Structure and dedicated website for the atheist skeptic dialogue

by Michael Nugent on March 26, 2013

We hope to start the structured dialogue some time this week, on a new website dedicated to this project: http://atheistskepticdialogue.com

The process will be moderated by a team that includes people from both perceived ‘sides’ to keep the dialogue constructive and on-topic.

For each agenda item, we will start with two opening statements, that will be published simultaneously, one each from a person associated with either of the perceived ‘sides’.

The first opening statements will be compiled by Stephanie Zvan (Almost Diamonds) and Tim Skellett (Gurdur) [update: the second statement was compiled by Jack Smith, not Tim Skellett].

We might also have input from a person active in atheist or skeptic advocacy who has not been involved in any of the rifts.

When these opening statements have been published, other participants will comment on them, and indicate to what extent these statements reflect their own opinions.

The people who published the opening statements will then respond both to each other and to the discussion.

We will repeat this until we have reached as close to a consensus as we can attain. This will include identifying areas where we agree to differ.

We will also learn as we go along how to fine-tune or adapt the structure for future agenda items.

Reminder of Agenda

1. How we can work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world.

2. How we can balance the right to freedom of expression and robust debate about ideas and issues, with the desire to not unnecessarily hurt people who disagree with us about those ideas.

3. How and to what extent our various communities and groups should have ethical and equality and social justice issues on our internal and external agendas.

4. How we can each, as individuals, lead unilaterally by example by behaving reasonably and charitably and constructively, while others are not doing so.

5. Any other issues that people believe are important to address.

Spirit of the dialogue

Ultimately the outcomes of this dialogue cannot be enforced on anybody, so I hope that everyone who takes part will lead by example by creating a constructive dialogue that other reasonable people will want to voluntarily choose to get involved with.

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{ 304 comments… read them below or add one }

251 Steersman March 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Aratina Cage said (#182):

you keep insisting, repeatedly and uncharitably, that those rather nebulous “feelings” should still somehow override any other considerations as to the value of the statements, their truth and accuracy ….

When you say that, I hear this from you: “I don’t care about her feelings.”

Well then, I think you need to have your hearing checked by a competent specialist in the field because I sure as fuck said nothing of the sort, or even remotely like it. Maybe you would care to quote precisely where and when and what I said in that regard? To make such an unsupported assertion or suggestion looks rather much like the antithesis of a charitable reading of one’s interlocutor.

Caring is not the same thing as abnegation, or grovelling in front of those supposedly “infallible feelings” – you might try to understand the difference; I would suggest recourse to a decent dictionary for starters.

However, there are also times when questioning the feelings of other people is morally unjustifiable, and I believe this is one of those times.

Yes, well, young-earth creationists believe the world is some 6000 years old, and most Muslims believe that all Christians and Jews will be tormented in hell for ever. That someone believes something is hardly proof that it is in fact true – you know, one of those issues that supposedly differentiates skeptics from dogmaticists – of various stripes.

So why make them so damn personal? Why not talk about those kinds of attitudes and values in language or comic-form that is humorous and tasteful and useful and not degrading? Why the doctored, mocking photos and the slathering of insinuations and all the rest that make Skepsheik’s web comic so hurtful?

You might want to ask Skepsheik that, but my impression is that it is somewhat of a question of getting people’s attention – sort of like the punch line in the old joke about the mule. Which, if you’d read that Wikipedia article I provided earlier, is the purpose and value of caricature. Do you really honestly think that someone posting some innocuous comment on Myers’ blog – “Please sir, but if I may be so bold as to suggest it, but perchance, maybe there’s some discrepancy between your words and deeds?” – is going to get much traction? Assuming the comment isn’t immediately “disem-voweled” (“ha, ha; such a kidder, that PZ”) and the poster consigned to the dungeon.

as an example, consider the last one

No. I am not going to consider any of the content of Skepsheik’s web comics. They are not something we should even be talking about, no thanks to Phil.

Do you not realize that that makes you appear virtually the same as the creationist who puts his fingers in his ears and says “Nyah, nyah; can’t hear you!”? How the fuck do you think we are going to progress if people refuse to face facts? Fucking anti-intellectual, indeed.

the gutless wonders on FreethoughtBlogs and related sites

Again with the polarizing language. Do you want them to talk with you or not?

Yes, of course, I do; that was merely a challenge, a throwing down of the gauntlet, which is easily met, with me proven wrong, simply by showing up here or on the moderated discussion threads once they get on track. That so few have done so, at least in the former case, suggests that they prefer to take cheap shots – as more than a few have done – at the “Pitters” and others of their supposed “ilk” from the safety of the moderated blogs they own or comment on where their targets are banned, and which then gives some justification for thinking that “gutless wonder” is being charitable. One might even say – analogous to the rather specious FfTB argument that accusing someone of having made a sexist comment is not an accusation that they are a sexist – that such behaviours are rather chickenshit without that in the least being an accusation that they are, in fact, chickenshits.

See, you consider the values and attitudes of FTB bloggers (and a couple other bloggers) to be the trolley, and you are willing to pull the switch to let the trolley run over a few people (like the ones targeted by Skepsheik) for the greater good.

Seems to me that you need to spend some time reading more philosophy such as on utilitarianism – that philosophy “which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers” – which is a perfectly credible one that informs all sorts of our personal and social values, everything from disciplining children to incarcerating criminals to taxation and fiscal policies to sacrificing soldiers’ lives. You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think putting scare quotes around “the greater good” is going to buy you much.

252 John Greg March 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Aratina, your mendacious meanderings are hurting my feelings. I think you better stop posting altogether now.

Just ’cause.

And I read a comic book yesterday that hurt my feelings too. But I’m not gonna say anything to the writers of the comic ’cause they’re just so mean. But I think the writer, the colourist, the artist, and all else involved in that comic should stop writing comic books for ever and ever ’cause they hurt my feelings.

And, no, I’m not gonna ask them directly to stop writing comic books ’cause they should just know anyway that they have hurt my and other people’s feelings and also other people who also do not need to directly confront them and ask them not to write hurtful comics ’cause they should know anyway ’cause they just should ’cause if their gonna write hurtful comics they should just stop just ’cause.

And no, I’m not even gonna post a post about how I wish they would stop talking about me. Instead, I’m just gonna post a post and make up things that they did not do and I’m gonna say that they did do them ’cause that’s the best way to get my fanboises to cover my back and invent their own magic things about the things those evil evil people did that they didn’t actually do but I can say they did ’cause no one is gonna naysay me and anyway if they do naysay me I can just delete what they say anyway and then everyone will know that we are all in agreement, Like Totes, and anyone who is not in agreement, Like Totes, will just vanish and then I can say whatever I want about them ’cause they can’t come in and naysay me anymore those evil evil people who naysay me but no longer can.

Just ’cause.

Look, Aratina, just because some shit slinging hypocrites don’t want us to continue to expose their blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy, is no reason for us to hold back on such exposure. Regardless of your endless and pointless and wholly mendacious whining.

253 Jeff March 29, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Here’s a random collection of gentle and thoughtful suggestions penned by the non-harassing folk at FtB.

Now I don’t know much about this multi-verse hypothesis that I’ve heard Dawkins talk about…. but can someone tell me in what universe is this kind of talk okay, but the aforementioned comic is harassment? Why are the feelings of people who are targeted by the comic important, but the feelings of the people targeted by the comments below not important? In what universe does this make even the tiniest bit of sense?


‘Fuck yourself with a sharp stick’

‘find a splintering stick and fuck yourself up the ass’

‘go fuck yourself. And then die in a fire’

‘Go. Fuck. Yourself. With a Hefty Bag full of rottweilers’

‘Go fuck yourself with a chainsaw in that festering pustule of an asshole of yours’

‘Fuck yourself Charles- IN THE ASS’

‘You can fuck yourself with a razor-bladed stick and go die in a ditch, you pompous, lying, gutless, disingenuous fuck’

‘Take your gun, lube the barrel and fuck your self in the ass.’

‘you should be fucked sideways with a rusty knife’

‘Do us all a favor and kill yourself before you have a chance to have children’

‘you can go fuck yourself. Do it deep, long and hard.’

‘Go die in a fucking fire. The world will be a better place without you in it.’

‘I will, however, say that this fuck up here is a complete asshole and needs to die in a fire’

‘Go and die painfully, okay?’

‘Go fuck yourself sideways with a rusting chainsaw, you vapid, godbotting wank’

‘fuck yourself up the ass with a splintering cross’

And just in case anyone should think things improved once PZ Myers moved to Freethought Blogs:

‘I’m not just “ranting”, I’m acting on my cause, which right now is to rid the world of master trolls like you. And my chosen course of action in service of that cause is to feed the troll until it explodes. Now fuck off and die.’

‘You know what? Suck it [named commenter]. And fuck off and die. You’re no ally; you’re an apologist. Get the hell out of here.’

‘You are such a piece of honky shit, pretending they do so as much as they did prior. Fuck off and die.’

‘Being a “honky McStraighterson,” I didn’t need to fucking read this bullshit. Fuck off and die, [named commenter].’

‘Fuck off and die under your bridge. You’ll make much better compost than you make a simulacrum of humanity, precious.’

‘Fuck off and die, asshole. And before you do, learn how to spell “shit”.’

‘And you know her motivations how? Fuck off and die.’

‘Fuck off and die, you scum-sucking bottom feeder. You deserve to have a dumptruck’s worth of used tampons and maxipads and pee sticks emptied over your car, preferably after they’ve been fermenting in the hot sun for a month.’

‘Fuck off and die. You’re a scum bag and I wouldn’t turn my back on you for any amount of money. You’re the reason I have to keep my guard up for myself and my friends. You pose as an ally but you’re an enabler or worse.’

‘Pre-emptive response to whiny MRAs: fuck off and die, assholes.’

‘Fuck off and die, [named person]. Perferably the latter.’

‘Fuck off and die, slimepitter. Honest enough for you, asshole?’

‘Fuck off and die, you asswipe troll.’

‘What a vile fucking sack of shit you are. Please fuck off and die you lying misogynist scumbag’

‘Fuck off and die in a fire. Pretty please. ‘

‘Fuck off and die, you revolting flap of skin, and stop whining about being treated rudely’

‘Go take a nap in an incinerator virtualsatyr. You repugnant fuck. You don’t deserve your mother.’

‘So, benniepoo, jump off a bridge. You’re unworthy of our oxygen.’

‘Die in a fire, you filthy rapist.’

254 John C. Welch March 29, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I find the concept of caging our fellow animals disgusting and aratina’s nickname to be deeply hurtful to me.

I think they should find a new nickname that doesn’t bring to mind such horribly mean behavior.

255 John Greg March 30, 2013 at 12:15 am

This! SO much This!

256 WootheReaper March 30, 2013 at 2:29 am

-@John Greg great post… OF COURSE people don’t like their hypocrisy, biases, or bullshit being exposed. Take what happened at PZ’s blog when I followed Alina’s lead on pointing out that what PZ had done was worse than the richards men… Even if he had the womens consent, he did not have the consent of the conference to *stage* himself embarrassing a random volunteer.

257 WootheReaper March 30, 2013 at 2:31 am

-@John Greg great post… OF COURSE people don’t like their hypocrissi, byasesor bullcjitbeing exposed. Take what happened at PZ’s blog when I followed Alina’s lead (not with her hystwrical opinions on it, of corse…) on pointing out that what PZ had done was worse than the richards men… Even if he had the womens consent, he did not have the consent of the conference to *stage* himself embarrassing a random volunteer (But we all know she was only a volunteer. PZ’s followers li-worded to protect him. It was such a site… Them blatantly li/ing like dogs.)

258 A Hermit March 30, 2013 at 4:27 am

Pitchguest March 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

#181 A Hermit

NEVER read Jonathan Swift. Never read Gulliver’s Travels and don’t ever, under any circumstances, read A Modest Proposal. A 60-year old man ridiculing and satirizing the upper-class by depicting a royal Lilliputian getting drenched in piss by a giant. A 60-year old man mocking the establishment, and again the upper-class, by making the proposal to resolve poverty, the impoverished working class should sell their children off to the rich as food.

Too late, I read them long before you were born son. That’s how I know the difference between social satire and cheap, self serving mockery.

A masterful satirist, whose humour and wit was apparently unrecognizable to that of an 8-year old.

You’re not seriously suggesting that “Peezus and O” is on a par with Jonathon Swift are you?!

259 John Greg March 30, 2013 at 6:21 am

A Hermit said:

That’s how I know the difference between social satire and cheap, self serving mockery.

Except that, quite clearly, you do not.

Had you said something like That’s how I know the difference between sophisticated and complex literary social satire, and plain and uncomplicated comic social satire, you might have had a valid point.

But, you did not. And you do not.

You are simply disagreeing because you want to disagree because no mountain of otherwise will shift your ideological block.

260 Pogsurf March 30, 2013 at 6:57 am

Thank you for the Massimo Pigliucci link at #248, Steersman. I haven’t had a chance to read it thoroughly yet, but a brief scan indicates to me that the topic is right up my street.

Michael, I think I may have made a comment which has disappeared down the worm-hole of moderation. Could you kindly take a look back? If you are unable to publish it for whatever reason, could you kindly e-mail it back to me so that I can consider why it might be problematical. Thanks.

261 Steersman March 30, 2013 at 7:45 am

Pogsurf (#258):

My pleasure: passing the torch, Fahrenheit 451, and all that … :-)

But he has some very interesting observations and discussions on a great many topics – more than I have the time to follow, including, somewhat apropos, some trenchant comments on the “New Atheism”, particularly the brand exemplified by PZ Myers, that you might also be interested in ….

262 Michael Nugent March 30, 2013 at 11:59 am

As a quick update, opening statements from Stephanie and Tim should be online by 5 pm Irish time tomorrow, Sunday, along with moderation guidelines, on the dedicated website http://atheistskepticdialogue.com

263 WootheReaper March 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Michael, how many hours is that from now? I don’t know Irish time

264 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Woo: GMT + 0.

265 Michael Nugent March 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Woo, it’s now 12.33 in the afternoon in Ireland.

266 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Just an addendum: it might be a bit worrying that some poeple don’t seem to know (or care) about time zones for the debate WRT different time zones.

267 John C. Welch March 30, 2013 at 10:54 pm

The fact that one person (dis)likes a given webcomic, or that it is (not) as good as something else does make it (in)valid satire. That is up to the individual. This attempt to create some ‘definition’ of what is ‘proper’ satire is comic material in and of itself. What, we need a board? Who’s on it, a priest, a rabbi, and an atheist? Are the meetings in a bar, a golf course or a fun house? And who’s a frayed knot?

The whole “That’s not satire” is some of the best unintentional comedy I’ve seen in a while.

268 Pogsurf March 31, 2013 at 2:48 am

In the words of Charles Caleb Colton, “imitation is the sincerest of flattery”. Satire is a form of imitation, albeit the lowest one.

Two more good recommendations via links, thank you Steersman.

269 WootheReaper March 31, 2013 at 3:20 am

Oh wow, A Hermit. Mocking satire is mocking satire. End of story. The subjects of satire wont like it. Whether you think it is cheap or beautiful prose, it still mocks someone. You’re just putting your respected people’s satire in a dress and your enemies’ satire in a garbage bag is all. Quit playing. There is nothing you can say to excuse anyone else doing satire if you condemn your enemies’ satire on the grounds of offensive mockery. It’s all offensive mockery. End of.

The FTB comments… Holy shit on a stick, they are worse than I thought. You can tell some are really trying to hurt their victims, and for what? Go kill yourself? I want you to die a painful death? You flap of skin? Junp off a bridge because you’re not worthy of our oxygen? Dayummm… Some of those are seriously bitchy and assholeish and Shitty Person-y, and if I know them they have no excuse…

Some love what they themselves call dehumanization, and using racist words such as “honky.” Honky is considered a racist word against white ‘slut’ women. Last mention I saw of it was this incident on a train of a guy talking about the ‘honkies’ and how honkies are. What on Earth are they doing using it? That one really surprised me. That’s worse than slut, skank, hoe, whore, etc.

270 A Hermit March 31, 2013 at 4:22 am

WootheReaper March 31, 2013 at 3:20 am

Oh wow, A Hermit. Mocking satire is mocking satire. End of story. The subjects of satire wont like it. Whether you think it is cheap or beautiful prose, it still mocks someone.

Have you read Swift?! He didn’t make a habit of mocking an individual’s appearance; he satirized ideas and social conventions.

Satire is one of those things that has to be done well if it is to have any value. Tossing off a lazy piece of crap “artwork” with even lazier slurs doesn’t rise to the level of satire.

There’s a difference between a Van Gogh and a paint-by-numbers kit too…don’t tell me they are both “art”…

271 Pogsurf March 31, 2013 at 6:17 am

A Hermit,

There’s a difference between a Van Gogh and a paint-by-numbers kit too…don’t tell me they are both “art”…

I would say they are both art, because they involve creativity using artist materials. Why do you say it’s not art?

272 Pogsurf March 31, 2013 at 6:19 am

Sorry, should read: Why do you say they not both art?

273 Pogsurf March 31, 2013 at 6:20 am

Help I can’t type today!

3rd attempt: Why do you say they are not both art?

274 Aratina Cage March 31, 2013 at 6:28 am

Iamcuriousblue:

what it looks like to me is that such people are classic members of the “hard left” who are just chomping at the bit to take away the rights of anybody who disagrees with them.

I think that is mistaken, too. At most, some people want to have a place or places where not everything goes. It’s not taking away your rights in any way.

And, yes, that is very much at issue, looking at the rhetoric of “[A] and [B]” about “shipping out” if you don’t agree with them.

You don’t have to agree with A, B, or C! As I said, I’ve had major disagreements on some areas, even been angered to the point that I stop interacting with some person. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the place or even sometimes the things said by the person I’ve argued with or avoid.

that kind of “hard left” mentality that’s commonplace among the FTB/Skepchick/A+ crowd is a major sticking point for me

If I don’t like someone’s style of argumentation, I ignore it or avoid that person or, if it really bugs me, I complain about it to them or the moderators. Is that something you can do?

What I expect, however, is to not be treated by the leaders of various secularist political orgs as being part of some grand conspiracy of “hate directed against women” for simply opposing hard left politics. Is that too much to ask?

Are you sure they would think that simply because you oppose something you call the “hard left”? Are you sure there isn’t more to it than that?

I’ve been in and around politics for many years, and this kind of things isn’t new in my experience. I remember in the 1980s when various Leninist groups sought to dominate the anti-war movement. A very similar situation to what I see hard-line feminists and social justice warriors doing with secularism today.

I don’t know how you make that connection or why what the so-called Leninist groups did was so bad. Your mentioning it doesn’t ring any alarm bells in my head. Why should it?

WootheReaper:

And are you saying there are times when pointing out facts can be morally wrong? Can you give me an example?

Not really. I mean, I can think of times when pointing out facts would indeed be morally wrong (outing someone in hiding, for instance), but that’s not what I meant.

Steersman:

Maybe you would care to quote precisely where and when and what I said in that regard?

I did! You quoted it yourself when you quoted me.

Yes, well, young-earth creationists believe the world is some 6000 years old, and most Muslims believe that all Christians and Jews will be tormented in hell for ever. That someone believes something is hardly proof that it is in fact true – you know, one of those issues that supposedly differentiates skeptics from dogmaticists – of various stripes.

This isn’t black and white like you paint it. In context, of course those religious beliefs are silly. I already pointed out several ways this differs from that. And can we please not go back to that horribly misguided effort to label people “dogmatists”? I don’t think it was fair then, and I don’t think it is fair now.

my impression is that it is somewhat of a question of getting people’s attention

Of course that is part of it. What’s the point of making something if it doesn’t get people’s attention? Getting people’s attention is an intrinsic property of stuff like that. If you don’t get that, you fail at whatever it was you were trying to do.

Do you not realize that that makes you appear virtually the same as the creationist who puts his fingers in his ears and says “Nyah, nyah; can’t hear you!”?

Steersman, please do not compare me to a creationist again. That aggravates me to no end. Please cease doing that.

How the fuck do you think we are going to progress if people refuse to face facts? Fucking anti-intellectual, indeed.

Your first question that I quoted? Answered again.

Yes, of course, I do [want to talk to them]

I think that polarizing talk is self-defeating after a point. It’s useful at first to get attention (!), yes, but I think we are way past that now.

That so few have done so, at least in the former case, suggests that they prefer to take cheap shots – as more than a few have done – at the “Pitters” and others of their supposed “ilk” from the safety of the moderated blogs they own or comment on where their targets are banned

Or, you know, they might just not want to have a talk with you or the other ‘pitters and the rest. You can call it cheap shots if you want, but it’s probably more for them than for you; I’m not sure that qualifies as “a cheap shot”.

You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think putting scare quotes around “the greater good” is going to buy you much.

I put quotes around it because I don’t believe what you are doing is for the greater good. You might believe it is, but I don’t think you are right about that. I’ve already given you links to evidence that the Pharyngula or “FTB” way of choosing to not use homophobic/anti-gay slurs works to a real greater good and how the Slymepit/”slimepit” way of desensitization through common usage leads to a really problematic outcome.

John Greg:

Aratina, your mendacious meanderings are hurting my feelings. I think you better stop posting altogether now.

I really could do without this kind of talk from you, yet again, John.

Look, Aratina, just because some shit slinging hypocrites don’t want us to continue to expose their blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy, is no reason for us to hold back on such exposure.

What if you are wrong, though? What if they are not “shit slinging hyocrites”? What if you are not exposing any “blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy”? If you are wrong, factually or morally, then those might be sufficient reasons for you to hold back on such things.

Jeff:
You are quote-mining! I already debunked every single one of those long, long ago on Pharyngula using a nicely formatted HTML list that has become practically useless over time as Scienceblogs’ document structure changed and changed. The debunking was done by me personally! None of the ones that are real threats were made by regulars but by trolls, or they were quoted on Pharyngula and showed up regardless in the search results. Plus, you’re quoting a guy who admitted to sockpuppeting tens of people across a handful of blogs; you’re quoting a known fabricator. And two other things: 1) Telling someone to “go fuck yourself” is not anything like what concerns us about the Slymepit/”slimepit”. Adding ridiculously impossible or humorous things to that phrase is a form of absurd, possibly sadistic humor, not misogyny or sexism. 2) Even if you do dredge up some horrible thing said on Pharyngula, Pharyngula has moved past that by miles. So give it up, dude.

275 Steersman March 31, 2013 at 7:04 am

WootheReaper said (#234):

@that chart rayshul posted.. kinda shocking… but I think acathode isn’t really thinking at all when he assumes that the chart truly represents blacks and males. I think women are caught less for multiple crimes as well as investigated less, especially when it comes to abuse. They’re also reported less. Not to mention any innocents in jail. Same with the black statistics. Concluding “Oh, men and black people must be 10 times more evil than women and white people” instead of thinking was very dumb on acathode’s part…

Woo, in passing, it would help a great deal, and you’re likely to get more responses, if you were to quote something from the comment you were responding to instead of obliging others to look for what you were referring to. Likewise with providing the relevant links, (1) in this case.

But while I haven’t read those particular statistics in detail, I’ve frequently quoted a similar set – maybe the same sources – from Wikipedia (2) that shows that same disparity – about ten times as many men in prison as there are women. And while I’ll readily concede that there are probably significant environmental factors that explain significant portions of those differences – maybe men have traditionally had to be the ones to go out into the world while women have traditionally kept the hearth fires burning which entailed a different set of trade-offs: as the old joke has it, many women have kept the wolf from the door by letting him in – I expect that there are still significant genetic factors that have to be considered to account for the rest of those differences.

For instance, you might want to take a look at this chapter (3) from Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate which has these interesting observations, among others, on some relevant aspects of men:

But of course the minds of men and women are not identical, and recent reviews of sex differences have converged on some reliable differences. Sometimes the differences are large, with only slight overlap in the bell curves.
….
With some other traits the differences are small on average but can be large at the extremes. That happens for two reasons. When two bell curves partly overlap, the farther out along the tail you go, the larger the discrepancies between the groups. For example, men on average are taller than women, and the discrepancy is greater for more extreme values. At a height of five foot ten, men outnumber women by a ratio of thirty to one; at a height of six feet, men outnumber women by a ratio of two thousand to one. Also, confirming an expectation from evolutionary psychology, for many traits the bell curve for males is flatter and wider than the curve for females. That is, there are proportionally more males at the extremes. Along the left tail of the curve, one finds that boys are far more likely to be dyslexic, learning disabled, attention deficient, emotionally disturbed, and mentally retarded (at least for some types of retardation). At the right tail, one finds that in a sample of talented students who score above 700 (out of 800) on the mathematics section of the Scholastic Assessment Test, boys outnumber girls by thirteen to one, even though the scores of boys and girls are similar within the bulk of the curve.

Given those rather problematic genetic predispositions – and others he describes in more detail – on the part of men, it is maybe not surprising that they might have some effects on the distribution of men and women in prison populations.

—-
1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=80136#p80136”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_States#Race”;
3) “_http://www.pasadena.edu/files/syllabi/txcave_18360.pdf”;

276 Steersman March 31, 2013 at 7:42 am

Aratina Cage said (#274):

Maybe you would care to quote precisely where and when and what I said in that regard?

I did! You quoted it yourself when you quoted me.

That is pure, unadulterated horse shit.

Me saying (#251) “you keep insisting, repeatedly and uncharitably, that those rather nebulous ‘feelings’ should still somehow override any other considerations as to the value of the statements, their truth and accuracy” in absolutely no way justifies you claiming that I am saying “I don’t care about her feelings”.

Steersman, please do not compare me to a creationist again. That aggravates me to no end. Please cease doing that.

I might consider doing that when you cease acting like that creationist: if the shoe fits.

You’re barking up the wrong tree if you think putting scare quotes around “the greater good” is going to buy you much.

I put quotes around it because I don’t believe what you are doing is for the greater good. You might believe it is, but I don’t think you are right about that.

Ok, so we both believe that our policies and recommendations will do more for the greater good than the other persons’. But how do you expect us to resolve that question if you refuse to address the arguments and facts and figures I’ve put on the table? Rather in the same way that creationists refuse to face the facts about evolution.

277 Gurdur March 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

LOL, Aratina. You really don’t get it, do you? What you really don’t want to get is others see through this all. They only need to look at how EllenBeth Wachs was treated in person on Pharyngula, how Julian was treated. If they know Julian was a longterm Pharyngula supporter, and no slimepitter at all, and they know that EllenBeth Wachs is a feminist, and they see how Pharyngula handled those two, then ……

But don’t let me stop you keep on trying the impossible. Please, do go on. :-)

278 Aratina Cage March 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Steersman:

That is pure, unadulterated horse shit.

Are you perhaps unwilling to read what you write and see how dismissive it is of other people?

I might consider doing that when you cease acting like that creationist: if the shoe fits.

You know what? That is as close to “demonizing” an atheist as you can come. Please stop.

how do you expect us to resolve that question if you refuse to address the arguments and facts and figures I’ve put on the table?

I don’t want to talk about that specific item. I’ve already said why.

Rather in the same way that creationists refuse to face the facts about evolution.

Evolution is a scientific theory, not a dissection of what one or two people did in the past during their lives. For that reason, I reject your comparison as ridiculous hyperbole.

Gurdur:

LOL, Aratina. You really don’t get it, do you? What you really don’t want to get is others see through this all. They only need to look at how [one person] was treated in person on Pharyngula, how [another person] was treated. If they know [the latter] was a longterm Pharyngula supporter, and no slimepitter at all, and they know that [the former] is a feminist, and they see how Pharyngula handled those two, then ……

Then what? Then everyone on the planet would condemn Pharyngula? Is that what you are thinking? I think there is a good chance that most people might be able to see both of those situations with a little more nuance than that.

But don’t let me stop you keep on trying the impossible.

As I recall, I am the one who presented the facts about Pharyngula along with a thorough insider explanation. But then again, that concerned allegations made against me.

279 Jack March 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm

The statements are up.

http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/

280 Jack March 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Also a Nugent new post

http://www.michaelnugent.com/

281 Iamcuriousblue March 31, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Well, Arantina, as a matter of fact there’s a great deal wrong with entryism, particularly to increase the influence of an ideology that in practice was responsible for the death of millions. (Funny thing how so many who belong to a movement critical of religion have zero criticism of quasi-religious political movements that are every bit as bad.) Anyway, just keep showing me how blinkered and short-sighted your perspective really is.

And I suppose you’re right – there’s little to be gained from dialogue with people who have nothing of worth to contribute, hence, nothing to be gained by talking to you.

282 Iamcuriousblue March 31, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Damn the lack of an “edit” function.

283 Steersman March 31, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Iamcuriousblue said (#281):

Damn the lack of an “edit” function.

I frequently suggest using the “Preview” function on most if not all FTB sites ….

284 Steersman March 31, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Aratina Cage said (#278):

Are you perhaps unwilling to read what you write and see how dismissive it is of other people?

Yes, I can certainly see that it is “dismissive”, but that was the purpose of it. And the reason is that you were even more dismissive of my argument as you (#182) egregiously and dishonestly implied “I don’t care about her feelings”, and argued that those feelings “do override whatever benefit [people happen] to get from Skepsheik’s work” without making the slightest effort to address my detailed discussion (#146) of what those “benefits” might be. I’ve seen creationists – “intelligent design” propronents in particular – who were less “dismissive” in the face of similar facts.

You know what? That is as close to “demonizing” an atheist as you can come. Please stop.

Sorry, no can do. There seem to be a great many atheists who believe all sorts of wild and wooly things with the same degree of certainty and the same lack of evidence as do many if not most creationists, so I figure that comparison is one of the more appropriate analogies to utilize. If the shoe fits then wear it. Or change your stance and maybe your feet will follow.

I don’t want to talk about that specific item. I’ve already said why.

And I’ve already said why that is rather analogous to some of the worst behaviours of various creationists. You said earlier (#108) that “I do not identify as a skeptic”, and I think that is virtually the worst thing you could admit to, particularly in this neck of the woods. And that unskeptical attitude is, I think, at the heart of the fact that far too many atheists – and feminists – seem to have transmogrified their principles into dogma – rather like many creationists.

Evolution is a scientific theory, not a dissection of what one or two people did in the past during their lives. For that reason, I reject your comparison as ridiculous hyperbole.

The supposed similarities in the analogy – you too should read the article on the topic (2) – are not a theory on the one hand, and past behaviours on the other, but the refusal to address facts in each case: the creationist’s refusal to look at the geological records versus your refusal to look at the benefits of those cartoons. But I’ll readily concede the “hyperbole” – did you know (probably not) that they (1) are “figures of speech”, and “exaggerations to create emphasis or effect” – but “ridiculous” is probably only your subjective evaluation predicated on an uncomfortable awareness that there’s probably some truth to the comparison.


1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy#Identity_of_relation”;

285 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 2:01 am

Hey, Nugent, could you take moderation off and just moderate certain words on the dialogue site? I think it’s making the site run very slow since you seem busy. There are only 4 comments total (2 each) and of course, none on the commenter to commenter side.

286 Steersman April 1, 2013 at 2:30 am

Woo (#285):

He did say:

Comments will be moderated before they are approved. Also, the first comments will not be approved until the moderating team can evaluate the general tone of the comments, and work out practical details of how to moderate the process, so please be patient after you post early comments.

As he said, “patience”. You might also want to read the “How to Participate” section in some detail.

287 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 3:18 am

I read that section and it looks like the starting tone is polite so lets get this show on the road.

288 Aratina Cage April 1, 2013 at 5:07 am

So, the Red Scare is a thing again? I think that is wholly uncalled for, Iamcuriousblue, but it is a bit ironic to see an atheist fomenting that sort of thing.

289 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 5:48 am

Aratina, it looks like you arent for the dialogue plan going on. Just know that people put several days of work into it and that they’re serious. I don’t want to see anyone ignoring that by saying its all some trap or that they arent truly interested.

290 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 5:51 am

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Now, after this, I’m going to ssume the real reason others are saying those who participate will just be harassed is because they’re afraid of progress or some of their friends realizing they agree with some things their ‘enmies’ say, considering people can take care of themselves and if they felt harassed they wouldnt sit there and take it.

(i’m not implyig this is YOU, Aratina.)

291 Iamcuriousblue April 1, 2013 at 8:09 am

“So, the Red Scare is a thing again? I think that is wholly uncalled for, Iamcuriousblue, but it is a bit ironic to see an atheist fomenting that sort of thing.

“Red Scare”, eh, Arentina? First, the historic groups that I’m pointing to were self-admitted Leninists, and its a matter of historic record that millions were killed when that ideology is a matter of historic record, unless you’re going to feed me some leftist version of Holocaust Denial now.

It seems you’re an apologist for that ideology, and that says a lot about you, none of it good.

292 Jack Smith April 1, 2013 at 9:46 am

WootheReaper (290)

People are tied up over Easter as it is a holiday and there are family commitments and the rest. The moderation was extremely tight with a view to relaxing it as time progressed. It is frustrating though and I feel may risk stalling the whole process as people get bored and lose interest.

However there is no evidence of any nefarious reasons for any delays.

293 Michael Nugent April 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

We have already said that there will be delays approving comments early in the process, because the moderation team wants to discuss them together to get a feel for how we will be working together.

When we come to a common understanding on how we are working together, we can then approve comments without such moderation meetings.

We’ll be meeting again today, and we’ll have more comments approved then.

More importantly, the opening statements are constructive, and there are some good early comments.

294 Pitchguest April 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm

#258, #270 A Hermit:

No, I am not saying they’re comparable. I’m sure that would be considered a crime somewhere. I am saying they’re both *satirical.* You said your wife had to confiscate drawings by students used to mock other students. You said our approach was indistinguishable from a 9-year old schoolyard bully. Well, what do you think Gulliver’s Travels was? What do you think A Modest Proposal was? While “Peezus and O” pale in comparison to these masterpieces, they have one thing in common: mocking their opponents.

Jonathan Swift, one of a kind, constantly mocked his ideological opponents. In Gulliver’s Travels, he saved the queen of the Lilliputians (and their inhabitants) by “making water” (pissing) on them, and then taking a brief moment to describe the stench. (Possibly to further their humiliation.) He depicted the upper class most of all as villains, either as sophisticated narcissists who cared nothing for the struggles of man (horse-people in Gulliver), as unscrupulous and vicious (Lilliputians) or vile (the rich purchasing and eating the poor’s children).

In Gulliver, he even depicted how, given a bit of power, you become like them (like when Gulliver started calling humans ‘Yahoos’ after spending too much time with the horse-kind). Now don’t tell me none of that was supposed to mock his opponents but simply make a social commentary. It was meant to mock, plain and simple. Mocking, which you and your wife thinks is nigh indistinguishable from a schoolyard bully. Call it what you will. If “Peezus and O” is harassment, is hurtful, is schoolyard bullying, then so is Jonathan Swift.

295 WootheReaper April 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Yeah, someone made a nice point too- that making fun of someone’s appearance, etc (not what they say, their ideas) is different from other satire. I think whether someone approves or disapproves of the cartoon depends on whether they agree PZ and O should be criticized in the first place. It’s the criticism in the first place that is not liked; saying the cartoon is childish is icing. What I mean is, you wont see anyone who understands the points in the satire cartoon and agrees but also thinks it was too rude for satire. This is mainly about not liking allies being criticiZed.

296 A Hermit April 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Pitchguest April 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm

While “Peezus and O” pale in comparison to these masterpieces, they have one thing in common: mocking their opponents.

Except Swift wasn’t singling out identifiable individuals and mocking them by name in a facile, shallow manner. His target was social class; the imbalance of power not simply individual peers he had a disagreement with.

You’re comparing paint-by-numbers to Picasso and calling them both “art”.

297 A Hermit April 2, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Pogsurf March 31, 2013 at 6:17 am

I would say they are both art, because they involve creativity using artist materials. Why do you say it’s not art?

Where’s the creativity in a paint-by-numbers kit which tells you exactly how much of which colour to use where? Following directions is not creative.

At best it’s an imitation or simulation of art. And Peezus and O is a simulation of satire; a weak attempt which fails miserably. Calling up the memory of Swift to defend that crap is a joke.

298 Pogsurf April 3, 2013 at 1:45 am

Neither Marcel Duchamp’s urinal nor the stack of bricks at the Tate Modern were creative. You are employing a very narrow definition of art, A Hermit. Are you sure you are not saying it’s not art because you don’t like it? Furthermore, I’ve not mentioned Swift, so your point there eludes me.

Peezus and O cartoons certainly are highly derivative, but that’s no reason to suggest they are not biting satire.

299 WootheReaper April 3, 2013 at 3:46 am

If a kid puts work into scribbles on a paper, its art, even if you think it is bad. Saying it’s not art isn’t a valid criticism. Someone thinks its bad. Big whoop.

300 Steersman April 3, 2013 at 8:51 am

A Hermit said (#297):

And Peezus and O is a simulation of satire; a weak attempt which fails miserably.

Really? Care to take a stab at critiquing the analyzes that both Skepsheik (#104) and I (#146) offered of two different cartoons? While I’ll readily agree that not all of those cartoons hit their targets squarely and with as much force as might have been needed, I think more than a few offer some quite reasonable and accurate criticisms of FreethoughtBlogs and, in particular, PZ Myers. To actually show that those ones “fail miserably” I would have to say that you would have to do something more than just throw down some ipse dixits as pearls before swine ….

301 A Hermit April 4, 2013 at 1:43 am

Care to take a stab at critiquing the analyzes that both Skepsheik (#104) and I (#146) offered of two different cartoons?

No, I’m not wasting any more time on second rate crap. Just don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by pretending any of it rises to the level of Swiftian satire…0_O

302 Steersman April 4, 2013 at 7:49 am

A Hermit said:

No, I’m not wasting any more time on second rate crap. Just don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by pretending any of it rises to the level of Swiftian satire…0_O

You’re confusing me with other “Pitters” – easy mistake to make since we’re all like peas in a pod: identical styles and perspectives on every topic – what we get from Party Central ….

I wasn’t the one arguing that it was in the same class as “Swiftian satire” – for one thing Swift’s target was, if I’m not mistaken, large chunks of the British Empire; Skepsheik’s was more modest.

Seems to me that the issue is less one of comparing it to Swift’s satire, than in determining whether it qualifies as such, and whether the criticisms are valid or not. Seems to me that it qualifies on both accounts, the latter of which no one, I think, from FfTB has actually addressed much less refuted. Maybe that’s why you insist on playing the game in the arena of comparing those cartoons to Swift’s works ….

303 A Hermit April 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm

. Maybe that’s why you insist on playing the game in the arena of comparing those cartoons to Swift’s works ….

No, I’m not the one doing that, I’m the one pointing out that it’s absurd to do that.

If you’re going to jump into a conversation between other people you might want to take the time to figure out what it’s about before commenting…

304 Steersman April 5, 2013 at 2:15 am

A Hermit said (#303):

Maybe that’s why you insist on playing the game in the arena of comparing those cartoons to Swift’s works ….

No, I’m not the one doing that, I’m the one pointing out that it’s absurd to do that.

But the general conversation was on the question of whether there were any valid criticisms in, and justifications for, those cartoons (90 references in the thread). Which you sought to dismiss, in a rather cavalier and imperious fashion with diddly-squat in the way of supporting evidence, as mockery that was “indistinguishable from that of a schoolyard bully”. Are you then suggesting that Ophelia Benson is “indistinguishable” from a 9 year old child, that the two situations are in any way equivalent, that the standards of behaviour should be the same in both cases? Talk about infantilization.

In addition, “comparing those cartoons” depends rather much on what is being compared, which elements of the two cases are being compared. No one has denied – as a matter of fact several have conceded – that the scope and depth of Swift’s works are substantially very different and very much greater than the cartoons. But the argument was that both qualify as examples of the type of social criticism known as satire (1):

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement.

That those cartoons don’t meet your hoity-toity standards in terms of scope and depth is hardly sufficient – particularly in the absence of evidence of which you have diddly-squat – to deny the claim on the table that they qualify as satire in which some “vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings” of FTB are “held up to ridicule”, and that there is some validity to that satire.

Doesn’t look to me like much of an effort to consider the criticisms presented by the cartoons themselves which was, if I’m not mistaken, a large part of the previous conversation. Only like an effort to derail the conversation over an irrelevant detail.

If you’re going to jump into a conversation between other people you might want to take the time to figure out what it’s about before commenting…

Ditto ….

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire”;

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