose is discussion. Even violent conflicts can be ended with diplomacy and discussion. What the problem with it. You think it better everyone shut up? What use in that?

184 Jack March 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Monkeymind (182)

‘1. We can choose to robustly debate our disagreements about ideas, while not personally insulting or mocking people who disagree with us.’

That’s why. Your the second person today who I have seen ask for these discussions to stop. I suspect Michael will get to the point he feels there is nothing more that can be done here and that is his call.

I respect the fact that he has allowed open and free discussion no matter what his personal feelings about it. However it seems some have no interest in following the first point Michael made. Where is the ‘Robust debate’ ? That is why I made the comment about others joining as they have shown no inclination to do so and no evidence they ever did unless they can point score from it.

On any event if you have an issue with any of the posts you are free to point them out.

185 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Anytime you’d like to engage in productive dialogue, Oolon, just let us know.

186 Jack March 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Your=You’re

187 oolon March 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

@Thaumas, would say right back atcha, but we both know you be trolling :-)

188 tina March 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Is it really necessary to go look? Here’s a proposition.

1. For patriarchy to survive, Capital and Men must be in cahoots.

2. If Capital and Men really were in cahoots, society would look very different than it does.

3. It doesn’t look different that it does, therefore Capital and Men cannot be in cahoots.

4. Patriarchy cannot survive.

discuss…..

189 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm

“What purpose is served by letting these comments go on and on and on? It seems that it is only serving to escalate the hostility and hurt. Is anyone even paying the slightest bit of attention to the suggestions in the original post?”

Productive dialog, with the intent to move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities? Like Michael’s post is titled? Maybe? Are you interested in productive dialogue, Monkeymind?

Have I escalated hurt or hostility, Monkeymind? Could you please point it out if I have, so that I could apologize for it and retract it? Links/quotes would be most appreciated.

And yes, I’m paying very close attentions to the suggestions in the OP.

190 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 8:23 pm

“@Thaumas, would say right back atcha, but we both know you be trolling :-)”

I don’t even really have to comment on this one, but it just feels wrong to leave a quote without commenting on it. I must be the politest, most reasonable troll ever. All I ask for is for people to let me know what they’re talking about and show me evidence, and I’ll agree with them. That’s some nasty-ass trolling. “You keep using that word….”

191 tina March 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Oolon: If you keep practicing being a Master Troll, one day you might succeed.

192 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm

Meanwhile, at FTB, discussion continues about how to move beyond the rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities….

1 SallyStrange

March 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm (UTC -7)

I’m just amazed that Nugent hasn’t shut down those comments yet.

Amazed and disappointed.

2 Ophelia Benson

March 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm (UTC -7)

Not only has he not shut them down, he’s encouraging them.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/thats-libel/

193 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm

For context, the above is the same Ophelia Benson who I referred to in an earlier thread, when replying to ‘Stacy’. Reposting here for context, from the thread at “An interim response to Justin Vacula, by Michael Nugent on March 6, 2013″:

236 Thaumas Themelios March 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm

For the record, this is the initial summary of EG which I attempted to post at Ophelia Benson’s original Butterflies & Wheels/Notes blog, but which she deleted without being able to supply *any* good reason, except that she thought it ‘too long’. When I asked her why she thought it ‘too long’, though others had posted comments of similar length both prior and since, she had no reply.

Instead, I posted it on a (mostly defunct, for reasons irrelevant) little wiki I had been working on at the time: http://gnuatheism.wikispaces.com/Elevator+Guy+Kerfuffle

Can anyone explain why this summary of events was worthy of deletion *except* that it went contrary to the interpretation of events of Ophelia Benson?

Are you *really* surprised that most people think “It’s all because RW said, ‘Guys, don’t do that.’” when *all you are allowed to read* is that interpretation? When contrary opinions are censored? When bridges are burnt (Ophelia has thoroughly burnt her bridges with me, though I’ve done nothing (nothing!) against her personally) over *ideology*?

Are you really surprised that this is an enormous clusterfuck, when you ask *skeptics* to stop being *skeptics*? Seriously. I saw this coming as soon as my post was deleted. I knew something was up. This was *not* good skepticism. The *anti-thesis* of skepticism is what it is: Dogma.

194 loyalb March 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

mokneymind: “What purpose is served by letting these comments go on and on and on? It seems that it is only serving to escalate the hostility and hurt. Is anyone even paying the slightest bit of attention to the suggestions in the original post?”

Silencing the debate won’t deescalate anything. There are controversies which have to be discussed openly or they’ll never get resolved. Every time somebody gets shut out from having their say, it just adds to the animosity.

195 Jeff March 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Michael, whatever you do, whether you close this comment thread down or not, let it be YOUR decision, don’t submit to pressure from outside forces.

196 oolon March 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Oh love it when the slimers start their confessionals, sit in a circle and relate your story of pain, “my name is Thaumas and I’m still butthurt over a comment Ophelia deleted a couple of years ago”

1,500 word comment considered crap by Ophelia, years later he is still in a little tizzy about it all. Its just not cricket old chap!

Why don’t you just get over it, her blog, her rules. If she doesn’t want a verbose comment taking up pages of real estate then that’s her prerogative. Don’t comment there. Most people would of course give up and move on as they are not appreciated, but it seem Thaumas is so enamoured of his own great intellect he nurtures this internet slight and uses it to justify hanging out with his fellow butthurtians at the pit. Nice one, I’ll give you 8/10 on the saddo scale.

197 tina March 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Q. Can premises that include a counterfactual constitute a valid argument?

198 tina March 18, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Oooo look! Another bunch of valuable ad homs from the master.

199 John Greg March 18, 2013 at 11:10 pm

/sigh

I’ve done this before, and been called a liar for it, a shit disturber, a moron, a misogynist, a troll, a derailer, and various other lovely wee sobriquets, and been invited to become well acquainted with porcupines, and other pleasant stuff. But I have been asked to post it yet again, so I will. Some necessary disclaimers: 1. it has been a long time since my last banning from FfTB, so to some degree it is inevitable that some specifics of cause, time, date, etc., have become fuzzy; nonetheless, the overall gist is true. 2. I have been asked on several occasions, by the FfTB hit squad, to prove that my comments were deleted, and that I was banned. Such proof is almost impossible to provide; how do you prove something vanished? 3. The order of which blog I was banned from may be inaccurate, as it has been a long time.

And, no, Oolon, I am not now, nor ever have been butthurt about the bans; I am ashamed that such individuals as the FfTB blog hosts and commentariat claim the higher moral ground yet act like complete fascists and Orwellian history revisionists to try and maintain false consensus.

1. Banned, before I even posted a post, from Ophie’s pre-FfTB butterflies and Wheelies for calling PeeZus “PZ-MyVaginaIsMoreVaginaThanYourVagina-Myers”.

2. Banned from Ophie’s FfTB blog when she noticed that she had forgot to grandmother my previous ban, even though I had not posted anything, in the new FfTB blog, that was in any way contentious, or deviated from her (unstated) editorial policy and posting rules.

3. Banned from InSvanity’s Almost Diamonds blog for disagreeing with Zvan, and for being unable to prove that my posts had been deleted — I mean seriously, how the fuck do these morons expect us to prove something has vanished?

4. Banned from BlagHag’s blog for disagreeing with her and for pointing out some of her self-contradictions, and posting links and citations to back up my claims; also because I posted on the Slyme Pit.

5. Banned from Natalie Screed’s Endless Blog for disagreeing with her groundless redefinition of words and phrases just to match her ideology, and for telling a really weak and almost completely innocent joke about having worn women’s shirts when I was a professional musician and therefore I was transshirtist; Natalie called me hateful, transphobic, and sexist for that weak joke.

6. Banned from Laden’s bog for pointing out the specifics, using dictionary terms and other citations and examples, of how Watson’s boycott of Dawkins was inarguably a boycott; Laden threw his toys out of the pram, accused me of having serious mental health problems (PeeZus restated the same thing), and then banned me for life, and deleted most of my posts on his blog. I had had an earlier contretemps with this moron when I made an obvious joke about some gun thing or other, and he accused me of making threats.

7. Banned from Pharyngula for agreeing with PeeZus when he told his blog commenters that they were overreacting to the Pink Bunnygate affair. When PeeZus, having been soundly vilified by his hit squad, changed his mind, he hunted me down, blog-wise, and deleted every single post I had ever made on his site, accused me of lying about being moderated, edited (disemvowelled), and banned — then stated I was banned, and labelled me a bad, bad, guy, and threw me into his Dungeon.

8. Banned from Greta Christina’s blog because I posted on the Slyme Pit.

9. Banned from Eddy FatBoy Breytonne’s blog becaue I criticized his pals on other FfTB blogs — his statement; not mine — and because I posted on the ‘Pit.

10. Banned, off and on, from LousyCanucks blog for a variety of reasons, the primary one being for disagreeing with his interpretation and definition of feminism. This is a special case, becaue LousyCanuck has gone out of his way to try and set me up for failure in a variety of ways, including posting a comment from me, then claiming that “See, he wasn’t banned”; then moderating or banning me, and then claiming I was too chicken to return and thereby prove I wasn’t banned. LousyCanuck is a pretty mind-bogglngly morally bankrupt individual.

11. Banned from Crommunist’s blog for pointing out what a totally nutcase Half-fish is — like LousyCanuck, Crommunist is a special case who changes the bans so he can then, retroactively, so to speak, claim he never banned anyone, and that such claims are lies.

I suspect I am leaving out one or two more FfTB blogs, and I haven’t bothered mentioning my three bans from Skepchick, including my last ban for asking Watson a question she was unwilling to answer.

200 Tigzy March 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Thaumas Themelios wrote:
‘Does anyone (tina?) have specific links to specific claims about patriarchy, privilege, etc. from these specific people (prominent bloggers and/or regular commenters at FTB/Skepchick…’

Happy to oblige.

Here’s PZ’s infamous ‘privilege’ encounter with Noelplum99, which saw Noelplum getting banned. Why? See for yourself:

‘PZ Myers

27 November 2012 at 7:47 am (UTC -5)

Are you denying that we live in a patriarchal system, where women are second class citizens and men reap the benefits? If you are, you have a set of blinders on that you need to remove. Wake up.

Also, being offended at a reference to the patriarchy does not justify then lying about the content of a scientific paper.’

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/11/27/douche-defends-douching/comment-page-1/#comment-498985

PZ then goes on to give his views on patriarchy some substance by means of…well, see for yourself:

‘You want to know what the patriarchy is? It’s not the setting of a John Norman novel. It’s a systematic pattern of bias which everyone, man and woman, takes for granted and justifies by making bogus arguments like you are. You are the patriarchy personified, noelplum99.’

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/11/27/douche-defends-douching/comment-page-1/#comment-499253

Yep – teh patriarchy is totes realz, cos Noelplum99 personifies it. (Noelplum’s response was excellent, by the way: ‘And to think my mother said i would never amount to anything.’)

And if you thought this was brainfarty enough, have a look at what PZ likens his take on feminism to:

‘But anyway, I started to realize something: I don’t understand how these people think at all — they’re completely alien. Regarding feminism with contempt is a bit like regarding science with contempt: it’s incomprehensible to me, and I’m wondering if they really understand what they are throwing away.’

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/

Feminism. It’s like real gosh darn science, according to PZ. Clearly, the man is a voice vital to the rationalist community.

(links and excerpts reposted from ‘tpit at request).

201 CommanderTuvok March 18, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Oolon:

Weird that PZ has one of the most popular blogs in atheist-sceptic circles

One that is fading in popularity and influence. One whose reputation is now trashed in the wider community.

The eschatology of the Slymepit foretells a Vacuous WonderBoy will battle the great tentacled beast, while all ridicule and mock him one day he will join the Slyme with the Free From Thought ones. On that day he and his disciples Tuvok the Dim and Franc the Kooky will lead us to a glorious new movement and sweep religion from the face of the internet!

What medication are you on, Oolon?

PS – Ophelia, since you read here, until you actually call out actual “libel”, such as Rebecca Watson calling Ed Clint a rapist, and the continued accusations concerning “monopod guy”, you are dismissed. The claim that you posted by me was that Baboons use the terms “gender traitor”, “sister punisher” and “chill girl”, at your site and other FfTB sites. That is a demonstrable fact. You could always go and ask some of the women on the target end of those slurs – you know, actual empericial data!!!

Oh, and don’t try and take anything I said out of context, like you did with Shermer.

202 CommanderTuvok March 18, 2013 at 11:42 pm

BTW, Michael, someone at Ophelia’s is calling for your message board to shut down. The message from the FfTB heirachy has gone out. They MUST be obeyed, of course.

203 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 12:12 am

“Oh love it when the slimers start their confessionals, sit in a circle and relate your story of pain, “my name is Thaumas and I’m still butthurt over a comment Ophelia deleted a couple of years ago”

1,500 word comment considered crap by Ophelia, years later he is still in a little tizzy about it all. Its just not cricket old chap!”

You realize, Oolon, that this thread is going to be read by hundreds of people, right? You are aware of this, aren’t you?

Every one of those people can read the comment and decide for themselves if they think it is ‘crap’ or not. And then. They will read your comment, calling it crap. Are you really that unconcerned about your credibility? Can you demonstrate its crapness? Can you quote it and point out what’s wrong with it? Can you? No, you cannot. But please, do try. Your failure to do so will only ring louder in people’s ears, as the alarm bells of dogmatism.

204 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 12:25 am

“Why don’t you just get over it, her blog, her rules. If she doesn’t want a verbose comment taking up pages of real estate then that’s her prerogative. Don’t comment there.”

Um. I am over it. I was over it as soon as she sent her reply that she couldn’t think of any other reason to delete it, but still wanted it gone. I haven’t commented on her blog since. What gives you the impression I’m not over it?

The reason I brought it up is because it is directly relevant to the pattern of *dogmatism*. Yes, it’s Ophelia’s blog, she can run it however she wants. If she wants to run it as a dogmatist, she is 100% perfectly free to do that. And I am 100% perfectly free to show that she is indeed acting dogmatically. What’s the problem?

Its relevance, as I mentioned earlier in this thread, is that it is the very first explicit act of dogmatism that raised red flags for me. I sincerely wanted to know if I’d said something egregious in it, and I was prepared to apologize if I had. But she couldn’t think of anything I’d said wrong. She just deleted it. No reason. Just not something she wanted on her blog. *Questions* went *unanswered*. That’s *dogma*.

The content of the comment? Anyone is perfectly welcome to read it themselves. It presents my interpretation of the *source* of conflict in the affair now known as ‘ElevatorGate’. And while my opinion of PZ has degraded since then, I stand by everything else I stated in that comment.

And *isn’t it strange* that the very sources of conflict I identified in that comment almost two years ago, are the *same* sources of conflict we’re seeing now. My message has changed little since then. People are still too eager to ‘read minds’ and impute nefarious motivations onto people, assume an ‘us vs. them’ stance, believe rumours on insufficient evidence, and fail to examine their own inner biases.

Funny that. My comment in fact shares quite a bit with Michael’s points made in this blog. I think Michael’s said it better than anyone so far, myself included, but the concepts are the same as they were nearly two years ago.

205 Eu March 19, 2013 at 12:55 am

Yup, simple, she’s free to do what she wants on her blog and we’re free to make judgments on what she does.

206 Michael Nugent March 19, 2013 at 12:55 am

It has been brought to my attention today that a comment referred to a named person as a liar. That is a defamatory allegation, and I have removed it.

I have also removed allegations of other named persons lying from other comments on this post. When I have time to do so, I will go over all previous comments on this website and remove any other unsubstantiated allegations of named persons lying.

If you believe that somebody has said something that is inaccurate, please make that point and substantiate it, without attributing malign motivations to them.

From now on, any comments that include the words lie, lying or liar will go into moderation rather than being automatically published.

If you believe that any comments published on this website are defamatory about you, please contact me via the contact page and I will deal with it.

207 Eu March 19, 2013 at 12:56 am

…Has someone spiked my drink? *rubs eyes*

Are we deleting comments that contain the word liar, lie, lying in them? Does that actually say allegations of murder, harm, stalking…

208 Eu March 19, 2013 at 1:09 am

Michael, have they threatened to sue you? Did you even investigate the allegations before deleting them? You’re talking as if someone accused someone of abuse or murder or something. You know, something very rep destroying.

209 Michael Nugent March 19, 2013 at 1:15 am

Eu,

There is a difference between saying that somebody has said something that is incorrect (which is a claim that can be substantiated by evidence) and saying that somebody is lying (which is a malign attribution of somebody’s motivation).

And yes, outside of the desensitized environments of these disagreements, being accused of lying is very reputation destroying in the real world.

210 J. J. Ramsey March 19, 2013 at 1:25 am

@206: What if the allegations are substantiated? I’ve tried my best to make sure that the accusations I’ve made are backed up.

211 Kareem March 19, 2013 at 1:29 am

Can I just remind everyone, as another poster said, that these suggestions were guidelines for our behavior when talking to others.
I think we should all ask if we’ve been doing that here.

212 Michael Nugent March 19, 2013 at 1:33 am

JJ, you can substantiate claims that somebody said something that is incorrect, by providing evidence that what they said is incorrect.

It is a different thing to claim that somebody was intentionally, in order to deceive people, saying something that they knew was incorrect as they were saying it.

It’s also hard to see how you could know that is the case, unless the person involved admitted that they were lying.

213 Eu March 19, 2013 at 1:50 am

Michael, I have a hard time believing you don’t at least accuse people in your head of being dishonest at times where they can’t possibly just be “mistaken” (ex: They were ‘there’) , just repeating information they heard.

I have a hard time believing you are honestly this strict and critical about people saying that others are dishonest…

And it totally depends on the false allegation. Reputation destroying my butt.

214 Lumen222 March 19, 2013 at 2:01 am

169 Thaumas Themelios March 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm
Assuming one or the other is *actually* a slur, which is assuming quite a bit, actually, when you consider that over-the-top humour and satire is rampant on the pit. Michael’s examples were largely taken out of context, and in more than one case were clear sarcastic caricatures, even in their out-of-context state. I didn’t examine all 50. The point is if you cherry pick only the bad-looking stuff, you get an inaccurate picture of the whole site. I don’t think anyone was defending *actual* slurs by saying “you did it too!” If you think they were, then I would ask you to please provide specific examples, preferably with links and/or quotes so we can all understand the context you are referring to.”

I do not have links to the original context of the 50 examples, so I cannot speak to them as possible examples of Ad Hominem Tu Quoque. I tried doing searches on the pit, but I don’t even know what thread these are from.

However:
I went to Michael’s earlier post on “Nasty push Back”, and started scrolling down for the first reasonable example.
http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/03/examples-of-nasty-pushback-against-some-feminists-on-the-internet/

Comment #511.
Tigzy March 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm
@A Hermit

“‘When people on the slymepit are calling an individual woman “[vulgar term deleted]” they aren’t being affectionate, or joking or using the term in some innocuous cultural sense. They are using it to insult and demean and dehumanize her.

Pretending otherwise is simply dishonest.’”

Tigzy Responds:
“But no more so that saying ‘Go die in a fire. I mean it’, ‘Eat broken glass’, ‘Fuck yourself off a bridge’ etc. is insulting, demeaning and dehumanzing. As well as potentially triggering, come to that.

Really, given this background, on what basis should the rest of us accept the FTB crowd as arbiters of what consitutes a ‘respectable’ insult?”

Please note that is only about 10 posts down from the top due to the wrapping of the comments, so I did not have to go far. Yes, I understand the point of the comment is “hypocrisy”. My point is that it is classic Ad Hominem Tu Quoque. It is in response to a comment about the effect/intention of calling someone a “[vulgar term deleted]” posted in the comments of a blog post that is specifically addressing what appear to be a long list of rather disturbing (if out of context) statements and whether they are morally acceptable. Whether FTB is “just as bad” is not the question in this instance.

Now this poster makes other more sound arguments in the thread. As I previously stated pointing to an ad hominem does not invalidate an entire position. But you asked for an example so I made an effort to comply.

Earlier in this thread I specifically chose to point out this type of Ad Hominem because I think it is essentially keyed into a large part of the conversation that is completely stale. Namely the “hypocrisy” argument. It is in no way advancing any reasonable argument forward. It is often derailing what start out to be interesting conversations. Between that and the tendency to Tu Quoque I just see people going in circles.

215 Eu March 19, 2013 at 2:16 am

@ JJ Ramsey 209, um, if people were to simply say “That didn’t happen” others would decide for themselves if they were doing it on purpose. You act as if simply saying someone did makes up people’s minds for them. Claiming that an accusation of libel can completely shut down third parties is hilarious. THIS, where your stuffs deleted and future things are moderated is closer to that.

216 Eu March 19, 2013 at 2:17 am

Whoa Ramsey my bad, you never said that. Someone else did though.

217 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 2:20 am

Fair enough, Michael, and I hereby withdraw my knee-jerk retaliatory claim of deceptiveness by Oolon. If Oolon’s willing to apologize for his earlier claim against me, I will likewise apologize to him. In any case, I apologize to you for my mis-step. I agree with your pointing out the problems with such allegations, and I’d also suggest adding the past-tense ‘lied’ to the list, if it’s not already covered by the present-tense version, which as a programmer I’m thinking it won’t be. Pressing Submit to test my hypothesis.

218 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 2:21 am

Oh, wait. Last comment was innocuous but went into moderation anyway…. Maybe I wasn’t.

219 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 2:22 am

Weird.

220 Michael Nugent March 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

I’ve written a new post on the primacy of reasonable dialogue in the atheist and skeptic communities

http://www.michaelnugent.com/2013/03/19/onthe-primacy-of-reasonable-dialogue-in-the-atheist-and-skeptic-communities/

221 Zenspace March 19, 2013 at 3:06 am

Dear Michael,
By way of introduction, I am a former Pharyngula (FtB) fan, who has since left the fold. I departed long before the events around Elevatorgate resulted in the so called ‘deep rifts’ in the atheist community. I left because I detected, long before it became obvious, that something was rotten within the core leadership of that group. It wasn’t until much, much later that my unfocused suspicions were confirmed and resolved: the group was moving away from science/skepticism and gradually succumbing to a very specific ideology. I will not re-iterate what has been present on your recent blogs much more clearly than I am able. Please consider my comments of an editorial nature. I long ago burned out on the debates and am not here to participate directly in them anymore. However, I wanted to touch on something that I think is critically important to you and the future of atheism/skepticism.

First, as much as time allows I’ve been following the debate on your recent blog entries, such as this one. When the series started, I thought it was clear you were a pawn of the FtB crowd. Seeing a picture of them on the AI Facebook header along with their invitation to the upcoming Women in Skepticism conference, along with your posting which seemed, to me, to carry a clear bias led me to expect the worst. I am enormously pleased to say you proved my suspicions entirely wrong. While not perfect, especially early on, you have shown a surprising amount of fairness in the moderation of what has been a very contentious discussion. You actually seemed to get better at it as it went along. This tells me that you have come to the same realization that I did only a few months ago: That a certain maligned group of persons were anything but what was being portayed by FtB, which has a much larger and established platform.

After Al Stefanelli left FtB, I followed his blog and that led me to the Slimepit. The Pit crowd was rude, rough, crass, juvenile and brilliant. As a completely open forum anything and (almost) everything goes. Thre embers freely debate each other ruthlessly and invite anyone to join in. It is a mad free-for-all, but with a critical underlying factor: skepticism, facts and evidence rule. The rough and tumble give and take is not for everyone, that’s for sure. Still, not everything has a simple black and white answer. Take the recent episode involving a picture with a ‘named persons’ face edited into it. You called attention to this yourself. After an unknown vistor posted the image (never to be heard from again) a debate amongst the pit members ensued. The debate is still there for all to see, because the Pit does not delete or edit posts unless a possible legal offense is involved. Rather, as you can see yourself if you take the time, the debate focused on how best to address the incident without compromising the open/unedited ethos of the community, while still making clear that the post was unacceptable. A more-or-less acceptable compromise was reached – remove the image, but retain a link if someone was curious enough to go back and see what the fuss was about.

The raucous integrity on display at the Pit continues to impress. They are committed to one thing other than their running debates: the unending calling out of the ongoing hypocrisy that is FtB. As you almost certainly know by now, the Pit was born of a powerplay by the core persons of FtB, and the Pit remains committed to shining a very bright light on FtB. The level of animosity held by FtB towards the Pit is a direct result of the factual effectiveness of the Pit’s activities – more and more people are seeing what the members of the Pit have known for years. Pushback has been growing on all sides as the popularity and credibility of FtB and its associates continues to decline. The pushback on many Youtube channels is growing. The recent video posted by C0nc0rdance being a prime example from a neutral source. This entry was recently posted on JREF:

“Myriad wrote:For those following the general evolution of the misogyny-in-atheism controversy in the blogosphere, during the past few weeks most of the attention of its participants has shifted to Michael Nugent’s blog.

Summarizing many lengthy blog posts and thousands of comments, what basically happened is that Nugent heard the shocking revelations about rampant sexism and abuse in the atheist community, and credulously blasted the evil slymepit on his blog. However, unlike some others in similar cases, he moderated the resulting comment threads fairly, and over time, a different picture emerged, as slymepit and A+/FtB partisans have made their respective cases. Most recently, Nugent has posted a “how we should all get along” position calling for, basically, sound skeptical practice. The comments on that post are interesting. “They keep lying about us” vs. “They don’t think women are human beings.” The bickering goes on, but it’s increasingly clear that it’s not between two equally strong or equally honest positions.”

Lastly, I’d like to point out what should be obvious: Note that none of the core FtB personalities will respond openly or directly either here or on the Pit itself, even though there is absolutely no restriction on them. Banning is only done at FtB. They only respond indirectly either by proxy or within the confines of their protected spaces. As should now be self evident, when placed in an open forum they cannot control, their arguments and positions fail utterly and they know it. You’ve seen the failure of their proxy arguments here.

I’ve already gone on longer than intended, but I felt it was important to point out that your growing recognition of the facts and your clearly evidenced caution and fairness have been noted. Thank you for that. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’ve seen the pressure being applied by comments from the members of FtB to shut down this conversation, because they know they have been outed. Keep up the good work.

222 Eu March 19, 2013 at 3:17 am

I didn’t read that comment but it sounds nice Zenspace, Michael should totally read it.

223 rorschach March 19, 2013 at 6:22 am

The raucous integrity on display at the Pit continues to impress.

That loud noise you just heard was a million irony meters exploding at the same time.

224 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 19, 2013 at 7:37 am

rorschach: your concern is noted.

225 Steersman March 19, 2013 at 7:37 am

Michael said (#209):

There is a difference between saying that somebody has said something that is incorrect (which is a claim that can be substantiated by evidence) and saying that somebody is lying (which is a malign attribution of somebody’s motivation).

That certainly seems to be one definition of the word, although it also seems not to be the only one (1):

3 lie verb
lied ly•ing
Definition of LIE
intransitive verb
1: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive;
2: to create a false or misleading impression;

4 lie noun
Definition of LIE
1a : an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive;
1b : an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker;
2: something that misleads or deceives;
3: a charge of lying (see 3 lie);

Seems that (2) of (3 lie verb) leaves it open for the one who sees or hears the statement to decide whether it corresponds to their own knowledge or perceptions, and to then say that the statement is, or appears to be, a lie.

However, in passing, my impression is that an awful lot of these conversations go off the rails because different people have or select – carelessly, inadvertently, or maliciously – entirely different definitions for different words – “sexism”, and “feminism” being biggies, in part because those different definitions fit into or support a particular narrative or worldview or philosophy. I would recommend that people be more careful about their choice of words, particularly “loaded” ones, and be prepared to defend their particular uses and charges based on them.


1) “_http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lie”;

226 Ichthyic March 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

Every one of those people can read the comment and decide for themselves if they think it is ‘crap’ or not. And then. They will read your comment, calling it crap.

*reads Oolon’s comments here*

yup, it’s nothing but crap.

hope that works out for them.

227 Steersman March 19, 2013 at 8:18 am

Speaking of banning by various Freethought bloggers, I figure the classic case, notable for its categorical “four legs good; two legs bad” quality, has to be this from the infamous PZ Myers (1):

400. PZ Myers
22 December 2012 at 8:16 am (UTC -5)

Skeptixx: Slymepitters are never welcome here — your gang crosses the line from sexism into outright misogyny, and I don’t think that group’s fondness for inventing ‘creative’ versions of people’s names using crude slang for genitals counts as rational discussion. Banned with extreme prejudice.

The proximate cause of such draconian imperiousness, if not bigotry? This (2) rather mild attempt to take PZ at his word and give some observations on his question “An experiment: why do you despise feminism?”:

317. skeptixx
22 December 2012 at 12:35 am (UTC -5)

1) Has anyone, including Shermer, actually said they (quoting PZ) “despise feminism”, with feminism defined as “equality for men and women”? I’m hearing the crunch, crunch of straw.

2) PZ, if you’re so interested in hearing from people you think of as are “anti-feminists” to find out what’s going on in their heads, and presumably you have the Slyme Pit in mind as one collection of such people, why don’t you simply go to the Slyme Pit, register, and post your question there?

Fair warning that you will have to start by actually defining “anti-feminist” and establishing that any actually exist among the group you claim is rife with them. I know it may be a while since anyone here pressed you to do basics like that, but it’s pretty standard requirement in a discussion among actual skeptics.

Looks rather much to me like PZ went off the deep-end there for no particularly good reason except maybe peevishness. But maybe I’m biased ….


1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518693”;

228 rorschach March 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

LOL, I wish ‘pitters would make up their minds. Are you guys content with being creepy misogynist trolls whose sole motivation is that they have an ax to grind with PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson, or do you actually plan on adding something useful and of substance to the atheism cause anytime soon?

229 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

“Are you guys content with being creepy misogynist trolls whose sole motivation is that they have an ax to grind with PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson”

I smell some strawman burning…

And I know I’m not actually helping the conversation by doing that, but, rorschach: [citation needed]

230 Steersman March 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

J. J. Ramsey said (#144):

And Steersman, when I wrote, “those who frequently engages in puerile personal attacks, or who sometimes make up strawmen and even occasionally slander,” I wrote it with full awareness that it didn’t describe people on only one side of the conflict.

Sorry, that wasn’t all that clear from the context of your original comment (#135). But, yes, I’ll agree that it does, fortunately or not, describe at least some people on both sides of the conflict – almost any conflict it seems. And because of that tendency it does make it harder for all concerned to separate the wheat from the chaff to see where the truth of matter actually resides.

231 oolon March 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

Thaumas is right about that as I usually only call people liars when there is obvious intent… So I do apologise for calling Thaumas a liar as I have no idea if he had any intent in what I saw as an untruth. Probably a good thing to have on comment moderation as its easy to start saying liar, but very hard to prove.

Also interesting that the comment that kicked it off by Tuvok mentioned “chill girl” was created by the FtB lot… Seems it was someone on the other “side” and they were criticised for calling women “girls” by Caine. Slymepit has probably already seen it as they spend more time reading FtBs than anyone… But still here for reference ->
http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/thats-libel/#comment-505491

I’d also recommend Ophelias “youre-making-this-much-too-complicated” post to Thaumas and the other whiny slimepitters… If you can think of a rational reason why someone on their *own* blog should *have* to allow every comment through regardless… Well it would be interesting to see your arguments. Also interesting to know why you feel such a compulsion to follow that blog thereafter and not just move on to a new community when you are obviously not wanted. I left the Slymepit. I don’t read it anymore, why would I read what people I have little in common with have to say?

232 Steersman March 19, 2013 at 9:46 am

Oolon said (#231):

Also interesting to know why you feel such a compulsion to follow that blog thereafter and not just move on to a new community when you are obviously not wanted.

Just because some group wishes to exclude you is no guarantee that their actions and decisions don’t or won’t have far-reaching effects on your life. The Catholic Church, for example ….

233 Eu March 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

“LOL, I wish ‘pitters would make up their minds. Are you guys content with being creepy misogynist trolls whose sole motivation is that they have an ax to grind with PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson, or do you actually plan on adding something useful and of substance to the atheism cause anytime soon?”

rorschach, are you just fucking trolling, or are you seriously implying that pitters don’t also talk about atheism? And what are YOU adding to the cause of atheism besides a religion?

This “you’re a misogynist” stuff reminds me of WBC. In their little book, it says “love your neighbor,” so they feel they’re allowed to tell others who they hate if they don’t follow it. I’m sorry, but going “you hate your neighbor” doesn’t make it true og them… and going “You hate women” doesn’t make it true of them either. Who are you to tell people what they hate?

FFS, not going along with the bullshit doesn’t make you a misogynist. As if you speak for women.

234 J. J. Ramsey March 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

JJ, you can substantiate claims that somebody said something that is incorrect, by providing evidence that what they said is incorrect.

True, and I think that showing someone making contradictory claims, even if the contradiction appears subtle at first, does that.

It is a different thing to claim that somebody was intentionally, … , saying something that they knew was incorrect as they were saying it.

Yes, but I think it can be done. If someone says something false when the circumstances indicate that said someone was clearly in a position to know otherwise, then it can strain credulity to accept the falsehood as accidental.

235 Gurdur March 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm

@ Rorschach
I have some questions for you, Rorschach, seeing that you’ve turned up on this thread. Who do you define as “slimepitters”? I ask because you made a comment elsewhere in which you strongly implied or even simply stated that Russell Blackford, Jeremy Stangroom, and (heavens above) even Jean Kazez and Kylie Sturgess were all slimepitters.

Just trying to get the authoritative list and definition here.

236 Lumen222 March 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Eu March 19, 2013 at 11:06 am
“rorschach, are you just fucking trolling, or are you seriously implying that pitters don’t also talk about atheism?”

Perusing the Slymepit itself and reviewing the comments made by self identifying “pitters” here and in other places I will point out that from what I’ve seen the majority of your conversations and posts reference FTB, PZ, RW, A+, and OB. Even conversations that are supposedly not about this controversy often seem to contain asides about these people/organizations. Certainly the majority of the posts are dedicated to ridiculing the enemy and documenting in great depth their misdeeds.

So yes, to an outsider the Pit does seem to be almost entirely self identified by this schism and extremely obsessed with goings on of the major players. The conversations about atheism are almost entirely through the lens of “not being FTB”.

237 Eu March 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Lumen222, that’s like saying a math teacher only talks about math because you only see him at school. Nice try.

238 Eu March 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm

You didn’t even go as far as to read the pit, let alone check out the videos and work of many members there… some who run atheist stuff..just said, “well the fact that when you come here to debate, you’re always debating about FTB.” That’s ignorant as hell, Lumen222. You didn’t even try.

239 Eu March 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

I mean, you don’t need to do your research, but if you don’t, don’t try to act like you are qualified to say what they do and don’t do.

240 Jack March 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Lumen222 (236)

Many of us are active elsewhere in our atheist endeavours. People can post to more than one forum you know. I prefer to discuss with Theists and discussions with atheists about non-belief bore me for instance.

But you are right, the purpose of the Sylmpit, as clearly stated many times, is to resist attempts by some in the community to turn it into a Rad Fem/SJW movement. So the accusation it is not about atheism is useless and has no meaning. In any event what peo0ple do with their time is no one else’s business and a complete strawman.

241 Eu March 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Yeah Jack and even then there are discussions about other shit in general, don’t see any illness (obsession) in criticizing an atrocious group.

242 Lumen222 March 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I did not claim that the people at the slymepit do not do other things with their time or comment on other websites. I went there and have looked at comments on other websites by people who self identify as “Pitters” and pointed out that the identity is presented online with a very narrow focus. When people talk about being a “Pitter” they are generally focused primarily on reacting to very specific individuals and organizations. Huge swaths of the slymepit focus on these organizations/people or reference them. This is the face you are presenting as “Pitters”. If you have other faces and identities they are not well represented on the slymepit website, so I don’t think it’s reasonable for you to expect others to know about them.

If you want to resist Rad Fem/SJW then it’s still a pretty narrow focus, but at least there is room to discuss larger feminist concepts and what is/isn’t a problem and possible solutions. However, as I said, the focus is very much on a handful of people and there is a lot of yes Obsession with their minutia. There is very little emphasis on convincing people that Rad Fem/SJW is a problem and a lot of evidence on discrediting specfic individuals who you feel represent it. Do you really think that if you somehow succeed to vanquish these foes that your case will be made?

I’m unconvinced.

243 John Greg March 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Lumen222 said:

“When people talk about being a “Pitter” they are generally focused primarily on reacting to very specific individuals and organizations.”

Yes, this is basically true. The Pit does not have any sort of specific primary purpose, even less so, a goal. The Pit originated as little more than a post disagreeing with Rebecca Watson’s treatment of Stef McGraw, and grew from there with the only element that could be called a cause or a focus being nothing much more than trying to point out, highlight, and provide proofs for the myriad instances of blatant deceit and hypocrisy of the Skepchick / FfTB / and latterly, the A+ communities, bloggers, and commentariat.

And I think that for the most part, the Pit has done a good job of highlighting these shortcomings of the Moral Heroes of FfTB, et al.

Yes, there are shortcomings on the Pit side too, and yes there are some people who post some fairly nasty stuff. But, like it or not, and contrary to the Room 101 Grannies of FfTB et al, that is the price you pay for true freedom of thought and freedom of speech.

As has been pointed out endlessly to the FfTB howlers, they do not have to spend so much time endlessly “visiting” the Pit. But they get a thrill doing so, and it feeds their vigorous righteous anger.

Lumen222 also said:

“There is very little emphasis on convincing people that Rad Fem/SJW is a problem and a lot of evidence on discrediting specfic individuals who you feel represent it.”

There are a couple of reasons for your perception of that. 1. The Pit does not and never has had such a focus or goal; that’s not what the Pit is about. 2. I suspect there is more attention paid to those topics than you think, but have you read the more than 17, 350 posts at the current Pit, and the however many thousands at the old Pit? I thought not.

244 Cian March 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Michael , you have been open and honest about your intentions, and you have called it as you have seen it ( and been more than generous to the FTB side of this I might add – actually favouring them to be honest).

Look what happens when they disagree with you ( the disagreement seems to be the fact that you are not censorious and are prepared to listen to those who you disagree with) … They do not want dialogue, they mock your allusion to the Northern Ireland conflict/reconciliation. She mocks your use of words ( which is rich coming from Benson seeing as her blog posts are regularly cut and paste from third parties with a few words from herself) . They know best and that is that!!

Look at that line below from Benson – pure paranoia. Michael is encouraging THEM!!!! HE IS EVIL!!!!

Michael encourages BOTH sides to talk. He is honest enough and intellectually honest enough to hear differing view points ( and maybe even learn from them ). The main reason I stooped visiting FTb a year or two ago was the truly un-Socratic nature of it and the sycophancy. I hate to say it but it really is cultish!

“_http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/03/thats-libel/”

1

SallyStrange
March 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm (UTC -7) Link to this comment
I’m just amazed that Nugent hasn’t shut down those comments yet.

Amazed and disappointed.

2

Ophelia Benson
March 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm (UTC -7)
Not only has he not shut them down, he’s encouraging them.

23

Stacy
March 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm (UTC -7)
has anyone asked Michael what his purpose in letting this go on and on is

Yes. I’ll take the liberty of quoting from his Facebook PM to me: “The only way to have an actual impact on problems like this is to engage in dialogue, regardless of how much we mistrust people who disagree with us.
Otherwise the problems will simply continue to escalate.”

I think he thinks our community is like Northern Ireland. But it’s not. We don’t have to live with these people. We don’t want to have anything to do with them; they can have their Slymepit and welcome to it; if they’d stop lying and harassing people we’d be happy to ignore them.

24

Ophelia Benson
March 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm (UTC -7)
“people who disagree with us”?

Jesus fucking christ.

Michael, your head is very close to being stuffed and hung above the mantelpiece with Shermer, Dawkins, Kirby, Strangroom, Blackford, Radford, Mayhew, Ed Clint, Harriet Hall, DJ Groethe … I fear you will have to repent to their priests and throw yourself at their mercy or you will face the same fate. :)

245 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm

“Thaumas is right about that as I usually only call people liars when there is obvious intent… So I do apologise for calling Thaumas a liar as I have no idea if he had any intent in what I saw as an untruth. Probably a good thing to have on comment moderation as its easy to start saying liar, but very hard to prove. ”

Thank you, Oolon. I also apologize to you for saying you had lied about me. I still believe your statement was false, but I have no knowledge of your intent, and in the interests of furthering dialogue, I should have refrained from jumping to conclusions. I accept your apology, and I hope you accept mine. Cheers!

246 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm

“Well it would be interesting to see your arguments.”

Interesting? Not boring? Are you sure? Might want to check with Ophelia on that. I wouldn’t want to accidentally knock you unconscious with an old comment of mine that hasn’t made it past Ophelia’s boredom filter, and that couldn’t possibly have any relevance to this two year conflict that’s been going on. That would just be too boring, doncha know.

And you know, it would be nice to be able to post my arguments on her blog in response. Funny, though. I don’t really feel welcome there, and I’d prefer not to intrude.

247 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 8:42 pm

“Also interesting to know why you feel such a compulsion to follow that blog thereafter and not just move on to a new community when you are obviously not wanted.”

I unsubscribed from Ophelia’s blog July 4, 2012, according to the Deleted folder on my Thunderbird. No specific reason, just wasn’t interested in her unsubstantiated opinions anymore. That was a bit more than a month after I unsubbed from Pharyngula. Now in *that* case, I had a specific reason, in not wanting to give him any ‘hits’ of any kind anymore.

You seem to buy into this idea that people who disagree with you or your group are necessarily ‘obsessed’. Where does that idea come from? Are you not concerned how that looks when you throw around clinical terms like that? What does it say about people with OCD or other forms of obsession?

As Ophelia phrases it, it’s much simpler than that. I simply disagree strongly with her behaviour and the ideology she’s promoting. It’s exactly the same reason I’m an atheist activist in the first place, to counteract the harm of religion/theism in society. I have nothing against theists themselves. But I do certainly put in quite a bit of effort to counter their efforts to shape society. Exactly the same as how I put in quite a bit of effort to counter the efforts of dogmatists pushing this particular brand of feminism and/or social justice (which is extremely ironic to me, since I support *actual* social justice efforts). It’s the dogma. I’ve been saying it from day one. You turn something into a dogma, I will oppose it. Simple as that.

248 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm

“I left the Slymepit. I don’t read it anymore, why would I read what people I have little in common with have to say?”

If I was Oolon, I’d ask, “Then why are you so obsessed with them?” 😉

249 Lumen222 March 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm

John Greg:
“Have you read the more than 17, 350 posts at the current Pit, and the however many thousands at the old Pit? I thought not.”

I’m confused why you feel I should dig deeper into the “Pit” when you and Jack have just told me that my assessment is correct?

What disturbs me greatly is I’m getting the impression that you guys don’t actually care about convincing anyone of any particular argument or bringing about any change. I have tried many times to see what the purpose of all this is, but inevitably it continually cycles around to the same quote mining, the same few personalities and dredging up of the same few past events. Jack led me to believe that there is concern with the effects on Rad/Fem on the Atheist movement. But then some say no. This is very confusing to me because I do not see the reason to constantly monitor the movements and goings on of these people, to keep such careful records on their misdeeds, or to publicly call them out and attack them for their ideas if you are not actually trying to protect/change something about the community or the message… or something?

So please tell me. What DO you want? Because at the moment all I’m getting here is “Rebecca Watson’s Blood, and PZ Meyers head on a platter.”

250 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Lumen222, are you familiar with their attempt at reshaping the atheism movement, which they called Atheism+? It’s the epitome of what’s wrong with their ideology. Here’s Noelplum99’s own reasoning for his opposition to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF3LHRgYwFU

251 John Greg March 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Lumen222, I get the impression that you are having some difficulty coming to terms with the fact that the Pit is not one homogenous group with a set goal or ideology to which we all agree and to which we all aim.

That is not what the Pit is at all.

The Pit is a widley, maybe even wildly, diverse group of people with an endlessly variable range of opinions and perspectives, often in conflict. As some people have described it, the Pit is a neighbourhood pub, with a vast variety of different people with different interests, but wherein we all agree that discussion and debate demand freedom of thought and expression.

About the only thing we almost generally all agree on, topically speaking, is that the FfTB, Skepchick, and latterly A+ communities, bloggers, and commentariat, and some tangential but related individuals within the so-called skeptic / athiest communities are toxic, dogmatic, deeply fanatical, profoundly hypocritical, and often quite deceitful.

And most of the Pit population seem to feel that that unhealthy environment needs to be uncovered and exposed and opened to the public in general so that fewer people are taken in by the mendacity and the fanatical, divisive, deceptive, ideolgy.

PeeZus, Watson, Zvan, et al, are merely the carriers and spreaders of this diseased fanaticism and hypocrisy, and therefore the focus of the expose.

As for what is wanted, we all, each one of us, individually, want a variety of things; different things; the range is vast.

As for me, personally, among other things, I want the FfTB, Skepchick, and A+ communities to be exposed for the toxic sludge they are.

252 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 10:17 pm

“236 Lumen222 March 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Eu March 19, 2013 at 11:06 am
“rorschach, are you just fucking trolling, or are you seriously implying that pitters don’t also talk about atheism?”

Perusing the Slymepit itself and reviewing the comments made by self identifying “pitters” here and in other places I will point out that from what I’ve seen the majority of your conversations and posts reference FTB, PZ, RW, A+, and OB. Even conversations that are supposedly not about this controversy often seem to contain asides about these people/organizations. Certainly the majority of the posts are dedicated to ridiculing the enemy and documenting in great depth their misdeeds. ”

Lumen222, I’m a member of dozens of groups on Facebook, subscribe to over 50 blogs and podcasts, and comment occasionally on about 10 of them, subscribe to hundreds of YouTube channels, nearly all atheism-related, and have been an active contributor at one forum for just over 7 years now, and another one prior to that for about 2 years. I’ve confronted hundreds of theists of all stripes and helped other atheists/rationalists to refine their arguments through debate and demonstration.

I also *happen* to be a member of the Slymepit forum, and recently have been more focused on dealing with this issue *within* the atheist/skeptic movement(s) because *they* want to exclude *me* from expressing my opinions. And not just me, but hundreds of other people as well. All based on an ideological dogma.

So, yes, I use the Slymepit the same way I use other fora, to share ideas and links, to commiserate and laugh with others facing the same insanity, and to try to help others in any way I can (which admittedly is not much).

Many of the members of the Slymepit are veterans of the atheist movement. Certainly all the folks from Abbie’s ERV threads (the original ‘slimepit’) are. The Slymepit does not define us. It’s a forum. We are individuals.

253 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm

” I went there and have looked at comments on other websites by people who self identify as “Pitters” and pointed out that the identity is presented online with a very narrow focus. When people talk about being a “Pitter” they are generally focused primarily on reacting to very specific individuals and organizations. Huge swaths of the slymepit focus on these organizations/people or reference them. This is the face you are presenting as “Pitters”. If you have other faces and identities they are not well represented on the slymepit website, so I don’t think it’s reasonable for you to expect others to know about them. ”

And?

So what? Do you go to a forum about cars and get surprised that people there only seem to talk about cars? It’s like they’re *obsessed*!!! with cars.

Except they have lives and interests outside of that one forum. And maybe they’re a little shy about revealing personal details on the car forum. So? If you want to find out what I’m about, there’s a link on my name just above. You’ll find almost *nothing* about FTB through that, unless you dig *really* *really* deep. Because I keep my atheism-advocacy stuff separate from my anti-atheism+dogma stuff. They don’t mix well. It would be pointless of me to go on to the Slymepit and try to convince all the atheists there to give up theism because they’re not theists. Duh. Likewise, it would be pointless of me to go to an AvT forum and tell all the theists about the internal problems we’re having in the atheist movement with dogmatists attempting an ideological hijacking of the atheist/skeptical movement(s). (Though if a theist was interested in that, I would have no qualms about explaining the situation and my take on it, I just wouldn’t bring it up myself.)

254 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 11:07 pm

“However, as I said, the focus is very much on a handful of people and there is a lot of yes Obsession with their minutia. ”

I guess you’ve never been involved in debunking someone like Kent Hovind or Ray Comfort. When they Hovind was active, there was indeed a lot of focus on him and ‘obsession’ with the minutia of his rhetoric and unethical practices. Do you really think ‘obsession’ is the right word for that? And indeed, we made great fun of him and his insanity. He said and did ridiculous things, we ridiculed him for it.

And you know what? He’s in jail now. For breaking the law. The moral ‘authority’ turns out to be an immoral scumbag. Who’da guessed it?!

It’s the same deal here, Lumen, though we haven’t yet seen anything as egregious as tax evasion. But, just as if no one scrutinized Hovind, he’d have gotten away with a lot more, the same is true of these folks, who have already been documented doing *clearly* unethical things (e.g. threats of violence, interfering with peoples’ employment, spreading demonstrably false rumours, etc.), if not quite illegal (yet, and hopefully never).

We see harmful behaviour, we scrutinize it and disassemble it, hunt down inconsistencies in public claims, and seek to find ways to prevent this ideological hijacking from succeeding in the long long term.

As for myself, I am strongly committed to ensuring that I only undertake in activism that I can defend as ethical. I cannot speak for others, but I *can* say that I *will not* cooperate with anyone who has been confirmed as doing something clearly unethical. As yet, I’ve not seen anything that could be so categorized from members of the pit. I stand ready to be corrected on that, pending adequate evidence. But so far, I’m satisfied with their ethical boundaries, as far as I’m aware. (If anyone can point out something clearly unethical, please point it out and I’ll join you in condemning it. But, fair warning, mere accusations and/or rumours are not enough for me. I need actual, verifiable evidence.)

I was pretty heavily involved in online social activism against the second George W. Bush campaign too. I even joined forums like the DailyKos to engage in that activism. Most discussions on that forum at that time focused on ‘major figures’ and ‘minutiae’ too. There were even crude jokes and photoshops and everything. Does that make all those people ‘obsessed’, or just concerned and socially, politically active?

255 Thaumas Themelios March 19, 2013 at 11:43 pm

“There is very little emphasis on convincing people that Rad Fem/SJW is a problem and a lot of evidence on discrediting specfic individuals who you feel represent it. Do you really think that if you somehow succeed to vanquish these foes that your case will be made?

I’m unconvinced.”

So, you don’t consider blocking/banning/deleting/modifying dissent is a problem in a *skeptical* movement?

How about spreading demonstrably false rumours about a real person, of committing a serious crime (upskirt photography), all over the internet in communities he’s a part of, with *no* evidence that such activity had taken place? (This went on for *weeks*, by the way, resisting all reasoned attempts to shut it down, until finally they could no longer deny the emptiness of their rumour. And *these* were so-called *skeptics*.)

How about spreading smears against ideological opponents. Is that a problem, in your view? What would be your reaction if you found someone spreading a false allegation that you had openly admitted to being a *literal* rapist? Would that be a ‘problem’ for you?

The reason these things get personal is that they *make* them personal. Character assassination is their modus operandi. It seems rather ridiculous to me that we should not be allowed to insult them, or even *joke* about them, while they are not merely insulting, but spreading false allegations and accusations around.

Note that I largely (not always) refrain from insults in this affair. That is my choice, as Michael’s post explains. But I reserve the right to use insulting language, if I should feel the need. There’s nothing *actually* wrong with that. It may result in unhappy circumstances for me if I over-indulge in it, but that’s my risk to take, and I get to judge when I should or shouldn’t say something offensive. My words, my choice. (To paraphrase.)

As long as I do no *actual* harm to anyone, there should be no problem. People may not like me for it, but again, that’s a consequence I negotiate on my own.

Where I draw the line is *actual* harm. *Actual* reputation-damaging smears, allegations, or accusations. Not mere insults.

So, insult me all you like till the cows come home. But accuse me of something I haven’t done, or of being something I’m not, and you have made it personal. Do it to another person — cause actual harm to them or their reputations — and you’ve made it personal to them, and if I’m able, I’ll attempt to counter those behaviours as well. (Indeed, I have opposed certain claims made by certain opponents (including some Slymepitters) of FTB/A+ers when I’ve felt they’ve crossed this line; if you want examples of that, I can provide them).

Most importantly, however, try to impose a dogma on me or my communit(ies) (or any community I can help), and I’ll *definitely* oppose that to the best of my ability, and within reasonable ethical constraints.

256 Eu March 20, 2013 at 12:01 am

You know what? I am getting tired of the same old statements on the pit. They are an exaggeration (as well as the opposite of an exaggeration depending on how you see it) to the point of a… L-word. To the point of being plain false.

257 Thaumas Themelios March 20, 2013 at 12:13 am

I agree, Eu, on some occasions I feel the same, and on some of those where I wasn’t ‘late to the party’, I’ve spoken up about them. Since the pit moves so fast, and I’m a relatively infrequent poster there, most of the time I’ve done this outside of the pit per se, But if you read my intro post there, you’ll see that from the beginning I’ve been trying to find ways to handle this conflict in ways that reduce these kinds of ‘escalations’, which can get one’s point across without resorting to snipes and jabs, and which — most importantly — doesn’t ask anyone to ‘sell out’ or go ‘accommodationist’ or anything like that: http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=95&p=1052

258 Eu March 20, 2013 at 12:33 am

Aww, you were always a little thinker huh? Very cool. I would expect you to at least start out christian as a toddler.

259 Eu March 20, 2013 at 3:31 am

Ooo, Lumen222 if you ever feel up to it try to participate in the atheism+ forum or at least look around. The abusive is prevalent.

260 Michael Kingsford Gray March 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Lumen222 March 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm

What disturbs me greatly is I’m getting the impression that you guys don’t actually care about convincing anyone of any articular argument or bringing about any change

Your observation is quite accurate, as it happens.
“Most” of “us” care not about vapid short-term political outcomes, but instead care PASSIONATELY about what is TRUE.

261 Eu March 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Lumen222 how desperate would we be if we continued to care so much if we got to say anything to them or set anything straight considering it’s been a while annnddd nothing like that has happened?

Why should that be a great disturbance to you? What matters is if what is said is true and if it *should* be convincing someone to change.

262 Brenda March 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Thank you for this. I’ve appropriated your awesome “choices” and we’re encouraging members of our atheist group here in Oklahoma to read them and take them to heart. Of course I’ve cited you as a source and directed folks to your blog. Keep going, it’s a hard slog but civility is well worth the effort!

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