The Atheist Skeptic Dialogue has now started

by Michael Nugent on March 31, 2013

The structured dialogue process to move beyond the recent rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities has now started at http://atheistskepticdialogue.com

Thank you to everyone who has helped to bring the process this far. Based on the opening statements, I am optimistic that we can have a constructive dialogue.

It is a dialogue between individuals, not between imagined monolithic groups, and the power of any outcomes will lie in their content and how they were formulated, and not in any assumed authority.

It is aimed at those of us who want to move beyond the rifts and to build strong, inclusive, caring and supportive atheist and skeptic communities and groups, that promote robust and rational debate of issues while avoiding needlessly hurting people.

It is not aimed at people who want to escalate the hostilities, or who want to continue to cause unnecessary hurt to other people.

When you get to the site, please read the tabs on purpose, agenda, structure and how to participate before you make any comments.

Please comment as an individual responding to individuals, and state where you agree with people who are perceived as being on a different perceived ‘side’.

If you want to discuss the dialogue here, please feel free to do so.

If you are discussing it here, I am requesting that you please voluntarily refrain from attacking other people while the dialogue process is ongoing, in order to help to give it the best chance of success.

Overall, I am optimistic that we can combine the best contributions of many good people, on all perceived ‘sides’ of the rifts, to recapture the potential that we had two years ago to advocate for atheism, secularism, skepticism and science.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I’ll just put my first comment on Stephanie’s statement here (moderation is in place, as stated):

“I do not agree with this:

“5. snip white, cisgendered, educated, middle-class to upper-class men who have shaped the traditional concerns of our movements.”

It ascribes to someone an intrinsec identity because of their sex, race, or sexual orientation. This is not acceptable, regardless of “oppressor”, “oppressed”, or minorities. It shouldn’t come into account for what someone has to say.
The rest of the statement seems quite good, though.”

And I don’t understand the moderation rule #2:

“Do not respond here to comments by other people.”

Seems that won’t be much of a dialogue, or only one by the persons doing the opening statements. Rather weird…

2 Michael Nugent March 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm

There is a separate post there for discussion between commenters on the agenda item.

http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/2013/03/31/strand-1-discussion/

I’ve added a link in the guidelines to make that clear.

The purpose is to separate the structured feedback on the statements from the general dialogue.

3 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Michael: I saw the post, but the way it’s described, it seems to be an invite to talk about the specific first item:

You can discuss the following topic here, independently of making structured responses to the opening statements.
How can we work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world?
Please discuss only the topic above. There will be time and space later to discuss other agenda items.

What about people who want to discuss the specifics of each statement? Wouldn’t it be more ergonomic to let the tals develop in the statement’s comment area?

4 Michael Nugent March 31, 2013 at 4:07 pm

It’s not intended to prevent discussion of the opening statements. I’ll get that rewritten to clarify that.

5 Submariner March 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Michael,

As a point of technical criticism, some of the links are borked.
_http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/category/strand-1-areas-of-agreement/

This one in particular.

6 Michael Nugent March 31, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Might be a cache issue? Anyway, I’ve deleted it and replaced it. Can you try it again?

7 Phil_Giordana_FCD March 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm

All strands work fine for me.

8 Thaumas Themelios March 31, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Thanks for coordinating all of this, Michael, you have done a superb job of keeping on top of this and keeping everyone informed, as well as keeping expectations realistic, which I think is very important for a successful dialogue. Please extend my/our thanks also to anyone who has been helping out on your end, behind the scenes, as I’m kind of assuming is the case.

I think we have indeed gotten off to a very good start! Kudos to Stephanie Zvan and any/all those who’ve contributed to her effort. Your ‘good faith’ (I wish I could think of a non-f-word version of this idea) in this process is very heartening, and very much appreciated.

Looking forward to seeing what we all can collectively make of this little seed of hope. Cheers!

9 Dave Allen March 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm

“Your ‘good faith’ (I wish I could think of a non-f-word version of this idea) in this process is very heartening, and very much appreciated.”

Sincerity?

10 Thaumas Themelios March 31, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Dave Allen: Yes. It sincerely is very heartening, and very much appreciated, and I also sincerely wish I could think of a phrase that means the same thing but does not use the word ‘faith’.

11 Submariner March 31, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Looks like you fixed the borked link Michael. Thanks.

12 John Morales April 1, 2013 at 7:59 am

Michael:

The structured dialogue process to move beyond the recent rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities […] is a dialogue between individuals, not between imagined monolithic groups […] is aimed at those of us who want to move beyond the rifts

It mildly amuses me that you have high hopes that some individuals accommodating both points of view will heal any such rifts.

It is not aimed at people who want to escalate the hostilities, or who want to continue to cause unnecessary hurt to other people.

Clearly, it’s not aimed at me, either, though I neither want to escalate the hostilities nor do I want (never mind continue) to cause unnecessary hurt to other people.

(Is necessary hurt unproblematic?)

13 David Leech April 1, 2013 at 8:31 am

John Morales.

“It mildly amuses me that you have high hopes that some individuals accommodating both points of view will heal any such rifts.”

People are different and will have different opinions, when people have some shared goals then it is best to work with people who share your goals to achieve actions. I myself am a humanist though I will work with the religious to bring about a secular government which will benefit all but the status quo. Do you see how that works?

John Morales.

“Clearly, it’s not aimed at me, either, though I neither want to escalate the hostilities nor do I want (never mind continue) to cause unnecessary hurt to other people.”

You will have to give my your definition of ‘hurt’ for me to comment further. If you want to make changes in society then there will be people who oppose you. How much ‘hurt’ are you willing to take? Will the taking of said ‘hurt’ stop you trying to make a difference? Do you really expect such an easy ride in a world mostly ruled by the religious?

14 John Morales April 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

David Leech:

People are different and will have different opinions, when people have some shared goals then it is best to work with people who share your goals to achieve actions. I myself am a humanist though I will work with the religious to bring about a secular government which will benefit all but the status quo. Do you see how that works?

I see how it works, but it’s not the subject at hand: the subject is “The structured dialogue process to move beyond the recent rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities has now started at http://atheistskepticdialogue.com“; that is, internecine conflict.

You will have to give my your definition of ‘hurt’ for me to comment further.

Presumably the same one Michael used.

If you want to make changes in society then there will be people who oppose you.

Well yes, and conversely if you want to keep the status quo then there will be people who oppose you.

How much ‘hurt’ are you willing to take? Will the taking of said ‘hurt’ stop you trying to make a difference? Do you really expect such an easy ride in a world mostly ruled by the religious?

Note that one of the rifts involves whether atheism as a movement should be nothing but indifference (and/or opposition) to goddism or whether it should be more than that (e.g. A+) and that each of these positions involves different goals.

15 David Leech April 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

John Morales.

“I see how it works, but it’s not the subject at hand: the subject is “The structured dialogue process to move beyond the recent rifts in the atheist and skeptic communities has now started at http://atheistskepticdialogue.com“; that is, internecine conflict.”

The conflict come about because dictionary atheists like me don’t want atheism = politics and with good reason. We are forever explaining to the theists that atheism is not equal to communism, how high is their body count again? Then a bunch of atheists start claiming that atheism does indeed include a very left wing type of politics. Can’t you see how problematic this is? How the theists will use this and say ‘here we go again.’ A person can be both atheist and political but atheism needs to be apolitical and inclusive.

John Morales.

“Well yes, and conversely if you want to keep the status quo then there will be people who oppose you. ”

Though the fact that it is still the status quo means that they are very good at what they do when dealing with opposing forces. So I don’t get what your point is here?

John Morales.

“Note that one of the rifts involves whether atheism as a movement should be nothing but indifference (and/or opposition) to goddism or whether it should be more than that (e.g. A+) and that each of these positions involves different goals.”

Atheism is about a lack of belief in god/s nothing more and nothing less. Your politics is yours and my politics is mine and neither have anything to do with atheism. We should leave our politics at home when trying to deal with the nefarious influence of religion. Two different people will probably never agree on politics, though we can agree on the question of god’s existence.

P. S. The quoting system on this blog? Is it [quote]blah[/quote] or something else, just for future posting?

16 Submariner April 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm

_http://atheistskepticdialogue.com/category/strand-1-areas-of-agreement/

This one is borked too.

17 Pitchguest April 1, 2013 at 3:46 pm

To John Morales:

Because I keep wondering: what’s with the [meta] thing? You are aware that basically none of your comments that you preface with [meta] actually turn out to be meta, right? Is it an inside joke? Is it a nervous tick? What?

18 David Leech April 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Is it just me (and judging by the lack of comments so far probably not.) Though the two opening statements are so aseptic as to suck all the disagreements out of the debate. I mean kudos to Michael for holding this but who is going to post about stuff they agree on? I can’t even be bothered to post a disagreement with oolon’s comment (4d I think under Jack’s statement) about people’s feeling.

When is step two?

19 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

David, I don’t think they’ll suck any disagreement out. There were still things said that others would disagree with that we can talk about IMO, like Jack’s part on satire and the emotions part. Or maybe people would at least decide to give the emotions part a chance and agree..

20 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Btw Nugent can you suggest people sum up points or only paste the main bit of the number they are replying to instead of pasting the entire block? When a post is mostly quoting the opening statements it makes some people just skip over the comments.

21 WootheReaper April 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hey michael read the post That’s in moderation above. Its addressed to you so I didn’t bother trying to pass up moderation (that you should take off btw 😉 )

22 Jack Smith April 1, 2013 at 6:51 pm

David Leech (18)

This is the first statement of several due over time (as previously posted on Michel’s blogs):

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.

23 John Morales April 2, 2013 at 7:31 am

David Leech:

The conflict come about because dictionary atheists like me don’t want atheism = politics and with good reason.

[…]

Your politics is yours and my politics is mine and neither have anything to do with atheism. We should leave our politics at home when trying to deal with the nefarious influence of religion.

Are you not trying to influence the atheist movement?

Do you not implicitly claim your atheism leads you to try to deal with the nefarious influence of religion?

(If so, I don’t think you and I share the same concept of “dictionary atheists”, because you’re referring to socio-political activism based on your atheism)

24 David Leech April 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

John Morales.

If or rather when the religious try to merge with the government of the day, then that’s where they have to be tackled. This is still not politics in and of itself as it is just their location.

25 A Hermit April 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

If or rather when the religious try to merge with the government of the day, then that’s where they have to be tackled. This is still not politics in and of itself as it is just their location.

Of course it’s politics. Declaring that you prefer secular government to theocracy is a political statement.

26 David Leech April 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

A Hermit.

[quote]Of course it’s politics. Declaring that you prefer secular government to theocracy is a political statement.[/quote]

No it isn’t. The religious just want their scriptures adhered to, they just want influence and they don’t care what stripe of government is in place so long as they get it. That seems very apolitical to me and removing their influence will also be apolitical.

27 David Leech April 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Drat so the [quote] tags don’t work. :-(

28 A Hermit April 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Use “blockquote” instead of “quote”…

No it isn’t. The religious just want their scriptures adhered to, they just want influence

How is seeking to influence public policy not political!?

29 rorschach April 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

to recapture the potential that we had two years ago

Yes, that same potential that got broke because a woman talking about harassment of women at conferences all day on a panel at your conference got propositioned in an elevator at your conference at 4am that same night a couple years ago, and a month later dared to suggest in a video about moving house that that maybe wasn’t cool. If we try to recapture the potential, let’s please also recapture the history of how we ended up here in the first place, in a dialogue with people who, if they weren’t atheists and presumably some potential kind of allies, noone would want to go near to, because their bullying moves are all too obvious and their divisive tactics too repulsive, to be considering them anything but the people that we don’t want in our movement.

Just in case we do decide that that’s the movement we want, please cancel my membership and give me my money back.

30 Michael Nugent April 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

Woo, I have removed your comment #30 as it was attributing malign motives to a named person based on your beliefs of what they were thinking. Please don’t do that here.

31 David Leech April 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm

rorschach.

No offence but what the hell are you drinking?

I have just witnessed your sides treatment of women, for one EllenBeth Wachs who was torn to pieces in the most vile and vicious way for having a minor disagreement with your ‘dear leader’ P Z Myers. She is even a friend of the people who tore her a new one. With friends like your side women don’t even need enemies of which they have plenty. What she had to put up with goes far beyond online harassment and bullying. I await you calling out your side for their vile misogyny otherwise you are just another kool aid drinking ideologue. There certainly wont be any safe places for women with the attitude that it’s totes OK when we do it. Feel free to cancel your membership and take at least some of your ideologues with you. That way women will not only be allowed to be safe and included in the ‘community’ they will also be allowed to be adults too.

32 John Morales April 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

[meta]

And there we have it.

Woothereaper demonstrates why it’s futile (and indeed, perverse) to seek rapprochement with such as they.

33 Woothereaper April 7, 2013 at 3:01 am

John, I’m not sure what I said that demonstrates why it’s futile to seek reapproachment or whatever it is called, with people that aren’t me and have nothing to do with me. I’m my own person and it was wrong of you to use a group noun just because of something I said. There is no Such as Me here. I don’t see anyone that is similar enough to me to refer to us as a group. (like I keep saying… the people you are referring to honestly vary and there’s no general trend), as I don’t remember what was said, and have no idea if it’s something Nugent just doesn’t know that I know for a fact or what, but Morales, as you may know, malign motives are attributed to us all the time, yet we are still putting time and work into this, so please don’t slam it, okay?

And Nugent, can you email me the comment because I’ve no idea what you are talking about.

34 Woothereaper April 7, 2013 at 3:01 am

And I don’t know what I should “please not do.” If I didn’t agree that it attributes malign motives that I can’t prove are there, then I may do it again.

35 Woothereaper April 7, 2013 at 3:06 am

Either way, @ Morales, the discussion goes on, with you or without you, and if it were to have any success whatsoever (I’m not talking everyone agreeing on everyone, but people changing their minds, etc, seeing points they haven’t before, giving due credit they never gave before), I’d hope you’d change your mind about it being futile.

And, does anyone think it is good idea for places such as the pit to note that general belief systems or ideas tend to be attributed to them (So far I’ve noted “libertarian” and the more broad/unpollable “Right wing”), take a poll on it, so that people can see how common it is in the place? It would clear things up. I made a few blog posts about *quizzes* that I’ve taken and posted my results, so it’s only the POV of the people who made the quizzes just what makes me up, but I’ve noticed that I have plenty in common with some less liked people who go to Atheism+, for example, those that define themselves as progressive and socialist.

36 Woothereaper April 7, 2013 at 3:09 am

Ohh Nugent I figured out what comment you meant… I don’t remember everything I said, but as for the motives? That’s what COMES OUT of what they do. I wasn’t saying it was their self professed motive, but it’s what happens as a result of what they do, and as for the sexism? It is what it is. Not many people are “deliberately” sexist, and them not thinking they are doing anything wrong isn’t important, it’s if it fits the definition or not.

But still, can you send me the comment so I can revise any parts that attribute malign motives out? Again, not everything I said was attributing MOTIVES.

37 John Morales April 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

[OT]

Woothereaper, you are apparently confused by my employment of the singular (epicene) ‘they’.

38 Submariner April 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Please change the title of this post from “started” to “stalled”.

Notice fewer comments from the general public? That’s due to the nature and structure of the”discussion”. In just a little over two weeks, this process has managed to numb everyone that was interested (by the numbers of comments in your posts preceding the “discussion” I’d say the interest was quite high) into a stupor.

The “discussion” is now effectively tabled even while it drags on at the speed of smell.

Well done. I’m sure the visiting Americans from FTB will be grateful.

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