Another week, another set of misrepresentations and personal smears

by Michael Nugent on October 2, 2014

Having recently defended Richard Dawkins and the atheist movement against misrepresentations and smears, I now find myself the target of similar misrepresentations and smears.

Having seen at first hand how outrageously inaccurate their smears about me are, I now retrospectively doubt many things that certain people have said to me, or written about, in recent years.

I had considered not giving these latest smears the oxygen of further publicity, but on balance it is useful to demonstrate the tactics that some people can use to unjustly harm people.

I have noticed five types of personal smears against me in recent weeks.

Firstly, I have been inaccurately associated with opponents of my ethical values, against whom I have actively campaigned all of my adult life. For example, Ophelia Benson has written that I am (and the atheist movement might be) “acting like a mirror image of the fucking Vatican,” because I said that sex crimes should be reported to the police and not to bloggers.

Actually, wanting to see rapes reported to the police is not a mirror-image of the Vatican. It is the precise opposite of the Vatican. I believe any organisation that receives a complaint about a sex crime related to their activities (including the Randi Foundation) should report it to the police, rather than deal with it internally. Also, I agree with rape crisis professionals such as RAINN who say both that reporting by victims is a very personal decision that must be right for the individual, and also that their goal is have every rape reported to police, just as every murder is.

Secondly, what I wrote has been paraphrased into something else, that can then be opposed as if it was my view. For example, Adam Lee has written that my comments about reporting sex crimes to the police and not to bloggers “can only reasonably be read as a claim that… if the police decline to prosecute or don’t get a conviction, too bad for you, you should never bring it up again.”

Actually, I believe victims of sex crimes should discuss their experience in as much detail as they wish with rape crisis professionals, doctors, lawyers, family, trusted friends, persons with responsibility for the circumstances involved, and whoever else can help them deal with the unique trauma they have experienced. I also believe we need better education and responsible media reporting to make the public aware of the nature of sex crimes and how to combat them, including how to improve the police service to make reporting less traumatic.

Thirdly, there are outright factual falsehoods. For example, Stephanie Zvan has written about certain allegations that “Nugent attempted to use his influence directly to get PZ to stop talking about them”. That’s simply not true. It would take a bizarre interpretation of my email to PZ to imply that it had any specific focus on that issue, and I have had no other contact with PZ since then. I had no notion about the Oppenheimer article until I saw it published.

Fourthly, there is vitriolic personal abuse that is disproportionate to any legitimate disagreements. For example, a regular commenter on Ophelia’s blog has described me as “a horrible slimy little man… oozing misogyny from every pore.” This type of abuse seems to come from a parallel world with more connection to hate speech than reality.

Fifthly, Ophelia and Adam and others have repeatedly suggested that I am trying to silence people. Actually, none of what I write is silencing anybody, just as nothing Ophelia and others write is silencing me. There are many places where you can say what you want, even if it is illegal or hurtful, without hindrance from me. We are all expressing our opinions. We can do that without smearing people.

I’ll grant that anybody can misinterpret anything the first time that they read it, but some people have continued misrepresenting me even after any misunderstandings have been clarified. This is the same pattern as used on Richard and others. It is now escalating beyond smears into what could be read as dark satire. It is the opposite of reason and openness, it is the opposite of empathy and compassion, and it is the opposite of fairness and justice. Whatever its motivation, it is unhelpful and unethical.

Combating sex crimes while protecting everyone’s rights

For context, before I examine the tactics that Ophelia, Adam and others are using to misrepresent and smear me, here are my opinions about combating sex crimes. Please bear these in mind as you read how my views are being misrepresented.

Combating sex crimes while protecting the rights of both victims and alleged criminals is a sensitive and difficult balance. Sexual assault and rape are serious crimes, which all reasonable people abhor, and it is precisely because they are so serious and abhorrent that society should address them in a way that is just for everybody.

Nobody should try to objectively trivialise the subjective emotional suffering that a sexual abuse or rape victim undergoes, which is unique to each victim. Sexual abusers and rapists violate the bodily integrity of their victims, and violate the personal consent of their victims, by imposing their own desires onto innocent children, women and men.

The victim’s suffering can be equally traumatic regardless of whether the abuser or rapist is a family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger, and regardless of whether the abuser or rapist used physical force, or threat of physical force, or non-violent psychological coercion. If you live in a stable democracy, the people best placed to support and advise victims are the rape crisis centres that exist in many towns and cities.

In every area of crime, we need laws that respect the rights of both victims of crimes, and people accused of crimes, that will maximise the number of guilty people who are convicted and the number of innocent people who are cleared. Having these protections in place does not imply that any specific allegation of a sex crime is false. Indeed, most allegations are true. But the legal system must protect the rights of everybody involved in every specific case.

I have campaigned over the years against crimes of varying degrees, from petty neighbourhood crimes to terrorism in Northern Ireland. I have also campaigned to successfully reverse miscarriages of justice, where innocent people had been jailed for crimes that they did not commit. In combating any type of crime, it can be difficult to find the best balance between vindicating victims, bringing criminals to justice, protecting innocent defendants, and improving the quality of life and justice in society.

Finding the best balance is particularly difficult in cases of sexual abuse and rape. Many victims are reluctant to report such crimes to the police, because they fear the emotional consequences and further trauma of a court case. This fear can be exacerbated if the victim fears that the court is unlikely to convict the perpetrator, either because of difficulty in proving the crime or because the perpetrator is seen as a respected or powerful member of society.

We had similar problems finding the best balance in combatting terrorism in Northern Ireland. Many victims were reluctant to report intimidation, protection rackets, punishment beatings and murder to the police, because they mistrusted the police or feared retaliation from terrorists. State responses such as internment of terrorists, and over-enthusiastic prosecutors, resulted in the internment and jailing of innocent people, causing more injustice and further mistrust of the state.

To combat sex crimes and maximise the provision of justice, we need better resources for victim support, better public education about the nature of sex crimes, and better laws and legal training to vindicate the rights of everybody involved. As with any area of crime, we need as many crimes as possible to be reported to the police, so that as many criminals as possible are brought to justice and as many innocent people as possible are cleared.

A mirror image of the fucking Vatican?

Ophelia Benson has described as ‘exceptionally outrageous’ a section from a recent post of mine, which caused her to write:

I hate “the atheist movement.” If this is what it is, I hate it and want nothing to do with it. If it’s going to act like a mirror image of the fucking Vatican, I want nothing to do with it.

First the context: Adam Lee, as part of a longer comment that you can read in full here, had written the following personal smear about Richard Dawkins:

Why would he believe the anonymous woman in the New Statesman article and not [named person], despite the very close similarity of the cases? Obvious inference: [named person]’s allegations are against someone he personally knows, so he has a reason to want them to be false.

Note that Adam was not speculating about the alleged crime itself. He was speculating about why he believed Richard had written some tweets. I then responded to Adam:

You then engage in detailed speculation about why you believe Richard was trying to convey a message that a specific person (who you name, and I won’t) should be considered an untrustworthy witness in a specific allegation of rape (which you give details of, and I won’t) against another specific person (who you name, and I won’t).

Adam, you may or may not be correct or mistaken about any of this, but you are relying on speculation of what somebody else is thinking, constructed in your own imagination, to justify publishing a negative characterisation of Richard in a reputable newspaper.

That is bad enough with regard to your speculation about what Richard is thinking, but it is even worse with regard to speculation about the alleged rape that you allude to.

Speculation about that alleged rape is happening on various websites at the moment, and I decline to participate in it. The intimate details of traumatic moments in the lives of real people are being treated as fodder for amateur detective work about what real people did or didn’t do and why they did or didn’t do so.

This is a large part of the reason why I believe that allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers. It is not only because of the justice of presuming people innocent of serious crimes until proven guilty, but also to help protect victims of rape from being permanently defined online by salacious speculation about what they have been through.

This is what Ophelia described as “acting like a mirror image of the fucking Vatican”.

In reality, it is the precise opposite of the Vatican. The Vatican doesn’t want sex crimes reported to the police, and I do want sex crimes reported to the police.

Ophelia on the Vatican reporting sex crimes to the police

Ophelia is aware of this. She wrote about it in April.

The Tablet had reported that

Victims have long denounced how bishops systematically covered up abuse by shuffling pedophile priests around while keeping prosecutors in the dark. Only in 2010 did the Vatican instruct bishops to report abuse to police — but only where required by law.

Ophelia responded:

Well of course only where required by law. You don’t expect them to do the right thing even when not forced to do you?! Don’t be silly. They’re human. They’re not going to rat out a friend and colleague just because some snotty little kid whines about being fucked up the ass.

The Tablet also reported that

The president of the Italian bishops’ conference has defended a decision to exempt bishops from having to report claims of abuse by clergy to the police, because he said Italian law does not require it and victims may not want them to.

Ophelia mocked the idea of not reporting these crimes to the police because the victims may not want them to:

Also besides, the whole reason they have this policy is to protect the victims. No really. The cardinal said so. The Tablet reports, you decide.

The Tablet continued:

Bagnasco said some victims may not want to press charges. “What is important is to respect the will of the victims and their relatives, who may not want to report the abuse, for personal reasons,” he said.

And Ophelia responded:

And that’s what they’ve been concerned about all this time. Of course it is.

So Ophelia knows that the Vatican does not want to report sex crimes to the police. Ophelia believes reporting these crimes to the police is the right thing to do, and she dismisses the Vatican’s argument that they should not report the abuse because the victims may not want them to.

Adam on the Vatican reporting sex crimes to the police

Adam Lee has also endorsed the idea of a law which would make it a crime for anyone, church officials included, to fail to report allegations of sex abuse against minors to the civil authorities.

In January 2011, Adam wrote a post criticising the Vatican for objecting to a policy that made it mandatory for priests to report suspected child molesters to civil authorities.

The Vatican’s ambassador to Ireland had written that “In particular, the situation of ‘mandatory reporting’ gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature”.

Adam wrote

The Vatican clearly considered this a far more important matter than the question of whether that priest should be tried in a criminal court. Since that outcome would be “highly embarrassing” to the bishops (and that potential embarrassment, of course, outweighs ensuring that child molesters are tried and punished by the law), the letter was implicitly urging them not to adopt this policy.

First off, let me note that this statement confirms my argument above: the Vatican, by its own admission, was more concerned about the effect of this policy on internal church proceedings than it was about its effect on the police’s ability to arrest and punish child molesters.

In July 2011, Adam followed up on that post. He wrote:

As a result, the mandatory-reporting policy, although it technically remained in force, was shelved by the bishops and never enforced. What happened next is no surprise: predator priests continued to abuse children, and the church continued to do nothing.

Adam quoted Ireland’s deputy prime minister as saying; “There’s one law in this country. Everybody is going to have to learn to comply with it. The Vatican will have to comply with the laws of this country,” and Adam added:

This is great stuff. Even better was the announcement that the government plans to introduce a law which would make it a crime for anyone, church officials included, to fail to report allegations of sex abuse to the civil authorities.

So, let’s be clear. Wanting to see rapes reported to the police is not a mirror-image of the Vatican. It is the direct opposite of the Vatican.

What do rape crisis groups advise about reporting?

In some countries, it is mandatory to report to authorities if you suspect sexual abuse of a child or a vulnerable adult, such as an elderly or disabled person.

But most adult victims are not legally obligated to report, although in theory the police can sometimes pursue a case without the victim’s cooperation.

I believe that an adult victim of any sex crime should decide whether or not to report it to the police. I believe that it is a personal decision that only they can make based on their own circumstances.

But the fact that, when victims are unable to take that decision for themselves, there is a mandatory duty for others to report suspicions of abuse against them, shows a consensus that it is desirable that rapes should be reported to the police.

This is reflected in the way that rape crisis groups try to balance all of the factors involved. While they stress that whether to report is a victim’s personal decision, they can also sensitively encourage victims to report.

RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network is America’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. It says:

We hope you will decide to report your attack to the police. While there’s no way to change what happened to you, you can seek justice while helping to stop it from happening to someone else.

Reporting to the police is the key to preventing sexual assault: every time we lock up a rapist, we’re preventing him or her from committing another attack. It’s the most effective tool that exists to prevent future rapes. In the end, though, whether or not to report is your decision to make…

Many victims say that reporting is the last thing they want to do right after being attacked. That’s perfectly understandable — reporting can seem invasive, time consuming and difficult. Still, there are many good reasons to report, and some victims say that reporting helped their recovery and helped them regain a feeling of control.

Our goal is have every rape reported to police, just as every murder is reported and investigated. It’s the best way to get rapists off the streets and make sure they can’t find new victims….

Reporting is a very personal decision, and you should make the decision that’s right for you. While we encourage you to report, if you decide not to, for whatever reason, that’s perfectly understandable and there’s no reason to feel bad about your decision.

After Silence is an online support group, message board, and chat room for rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse survivors. It says:

Survivors of rape may have a hard time deciding whether or not to report their sexual assault to the police. Rape prevention and counseling experts strongly advise victims to report the rape to the authorities so that their assailants can be brought to justice. While there is no way to undo the rape, reporting it to the police will help to stop the perpetrator from harming other victims in the future. Additionally, rape victims can feel a sense of closure when the rapist is brought to justice and convicted accordingly.

Rape victims are not required to report their experience to the police. Although it is unlikely that the district attorney will pursue the case without the consent and cooperation of the survivor, the district attorney does have the right to pursue the rapist even if the survivor chooses not to participate. If a third party is witness to the crime, however, they are required to report it to the police…

While reporting rapes is always preferable to not reporting, if you decide not to report it to the police, do seek out professional counseling to help you through the emotional turmoil that the rape can have on you.

The UK Rape Crisis Centre outlines some advantages and disadvantages of reporting rape to the police.

Some advantages of reporting

  • It is an opportunity for you to present your side regarding the rape / incident.
  • It is the only chance you have of getting your attacker punished.
  • If your attacker is known to you or has power over you; it may be a way of stopping a future situation in which you are likely to be raped again by him.

Some disadvantages

  • Reporting does not necessarily mean the rapist will be convicted neither does a conviction necessarily result in a prison sentence.
  • You will set in motion a process over which you have little or no control and which is difficult, although not impossible, to stop.

Protecting anonymity while reporting to the police

There is one cultural difference that may help to explain some of our different opinions about reporting sex crimes to the police.

While I am unfamiliar with the detail, and would welcome further information, it seems that in the United States you are able to publish a rape victim’s name even if they don’t want it published.

In State of Florida v. Globe Communications Corp., 648 So.2d 110 (Fla. 1994), the Florida Supreme Court held that a Florida criminal statute that prohibited the media from identifying the names of sexual assault victims violated the First Amendment.

In that case, Globe Communications Corp. twice published the name and identifying information of a sexual assault victim, violating the Florida statute. The paper had lawfully learned the victim’s name through investigation.

The Florida Supreme Court relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Florida Star v. B.J.F., finding that the Florida statute barring any media publication of a rape victim’s name was unconstitutional because it was ‘over-broad’; that is, it punished the media even if, for example, the name of the victim was already known in the community. It also found that the statute was “under-inclusive” in that it punished only media publication and not acts by a private person.

In Ireland publishing the name of a rape victim, even after a trial, is not permitted. They must give their permission to publish and that does not happen very often. The media always states that the victim has given her permission.

In some cases you cannot even name a convicted rapist in the media if it reveals the identity of the victim, particularly in cases of incest. And publishing the name of an accused person before a trial would undermine a case.

America seems to have a culture that gives more emphasis to freedom of speech over the protection of people’s reputation than is the case in Ireland and the UK.

Not reporting does not mean keeping it secret

Ophelia and others have several times suggested that, by saying that sex crimes should be reported to the police and not to bloggers, that this means I am saying that victims should either report sex crimes to the police or else keep them secret.

A recent example was by Adam Lee who wrote:

There’s also Michael Nugent, chairperson of Atheist Ireland, who wrote several lengthy posts criticizing my Guardian article. Most of Nugent’s criticisms consist of endless hyperskeptical hair-splitting;

Actually, it was substantive questions, asking Adam to support arguments that he made in an article published in a reputable mainstream newspaper. I asked them because Adam specifically asked critics to give details of his inaccuracies and misrepresentations. And Adam still hasn’t fully answered them. I’ll get back to that in a future post, but let’s stay on topic here.

…but when I brought up the point about how Dawkins was clearly speculating about the [named person] case, this is what he said:

“You then engage in detailed speculation about why you believe Richard was trying to convey a message that a specific person (who you name, and I won’t) should be considered an untrustworthy witness in a specific allegation of rape (which you give details of, and I won’t) against another specific person (who you name, and I won’t).”

Nugent calls this “salacious speculation”…

Actually, I didn’t say that what Adam was engaging in there was salacious. I said that people speculating on the detail of what happened or didn’t happen between the two people involved was salacious speculation. What I was addressing here was Adam speculating on what was going on in Richard’s mind when he wrote a tweet. That’s not salacious, it’s just subjective and uncharitable.

… and says that he avoids repeating it to “help protect victims”.

Again, Adam is paraphrasing what I wrote here. What I actually wrote was:

Speculation about that alleged rape is happening on various websites at the moment, and I decline to participate in it. The intimate details of traumatic moments in the lives of real people are being treated as fodder for amateur detective work about what real people did or didn’t do and why they did or didn’t do so.

This is a large part of the reason why I believe that allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers. It is not only because of the justice of presuming people innocent of serious crimes until proven guilty, but also to help protect victims of rape from being permanently defined online by salacious speculation about what they have been through.

So my concern is twofold: both the subversion of the justice of presuming people innocent of serious crimes until proven guilty, and also to help protect victims of rape from being permanently defined online by salacious speculation about what they have been through.

Both of these harms have resulted from this allegation being published on a blog, independently of whether or not it was reported to the police.

Adam continued:

This would seem like a laudable concern for the privacy of rape victims…

Here, Adam is smearing my concern for the privacy of rape victims by describing it as “what would seem like a laudable concern.”

Let’s pause here for a moment and reflect on that.

We are now so desensitised to personal smears that Adam is happy to casually imply that I am not concerned about rape victims.

… if you didn’t know that [named person] intentionally came forward to tell her story. She wanted to go public to warn other women…

It is true that the person in this case wanted her story to be told, but she did not want to be identified as the person telling the story. She wanted to tell her story anonymously, precisely because she feared the consequences of being identified as the person telling the story.

Nevertheless, her name inevitably made its way into the public domain. That was bound to happen, given the nature of the Internet, the way that the blogger involved presented the story, and the shared interests and activities of many of the people involved.

…precisely because she says she had brought this up privately with Randi’s foundation and they declined to act.

As I have said, I will not speculate on what happened on the night in question. But I will say this about the James Randi Foundation. I believe any organisation that receives a complaint about a sex crime related to their activities should report it to the police or another appropriate authority.

We saw what happened in the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, when a woman making a rape allegation ended up being asked by an internal disputes committee about her drinking habits and previous sexual history.

Senior officials then asked an AGM to trust their judgment in mildly rebuking the man against whom the complaints were made. They added that they didn’t pass on the complaint to the police as they had no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice.

Skeptical foundations are no more qualified than the Vatican or the Socialist Workers Party or bloggers to investigate or make judgments on allegations of sex crimes, particularly in cases where there are so many conflicts of interest involved.

Adam then concluded that:

In that context, Nugent’s assertion that “allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers” can only reasonably be read as a claim that rape victims should keep quiet and not speak to the media. If someone rapes you, you should go to the police and otherwise tell no one; and if the police decline to prosecute or don’t get a conviction, too bad for you, you should never bring it up again.**

This grand conclusion builds on the earlier misrepresentations to provide a paraphrase of what I have written. Adam’s paraphrase is not only a grand concluding misrepresentation of my views, but it does not even follow from his earlier misrepresentations.

I believe victims of sex crimes should discuss their experience in as much detail as they wish with rape crisis professionals, doctors, lawyers, family, trusted friends, persons with responsibility for the circumstances involved, and whoever else can help them deal with the unique trauma they have experienced. I also believe we need better education and responsible media reporting to make the public aware of the nature of sex crimes and how to combat them, including how to improve the police service to make reporting less traumatic.

Adam ended his conclusion with an asterisk, which linked to the this footnote:

** If this is not Nugent’s position, I’ll be glad to issue a correction. But in that case, I’d expect him to state that he thinks [named person] did the right thing by coming forward. So far, he’s ducked multiple opportunities to say so.

This is the classic LBJ tactic, based on the legend that Lyndon B Johnson spread a rumour that an election rival fucked pigs. When challenged that he knew it wasn’t true, LBJ supposedly replied, ‘Of course it’s not true, but I want to make him deny it.’

I look forward to Adam’s correction, and I hope that it is not sandwiched between further misrepresentations and smears.

But the fact that his paraphrase is not my position does not lead to the further conclusion that he expects. If by ‘coming forward’ he means enabling a particular blogger to write about this in the way that he did, then I have repeatedly made clear that I believe that was not doing the right thing. And you cannot extrapolate, from that, the smears that Adam has repeatedly targeted me with.

Summary

Having seen at first hand how outrageously inaccurate their smears about me are, I now retrospectively doubt many things that certain people have said to me, or written about, in recent years.

I have noticed five types of personal smears against me in recent weeks.

  • Firstly, I have been inaccurately associated with opponents of my ethical values, against whom I have actively campaigned all of my adult life.
  • Secondly, what I wrote has been paraphrased into something else, that can then be opposed as if it was my view.
  • Thirdly, there are outright factual falsehoods.
  • Fourthly, there is vitriolic personal abuse that is disproportionate to any legitimate disagreements.
  • Fifthly, some people have repeatedly suggested that I am trying to silence people.

I’ll grant that anybody can misinterpret anything the first time that they read it, but some people have continued misrepresenting me even after any misunderstandings have been clarified. This is the same pattern as used on Richard and others.

It is now escalating beyond smears into what could be read as dark satire. It is the opposite of reason and openness, it is the opposite of empathy and compassion, and it is the opposite of fairness and justice. Whatever its motivation, it is unhelpful and unethical.

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{ 159 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheOwlAtMidnight October 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm

It is extremely unethical, as well as shocking and disgusting.

Luckily it appears that this ravening little horde is about to self-destruct. They certainly have lost all credibility along with many followers (myself included) with their vicious sleaze.

I am sorry that it appears necessary for you to counter their slime by addressing it point by point, but I feel you are right that this is the best way to keep any of it from sticking to you. They, of course, are hoping you won’t, so that YOU will be silenced, and, in their eyes, disgraced.

Keep fighting the good fight of reason, clarity, logic, and sanity. People are listening to you, and recognizing what you do, and appreciating it.

2 Stephen Duggan October 2, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I got a headache from reading that most.
I would not describe you as being anything less than being the nicest man in the world.
These hysterical freaks are attacking you for no good reason. Anyone can have a blog. I could have one but I don’t feel I could have one because I don’t have anything interesting to say!

What happened to due process? Do you get to be the arbiter of morality because a website, run by a private, company lets you host a blog??

I’m a citizen! Get me out of here!!

3 Shermertron October 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Great piece. Thank you for enacting the labor to produce it.

Which leads to the primary problem. The bloggers in question (particularly Benson) don’t want to enact much labor. Instead of providing hearty explanations of their own thoughts studded with quotes that reinforce their points, they simply copy-paste a paragraph and add a snarky sentence that is devoid of any nuance or understanding.

And as you have seen, their posts come fast and furious; their version of the creationist Gish Gallop. By the time you remind Benson of what you really said, she’s already made a post condemning what PZ said Adam Lee said about you.

4 Stephen Duggan October 2, 2014 at 11:10 pm

I obviously meant “post”
These people are self appointed judges. I lost all respect for PZ when he called a named person a rapist. That’s slander, pure and simple. If that person has been convicted of rape it would be a legitimate claim. He called Brian Dunning a conman AFTER he was convicted of fraud, so I would say he was correct in his assessment. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty.
That named person may have made a lewd joke that made his female dinner party partner uncomfortable. It would have been her duty to speak up and say it made her uncomfortable. He shouldn’t be labeled a rapist for it. If it was a formal black-tie affair, I very much doubt he would have made the joke.
Being a good skeptic, when the objective evidence is presented, but a judge would have a final say. So I hold the position of innocent until proven guilty.

5 LeSchlumb October 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Nothing to add, really.

It’s still a good thing you speak out against the smears and the bullying from FreeThoughtBlog members, because frankly, this has gotten waaaay out of hand. Question is, what can we do about this in the long run?

(Did you know there exists a hashtag called #FTBullies on social media, where people document these kind of attacks? Absurd in its own right, but apparently needed.)

6 Gurdur October 2, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Michael, I am sorry. You deserve nothing like the incredible spite directed at you. While I disagree with you on many things, you have been the soul of constructive engagement and community-building for over a year. Many appreciate your efforts.

7 FishCakes October 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Mr. Nugent, I echo the sentiments shared by many others as to your diplomatic and level-headed approach, as well as your tenacity.

That said, I urge you to carefully consider the invaluable life-lesson contained within this pivotal scene from the classic 80’s movie WarGames.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=NHWjlCaIrQo

8 piero October 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm

That was remarkable, Michael. It is a pity that Ophelia and Adam have to resort to misrepresentations in order to “win” an argument, even if it means alienating you and the people that agree with you. It is a pity because I used to be an avid reader of Ophelia’s blog, and because I had never heard of Adam Lee before and now I’m sorry I did.

In the end, good sense will tend to prevail, but it will take time; meanwhile, more damage will have been done.

9 Crackity Jones October 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm

I have always maintained that these bullies collude with each other in their backchannels to produce these hate pieces. They then rely on their rabid commentators to throw the abuse.

In recent months, people like Ophelia Benson, PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan have found themselves increasingly sidelined in the atheist/skeptic movements. Not that they were ever big draws. Organisations, conferences, and media outlets need to treat these people like the pariahs that they are.

Don’t be at all surprised at Benson’s behavior. She has proved herself to be one of the most malicious and vindictive bloggers at FTB. She is a very bitter woman who ALWAYS misrepresents what others say, but starts crying about people who call her out for her defence of Ogvorbis.

Finally, the accusation that you are trying to silence people is shockingly hypocritical. Stephanie Zvan is one of the most notorious FTBullies in terms of trying to shut down people and silence them. She even runs “Mo Ansar” style attacks to get Twitter accounts suspended. She also supported a Tumblr established to belittle the mental health of a woman.

These “people” are beneath contempt, and should not be considered part of any movement that decent human beings belong to.

10 Jack Rawlinson October 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I feel your exasperation, Michael. Those of us who have had the attentions of these people even briefly know the feeling. You are now experiencing first hand what some of us have known for years: they are massive hypocrites, viciously abusive and they think nothing at all of flinging the most outrageous fallacies of misrepresentation, straw-manning and ad hominem around in lieu of engaging fairly with arguments. And if, as you are doing here, you decide to call them on their Gish Gallop of dishonest invective, you’re “nitpicking”. They really are inexcusable people. My advice is that once you’ve tired of trying to chop off the Hydra heads, you treat them with the contempt they deserve and refuse to engage further.

In the UK some of these people could easily have been on a libel charge.

11 Steve Vanden-Eykel October 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I do love the stark contrast.

It’s like Michael Nugent just can’t avoid being sensible, thoughtful and humane. Meanwhile, Benson, Myers, and their coterie of oddities just can’t avoid acting like tantrum-throwing toddlers.

Let’s see if they have the sense to figure out that they’re losing points just by playing.

PS Hi Oolon!

12 MosesZD October 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Ideologues, Michael, as you’ve just well-experienced are not interested in the same thing you are interested in — a better world where we have to make allowances for others. Rather, they are Utopians (which always leads to some form of totalitarianism) who do not care who they hurt in trying to force their “One True Way of Behavior and Thought” on you.

Hence the Ordeal by Blog, ever so analogous to the victims of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, that all the ‘big name’ skeptics go through — shaming, bullying, arbitrary character assassination and sustained harassment. And, if y0u are to believe the bravado they (the ‘Educated Youth’) spew in their social circles, they’d be more than happy to torture you, geld you, shove knives up orifices, dead porcupines up orifices, etc. further mirroring Chairman Mao.

I am glad that you came to this fight, Michael, even though it was years after you should have come to this fight. So, I do hold you and other strong influences in the community partially responsible — failure to act is acting.

13 Richard October 3, 2014 at 12:03 am

I’m glad that you’re standing up to PZ and the other rage bloggers. However, I think it is possible that JREF has been Vatican-like in protecting their skeptical darling, despite numerous allegations of bad behavior. In this regard, I think the Oppenheimer article is particularly helpful because it named names of alleged perpetrators and alleged victims. Sometimes, this is the only way to bring pressure to bear on an organization to reform its policies.

14 Shatterface October 3, 2014 at 12:20 am

It might be unfair to quote [the earlier] Benson in an argument against [the current] Benson, but fuck it:

Too much attention to “points of view” with too little scepticism can get innocent people convicted of crimes, on the basis of testimony from people with “points of view” but no evidence. A number of US court cases dealing with putative recovered memory, Satanic ritual abuse and child abuse in day-care facilities have achieved just such a result in the past two decades. Law-enforcement officials and juries were solemnly instructed to “listen to the children”, and long prison sentences were handed out to people who were not, in fact, Satanists or secret child-murders. The dangers seem obvious, but not everyone sees them.

Why Truth, er, Mattered

15 Shatterface October 3, 2014 at 12:30 am

I hope this is really the moment the FTB cult finally break away from the atheist movement and crawl into a compound to wait for a comet to take them back to their home world.

It really gladdens my heart to see them disassociate themselves from the word ‘atheist’ because they haven’t been atheists for a long while.

Maybe the rest of us can get back to simply not believing in gods without having to apologise for belonging to whatever social group we happen to have been born into.

16 piero October 3, 2014 at 12:31 am

@Shatterface:

Oh my God (FSM)! Are you sure we are talking of the same Ophelia Benson? You know, the same Ophelia Benson that writes the Butterflies and Wheels blog? Is this a case of multiple personality disorder?

17 Shatterface October 3, 2014 at 12:45 am

Oh my God (FSM)! Are you sure we are talking of the same Ophelia Benson? You know, the same Ophelia Benson that writes the Butterflies and Wheels blog? Is this a case of multiple personality disorder?

I’m starting to wonder whether Jeremy Stangroom wrote all the good bits and Benson was little more than his spellchecker.

It was that book that lead me to Butterflies & Wheels. Benson’s deterioration into end-stage Postmodernism has been tragic.

If I ever get that bad I hope the doctors have the decency to either pull the plug or stop feeding me and just let me slip away.

18 Shatterface October 3, 2014 at 12:54 am

More from Why Truth, er, Mattered:

And one last good reason for thinking that truth matters, it seems to us, is all about preferences. In the largest and most humanly important sense, it’s about happiness, flourishing, enthusiasm, about what makes life worth living, why we prefer being awake to being asleep, why it’s a privilege to be human. It’s about why truth matters. Really matters. Not in a dull perfunctory dutiful sense, but in a real, lived, felt sense.

This is the kind of mattering we’re talking about here – personal but also public, subjective but also communicable and sharable, immediate but also permanent, cognitive but also emotional. In a way, it’s about community and solidarity, but it’s a community that thinks truth matters rather than one that prefers solidarity to truth.

This reason is based on the thought that enquiry, curiosity, interest, investigation, explanation-seeking, are highly important components of human happiness.

19 piero October 3, 2014 at 1:20 am

a community that thinks truth matters rather than one that prefers solidarity to truth

Well, if you were to quote Ophelia at her blog you’d get banned in no time. Apparently she strongly opposes her own thoughts.

20 Acleron October 3, 2014 at 1:25 am

Thank you Michael. The venom of these people has prevented nuanced discussion of complex issues. Their one dimensional analysis of most situations is ‘We are right so you must be wrong’. In a free society it is unfortunate that those with the loudest voice tend to dominate so rebuttals such as yours are all the more valuable.

21 Shatterface October 3, 2014 at 1:26 am

More from Why Truth, er, Mattered

Page 176: There is a reason why truth and reconciliation commissions are called truth and reconciliation commissions. The truth is prior, and is a condition of the reconciliation; if the truth is not on offer, then reconciliation is not possible. If rhetoric is allowed to edge truth-seeking out of the way, it will become difficult to get the truth on the record.

But the idea is abroad – partly due to that “rise of postmodernist fashion” in universities – that in fact anti-realism, general skepticism (except about one’s own truth-claims), anti-scientism are indeed emancipatory, that the power of science, rational enquiry, logic, and evidence to get at the truth is a kind of tyranny, and something we need liberation from. But the real tyranny is being required to let humans – the community, the mullahs, the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention [and, may I add, the politicians] – decide what the truth is independent of the evidence – cut free from the facts of the world. That’s tyranny for you.

Page 178:

Even leaving aside the fear aspect, and with it the question whether it is more emancipatory to dispel fears or to point out real but in perceived dangers – rhetoric itself in the absence of evidence is not emancipatory; rhetoric not as a communication aid, an addition to reliable evidence and sound inference, but as a substitute in their absence, is the very opposite of emancipatory. It’s the equivalent of forced confessions – the kind that are thrown out of properly conducted courts, because they are not reliable.

Rhetoric is not emancipatory because it represents the replacement of truth by will. It is a Rube Goldberg contraption: a feeble contrivance of duct-tape and paper clips. But truth and will are two entirely different kinds of things. Will can do a lot, but it cannot determine what the truth is. A world in which people decide (wilfully) to pretend that it can, may be a lot of things – unified, reassuring, simplified – but emancipated is surely not one of them. That world is the Vatican’s dream-world where the pope declares what is true about anything he is moved to declare on, and his subjects accept that without further investigation. Mind-forged manacles, in short.

The final irony is that Why Truth, er, Mattered is that it concludes with two long quotes from ‘cis white hetero shitlords’ Richard Dawkins and Matt Ridley followed by four words now rendered laughable by Benson’s subsequent decent into rage blogging:

Page 181:

That’s why truth matters

Har, bloody har har.

22 Shatterface October 3, 2014 at 1:37 am

I also want to point out an important distinction between the two sides of this ‘debate':

When Peezus, Benson and the horde want to use our own words against us they’ll cherry pick the very worst things they can find, and then interpret those words in the most uncharitable way possible.

But when we use their words against them we look for the best things they ever said – the things they no longer believe in and the ideals they have turned against.

23 Allison October 3, 2014 at 2:57 am

Let’s not be too harsh towards Ophelia – her own brain is harassing her.

24 Henry Fitzgerald October 3, 2014 at 4:32 am

While I’m in close to complete agreement, I’m highlighting a (comparatively trivial) disagreement, with what this phrase is saying:

“This would seem like a laudable concern…”

I agree that the implied continuation is “…but it isn’t really” – but I don’t interpret this as meaning that you’re not really concerned; the implication I draw is that you ARE concerned, but the concern isn’t really laudable. (So in short, I wouldn’t count THIS as a smear; although I’m with you in other respects.)

25 MadMike October 3, 2014 at 5:25 am

Thank you for keeping this up. Please, do try not to be discouraged. It can be gut-wrenching when people deliberately misconstrue your words, but most everybody agrees that your fairness is beyond reproach. Those that don’t have other agendas that keep them from seeing reason.

26 Jan Steen October 3, 2014 at 6:19 am

The three chief weapons of the FTB inquisition are: ad hominems, straw men, red herrings, and well-poisoning.
Four. Four chief weapons: ad hominems, straw men, red herrings, well-poisoning, and smear tactics.
Let’s start this again…

27 tina October 3, 2014 at 7:14 am

No No Jan

It’s red men, straw herrings, well hominems and you forgot dog spotting!

28 Sharon Madison October 3, 2014 at 7:18 am

Michael, in your post you said:

“Having seen at first hand how outrageously inaccurate their smears about me are, I now retrospectively doubt many things that certain people have said to me, or written about, in recent years.”

This is how it started. It was outrageously inaccurate smears, not Rebecca saying “Guys don’t do that.” in a video she made, that really caught people’s attention. Stef McGraw wrote a blogpost which questioned Rebecca’s interpretation of the event in the elevator as sexualization. Rebecca decided to respond to Stef McGraw’s question by engaging in character assassination from the podium by saying the following:

“Because there are people in this audience right now who believe this: that a woman’s reasonable expectation to feel safe from sexual objectification and assault at skeptic and atheist events is outweighed by a man’s right to sexually objectify her. That’s basically what these people have been telling me, and it’s not true.

…I’ve heard from a lot of women who don’t attend events like this because of those who have this attitude. They’re tired of being objectified, and some of them have actually been raped; quite a number of them have been raped, or otherwise sexually assaulted. And situations like the one I was in, in an elevator, would have triggered a panic attack. They’re scared, because they know that you won’t stand up for them. And if they stand up for themselves, you are going to laugh them back down. And that’s why they’re not coming out to these events.”

Where is the proof that any of the students in attendance at that event would have engaged in the type of behavior that Rebecca has accused them of from the podium? Nothing in Stef McGraw’s blogpost even remotely implied that she thought the above described behavior would be reasonable or acceptable.

And, from that hyperbolic start it has been an ugly downward spiral of more and more misrepresentations and personal smears. So here we are three years later discovering that bad behavior may very well have been ignored for years but, because of these misrepresentations and personal smears people are less likely to believe that a real problem exists.

This is not something we should be proud of.

29 Stephen Macken October 3, 2014 at 8:26 am

I find it fascinating, and not a little disturbing, that Benson, Lee and Svan all seem to project, on one level, an aura of free, rational, critical thought to which many, if not all of us in the secular/humanist/atheist godless world merely aspire but on another level project all that we find abhorrent in the absolutist, restricted, irrational thinking of the dogmatic type more associated with the world of theism and its associated arrogant bullies, from leaders to zealous followers. The irony would be amusing except that it is so damaging to them personally and to atheism broadly.

My only comfort is that the vast majority of secular humanists and atheists live their secular lives outside of organised communities of atheists, finding such organisations either irrelevant or too close to a religious community for comfort, and therefore are oblivious of the ranting, irrational, closed minded, diatribes and vitriolic abuse being spouted by them with what seems like religious fervour.

30 Phil Giordana FCD October 3, 2014 at 9:01 am

Very well put, Michael. I’m glad that you’re standing your ground on that one. Hopefully it will bring more people to open there eyes on the intellectual dishonesty of this crowd.

31 Ariel October 3, 2014 at 9:02 am

For a start: there are sufficiently many horrible smears around. As for me, I won’t support ANYONE (on *any* side, whether I agree with his/her other views or not) in smearing and vilifying the opponents.

With this said, some additional clarifications from Michael would be (imo) very useful.

You quote Adam Lee writing:

“In that context, Nugent’s assertion that “allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers” can only reasonably be read as a claim that rape victims should keep quiet and not speak to the media. If someone rapes you, you should go to the police and otherwise tell no one”

You call this fragment “the grand misrepresentation”. Your reaction is that

“I believe victims of sex crimes should discuss their experience in as much detail as they wish with rape crisis professionals, doctors, lawyers, family, trusted friends, persons with responsibility for the circumstances involved, and whoever else can help them deal with the unique trauma they have experienced.”

Answering in this way, you concentrate *exclusively* on Adam’s last sentence. You deny in effect that the rape victim should “otherwise tell no one”. Fine, but what about the previous sentence? Is it also a misrepresentation of your views, or not? Does your “whoever else can help them deal with the unique trauma they have experienced” cover wider groups, or not?

In other words, I ask whether the following statement is true, or is it also a misrepresentation of your views:

Nugent’s assertion that “allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers” can reasonably be read as a claim that rape victims shouldn’t speak to the media, and in general, that they shouldn’t make their plight known to the wider public.

Is it true or false? I think that unambiguous and clear answer would be really useful.

And no, I do not find particularly enlightening your later remark that “If by ‘coming forward’ he means enabling a particular blogger to write about this in the way that he did, then I have repeatedly made clear that I believe that was not doing the right thing.” This is also very ambiguous and I wouldn’t be surprised at all by further misrepresentations here, even without any malicious intent.

I sincerely want to understand what you are claiming; that’s why I ask.

32 Dave Allen October 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

Ariel, presumably Michael is making his case within the context of an unproven (and presumably by now unprovable) allegation being promoted through the medium of a fairly controversial blog.

With the foreseeable consequence that now the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim are being subject to a trail by social media rather than a trial overseen by anyone with any actual expertise on the matter.

Whether or not its reasonable for the victim of a crime to talk to the media need not come into discussion of whether or not this instance of publishing these particular allegations was a reasonable move.

So whilst you’re right to ask Michael to clarify (I am too) Adam has certainly leaped to the most cynical of interpretations (again) in what I would presume to be an effort to bolster his own case.

There is a sense in this case that the alleged victim is seeking to impose the social cost of being labelled a rapist onto the alleged perpetrator without bothering about the legal process.

That might be the only card she feels she has left to play in the matter – but it is a rather worrying process to see people indulging in, and it ought to be up for criticism.

33 Phil Giordana FCD October 3, 2014 at 10:36 am

I find it quite annoying that some pretend this stuff all happened in a vacuum. There are very good reasons why Myers’ blog is one of the worse venues to air that kind of grievances. Major among those reasons is that anything posted there will be taken with more than just a pinch of salt. Pharyngula is not a science blog, not even a neutral blog, it’s as political as it gets, and quite full of bullshit.

34 noelplum99 October 3, 2014 at 10:59 am

“Having recently defended Richard Dawkins and the atheist movement against misrepresentations and smears, I now find myself the target of similar misrepresentations and smears.

Having seen at first hand how outrageously inaccurate their smears about me are, I now retrospectively doubt many things that certain people have said to me, or written about, in recent years.”

In all the endless finger-pointing that has gone on the last few years it has often been said by those on the FtB side that the most objectionable and obnoxious behaviour has been conducted by their opponents.
Whilst, in some ways, I am inclined to agree with that (in terms of trollish aggression and threats) what this accusation completely ignores is WHO indulges in the behaviour. I don’t have especially high expectations of anonymous commenters and twitter users but I DO expect a reasonable standard of discourse and behaviour from those who write the blogs.
Many of us have experienced it first hand via our attempts to communicate and debate with them over on their blogs. It is a total waste of time – they are not interested in discourse they are interested only in propogandising and smearing.
Ophelia Benson has come to represent every behaviour I have criticised in the religious; every behaviour SHE has criticised in the religious. She could be right on every single opinion she expresses but her cynical manipulative methods of engagement are still utterly reprehensible.
Give me someone I disagree with over everything but who debates honestly any day of the week.

35 Ariel October 3, 2014 at 11:09 am

Phil Giordana #33:

“I find it quite annoying that some pretend this stuff all happened in a vacuum.”

I’m quite aware that it didn’t happen in a vacuum. And if by “some” you mean me, there is no pretending. If anything, I want the pretending to STOP.

If Michael’s main point was that choosing Pharyngula – of all the possible blogs and public venues – was a bad decision, then it should be stated clearly. The reasons should be also stated clearly: in such a case it’s far from enough to say that

“The intimate details of traumatic moments in the lives of real people are being treated as fodder for amateur detective work about what real people did or didn’t do and why they did or didn’t do so.”

because this may be naturally (without malice) interpreted as a general disadvantage of going public and not a disadvantage of going to any particular blogger.

In short: either Michael’s remark about “going to police, not to bloggers” was general, or not. In both cases it’s worth to state the intended meaning in such a way as to remove any doubt. Otherwise we will have only *more* misinterpretations (not necessarily malicious) … and possibly, more pretending.

These are also the real reasons why I asked this question.

36 LeSchlumb October 3, 2014 at 11:11 am

@31 Ariel
That’s a good question. Michael will surely answer this, but if I may, my 2cents, and I’ll keep it short.

“Going to the media” is probably the single worst thing a rape victim could do. Media means public forum, public forum means public opinion, and if the case hasn’t been processed by authorities before, giving them no opportunity to find and disclose actual evidence, wild speculations of all types will inevitably rule the debate, leaving everyone involved exposed to undue pressure.

This is in noone’s interest. Media is noone’s friend.

37 Michael Nugent October 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

@31 Ariel, I’ll reply in more detail to your question later. In brief I mean something like @32 Dave Allen suggests, with some extra nuance about codes of media ethics that many mainstream media outlets adhere to and many bloggers don’t.

38 Patrick October 3, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Thank you, Michael, for so clearly documenting the tactics of the SJWs (Social Justice Wannabes). They’re unlikely in the extreme to change their behavior, even when you hold up so clear a mirror for them. However, having this post to point to when they do it again (and they will, unfortunately, do it again) will help weaken their already fading impact.

39 Jan Steen October 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm

As others have pointed out, the behaviour of bloggers like Benson and Myers is strongly reminiscent of the way political extremists and the religious deal with opposition. Their typical tactics include:

1. Pretend that the opposition is directed against those objectives that are in fact uncontroversial. “So you are against broader participation of women and minorities in the atheist movement.”

2. Twist legitimate criticism into something reprehensible. “If you don’t agree that blogs are a reasonable channel to accuse people of rape, then you must be a rape apologist.”

3. Misrepresent your own position to make criticism seem unreasonable. “Feminism* is just the notion that women are people too.” Criticise Benson or Watson, and nine out of ten times you will get a snarky reply that includes “yeah, those uppity women” or “we happen to believe that women are people” or some variant thereof. Because if you criticise a SJW who happens to be a woman you are of course criticising them because they are women.
*Of the dogmatic PoMo kind espoused by Benson et al.

4. Demonize your opponents. “Rape apologist” is a popular smear in SJW circles, and so are misogynist, MRA, libertarian, and similar labels that are applied without evidence and usually without any factual basis.

5. Pretend that your dogma is so eminently reasonable and self-evident so as to be above being questioned. “Xe questions the existence of The Patriarchy and Rape Culture. Haha, xe still has to learn Feminism 101.”

6. Be completely dishonest if it suits your agenda (points 1 – 5 above are in fact specific manifestations of dishonesty). Put words in people’s mouths, misrepresent their statements, cherry pick, interpret things in the least charitable way, ignore valid points, be evasive.

And above all,

7. Be smug and self-righteous, because you and your kind are the Good People.

40 Blueshift Rhino October 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Sharon @28 brings up a very important event and issue that usually gets drowned out by the screaming that follows. While Sharon focuses on the lack of (prior) evidence for Rebecca Watson’s claim, I’m going to focus on the effect that Watson’s attack from the podium may have had on other female atheists/skeptics.

When Watson attacked Stef McGraw from the podium – using a misrepresentation, no less – she made it clear – at least to me – that “sisterhood” and the tenets of radical, American feminism were more important than an open-minded and skeptical search for truth. Even more: the difference between how folks like Watson, Benson, et al., attack women as opposed to how they attack men with whom they disagree has made it clear that “gender-betrayers” will be treated much worse than run-of-the-mill (i.e., male) so-called “misogynists.” Yes, Michael has been given a hard time, as have Dawkins, Harris, et al., but take a look at how they write about Sommers for comparison. To the males, they show some respect, even while smearing, etc. To the females, they show nothing but raw hate.

The irony of this is quite strong. The one positive of ElevatorGate was supposed to be changes in the environment – especially at conventions – that would make the atheist/skeptical world more inviting to women. But that was only on the surface (and, even there, it didn’t succeed because no effort was made to truly identify the problem – if one even existed – that needed correction). The deeper change – best exemplified by the rise and fall of Atheism+ – was the message that, for women especially, adherence to the tenets of radical, American feminism was to be placed so far above atheism and skepticism that women were not allowed to be open-minded and skeptical if they wished to join in. In short: no truly skeptical women need apply.

As is the case with most forms of sexism, men were also hurt, but not as much as women. The best example(s) in the US of the above-described side-effects of Watson’s attack on McGraw from the podium is the precipitous fall in the quality of thought shown by PZ Myers, Matt Dillahunty, and Aron Ra. But the latter two, at least, are still somewhat admired by folks who stayed away from Atheism+.

tl/dr – the Americans supposedly working for equality in atheism/skepticism have done the most damage to atheist/skeptical women by setting an unjustified and questionable litmus test for them that men don’t need to pass

41 piero October 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

@ Allison:

Let’s not be too harsh towards Ophelia – her own brain is harassing her.

😀 Neat!

@ Blueshift Rhino:

In short: no truly skeptical women need apply.

Exactly. The SJWs mistakes have been clearly described by Eliezer Yudkowsky as follows:
1. Prior attitude effect. Subjects who feel strongly about an issue—even when encouraged to be objective—will evaluate supportive arguments more favorably than contrary arguments.
2. Disconfirmation bias. Subjects will spend more time and cognitive resources denigrating contrary arguments than supportive arguments.
3. Confirmation bias. Subjects free to choose their information sources will seek out supportive rather than contrary sources.
4. Attitude polarization. Exposing subjects to an apparently balanced set of pro and con arguments will exaggerate their initial polarization.
5. Attitude strength effect. Subjects voicing stronger attitudes will be more prone to the above biases.
6. Sophistication effect. Politically knowledgeable subjects, because they possess greater ammunition with which to counter-argue incongruent facts and arguments, will be more prone to the above biases.

42 Sally Strange October 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

[allegation about a named person deleted]. That’s the elephant in the room.

The amount of verbiage you’ve put into dancing around that is impressive, Mr. Nugent. If only you’d put similar efforts into finding ways to make organized atheism less hostile to women.

43 piero October 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

By the way, we are all prone to such mistakes, so it’s advisable to keep that list handy.

44 Blueshift Rhino October 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

One of the most-important papers in the history of cognitive psychology is Miller (1956, Psych Rev, 63) in which it is argued that humans can hold seven plus-or-minus two concepts in working memory at a time. Congrats to Sally Strange for showing that Miller was wrong; the minus part needs to be updated to six.

Yes, another person might be a bad boy. Got it. (Have known this for a while, in fact.) But that does not excuse the outrageous attacks against Michael Nugent, nor the enormous damage that folks like you are doing, especially to other women.

45 piero October 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

And, should examples of such behaviour be hard to find, here we have Sally Strange to the rescue! We can always count on Sally for exemplifying inability to reason. Thank you, Sally, you can sit down now.

46 FishCakes October 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Sally Strange is most likely is a mental-case and definitely throws around unproven criminal accusations as if they were fact. She also sees the world through misogyny-colored glasses.

The amount of effort you’ve put into spreading your propaganda and message of hate is frightening, Sally Strange. If only you’d put half as much effort into being an actual skeptic, you might realize that most of the hostility is coming from within.

47 Crackity Jones October 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm

That’s the elephant in the room.

Sally Strange, a poster at FreeThoughtBlogs named Ogvorbis ADMITTED he raped a child under his own volition. He even said he KNEW IT WAS WRONG at the time. Difference is, you and people like Oolon, PZ, Ophelia Benson offer him hugs, justifications, offers to babysit, support. It is all rather sickening. The victims of Ogvorbis are completely forgotten, and we know for sure there ARE victims, because Ogvorbis admitted it. That is the elephant in the elevator!

The amount of verbiage you’ve put into dancing around that is impressive, Mr. Nugent.

Nowhere near as impressive as the cover-up of Ogvorbis at FreeThoughtBlogs, and the hypocritical “saintly” view of the allegations made against PZ Myers and Jason Thibeault.

If only you’d put similar efforts into finding ways to make organized atheism less hostile to women.

Don’t you dare. You, and people like you, have driven women out of the community. Women have spoken about how they are bullied and harassed by the likes of you. Women have spoken about how they are silenced by the looks of you. So, I repeat, don’t you dare.

48 noelplum99 October 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

It is actually really sad how all this has been turned round.

Michael started out making a whole slew of points regarding the “deep rifts” and how they do not define atheist movements worldwide (which Benson labelled “creepy” and xenophobic”, something I STILL haven’t noted an apology for) and the Dawkins polemic by Adam Lee.
Somehow this has been turned on its head, 99% of the content of these blogs summarily ignored and the enture focus been placed back on Nugent for his positioning on the Shermer issue.

Sally Strange probably makes a good half point. I suspect many women would now feel unwelcome at atheist/sceptic events and dissuaded to attend. The other half of the point is that so would many men. There is certainly no way I would feel anything other than very reticent about attending such an event nowadays – I just don’t feel those of us who are politically central are welcome, at least not by those who align with the FtB side specifically.
I can only wonder if that would concern Sally or if it would be met more with a shrug and a “good riddance”?

49 Mr. BumCircles October 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Maybe you see now why any dialogue with these idiots is impossible?
All they do is smear and play the victim.
Mockery is the only reasonable response.

50 piero October 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

@noelplum99:

I can only wonder if that would concern Sally or if it would be met more with a shrug and a “good riddance”?

Judging from my experience when commenting on FTB blogs, it would be more a kick in the ass than a shrug.

People like Sally Strange don’t care about secularism, atheism, humanism or scepticism; they only use secular venues–be they physical or digital–to climb on their soapbox and pontificate. A good indication of their approach to truth can be found in FTB’s comment threads: endless strings of self-congratulating egomania and sheepish reinforcement of their parallel-universe model.

There is no possibility of engaging these people in any substantial discussion, and I agree with Mr. BumCircles: “mockery is the only reasonable response.”

51 HH October 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I have in the past, completely disagreed with Michael’s position on some of the social justice issues so heavily and hypocritically pummeled by FTB usual suspects. I was also extremely disappointed to see him get friendly with the likes of PZ Myers who has shown his true colours years ago and for reasons that will eternally escape me, many sensible people have taken a very long time to see it.

That said, I think FTB have made a tactical mistake in attacking Michael this way. I have read innumerable times now that Michael is one of the nicest and most reasonable people to engage with, and this has been often confessed by people who have been opposed to his positions. He has earned himself an excellent reputation and many people who were willing to beleive the worst of Dawkins or Harris, who tend to make more aggressive statements, are having a hard time beleiving the worst of Michael. Incidentally, inasmuch as I have disagreed with Michael on some issues, I have no reason to and do not, doubt his reputation.

In addition to Michael being a poor target by virtue of an excellent track record and reputation, he is also a poor target as he is extremely unlikely to take the bait they are presenting. So far the smearing tactics against him have been met with patient explanation and honest appraisal without any recourse to name-calling (however inplied) or pathetic “questions” which are steeped in malice and presumption. The more this state of affairs continues the more obvious the malice of the FTB bloggers is becoming.

PZ, for all his willingness to throw fellow atheists and former friends under the bus, seems to have had enough savvy to not wade into this one. The strain must be killing him.

52 Jan Steen October 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

@Piero,

By the way, we are all prone to such mistakes, so it’s advisable to keep that list handy.

Interesting list, but I think with many SJWs it’s not a matter of cognitive biases, but of deliberate dishonesty. When people put words in your mouth, go out of their way to misrepresent your position, knowingly spread falsehoods, then it is no longer a question of mistakes. It’s a modus operandi.

53 john welch October 3, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Setting Aside the Ogvorbis issue, which I will again state that I absolutely believe is an untruth told to gain sympathy, there’s another example of FTB Pack Animal behavior that isn’t reliant on the testimony of an anonymous commenter: Justin Griffith, who, after stating that while he DISAGREED with Abbie Smith on how she did things, thought she still had a right to be heard and that her science work was still worthwhile, and that he didn’t think driving her off of SciBlogs was a proper idea.

For that, he was threatened with violence by another FTB blogger, Greg Laden, who had also admitted to stalking Abbie so he could try to force her employer to “reign her in”, (and when confronted stated that all bets were off and starting in 2013, he was going to release information that would drive her not just off sciblogs, but out of science altogether. Still waiting on that one.) In addition, Laden blatantly tried to trigger any PSTD Griffith might have had in a rather disgusting manner.

FTB, most likely Brayton had no real choice but to boot Laden. What was the response? From PZ, just the barest acknowledgement of the event. For someone who thunders so from his post on Mt. Blog, he was curiously reticent to go after Laden the way he had gone after others who made threats of physical violence against other FTB bloggers.

Ophelia ignored the entire thing.

Zvan and Lousy Canuck both posted how awful it was…that Laden was being punished when it was perfectly understandable what he’d done and why, and how no one should take the threat seriously.

Then a year later on the “anniversary” posted followups about how sad it was that Laden’s attempts to help Griffith think right, i.e. a “Patton Slap” had been so misinterpreted, and how he’d really done nothing wrong.

That is how the “core” FTB bloggers react when someone they approve of engages in a behavior they would roundly and loudly condemn from someone they don’t approve of: they either ignore it, minimize it, or justify it.

It’s the best example of just how hypocritical they and their followers are.

54 john welch October 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Followup to #54: when I say Ophelia ignored the entire thing, I speak of posting on her blog. She was rather active in the comments.

55 Patrick October 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Jan Steen,

Your #39 is a beautifully concise summary of the FTB/A+ tactics. It should be the first Google result for “So your group has been infested by SJWs….”

56 IM608 October 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Adam Lee quote:
In that context, Nugent’s assertion that “allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers” can only reasonably be read as a claim that rape victims should keep quiet and not speak to the media.

No, it is not the only reasonable read, in fact it’s not a reasonable read at all.

Speaking about one’s rape experience is one thing, resorting to denunciation and accusation by blogging unreported alleged criminal behavior is nothing less than vigilantism and there’s nothing noble or righteous about it.

57 allison October 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Adam Lee wrote:

This would seem like a laudable concern for the privacy of rape victims if you didn’t know that [named person] intentionally came forward to tell her story. She wanted to go public to warn other women…

She wanted to “warn other women”? Doesn’t this exemplify the “rape culture” that Lee and his bunch are always haranguing about? How dare she suggest that women assume some responsibility for their own safety! She should instead be telling [named person] “don’t rape!”

58 piero October 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I wish we could keep to the topic at hand and not stoop to discussing anybody’s private life. Michael has been remarkably fair and we should respect the tone he has set for his blog.

59 Michael Nugent October 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I’ve removed some comments that were speculating about a named person sexually assaulting a sibling as a child.

Can you please avoid speculating on the private lives of named people while commenting here? Thanks.

60 Jan Steen October 3, 2014 at 7:56 pm

@Patrick,

Your #39 is a beautifully concise summary of the FTB/A+ tactics. It should be the first Google result for “So your group has been infested by SJWs….”

Thanks. Unfortunately, it’s easier to make the diagnosis than to find a cure.

61 Aheydis Vaakenjab October 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

What the “deep rift” has shown the rational free thinkers is that every community (calling it that for lack of a better term) includes its more extreme elements.

The FtB contingent here, held up by the likes of Sally Strange, see a misogynist under every bed. Careful! You may be one too! Heck, even FEMALE misogynists exist out there, hating themselves and other women too. Luckily Sally isn’t one…. or is xhe??? hmmmm….

To attend any conference where any of these predominantly US based ideologues congregate is asking for trouble. Why anyone would consider going to an after-conference party with the likes of PZ Myers or members of his hoard unless you’d like to be accused of rape? Why would someone want to attend a conference where if you question why Skepchicks are allowed to skirt conference rules with their merch tables, your real name is Tweeted to tens of thousands of people, thus sullying your name as a misogynist – all for doing your job as per the RULES. However I don’t know what I would do without the intellectual knowledge that if you don’t adhere to FtB blogger mentality, that you’re a C.H.U.D. and that you should be shunned or that a male brain is a female brain damaged by testosterone. Thanks FtB – you’re right, you’re not the laughing stock…. everyone else is.

It’s frustrating to see someone like Michael Nugent, who actually DOES stuff to increase secular values in society, be roundly brow beaten by keyboard warriors who, for the most part, do nothing of particular value.

What is more disturbing is to see the “shut up and listen” BS trotted out by Ophelia and her lap dogs on Twitter, calling Michael a windbag, complaining that he endlessly drones on about things, insisting that Michael Nugent of all people, does not think properly. It’s as if these people can’t acknowledge hypocrisy when it slaps them in the face! Perhaps Michael doesn’t do “thinky” stuff as good as Ophelia and Lee.

Michael, please do not get discouraged by the rabid ready-to-be-offended crowd. The US based atheist community needs to grow up… this is clear.

62 Crackity Jones October 3, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Re: the Justin Griffith incident.

I’ve mentioned this MANY times before. Although there are two other important details John Welch missed out.

The decision to boot Laden was only made AFTER Justin Griffith revealed he was going to blog about it. It has always been my contention that Brayton and PZ were going to try and keep it quiet, as Laden was one of their “enforcers”. Once it was obvious the incident would be public, they had no choice.

Secondly, Justin claimed PZ embarked on a shunning campaign against him after that incident, and we all know that this is called VICTIM BLAMING. PZ was blaming the victim. He had to support the decision to fire Laden in public, but privately he was fuming and blamed Justin. Also, don’t forget Stephanie Zvan’s “Jeff” piece, which was another victim blaming exercise that pathetically tried to justify Laden’s threats of violence.

Sadly for the FTBullies, I and many others have extremely good memories.

63 Rashiv October 3, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I see the usual suspects are silent here now, since they can’t control the discourse. They’ll continue to bash and smear Michael from the safety of their own blogs, where they can immediately disappear any opinions that don’t agree with theirs.

Michael, thanks so much for taking a stand. I don’t care if some people think it came too late. What I care about is you showing all your readers just how vile, nasty and hypocritical these people are, while maintaining your composure and sense of decency and fairness. Keep feeding them rope and they will keep hanging themselves – they have no other choice at this point, for they are completely trapped by their own history of vile behavior.

64 Skep tickle October 4, 2014 at 5:27 am

Once again a clear & complete assessment, Mick – and as far as I can tell, fair, though some who rely on tactics #1-5 might well disagree.

Having seen at first hand how outrageously inaccurate their smears about me are, I now retrospectively doubt many things that certain people have said to me, or written about, in recent years.

I would be interested in hearing more about the “many things…said to [you]” that you mentioned near the start & end of the post. Is that a topic you might write about in the future?

65 Rashiv October 4, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Skep Tickle @ #64

I may be remembering fuzzily here but I seem to recall Ophelia Benson putting all sorts of conditions on Mr. Nugent before she agreed to go to his big meetup a year or so ago, namely “protecting” her from the much-smeared-and-unfairly-maligned Justin Vacula, who also attended that conference despite the hysterical protestations by Benson and the other usual suspects. Perhaps the totally BS allegations against Mr. Vacula are among the smears the FtB lot have flung that Mr. Nugent is now doubting. I would hope so.

66 Crackity Jones October 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Rashiv, good point about Justin Vacula.

The FTBullies treatment of him is disgraceful. He is polite, reasonable, and a determined activist who actually DOES THINGS. Can anybody point out where Mr. Vacula did anything like approaching what Greg Laden did? No, they can’t. Yet, the FTBullies act as though Justin has Ebola, while they invite Greg “kicked off FTB for sending threats of violence” Laden to write the anti-harassment guide for one of their conferences.

That last sentence is NOT satire, just in case you were wondering. It actually HAPPENED.

67 Jan Steen October 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm

PZ Myers now claims that Michael is “providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.”

Here is part of his twitter conversation with Derek Walsh:

PZ Myers: It’s not about what he [Michael Nugent] thinks, but what he’s doing: defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.

Derek Walsh: That’s an incredibly serious accusation and one completely unsupported by evidence. But you know both those things already.

PZ Myers: Nope. The evidence is right there: his blog commentariat is populated almost entirely by slymepitters.

The man is beyond contempt. This maniac literally provides a haven for a self-admitted child rapist on his own blog and he of all people has the nerve to accuse us of being harassers, misogynists and even rapists. It’s outrageous.

This is the kind of person we are dealing with, people. Myers is not one iota better than the likes of L. Ron Hubbard and Jim Jones. He’s an intellectual fraud and a blight on the atheist community. The sooner he is kicked out of it the better. Boycot him. Don’t visit his crappy blog network. Don’t invite him to conferences. Don’t buy his stupid little book. Let him sink into well-deserved oblivion.

68 Jeff Rankin October 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm

It encourages me to see reasonable voices, Michael, Jerry Coyne, et al., speaking out against the behavior of these people. So, thank you!

I don’t know if true engagement is possible or worthwhile. My experience with these people, after three or four years of observation, is that they’re not interested in honest conversation. Their interest is in controversy — manufactured or otherwise. They’ve done so much damage which has only further marginalized them. I like to think that without attention, they’ll wither and die. Pointing out their behavior, however, is still useful.

69 Phil Giordana FCD October 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Slymepit posters = rapists according to Myers. I think that might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

How is anyone supposed to take what he says seriously after something like that?

70 piero October 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I think it is unfortunate that Michael has become yet another target for them. But Myers, whatever his invective may be, does have a point: I would not like to see Michael’s blog comment threads to become a launching pad for slymepitters, including myself.

Slymepitters = rapists? Does that really deserve a reply? I think it’s time to ignore Myers altogether.

71 Jan Steen October 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

What does Irish law say about libel?

72 Jan Steen October 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

@piero,

But Myers, whatever his invective may be, does have a point: I would not like to see Michael’s blog comment threads to become a launching pad for slymepitters, including myself.

As long as people stay on topic and maintain a modicum of civility I don’t see the problem. It’s up to Michael to moderate this place.

And if the presence of ‘rapists’, er, ‘slymepitters’ makes baby Peezus weep, so much the better. It’s high time that he realizes that his banhammer is powerless outside his funfair Horror House of a blog. Nobody* takes him seriously anymore. He’s become a bad joke and an embarrassment.

*Nobody who matters anyway. I’m not talking about folks like Sally Strange, Rusty Spokesgay, Adam Lee or Ophelia Benson.

73 noelplum99 October 4, 2014 at 11:51 pm

@piero and Jan Steen

I think the interesting, nay illuminating, point is that the commentariat is not as a result of management on Michael’s part. Nor is it a result of overt dogpiling. I noted Sally Strange, one of Pharyngulas more extreme commenters, got a robust response but nowhere close to the levels of vitriol and bile that an equivalent would have got on Pharyngula. So the question is (given the tweets I have seen Myers leave in regard to this blog) why are his regulars not coming over here and engaging on equal terms with those they oppose? They have not been blocked nor even told they are not welcome, they are as free to post here as anyone else.
It is an open forum.
Maybe that is what Myers dislikes more than anything else?

74 piero October 5, 2014 at 1:23 am

@ Jan Steebm @noelplum99:

I think you are right. Perhaps I’m being overcautious out of fear of spoiling the one place where we can (finally!) call a spade a spade without being bullied or banned.

75 Shatterface October 5, 2014 at 1:30 am

I’ve no idea how many of the posters above are ‘Slymepitters’ and I really don’t care. What matters is their arguments and their behaviour here.

If Peezus or his followers think they have counter arguments why not post them here instead of hiding behind his banhammer?

The internet is global – much like atheism. Posting exclusively for the benefit of the handful of staff and students in minor US universities who frequent FTB is a bit parochial.

76 john welch October 5, 2014 at 2:35 am

noelplum @ 73

They hate posting anywhere they don’t control the comments. When they do, they have to deal with not being able to ban people, edit comments, demand someone reply in (some amount of time) after banning them, then claim “victory”, etc.

When they venture out, they have to deal with criticism in a way that isn’t silencing it, and so, they tend not to venture out much.

Look at PZ’s behavior. He’ll thunder from on high on his blog and on twitter, because in one case, he has absolute control, and in the other, he can simply block anyone who doesn’t agree with him.

OH…just remembered another “PZ is a bully” story. So when Jen M. still had her blaghag blog on FTB going, she ran one of her yearly “getting to know you” polls. It was, as she admitted, a silly thing, not scientific, but just a way for her to get to know her commenters better.

One of the questions was about “your favorite sci-fi show” and because it didn’t bow and scrape at the altar of “Firefly” and because he’s a bully, PZ told his readers to go over and “Pharyngulate” the poll.

Nice guy, that PZ, even to his “friends”.

Understandably, Jen was pissed, and called him out on it on her blog, in no uncertain terms.

A few days later SHE posts an apology for getting mad. PZ never posted a word apologizing for just being a raging…bully. It was all her fault for getting mad at PZ just having a little fun. Because after all, clearly her feelings were wrong, and she should not criticize big daddy myers.

That’s what happens when you give PZ any control over you.

Crackity @62:

Good point, I had forgotten that until Griffiths went public, they weren’t going to do squat about Laden threatening him and trying to set off his PTSD.

Just more examples of PZ’s continual hypocrisy.

77 Skep tickle October 5, 2014 at 3:36 am

Is there any reason to think that any person who wishes to comment here might be blocked from doing so?

I believe Mick moderates the content of posts at times, as he has said he does, but I’m not aware of him deleting entire posts or blocking anyone.

78 Larry October 5, 2014 at 7:26 am

I do find Myers’ obsession with the Slymepit fascinating. I’d never even heard of it until recently so I’ve been doing some occasional lurking there to see what he finds so outrageous. What I see is a lot of merciless piss-taking of Myers and his ilk, but coupled with some good analysis of the nonsense they come out with. And, most importantly, good scepticism of whatever they’re talking about, also done in good humour. Yes, no doubt there’s stuff there that wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste but I don’t see “outrageous sexism” or “harassers, misogynists, and rapists”.

I see that in his twitter conversation with Derek Walsh Myers said of Michael Nugent “judge him by the company he keeps” referring to some slymepitters commenting here. Well, having browsed the Pit and seen (and experienced) the vitriol of the Horde I’d rather be associated with the Pit any day.

79 Jan Steen October 5, 2014 at 9:59 am

@Skep tickle,

I believe Mick moderates the content of posts at times, as he has said he does, but I’m not aware of him deleting entire posts or blocking anyone.

He has deleted a few posts that discussed private details of other commenters. I have no problem with that.

80 Jan Steen October 5, 2014 at 10:14 am

@noelplum99,

So the question is (given the tweets I have seen Myers leave in regard to this blog) why are his regulars not coming over here and engaging on equal terms with those they oppose?

Some of them have been here and, true to stereotype, implored Michael to ban the bad people. When that didn’t work they retreated to their safe space, where they are presently shaking and crying in impotent rage.

81 Jan Steen October 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Since this thread is going quiet, and just to show how much Peezus has lost the plot, consider a post of his a few days ago in which he censures Neil deGrasse Tyson.

I hear you thinking: “Please, no, not another big name skeptic who fails the purity test. Please let NdT not be accused of being a misogynist dudebro or worse.”

No, it’s not that.

How did NdT incur the wrath of Peezus? In the Happy Atheist’s words:

It’s always the fallout that gets ‘em. Celebrities too often seem to have the idea that admitting a mistake will diminish their luster, so that an initial small error becomes compounded with denial and evasion afterwards. The latest tarnished star: Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tyson made a small mistake: in a couple of talks, he falsely quoted George W. Bush.

Peezus links to a Republican rag where NdT is scolded for misrepresenting the context under which GW Bush made a statement paraphrased by NdT.

NdT’s mistake in the eyes of our Lord Peezus? He did not apologize appropriately. Peezus, taking a leaf out of a Creationist debating style manual, shamelessly quotemines NdT to make it seem as if the following was the whole extent of his apology:

When eager scrutinizers looked for the quote they could not find it, and promptly accused me of fabricating a Presidential sentence. Lawyers are good at this. They find something that you get wrong, and use it to cast doubt on everything else you say. Blogosphere headlines followed, with accusations of me being a compulsive liar and a fabricator.

Peezus then mounts his pulpit and proclaims:

NO. That’s not how you respond. Allow me to help out, Dr Tyson. Here’s how it should go:

Appreciate the assistance with improving your accuracy.
“Thank you for pointing that out to me.”

A brief explanation is appropriate.
“Human memory is fallible, and I clearly confabulated and misattributed the quote.”

Admit and apologize.
“I was wrong, and retract that comment.”

Promise to correct the behavior (this is important, and note, if you continue to do the same thing in the future, you’ve really screwed over your reputation.* Sincerely change).
“I won’t use that quote in the future.”

See? Not hard. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Move on. Critic is either satisfied, or looks petty if they keep harping on it. But jeez, you were wrong, as all of us mere humans are now and then, acknowledge it and do better.

Otherwise, congratulations: you’ve just given a group of conservative religious morons who already despise you a hammer to bash you with, and bash you accurately.

Peezus conveniently truncated the full extent of NdT’s apology. For the latter went on to say:

But I was wrong about when he said it. It appears in his speech after the Columbia Shuttle disaster, eighteen months after September 11th 2001. My bad. And I here publicly apologize to the President for casting his quote in the context of contrasting religions rather than as a poetic reference to the lost souls of Columbia. I have no excuse for this, other than both events– so close to one another — upset me greatly. In retrospect, I’m surprised I remembered any details from either of them.

Only creationists who already hate NdT and PZ Myers could find fault with this.

I am not a psychologist, so I will not speculate about the particular personality disorder that causes Peezus’s blatant obsession with finding excuses to snipe at the reputations of famous male skeptics/scientists, dead or alive (Richard Feynman anyone?). But I have news for him: every famous man in history is going to fail his purity test. Nobody’s perfect, believe it or not. Burn the witch!

To conclude, let me just note that to this day Peezus has not apologised to NdT for misrepresenting his apology and for talking down to him. What do the SJWs call this kind of behaviour again? Whitesplaining? Yeah, that’s the word they would use.

http :// web.archive.org/web/20141004195202/http :// freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/10/02/remember-you-are-mortal/
(remove the underscores in this link)

82 Jan Steen October 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

“underscores” => “spaces”

83 Rashiv October 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Jan Steen – There is more irony in that than there are atoms in the universe. As a matter of fact, the very thought of PZ Myers having the utter gall to lecture others on how to apologize after making mistakes sends the atoms in my irony meter away from each other at the speed of light. After all, Myers is the very essence of doubling down and never, ever has apologized for any of the myriad colossal mistakes he has made over the years.

The day the entire community gets sick and tired of his vicious rambling nonsense and kicks him to the curb can’t come soon enough.

84 Jan Steen October 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Rashiv, yeah, we need a Neil deGrasse Tyson to explain how Peezus manages to get his posts across the event horizon of irony that surrounds his blog. Hawking radiation, perhaps?

Speaking of Hawking, did he get the Pharyngula treatment already?

85 Acleron October 5, 2014 at 7:14 pm

@Rashiv
‘The day the entire community gets sick and tired of his vicious rambling nonsense and kicks him to the curb can’t come soon enough.’

I cannot agree with his attempts to demonize all that disagree with him but must allow him to have his voice. His influence and that of is followers is already waning and perhaps we are overly sensitive to the evermore ridiculous distortions of those who don’t carry much weight in either scepticism or atheism. But ‘kick him to the curb’, just strikes me as using their abhorrent tactics. But then, perhaps I’m being overly sensitive.

86 IM608 October 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

“But ‘kick him to the curb’, just strikes me as using their abhorrent tactics. But then, perhaps I’m being overly sensitive.”

How about the analogy of finding a random piece of rope with which they can’t resist putting quickly enough around their own necks and then jump to hang themselves for the cause?

87 Skep tickle October 5, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Re NdGT: I found it fascinating that several commenters in the thread at Pharyngula expressed relief that the issue was only incorrect information about a quote and an apology that Myers didn’t feel was adequate. Several of them had feared, on seeing the headline, that NdGT had committed a deadly sin & had joined the list of male atheist-skeptics who are persona non grata. (Those are my terms, not theirs.)

Re rope and hanging: Appearing to wish death upon anyone makes me uncomfortable. I’m assuming you didn’t mean it literally, IM608, but others might think you did.

Re schism: If PZ Myers, Ophelia Benson, & Co chose to change what they call their movement, for example “Feminism +” or “Progressive Left Feminism-Atheism”, it might go a long way to healing the rifts by better reflecting what is important to them and removing the implication that all atheists & skeptics need to be part of their group. (For example, the “Women in Secularism” conference has been horribly misnamed. I say that as a woman with solid A/S “cred” who feels she would be actively unwelcomed at that conference.) There’s a detail-oriented, compulsive, accuracy-seeking place in my INTJ brain that finds it impossible to let go of the disconnect of “Freethought Blogs” being a place that decidedly does NOT welcome “free thought”.

88 IM608 October 5, 2014 at 11:00 pm

“Re rope and hanging: Appearing to wish death upon anyone makes me uncomfortable. I’m assuming you didn’t mean it literally, IM608, but others might think you did. ”

And here’s a perfect example of interprwtive outrage because I specificaly said:

” …finding a random piece of rope with which they can’t resist putting quickly enough around their own necks…”

and I also specified it was an analogy.

There’s no death wish on anyone and you are dishonest to pretend it so.

89 Blueshift Rhino October 6, 2014 at 1:46 am

I, personally, thought that putting “appearing” before the statement and “I’m assuming that you didn’t mean it literally” afterwards was enough to make it clear that no serious accusation was being made – that it was a suggestion with regard to rhetoric, instead, and/or a request that you not give the quote-miners anything to work with.

I was wrong.

Now excuse me while I go get this white-knight suit off. It chaffs, especially across the chest.

90 IM608 October 6, 2014 at 2:31 am

Good grief.

” that you not give the quote-miners anything to work with.”

What do they have to work with? An analogy clearly stated as such. Quote-mining leaving out that detail is others’ foolish and discrediting endeavor.

91 Jack Rawlinson October 6, 2014 at 3:32 am

Really now. “Give ’em enough rope to hang themselves” is a well-known turn of phrase. Hell, The Clash even named an album after it! Amazing to think anyone would think it was meant literally.

92 Skep tickle October 6, 2014 at 5:04 am

Yes, you introduced it as analogy and, yes, it’s a well-known phrase. Apologies for phrasing what I said in a way that didn’t clearly acknowledge either of those factors.

There’s a 2-pronged narrative circulating that (a) some people (including women in A/S community) are routinely receiving death threats online, and (b) some of the people posting here (“Pitters”) are among the most awful harassers online. There may be people lurking here (say an FtB blogger or two) who believe that (b) is Truth, and who might (silly though it seems) read any comment with any reference to any form of violence as evidence of (a). Hence my inclination (silly though it seems) to insert a line opposing (a), no doubt influenced by knowing that they know who I am and who my employer is, and that at least one of them has, at least once, tried to smear me under my real name & profession (outside of A/S, where they’ve also done so).

93 Audrey October 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

This gets more and more hysterical. Men and their first world problems.

Michael, I’m sure Richard Dawkins is quite capable of defending himself against misinterpretation. You don’t need to jump in and coddle him every time you think his feelings might be hurt. It is becoming the “Mick ‘n Dick ” show.

Put your conkers away boys and come inside. There is work to be done…

94 Larry October 6, 2014 at 12:19 pm

@Audrey

Dawkins is misrepresented and attacked so often that time alone would prevent him from defending himself.

If you’ve got something of substance to say then say it, otherwise don’t be so patronising

95 Jack Rawlinson October 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm

“Put your conkers away boys and come inside. ”

Auderey, do you see that this is both sexist and patronising – not least to the many women who have participated in this thread? please try to understand that this is why people who take this tone get called out as hypocrites.

This is not just about defending dawkins. It is about calling out exactly the sort of reprehensible, conspdescending, two-faced behaviour such as that represented by your sneering remark. And be very sure that continuing to behave that way is not going to make us shut up.

96 African Woman October 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

@ Audrey

Good grief!

Work to be done? If you look at Michael’s posts, you will see that he is indeed doing some very heavy lifting. Dawkins has been doing so for many years.

Your comment is sexist, patronising and certainly, in view of the work they have done, particularly asinine.

97 john welch October 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm

You know audrey, if you’re going to bag on about Michael not doing work, which is the insinuation of your post, you could at least demonstrate what great enterprise you’re currently working on that is somehow hurt by Michael’s absence.

98 Aneris ✻ October 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

I have nothing but contempt for the “genderization” and subsequent ad hominem style of debate that is fashionable now. I hope more people oppose, sabotage and subvert it (Aneris is both a male and female name in reality and a mythology character from Discordianism, which is noted for its paradoxes and contradictions).

The whole “lived experience” thing is complete and utter rubbish, and perhaps even a religious idea that builds on some truisms. Experience is useful in real-life endeavours where skills and knowledge are hard to quantify. But in online discussions? That’s the same nonsense as transferring microaggression and “victim blaming” into the online space.

Lived experience is like “ways of knowing”. Some information is purported to be inaccessible if someone doesn’t meet some ideological criterion. And that is the true motivation why it is bandied about. According to the Social Justice League (formerly Atheism Plus, the true authority on these matters), even women can be ignorant about the kind of sexism they see. Likewise, Hirsi Ali’s “lived experience” is typically discounted by the very same faction, because they don’t like what she has to say. And let’s not forget, PZ Myers is off-the-hook thanks to well-filled social justice point account. It all comes down to triablism and authoritarianism.

I view the idea that some knowledge is unaccessible as spurious and borderline woo. Sure, I don’t really know how it “is like” to be wheelchair bound and hopefully never have to personally find out, but I can ask people and learn about it. Some information cannot be passed on, call it qualia if you will, but I don’t buy that it’s the most vital information online. If it was, how could these people make a difference in online discussions if their information was inaccessible to thirds? I see the reason why “lived experience” or “being” as important, because passing Upworthy along is now known as cheap signalling. Everyone can do it. In order to outdo the next social justice warrior (who also “combats” windmills), they have to point to something harder to fake.

Beside, if any sociologist, cognitive scientist, psychologists reads this: consider making PZ Myers and co a footnote in your work. Their place is there next to the Seekers cult which was studied by Leon Festinger.

There are great many things much more important than gender categories that inform views and we often cannot share them either, because being open in this community was made impossible when you need your name in other pursuits, thanks to the high doses of toxin released by Myers, Benson, Zvan and the others. I can stand behind everything I wrote, but with constant gross distortions and PZ Myers and co Google Nuke powers, this community is not a place where you want to use your real name.

The perfidious is that their narrative works. People don’t respond with “fuck off with your gender nonsense”, they actually play along and then cite how many more women they have on their side. It is only useful to highlight the women-count when it comes to countering specific claims of the social justice league (for example, their relentless untruth that Rebecca Watson was challenged by men. In reality, her first and most notable critics who kicked it off weren’t dudebros, but several women, Stef McGraw and Abbie Smith to name two, and what’s with Kirby, Hall… Glenn).

99 FishCakes October 6, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Audrey, wow it’s truly impressive that you were able to pry yourself away from all of the important work you must be doing long enough to post this comment. Given your singular focus on important work, is there any reason you clicked on this particular post rather than, say, the previous one or the next one, both of which are about human rights issues?

100 a hermit October 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Just one question Michael; knowing what you know now would you ever invite Michael Shermer to be a speaker at an Atheist Ireland conference?

101 noelplum99 October 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

@a hermit

What an awesome question. Whatever answer he gives looks unethical from one perspective or another. But then I am only telling you what you already know.

102 Larry October 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm

@a hermit

Also, to Michael; knowing what you know now, would you ever invite PZ Myers, or Ophelia Benson, or Adam Lee, to an Atheist Ireland conference?

103 Phil Giordana FCD October 6, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Also, why not leave those questions to those concerned and not try to score “points” with some gotcha stuff about invites?

BTW, Hermit, what about Shermer?

104 a hermit October 6, 2014 at 9:21 pm

No, it’s an honest question; this is really what all of this is about after all. Nugent has danced all around it; I’d like to know if he or Dawkins or any of the rest of the pearl-clutching crowd are going to ever actually address it.

105 Rashiv October 6, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Audrey: Your blatant sneering sexism is noted.

a hermit: how many times have you beaten your wife in the last month?

106 FishCakes October 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm

a hermit, Did JREF stop inviting Shermer to be a speaker? In fact, did anyone or any organization stop inviting him? If not, have you gone around and asked all of the other conference organizers this same question, or are you signaling out Nugent for some reason?

107 noelplum99 October 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm

@a hermit

Why would he? Any more than he would want to address Larry’s equally ill-advised question relating to Benson, Myers and Lee.

I can only speak for myself. Myself and the other several billion people in the world with an ounce of common-sense, when I say that whatever I decided would be best served without parading the decision in public, leading to even more divisiveness and bitterness.

I cannot believe that such a question can be asked by anyone who has the best interests of Atheist Ireland, or the work they do, at heart.

108 A Hermit October 6, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I cannot believe that such a question can be asked by anyone who has the best interests of Atheist Ireland the Catholic Church or the work they do, at heart.

FIFY

109 Aneris ✻ October 7, 2014 at 12:20 am

I don’t know who is fooled by this. It is meaningless what most people believe the accused did or didn’t do. I could be convinced either way and it would change exactly nothing.

It is brought up because they try to exploit a polarization by conflating and negativly charging up the “other side” which is also conjured up out of nowhere (the other side is whoever is disagreeing with them). Michael Nugent will feel this quite viscerally by now. He is now actively conflated with all sorts of people he doesn’t know, doesn’t agree with and has little to do with otherwise.

And that is transparent by just looking at how they weave together and conflate random people and whatever they have done wrong. For example currently PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson promote an article by one Robyn Pennacchia. She writes of personal accounts of sexim in a different community, which get mixed together with the atheist movement and Richard Dawkins. When Libby Anne wrote about Sam Harris’ alleged sexism, she spiced it up with a white supremacist (by her account, didn’t know the person). When Rebecca Watson wrote about Ron Lindsay, she put him into company of rapists/apologists of the Australian Army. Now Michael Nugent and the “other side” gets conflated with the Catholic Church, and their reputation of covering up rapes.

On this contentious issue most people, including Richard Dawkins merely expressed not knowing. I also don’t know what happened. I only know that A Hermit and PZ Myers and all the others ask too much to believe them. They are notorious for telling untruths.

“The totally convinced and the totally stupid have too much in common for the resemblance to be accidental.” — Robert A. Wilson

110 john welch October 7, 2014 at 12:20 am

I don’t know which is worse: that A Hermit actually pulled the “are you still beating your wife” schtick, or that they imagine themselves so clever that no one would catch on.

Tip: it is very, very, VERY important to not be more stupid than you think the opposition to be.

111 Aneris ✻ October 7, 2014 at 12:32 am

I forgot: USA defamation laws are different than those in many European countries, where it is often a tort, and in some countries even a crime. Some countries also don’t care what is true.

Here is a summary of the Laws in Ireland.

Defamation is one of the most serious dangers facing journalists and publishers today. Eighty per cent of all defamation actions are brought against the media – and a libel action can bankrupt a small newspaper or radio station. […]

Of course, the Irish Constitution does not only guarantee freedom to the media. It also guarantees to respect the personal rights of citizens. Article 40.3.2 of the Constitution says “the State shall, in particular, by its laws, protect as best it may from unjust attack (and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate) the life, person, good name and property rights of every citizen.” […]

according to the Defamation Act 2009, a defamatory statement is one which tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society. […]

An actionable defamatory statement has three ingredients:
it must be published,
it must refer to the complainant and
it must be false.

It is unlikely that the accused will ever be brought before the authorities. The case is five years old which makes a conviction unlikely. By publishing his views on the matter, Michael Nugent would meet these criteria.

A Hermit and the others from Adam Lee to Ms Benson who expect siding with them are unreasonable as well as perfidious.

112 milesnagopaleen October 7, 2014 at 2:53 am

I have to take my hat off to you, Michael for the way you have dealt with this from start to finish and I do believe the end is in sight. You have the patience of a saint (no slight intended!) and the manners of a true gent. You have seen off Adam Lee in no uncertain terms with calm and reasoned arguments.
It’s unfortunate but I suppose it was predictable that the smear campaign would, in turn, be directed at you also on the basis of guilt by association. On the plus side, you have demonstrated that this perfidious smearing and misrepresentation can be dealt with calmly and rationally without resorting to “flame wars”.
I think it’s noteworthy that the FtB ideologues have dropped off over the course of this series of posts as they gradually realised that their dishonest tactics and fallacious arguments were of no use on a level playing field. It seem that only one or two punchdrunk diehards remain, too stupid to stay down for the count.

113 Acleron October 7, 2014 at 3:29 am

@a hermit

You poison the well and then expect others to accept you are honest in your question.

This is a difficult situation where there is a conflict between a claim, which if correct is abhorrent and justice to an individual who is being judged and sentenced by some without trial. The debate is not enlightened by your rhetoric.

114 Jack Rawlinson October 7, 2014 at 4:07 am

@hermit

“Just one question Michael; knowing what you know now would you ever invite Michael Shermer to be a speaker at an Atheist Ireland conference?”

How delightfully slimy and irrelevant to the actual subject of this post. I don’t know what Michael knows about Shermer. What I know is that he’s been subjected to some unproven gossip, and one unproven accusation of a serious crime, by a group of individuals who have repeatedly proven themselves to be relentlessly malicious, and who also do not believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

115 Phil Giordana FCD October 7, 2014 at 7:26 am

Myers has proven himself to be a twister of facts when it suits his agenda, like saying Michael is “defending and protecting a haven for harassers, misogynists and rapists” (projection much, Myers?). I don’t see why, knowing what we know about him (wink wink nudge nudge A Hermit), we should take anything he says seriously, including his “grenade” post. At least, until ALL parties have been able to weigh in, and this includes JREF to which the original complaint was made.

116 Phil Giordana FCD October 7, 2014 at 10:20 am

Thanks for letting my comment through, Michael. Although I notice you removed the part where I call Myers a l-i-a-r. Is it a bug, or is it a feature?

117 Ariel October 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

“I do believe the end is in sight” (milesnagopaleen #112)

Me too. This thread is also yesterday’s news … so just for the end, some “meta” remarks (with apologies in advance to anyone who finds them too detached).

Like a Hermit, I’m struck by the amount of pretending and dancing around in all of this. I could quarrel with a Hermit about some details (we may see the pretending in different places); but it is there alright.

One side is pretending that Nugent made no good points – that it’s all verbiage, hairsplitting, and empty talk. Well, it isn’t, and there are some good points in what we read here. Pretending otherwise is just that: pretending.

But there is a lot of pretense and evasive tactic on the other side. Below I will try to list the main issues (as I see them).

1. The nature of the accusation against PZ was never made clear by Michael. We still do not know what exactly (in Michael’s opinion) was done wrong by PZ. Almost all we have at the moment is plenty of “salacious speculations” made by the commenters.

2. Michael words directed to Adam: “you may or may not be correct or mistaken about any of this, but you are relying on speculation of what somebody else is thinking, constructed in your own imagination, to justify publishing a negative characterisation of Richard in a reputable newspaper.” Well, and what about publishing a negative characterization of Putin in a reputable newspaper, interpreting some of his actions, but largely speculating about his thoughts and plans? You see, the thing is that we speculate all the time: in the newspapers, in the parliament, in the comment section of this blog (you want examples? Really?), in everyday life – we do it everywhere and *all the fucking time*. At every step we guess and second guess the meanings and intentions of other people. Should all such speculations and interpretations be condemned? And if not, what exactly is wrong with this particular interpretation of Dawkins’ tweets? Michael never explained. There were hints and suggestions, sure, but never a clear answer. (Or was it the case of counting on the commenters to do the dirty job, without committing oneself to any particular view? I’m not sure. Sincerely. I’m only speculating. And knowing how evil it is to speculate, I have no excuses. Sorry, everybody! So sorry!!!)

3. My question at #31 – still hanging.

Now my assessment of the situation:

We didn’t have here a head on collision. What we’ve had so far was a classical political dance.

One side steered clear of troublesome issues. Thinking in terms of strategy, this of course makes sense. All of them involve difficult ethical problems; answering them in a satisfactory way would require making a lot of qualifications and provisions (and while making these qualifications, we would move closer and closer to the discussion of a certain actual case – yes, you know which one – and this is exactly what some people want to avoid). There are pitfalls and traps on the way. Try to answer these questions in earnest, and you have a non-negligible chance of preparing the rope for your neck. What is done by good politicians in such situations? Guess for yourself. Easy. The answer starts with “d”. Yes, exactly as in “dancing”.

The second side steered clear of direct confrontation. Many commenters here noticed this … and well, so it is. I can only “salaciously speculate” about the reasons. If pressed, I would say that very few of them seem to have the type of attitude permitting one to work effectively in a hostile environment, where you have to weight every word. (Surely, one a Hermit – even doing a good job – is far from enough.) Personally I think it’s a pity because (imo) the FtB side has many good points to make. But I guess that few people would agree with me here, with one side rejecting the thought, the other looking with contempt both at Ariel and at the sentiment.

Ah, well …

118 sinister October 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I guess if you were to ignore everything that has transpired, that assessment would make sense Ariel. The preemptive victimhood was a nice touch too.

119 Ariel October 7, 2014 at 12:51 pm

sinister #118:

“The preemptive victimhood was a nice touch too.”

Oh, I’m so delighted that you noticed! I was truly afraid that my victimhood will be lost among all this verbiage and hairsplitting. I started feeling desperate … the migraine was coming … I thought that I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight!

God bless you, sinister. You restored my faith.

120 Jan Steen October 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm

@Ariel,

Some of your questions are best answered by Michael himself, if he “can find the spoons”, to use an SJW expression. Let me try to answer the following, though:

The nature of the accusation against PZ was never made clear by Michael. We still do not know what exactly (in Michael’s opinion) was done wrong by PZ. Almost all we have at the moment is plenty of “salacious speculations” made by the commenters.

Myers, certainly since the event called ‘Elevatorgate’, is on the side of those who firmly believe that the gender imbalance with the atheist movement is due to endemic sexism, misogyny and sexual harassment, which make women feel unwelcome. Others believe that this is grossly exaggerated, and that there are other causes for this imbalance. As I jokingly hinted at in an earlier comment, you will almost certainly find a similar imbalance among fanciers of model railways. Is that also due to misogyny and sexual harassment?

People on the side of Myers tend to see misogynists and harassers under every bed; they take vague anecdotes (e.g. a guy who offered coffee to Rebecca Watson) as evidence for their thesis. They are blind to the problem of confirmation bias.

Not only that, they frenetically attack anyone who offers an alternative explanation. It can’t be true that women are on average less interested in the subject of athesm. So, when Michael Shermer in a slightly different context said “it’s more a guy thing,” he was promptly declared Witch of the Week by Benson, Myers and their followers.

In this poisoned atmosphere someone steps in and claims to have been raped by this well-known atheist speaker. For Myers & Co this is a great opportunity to score: it supports the thesis that sexual harassment is rampant in the atheist community and it moreover provides a means to put the Witch of the Week in his place.

Do you see the problem? Myers is prejudiced as hell. That’s why he presents silly anecdotes as ‘supporting evidence’ and lets his rabid commenters call a named person “a known rapist” while deleting posts by people who protest against this trial by blog. Only if you have no objection to mob justice can you fail to grasp the problem.

If you are prepared to accuse a named person of rape on the blog of someone like PZ Myers, then you should be prepared to make your case to the proper authorities. Rapists belong in jail.

If anyone is behaving like the Catholic Church in this affair, it is folks like Myers, who think that crimes should be handled ‘internally’, by the cultists who religiously read his blog.

121 piero October 7, 2014 at 1:27 pm

@Ariel:

Drop it, Ariel. You’ve lost. Come to terms with that as best you can.

122 sinister October 7, 2014 at 1:27 pm

@Jan Steen, a lot of the “confusion” is couched in the hope that people are still ignorant of the larger picture. More and more eyes are being opened like Michael’s and this technique will no longer be effective. The both sides are bad or have points narratuve is collapsing as it becomes apparent one “side’s” points are mostly faith based claims.

123 piero October 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm

@Phil:

Comments containing the word l_i_e and similar go to moderation automatically. I haven’t tried synonyms, but I think they would pass.

124 A Hermi October 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm

So I guess you all think James Randi was fabricating when he said he had multiple credible complaints about a person “misbehaving with the ladies…”

125 Aneris ✻ October 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Ariel,

You were “struck by the amount of pretending and dancing around in all of this” and the question really is what is left unclear and why you would think there is any evasion.

Let me remind you that Michael Nugent’s series of posts are about sets “of misrepresentations and personal smears”. They are about how people from the same faction (still unnamed, the former Atheism Plus people, or comically named social justice league) take someone’s words – perhaps from twitter – and grossly distort the meaning. They then reference their own distortions until they materialize as if they were fact. Thanks to good connections to more mainstream media, this version is then also established for a wider audience. This is the topic. It is not whatever you want the topic to be.

If you want some other topic, you can ask the bloggers from that factions to make a topic for you. In short, the only people who “dance around” are the people who are being accused of “misrepresentations and personal smears” and their minions who just won’t address the points. Why you dance around is plain obvious. There is what is called the prerogative of interpretation and your faction is very aware of it and wants to keep it at all costs. Your side determines the talking points. Your side determines who has to answer. Your side determines who’s on the shunning stage. And your side determines what tweets mean. If anyone challenges that, your side is known to use every dirty trick in the playbook to keep it anyway, including also smearing people who want to set the record straight (like Michael Nugent). If not, offer a better explanation for the theatre here.

1. The nature of the accusation against PZ was never made clear by Michael.

There are several articles where Michael Nugent wrote point by point what he saw as a misrepresentation. Look them up. Other than that, I have the suspicion you want a short and handy summary, which makes it easier to misrepresent and lie about it.

2. Should all such speculations and interpretations be condemned?

Speculations should adhere to the facts and the proper contexts. This also includes not deliberately leaving out information that is important. For example the life’s work of some person was ignored, or subsequent tweets were swept under the rug. There is a wealth of examples, starting with Elevatorgate and Dear Muslima. These events have received their own alternate reality version, and that was extended since then.

Here is an example from Karla Pollitt (The Nation), caught boldly lying:

Karla Pollitt wrote: When Rebecca Watson, who blogs as Skepchick, expressed annoyance after a man accosted her in an elevator late at night at the 2011 World Atheist Convention in Dublin, Richard Dawkins wrote a parody letter, “Dear Muslima,” contrasting the liberty of Western women with the oppression of women under Islam. Sexual harassment: not as bad as female genital mutilation.

That’s not what happened. Even if you cut out all the Stef McGraw and Abbie Smith events (note how they are always invisible, the narrative is Watson vs Dawkins, young woman vs powerful man), all the polarization that already went down and all the other social justice warriorism that already happened, even then it’s a lie. Did Richard Dawkins really respond to Rebecca Watson’s youtube video? Really? Are you sure about that? Was the topic where he replied to really about Rebecca Watson’s video? Are you sure about that? I help you on this.

Karla Pollitt as well as virtually everyone else follows Rebecca Watson’s interpretation. Laid out in “the Privilege Delusion”. If you know the real context, the headline will make everyone’s irony meter explode already. Here is what she wrote.

Rebecca Watson wrote: You may recall that I related an incident in which I was propositioned, and I said, “Guys, don’t do that.” Really, that’s what I said. I didn’t call for an end to sex. I didn’t accuse the man in my story of rape. I didn’t say all men are monsters. I said, “Guys, don’t do that.” Cue Richard Dawkins‘ response: [Dear Muslima Letter]

In reality, Richard Dawkins posted his letter into a topic called “Always name names!” and it is already about the community. PZ Myers specifically states:

PZ Myers wrote: It’s not enough. Maybe we should also recognize that applying unwanted pressure, no matter how politely phrased, is inappropriate behavior. Maybe we should recognize that when we interact with equals there are different, expected patterns of behavior that many men casually disregard when meeting with women, and it is those subtle signs that let them know what you think of them that really righteously pisses feminist women off.

But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to mention one thing that annoys me. Rebecca Watson talked about this experience at a CFI conference, and one thing she did was to directly address, by name, criticisms of her reaction to being importuned in an elevator late at night.

Privilege delusion? Irony altert! Rebecca Watson was the privileged one, on the podium who talked down at Stef McGraw, one of her early critics (see also Sharon’s comment at 28). That was considered “bad form” by another woman, Abbie Smith. Rather crucial information. Even the Pharyngula-friendly RationalWiki notes on their elevatorgate page about Rebecca Watson’s initial remark: “As it was just a note in a longer video about the conference, it went mostly unnoticed, except for two other female atheists who disagreed with Watson” (one was Stef McGraw).

3. (paraphrased) should victims of rape talk to the media

To which Michael Nugent replied:

Michael Nugent: @31 Ariel, I’ll reply in more detail to your question later

My take: you already assume that a crime happened. I don’t know if you are just that dishonest or if you just not smart enough to understand “not knowing”, but that is already a fairly important point. If the crime indeed happened, it depends on jurisdiction what a victim can or can’t do. See my comment 111 for the laws in Ireland. I am not a laywer but it seems that under Irish law, the victim can only talk to the media after the the person was convicted of a crime, before that, it must be made clear that the case is still open.

126 sinister October 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

What would these comments be like without ‘A Hermit’ telling everyone what they think or are ‘really’ saying? Oh, right, more honest. Just stop.

127 Jonathan October 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Ariel:

if you want an example of something that Michael considers that PZ has done, have a look at today’s blog post.

128 milesnagopaleen October 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

@ Ariel
“Nugent’s assertion that “allegations of rape should be reported to the police, not to bloggers” can reasonably be read as a claim that rape victims shouldn’t speak to the media, and in general, that they shouldn’t make their plight known to the wider public.”

No, such a reading is not reasonable but it says a lot about you:
(1) You have prejudged an issue that can only be decided in a court of law
(2) You appear to deny the principle of “ presumption of innocence”

There are good reasons why allegations of any criminal offence should be reported to the police and not to the media as a first resort, the presumption of incidence being foremost. Potential jurors are often asked about their awareness of media coverage of the case in hand and disallowed if they appear to have been prejudiced by it. On occasion, cases have been dismissed out of hand, not on grounds of evidence, but because media coverage had poisoned the well, making it impossible for a fair trial to be given. This is a lose-lose situation as it denies justice to genuine victims and also denies the falsely accused any opportunity to clear their names.

Anyone who advocates trial by internet cannot be genuinely interested in justice, “social” or otherwise and to pretend otherwise is nothing but rank hypocrisy.

129 Jonathan October 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Gah. That should be done WRONG.

130 Ariel October 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Aneris #125

“Let me remind you that Michael Nugent’s series of posts are about sets “of misrepresentations and personal smears” […] This is the topic. It is not whatever you want the topic to be.”

I do not see myself as changing the topic. Explanations below.

About my question 1, you write:

“There are several articles where Michael Nugent wrote point by point what he saw as a misrepresentation. Look them up. Other than that, I have the suspicion you want a short and handy summary, which makes it easier to misrepresent and lie about it.”

This is the fairest of your remarks. Rereading my question 1, I find it very poorly worded indeed. I was thinking about PZ’s behavior in Shermer’s case – but I didn’t write it (as I should have). Michael objected to PZ’s behavior in this context, but the nature of his objection was elusive – that’s what I had in mind. My wording was hopelessly unclear; my bad. You are absolutely right that in some other contexts Michael’s criticism against PZ was quite concrete. And no, I don’t need a summary. I don’t see it also as changing the topic: it was Michael after all (not someone else) who saw fit to criticize PZ at this point.

About my question 2, you write:

“Speculations should adhere to the facts and the proper contexts. This also includes not deliberately leaving out information that is important. For example the life’s work of some person was ignored, or subsequent tweets were swept under the rug.”

Aneris, the speculation was that the tweets in question were written in defense of Shermer. I have no idea what Dawkins’ life work has to do with the truth or falsity of this particular interpretation – mind explaining? The subsequent tweets don’t have to be swept under the rug either (they can be easily explained in this framework, as you are well aware of. Can we stop pretending, please?). Anyway, I still do not know what Michael is aiming at – except that he refuses to discuss it. Observe also that my question 2 is strictly on topic: it concerns directly the issue whether what was done by Adam Lee at this point can be described as “smearing” or not.

About my question 3, you say:

“My take: you already assume that a crime happened. I don’t know if you are just that dishonest or if you just not smart enough to understand “not knowing”, but that is already a fairly important point.”

Aneris, please, believe me, you know nothing about what I assume. I understand also what “not knowing” is. What I fail to understand is how these remarks of yours relate to my question. Observe that the question was strictly on topic: Michael wrote that the relevant fragment of Adam’s piece is a “grand misrepresentation”, and I ask how much of a misrepresentation it is. What sort of a problem do you have with this?

Also your further remarks starting with

“If the crime indeed happened, it depends on jurisdiction what a victim can or can’t do”

miss the point. The whole conversation was not about whether going public is permitted by law (i.e. about what the victim “can” do without breaking the law); it was rather about what the victim “should” or “shouldn’t” do. Period. It’s a crucial difference, which may signify the importance of moral factors. (As you may remember, it all started with Michael’s remark about going to police, not to bloggers.) Please, in the future try to keep in mind that the topic is *not* whatever you want the topic to be.

131 Ariel October 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Jonathan #127

Yes, thanks, I’ve just noticed it.

132 sinister October 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Ariel, with the current post now helpfully explaining how one side is behaving in this matter, how do you suggest we “discuss” these things with them? Do you still believe, both sides are bad and they are both acting as “politicians dancing?” Do rape accusations handed out like candy warrant the same incisive commentary you have for Dawkins?

133 Lancelot Gobbo October 7, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Jan Steen wrote:

Myers, certainly since the event called ‘Elevatorgate’, is on the side of those who firmly believe that the gender imbalance with the atheist movement is due to endemic sexism, misogyny and sexual harassment, which make women feel unwelcome.

Does anyone else feel that the connotation of ‘endemic’ sexism is rather like ‘original sin’? We are ‘created sick, commanded [by PZ] to be sound’. I’ve had enough of this cheap cult rhetoric. I’ll continue to be an equalitarian feminist and be damned to him.

134 FishCakes October 7, 2014 at 10:38 pm

A Hermit (@135),
You said:
“These were people at the bottom of the power structure you’re criticizing…why blame them and not their bosses? X knew that Y was harassing women at the very least.”

I believe that healthy skepticism is the correct reaction to unproven claims, most especially unproven allegations of a criminal nature such as the ones made against [a named person]. I believe the principle of innocent until proven guilty is vitally important and ought not to be subverted through trial-by-blog. I believe the onus for providing convincing evidence is on the person making the allegations – and, once made, the allegations are fair game for criticism and scrutiny regardless of how close the accuser is to the bottom of the “power structure” or how far apart the accuser is from the accused in the “power structure.”

Given that I don’t know, on a personal level, any of the people who are directly involved, all I have to go on is the information that has been made public. Which frankly amounts to little more than he said-she said, with a few rumors sprinkled on top. In my opinion, there is not enough verifiable information, to render a fair judgement – and it’s not right to make these kinds of allegations public unless one is prepared to back them up with evidence and be subject to honest questioning.

I say this as a former victim of horrific sexual abuse myself, speaking only for myself: I believe that reporting crimes to law enforcement is the best way to maximize the chances that criminals will be brought to justice and held accountable, and the most effective way to protect future potential victims. I view it as a moral or ethical duty to stand up for myself and for other people, and that this includes an obligation to fight abusers through legal action when possible. The needs of the many outweight the needs of the one. Deciding not to report for any reason (other than just temporarily to save myself or others from immediate harm, for example) might help me to cope in the short-term, but it certainly doesn’t help the next potential victim, and the next one after that, and the next one after that. It also doesn’t do anything to push back against the so-called rape culture or culture of sexism and misogyny that I hear so much about. I can’t fathom deciding not to report for the sake of my job, which I view as far less important and less permanent than justice and protecting other potential victims. All that said, I truly do realize that it’s not my place to tell another person how to react and I do understand that there are legitimate reasons why someone else would feel massively discouraged from reporting for many different reasons. However I just don’t buy the idea that those reasons are morally defensible nor are they off limits from criticism.

You also said:
“We should no more give them a pass for their indifference to the problem…”

I’m not suggesting that anyone should get a pass, although ironically that’s what you seem to be doing when you suggested that people “at the bottom” shouldn’t be criticized when there are more powerful people that can be criticized in their stead… I am not willing to accept unproven assertions as to what Randi or anyone else knew, but I also have no interest in protecting anyone. I enthusiastically support the idea that anyone and everyone who participated in the covering up of crimes or professional misconduct, or who failed to take reasonable actions to protect employees or conference-goers, should be held accountable in some way.

135 A Hermit October 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm

‘Healthy skepticism” doesn’t include victim blaming or the dismissal of those who complain of encountering sexism or racism as merely attention seeking or over-reacting.

[remainder of comment deleted – see next comment for guidelines for commenting]

136 Michael Nugent October 8, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Some guidelines on commenting here:

Please don’t say that named people are lying unless you can support that they know they are saying something untrue. Please feel free to say (and support) that they are saying something that is untrue or false or any similar description. But saying that they are lying implies that they know that it is untrue, which is judging their motive for saying it.

Also, I have removed some comments that were speculating on unproven allegations of sexual assault or rape against four named people.

So please respect these guidelines while commenting here:

Please feel free to discuss the best ways to combat and minimise rape, by individuals, organisations, rape crisis professionals, the police or society generally.

Please feel free to discuss your own experiences, as some people have.

Please don’t speculate on specific unproven allegations against other specific named people.

Thanks.

137 FishCakes October 8, 2014 at 11:27 pm

That you assume there is a “victim” before such has been proven demonstrates clearly that you either don’t know what the term “healthy skepticism” means, or that you do know what it means but that you are doing it wrong.

As to your point about dismissal of those who complain, I’m not really sure where that came from. Certainly nothing I have said indicates or implies that I am dismissing anyone, so presumably you are refering to others. Just to make sure, it seems necessary to repeat myself:

“I’m not suggesting that anyone should get a pass…”

“I enthusiastically support the idea that anyone and everyone who participated in the covering up of crimes or professional misconduct, or who failed to take reasonable actions to protect employees or conference-goers, should be held accountable in some way.”

138 A Hermit October 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Michael, I didn’t say anyone was lying; and I quoted a “named individual” who is a leader in the atheist/skeptical movement confirming that he had credible information abot sexual “misbehaviour by that other named individual.

You want to fight rape and sexual harassment? We won’t get there by being so namby-pamby about it. One of the clubs used against the women complaining about harassment in the past has been that they didn’t name names. Now they are coming forward and doing that you’re telling them not to. It’s a bit of a Catch 22 isn’t it?

139 Michael Nugent October 9, 2014 at 1:32 am

A Hermit #138,

I appreciate you commenting here, because you are adding some balance.

I have my reasons for not speculating on specific alleged crimes and those reasons are unrelated to the people involved. You may notice I have also deleted references to other named people who have also had allegations made about them.

I’ve said before that I will write a post about my opinions about the nuances between not reporting to the police and not reporting to bloggers, and the difference between media outlets with responsible journalistic ethics and those without, and when I get around to writing that I hope you will understand my position more clearly.

But I am not stopping anybody from saying or writing whatever they choose outside of my blog. I am expressing my opinion, as you are, about the best way to deal with these issues, and I am acting in accordance with my own beliefs and conscience both personally and in moderating my blog.

Anybody else has the rest of the Internet to name whoever they want, subject to the policies of the owners of whatever sites they are posting on, and I have absolutely no control over their ability to do that.

The only power my opinions have is the moral power of the arguments that I am making, and if other people don’t find those arguments persuasive then my opinions have no power over the choices they make about how they do what they believe to be best.

140 FishCakes October 9, 2014 at 1:52 am

A Hermit, Do you honestly not realize that you have totally mischaracterized what Michael and just about everyone else here is saying? Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY, is telling anyone not to come forward. It’s not a catch-22. Are you honestly unable to understand words as they are written rather than “reading between the lines” or whatever it is you are doing to come up with these bizarre strawmen? Or are you being deliberately obtuse, or is it something else?

Unless you somehow can read minds or you somehow are privy to inside information that has not been made known to anyone else, then you are merely speculating as to what Randi knew – in which case you ought not make such definitive or declarative statements about the matter.

Has anyone actually claimed or reported that they made him aware of any particular allegation, or are you merely concluding that on the basis of his quoted response?

If the former, name your sources. If the latter, then consider that unless you know specifically what question(s) were put to Randi which the elicited the quote under discussion, then you lack sufficient context for a fair and accurate interpretation. For example, was he asked, point blank, whether he knew of the specific allegations; or was he asked whether the person had a bad reputation; or was he asked if he had heard any rumors or stories (as opposed to formal reports)?

If you don’t think the specific phrasing of the question has a material impact and is necessary to properly understand the response, I would urge you to look into studies that show survey results, for example, are very highly dependent upon how the questions are phrased.

141 A hermit October 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Well Michael there;’s the whole problem as I see it; you’re happy to lecture the people coming forward to talk about the problem for their tone but you’re not willing to talk about the problem.

This latest conflict all comes down to the actions of He Who Must Not Be Named (maybe we can just call him “Voldemort” for simplicity?) and the failure of the Catholic bishops atheist/skeptical movement’s self appointed leadership to take it seriously. When your response to complaints of sexism, harassment and worse is to make excuses and complain about the language being used by the people who are trying to do something about it you start to look like part of the problem.

142 Aneris ✻ October 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

A hermit wrote: then your response to complaints of sexism, harassment and worse is to make excuses and complain about the language being used by the people who are trying to do something about it you start to look like part of the problem.

Then go ahead and propose what you think should be done about it in concrete terms. No more whargarble please. Be specific. What do you want. Be sure you cover:

a) what you expect of ordinary lowly commenters to do.
b) what should Michael Nugent do about it.
c) what should Richard Dawkins do about it.

You will get zero points if you mention “not supporting” or other propaganda language. Be clear what exactly it is you want from others. After you did that, you may also point out on what basis must we do these things. For example, there are great many “problematic” famous people out there, yet I am not aware why I would need to do something about them.

143 FishCakes October 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

A Hermit,
The only reasonable excuse for you falsely claiming that Michael is “not willing to talk about the problem” is that you haven’t bothered to actually read what he has written.

Case in point, Michael wrote almost ten paragraphs about the problem in this very post, filed under the heading “Combating sex crimes while protecting everyone’s rights”.

Did you not bother to read this section? Or did you read it and yet somehow conclude that it demonstrates Michael’s unwillingness to discuss the issue? Or…?

I’m genuinely curious here and I hope that you won’t ignore this comment. I would like to understand where you are coming from.

144 A Hermit October 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm

a) what you expect of ordinary lowly commenters to do.

Stop making excuses for Nugent

b) what should Michael Nugent do about it.

Stop making excuses for Dawkins.

c) what should Richard Dawkins do about it.

Stop making excuse for He Who Must Not Be Named

That would be a start…

145 A Hermit October 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Case in point, Michael wrote almost ten paragraphs about the problem in this very post, filed under the heading “Combating sex crimes while protecting everyone’s rights”.

A collection of boilerplate generalities which does noting to address the specific issue. All those lovely sentiments mean nothing if in the end he’s more upset with the tone of the people complaining about the sexism and harassment than he is with the specific incident of sexism and harassment (or worse) which is at the heart of this latest contretemps.

146 Acleron October 13, 2014 at 2:25 pm

@a hermit

Ah, so everyone just has to bow down to Myers opinion and he will stop smearing everyone at random.

Well first, I doubt he will. As he continues to lose respect and influence, I suspect he will just come out with evermore outrageous claims as playing to his own gallery is all he has left.

Secondly, it just will not happen. His was a nasty insult it is up to him to salvage what little he can out of the situation by apologising and from past form he is incapable of doing so.

147 FishCakes October 13, 2014 at 5:58 pm

A Hermit @145
Sorry, I just find your reasoning truly bizarre.

First, it seems to me that Nugent explained pretty clearly why he hasn’t ventured into discussions of specific allegations or specific named individuals, namely because that would be exposing himself to legal consequences. That seems like a fair reason for sticking with generalities rather than delving into the specifics of any particular case.

Second, you seem to be criticing Nugent on the basis that his priorities (as you see them) don’t align with what you think his priorities should be. As if your view on the matter is objectively true and anyone who deviates must be one of the bad guys.

If you think there are topics that are being ignored or people that are being protected, why are you wasting your valuable time reading and responding to comments here? Shouldn’t you be off writing your own blog posts, making your own videos, doing your own work that reflects your priorities and your concerns and leave others to do the same? Or have you made it your life’s mission to get others to bend to your will and do your bidding for you, by posting comments to their blog? Is that the totality of your contribution to this whole thing? Or have I missed your own body of work that clearly and explicitly addresses the topics that you seem to expect Nugent to address on your behalf?

148 A Hermit October 13, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Ackeron; who said anything about Myers? Not me. Maybe you should check your obsessions…

149 A Hermit October 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Yes I do think Nugent’s priorities are screwed up. He seems to be more concerned about the tone of people who criticize some self appointed “thought leaders” then he is with the substance of the criticisms or with the damage done by the apparently callous attitude of those leaders to serious complaints about sexism and harassment.

He hasn’t been afraid to criticize Church leaders for such attitudes so it’s a bit disappointing to see him being so coy here.

150 FishCakes October 13, 2014 at 10:39 pm

A Hermit (@149),
Maybe it’s not Nugent’s priorities that are screwed up, maybe it’s your perception [of what his priorities are] that is screwed up? Or maybe it’s your expectation that others should have the same priorities as you? Or maybe it’s your priorities that are screwed up?

You seem more concerned with whether or not Nugent is concerned with the right things than you are about stopping any actual harassment yourself. You’re twice-removed from the problem about which you claim to care so deeply.

151 A Hermit October 13, 2014 at 10:50 pm

FishCakes

Well you can play “or maybe” all day, doesn’t really help does it?

My priority is encouraging people in this so-called movement to treat women and minorities with respect and take their concerns seriously. Is there something wrong with that?

152 John Greg October 13, 2014 at 11:08 pm

A Hermit said:

My priority is encouraging people in this so-called movement to treat women and minorities with respect and take their concerns seriously. Is there something wrong with that?

That’s just a smokescreen; smoke and mirrors for white knighting.

The real goal of most FTB commentors and the FC(n) is total control of the conversation and a free allowance to redefine words and concepts on an ad hoc, come-as-come-may approach.

153 John Greg October 13, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Whoops! Borked the quotes again. Only the second paragraph should be blockquoted.

/my bad; my bad

154 FishCakes October 14, 2014 at 2:55 am

A Hermit,
In what way does your criticizing Nugent help to accomplish your goals? Has Nugent himself now been accused of not treating people with respect or with personally disregarding their concerns?

Why do you keep ignoring my point that you ought to be taking action yourself rather than hounding other people. Nugent has his own priorities and battles to fight, and his own approach for how to handle them. What makes you think he owes anything, rather than the other way around?

155 A Hermit October 14, 2014 at 3:23 am

How does Nugent’s criticism of Adam Lee help? If Michael has other priorities why take the time to write all these long tedious blog posts whining about other people? Why defend Dawkins clueless tweeting? Why make a home for the Slymepit harassment brigade in his comment section?

If Nugent has so much more important things to do then by all means he should go and do them.

156 Acleron October 14, 2014 at 3:24 am

@a hermit

I had noticed you were repeating the Myers line without mentioning his actual name. I wondered if that was by accident or design and realised it mattered not, your points and his are in lock step.

157 FishCakes October 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm

A Hermit,
You still seem to be operating based on an assumption or expectation that Nugent ought to focus in what you think is important and try to accomplish what you believe are the right goals. As if it honestly never even occured to you that he spends his time things that are aligned with his own goals and priorities.

That his actions don’t support your goals is not Nugent’s problem and it’s not a valid criticism. I mean this with no disrespect, but you really need to think long and hard about this because you are coming off as a very entitled and narcissistic person.

158 A Hermit October 15, 2014 at 1:08 am

I don’t think you’re understanding what I’m saying at all. I’m asking if Nugent’s priorities don’t include discussing the details of the incident involving He Who Must Not Be Named why is he spending so much time and energy criticizing those who are taking the time to address it? Why go after Adam Lee at such length if he isn’t concerned about any of this stuff?

It seems to me that Nugent is the one who is telling people what they should and shouldn’t discuss and how they should discuss it.

If someone has different priorities then addressing the sexism in the movement that’s fine, as long as they don’t start poking their noses in and lecturing those who do have it as a priority.

159 FishCakes October 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm

A Hermit,
It seems pretty clear to me that Nugent is concerned with unproven accusations, lies, misrepresentations and other dishonest and disingenuous argumentation techniques, and that would be why he’s focusing so much time and attention on this. That is what these blog posts are about, after all – the repeated use of these dishonest tactics.

Surely you aren’t suggesting that people like Myers and Lee and their tactics ought not to be criticized, right? Surely you aren’t suggesting that Nugent ought to give these people a pass merely because they also happen to speak out against problems like sexism and other things that you believe are important?

That sure seems to be what you are saying.

So I guess the real question is why are you trying to protect people like Myers and Lee from legitimate criticism? Why are you trying to shield these people from Nugent’s criticism?

Would you still be so supportive of Myers if you found yourself the target of one of his unproven accusations published on his blog? Would you still be supportive of him if it were your own words that he was misrepresenting? Or are you only comfortable with that kind of thing as long as someone else is in the crosshairs?

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