If you respond to what I have actually written, I will be happy to discuss it

by Michael Nugent on September 18, 2014

I think it is useful to continue this discussion, so this is a response to Ophelia’s interim post about mine yesterday, which she has titled:

“Thou shalt respect The Leaders.”

That title is based on a misreading not only of my post, but also of my entire life philosophy and political activism. Actually:

  • I wrote that “I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas.”
  • I also wrote that “I believe that we should robustly question the ideas and behaviour of people who are, or who are perceived to be, authority figures in our own spheres of activity.”

Ophelia wrote:

“Michael Nugent has decided to defend Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer from the violence and abuse of those evil Freethought bloggers.”

Ophelia, you are not responding here to what I have written. You have paraphrased it into something else, and described your paraphrase as my decision. Actually:

  • I was primarily defending the global atheist movement from recent misrepresentations in the mainstream media, and I was also criticising the culture of demonising people that has contributed to these misrepresentations, and in particular PZ’s role in that.
  • I did not refer to “those evil FreeThought bloggers”. I referred to “the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements.”
  • I did not say that any FreeThought bloggers are evil, and I do not believe that any FreeThought bloggers are evil.
  • I did not say that any FreeThought bloggers are violent, and I do not believe that any FreeThought bloggers are violent.
  • Specifically, I do not believe that PZ is evil or violent. Indeed, I wrote: “Whenever I have met PZ, he comes across as a decent person, motivated by a desire to promote reason and science, and to promote social justice and defend victims of injustice. He is quiet, polite, civil and friendly. He works tirelessly to promote his vision of a better world. I like him.”
  • I do believe that PZ and some FreeThought bloggers and commenters are sometimes abusive, in the context of being extremely offensive and insulting, although I did not use that term in my post, and that is not the reason for my criticism. The reason for my criticism is a consistent pattern of attacking people as individuals, as opposed to merely attacking their ideas or behaviour, and particularly attacking them in the way that I cite in the post.

Ophelia wrote:

“It’s not a very even-handed account of the situation, in my view.”

I believe it is more even-handed than the way that you have described it so far. But it is not meant to cover every aspect of ‘the situation’. You already know my views on other aspects. As two examples:

  • I have criticised Thunderf00t for his misleading personal attacks on some atheist feminists, including Amy, Rebecca, PZ and Melody. Some people on ‘the other side’ criticised me for writing that. You didn’t. You described it as beautiful.
  • I contributed to Amy’s series on speaking out against hate directed at women. Some people on ‘the other side’ criticised me for writing that. You didn’t. You described it as a 10, a gold, a safe landing on Mars.

I still hold the beliefs that I expressed in those posts. I still actively support and work towards inclusive atheist communities where everybody is treated with equal respect. In my opinion, this is perfectly consistent with the points that I have made in this latest post.

So, if you think that this latest post is not very even-handed, perhaps in the same way that other people thought the earlier ones were biased in the other direction, can you please consider all of my posts together to formulate your view of my overall even-handedness?

Ophelia wrote:

“I must be one of those “some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs,” since I’ve been blogging about the combative and/or antifeminist and/or sexist things that Sam Harris and/or Richard Dawkins wrote and/or said lately.”

Well, I don’t think it was proportionate to reply to Sam’s off-the-cuff interview quote with ‘No. And fuck you.’ Or to suggest that it could be that a lot of women don’t feel like going to his talks because they think he is kind of an asshole about women.

But as I think you know, I believe your overall approach is more constructive than some others who are perceived to be on the same ‘side’, particularly given that you are the subject of some particularly vitriolic attacks by some people.

You don’t have the same American-centric focus that some others do. You regularly highlight the fight for secularism in the developing and Islamic worlds, and you are very supportive of our fights for secularism and social justice in Ireland, including abortion rights and equal marriage rights.

Also, I know from our conversations in Dublin that we agree more than we disagree about most of ‘the situation’.

By the way, for clarity, when I wrote “some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements,” the shorthand was not referring to all FreeThought Blogs bloggers, nor was it limited to FreeThought Blogs bloggers. It was a shorthand for one perceived ‘side’ of whatever you want to call ‘the situation’.

Ophelia wrote:

“I’m short on time today, because of pesky duties elsewhere. More later.”

Okay, but please respond to what I actually wrote. Please don’t paraphrase it into something else and then respond to that. I look forward to reading it, and I will be happy to discuss it.

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{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rashiv September 18, 2014 at 3:28 am

Really, what did you expect? With FtB, it’s an endless rabbit hole of convenient interpretations and disingenuous translations.

This has been going on for years. Why are so many people seemingly so oblivious to their tactics? It gets frustrating.

2 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 4:33 am

Michael, I really wouldn’t regard this as an isolated instance just because it registered on your personal radar.

This blinkered and intellectually bankrupt approach defines the Benson, Myers and Svan side of this debate.

You will get it every-time patriarchy and privilege can be wormed into a POV.

If you enjoy the company of these fine intellectuals, fine. Best to keep the conversation on neutral topics like the non-existence of God rather than the SJ implications thereby entailed.

You know. Dictionary Atheism.

3 aneris September 18, 2014 at 4:53 am

Regarding the “sides”. It is generally understood that not all FreeThoughtBloggers are meant equally. Most people are aware of the names that often blog in concert and echo each other’s views and link to each other. In fact some bloggers, like Ally Fogg, are well-liked by people who normally dislike FreeThoughtBlogs. When people refer to this faction, they usually mean: Myers, Benson, Carrier, Christina, Moglievski, Miller, Zvan, Thibeault, Daddabhoy etc. in other words, the “social justice warriors (outlined at WEIT, yes I am aware that my comments on these issues tend to be long, but then there is much to say about it and few opportunities to state it) (which is different from social justice activists).

Further, everyone with some knowledge is aware that this group of FreeThoughtBloggers which is meant has strong ties to most of the SkepChick network, ever since at least Elevatorgate. It is also difficult to overlook strong sympathies of them with other people and organisations outside their respective networks, such as Secular Women or SkeptiCon, or blogger-journalists elsewhere like Amanda Marcotte, Janet Stemwedel, Adam Lee or Kimberly Winston.

How do we know that? Because this faction is characteriszed by extreme hostility to everyone who hasn’t explicitly sided with them, while they are always completely uncritical with everyone within their faction. For example, most people found the Robin Williams article by PZ Myers quite tasteless. A sufferer of depression committed suicide. Normally, the keywords alone would be enough to set their blogs on fire. But since it was by PZ Myers it wasn’t criticized.

It would be all easier if they had just adopted the “must have” label “Atheism Plus”, but since they didn’t, they are now called Social Justice League to have some name to describe them (it’s comical, but then their views are comical).

Now the “other side” – the detractors – is a figment of their imagination. They need this perceived side for well explainable reasons, but it factually doesn’t exist. It is roughly composed of various YouTuber “celebrities” and their respective viewers, famous atheists or skeptics and their readers and fans. Some overlaps nonwithstanding, there is nothing the various people have in common.
A normal viewer, reader, follower simply gets the news that someone they know and like got criticised. Some may react in a kneejerk manner and perhaps really don’t like their idol criticized. However, for most people it is first just an invitation to discuss some issue. They might have an inclination towards the views of the person they like, read, follow, but that doesn’t make them automatically a blind follower and zealot.

What do they do? They end up in a discussion with the side mentioned above, the Social Justice League, composed of social justice warriors. There they hear the latest extreme invective (a la “die in a fire” style), simulatenously tone policing and are most likely told they are misogynists MRA shitlords and are placed on some visible online pillory and then wonder for three days what truck hit them and what these terms even mean. Then, congratulation, another personal feud is started and the ranks of the “other side” is increased by one.
Meanwhile, on Social Justice League “safe space”, some social justice warrior gets a round of hugs for having bravely fought one of those evil anti-feminists who hate women and want to prevent that women get into the community.

In the next phase, the person who was somehow dragged into this is all goes all “lolwut?” for another three months as they observe the social justice league invent all kinds of fancy narratives they apparently strongly believe in. Before they know it, the detractor also supports Bob Hörnblöwér, most famous MRA anti-feminist nobody else ever heard of, except the Social Justice League who discuss him all the time and in their paranoid delusions have covinved themselves that evertyone else out there must be an ardent supporter of Bob Hörnblöwér.

A few people, now that they hear about Bob Hornblöwér, either like his views, but more likely think they need to support Bob Hornblöwér just because it pisses PZ Myers and co off or think he’s been attacked as unfairly as virtually everyone else they know. In turn the Social Justice League people convince themselves that everyone supports Bob Hornblöwér for the distorted views they attribute to him, which feeds back to their delusions.

4 johnh September 18, 2014 at 4:58 am

Who is Bob Hornblöwér and where can I read his blog?

5 aneris September 18, 2014 at 5:05 am
6 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 5:58 am

I Phelps Benson used to be much better than this, in fact she used to be a brilliant decider of these kinds of trashy tactics. It is really depressing.

7 Shatterface September 18, 2014 at 7:35 am

I Phelps Benson used to be much better than this, in fact she used to be a brilliant decider of these kinds of trashy tactics. It is really depressing.

This.

I didn’t get to FTB by the usual root – through atheism. I discovered the old Butterflies & Wheels site because I recognised Benson’s name from the superb Why Truth Matters which brilliantly skewered the po-mo bullshit that was swamping Western thought at the time: here was a couple of avowedly liberal writers taking to task the excesses of epistemical relativism, even when that relativism was coming from radical feminism, Afro-centrism, etc.

Truth Mattered

I was a devoted reader of her blog until recently: I was having to delete endless emails about the latest Dawkins ‘Twitter outrage’ and attacks on other atheists based entirely on rumour and innuendo. One by one the interesting commentators were drifting away.

Myers journey from ball bag to asshole was just a short greasy slide down his perineum; Benson’s journey from objectivity to women’s way of knowing has been tragic.

8 Rogier van Vugt September 18, 2014 at 7:42 am

I wrote that “I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas.”

And you demonstrated that by calling out a single player and accusing him of demonizing.
The problem Ophilia and I have with you is that you do not practice what you preach.

9 Shatterface September 18, 2014 at 8:06 am

And you demonstrated that by calling out a single player and accusing him of demonizing.
The problem Ophilia and I have with you is that you do not practice what you preach.

So you are saying calling someone out for bullying is the same as ‘demonising’ them?

10 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:13 am

“I recognised Benson’s name from the superb Why Truth Matters which brilliantly skewered the po-mo bullshit that was swamping Western thought at the time”

Yes, me too. She can still write beautifully, of course, but the thinker seems to be slipping away and it is a pity. She used to be funny as well , and I think the disappearance of humour is telling.

11 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:15 am

“And you demonstrated that by calling out a single player and accusing him of demonizing.”

The use of clannish jargon like ‘call out’ is a warning flag to me that we are probably not dealing with ideas and arguments anymore but instead just laying out the lines for bottle throwing. I think we should avoid these terms and talk to each other like adults human beings again.

12 Acleron September 18, 2014 at 8:25 am

Let me declare my conflicts of interest. I am an atheist, an agnostic atheist. As far as I am concerned those are labels that describe my lack of belief and uncertainty of the existence of anything other than has been detected. And that is it, nothing else. I understand that makes me a dictionary atheist a term that was once used as a derisive dismissal of me. That episode led me to investigate the A+ ‘side’ and discover that a group had set themselves up as the arbiter of what I should believe in with an attitude that either I was with them or against them. Unfortunately, while I can sympathise with the plight of those offended by the perceived flaws of the old, white patriarchy I have little reason to consider their offence as a necessary precondition for my action.

Their treatment of anybody who has stood up for them or even just ignored them is outrageous. As in this case, they make up strawmen on the sides of the statement of others and lash out incoherently, preening each other and ignoring any requests for clarification.

While debating (more like arguing) with theists, this lot have been pointed to with the claim that atheism is a religion as well. A devastating criticism.

13 oolon September 18, 2014 at 8:40 am

@Rogier van Vugt, makes a good point. “Demonising” is ok when it is the person criticising your idol. Seems to be Michael has a massive bias when it comes to Dawkins… Given all the ridiculous, wrong, offensive things Dawkins has said you might think Michael would have saw fit to send some criticism his way? Nope.

1. _www.michaelnugent.com/2012/10/29/the-inclusive-face-of-new-atheism-dispelling-myths-about-richard-dawkins/
Fair enough, just pointing out it’s a puff-piece on Dawkins

2. _www.michaelnugent.com/2013/11/26/richard-dawkins-nuanced-memoir-and-the-unjust-personal-smears-against-him/
Everything is a “smear”, no conclusion other than he is being “smeared” is considered. Despite the man himself apologising for his remarks, there is nothing he can do wrong. Extreme examples of annoyance from his detractors are used to paint them all in a bad light.

3. _www.michaelnugent.com/2014/08/07/the-demonising-of-richard-dawkins-and-the-normalising-of-casual-defamatory-smears/
Again, all the criticism is called “smears”, so much for nuanced rational examination of the criticism against him. So much for not “demonising” people criticising his idol.

Onto Dawkins more recent tweets about how drunk women who cannot remember their rape were not raped. Or at least it is a terrible crime for them to expect justice (In any form) and name the person that raped them. Michael I assume agrees wholeheartedly given he too has dismissed at least one rape victim’s testimony as “unreported serious crimes” and more “smears” against the great “leaders” of the atheist movement. (I don’t know if he also considers Dallas Haugh’s testimony a “smear”)

Personally I think there is little chance of Michael ever criticising Richard Dawkins. That is his right, I’ll consider any critique from him in relation to Dawkins to be massively biased, that’s my right. But in my long winded way I’m just re-iterating what Rogier said above, why don’t you practice what you preach Michael? All of Dawkins detractors are demonised (silly hyperbole, but your word choice), whereas the great man himself is inviolable regardless of the ridiculous stuff he says on Twitter!

14 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

“Onto Dawkins more recent tweets about how drunk women who cannot remember their rape were not raped.”

I don’t think any reasonable person would characterise Dawkins’ comments like that, which is why it looks like a smear. Why not quote the thing you think is wrong rather than paraphrasing?

Although it is a little beside the point because nobody is suggesting that Dawkins’ should not be argued with or against. just that personal abuse should not be levelled art him (or anyone else).

15 oolon September 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

LOL, sorry, had to laugh at this ..
“…led me to investigate the A+ ‘side’ and discover that a group had set themselves up as the arbiter of what I should believe in with an attitude that either I was with them or against them. ”
Nope, Richard Carrier said that, his post was immediately disowned by the person who came up with A+ and even Carrier backed off. Carrier clarified to say he meant against the people who send rape and death treats – or with us… Which is still wrong as you don’t need to be with “us”, as in A+, at al. No one on the forum has agreed with his stance there. But you take this strawman created by A+ detractors as truth, not promising… Will it improve?

“Their treatment of anybody who has stood up for them or even just ignored them is outrageous. As in this case, they make up strawmen on the sides of the statement of others and lash out incoherently, preening each other and ignoring any requests for clarification.”
[citation needed] Who are “they”? Sounds like more fantasy…

“While debating (more like arguing) with theists, this lot have been pointed to with the claim that atheism is a religion as well. A devastating criticism.”
This made me LMFAO, to use the hip terminology of kids these days! Oh my, Acleron, if that is “devastating” to your arguments against theists then I fear for your debating ability. There have been, and are, atheistic religions. Actual religions! Let alone an online club for atheists interested in SJ with no dogma and no entry requirements. You can call yourself A+ right now and no one can or would stop you, you’d be part of A+. Thanks for the laugh this early in the morning anyway.

16 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 8:51 am

“LOL, sorry, had to laugh at this ..”

Nothing wrong with laughter, but it is a pity, in my opinion, when it is used more for aggression and derision unless the person being derided is very powerful. Why not argue with it or ignore it instead?

17 Jonathan September 18, 2014 at 8:56 am

Minnow:

This is the kind of thing Oolon does. He has a tendency to obfuscate and distort issues to benefit his “side”, at least in part because he seems to enjoy trolling. Not really worth engaging with in my opinion, although of course you may see it differently!

18 oolon September 18, 2014 at 8:56 am

@Minnow, plenty of people interpreted his tweet that way. I’m not sure where in the Dawkins cycle we are on that one > say daft thing on Twitter, blame everyone else for not understanding you, retweet people saying what a genius you are, notice the worlds media are tearing you a new one, run to RDF.net to apologise … Wash, rinse, repeat.

Here is a recent article – so I guess we might be somewhere near the apology on RDF. http://www.vice.com/read/the-atheist-movement-needs-to-disown-richard-dawkins-999

At some point you’ve got to either believe everyone else is desperate to be offended by everything he says and construct a conspiracy theory to fit that. Or just accept Dawkins says daft shit on Twitter. How many of these cycles of tweet> blame others > self adulation > media excoriation > apology are needed before fans like Michael (and you?) can admit he has clay feet?

19 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:00 am

–> Sorry forgot a step in the cycle, usually there is a “clarification” on RDF, which makes things much, much worse. Then more excoriation, then the apology… So maybe we are near to the “clarification”, not the apology. My mistake…

20 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:12 am

“At some point you’ve got to either believe everyone else is desperate to be offended by everything he says and construct a conspiracy theory to fit that. ”

No you don’t. Because there is a difference of opinion. Surely that is obvious. I would guess that more people support Dawkins’ tweets than object to them. I don’t think that means anything much, but it negates your point.

There is no way, I think, that anything Dawkins has said could be read the way you paraphrase it. You disagree, but why not stick to Dawkins’ own words if you think they are as damning as all that, why feel the need to paraphrase? That’s why it feels like a smear.

21 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:19 am

“Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.””

“Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober. But also, don’t accuse anyone of a crime if you can’t remember what happened (& no other evidence).”

This is in the context of him leaping to Shermers defence when the “anonymous” allegations against him suddenly turned out to be from a named person. Up to this point plenty of pitters commenting here insisted PZ made it all up. As I said she waited until Shermer dropped the libel suit against PZ, she is free to talk now. Her evidence was only that she got really drunk, as seen and corroborated by many people. She then got herded to Shermers room, he wasn’t drunk by his own words, where he raped her. Legally and factually if her account is true, I have no reason to think it isn’t.

Dawkins is eliding a whole mess of research and evidence into how rapists work. They use alchohol as a date rape drug and he has said the victims cannot speak out about being raped as they have “no evidence”. Massively awful thing to say on it’s own, let alone in the context of the Shermer debacle. Ms Streisland is working in the heavens to punish Dawkins for his ham fisted attempt to cover for Shermer though.

22 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:24 am

You may think those tweets were wrong in the context you describe and in your interpretation, but I hope you can at least see they do not say what you previously claimed. I don’t know anything about any particular accusations of rape and generally think that the internet is the wrong place to decide these things, but I do agree with the substance of Dawkins’ tweets on the face of it. He is emphatic that rape is always wrong, whether the woman (or man) is drunk or not.

23 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:26 am

Oh yes I forgot the “best” ones, one of which he deleted I think…
““…If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk,” and “Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, someone got me drunk.”

Unbelievably disgusting parody of this woman describing how Shermer got her drunk and raped her.

24 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:26 am

It is interesting that the objection to Dawkins;”s tweets being made by Oolon and some others amounts to a criticism of tone and context and not substance (with which, all other things being equal, they seem to agree). I don’t say that is necessarily wrong, tone and context matter to meaning as I keep saying, but there is a certain irony.

25 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:27 am

“He is emphatic that rape is always wrong, whether the woman (or man) is drunk or not.”

Oops, maybe you can explain his analogy to drunk driving then? She cannot “cry rape” when someone “got” her drunk?

26 Jonathan September 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

Breaking my own rule:

Oolon:

“She then got herded to Shermers room, he wasn’t drunk by his own words, where he raped her.”

Have you got a link to anywhere she actually used the word “rape”? I haven’t been able to find one, so I would appreciate the link if it’s out there.

27 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

“Oops, maybe you can explain his analogy to drunk driving then? She cannot “cry rape” when someone “got” her drunk?”

But that is not what he said. I don’t want to defend everything that Dawkins’ has said on this subject because I think his interventions have often been ill-judged, but he did not say that you cannot rape a drunk woman, in fact he said the opposite very plainly: ‘“Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober. ‘

28 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:30 am

@Minnow, nothing to do with tone in this context. Words have meanings, if he doesn’t mean it that way then we’ll get that inevitable clarification post on RDF.net. What Michael is complaining about would be equivalent to us complaining that Dawkins (if he used PZs colourful metaphors) called her a fuckbrained asshole for crying rape. Rather than complaining about the incendiary accusation of crying rape. It would be ridiculous to focus on the tone and rude words, not the substance.

I guess the difference is we have substance to criticise. All Michael has is PZs tone, he cannot address his arguments.

29 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:34 am

@Minnow, you maybe can split the difference between him saying don’t rape and then in the same breath ordering women who are raped when unconscious to not report it. There will be no other evidence than she was drunk out of her mind. BTW same goes for men too, men are raped when drunk, inb4 misandry accusations when the pitters bat signal is raised and they descend on this thread!

30 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

“@Minnow, nothing to do with tone in this context. Words have meanings”

They do, but you don’t seem to be objecting to them. In fact I think you agree with 99% of them. You seem to me to be objecting to the tone and context in which they are expressed.

Again, what is being criticised on here is the personal abuse that PZ Myers levels at critics and opponents, not the tone in which he expresses it. For all I know Michael Nugent, admires his tone, because he doesn’t make any reference to it at all, positive or negative. Is is that it is abuse that matters. His arguments may be right or wrong, probably a bit of both, but that is not the subject here.

As I pointed out, you seem to be the only person making an argument based on tone. You have to paraphrase the actual words into something else before you argue with them.

31 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:35 am

@Jonathan, she says here she regrets using the word rape as it got everyone so worked up. http://www.buzzfeed.com/markoppenheimer/will-misogyny-bring-down-the-atheist-movement

However, sex without consent is rape. So why is it relevant?

32 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:37 am

“you maybe can split the difference between him saying don’t rape and then in the same breath ordering women who are raped when unconscious to not report it. ”

he didn’t do that though. That is the problem with your argument. He said that if you don’t remember being raped and have no evidence you have been raped, you shouldn’t make an accusation of rape. I agree with that. I bet you do to, although you dislike the tone in which it was expressed. I agree with you on that, I wish he wouldn’t.

33 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:38 am

@Minnow, you are saying it yourself – the tone and context. I’ve already said I don’t care about the tone, even context free Dawkins comments are disgusting rape apology. However in this instance the context makes them even worse. None of that is tone, ok?

To clarify further, Dawkins could call PZ a fuck brained asshole, a parasite ridden heap of dog shit, a polished turd his followers brainlessly adore. For ever and ever, over and over… I personally would chuckle, then criticise him for his arguments.

34 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 9:41 am

“even context free Dawkins comments are disgusting rape apology. ”

No, they are not. As we have already noted, on their face they are not. It is the tone and context that makes you think they are and that is why you had to paraphrase them into something else.

He says ‘Don’t EVER rape anyone’. Those are the words he uses about rape. Again, I agree with you about the tone, but also enjoy the irony of that. You need to have an ear for irony though.

35 oolon September 18, 2014 at 9:42 am

“He said that if you don’t remember being raped and have no evidence you have been raped, you shouldn’t make an accusation of rape. ”
That doesn’t exist, there is no instance of rape ever where there is no evidence. The person waking up, finding they have had sex with someone and having no memory of it is evidence.

There are lots of instances of men claiming that scenario is real to accuse women of lying. Read that Vice article, they got it perfectly.
“Keir Starmer, England’s Director of Public Prosecutions, stated that rape investigations are “undermined by [the] belief that false accusations are rife.” ”
He is playing into that rape myth, specifically rape apology.

36 Hunt September 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

As far as I know, there was never a libel suit by Shermer against Myers. He sent Myers a cease and desist letter, which Myers mostly ignored, continuing to host the “grenade” post. I heard that Shermer used his fund money to pay off his lawyers, presumably for their investigation and letter drafting. Correct me if I’m wrong. Was there ever a lawsuit?

37 Acleron September 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

Oh no oolon, it wasn’t just Carrier’s opening remarks that lead to the conclusion that the A+ group was an either you are with us or against us. Lol, there is the acres of their forum where any dissent from the group think was immediately demonised and followed up with suspensions and bannings.

38 Hunt September 18, 2014 at 10:01 am

“Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.””

This seems like self-evident common sense to me, although I think it was needlessly provocative since there is almost always other evidence than personal testimony in rape cases. Dawkins translated: There has to be SOME evidence in order for a man to be convicted for rape. For the case in question, Shermer maintains that both of them were sober. Smit obviously maintains that she was drunk enough to not remember much of it.

39 Rogier van Vugt September 18, 2014 at 10:06 am

I have to stand in wonder how Minnow has the gall to critisize me for using ‘call out’ while quoting ‘demonizing’ which is a word that Michael used in the very first post starting this exchange.
As I said somewhere else: at no point so far has an accusation been made by Michael and others who criticise PZ that they are not themselves guilty of while making said accusations.

40 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 10:07 am

“This seems like self-evident common sense to me”

Of course, I don’t think anyone, even Oolon would disagree with you on the face of it and if we restrict our judgement to the words and the expressed argument. But the tone is trivialising and provocative and so I can see why some people get upset. The irony is that the people who get most upset, like Oolon, are committed to denying that tone should be taken into account.

41 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 10:09 am

“I have to stand in wonder how Minnow has the gall to critisize me for using ‘call out’ while quoting ‘demonizing’ which is a word that Michael used in the very first post starting this exchange.”

I don’t think ‘demonizing’ is a jargon word in the same way. I think we all use it to mean the same thing. If you think I am wrong I am interested to hear it. I get things wrong too.

42 arthur September 18, 2014 at 10:16 am

In truth, nobody needs PZ Myers or Benson to point out that Dawkins and co have behave awfully. People are seeing it with their own eyes.

The reputation of Dawkins in particular has collapsed lately. Why? Because he is making repeatedly stupid and obnoxious comments on twitter. Absurd reactionary nonsense on rape, on on feminism, pedophilia, disability, you name it. He’s coming out with stuff that wouldn’t even get published in the Daily Mail for fear of appearing too out of touch and right wing.

That’s what’s happening here.

It’s important for us as atheists to reject that. It’s important to show people that some atheists don’t think that “feminism poisons everything”, or that sexual harassment can be brushed off.

Thanks to Dawkins and co atheist movement is in danger of being forever associated with Right Wing anti-feminism, and notorious crack pot reactionaries like Christina Hoff Sommers.

Oppose that, Michael.

43 Rogier van Vugt September 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

Actually ‘demonizing’ is far and far more of a jargon word with a jagged history associated in the Netherlands where I live. (It has to do with the political murder of Pim Fortuijn some years back)
But that is not why I object to what Michael is saying. I have critisized Michael before for having questionable priorities when the person of Richard Dawkins and/or the subject of feminism is concerned.
And so I want to know why Michael thinks he should address PZs use of words in stead of addressing the reason why he uses those words, the sexism displayed by people like RD and SH.

44 Phil Giordana FCD September 18, 2014 at 10:43 am

Thanks for mansplaining, Arthur. I’m sure the women of Atheism will be all over you soon enough.

Oppose that, Arthur.

45 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 10:50 am

“Actually ‘demonizing’ is far and far more of a jargon word with a jagged history associated in the Netherlands where I live. ”

Yes but in English I don’t think it has. I think we all pretty much agree on the dictionary definition: ‘Portray as wicked and threatening’.

“I have critisized Michael before for having questionable priorities when the person of Richard Dawkins and/or the subject of feminism is concerned.”

We often wish more people shared our priorities, but really it is none of our business. It is classic trollery to come on to a thread demanding the writer explain why she hasn’t chosen to write about something else instead.

46 Brive1987 September 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

Oolon. “corroborated by many people.”

Can you name them and point me to their specific ‘corroboration’?

Has Wagg broken his silence?

Didn’t think so.

47 Rogier van Vugt September 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm

> Yes but in English I don’t think it has. I think we all pretty much agree on the dictionary definition: ‘Portray as wicked and threatening’.

Yes, and that implicates that that portrayal is untrue and/or not based upon actual evidence.
And my criticism of priorities is that Michael seems completely unwilling to examine that evidence to the point of apparently not even reading the actual posts he is criticising.
And then you accuse me of being a troll?
Do you even try to live up to the standards Michael put forth?

48 Martha September 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Michael, I really do admire your efforts to heal the “deep rift,” but really, you tried this before and it just did not fly. Why do you think it will happen this time? Do you not see that your post merely gives people a chance to go at each other, and no reconciliation ever occurs? Your motivation is admirable, but I think you’re a bit naive. You’re just giving people a boxing ring to punch each other.

Ophelia will as usual use your post to attack you further, for she has proven herself incapable of apologizing. Even her “agreement” with Dawkins about name-calling was soon breached when she said “Fuck you” to Sam Harris. It’s back to business as usual on her site, and, of course, the rest of the ragebloggers are having a field day with Dawkins, Shermer, and Harris all at once.

Engaging Ophelia is a useless business, for she works herself up into some kind of irrational frenzy that results in a stream of blog posts that get nastier and nastier. To wit: Shermer, Jaclyn Glenn, Dawkins, and so on. Trying to propitiate her is useless.

49 Minnow September 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm

“Yes, and that implicates that that portrayal is untrue and/or not based upon actual evidence.”

That’s right, but people who are evil and threatening are rare.

“And my criticism of priorities is that Michael seems completely unwilling to examine that evidence to the point of apparently not even reading the actual posts he is criticising.”

He is blogging abut something else. Insisting he blogs on what you would prefer him to blog about is trolling. I am sure he has read the posts, his descriptions seem accurate to me, but he isn’t writing about the arguments, he is writing about the personal attacks.

“And then you accuse me of being a troll?”

No, I didn’t. I said a certain kind of action is trolling. I am sure you are sincere, but you are doing trollish things without, I think, realising it.

50 Crackity Jones September 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Oolon’s irrelevant crying about rape only raises the issue of hypocrisy even more.

1) We have Jason Thibeault’s admission that he was accused of rape. Do you think the woman is lying, Oolon? You misogynist!

2) We have the PZ Myers incident at his college. A female student accused him of sexual harassment. Do you think the woman is lying, Oolon? You misogynist.

3) “Ogvorbis”. BTW, Ophelia Benson defends “Ogvorbis”. Just so you know what kind of person you are responding to, Michael.

In summary, you have no right to lecture ANYBODY on these issues.

51 tina September 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Michael: Nice OP. Not much mileage in complaining about the abuse though. You must realize that it’s part of the strategy by now. Once you get that you are dealing with what is essentially a dogmatic/cultist mindset, the rest should fall into place. They are quite similar to Catholics in that the narrative cannot be dropped and must be controlled on their terms and preferably on their turf.

52 Skep tickle September 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Apologies in advance if formatting errors:

oolon @35

“He said that if you don’t remember being raped and have no evidence you have been raped, you shouldn’t make an accusation of rape. ”
That doesn’t exist, there is no instance of rape ever where there is no evidence. The person waking up, finding they have had sex with someone and having no memory of it is evidence.

1) No, there is not “always evidence” that sex (w/ or w/o penetration) occurred. See Elyse’s post at Skepchick about her rapes, which include her looking for evidence in the room in 1 case to help her figure out if there had been a sexual encounter.

2) “Having no memory of it” is distinctly NOT evidence that either sex or rape occurred. It’s not evidence of anything other than something occurred to black out the person’s memory of those hours. In the context of the situations being discussed, presumably it was alcohol, which is well known to cause blackouts particularly in the setting of rapid intake. The effect is a result of memories having been formed during the time that’s “blacked out” – a blackout does not mean that the person was “falling down drunk” or obviously impaired in the assessment of onlookers – in fact it’s common for the person to be able to carry on conversations and appear to be able to make decisions.

From the link:

En bloc memory impairments tend to have a distinct onset. It is usually less clear when these blackouts end because people typically fall asleep before they are over. Interestingly, people appear able to keep information active in short–term memory for at least a few seconds [and up to several minutes, see the linked page]. As a result, they can often carry on conversations, drive automobiles, and engage in other complicated behaviors. Information pertaining to these events is simply not transferred into long–term storage.

In a 2002 study of >7K college students cited at the linked page,

Fifty–one percent of the students who had ever consumed alcohol reported blacking out at some point in their lives, and 40 percent reported experiencing a blackout in the year before the survey. Of those who had consumed alcohol during the 2 weeks before the survey, 9.4 percent reported blacking out during this period. Students in the study reported that they later learned that they had participated in a wide range of events they did not remember, including such significant activities as vandalism, unprotected intercourse, driving an automobile, and spending money.

Note the phrasing: “they learned that they had participated”. In at least some of these cases, at the time these activities seemed like a good idea to the person under the influence of alcohol, who willingly engaged in them.

I for one would MUCH prefer to live in a society in which a person (no matter the person’s gender identification) will not be convicted of a crime on the basis of the testimony of another person who can’t actually remember what happened because of an alcohol-induced blackout (or any other cause of memory loss). Obviously, a situation in which there is objective evidence of a crime should be reported to the appropriate criminal justice authorities, as that evidence may help in pursuing justice. But accusing someone of a crime when the facts of the situation really are not known – no matter what anyone’s opinion of what they think probably happened – is simply irresponsible.

Instead of warning women about Shermer, or shaming Shermer, or trying to convince conference organizers not to invite Shermer to speak at conferences in his field, IMO effort would be better placed in educating people – particularly teens and young adults – about the effects of alcohol and the surprisingly UNcommon occurrence of blackouts with rapid ingestion. The dual purposes would be that they understand that (a) it can happen to them (and that slowing down their alcohol ingestion can reduce the likelihood of it happening), and (b) that EVEN IF a person who has been drinking appears to be making decisions for him-/herself, that person might later have NO recollection of having made that decision.

Because there is no way to predict ahead of time when drinking will result in memory blackout, the logical conclusions of your argument are that:
(a) a person should never have sex after drinking alcohol…
(b) a person should never have sex with another person who has ingested alcohol no matter how enthusiastically consenting that person appears to be…
…at least, in each case, they shouldn’t when the sex involves a man penetrating a woman.

53 Skep tickle September 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

One correction: In my post just above, “The effect is a result of memories having been formed during the time that’s ‘blacked out’…” should instead read:

“The effect is a result of memories having NOT been formed during the time that’s ‘blacked out’…”

54 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Great post, skep tickle.

Quick question: did you mean “surprisingly COMMON” rather than “surprisingly UNcommon” in the following excerpt?

Instead of warning women about Shermer, or shaming Shermer, or trying to convince conference organizers not to invite Shermer to speak at conferences in his field, IMO effort would be better placed in educating people – particularly teens and young adults – about the effects of alcohol and the surprisingly UNcommon occurrence of blackouts with rapid ingestion.

55 Skep tickle September 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Gah, yes, thanks for catching that. That’s what I get for posting while trying to get my kid off to school & myself ready for work. :)

56 allison September 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Michael, I’m afraid you forgot Rule Number One according to the FTB/Skepchick axis: “You must agree with us all of the time on every issue – otherwise, you are the Enemy”. Rule Number Two, by the way, is “It’s OK when we do it”.

““I’m short on time today, because of pesky duties elsewhere. More later.” – lol, sounds like something Greta would say.

57 Parody Accountant September 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

How do you think this is going to play out, Michael? Do you really believe that this will lead to meaningful conversation?

It won’t.

The middle ground you are looking for does not exist.

58 Dave Allen September 18, 2014 at 8:11 pm

“The middle ground you are looking for does not exist.”

Seems to me that in Ophelia’s very latest piece on the issue there’s a move to taking things a bit more seriously, and even a concession that Micheal is probably right on the issue of the gratuitous insults that have come to be associated with FTB being counterproductive.

You’re also presumably overlooking the consideration Michael may have been paying to floating voters, as opposed to PZ and/or Ophelia in particular.

I really welcome Micheal’s recent missives on the matter. I know some people will interpret him as biased, but I think he’s been pretty fair on the matter, and there has been plenty of meaningful conversation – here – in the wake of his posts.

59 Shermertron September 18, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Can we all delight in the irony that Mr. Nugent’s calm and well-reasoned appeal for our FTB friends to end personal attacks and to employ kinder rhetoric has resulted in our FTB friends attacking Mr. Nugent with unkind rhetoric?

60 Guestus Aurelius September 18, 2014 at 8:34 pm

It’s not ironic if it’s fully expected.

61 FishCakes September 18, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Oolon (#13) did you actually read the posts that you cited? Do you honestly feel that you provided accurate descriptions and characterizations of them? Please, I am asking sincerely and would like to know if you honestly feel that you gave these posts a fair reading and treatment? Sorry in advance for the length.

1. _www.michaelnugent.com/2013/11/26/richard-dawkins-nuanced-memoir-and-the-unjust-personal-smears-against-him/
Here’s how oolon described it: “Everything is a “smear”, no conclusion other than he is being “smeared” is considered. Despite the man himself apologising for his remarks, there is nothing he can do wrong. Extreme examples of annoyance from his detractors are used to paint them all in a bad light.”

Here are some actual quotes from the cited post (emphasis added). Notice how clearly and repeatedly the point is made that NOT everything is a smear, that NOT everyone who is criticizing him is smearing him, and that NOT all of his detractors are being painted in a bad light. Notice how he acknowledges that Richard may have been mistaken, and that legitimate criticism without the personal smears is to be expected and encouraged.

“An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins is a generous, nuanced and ethical memoir, and the recent personal smears against Richard by SOME atheists are unjust, hurtful and irresponsible. SOME OTHER ATHEISTS HAVE DISAGREED WITH RICHARD IN MORE CONSIDERED TERMS, AS SHOULD BE EXPECTED AND ENCOURAGED IN ANY FREETHINKING COMMUNITY.”

“IT IS IMPORTANT TO RESTATE THAT OTHER ATHEISTS WHO DISAGREE WITH RICHARD HAVE EXPRESSED THEIR DISAGREEMENT IN MORE CONSIDERED TERMS. The pattern of personal smears makes it more difficult to discuss these reasonable disagreements in a constructive way.”

“IN MY OPINION, RICHARD IS CORRECT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HE MAY BE MISTAKEN ABOUT THE IMPACT ON HIS COMPANIONS. If so, that is a matter between him and them, not between him and other people on the Internet who do not know any of them.”

“IT IS IMPORTANT TO REPEATEDLY EMPHASIZE THAT SOME OTHER ATHEISTS HAVE EXPRESSED DISAGREEMENTS WITH RICHARD IN MORE CONSIDERED TERMS, AS SHOULD BE EXPECTED AND ENCOURAGED IN ANY FREETHINKING COMMUNITY.”

2. _www.michaelnugent.com/2014/08/07/the-demonising-of-richard-dawkins-and-the-normalising-of-casual-defamatory-smears/
Here’s how oolon described it: “Again, all the criticism is called “smears”, so much for nuanced rational examination of the criticism against him. So much for not “demonising” people criticising his idol.”

Here are some actual quotes from the cited post (emphasis added). Notice how clearly and repeatedly the author goes out of his way to NOT demonize the people criticizing Dawkins. Notice how the author is NOT saying that all criticism amounts to smears, and that he even acknowledges and agrees with some of the criticism, just not the use of personal attacks.

“What makes this so sad is that THERE ARE NO BAD PEOPLE IN THIS SCENARIO. We are all broadly trying to build a more ethical, secular society, with our different nuances and priorities and emphases. We can disagree robustly about our beliefs without straying into personal smears.”

“LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I DISAGREED WITH HIS EXAMPLE that read, “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.” Richard agreed with this criticism, and wrote.”

“LIKE MANY PEOPLE, I ALSO DISAGREE WITH THE USE OF THE PHRASE ‘mild date rape’. I THINK IS INSENSITIVE AND INACCURATE. I suspect Richard wrote that in a hurry and that he retrospectively agrees that it is wrong, as he later tweeted:”

“And of course the cycle continues, with some people tweeting personally abusive comments at Eleanor, WHO SEEMS FROM HER TWEETS TO BE A GOOD PERSON, who like Richard speaks robustly and sometimes bitingly about what she believes to be right and wrong, with the distinction that she personally attacks people in a way that Richard doesn’t, and who did not anticipate the scale of the response that she would get to her article.”

“As is consistent with the pattern evolving in recent years, SOME people placed the most uncharitable meaning they could on Richard’s tweets, and continued to do so even after he clarified what he meant.”

“Instead I AM GOING TO FOCUS ON THREE RESPONSES THAT DIDN’T ATTACK RICHARD PERSONALLY.”

“You may strongly disagree with my opinions on this. THAT’S PERFECTLY REASONABLE. AND YOU MAY BE CORRECT AND I MAY BE MISTAKEN. I am always willing to say, about any assertion that I make, that I might be mistaken, and I will change my beliefs if I get new information that causes me to.”

62 Deepak Shetty September 18, 2014 at 10:14 pm

I believe it is more even-handed than the way that you have described it so far.
Fine. Can you please state your position vis-a-vis the incidents.
Shermer – A woman accuses him of getting her drunk and then having sex with her. Given there are no other witnesses to this event what do you expect
1) What did you expect P.Z. Myers to do when he was told the above
2) if true, what is the appropriate language to describe Shermer?
3) What is the appropriate language to describe people who think , that even if true, It’s the woman’s fault for getting drunk?
4) What is the appropriate language to describe people who automatically assume , in their guise of being true skeptics, that the woman hasn’t provided “evidence” – hence Shermer is innocent.
5) What is the appropriate language to describe people who tweet , that when such situations arise , it is appalling for the woman to state her side of the story?

Oh wait – actually I do know – you have it in your original blog post.

63 Shermertron September 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Sigh…Deepak (62):

1) What did you expect P.Z. Myers to do when he was told the above

I was not aware that PZ Myers is a police officer or FBI agent or someone whose job it is to investigate evolving accusations of sexual assault. There’s a word for “publishing unsubstantiated accusations of lawbreaking that serves to ruin a person’s reputation.”

2) if true, what is the appropriate language to describe Shermer?

As Hitchens might say, question 2 is eight words too long.

3) What is the appropriate language to describe people who think , that even if true, It’s the woman’s fault for getting drunk?

Whoa…you seem to imply that Shermer ties women in chairs, opens their mouths with the Jaws of Life and pours tequila down their throats. No one is saying that the blame for a rape falls on anyone but the rapist. If a person willingly consumes alcohol, however, he or she must know that intoxication may follow.

4) What is the appropriate language to describe people who automatically assume , in their guise of being true skeptics, that the woman hasn’t provided “evidence” – hence Shermer is innocent.

Again, you mischaracterize. Smart people believe claims once sufficient evidence has been presented, not before. Smart people reserve judgment. In the unlikely event that Shermer is arrested outside of a hotel room, pantless and face-scratched with a crying woman in his bed, then his “defenders,” I’m quite certain, would believe that sexual assault charges are appropriate and “correct.”

5) What is the appropriate language to describe people who tweet , that when such situations arise , it is appalling for the woman to state her side of the story?

Shouldn’t these situations be dealt with by the police and in courts? Not in blogs and Tumblrs? Who appointed PZ the proxy judge, jury and reputation executioner of atheism?

Most of all, what’s so bad about insisting that serious accusations require meaningful investigation by real professionals, not a biology professor with a massive grudge and an antipathy for anyone who disagrees even slightly with what he happens to think that day?

64 MadMike September 18, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I’m appalled at the Strawmen. I don’t think anybody is saying they are confident that Shermer is entirely innocent. There simply isn’t enough evidence to decide that currently. Even the victim, IIRC, has stated that she doesn’t remember any sex from the encounter.

A blog is not a place to conduct a trial that can have serious ramifications on somebody’s reputation and income. Or tell me, oh PZ defenders-should all accusations be treated as gospel, and the accuser correct? Dispense with the courts and not dare ask for evidence? If that is the case, PZ himself will join the ranks of assumed sexual predators.

This has been pointed out before, more eloquently than my efforts, but it seems steadfastly ignored. I wonder why?

65 Parody Accountant September 19, 2014 at 12:46 am

“If you’re so innocent, why won’t you admit that you’re not?” -upcoming Ophelia Benson blog post.

66 David Galiel September 19, 2014 at 12:49 am

Wow, Aneris, that SJW comment on WEIT is, truly, the best, most coherent &, if not concise 😉 then certainly comprehensive analysis of the phenomenon I have read yet.

Have you considered posting it on your blog? Preferable & more persistent to link to it that way.

67 David Galiel September 19, 2014 at 12:56 am

add: between
A) Aneris’ analysis,

B)Michael’s orig post on the subject, and

C) Chapter 4: On Rage, Anger and Guilt, or The Temptations of Thinking with your Blood, in Todd Gitlin’s “Letters to a Young Activist” for a little bit of history repeating (I strongly recommend the entire book),

I now have a thorough set of explanations to link to for people who have no idea what is going on.

Thanks, folks!

68 aneris September 19, 2014 at 1:02 am

Just a follow up. In comment 3 I claimed that there is a distinct faction, comically named The Social Justice League, where I also included Adam Lee. He now wrote for the Guardian a piece that again quotes the same small gang of people who are firmly in this Anti-Dawkins camp mentioned above (and that is that way since “Dear Muslima” — everything else is window dressing and obfuscation by them)…

https://web.archive.org/web/20140918115111/http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/richard-dawkins-sexist-atheists-bad-name

Let’s look at the names he mentions in order of appearance and as assigned by Adam Lee…

Team Evil
Richard Dawkins
Sam Harris

Team Good
Ophelia Benson (FTB, also of course defending Lee’s piece just now)
Greta Christina (FTB)
PZ Myers (FTB)
Amy Roth (SkepChicks)

Connecting the dots: when Elevatorgate went down, PZ Myers (FTB) sided with Rebecca Watson (SkepChick) against Richard Dawkins, Amy Roth is a friend of the latter, Benson and Christina of the former.

We can as well say that all the tweets and all the pretend-problems that have been conjured in the meantime are mere opportunities that were simply exploited. We can safely assume that these people will, whatever happens, just lurk and wait for another tweet or message they can distort. In that way, they aren’t different from creationists and it should become a top priority of mocking them out of the room.

69 Minnow September 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

” I also included Adam Lee. He now wrote for the Guardian a piece that again quotes the same small gang of people who are firmly in this Anti-Dawkins camp ”

Well, actually, he write for the Guardian’s notorious online section called CFI, which is a bit different. Ironically it is generally considered to be the Guardian’s foray into clickbait.

70 Deepak Shetty September 19, 2014 at 6:53 pm

@Shermertron

I was not aware that PZ Myers is a police officer or FBI agent
This is where you show a complete lack of understanding of life. Lets say a woman told you this about Shermer.
Next lets say your spouse(assuming female), your (female) close friend , your (female) acquaintance told you that Hey , i’m meeting the famous skeptic Shermer at a pub.
Do you say Im not a policeman so I keep my mouth shut? Or do you say provide an appropriate warning – i.e. this is what i have heard – i dont know the truth but I felt you should know?

As Hitchens might say, question 2 is eight words too long.
Oh the irony of using a big name who hurled personal abuses at people in post asking people to not do it. But anyway
One woman’s testimony, Two women who have come forward with other instances of harassment , James Randi who says he has received multiple complaints , Shermer has provided 3 different versions of his story so he has definitely lied.
no motive for any of these people to go after Shermer (no click bait accusations)
And yet , you pretend as if its one womans word against Shermer. Possibly you believe you need 4 male eyewitnesses.

Whoa…you seem to imply that Shermer ties women in chairs, opens their mouths with the Jaws of Life and pours tequila down their throats.
And where did I say anything like that? Everyone is aware of how such things work.

Smart people believe claims once sufficient evidence has been presented, not before. Smart people reserve judgment.
Again you fail to understand life. if it Shermer’s word against someone else , then one of them is lying. Either it was sober consensual sex or it is not.
if you continue to behave exactly as before then you have indeed passed judgement (basically not passing judgement is functionally equivalent to believing he is telling the truth , no?)

Shouldn’t these situations be dealt with by the police and in courts?
Since no one feels that you can get a conviction , no. But I wonder is this advice helpfully passed along to Dawkins when the accusation of rape is directed to the Vatican?
Does he follow the everyone is innocent till proven guilty when priests are accused of coverup? Do you?

Not in blogs and Tumblrs? Who appointed PZ the proxy judge, jury and reputation executioner of atheism?
No one. And as far as I remember his post was carefully worded. Whatever little judging has been done has been on the basis of whatever happened next.
for me , Randi’s statement more or less seals that specifics aside , Shermer is not anyone I want to have anything to do with
and that randi’s response more or less demonstrates the issue that we have grown tired of.

serious accusations require meaningful investigation by real professionals,
Again you demonstrate a complete lack of empathy or understanding of life. Lets say you are a woman who drank too much , were escorted by some man.
All witnesses stop here. After this there are two versions of the story – one of consensual sex , the other of sex with no consent.
What exactly do you expect meaningful investigation to show?
What should you do in this case? To me the answer is warn people to be careful about this person.It looks like your answer is say nothing.
Women have posted on their experience about when such things happen, how professional investigators treat them
And why such things are underreported. When you bleat out the above response , all you are demonstrating, in the best case, is ignorance.

71 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 12:46 am

Deepak Shetty-
PZ had been after Shermer for some time. His blog was entirely the wrong place to break this news, regardless of its veracity. He was labeled a rapist without a chance to defend himself. It was done with the lowest of taste, like a tabloid.

There is a reason for the court system. Otherwise it is simply mob rule. And yet, you endorse this mob rule. You advocate that anybody with a platform should level charges against anybody they feel to be guilty. And yes, PZ only “felt” Shermer was guilty. The witnesses were not exactly unbiased, nor was PZ.

And if indeed it was true, and Allison (the accuser) sat on the news for five years, that is reprehensible. She was not too traumatized to write him an email and sit on him with a panel. But apparently she was not able to muster enough courage to warn any other potential victims for years. And then only warn them via a blog that dwindling few regard with any seriousness any more. As a rape survivor, I am appalled.

72 piero September 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

@Deepak

“Or do you say provide an appropriate warning …”
As MadMike has noticed, it took the alleged victim five years to provide “appropriate warning.” Can you explain why? Besides, irresponsible posts in a blog that few people read is, in your opinion, “appropriate” warning?

“And yet , you pretend as if its one womans word against Shermer. Possibly you believe you need 4 male eyewitnesses”
Nobody here is asking for male witnesses. You know that, because you are not stupid. Neither am I, so let me explain again the problem with your reasoning: one woman claimed to have been raped by Shermer; she has no clear recollection of the incident because at the time she was drunk; it took her some years to come forward and reveal the incident; she has recently declared that if she had to do it again, she would not use the word “rape.” And we are supposed to believe her as a matter of fact, without reasoned consideration and analysis. That’s called mob rule, as many other commenters have pointed out. If you want to live in a world where an accusation is the equivalent of a sentence, I suggest civilisation is not for you.

“Either it was sober consensual sex or it is not.”
Exactly. Except that sobriety and consent are continuums. We simply do not have enough evidence to pass judgement on the incident. And I hope we never have it, because this is strictly a judicial matter. But maybe you’d like to live in a world where blogs rfeplace the justice system. Again, I suggest civilisation is not for you.

“Does he [Dawkins] follow the everyone is innocent till proven guilty when priests are accused of coverup?”
Are you seriously comparing the institutionalised abuse committed by the catholic church with an accusation of rape coming from one individual? You seem to believe there are four testimonies, but in fact there’s only one: two women have complained of “other instances of harassment”, and hence their testimony is irrelevant to the alleged incident of rape; and Randi is not a witness of anything, as he was only repeating what other people had told him.

“All witnesses stop here”
Unfortunately, that’s true. It is regrettable, but true. Is your proposed solution to always believe the woman and prosecute the man? Why? Do you think women are somehow not entirely human, since they cannot lie or otherwise behave improperly?

Just for the record, I’m not a fan of Shermer’s. I haven’t read his books, I don’t like his politics very much, and I don’t know what kind of person he is. I won’t shed a tear for him if he is convicted, because if he took advantage of an inebriated woman then he is indeed a sexual predator. I do not, never have and never will justify rape.

73 Guestus Aurelius September 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Just for the record, I’m not a fan of Shermer’s. I haven’t read his books, I don’t like his politics very much, and I don’t know what kind of person he is. I won’t shed a tear for him if he is convicted, because if he took advantage of an inebriated woman then he is indeed a sexual predator. I do not, never have and never will justify rape.

IF?

Wow, rape-apologize much?

74 Dave Allen September 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm

“IF?

Wow, rape-apologize much?”

Could you talk me through why rape-apology has occurred here?

75 Deepak Shetty September 20, 2014 at 6:56 pm

@MadMike , Piero
As MadMike has noticed, it took the alleged victim five years to provide “appropriate warning.
So do you wonder why rapes are under reported? Do you wonder why a lot of the abuse cases against the church are reported years later? Actually you don’t have to wonder there are many women(and men!) who have shared their experience. The fact that you personally would react differently , doesn’t mean you know how other people react or that you are right and they are wrong. Educate yourself.

He was labeled a rapist without a chance to defend himself.
Perhaps by some people. But go back to the original post by PZ Myers. Where do you see this? What people did say is sex without consent is rape and you cannot get consent from a drunk person. Do you disagree?

And we are supposed to believe her as a matter of fact, without reasoned consideration and analysis. That’s called mob rule,
No one has asked you to be a judge or jury. I told you again , if a woman tells you this personally – what is your response? Ultimately if you do nothing , its the functional equivalent of believing Shermer – and reason and analysis should tell you that you did now pick a side(Shermers) whereas since there is no evidence either way for that incident , you shouldn’t have. What reason tells you is that there exists an accusation and other accusations of harassment against Shermer. Empirical facts tell you that , yes it is true many women face harassment – its hardly an extraordinary claim. And simple pragmatism should tell you that, if you are a woman, be on your guard around Shermer and altruism should tell you that tell other women that an accusation exists (using whatever medium). None of which need you to conclude that Shermer is guilty.
Can the above be misused? sure – but then there is motive, yes? What is the motive here for Alison Smith? Pamela Gay?Ashley Miller?Elyse Anders? Brian Thompson?

You have supporting things that indicate Shermers not a good person. You have empirical facts about how many reports are false (a low number) – So you play the probabilities , yes? You dont have to believe Shermer’s 100% guilty – All you have to do is think whats a pragmatic course of action – Stick to status quo – keep mum – let Shermer presumably carry on exactly as he has or make the accusations known .

Are you seriously comparing the institutionalised abuse committed by the catholic church with an accusation of rape coming from one individual
Im comparing the insistence of eyewitness, courts and convictions before you pass judgement when life simply doesnt work that way. There have been so many accusations about Ratzinger but there is no “evidence” and no “conviction” and its true of many bishops accused of coverup – no evidence , no conviction. So the true skeptic must of course believe they are innocent. Websites like RDF/FriendlyAtheist shouldn’t report on the accusations because its strictly a judicial matter.

but in fact there’s only one: two women have complained of “other instances of harassment”
Correct. It goes to show you Shermer’s character no ? Unless the women are colluding(wheres the evidence/motive?)
You also miss Shermers 3 versions no ? It was just rumor (originally)- Well we did have sex but all sober and consensual( later)- I was too drunk(to randi – either for the incident in question or other incidents). He’s lied for sure , no?

Randi is not a witness of anything, as he was only repeating what other people had told him.
Randi is a witness to multiple complaints against Shermer. Unless this is all one gigantic conspiracy(I wonder why true skeptics dont need evidence that this is all an FTB conspiracy against Shermer). He is also representative of the attitude – well he was drunk and *misbehaved* with women , and not violent so its fine.
Is your proposed solution to always believe the woman and prosecute the man?
My solution is to have the fact that there exists an accusation and the details of that accusation, known to as many people as possible. (Even PZ posted with a caveat that he doesnt know its true, its what was told to him) Which means if you have a popular blog , you post it there. In the worst case Shermers reputation is tarnished (doesnt seem to have made any difference) – In the best case you save a few people who might be more careful.

No one has talked “prosecution” or “jail” except people on the other side who are arguing against strawmen to pretend that they are the last line of defence against “mob rule”.

76 piero September 20, 2014 at 6:58 pm

@Guestus Aurelius:

I’d very much like to know why I am a rape apologist. Perhaps you could clarify, if not for my benefit, at least for Dave’s, who seems to be as baffled as I am.

If you cannot or will not provide evidence for your accusation, I expect a retraction and an apology.

77 Guestus Aurelius September 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Sorry, I forgot to end my comment thus:

😉

78 Dave Allen September 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm

“Perhaps by some people. But go back to the original post by PZ Myers. Where do you see this? What people did say is sex without consent is rape and you cannot get consent from a drunk person. Do you disagree?”

Where I fly on the wall to a scene in which some guy initiated sex with a clearly inebriated woman who was drunk to the point of incoherence and making little sense, I would agree.

Where I a fly on the wall to a scene in which some guy and some girl girl engaged apparently happily in sexual activity despite the fact that they were both tipsy I would disagree unless there were some other evidence of malice on his part.

If you were to say to me something like “whilst she seemed fairly lucid and happy that girl was in fact blocked out of her mind” I might say that the guy can’t be expected to be a mindreader and consent was given and apparent.

That people should exercise some caution when shacking up with drunk partners seems obvious, but where the exact line is probably depends on the individual circumstances.

A law to the end of sex with drunk woman meaning rape would probably so dramatically shift the perception of what rape means as to further confuse the socio-cultural understanding of rape – which is confused as it is.

79 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Educate myself?!? I was raped, and it could have been prevented if an earlier victim’s parents had reported it. It is a fundamental human duty to report crimes. If you do not, you bear a moral responsibility for your failure to do so. She was not a child, she was an adult. She had agency. She emailed him, she sat with him on a SEX discussion panel. She did all this but failed to report. Then she did so on a blog of a self-avowed enemy of Shermer, who reported it tabloid-style with many titters and gasps. It gave the appearance of regret and revenge, not reporting a very serious crime.

You get educated. The world is rough, mean place sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you get a pass on doing your moral duty as a human. Your statements frankly disgust me. Tell me exactly what you would say (if there indeed are other victims) to a person that was raped by Shermer? “Sorry, educate yourself.”

80 MadMike September 20, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Also, saying Shermer’s reputation doesn’t seem tarnished smacks of saying “well, the victim doesn’t appear too damaged.” You don’t get to decide that. You don’t know what this has cost Shermer, nor do I. Your speculation regarding his reputation is unhelpful, and if he is indeed innocent, blaming the victim.

Since we don’t know if there was a rape or not, put yourself in his place. Treat him as you would be treated, or one of your own. Not a pawn to show “all white men bad, rapists or rape-apologists.” That is how you are coming across.

81 piero September 20, 2014 at 8:05 pm

@deepak:

I have educated myself, deepak. It is you who seems committed to an ideological certainty. I know that rape goes often unreported; I know that victims go through hell twice, once when they are raped and again when they face the scorn of the police and the judicial system. I know all of that, and find it abhorrent. But you want to get away with something no rationalist should ever do, namely taking anything at face value. Not only that, you are also trying to discredit those of us who do not share your unsupported certainty as if we were happy to let a rapist off the hook. The matter is very simple: A claims X and B claims Not-X. Can you provide a rigorous derivation of X from those premises? No, you can’t. But you insist we must accept X, because A is a woman. In case you haven’t noticed, women are human beings, and hence prone to the same shortcomings of men: men and women lie. To assume that men always lie and women never lie is blatant bigotry. And it would remain so even if Shermer was convicted, because today you are basing your accusation on nothing but prejudice and gender solidarity.

“You cannot get consent from a drunk person.”
Please indicate what level of alcohol in someone’s blood impairs reasoning to the point where it can be assumed that no consent was given. After that, please prove that the victim’s alcohol index was greater. Then I’ll be able to see the relevance of the quoted statement.

“No one has asked you to be judge or jury.”
I know.

“f a woman tells you this personally – what is your response?”
If a woman tells me something so serious and personal, it means that she is a friend or relative. Someone I trust. Of course I would believe her, and provide any help and support I can. What I wouldn’t do is expect total strangers to believe her too, and call them rape apologists when they don’t.

“… and altruism should tell you that tell other women that an accusation exists (using whatever medium)”
I agree. What about those women Shermer might have raped during all those years? Didn’t they deserve to be warned? Is the victim’s altruism selective and confined to readers of Pharyngula in 2014?

“What is the motive for…”?
I don’t know any of the women you mention. Neither do I know Shermer. I won’t speculate on anybody’s motives; I’ll leave speculation to the FTB horde.

“You also miss Shermers 3 versions no ?”
No. I am aware of his different statements. That tilts the balance against him. But you seem to conveniently forget that the alleged victim also changed her claim, as I explicitly mentioned in my comment. So the balance goes to equilibrium again.

“So the true skeptic must of course believe they are innocent”
Wrong. Your analogy fails because there was overwhelming evidence that sexual abuse was a common occurrence, and because being convinced that this was the case does not allow one to say “Priest X raped children.” In the case at hand, you are actually naming a person and accusing him of rape. That requires strong evidence.

“It goes to show you Shermer’s character no ?”
No. I have no reason to believe those accusations. It’s the same issue again: when faced with insufficient data, the rational thing to do is to withhold judgement. Do I think those women colluded? I don’t know. Do I think the accusations are true? I don’t know. Do I think Shermer is a creep? I don’t know. And that’s all I can say.

“Randi is a witness to multiple complaints.”
That’s not what being a witness means, and you know it full well. Don’t play wordgames with me, deepak; I’m fairly proficient at them.

“In the worst case Shermers reputation is tarnished”
And you know, of course, that having one’s reputation ruined is no big deal. Because you know that Shermer doesn’t really care. Mind reading at its best. Do you remember when Dawkins was drawn and quartered for uttering the phrase “mild sexual abuse”? Do you remember the angry arguments against such a callous dismissal of the feelings of abuse victims? Now turn those argument to yourself.

Addendum:

Though you might not believe me, I understand your arguments. If you were to ask me “Speaking in general, what are the chances that three women should collude to accuse an innocent man of rape?” my answer would be “Very low. Statistically, it is very unlikely.” But statistics are useless for specific, named cases. In fact, we have a name for the jump from statistics to individual cases: bigotry.

82 piero September 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm

@Guestus Aurelius:

I apologise. My irony detection system is a bit rusty.

83 Guestus Aurelius September 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

To assume that men always lie and women never lie is blatant bigotry. And it would remain so even if Shermer was convicted, because today you are basing your accusation on nothing but prejudice and gender solidarity.

Ding ding ding!

The truth of the allegations against Shermer is irrelevant to the disgracefulness of the “grenade” post, as are details about the case that have emerged since (or that may yet emerge).

For me, this was never about “How dare you say bad things about my hero!?” Shermer was barely on my radar before the “grenade” post. For me, at least, this was always about “How dare you use your platform as a widely read blogger to publicly accuse someone of horrible crimes with virtually no supporting evidence!? Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

84 Deepak Shetty September 22, 2014 at 4:55 am

@MadMike
. It is a fundamental human duty to report crimes. If you do not, you bear a moral responsibility for your failure to do so.
So the people who reported church abuses years later are morally responsible for the abuses? I find that a wrong attitude to take though perhaps I can understand why you might believe so.
You are a rape survivor and I have no desire to carry on this particular thread since I might inadvertently say something harsh.

85 Deepak Shetty September 22, 2014 at 5:17 am

@piero
The matter is very simple: A claims X and B claims Not-X. Can you provide a rigorous derivation of X from those premises? No, you can’t. But you insist we must accept X, because A is a woman.
No you misrepresent the position.
A claims X and B claims Not-X. No one is saying you have to accept X – What is being said is you can publicize the fact that A claims X and B claims Not-X. especially if doing so , and if X is true , can minimise C, D and E suffering from X.
This holds whether A is a woman or not. I’d expect the same if A , B are both men or A is a man and B is a woman.
It is the same old true skeptics who have converted this into a we are being asked to accept X is true with no evidence- shock, horror.

hen I’ll be able to see the relevance of the quoted statement.
The relevance was to Shermer was called a rapist. While a few commenters may have (incorrectly) done so , the argument being made was that if Alison’s version of the story is true then it is rape – A good number of people on the other side believe that even if true , it’s not rape.

Didn’t they deserve to be warned?
Sure but the past is the past. i dont know what triggered the email (nor do you) – but I dont know how would I react were I raped (do you?) –

. I won’t speculate on anybody’s motives;
Convenient isn’t it. For the women to tell untruths about Shermer needs a motive. There is no known one – So you wont speculate , so that you can say hmm seems 50-50 to me.

No. I have no reason to believe those accusations.
So you wont believe other unrelated eyewitnesses to different instances of harassment? You remind me of a creationist sticking his fingers in his ears shouting “there are no transitional fossils!”

That’s not what being a witness means
Randi is testifying to that there were complaints that reached him. He’s also saying that nothing was done because drunk boys behave badly.

Do you remember when Dawkins was drawn and quartered for uttering the phrase “mild sexual abuse”?
Misrepresentation – thats not what he was quartered for. he was quartered (rightly or wrongly) for implying that groping young boys is “mild” – a fact that he apologized for and clarified and Im happy to take him at his word – you on the other hand seem to be still stuck.

But statistics are useless for specific, named cases. In fact, we have a name for the jump from statistics to individual cases: bigotry.
Nothing in life is certain – everything is probability and plausibility. Not even science claims 100% proof – apparently you only need that when big names are accused of doing harmful things.

86 Deepak Shetty September 22, 2014 at 5:21 am

@Dave Allen
Where I a fly on the wall to a scene in which some guy and some girl girl engaged apparently happily in sexual activity despite the fact that they were both tipsy
So for this specific case since Shermer said he was sober and Alison said she wasnt happy we can scratch this one out right?

87 David Galiel September 22, 2014 at 6:06 am

Deepak, as much as I have wanted to avoid getting dragged into this furball, I have to comment on your faulty interpretation here.

Moral responsibility for failing to report a crime is not the same as moral responsibility for committing the crime, and MadMike in no way implied it was.

You seem, in general, in your responses, eager to misinterpret other’s arguments in the most detrimental way, to the point that it is hard to continue to credit you with goodwill intention to engage in sincere discussion.

Might I suggest getting off your high horse, taking a deep breath, and giving others here the same credit they are trying to give you, for being decent people who wish to reduce harm, and simply differ on the most effective means to accomplish that?

Your style is, overall, substantiating rather than rebutting Michael Nugent’s central points.

88 piero September 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm

@Deepak:

“What is being said is you can publicize the fact that A claims X and B
claims Not-X. ”
False. Nowhere did Myers publish Shermer’s claim. You know it. You pretend not to, Therefore, you are lying.

“and if X is true , can minimise C, D and E suffering from X.”
False. That could not be the motivation, for two reasons: first, in the five years after the fact, if the allegations are true, Shermer had plenty of time to rape C, D, E and every letter of every alphabet, yet no one has taken the alleged victim to task for her callous disregard for other potential victims; second, if that was the motivation, then Myers should explain why he harbours and protects Ogvorbis, a self-confessed child rapist. But you know this, don’t you? And you keep skirting the issue, don’t you?

” the argument being made was that if Alison’s version of the story is true then it is rape”
Do you really want me to send you the saved html pages or the screenshots detailing the hundreds of times Shermer has been called a rapist in FTB blogs? Do I need to send you the evidence of the untold times Dawkins has been called a rape apologist?

“Sure but the past is the past.”
Indeed. Except that the past is being used to accuse Shermer of rape. So the past is in the past whenever it suits you, but not otherwise.

“Convenient isn’t it”
No. It’s not called convenience: it’s called decency.

“You remind me of a creationist sticking his fingers in his ears shouting “there are no transitional fossils!””
Wrong analogy. Since you cannot come up with a good one, because you are committed to irrationality, here’s one: you tell me that there is a one-foot spider in your garage; Myers tells me he’s seen it too; Greta Christina too; I suspend judgement until I see either the spider or an empty garage.

“Randi is testifying to that there were complaints that reached him”
Deepak, why are you so dishonest? You know you are trying to save face by adopting a silly redefinition of “witness”. Stop it. I’m starting to feel embarrassed for you.

“implying that groping young boys is “mild”
False. He did not say “groping young boys is mild.” He said the groping he was the victim of was, to him, mild in comparison with other forms of abuse, and that those of his classmates who underwent a similar experience had told him it was mild for them too; if I tell you that my tooth hurts a little, what on Earth would make you want me to say it hurts a lot? It is my fucking experience, not yours.

“Nothing in life is certain – everything is probability and plausibility. Not even science claims 100% proof”
You are astonshingly dishonest, Deepak. It is hard for me to believe you are defending a club that would accept people like you as members.

89 Deepak Shetty September 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm

@David Galiel
Moral responsibility for failing to report a crime is not the same as moral
I did not say that or think that or believe that Mike thinks that – if I implied that , I apologize.
I do however believe that the question of reporting a crime (like sexual abuse) is not straightforward , morally , as it has been portrayed. (Some reports have the experience listed as equivalent to being abused a second time). How one deals with this situation , is upto them , it can impact their lives in profound ways and they have some moral responsibility to themselves, too.

90 Deepak Shetty September 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm

@David Galiel
Separately
Your style is, overall, substantiating rather than rebutting Michael Nugent’s central points.
Really? I used personal abuses to discuss issues?
You on the other hand can mind read me (eager to misinterpret), have gotten personal (get off your high horse).

91 John Greg September 22, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I have said it before, and I will say it again, and I will probably have to say it over and over, just to remind one and all that one of the most challenging and difficult aspects of discussing/debating/arguing with the SJL, FTB, Skepchick crowd, is the blatant, obvious, and increasing difficulty that most of them have with simple and basic reading comperhension — never mind the blatant insistence on willful distortion and misrepresentation.

And not to mention their freewheeling joy in playing with dictionary definitions in a whimisical ad hoc fashion so as to allow/disallow/change them as they see fit so as to best fit their argument of the day.

Aside from intellectual cowardice and fraud, and having the integrity of warm jello, I suspect the most challenging aspect of discussing/debating issues with the SJL is that they have the intellectual and reading comprehension skills of an American sub-par and falling grade 5 student.

Even someone so supposedly highly gifted as College Prof Myers appears, pretty clearly, to have willfully and intentionally abrogated any requirement to actually understand and comprehend the English language with the kind of fluency and subtlety once demanded of all academic educators.

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