Is PZ Myers sexist? Am I fascist with a seedy past? It depends on whether you ask Charitable Theo or Uncharitable Theo.

by Michael Nugent on December 1, 2014

Theophontes, a pseudonymous commenter here and on PZ Myers’ blog, perfectly illustrates a key point that I have been making about PZ and some his colleagues, and their reluctance to follow the Golden Rule. Instead, Theophontes switches between two modes of judging people, which I call Charitable Theo and Uncharitable Theo.

In this post I will address Charitable Theo’s defence (which, as I have already said, I mostly agree with) of PZ telling a conference host to do her belly dance and to get off his stage, linking to pornography involving women and octopuses, writing about a dream in which he turned his students into mermaids, publicly joking about rape, endorsing a pornographic book that includes rape fantasies, and preventing a possible investigation into a threatened false rape allegation against himself by a student.

Then I will address Uncharitable Theo associating me with a fascist group that existed in Ireland in the early 1930s, long before I was even born, based on Theo uncritically accepting more false smears about me, in comments on PZ’s blog, by a man with a five year vendetta against Atheist Ireland, who has been banned from online forums in Ireland and Australia. As one example of his ethics, on the first Christmas Day after my wife Anne died of cancer, he posted details of my widows pension among messages of condolence on a tribute page to Anne on my website, after he had edited the Wikipedia page about me to include the same details in the section about my marriage to Anne.

This, folks, is the downside of the Internet. And civilised society has yet to figure out how to deal with it. When Anne and I and others were campaigning against terrorism in Northern Ireland, we had hate mail and the occasional bullet drop through our letterboxes. At least, pre-Internet, those people had to go to the effort of physically producing their hate smears and threats, and physically delivering them to individual targets. Today PZ and others can spread their smears globally at the click of a mouse button, and Theo and others will uncritically pass them on faster and wider than it is possible to correct them.

I will also address PZ and Theo’s pattern of judging of me on the basis of their opinion of other people, who are either commenting on my blog or writing about me elsewhere, and the general idea of judging people by the behaviour of other people rather than their own behaviour. And I will end, as usual, by asking that we judge each other charitably, using the standards that we would like others to apply to us, and asking that we work together with integrity to bring about a more inclusive, ethical, secular world.

1. Charitable Theo denying that PZ’s behaviour was sexist

In a recent post, I wrote that I do not believe that PZ is sexist, but that some people would consider several of his behaviours to be sexist, if they judged them by the standards that PZ uses to judge other people’s sexism.

Some of them were behaviours that could foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex, such as asking woman to do a belly dance on stage. Another was endorsing on a science blog pornography involving women and octupuses, which PZ himself describes as including “weird exploitation of women”, yet he believes that a considerably tamer image on a shirt would put some women off undertaking a science career. Also, he writes about cephaloporn that “nothing beats a sea slug for that vulval feel.”

Charitable Theo responded in two comments on my post, which he cross-posted to PZ’s blog, in which he defended PZ by placing the most charitable possible judgment on each incident.

Like PZ, Charitable Theo has completely missed the point of that post. The very first sentence was:

“I don’t believe that PZ Myers is sexist.”

And I concluded:

“I am not condemning PZ for any of this behaviour. I am asking him and his colleagues to act ethically consistently when judging others.”

The point of the post was to ask what would happen if PZ and his colleagues applied the same level of judgment about sexism to PZ’s own behaviour over the years, as they do to behaviour by other people, the most recent example being the shirt worn by Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor?

Or, from the reverse perspective, what would happen if PZ judged others’ behaviour as charitably as he would like others to judge his own behaviour?

Or from a new perspective, what would happen if Charitable Theo judged my behaviour as charitably as he judges PZ’s behaviour? Well, we don’t know how that would work out, but we do know what happens when Uncharitable Theo judges my behaviour, by associating me with 1930s fascists and describing this as my seedy past.

2. Uncharitable Theo associating me with 1930s fascists

Last week I saw this strange comment from Theo on my blog:

“Some more about your double standards: Where you wearing your red shirt when you were running with the blue shirts? I am not particularly surprised to see you are providing a home-away-from-home to right wing reactionaries on your blog.”

Theo me

The link was to an article in Look Left Online about the Blueshirts, a fascist organisation that existed briefly in Ireland in the early 1930s, illustrated with a photograph resplendent with fascist salutes.

Female-Blueshirts

There are two separate smears here: one, that I am associated with fascists or fascism, and two, that some of the commenters on my blog are right wing reactionaries who could be expected to be comfortable being associated with fascists or fascism.

On PZ’s blog, Theo described his comment on my blog as:

“For a comment on Michael’s own seedy past, see comment #15.”

Theo Seedy

Sili responded:

“That’s not really fair. There’s hella difference between sexual harassment and political views. Aren’t there plenty of us who’re recovering Christians, Libertarians and other scum?”

And Theo responded to Sili:

“The point is that he has claimed that he has been an atheist since childhood. He then chose to join a papist¹, populist, conservative party.
…
¹ FG are great opportunists and blow with the wind. More recently FG have been at odds with the pope. For example: Unlike the pope’s sympathy for the poor, FG do not support a living wage. Austerity for the poor and tax cuts for the rich.”

And Sili responded to Theo:

“Where does Nugent make that claim, himself? That was my issue. I’ve only seen it made by the guy who came by recently to grind an axe.”

And Theo responded to Sili:

“It is a matter of public record. (You can check his link and Pfffft.) That MN atheistified as a child, in his own words: How and why I became an atheist.”

Theo tried to link to a page about me being an election candidate for Fine Gael in Dublin in 1999, but by mistake linked to a page about a different Michael Nugent who was an election candidate for Sinn Fein in Cork in 2014.

3. The source of Uncharitable Theo’s smear

I was intrigued by the reference to “the guy who came by recently to grind an axe”. Ever since PZ falsely accused me of defending rapists, one piece of light relief that I and supportive friends have had was speculating on what would happen if Frank (aka FXR, Fexro, Fexbolt, Falconer1st, Arcus Arrow, Noel Grainger, Will Hamilton, William Rowan Hamilton, Brad Pennington, dubusa) joined in with the smears. And now we know. A quick search showed that, a few weeks ago, Frank had posted various false smears in comments on a different thread on PZ’s blog.

Frank has been conducting a five year on-and-off vendetta against Atheist Ireland generally, and against me personally, ever since he was suspended from the Atheist Ireland forum in 2009 for starting a thread titled “Cream Crackers Marching”. (In Ireland, “Cream Crackers” is rhyming slang for “Knackers”, which is an extremely offensive term for members of the travelling community.) Frank called them freeloaders, and said that “this whole ‘equal rights’ thing is just another way to scam a few freebies.”

I want to separate the factual inaccuracies in Frank’s smears from his online vendetta, because in theory he could be factually accurate while also conducting his vendetta.

3(a) The Blueshirts

I’ll start with Frank’s accusation that I

“became a card carrying member of the Ultra Catholic Fine Gael party… commonly referred to as the Blueshirts after the founding fascist organisation that preceded it.”

The fact that Uncharitable Theo picked up on this bizarre aspect of Frank’s smears is what caused me to check its source.

Nobody in Ireland seriously associates Fine Gael with the Blueshirts of the 1930s, other than as a joke. As someone wrote elsewhere about this, it is like saying that Barack Obama is a racist because the Democrats used to support slavery. Actually, it is even further from reality than that, because the Blueshirts were a short-lived faction within a wider political party in the early 1930s.

The main political parties in Ireland are ideologically strange. They mostly grew out of the sides in the Civil War that followed Irish independence, and ideological divisions that exist elsewhere between parties, exist in Ireland within parties. So the main parties have left, right, liberal and authoritarian wings within them.

By the 1980s, relatively speaking, Fianna Fail was the party of Catholic nationalism, Fine Gael was the party of constitutional pluralism, and the Labour Party was nominally socialist but in practice a potential minority party in possible coalition with Fine Gael. Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey (‘The Boss’) was corrupt, and Fine Gael leader Garret Fitzgerald (‘Garret the Good’) was leading a Constitutional Crusade to, among other things, make divorce legal and remove the constitutional claim over Northern Ireland.

I have been briefly involved in two political parties that, at the time, were each the most secular and the most opposed to terrorism and corruption, among the non-socialist options. The Progressive Democrats was a new party in the mid 1980s that sought to remove God from the Irish Constitution, and Fine Gael in the late 1990s seemed to me the best option, despite internal divisions, to stand up to the Catholic Church. I soon concluded that, to succeed in party politics, you have to be prepared to spend 90% of your time doing unproductive things in order to be able to spend 10% of your time being productive. And so I returned to political independence.

3(b) Atheist Ireland

Secondly, Frank has made various accusations about Atheist Ireland. For example, he suggests that members of the Atheist Ireland Committee being re-elected unopposed at AGMs indicates that I personally run the organisation like a papacy. Actually, we run Atheist Ireland collectively and constructively. Any member can run for election for any elected position, or can be co-opted to new positions that the committee can create. In practice, to date, our members are satisfied with how effectively and co-operatively we are running a voluntary campaign against the might of decades of Irish political intransigence. To suggest that a voluntary organisation running smoothly is a bad thing seems strange.

Frank has repeated this and his other smears about Atheist Ireland on various websites, including the Atheism and Agnosticism section of Boards.ie, Ireland’s most prominent online forum, which is not affiliated to Atheist Ireland. Here are some sample reactions there to one such post by Frank:

“Arcus Arrow, your complaint, without details or context is pointless. Unless there’s more information provided or something else useful I’d be inclined to close this thread.”

“Yes there is a backstory going way way way way way wayyyy back to the formation of the group, for some unknown reason and nearly 3 years he continues to carry his own personal vendetta. Pity.”

“Have you even read any of the responses on this thread? Frankly if AI know who you are they probably just pre-emptively deleted your post because you’ve your own personal agenda against them and were looking to stir trouble or for something to bitch about and use as an example of their evil. Seriously, what is your beef with AI?”

“I don’t think that’s true. Atheist Ireland – and indeed their leader Michael Nugent, when he posts on here – certainly haven’t been free from criticism on this site.”

“So I take it you’re ignoring the thread on here where AI was criticised about their census campaign? And also ignoring that they took some of the criticism to heart and altered the campaign? How very religious of you. Now what’s the real reason you dislike AI?”

“It’s amazing how you’re constructing this reality of yours to justify your agenda.”

3(c) Personal smears

Thirdly, Frank makes several bizarre untrue personal smears about me, to the effect that I am a distortion liar and self promoter, that I am unemployed and living on social welfare, that Atheist Ireland is a personality cult centred on me, that Derek Walsh is one my most slavish followers, and that I campaigned against terrorism because “at the time the Troubles in Northern Ireland were the hot topic.”

These are all simply one hundred percent factually false. They are the product of a troubled mind, and I will not give them the dignity of analysing them. Suffice to say that the editors of Wikipedia had to close down the page about me to edits after Frank repeatedly edited the section about my marriage to Anne to include details of my widows pension.

If you want a yardstick by which to judge the validity of Frank’s smears, ask anybody you know, who actually lives in Ireland, whether they would seriously associate Fine Gael in the late 1990s with the fascist Blueshirts of the 1930s. Ask yourself whether it is credible that Frank, while living in Ireland today, could seriously believe such a thing. Then apply the same level of skepticism to the rest of what he writes.

4. When Uncharitable Theo met Frank

So how did PZ’s commenters respond to Frank’s smears? After a knee-jerk start, they mostly responded with caution. Apart from Uncharitable Theo.

At first, Ichthyc responded uncritically:

“thanks for the perspective, Fexbolt. good to know!”

Uncharitable Theo then added:

“@Fexbolt – Wow! That would explain a lot of very strange behaviour. Thank you for posting.”

Theo Frank

Tom Foss introduced some skepticism:

“I’ll just chime in to express skepticism at this thread being resurrected with a bunch of damning personal information about Nugent by a commenter I haven’t seen ’round here before… In other words, I’d like to see some corroboration before I’m ready to accept that Nugent is a serial cult-of-personality leader looking for whatever group is willing to make him a figurehead, no matter how consistent that characterization is with his behavior.”

Chigua, Ichthyc and Nerd of Redhead then scolded Tom Foss for his skepticism, with Nerd suggesting that Tom should:

“Read Nugent’s blogs asshole, like you don’t believe a word he says, rather than with worship. DUH. Apply the same skepticism you want us to use, upon Nugent. Come back when you are done. In a couple of years or so.”

The discussion then became more balanced, with PZ endorsing Tom’s legitimacy as a frequent commenter who has been critical of me, and other contributions from Xanthë, Al Dente, Tigtog, Tony! and Sili. However, even some of the notes of caution were mixed with expressions of hope that Frank’s smears were true.

Even in the face of this growing caution, one person remained committed to taking Frank’s smears at face value. Uncharitable Theo said to Frank:

“@ Fexbolt – I once found it strange that your nemesis has been padding out his blog with slymepitters. The pieces of the jigsaw are all slowly falling into place.”

Theo Frank 2

Theo and Frank then exchanged some light banter about how both of them had been blocked when they had tried to join the Slymepit (which is interesting because, by PZ and Theo’s standards, trying to join the Slymepit might result in some people judging both Theo and Frank based on their opinions of other people who post on the Slymepit.)

Frank Slymepit

Three days later, Uncharitable Theo posted his comment on my blog, associating me with the Blueshirts of the 1930s, courtesy of his source Frank.

5. What if we judged PZ and Theo by Frank’s behaviour?

One of the common factors in PZ and Uncharitable Theo’s criticisms of me is to judge me based on their opinions about other people, who either comment on my blog or write about me elsewhere.

In his initial attempt to defend his false smear that I defend and provide a haven for rapists, PZ wrote:

“Where did I say he should delete comments? I said I judge him by the company he keeps.”

In the comments cited above, Uncharitable Theo has written of me that:

“Lying down with Thunder “anti-feminist douchebag” f00t and Vox “racist sexist homophobic dipshit” Day, makes this all look fairly trivial in comparison.”

“You rub shoulders with the likes of Thunderf00t, on your blog. You should realise how bad this makes you look. You are endorsed by Vox Day. You should realise how bad this makes you look. Then again, perhaps you don’t realise it yet. In which case: “I fart in your general direction!”

I believe it is unreasonable to judge people by the behaviour of other people. For example, I believe it is unfair to judge PZ and Theo on the basis of Frank’s behaviour. But, by PZ and Uncharitable Theo’s standards, it would seem to be reasonable.

So let’s see what happens if we judge PZ and Uncharitable Theo on the basis of “the company that they keep”, and who they “lie down with” and “rub shoulders with” on PZ’s blog. Let’s use Frank as an example.

In October 2011 Frank told a member of Boards.ie that he could literally kill him without being angry.

“If it was necessary, convenient or served my purposes and the right conditions were all in place I could literally kill you without being angry or even thinking about you afterwards. I don’t have to worry about gods only other humans. You potentially could do the same but you might need to be angry…”

In February 2010 he started a thread on Atheist Nexus titled ‘Morals and Ethics: no thanks I don’t need them!’ in which he wrote

“I can only say that I do not now or have I ever seen things by any yardstick that involves morals and ethics. But it has to be kept in mind I never heard those words growing up. I’d only say one is best having one’s own principles. After that whether it’s morals or ethics or even the legal framework of the law I’ll interpet them as I see fit with no more regard for them than serves my own self interest.”

In September 2009 he told a member of the Atheist Ireland forum that it looked like a lie when he said he had been a victim of child sexual abuse.

Chesterton: “Just for the record. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. It was not, however, carried out by a member of the clergy but by a family member.”
FXR: “On the evidence I’d have to say I think that’s looks like a lie or else you have a very serious case of self denial that needs treatment…”

In May 2007 he wrote in the Richard Dawkins Forum that he had been involved in counting bribe money in Ireland.

“I remember only too well GUBU etc. I was in the middle of it. On more than one occaision I counted the money into the brown paper bags. I was a witness to the bribery and corruption…”

6. The Diary of Ban Frank

I should acknowledge here that I did not come up with the phrase ‘The Diary of Ban Frank’. The credit for that goes to one of our international speakers, who Frank had emailed with details of his smears about Atheist Ireland.

In 2008, Frank was banned for life from Boards.ie, Ireland’s most prominent online discussion forum.

Frank: “I got the same from boards.ie for slagging the katlicks. I’m banned for life. It’s the modern equivalent of being excommunicated….. I’m surprised Irish Catholics have’nt banned me yet? It must be my turn next.”

In December 2009, Frank was suspended from the Atheist Ireland forum for starting a thread (now deleted) titled “Cream Crackers Marching”. In Ireland, “Cream Crackers” is rhyming slang for “Knackers”, which is an extremely offensive term for members of the travelling community. He wrote:

“I just generally don’t like Freeloaders. I class the cream crackers, our TD’s, the Senate, the President, subsidised farmers, the clerics and all freeloaders as one and the same. Cream Crackers is a traditional Dublin word for travellers but a lot of snobs are predjuiced when it comes to the way working class people speak. I’ve been in the Pavie centre off Mountjoy Square more than once. This whole “equal rights” thing is just another way to scam a few freebies. The vast majority of them are Freeloaders. They know a good thing when they see it. Once they discovered free money by demanding their rights they took to it like ducks to water…”

In January 2012, having rejoined Boards.ie under a different name, he was banned for life from the Atheism and Agnosticism forum for continually pursuing his personal vendetta against me.

Administrator: “Arcus Arrow is taking a permanent holiday from A&A. Boards is not to be used as a platform for personal campaigns.”

Frank Banned Boards

In October 2009, Frank joined the forum of the Atheist Foundation of Australia with the following ambitious introduction:

“Hello from the Island of child buggering Saints. I’m posting from Ireland. In Ireland I started a virtual think tank and now we’ve decided to go global. In the last hour I’ve posted on sites in South America, Germany and now Australia. The idea is to spread effective ideas across the globe and to find projects that can be launched in sync. At the moment in Ireland a handful of people are working on an idea to raise peoples consciousness that will require global co-operation if all the details can be worked out. There are a lot of obstacles but we heretics only have this life to make an impact so anything is worth a try. Looking forward to talking to you.”

By January 2012, after continually pursuing his vendetta against Atheist Ireland and repeatedly arguing with moderators, he was banned (or ‘raptured!’) from the Atheist Foundation of Australia Forum.

Frank banned AFA 2

Also in January 2012, Frank was given this warning on his Talk page on Wikipedia:

“Please assume good faith and do not refer to other users as “cult members”. Continued personal attacks will lead to a block.”

Frank Wiki

Summary

It would obviously be unfair to say, as PZ says about me, that I judge him by the company that he keeps, meaning people like Frank who comment on his blog.

It would obviously be unfair to say that PZ defends and provides a haven for people like Frank who say that they could literally kill you without being angry or even thinking about you afterwards, who say that they have never seen things by any yardstick that involves morals and ethics, and who call members of the travelling community ‘Cream Crackers’.

It would obviously be unfair to say to Theo, paraphrasing what Theo says to me,

“Theo, you rub shoulders with the likes of Frank on PZ’s blog. You should realise how bad this makes you look. Then again, perhaps you don’t realise it yet. In which case: “I fart in your general direction!”

And it is equally obviously unfair for PZ and Theo to judge other people based on their opinions of different people.

There is a lot of nonsense on the Internet, some of it hurtful and harmful, and some of it fuelled by prejudice and eagerness to believe defamatory smears. Today PZ and others can spread their smears globally at the click of a mouse button, and Theo and others will uncritically pass them on faster and wider than it is possible to correct them.

We should try to judge each other charitably, using the standards that we would like others to apply to us, and we should try to work together with integrity to bring about a more inclusive, ethical, secular world. That can seem hard when some people are eager to believe the worst about you, but I am confident that we can move a little closer to that kinder, fairer world by our behaviour every day.

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{ 308 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MadMike December 1, 2014 at 5:22 am

Michael, your patience and perseverance is almost…divine. I’m sorry, no better way to say it.

2 Blueshift Rhino December 1, 2014 at 5:24 am

Michael –

Did you see the recent post by Ophelia Benson on Sinn Fein? The very first comment makes an allusion to you and O.B. joins in on the second comment.

This is going to get worse before it gets better. But please don’t take that as a suggestion that you stop. I said that a few weeks ago and I was wrong. Please carry on.

3 Jack Rawlinson December 1, 2014 at 5:25 am

We should try to judge each other charitably, using the standards that we would like others to apply to us, and we should try to work together with integrity to bring about a more inclusive, ethical, secular world. That can seem hard when some people are eager to believe the worst about you, but I am confident that we can move a little closer to that kinder, fairer world by our behaviour every day.

That’s because you’re a decent human being, Michael. Myers and his kind are not. All you can do with vicious, two-faced people like that is stand firmly against them. They do not improve.

4 Stephen Duggan December 1, 2014 at 5:27 am

Didn’t take him long to show up. Still banging the same drum

5 Tezcatlipoca December 1, 2014 at 5:58 am

I’m trying to be charitable about these final two sentences from PZ in his Megan Fox Is Being Sued article. “She’s demanding and impossible to satisfy. I know it’s not proper legal criteria, but she is so annoying I hope she gets slammed hard in court.”

They are just so oddly worded. I’m really struggling to parse the last sentence.

Uncharitable me wonders about grudge sex and consent.

6 Steersman December 1, 2014 at 6:26 am

Blueshift Rhino (#2):

Did you see the recent post by Ophelia Benson on Sinn Fein? The very first comment makes an allusion to you and O.B. joins in on the second comment.

I don’t see how that is “problematic” as neither of those two comments make any accusation, that I can see, about Michael’s supposed connection to Sinn Fein. I see only a somewhat oblique reference to Michael’s position on engaging in “trial-by-Internet” which hardly seems beyond the pale.

Although you might be right about things getting worse before getting better. However, I am encouraged that a few on PZ’s blog – Tom Foss and apparently Sili at least – show some integrity and reluctance to being stampeded into mob behaviour. Which some, who seem to have let their spleens get the better of their brains, are apparently trying to do.

But, somewhat parenthetically or peripherally, it seems that the “Cream Crackers” insult looks pretty innocuous, and hardly justification for suspension. Seems to me that far too many are getting their knickers in a twist over mere words, and the “hurt feelings” they supposedly engender – really “of a piece” with the Catholic Church insisting on “anti-blasphemy laws” which Michael is apparently doing a yeoman’s job in trying to forestall. Reminds me also that “she who must not be named” insisted that an aphorism I had used in an argument with her (when she was still talking to me) – i.e., “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” – was the “worst one ever invented”. No doubt words can sting, but to be shutting down conversations because of what someone might say seems a decidedly wrong-headed philosophy.

7 Jacques Cuze December 1, 2014 at 6:52 am

Nicely done, and taught me something about Irish history to boot!

8 Stephen Duggan December 1, 2014 at 6:53 am

@Steersman
It was for the Cream Cracker comment alone that got him the boot. A member of the forum, whose background was in the travelling community, told him it was offensive and told him to cut it out. He refused, even after repeated intervention by moderators, he continued to use the slurs.

9 Minnow December 1, 2014 at 7:02 am

Steers man ‘knackers’ is a racist epithet. I can’t see how it could be permitted.

10 KiwiInOz December 1, 2014 at 7:14 am

Michael, please keep up your constant good natured critique of all that is holy and profane. The net certainly nurtures nutters and you have collected your share.

I was an early member of the Slymepit. Once upon a time I enjoyed Pharyngula for its irreverence and rough and tumble humour. But the increasing Maoism became too much for even this lefty to bare. Since that time I have watched with amusement and bemusement as the revolutionary fervour of Pharyngula et al led to their own Great Leap Forward, and the Slymepit became their declared Satan. Cult, thy name is Pharyngula.

11 Steersman December 1, 2014 at 7:17 am

Stephen Duggan (#8):

Just out of curiosity, is the “travelling community” some kind of euphemism or is it merely a reference, presumably, to travelling salesmen and the like? At least in the latter case, I find it hard to see how it could be much of an issue, nor why there should be an epithet for the group in the first place.

But I kind of brought it up, as suggested, as it seemed a useful case-in-point relative to the question of free-speech – and anti-blasphemy laws. He certainly seems to be a rather obnoxious character, given to peevish accusations and falsifications. And he may well have crossed the line in that case. But in general – no doubt exceptions to the rule – it seems bad policy to be banning for “bad werdz”, and that there are better ways of handling such recalcitrant individuals. For instance, I’ve found “tit-for-tat”, and “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander” to be remarkably effective in reducing the incidence of such – it seems many tend to change their ways when they see, or feel, the shoe on the other foot. :-)

In any case and in passing, I wonder who you were referring to in your #4 with your “banging the same drum”.

12 Skepsheik December 1, 2014 at 7:17 am

Blueshift Rhino, I don’t think Ophelia and Josh were linking Michael to Sinn Fein. I think they were saying that Michaels actions in not allowing unproven accusations to be published on his site is comparable to Sinn Fein refusing to release the details of an internal inquiry into allegations of sexual offenses.
The post in question is Sinn Fein is Refusing to Say, from November 30th.

“Josh, Official SpokesGay says

November 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

[Named persons] have been accused of something. Perhaps [we] shouldn’t amplify it without evidence.

Ophelia Benson says

November 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm

[Named political organization] surely did the right thing in keeping it to themselves and doing nothing about it.

Josh, Official SpokesGay says

November 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Let’s be careful not to smear.”

‘Let’s be careful not to smear’, says Josh, as he and Ophelia (not so very carefully) smears again.

Let me get this straight. The issue with Sinn Fein at the moment involves a reluctance to hand over evidence about rape allegations to the authorities.
I haven’t seen any sign that Michael has discouraged those making rape allegations from bringing their case to the appropriate authorities.
What is the possible connection with the Sinn Fein case other than to sneer in Michaels general direction.
Michael, you are witnessing the logical consequences of a movement that has given way to the forces of identity politics.
Nobody on the FTB side is trying to convince you of anything.
They are simply looking for an excuse to label you a bad person – which will give them the excuse to dismiss everything you say out of hand.

13 Aneris ✻ December 1, 2014 at 7:22 am

It’s tempting to suggest to discuss slurs with Steersman some more — which is a sort of running gag already, including the self-aware “meta” joke to suggest to discuss racist epithets with Steersman some more… by the sick bed of culchullain please don’t go there! Someone decided that some combination of letters was inacceptable on their forum and the user was apparently made aware of this rules and violated it nonetheless and got banned on that grounds.

14 Skepsheik December 1, 2014 at 7:23 am

Steersman, “travelling community”, in Ireland, is a label given to a group of Irish people who have historically been nomadic. It is akin to an Irish version of gypsies (although they are not, in fact, ethnic gypsies – they are Irish people who never settled in one town after the famine years.) They have faced discrimination over the years and the use of a slang insult to refer to them is generally considered wrong. Obviously, in your case, YMMV.

15 Stephen Duggan December 1, 2014 at 7:28 am

@Steersman #11
Traveller is the common usage for gypsys, who are incidently the largest ethnic minority group in Ireland.
He claimed Free Speech indeed but when a forum is run by an organisation, there is a duty for tight moderation as members of the media and opponent organisations can find these threads and use them to discredit the AI.
By “banging the same drum” – he has had this vendetta against Micheal for 5 years and still at it.

Incidently, when PZ visited Ireland in 2010, he criticised PZ for not visiting sex abuse victims. In PZ’s defence, he had a hectic university speaking tour around the country so obviously couldn’t fit it into his schedule even if he wanted to.

16 Steersman December 1, 2014 at 7:45 am

Minnow (#9):

Steersman ‘knackers’ is a racist epithet. I can’t see how it could be permitted.

Thanks, and to all for the clarifications.

But while I’ll agree that words can be used as racist, or sexist, epithets such that they target entire groups which might reasonably be considered verboten, I think that very much depends on context and intent. And in this case it seems the context was that the insult was directed at all members of the group so could reasonably be considered racist. However, if it had been directed at one or two individuals or a small subset? … Methinks the case isn’t quite as clear cut there … 😉

17 Ashling O'Brien December 1, 2014 at 7:54 am

For those outside Ireland this is a very good resource on understanding Traveller history and culture and the struggle they have had against decades of discrimination.

http://www.paveepoint.ie/frequently-asked-questions/

18 Minnow December 1, 2014 at 9:40 am

“Let me get this straight. The issue with Sinn Fein at the moment involves a reluctance to hand over evidence about rape allegations to the authorities.”

Skepsheik, yes, it is funny that Ophelia Benson didn’t see the irony of mocking Michael over this when the logic of his position would obviously be that Sinn Fein are as unfit to investigate rape allegations as bloggers and should instead have taken everything to the authorities. It is Ftb-ers such as Ophelia who have supported extra-judicial investigations of rape and who would, in any analogy, be on the side of the Sinn Feiners. But then Ophelia Benson’s sense of irony seems to have died a long time ago now.

19 Shatterface December 1, 2014 at 11:08 am

Steers man ‘knackers’ is a racist epithet. I can’t see how it could be permitted.

Steersman has argued on a previous thread that the word ‘nigger’ can be used as a ‘non-racist’ insult if directed at an individual black person so you are wasting your time pointing out the racist connotations of ‘knackers’.

20 Shatterface December 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

It should be remembered Benson also made a crack about ‘there would be explosions’ if the Irish were criticised, and she also attacked Michael for ‘xenophobia’.

There’s some pretty racist stuff spewing out of her lately.

21 Jan Steen December 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

Theo and Frank then exchanged some light banter about how both of them had been blocked when they had tried to join the Slymepit

A whole range of IPs is blocked on the Slymepit because they are on a list of spammers. Theo and Frank (and FTB blogger Avicenna, who also complained about being ‘blocked’) must be slightly paranoid for thinking that their IPs are on some blacklist specifically to prevent them from access. The ‘Pit and the NSA are different organisations.

When I recently traveled in SE Asia I couldn’t access the Slymepit for the same reason. To circumvent this problem you can ask for your IP to be unblocked or you could use a Tor browser (which I did).

/end of service message

22 Brive1987 December 1, 2014 at 11:29 am

Theo has gone down in Nugent history:

“Like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Harvey Milk, hell … lets bring this up to date: Rebecca Watson!”

Next day Nelson died of shame.

23 HH December 1, 2014 at 12:57 pm

On the travelling community in Ireland.

I lived for many years in a town in Ireland that has a very large community of travellers and in other towns where they would frequently set up halting sites (think campsite).

While I do not wish to generalise the entire community, I have witnessed on innumerable occasions the reasons why many communities groan when travellers arrive. Their portrayal as some poor discriminated against group is only half the story. I am not suggesting that travellers do not face discrimination or that they are generally bad people. Their community is however, in my experience, rife with an “us vs them” mentality with regard to the wider Irish population (the settled community). They are not known in Ireland generally as respecters of the law. Some of this view is basic stereotyping but any suggesting it is solely that is just PC optimism.

I can certainly understand the distaste for terms like ‘Knacker’. It is definitely a pejorative term. While there is some truth to the idea that the traveling community is a distinct ‘race’ (some genetic evidence for the claim), the idea of this being a racist term is mostly nonsense as the majority of people don’t really see the travelling community as a distinct race but more as a distinct demographic. As Irish people generally and the Irish travelling community are for the most part visually indistinguishable, it doesn’t make very much sense to see traveller discrimination as racial, in the general sense of practiced racism. It has in my opinion more of a classist form. This isn’t to say that classism is really any better but folk do seem to love any excuse these days to deploy the racist slur. (see Sam Harris on Islam for an example)

For anyone with an interest in such things, the term knacker refers to the colloquial meaning of the original term knacker (A person rendering animals not fit for human consumption). The colloquial term refers to mostly tired out/worn out horses (at least in the Irish “knacker” sense). The travelling community in Ireland still use horse and trap vehicles and the term was in reference to their keeping of horses of less than thoroughbred stock. The term is vastly more commonly deployed against non-travellers as an insult to suggest the person is thuggish, base or unsophisticated but would have its roots in reference to the travelling community and would be seen as an allusion to that community. As such it is a very offensive term to use with a member of the travelling community.

It should be noted that the term “knackered” is still in common use in Ireland and is not a pejorative. It is just a euphemism for being extremely tired and is not related to the travelling community.

24 Steven Carr December 1, 2014 at 1:03 pm

So somebody puts in a different email address for the confirmation email address to the one he put in as the mail email address, and the Slymepit software blocks him registering.

Now , why would it do that?

I’m baffled.

Does anybody have a clue why that registration was not accepted?

It’s way beyond me.

25 GenerallyFading December 1, 2014 at 1:07 pm

“A whole range of IPs is blocked on the Slymepit because they are on a list of spammers.”

I believe Jan Steen answered this? @21?

26 GenerallyFading December 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Sorry, that remark was directed at Steve @ 25.

27 GerardO December 1, 2014 at 1:17 pm

If I were a member of Atheist Ireland, I’d hope that its President would join a party that was the most atheistic full stop, not just the “non-socialist” options. I think you made a good call staying out of politics.

28 Steven Carr December 1, 2014 at 1:21 pm

So it wasn’t blocked because Theophones can’t type in an email address correctly?

Normally, if you do something dumb, like mistyping your email address, you don’t take a screenshot of it and post in on a blog entry, complaining that the software doesn’t accept what you typed.

29 Jan Steen December 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

@Michael,

Even I, no stranger to SJW antics, was surprised to see Theo trying to tar you as a fascists, since this is such an outlandish accusation that anyone with half a functioning brain cell would have realised that it would backfire spectacularly (as in, blow his own head off).

He could not have sounded more out of tune with reality if he had called you a ‘kulak’ or an ‘enemy of the people’ .

It does demonstrate neatly the depths to which SJWs will sink to damage people’s reputations. If they can’t find anything in your private life that they can twist in order to brand you as a harasser or worse, they will just make something up. Look at the pathetic Ophelia Benson, who ineptly flings some poo in your direction, with the only effect of making herself smelly and disgusting. People like her don’t realise that by attacking you in this way they are flushing the last remnants of their reputation within the a/s community down the drain.

In the end, Myers & Co will be left with idiotic smear mongers like Theo and Nerd of Redhead as their only remaining supporters. All decent, reasonable people will have turned their back on them. Leaders and followers are then to be congratulated with this perfect match.

30 Jan Steen December 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm

So it wasn’t blocked because Theophones can’t type in an email address correctly?

No. The reason is given in the red-lettered part of the screen shot, which they apparently didn’t bother to read. Most service providers in Asia are probably on the black list.

31 Crackity Jones December 1, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Ophelia Benson would do well do stay off the topic of Irish politics, given her recent bout of racism.

Theo is a product of the FTB training school in Siberia, where Marxist-Leninist tactics of semantics and double standards are taught to the highest standards. In the real world, we call them out for what they are – disingenuous radicals and bullies.

Anyway, to answer the question: Is PZ Myers sexist? Yes, he is. By his own definition. Just as he provides a safe haven for a rapist and his supporters and defenders by his own definition. Just as he is a rape apologist by his own definition. Oh, and don’t get me started on his tentacle porn obsession….and that allegation of sexual harassment made against him!

32 Phil Giordana FCD December 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Michael, I see no valid reason why you need to give an in-depth explanation about Irish politics to the likes of Theo and friends. They just won’t give a damn and keep spewing their nonsense as long as it serves them.

That said, I am still in awe of your dedication and hope it will come out as something positive for the whole A/S community. Cheers!

33 Southern December 1, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I have a registered account on the Slymepit and from time to time even I get the message that my IP is on some black list or another because of spammers. Since I hail from a country that is source of a considerable share of all spam sent over the world, I never made a big deal out of it. A quick modem reset to refresh my IP and presto.

34 Darby December 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

The FTB crew just loves trying to “prove” that the Slymepit is every bit as censorious and ban-happy as they are. Facts are not their friends.

35 Phil Giordana FCD December 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I had the IP block happen to me once, last year or so. A single mail to Lsuoma and it was fixed within minutes.

No one is pre-banned at the Pit, and an actual ban is extremely rare, stemming only from serious breach of the main policies of the Pit: no doxxing, nothing illegal. The only ban i’m aware of was that of an underage girl somehow jokingly soliciting penis pics from other members. I can’t remember anyone else being banned (Wonderist was limited to a single thread for a while, but it was soon rescinded).

36 jimthepleb December 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I can confirm that I have given my bank details to both Southern and Phil G and neither have given me my share of the wealth from the former king of Nigeria.

37 Carrie December 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

The trouble with Uncharitable Theo and his ilk is that they so much want the smears against Michael to be true. They are really keen to dump him in the trash-basket of those who can be ignored, but he is too sensible and even-handed and the smears can be shown easily to be false.

It is very like the way in which some FtBloggers leap onto anything negative that is reported about people such as RD, even when those reports are in a religious journal and thus obviously biased as well as inaccurate. The fact that they will side with religious reporters when it suits their anti-white-old-male-cis narrative is pretty telling.

38 Carrie December 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

It occurs to me that the FtBully crowd have got stuck in a very unpleasant place, one where the world is pretty much full of hate and outrage. Most posts there seem to be about how horrible some person or group is, and relatively few about the good work that is done by humanists or other groups. I am glad that there are positive places such as Michael’s and Jerry Coyne’s blogs, plus some really inspiring youtubers and, of course, the Slymepit.

Dawkins’ site used to be a favourite of mine but I find it hard to navigate now — I suppose they are aiming for a younger, more diverse readership now. Ah, for the good old days of Usenet and ftp downloads… *wanders off babbling to self*

39 Shatterface December 1, 2014 at 5:27 pm
40 Tigzy December 1, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Skepsheik @ comment 12:

You know, it’s kinda galling – and a bit funny, I admit – to see Ophelia Benson and Josh Spokegay sneering together over Michael’s refusal to name names as regards certain allegations. You see, a while ago, Ophelia Benson published a blogpost about a mystery groper who had been indecently assaulting women at Skeptics In The Pub events. She herself did not name the mystery groper, though I don’t recall if this was by design or that she honestly didn’t know who it was at that time. But that was before something…well, something unexpected happened in the comments section.

You see, someone who was actually involved with the situation eventually ventured into Ophelia’s comments section and dropped some not-very-subtle hints as to the identity of this mystery groper. In fact, these hints were so not-very-subtle that it was pretty much as good as naming names. And the name so named was – well, let’s just say that this was NOT the sort of person against whom one should make allegations lightly.

And what did Ophelia do? Yes, the same Ophelia who likes to sneer at Michael for maintaining the principle of innocent-before-proven-guilty? Why, Ophelia went on a mass deleting spree of all those posts where the mystery groper was as good as named. I was reading B&W at the time, and it was pretty damn amusing to see the comments section get so thoroughly purged in so short a space of time – even though I sympathised with Ophelia’s predicament completely.

After all, one should not make such allegations when there is little but hearsay to back them up. Especially when the person so named could have quite easily taken Ophelia and FTB both to the cleaners as a result. 😀

41 Steersman December 1, 2014 at 7:36 pm

HH (#23):

HH: While I do not wish to generalise the entire community, I have witnessed on innumerable occasions the reasons why many communities groan when travellers arrive. Their portrayal as some poor discriminated against group is only half the story.

Good point. My impression is that many minorities are frequently authors – or at least co-authors – of at least some of their own misfortunes, and that it helps neither them nor the larger community to be handling them with kid gloves – which in this case means levelling an insult where appropriate (maybe in response to one from one of them, or where one of them was being particularly obnoxious), one which might be “racist” if directed at the whole minority, but which might well be applicable if directed at an individual. As a case in point, consider this article (1) from Cathy Young – one of the more sensible and balanced commentators on the American (and international) scene – which addresses some of the factors underlying the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri:

Cathy Young: Beyond the specifics of the Ferguson situation, there is the bigger issue of the relationship between the police and the black community—actually, a tangled web of difficult issues. ….

Yet surely white liberals like The New Republic’s Julia Ioffe sound no less smug when they lecture blacks who condemn self-destructive behavior in their community on the perils of “self-flagellation” and “preaching respectability.” And both liberals and libertarians can easily forget that, as grave a problem as police brutality is, violent crime takes a horrific toll on low-income minorities—not only because it hurts its immediate victims and strips others of their sense of safety, but because it ravages neighborhoods and businesses and perpetuates the poverty trap. ….

At the same time, no amount of reform can completely eliminate racial tensions around law enforcement as long as African-Americans are disproportionately involved in crime. ….

Moot point though, of course, whether “Frank” was targeting the entire community, or just a smallish sub-segment of it. Or whether he had justifiable criticisms of at least the latter.

HH: While there is some truth to the idea that the traveling community is a distinct ‘race’ (some genetic evidence for the claim), the idea of this being a racist term is mostly nonsense as the majority of people don’t really see the travelling community as a distinct race ….

Generally agree with you there as well, and expect that your “classist” might be a more accurate term. Although “stereotypist” (2) might be even more so as it seems broader, and emphasizes or suggests the frequently erroneous judging of an entire group on the basis of an attribute or feature of some sub-segment of it. However, somewhat in passing, it seems generally accepted (3) that stereotypes are quite frequently an accurate portrayal of at least some portions of a demographic or community; seems to me that whenever one is used there should be some effort made to decide whether it is applicable or not, and to not automatically assert that it qualifies as racism, or as sexism – as many “feminists” are wont to do.

—-
1) “_http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/08/22/ferguson_beyond_black_and_white_123739.html”;
2) “_http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Stereotypist”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype”;

42 Shatterface December 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Have you got any links for that, Tygzy? It sounds intriguing.

43 Aheydis Vaakenjab December 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm

You know what would start to mend some fences? If Theo would actually have the intestinal fortitude to apologize for his ridiculous attempt at conflating the real MN with the one s/he’s decided to concoct.

Of course, humility and reason do not run deep at FtB. Again, good job Michael, keep up the civility (and so too should all commenters here). It’s become apparent to many that FtB is not the place for people to read when it comes to atheists actually promoting atheism any longer. It has become an absolute laughing stock of the online atheist community.

44 Shatterface December 1, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Theo’s a minor player, though symptomatic of everything wrong at FTB.

If he apologised there’d still be dozens like Ariel, Tony! the Queer Wotzit, Sally Strange and the rest to take his place.

Ultimately it’s down to Myers and Benson to admit they’re wrong.

45 Aheydis Vaakenjab December 1, 2014 at 8:27 pm

@shatterface #44

Hmm.. true, but sometimes it takes a courageous person from the bowels of an in-group culture like FtB and the horde to stand up and do something completely out of their character – like tell the truth and to actually correct themselves when caught smearing people.

I can sympathize with those in the horde who are now so deep in the centre of the feeding frenzies who are incapable to stand up and say “Sorry, I was wrong” as it is a humbling experience to admit error. It’s a humbling experience to admit that what you did was wrong and hurt people.

Now of course the M.O. of the horde is to tar someone with a blatant smear and then attack the caricature of that person until they’ve convinced themselves that the evildoer is indeed from Mars. It takes a strong willed person to stop the cycle of abuse. I highly doubt our friend Theo is that person.

46 BlueShift Rhino December 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

If only there were a group of people who could explain to Theo and PZ how easy it is to make an apology. I’ve searched for such, and all I came up with was a pile of comments on a website called “freethoughtblogs” in a bunch of threads about some scientist in an odd shirt. Many of these commenters (some with quite familiar names) went so far as to suggest that apologizing is really quite simple and not something that requires or reflects honor or bravery, because it’s so easy. Oh, well. I’ll keep looking. Maybe I’ll find something closer to home for them.

47 Phil Giordana FCD December 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

“Ultimately it’s down to Myers and Benson to admit they’re wrong.”

Good luck with that. I think it has never ever been witnessed before.

48 Shatterface December 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

From the story Tigzy references:

34: Ophelia Benson says
September 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm
Giliell – I know. I was trying to explain that to Tracy King earlier. It’s just not…rewarding to name names. Look what happened about the camera-upskirt guy – people screamed the place down that he was being slandered and it was an outrage yadda yadda yadda. There were several witnesses, but noooooooo, that wasn’t good enough.
So why the fuck would anybody name anyone?

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/09/getting-disturbingly-touchy-feely-with-women/

49 Phil Giordana FCD December 1, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Ah, yes, Monopod Guy. That was a really pathetic episode, especially as the poor guy stated the con he attended yearly was his social highlight and now he wouldn’t attend it anymore out of fear and discomfort. All accusations against him were made out of paranoia and without proof. Of note, this paranoia was probably in great part due to the utter nonsense spewed by SJWs such as Watson and Benson about convention harassment and sexual assaults.

That one episode actually made me sad and angry.

50 MosesZD December 1, 2014 at 8:33 pm

I see the “SlymePit” banning graphic. Did he bother to read it? The reason was in red — the ISP and/or region is a haven for spammers and the board is set up to not allow people from those ISPs register.

I’m sure if the person really wanted to register, instead of pretending they were actually banned, they could contact the systems administrator.

51 Gerhard December 1, 2014 at 9:09 pm

I’m sure if the person really wanted to register, instead of pretending they were actually banned, they could contact the systems administrator.

Or just refresh their dynamic IP until they get a good one.

52 Lsuoma December 1, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Lots of FTBers claim preemptive banning when they see that – the leader is the fabulist Avicenna who blogs at A Million Gods on FTB, and who refuses to acknowledge the numerous times people have told him how to get registered.

53 Lsuoma December 1, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Michael

Can you confirm that the screen-shot you posted above has been posted publicly, please?

BTW, from the tagline about Taslima Nasreen in the shot, it’s clear that the shot itself is months old, possible a year or more. I cycle through taglines pretty regularly, and the TN has been history for a long time.

54 Steersman December 1, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Lsuoma (#53):

“Fexbolt” himself did so on Pharyngula some 2 weeks ago:
“_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/10/07/turning-over-a-rock-and-exposing-slime-to-the-light/comment-page-1/#comment-879770″

55 John Greg December 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Phil G said:

“Ultimately it’s down to Myers and Benson to admit they’re wrong.”

Good luck with that. I think it has never ever been witnessed before.

Actually, interestingly enough, PZ did once state that he was wrong. It was over the pink and blue bunnies fiasco. Peez first posted something saying that he thought people who were up in arms over pink and blue bunnies, and the evil sexism and especially misogyny therein, were overreacting and being silly. Then his Horde of Intellectual Superstars dragged him through the coals, and he recanted, and changed his tune, telling the Horde that Yes, indeed, he was wrong, and pink and blue bunnies are not only sexist, not only misogynistic, but wrong, evil, and just plain disgusting too.

Only in PeeZusville can one find such SciFi loopdeeloos.

56 John Welch December 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Then there was the time that PZ showed he knew nothing about LED lights or engineering or what it’s like living in a region without reliable electrical power.

Took a while, but the people with the knowledge got him to admit he was full of crap.

As far as theo goes, that’s just what he’s always done. If he likes you, you can do no wrong. If he doesn’t, you can do no right. It’s purely based on ideology, and he was one of the early people who got me to see just how like Scientology the FTB/Skepchicks lot are.

57 Phil Giordana FCD December 1, 2014 at 10:26 pm

It would be nice if Myers and friends admitted to being wrong about something of importance, and not pink bunnies or LED. Say, something like accusing a prominent Irish Atheist of providing a haven for rapists.

I don’t think we’ll see that in our lifetime, unless some kind of court order pushes it.

58 Crackity Jones December 1, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Tigzy,

Shiver me timbers. I’d forgotten about that! But now I remember. The “groper”, apparently someone who Ophelia likes and admires, sounds like a commoner who has married into the Royal Family! I also remember the victim of his gropes, and she was bloody angry about it.

What’s up Ophelia? Somebody cut your tongue?

59 Crackity Jones December 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Can I just say it is a pleasure reading Coyne and his commentators reduce PZ Myers and his “horde” into tear-filled little imps who are stamping their tiny feet in frustration.

“Words fail me” – PZ Myers. LOL.

60 Pogsurf December 1, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Steersman makes a strange claim at #41:

My impression is that many minorities are frequently authors – or at least co-authors – of at least some of their own misfortunes, and that it helps neither them nor the larger community to be handling them with kid gloves – which in this case means levelling an insult where appropriate (maybe in response to one from one of them, or where one of them was being particularly obnoxious), one which might be “racist” if directed at the whole minority, but which might well be applicable if directed at an individual.

It amounts to saying that ‘levelling an insult where appropriate’ ‘helps’ an individual from a minority or their wider community. He then quotes Cathy Young as a ‘case in point’, yet I cannot find an insult in the passage he quotes.

Perhaps Steersman can elaborate how insulting people from minority groups ‘helps’ them?

61 Phil Giordana FCD December 1, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Steersman is an idiot when it comes to certain topics. Smart guy otherwise, but there are some places you don’t want to go when having a discussion with him.

62 piero December 1, 2014 at 11:11 pm

@Pogsurf:

Steersman has this… er, idiosyncratic theory whereby a racist insult hurled at a single person is not — or rather, may not be — racist. So far nobody has been able to fathom the essence of his argument, but I take it to mean that if you call a travelling person a “knacker,” that person should take it as equivalent to “you are behaving exactly as predicted by prejudice, thus validating it; don’t do it.”

63 Lsuoma December 1, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Thanks, Steersman.

64 Steersman December 1, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Piero (#62):

So far nobody has been able to fathom the essence of his argument, but I take it to mean that if you call a travelling person a “knacker,” that person should take it as equivalent to “you are behaving exactly as predicted by prejudice, thus validating it; don’t do it.”

Give the man a cigar – at least a small one. 😉 Basically, that gets the “essence” of it while missing a crucial detail, i.e., as mentioned, stereotypes are frequently an accurate synopsis or thumbnail sketch of at least some segment of a population. Bad form to insist that it necessarily applies to all members – qualifies as stereotyping of one sort or another: e.g., racism, sexism, classism – but making an assertion that it applies to a sub-segment can frequently be justified, and therefore doesn’t qualify as “prejudice”.

65 piero December 2, 2014 at 12:22 am

@Steersman:

I have this creepy feeling that I might agree with you. But I wouldn’t confess it neither to myself nor to anyone else. Ever.

66 Kim December 2, 2014 at 12:45 am

Jan Steen #30

No. The reason is given in the red-lettered part of the screen shot, which they apparently didn’t bother to read. Most service providers in Asia are probably on the black list.

I share the same SE Asian location as Theophontes and had no problems registering a few months ago or accessing The Slymepit since then. I use the most popular ISP here, that has previously suffered from being associated with spammers (but that is most ISPs around here). I understand that those who use some common Chinese VPN exit points have blanket bans on some platforms.

TL:DR I suspect the reason Theo got that screen is more complex than basic geolocation IP address sniffing.

67 Pogsurf December 2, 2014 at 12:49 am

How would the person from a minority spot the benevolent insulter’s words amongst all the bigotted insults they might receive? Wouldn’t it be simpler, avoiding a morally dubious move, to make the argument without using an insult?

68 JetLagg December 2, 2014 at 12:49 am

Greta Christina apologized once that I’m aware of. It was pointed out to her that the poll she was citing, showing there was no gender disparity in atheism, was an outlier, and in fact the gender disparity in atheism presents across cultures. The majority of her apology was spent bragging that she had the guts to apologize (unlike her opponents), but I suppose it still counts.

69 Aneris ✻ December 2, 2014 at 12:54 am

Steersman, however there are analogies and other things in play as well, which you ignore. For example, who uses stereotypes in which contexts and that will rub off into the connotations of these terms. When the term “nosepicker” is always brought up by judgmental teachers and used to excoriate ginger haired pupils, then the term “nosepicker” will soon be associated with that circumstance and the people who utter “nosepicker” in some sense become like jugmental teachers picking on gingers.

And here is Douglas Hofstadter in “Analogy as the Core of Cognition”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8m7lFQ3njk

And I recall this idea was discussed before here…
_michaelnugent.com/2014/11/06/on-satire-sea-lions-civility-and-smears/#comment-1240855

70 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 12:59 am

Give the man a cigar – at least a small one. Basically, that gets the “essence” of it while missing a crucial detail, i.e., as mentioned, stereotypes are frequently an accurate synopsis or thumbnail sketch of at least some segment of a population.

I think it’s possible that some individuals might represent the worst aspect of their stereotype; Steersman, for instance, seems to go out of his way to make aspies look like we have the social skills of a gibbon.

71 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 1:22 am

Pogsurf (#60):

Perhaps Steersman can elaborate how insulting people from minority groups ‘helps’ them?

Good question, one that I had thought that no one would ever ask, particularly given the “meta” warning “by the sick bed of Culchullain”. 😉

But a somewhat convoluted situation and answer required. However, the simple answer is that people who walk around with a chip on their shoulders, who take inordinate support from their “gang”, who insist on “wrapping themselves in a flag”, tend to wind up running into people who are only too happy to knock it off – with or without justification and social support. And a case in point is Mike Brown who apparently thought that he could “fight the law and win”, something that he was somewhat sadly disabused of – to both his disadvantage and to many others in his community.

And as additional cases in point, you may recollect the discussion, which I seem to remember you took part in, over some shenanigan of Jen McCreight’s where it was argued, if I remember correctly, that her father was inordinately defensive about criticisms of his little “princess”. Seems to me that the conclusion was that far too many parents attempt to shield their kids from the vicissitudes of life which generally doesn’t do them any favours. And, for your viewing pleasure, you might take a gander at these YouTube videos: Chris Rock – How not to get your ass kicked by the police (1), and Man slaps girl on NYC Train (2). Seems to me that, as those videos suggest, there are a rather large number of blacks and women who go out their way to provoke a response on the misplaced assumption that they’re immune; they probably shouldn’t be surprised if they get more than they bargained for. And that a well-placed insult can be the proverbial “ounce of prevention”.

But, there is, as mentioned, the larger issue of the effect that that “mollycoddling” (3) has on the larger community – the piper eventually has to be paid, with interest. You might also take a gander at this recent “outburst” (4), and review Cathy Young’s argument that the black community has, in general, contributed to its own misfortunes.

——
1) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR465HoCWFQ”;
2) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W60qU2HxV1k”;
3) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mollycoddle”;
4) “_http://uk.businessinsider.com/joe-scarborough-just-went-on-an-epic-tirade-about-ferguson-2014-12”;

72 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 1:25 am

Piero (#65):

Your secret is safe with me …. :-)

73 Pogsurf December 2, 2014 at 1:31 am

Sorry Steersman, that just looks like a complete load of old cobblers to support an indefensible position, to me.

74 JetLagg December 2, 2014 at 1:40 am

Have to agree with Pogsurf, even while agreeing with some of the criticisms of the black community you cited. I’m not following at all how you get from there to justifying the use of a racial slur.

75 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 1:43 am

Pogsurf (#73):

Have actually read those posts by Cathy Young, and Business Insider? Watched those two videos? Reflected closely on the implications of HH’s comment (#23) about “the travelling community”? Seems to be bad form and unwise, not to mention exhibiting a dearth of skepticism, to be uncritical about the claims of any community. Seems to me there’s frequently some benefit in “bringing up short” people who dogmatically and obnoxiously insist on them – insults of one sort or another frequently being the instrument of choice.

76 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 1:55 am

JetLagg (#74):

Seems that you are assuming that terms such as “nigger”, and “knacker” are necessarily “racial slurs”. Seems to be “begging the question” to insist on that interpretation.

But it seems that they are, frequently, a reflection of, or label for, various discreditable stereotypes. Not sure what they might consist of, particularly in the latter case, but I note that Wikipedia (1) helpfully describes several dozen of them for blacks. Although it is maybe moot the extent to which the first epithet can be used to suggest some or all of those dozens.

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

77 JetLagg December 2, 2014 at 2:03 am

Whether or not you agree with me calling what is overwhelmingly considered a racial slur a “racial slur” is besides the point. I was saying you haven’t adequately defended the position that calling a black person a nigger could somehow be helping them. You brought up some criticisms of the black community, and I’ve stated I even agree with some of them.

How, exactly, does that justify the use of the word?

78 john welch December 2, 2014 at 2:03 am

at least in the US, and probably western europe, you’d have a very hard time explaining how “nigger” isn’t a racial slur. Even in an educational context, it’s a racial slur. You may be talking about the word itself, but that doesn’t de-slur it.

79 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 2:08 am

Shatterface (#70):

I think it’s possible that some individuals might represent the worst aspect of their stereotype; Steersman, for instance, seems to go out of his way to make aspies look like we have the social skills of a gibbon.

Well, I might quibble with you about your conclusion – i.e., that I have the social skills of a gibbon – but I’m happy to see that you too are, apparently, willing to concede the premise, the principle, that there is some variation in the degree to which people represent or reflect the various stereotypes which may be applicable to a particular group. 😉

80 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 2:21 am

JetLagg: Have to agree with Pogsurf, even while agreeing with some of the criticisms of the black community you cited. I’m not following at all how you get from there to justifying the use of a racial slur.

Steersman’s position is quite simple: calling black people ‘niggers’ teaches them not to get uppity so cops won’t have to shoot them. He knows this from YouTube.

Steersman: Seems that you are assuming that terms such as “nigger”, and “knacker” are necessarily “racial slurs”. Seems to be “begging the question” to insist on that interpretation.

In your Humpty Dumpty world language might work that way but if your carers let you out occasionally reality might teach you a different lesson.

But it seems that they are, frequently, a reflection of, or label for, various discreditable stereotypes. Not sure what they might consist of, particularly in the latter case, but I note that Wikipedia (1) helpfully describes several dozen of them for blacks. Although it is maybe moot the extent to which the first epithet can be used to suggest some or all of those dozens.

It doesn’t matter how much a black person acts like the stereotype in your head, it still wouldn’t make them ‘niggers’, nor do Irish travellers become ‘knackers’ even if they live up to your worst expectations.

81 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 2:35 am

Not sure what they might consist of, particularly in the latter case, but I note that Wikipedia (1) helpfully describes several dozen of them for blacks.

I’m just wondering how fucked your brain has to be to read a Wikipedia article on stereotypes of black people and conclude Wiki was being ‘helpful’ by providing categories you can assign black people to.

It’s an entirely new dimension of wrong.

82 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 3:01 am

Shatterface (#81):

Rather odd way of looking at knowledge – you would burn books that featured, for examples, torture devices and bomb-making because someone might get some dangerous ideas?

But, in the interests of balance and equity, you might take a look at these articles: Stereotypes of Americans (1); Stereotypes of South Asians (2); 11 Stereotypes About the British That Are Actually True (3); and National Stereotypes (4).

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_Americans”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotypes_of_South_Asians”;
3) “_http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/14/british-stereotypes_n_5461440.html”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_stereotypes”;

83 JetLagg December 2, 2014 at 3:03 am

Steers, what are you even talking about? Where did Shatterface suggest they’d like the wiki to be deleted (burned, whatever)?

84 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 3:34 am

JetLagg (#83):

If it is not “helpful” then what value do you think he would put on that information? And if he thinks there is none, or is actively negative or harmful, then what do you think he would recommend doing with it? As someone said about the plot of murder mysteries, “if you buy a gun in the first act then you have to use it by the third”: some value in thinking what are the consequences of a particular philosophy or position or course of action.

85 John Greg December 2, 2014 at 4:06 am

Cripes all mighty, people. I warned yez, I warned yez.

/shakes finger of old people’s tsk-a-tsk

Chat with Steers about the word nigger at your peril. He’s deaf, dumb, and blind to anything, and I do mean anything about that word other than his own very twisted, totally unsupported interpretation.

Let’s all just be wise little Mickey Nugenteers, and quietly ignore Steers until he goes away. At least on this topic anyway.

OK?

OK.

86 JetLagg December 2, 2014 at 4:08 am

That seems an obvious false dichotomy. Shatteface wasn’t saying the existence of the information was itself somehow not helpful, or worthy of censorship. They were saying the conclusions you drew from it were whack. That’s a position I happen to share.

87 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 4:52 am

JetLagg (#86):

Shatterface wasn’t saying the existence of the information was itself somehow not helpful, or worthy of censorship. They were saying the conclusions you drew from it were whack.

That is maybe a reasonable point. Except that the supposedly “problematic” conclusion, in his view, that I had drawn was apparently that it was acceptable to categorize people into different behaviour patterns & types, particularly by race or culture. Which is essentially and precisely what all of those Wikipedia articles at least are doing – at least they’re reporting on what has been done. But given the citations and many examples I’ve provided, that view of his doesn’t seem to be particularly tenable.

Again, there is, I think, no problem in differentiating between those types – only in judging all of them by the worst, or best, yardstick.

88 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 5:08 am

JetLagg (#77):

You brought up some criticisms of the black community, and I’ve stated I even agree with some of them.

How, exactly, does that justify the use of the word?

Again, it depends on context. I’m not, in general at least, defending its unqualified use, particularly on vaguely defined or obscure targets. For instance, there’s no point, value, or impact to call Neil deGrasse Tyson or Michael Brown niggers as the latter is, of course, dead while the former probably knows nothing of me, seems not to fall into any of the negative stereotypes I’ve referred to, and hasn’t insulted or offended me in any way that I know of.

Seems that what is missing is both a description of the circumstances under which someone uses those insults, and an answer to the question of their purpose in the first place. While Wikipedia is a little vague on the latter (1), it seems that they are largely ad hominems, “attacks on the person”, which frequently aren’t at all relevant, although sometimes they can be (2). And in which case I’ve found that “tit for tat”, and “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander” can be an effective method of reducing those attacks, particularly for FTBers who are among the most odious of the practitioners of the technique. For instance, consider this exchange (3) I had with one “CaitieCat” who was a “Guest Poster” on Miri’s blog, Brute Reason:

CaitieCat: Sorry, dipstick, I should have said the more official version: Go blow a goat. ….
Steersman: And you are a stupid ignorant fat twat.

Seems far too many on FTB make with the gratuitous insults and think that their interlocutors should slink off into the shadows when being targeted with one, while they themselves are to be protected from any rejoinders. Not a particularly good basis for fruitful discussions – sort of the issue Michael has with PZ – in which case tit-for-tat (4), or “equivalent retaliation”, may be a useful corrective.

Similarly with supposedly racist or classist or “stereotypist” insults: if the conversation has degenerated to gratuitous ad hominems, particularly if the other person’s position is based on a questionable allegiance to a particular group – Sikivu Hutchinson, for example – then there may be some justification for the use of those insults. Although I will concede that there seems to be much less call for that response in talking with various minorities than there is with various “feminists”.

—-
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insult”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem#Types_of_ad_hominem_reasoning”;
3) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/06/11/guest-post-dictionary-arguments-and-why-they-suck/#comment-9357”;
4) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat”;

89 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 7:06 am

John Greg (#85):

Chat with Steers about the word nigger at your peril. He’s deaf, dumb, and blind to anything, and I do mean anything about that word other than his own very twisted, totally unsupported interpretation.

“Totally unsupported”?? Give me a break John – I’ve given literally a dozen or more citations in this thread alone, and probably twice that many on the other recent thread of Michael’s where it’s been discussed (1). And, if I’m not mistaken, no one else has given any on the topic, apart from Kirbmarc’s 2 – which were entirely welcome (2), to support the contrary hypothesis. Seems to me most if not all of “your” support has been “feels” and anecdotes – not particularly credible or tenable.

However, I might in closing – more or less [ 😉 ] – emphasize that my argument is less that “nigger” and the like are not racist slurs intrinsically targeting entire groups, but that that is a frequently self-serving misperception based on the questionable identification of the individual with the group and all other members in it. And that if you accept that as a valid principle or process in the case of “racist” epithets then you should be prepared to accept it for “gendered” epithets like “cunt”.

—-
1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/11/06/on-satire-sea-lions-civility-and-smears/#comment-1239824”;
2) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/11/06/on-satire-sea-lions-civility-and-smears/#comment-1260826”;

90 Jan Steen December 2, 2014 at 7:31 am

While PZ Myers was busy smearing atheists who are more famous than him, Jerry Coyne has written a new book:

Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Versus-Fact-Religion-Incompatible/dp/0670026530

Will PZ now be urged to copy-paste some more of his blog fodder and pretend it is a real book?

But what should the title be?

The Happy Libeller?
PZ’s Best Smears?
Character Assassination for Dummies?
Atheism Plus or How I Tried to Take Over Organised Atheism — and Failed?

91 Jan Steen December 2, 2014 at 7:33 am

Steersman is right, you know.

/ducks

92 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:05 am

Thanks Jan; nice of you to say so even it is, presumably, for ulterior motives … 😉

93 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:14 am

Aneris (#69):

Steersman, however there are analogies and other things in play as well, which you ignore. For example, who uses stereotypes in which contexts and that will rub off into the connotations of these terms.

Not sure which analogies you think I’m ignoring – maybe your robot one from the previous thread which I don’t think I am, although I think it doesn’t address the question of cognitive illusions, of whether there is any justification for the conclusions reached. But I quite agree that context is an important part of the process, and have said so several times I think.

But thanks for the link to Stanford’s lectures, the one by Hofstadter in particular. Been meaning to pick up his book (1) on the topic but time is at a premium these days – the lecture may be a bigger bang for the buck. BTW though, this might be the text for the lecture (2).

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluid_Concepts_and_Creative_Analogies”;
2) “_http://prelectur.stanford.edu/lecturers/hofstadter/analogy.html”;

94 Pogsurf December 2, 2014 at 8:16 am

I can’t agree with John Greg at #85. Leaving offensively wrong assertions unchallenged doesn’t help the discourse, it just leaves the impression that the offensively wrong comments are so widely understood that they must be facts.

Far from wanting to ‘chat’ with Steersman about the word ‘nigger’, I wanted to challenge the assertion that insults have some beneficial effect upon the person or group being insulted. I don’t think he has made any substantive argument to support that point.

His viewpoint seems to be the antithesis of mine. That is that insults can reveal otherwise hidden prejudices in the speaker. The beneficial effect is apparent if you believe the ‘better out than in’ maxim, and only if the speaker understands they are passing no informational content about their target, but instead that they are vocalising some previously hidden grudge in an emotional way.

95 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 8:29 am

Oh, for fucks sake – we have the Horde on the ropes for their racism towards the Irish and Steesman derails the thread yet again to argue it’s okay to call black people ‘niggers’ and shoot the chips off their shoulders.

There’s no ‘hidden’ prejudice behind Steersman’s words, he’s just a racist fuck who speaks for no one but himself.

96 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:35 am

Pogsurf (#94)

I wanted to challenge the assertion that insults have some beneficial effect upon the person or group being insulted. I don’t think he has made any substantive argument to support that point.

I’m not saying that all insults “have some beneficial effect”; I’m saying that it depends very much on the context, on the circumstances – which I’ve elaborated on in some detail and which you seem not to have made any effort to evaluate. I wonder whether you think that things like incarceration, and fines have any effect at all: some people are going to get the picture much quicker than others, and that in the latter case blunter instruments may be required. As the Bible puts it: A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. [Proverbs; 17:10]

[Mine is that] that insults can reveal otherwise hidden prejudices in the speaker.

Sure, that is no doubt true. *In some cases* But a serious stretch, at best, to insist that all cases are created equal. Are you arguing that?

97 Phil Giordana FCD December 2, 2014 at 8:42 am

Steers, maybe you could continue this discussion at the Pit by opening a dedicated thread there? It’s really derailing from the meat of Michael’s OP right now, and I find it rather discourteous.

There are oh so many other things in the OP to discuss beside a racist slur.

98 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:49 am

Shatterface (#95):

Oh, for fucks sake – we have the Horde on the ropes for their racism towards the Irish ….

Really? That looks rather presumptuous or premature. About the most that seems tenable is that someone who has posted a couple of comments on Myers’ blog has made a few potentially racist comments about a rather smallish segment – maybe 1% – of the population of Ireland.

[Steersman’s] just a racist fuck who speaks for no one but himself.

Don’t see that you’ve made any credible effort to prove the first part, much less accomplished it. As for the second part, I see it more as a case of echoing a rather large amount of factual material which neither you nor anyone else, with the possible exception of Kirbmarc and maybe a few others, have done much to actually address much less refute.

99 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

Phil (#97):

That is maybe a good point, although it is past my bedtime so I’m about to retire for the night.

However, in passing, I don’t think you can really say that I’ve prevented anyone from commenting on the OP. In addition, it seems that the question of slurs has some relevance to Michael’s question, “Is PZ Myers sexist”, as well as to the language used by PZ & company which seems of some interest to Michael.

gn

100 Gunboat Diplomat December 2, 2014 at 9:27 am

How nice to wake up to racist apologism in the comments section of michael nugents blog. Not.

101 Phil Giordana FCD December 2, 2014 at 9:29 am

For what it’s worth, I agree with Gunboat Diplomat on that one.

102 Phil Giordana FCD December 2, 2014 at 9:35 am

Although to be clear, this can’t be blamed on anyone other than Steersman. Just in case GD was trying to imply that Michael provides a haven for racism apologists.

103 Jan Steen December 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

@Steerman,

Thanks Jan; nice of you to say so even it is, presumably, for ulterior motives …

Ah, so you ‘get’ sarcasm now? You must have had an upgrade.

104 jimthepleb December 2, 2014 at 10:44 am

I agree with Andy.

105 jimthepleb December 2, 2014 at 10:45 am

Can’t see theo’s response here…am I missing it? Or is MN ‘blocking his ip?’ /joke

106 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

Although to be clear, this can’t be blamed on anyone other than Steersman. Just in case GD was trying to imply that Michael provides a haven for racism apologists.

Nobody agrees with Steersman on this. It would be utterly hypocritical to let his bullshit pass while calling Theo and Frank out on their racism, just as it would be to give Theo and Frank a pass just because Steersman is an utter prick.

107 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 10:51 am

However, in passing, I don’t think you can really say that I’ve prevented anyone from commenting on the OP. In addition, it seems that the question of slurs has some relevance to Michael’s question, “Is PZ Myers sexist”, as well as to the language used by PZ & company which seems of some interest to Michael.

The ‘relevance’ would be, according to your argument, that PZ Myers can’t possibly be accused of making slurs because slurs don’t exist.

In other words you are making an implicit defence of Myers.

108 jimthepleb December 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

Despite the derailing of the last two threads, once by Andy and now by Steersman, this is illustrative of the ‘pits dynamic. Far from being an amorphous mass of quivering misogynists and rapists all singing from the same (secular) hymn sheet, even outside the confines of our natural habitat we will disagree, point out each others foibles and concede points well made by our ‘opponents’. This is in stark contrast to the majority of FtB commenters who rarely step outside the safe zone of Pharyngula and B&W unless posting driveby accusations and smears. GD, Ariel and even dear ole Andy deserve some credit for at least engaging ‘Pitters when the leadership of their little group is far too cowardly to do so. Just be aware pharyngulites that one mispoken word, thought or deed will have you sat on our side of the fence. Whether you agree with us or not.
Not that there is any real US to agree with.
Just be grateful Nec isn’t here.

109 Jonathan December 2, 2014 at 11:21 am

Must admit to a certain amount of surprise that Theo (either the charitable or uncharitable versions) hasn’t responded yet.

110 Phil Giordana FCD December 2, 2014 at 11:39 am

Jonathan: there’s quite a good estimation that at this point, Theo would get their ass handed to them in no short time. I can understand the avoidance. I can’t understand how they manage to look at themselves in a mirror every morning, though.

111 permanentwiltingpoint December 2, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I stayed clear of these discussions until now – maybe because I’m not a rapist, misogynist or harasser – but I’d like to answer John Greg @55. Myers retracted because it turned out* the artist of that bunny cartoon had indeed assigned the roles for the male and female based on sexist stereotypes (something about women less used to analytic thinking, if I remember correctly).

Minor point, perhaps, but as we learned over the last months, misrepresenting your opponent can fall back on your own feet.

* Or he thought it turned out, it might have been a misrepresentation by the commenter quoting the artist, though I don’t think so.

112 Aneris ✻ December 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Small reset…

Michael, thanks for keeping at it!

Michael Nugent wrote: This, folks, is the downside of the Internet. And civilised society has yet to figure out how to deal with it. […] Today PZ and others can spread their smears globally at the click of a mouse button, and Theo and others will uncritically pass them on faster and wider than it is possible to correct them.

What we haven’t yet adequately addressed that these people aren’t seeing their actions as “smearing” and appear to have no concept what is meant by it. They use the word themselves where it means everything from argumentum ad hominem to insult, yet hardly what it is commonly understood by it. Ophelia Benson prefers the word “libel” which appears to mean “disagree with my lived experience” which is in line with her unorthodox definition of “harassment” which appears to mean “has posted disagreement with me on a place that I am likely to read, which entails my twitter timeline, comments on my blog and the slymepit”.

They also appear to have severe difficulties in grasping why everyone not them is so troubled with what they do. PZ Myers and others maintain that they provide merely “mild criticism” and they only wanted you (and e.g. Richard Dawkins) to “listen” to them.

I would like to not drop another essay and am interested in your thoughts on the matter. I think that three items from the headline “Atheism, Reason, Skepticism” are rejected or challenged by them and see postmodernist undercurrents as a reason for it. With those conflicts largely ignored (we only look at the surface forever apparently unwilling to dive into what’s going on here) “happiness” is not on the list anytime soon.

Let’s begin here: how come that FreeThoughtBlog people appear utterly unable to comphrehend where someone else is coming from? Is this assessment adequate?

113 piero December 2, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Theophontes said:

@ Fexbolt – I once found it strange that your nemesis has been padding out his blog with slymepitters. The pieces of the jigsaw are all slowly falling into place.

The pieces of the jigsaw? Theo seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that somehow the presence of pitters here was a coordinated move. Well, it wasn’t. I registered at the Slymepit after Michael published his first expose of Myers, because I appreciated the reasonableness of the pitters’ arguments, especially when compared with those from the likes of Theophontes, Tony!, Nerd and Sally Strange.

To suggest that the Slymepit membership can carry out coordinated actions of any kind is just laughable. For every two ‘pitters there are three to seven opinions. Steersman posts in this thread have unwittingly provided a glaring example.

Theophontes complaint about being blocked has no basis. When I registered, it took me three or four attempts with different IPs in order to get through. Besides, anyone can browse the Slymepit without registering, and post as a guest.

114 Jan Steen December 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Guess who PZ Myers is going after today?

You probably guessed it: Jerry Coyne.

He gets the full treatment: citations in Comic Sans and “Gumby quotes” and strawmanning, lots of strawmanning. No accusations of harassment or of harbouring rapists yet, as far as I can see. Maybe his Flock will cover that angle for him.

That’s what you get when you criticise the mighty PZ Myers.

Nice try Peezus. But Jerry wrote real, influential books and is just about to publish another one. What have you got? The smoking ruins of a reputation.

http://web.archive.org/web/20141202141024/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/12/02/jerry-coyne-is-trying-to-defend-evolutionary-psychology-again/

115 Jan Steen December 2, 2014 at 2:29 pm

@piero,

Besides, anyone can browse the Slymepit without registering, and post as a guest.

Not if your IP is blocked. Then you can’t even browse the site. Strange but true. I noticed this myself when I was in Indonesia.

116 Pogsurf December 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I will give Steersman credit for something at #96. His thesis that insults form part of the activities of the Ministry of Justice, is original, even if entirely implausible.

I’m happy to take this discussion to any other forum, to prevent any further derail.

117 Gerhard December 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Talking of smears, does anyone have any clue as to why Myers called Reap Paden a racist? I was always under the impression that it was a totally unwarranted accusation. Am I wrong?

118 Phil Giordana FCD December 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Gerhard @117: no you’re not. Such accusations are so common in SJW circles, they have become useless. Racist is the new orange, or whatever.

119 piero December 2, 2014 at 2:59 pm

@Jan Steen:

Not if your IP is blocked. Then you can’t even browse the site. Strange but true. I noticed this myself when I was in Indonesia.

That’s weird. Didn’t happen to me: I could browse the forum, but couldn’t register at first. Perhaps there are different levels of protection for different IP ranges. If that’s the case, the admins have seriously underrated us Italians’ penchant for mischief…

120 piero December 2, 2014 at 3:20 pm

@Aneris:

Let’s begin here: how come that FreeThoughtBlog people appear utterly unable to comphrehend where someone else is coming from? Is this assessment adequate?

Perfectly adequate, judging from my own experience. For a time I was the equivalent of a SJW, only in more explicitly Marxist terms. When an overarching ideology permeates every facet of life, it becomes extremely difficult to take a step back and look at our thoughts from outside. In my case, the turning point was the realisation that I actually liked bourgeois culture and stopped pretending I didn’t.

121 Lancelot Gobbo December 2, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Aneris wrote:
Let’s begin here: how come that FreeThoughtBlog people appear utterly unable to comphrehend where someone else is coming from? Is this assessment adequate?

Doesn’t this go directly to Michael’s point about being charitable? In order to be charitable one has to have some empathy, sympathy and be able to put oneself in another’s shoes. Perhaps the defect comes from the ‘othering’ in which they indulge, limiting the ability to extend charitable interpretation to the out-group?

122 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Let’s begin here: how come that FreeThoughtBlog people appear utterly unable to comphrehend where someone else is coming from? Is this assessment adequate?

Basically, a lack of empathy in the proper sense of the word rather than some woolly synonym for ‘sympathy’.

They’re all about the ‘feelings’ rather than understanding.

123 Jack Rawlinson December 2, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Basically, a lack of empathy in the proper sense of the word rather than some woolly synonym for ‘sympathy’.

They’re all about the ‘feelings’ rather than understanding.

They’re all about their feelings, and the feelings of those they decide are worthy cases. They don’t give a damn about the feelings of those deemed to be in the out group, and they make this easy to deal with via demonisation tactics. I mean, it’s okay not to give a damn about the feelings of rapists, misogynists, racists and fascists, right? So their method is to trump up bogus reasons to tar their critics with those labels and then have at it with gleeful and unrepentant abandon.

124 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Guess who PZ Myers is going after today?

You probably guessed it: Jerry Coyne.

He gets the full treatment: citations in Comic Sans and “Gumby quotes” and strawmanning, lots of strawmanning. No accusations of harassment or of harbouring rapists yet, as far as I can see. Maybe his Flock will cover that angle for him.

That’s what you get when you criticise the mighty PZ Myers.

Nice try Peezus. But Jerry wrote real, influential books and is just about to publish another one. What have you got? The smoking ruins of a reputation.

He’s gone after Carl Sagan recently too.

He’s finally run out of living people to hate.

Once he’s finished defiling the dead he’ll turn on mythological figures and the voices he hears when he tunes his radio to static.

125 Matt Cavanaugh December 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm

@ Jan

Myers talks out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to EP, especially sex dimorphism.

In his latest post, PZ says:
‘Men and women look different in grand and subtle ways. Some of those differences were almost certainly selected for. Again, I don’t know anyone who denies that….”

Yet in September, he twittered:
“The biological differences in behavior are poorly supported by…biology [….]Culture is the major factor.”

“Women have ovaries; men have testicles. No argument. The question is about cognitive abilities. That’s not likely.”

But when admonished by a trans twitterer that:
“Biological sex” is a socially constructed illusion and not a scientific reality derived from research”

PZ caved, tossed his own field, Biology, under the bus and agreed:
“Yep. Not a black&white division even in reproductive biology.”

Numerous other examples exist, of which I’ll be writing shortly (but cf. HJ Hornbeck’s presentation denying the existence of biological sex in humans, part of the online Conference PZ organized last year.)

Whatever competency in science PZ Myers once may have had, it is now nearly completely eroded by his slavish devotion to PoMo/SJW dogma. There are valid criticisms of the field of EP. But Myers’ strawmanning of it is asinine, his opposition politically motivated. There are however, no valid, scientific criticisms to the existence of sexes in homo sapiens.

126 Blueshift Rhino December 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm

You know, it really take balls for a biologist to agree, in public, that “biological sex is a socially constructed illusion and not a scientific reality.”

Oh, wait….

127 Jan Steen December 2, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Myers also attacked Richard Feynman not so long ago. No misogynist dudebro, dead or alive, is safe from him. I hear Isaac Newton wasn’t exactly Mr. Nice Guy either. But in his case it was more misanthropy in general, I think, so he may get a pass from the Witchfinder General.

But how about Archimedes? Was he clear? Did Peezus apply his E-meter to him already?

128 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 6:30 pm

In fairness, Newton was an arsehole.

Pierre de Fermat burnt a priest to death so he might get a free pass from PZ ‘from hell’s heart, I stab at thee!’ Myers.

129 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Aneris (#112):

Let’s begin here: how come that FreeThoughtBlog people appear utterly unable to comprehend where someone else is coming from? Is this assessment adequate?

A good question on which several have made some useful observations. Question of empathy and mirror neurons I think, although there is also the question of the “hardware” involved – manifested by cognitive illusions such as “the spinning dancer” (1).

However, and maybe along the same line, one might justifiably argue that “we” are somewhat guilty of that – of being “unable to comprehend where someone else is coming from” – as well. For instance, many of “them” seem quite adamant that the use of “gendered” epithets – “cunt” in particular – is clearly analogous (2) to the use of “racist” epithets like “nigger”: i.e., the use of the terms as an insult of one individual in the “class” is an insult, an “offense”, to all others in the “class”.

If “we” are so ready, willing, and able to grant the claim in the case of “nigger” then why are “we” unable to “comprehend” that “they” are “coming from” the same place with “cunt”?

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_Dancer”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogy”;

130 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Pogsurf (#116):

I will give Steersman credit for something at #96. His thesis that insults form part of the activities of the Ministry of Justice, is original, even if entirely implausible.

Not a particularly credible – or charitable or even fair – interpretation.

131 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Steersman, you have been asked politely to take your dumbass argument elsewhere.

132 Blueshift Rhino December 2, 2014 at 7:33 pm

As much as I do not wish to encourage this, I must say that I see Steersman’s point and anyone arguing that “cunt” is OK at least some of the time, but that “nigger” is never OK, is in serious need of either a new irony/hypocrisy meter or a much better explanation of how these two words are qualitatively different.

To the extent that this is vaguely related to the offensiveness of “Cream Crackers,” carry on. But keep in mind that – to me, at least – all you are doing is carrying on.

133 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Matt Cavanaugh (#125):

PZ caved, tossed his own field, Biology, under the bus and agreed:
“Yep. Not a black & white division even in reproductive biology.”

Bit of a stretch to insist that “not a black & white division” is tantamount to tossing his own field of Biology under the bus – some demonization there methinks.

In any case, while I will readily agree with you that several of “them” – Hornbeck and maybe some trans-activists in particular – have gone off the deep end in insisting that “sex is entirely a social construct”, I hardly think PZ is guilty of that, although he tends to waffle or ignore the implications of his statements. However, it seems quite reasonable to argue, as he apparently does, that “sex” is somewhat of a fuzzy concept, or that the classes are a little fuzzy around the edges. While you might, and apparently do, deal with that rather obvious fact by differentiating between rules and exceptions, the upshot seems virtually identical: “sex” is somewhat of an abstraction and not at all any kind of an absolute. And, it seems to me, to insist that that abstraction has some kind of tangible, measurable, weighable “reality” seems to qualify as reification (1), as failing to differentiate between the label and the substance, between the map and the territory (2).

Maybe some benefit in trying to see “where they’re coming from”? 😉

—–
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(fallacy)”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map%E2%80%93territory_relation”;

134 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Shatterface:

And if I “politely ask” you to give me a thousand dollars then you will readily comply?

135 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Blueshift Rhino (#132):

… I must say that I see Steersman’s point and anyone arguing that “cunt” is OK at least some of the time, but that “nigger” is never OK, is in serious need of either a new irony/hypocrisy meter or a much better explanation of how these two words are qualitatively different.

Ta.

But, somewhat in passing as I don’t wish to belabour the point – overmuch [ 😉 ], I quite agree with you that “qualitatively different” is the crux of the matter, although maybe “quantatively different” is more accurate. In any case, as the question is very much a matter of subjective interpretations (“he said; she said”), it seems that the only way off the horns of that particular dilemma is to consider what might actually be happening underneath our “hoods”, i.e., the linguistic interpretations, and the neurology on which they are presumably predicated. Somewhat apropos, another Stanford YouTube video: Steven Pinker: Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain (1).

——-
1) “_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-B_ONJIEcE”;

136 Blueshift Rhino December 2, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Dude, the way to reward people for publicly agreeing with you is not to make to watch a Steven Pinker video. Just sayin’.

137 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Blueshift Rhino:

Wasn’t obliging you or anyone else to actually watch the video; it was a generic, broadcast, “to whom it may concern or interest” message to emphasize my point.

138 Shatterface December 2, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Steersman: And if I “politely ask” you to give me a thousand dollars then you will readily comply?

I wasn’t asking you for anything that would cost you anything (1).

You are a member of the Pit, it wouldn’t cost you any more effort to type your horseshit there instead of here.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analogies_for_fucktards

139 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Shatterface:

Different audience, greener pastures, unplowed fields, etc.

140 piero December 2, 2014 at 10:54 pm

@Shatterface:

I fell for it: I clicked the link! You little… you. you.

141 piero December 2, 2014 at 10:58 pm

@Steersman:

Different audience, greener pastures, unplowed fields, etc.

Same audience, same plough, same ploughman, etc. Just go to the Pit. Why look for a home away from home when home is closer?

142 Steersman December 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Piero:

Some differences in the audience – not every one here reads the Pit. And with the Internet, every place is pretty much right around the corner.

But, relative to the not-particularly-credible complaint that I’m derailing this thread of Michael’s, I don’t see many burning up the fibers posting cogent and multitudinous analyses, and rejoinders thereto, of the “oh so many other things in the OP to discuss”. Apart, of course, from the many such by “Bhoytony” ….

143 John Greg December 3, 2014 at 3:29 am

Steers, this is not a general interest blog or BBS. It is Michael Nugent’s blog, with this series of posts dedicated to PZ Myers and his various smears and other misdemeanors. It is not dedicated to Steersman’s Unusal Ideas About Racist Epithets.

Please, for the love of all that’s holy or otherwise, stop derailing the conversation and take it the fuck elsewhere.

144 Jack Rawlinson December 3, 2014 at 3:34 am

Yeah, what John Greg just said. Steersman’s derail is quite bizarre, and although I’ve been tempted to tear into it this really is neither the blog nor the post for that, so I’ve restrained myself. I’d suggest others do the same. Posting stuff that is not relevant to the subject at hand and also likely to be inflammatory and derailing is little different from trolling.

145 Blueshift Rhino December 3, 2014 at 4:16 am

Yeah, but there is that old saying: a Steersman a day keep the Andys away.

I’ll see myself out.

146 John Greg December 3, 2014 at 4:18 am

LOL.

147 Greg R. December 3, 2014 at 4:19 am

@143 Indeed, seconded. (Pretty please?)

148 Steersman December 3, 2014 at 5:46 am

John Greg (#143):

It is Michael Nugent’s blog, with this series of posts dedicated to PZ Myers and his various smears and other misdemeanors.

True – quite agree. However, as my first comment (#6) suggests or argues, the “hurt feelings” produced by various insults seem to be central to the actions and policies of PZ and company, as well as to the anti-blasphemy laws that Michael is apparently attempting to forestall or have rescinded, and to things like CFI’s Blasphemy Day. I figure we’re hooped if we allow claims of being offended to shut-down necessary conversations.

In addition, you might note that Michael’s preamble, first section [“Charitable Theo denying that PZ’s behaviour was sexist”], and Summary all call for trying “to judge each other charitably”. And while he makes a credible case that PZ, Theo, Frank, and many others on FTBlogs fail on that score, the other half of the equation is that the call also applies to “us”: can’t expect “them” to step up to the plate if “we” fail to do so ourselves.

Which was sort of my point with my comments to Aneris [#129], and to Matt Cavanaugh [#133], among others. And largely, much of the motivation for my “cunt-nigger” “thesis”, and its elaboration here. You know, of course, that I’ve been gnawing away at that for some time now in the Pit. However, you may not recollect that it started – more or less, and from my own recollection – because the Pit was, mostly, defending the use of “cunt” as an insult in spite of the fact that PZ and company insisted – with some justification; the same as for the claim that “nigger” is necessarily racist – that it was tantamount to egregious sexism. Something you might note that Blueshift Rhino [#132] has largely or essentially agreed with. And Piero [#65] seems to be leaning in that direction, and Carrie [#372] in a previous thread (1) seemed sympathetic to at least some elements of my argument. But, as mentioned, it seems the only way off the horns of that particular dilemma, that case of “Is too! Is not!” (childish, no?), is to actually give – charitably – some thought to WHY people have those types of conflicting views – on that point and many others: the reason I’ve referenced, many times, the spinning dancer illusion.

While I think “we” have the “moral high ground”, although it could be higher, and that we have the more credible arguments, the nature of that beast is that at least some of “them” seem to feel pretty much the same about their positions and arguments. Seems we’re not going to get off that “dime”, that spinning of our wheels into a morass of “he said; she said”, unless we actually give some serious consideration to that call of Michael’s – particularly its relevance to our own behaviours.

Please, for the love of all that’s holy or otherwise, stop derailing the conversation ….

As suggested, I don’t see that that is what I’ve been doing; seems many if not most of my comments have had quite a bit of relevance to the OP.

—–
1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/11/06/on-satire-sea-lions-civility-and-smears/#comment-1247823”;

149 MacGruberKnows December 3, 2014 at 6:24 am

And if trannies don’t completely defeat sex as a black and white issue, otherkins is the deathblow.

150 Steersman December 3, 2014 at 6:48 am

MacGruberKnows (#149):

Yea, the Intersex segment (1) kind of kicks the hell out of the concept of a exhaustive black-and-white division into male & female. Although my (first) impression of “otherkin” (2) is that they are simply deluded at best.

1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otherkin”;

151 Shatterface December 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

I think the Pauli exclusion principle prevents Steersman and Andy posting on the same thread.

I haven’t read Steersman’s last few comments here so I won’t be replying to them. I suggest others do the same.

The conversation has moved on to the Pit. Steersman is welcome to continue there or be ignored here.

152 Jan Steen December 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

Myers’s latest piece contra Jerry Coyne and Evolutionary Psychology provides yet more evidence of PZ’s intellectual dishonesty. I don’t want to discuss Myers’s blatant strawmanning of Evolutionary Psychology now, but will just point out something that is, in the spirit of the OP, obviously uncharitable.

Myers wrote:

There is so much trivial market-driven crap in evolutionary psychology that it swamps out any hypothetically ‘good’ research in the field. If I were doing research on the evolutionary basis of human behavior (I’m not, fortunately), I would run away so fast from the label “evolutionary psychology” that I’d make Kanazawa’s head spin, and he’d have to formulate some story about the distant ancestors of white people having to sprint away from noisy speculating sabre-toothed tigers.

The suggestion here is that this Kanazawa person is apparently considered to be a legitimate researcher in Evo Psych, whose wacky theories have not been disparaged in similar terms by Jerry Coyne and others who defend the field.

But wait. What did Coyne write last year in a post that Myers must have read, as it was largely a critique of one of his attacks on Evo Psych?

Not that it’s all perfect—the “pop” versions [of Evolutionary Psychology], such as those produced by Satoshi Kanazawa, seem pretty dire to me, debasing a field that’s striving for scientific rigor.

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/a-defense-of-evolutionary-psychology-mostly-by-steve-pinker/

You must be lacking some basic integrity to bring up Kanazawa when you are arguing against Jerry Coyne. An honest scientist would never do such a thing.

153 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 11:13 am

” I would run away so fast from the label “evolutionary psychology” that I’d make Kanazawa’s head spin, and he’d have to formulate some story about the distant ancestors of white people having to sprint away from noisy speculating sabre-toothed tigers.”

Sorry, but I can’t parse that one. I’m completely unfamiliar with Kanazawa (or the whole field of EP, for that matter).

Anyway, I think anyone arguing there’s no evolved trait in human psychology is a fool at best, an idiot at worse. not something I’d expect from a biology teacher.

154 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

Hey, my first comment in moderation for, like, a month!

155 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Yep, that’s it. “unfami l i a r” gets your comment into automod. Michael, you may want to fix that.

156 MosesZD December 3, 2014 at 1:10 pm

The most disreputable issue with Myers attacking Coyne and EP through Kanazawa is the field readily denounces Kanazawa and Kanazawa has even been reeled-in by his university. This excerpt from an editorial at Scientific American really does represent the EP field’s disgust with Kanazawa:

Though the post has been removed from the site, you can now see it here. In the post, Kanazawa promises his readers a scientific analysis of public data showing objective evidence of Black women’s status as the least attractive group among all humans. In other words, he promises to wave a magic wand, say “Factor Analysis!” and make racist conclusions appear before your (bluest) eyes.

As it turns out, Kanazawa is a repeat offender, with years of roundly criticized and heartily debunked pseudoscience-based shock-jockery under his belt. Despite this, he is still posting on the blog of a reputable mainstream publication, still teaching at a respected university and still serving on the editorial board of one of his discipline’s peer-reviewed research journals. Though, possibly not for long: this particular post’s racist hypothesis offended many, unleashing serious righteous outrage across the internet: social media users raced to blog, tweet and even petition demanding that Psychology Today remove Kanazawa as a contributor to their Web site and magazine. Psychology Today removed the post late Sunday night, and Monday morning the largest student organization in London (representing 120,000 students) unanimously called for Kanazawa’s dismissal.

The bottom-line is that EP is a relatively new discipline and is working out it’s scientific rigor. But like any new discipline, it’s still going through a feel-out period where ideas and individuals have to be tested for honesty and accuracy in an effort to weed out charlatans and dead-end concepts.

157 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm

So, basically, Kanazawa is a pumped-up version of the SJW ‘big names’ we’re dealing with since 2011? I’ll quote:

” In other words, he promises to wave a magic wand, say “Factor Analysis!” and make racist conclusions appear before your (bluest) eyes.”

Perfect SJWism to me.

158 Carrie December 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I think that, in this thread, what Steersman @ 148 is saying does have relevance. The fact that it is a favourite hobby-horse does not make it irrelevant. I can see good points on both sides of this particular point.

Michael says:

Frank has been conducting a five year on-and-off vendetta against Atheist Ireland generally, and against me personally, ever since he was suspended from the Atheist Ireland forum in 2009 for starting a thread titled “Cream Crackers Marching”. (In Ireland, “Cream Crackers” is rhyming slang for “Knackers”, which is an extremely offensive term for members of the travelling community.) Frank called them freeloaders, and said that “this whole ‘equal rights’ thing is just another way to scam a few freebies.”

Consider someone who is not famil iar with any of this. I, for instance, am not famil iar with rhyming slang. In this area, if you talk about a cream cracker, I think about a square savoury bland biscuit which I would eat with cheese. Yum. So, I am told that it is slang meaning “knackers” which surprises me since, to me, those are the globular items that a vet removes from a tomcat when neutering. It is also similar to the word “knackered” which is how I often describe myself. Rummaging further through my memory, I think of someone whose job is dealing with dead horses etc. But I am informed here — and via my trusty friend Google — that the word is also extremely offensive to travellers in Ireland.

So then I look at the context in which the word is used, and I see “freeloaders” and “this whole ‘equal rights’ thing is just another way to scam a few freebies.” So Frank was definitely using it in an insulting manner against a section of the population. He was being racist against that “out-group”. It is not possible to take any more charitable view of his meaning.

Now, let’s look at words such as cunt and nigger. Cunt is a word which can be used as a term of rough affection between friends, in much the same way as prick or phrases such as “fuck off”. Such words / phrases are only truly offensive if used as part of an abusive tirade or a put-down; they are not meant as a slur against a gender or a sexual act, any more than “arse” or “asshole” are. It is usually possible to tell if the words are being used to truly denigrate others, but it is rare that they are used to put down a whole segment of society and / or in a sexist manner.

I think that “nigger” is rather different. As far as I am aware, for a very long time in most areas it has been an insulting way to refer to people of African ethnicity. As I understand it, the word was simply a corruption of the word Negro, which theoretically should be pretty neutral in the same way as Oriental or Occidental are. I think it is interesting that the word “nigga” which is also descended from “negro” can be acceptable (and is used by black people themselves), but that “nigger” is apparently never so. I do not quite understand all the nuances of this. However, as with “knackers”, it can be pretty clear when the person using the word really is being racist or simply a bit thoughtless.

The trouble with the Uncharitable Theos of this world is that they feel free to insult and abuse others with real smears, whilst taking offence at (for instance) an obscure use of the word “twat” in a cartoon that just happens to be on a linked-to page on a particular day. (For the record, in some areas the word “twat” is not usually associated with a female body part; it is used either to mean “stupid” — as in the case of that cartoon — or instead of the word “hit”.)

Michael’s main message is clear. As he says:

The point of the [previous] post was to ask what would happen if PZ and his colleagues applied the same level of judgment about sexism to PZ’s own behaviour over the years, as they do to behaviour by other people, the most recent example being the shirt worn by Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor?

Or, from the reverse perspective, what would happen if PZ judged others’ behaviour as charitably as he would like others to judge his own behaviour?

and

There is a lot of nonsense on the Internet, some of it hurtful and harmful, and some of it fuelled by prejudice and eagerness to believe defamatory smears. Today PZ and others can spread their smears globally at the click of a mouse button, and Theo and others will uncritically pass them on faster and wider than it is possible to correct them.

I agree with Michael that we should try to judge each other charitably, even though that is hard when others believe the worst about us.

159 Deepak Shetty December 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I am asking him and his colleagues to act ethically consistently when judging others
And I am asking you to treat [alleged named victim] in a consistent manner as [alleged named accused]
But none of that has happened either.

160 JetLagg December 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm

@Deepak

I know I’ll regret asking, but how has Michael treated the two people in question inconsistently?

161 John Greg December 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Carrie said:

Consider someone who is not famil iar with any of this. I, for instance, am not famil iar with rhyming slang. In this area, if you talk about a cream cracker, I think about a square savoury bland biscuit which I would eat with cheese. Yum. So, I am told that it is slang meaning “knackers” which surprises me since, to me, those are the globular items that a vet removes from a tomcat when neutering. It is also similar to the word “knackered” which is how I often describe myself. Rummaging further through my memory, I think of someone whose job is dealing with dead horses etc. But I am informed here — and via my trusty friend Google — that the word is also extremely offensive to travellers in Ireland.

Ha, ha! I just want to say, I love the way you write, and that made my day.

JettLagg said:

@Deepak

I know I’ll regret asking, but how has Michael treated the two people in question inconsistently?

Ya, tell us Deepak. We await with bated breath.

162 John Greg December 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Blcokquote fail. So sorry. Should be:

JettLagg said:

@Deepak

I know I’ll regret asking, but how has Michael treated the two people in question inconsistently?

Ya, tell us Deepak. We await with bated breath.

163 Gerhard December 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm

@Deepak Shetty.

And I am asking you to treat [alleged named victim] in a consistent manner as [alleged named accused]
But none of that has happened either.

Let me guess. Not uncritically accepting the accusation is to side with the accused? Whatever you think of that argument it would only be a pertinent issue here if you could show that Michael would behave differently if the roles of accuser and accused were reversed. He is applying a principle of not propagating unsubstantiated accusations of criminality and you have no evidence that he applies that principle with bias.

164 Darby December 3, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Jetlagg/John Greg:

Probably the usual bullshit conflating confessed child-rapist Ogvorbis with convicted-by-blogger He Who Shall Not Be Named.

165 Steersman December 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Carrie (#158):

I think that, in this thread, what Steersman @ 148 is saying does have relevance.

Thanks Carrie; mind if I quote you thither & yon? (1) 😉

In any case, I quite agree with you, at least to the extent of asserting that I too “don’t understand all of the nuances of this” – but it is an interesting question, and as you suggest, of more than passing relevance. In addition, as I sort of suggested with my reference to CFI’s “Day of Blasphemy” (2) – essentially a manifestation of the oft-quoted argument that “one doesn’t have the right to not be offended” (something apparently honoured more in the breach than the observance in FTB-land), the religious, Muslims in particular, are the worst offenders for taking offense at “reasonable” criticisms, and for perpetrating violence in response. However, I feel, with some evidentiary justification I think, that that case is an extreme example of the argument I made in the previous thread (3), and that you apparently agreed with (#372), at least in part:

Steersman: But I think the point in all of it is the question of whether people should be necessarily getting their knickers in twists if someone else is insulted by a term that references an attribute or bodily feature that they share with the person insulted. Really seems a question of identity politics, and that those who insist on that response are little more than rabble-rousers & demagogues.

And in the case of Muslims, the “attribute shared” amongst the community is their allegiance to, their belief in, Allah and Mohammad. And any criticism of either leads to things like my banning at Islamic Awakening (to a nightmare by the look of their masthead) for “insulting Allah” (4) – at best, or to the murder and mayhem that followed from the publication of some anti-Islam cartoons in Denmark (5) some 10 years ago. But while that seems one of the more extreme cases of “rabble-rousers & demagogues” inciting mob behaviour for the perceived but assumed insults of the entire group, I also argue that the same process occurs when blacks take offense because some other black is insulted by supposedly racist terms like “nigger”, or when women likewise take offense when another woman is insulted by a supposedly sexist term like “cunt”. Kind of curious and somewhat amusing that those who apparently or presumably object to the first or third cases think that the second is not beyond the pale.

But, more particularly, I think that process and perspective has some relevance to the question you posed or suggested of whether Frank was really “being racist against that ‘out-group’ (i.e., travellers)”. Seems a moot point whether he was clearly targeting all travellers – which of course would qualify as “racism” or classism or as simple bigotry as it is unlikely that there aren’t exceptions to any categorical accusation, or whether he was targeting only those who were exhibiting some of the more odious or problematic stereotypes associated with the group – for which there seems to be some justification as HH’s comment (#23) suggests.

In any case, I think those three or four cases are analogous, and that there is some benefit in trying to understand the ramifications of their similarities.

——–
1) “_http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/thither+and+yon”;
2) “_http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/us/02beliefs.html?_r=0”;
3) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/11/06/on-satire-sea-lions-civility-and-smears/#comment-1246569”;
4) “_http://i62.tinypic.com/25ovq8j.jpg”;
5) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy”;

166 Deepak Shetty December 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm

@JetLagg
Oh I know this will spawn the same old stuff – But Michael repeats himself and believes this scores a point (against PZ) so I repeat mine

1) Since he says [named alleged accused] has been “smeared” , the only way that comment makes sense is if you believe [named alleged accused] is innocent (factually, not legally) – i.e. he does not believe [named alleged victim] is telling the truth.
2) Michael is concerned , atleast publically , about the impact discussions of [alleged act] have on [named alleged accused] – going so far as to editing comments to remove the literal name with [named accused] – he is very concerned about the harm the reputation that [alleged accused] might suffer.
He however has shown no indication of why [alleged victim] might have asked Myers to publish the account. What it actually means to [alleged victim] when you actually insist that someone else can’t even report facts. How is it that someone can be so concerned about [alleged accused] but not at all (atleast in his posts) about [alleged victim]

167 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Thanks for completely derailing the thread Steers. I’m quite confident the Pharyngulites are thankful.

168 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Deepak: “alleged” is the key. Are you a skeptic?

169 Darby December 3, 2014 at 9:31 pm

My mistake, Deepak’s “argument” is even dumber.

170 Darby December 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm

@Phil #167

Are you kidding? Skepticism is for rich white old dude-bros who probably rape everyone they come across. The righteous are supposed to access the Divine Truth through the sacred power of their feels.

171 John Greg December 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHA –> Deepak! What a load of the most twisted not-logic and rhetorical gibberish. Nonsense; utter nonsense.

172 Steersman December 3, 2014 at 9:41 pm

GMAFB Phil. You might note the support for my position and its relevance from Carrie, Blueshift Rhino, and Piero. Not being terribly charitable methinks.

In addition, I don’t see you elaborating much on the “oh so many other things in the OP to discuss”.

173 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I do not elaborate, except when what I have to say adds positive value to the discussion. In this here case, I think Michael’s OP speaks for itself.

YMMV.

174 FishCakes December 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Deepak @165,

1) Since he says [named alleged accused] has been “smeared” , the only way that comment makes sense is if you believe [named alleged accused] is innocent (factually, not legally) – i.e. he does not believe [named alleged victim] is telling the truth.

Actually it’s quite possible for one to believe that the accusation is merely unproven; one need not be convinced of this person’s innocence to feel that repeatedly and very publiclly calling him a “rapist” (as opposed to “alleged rapist” or “accused rapist” for example) is a smear.

One might even strongly suspect that the accusation is true, but still feel that publicizing it via a polarizing blog and then repeating the accusation as if it were beyond contention, is not only unhelpful but also ethically and morally dubious.

Therefore, your contention [that the only way Nugent’s comment makes sense is if he necessaruly believes the accusation to be false] is incorrect.

I’d suggest asking Nugent what he believes rather than assuming that you can figure it out based on other things he’s said.

175 IM608 December 3, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Deepak Shetty: What it actually means to [alleged victim] when you actually insist that someone else can’t even report facts.

Guess what? The blogosphere isn’t the optimal first place to report such facts.

Doesn’t it even bother you that she, herself, second-guessed her use of the word “rape”?

176 Phil Giordana FCD December 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

She, [alleged victim] is surprisingly nice and open. I will not question her lived experience anymore than what’s needed for healthy skepticism.

On the other hand, I will not metaphorically nail the [accused] to the cross unless there are official steps taken. Rape is rape, and it’s a fucking serious crime not to be taken lightly. Blog shenanigans are NOT the way to sort this kind of actions. I just wish Myers and Friends would understand this.

177 Gerhard December 3, 2014 at 10:16 pm

2) Michael is concerned , at least publically , about the impact discussions of [alleged act] have on [named alleged accused] –
going so far as to editing comments to remove the literal name with [named accused] – he is very concerned about the harm the reputation that [alleged accused] might suffer.

Michael Nugent is under no obligation to act as a mouthpiece for accusations of criminal behaviour. He has every right to keep it off of his blog, which he is doing with impartiality. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the issues raised in this post.

Where do you get the idea that MN has a particular interest in protecting Voldemort?

178 JetLagg December 4, 2014 at 3:14 am

@Deepak

You’re not making any sense. I asked you how you arrived at the conclusion Michael was treating Voldemort and the alleged victim differently. You responded by detailing how Michael allegedly treated Voldemort (I say allegedly, because I don’t even go so far as to accept your version of the events), but failed to contrast this with how Michael treated the alleged victim, which would be necessary to demonstrate any kind of difference in treatment.

179 JetLagg December 4, 2014 at 3:17 am

Though perhaps your initial statement was driven by intense emotion, and should not be taken literally, in which case we need to take your follow up comments into account when assessing your position. If that’s the case, I still think you’re clearly in the wrong, and the other commenters have explained why.

180 Aneris ✻ December 4, 2014 at 4:24 am

RE: Uncharitable vs Denial.

Jan Steen wrote: Myers’s latest piece contra Jerry Coyne and Evolutionary Psychology provides yet more evidence of PZ’s intellectual dishonesty […] but will just point out something that is, in the spirit of the OP, obviously uncharitable.

Let’s play with the idea that PZ Myers is not uncharitable and not intellectually dishonest. How about denial? I see him as an authoritarian who wallows in confirmation and congruence biases.

On matters of biology PZ Myers might even (largely) agree with Jerry Coyne. If such a disagreement exist, it does not come out well in this article. Both agree on Kanazawa and reject the pseudo-science associated with him.

PZ Myers strongly rejects Evolutionary Psychology, and Jerry Coyne believes it should not be rejected in toto. Looking at it in a sober way, that’s nothing to get all worked up about.

The argument is really about a label. PZ Myers associates other things with the label than Jerry Coyne does, even though Coyne also knows about junk science under the label (which he rejects, too). What roused PZ Myers blood pressure then? He was upset and angry about something. I’ll tackle that later.

PZ Myers, to me, is like a person afflicted by a strong “traffic lights are always red when I’m in a hurry” syndrome. Here he has a category, a label with all sorts of things he didn’t like but now he is unable to recognize the “green lights” that keep popping up and that apparently visible to other people.

It’s also known as Blue Cars Syndrome. You find it in Leary’s “Reality Tunnel” and expanded and imported to Discordianism by Robert A. Wilson where it shows up as the “Law of Fives”, where almost everyone has heard of the 23 Enigma, which was meant as a demonstration. “Black Swan” author N. N. Taleb prefers just “tunnelling” denoting the same idea.

It’s known as confirmation/congruence bias in psychology. And also in the Halo Effect. In folk psychology it goes by the name of the “closed mind” or “having the blinkers on”. It appears in the specific form of “fault finding”. It’s in the British idiom “having a down on somebody” or “auf dem Kieker haben” in German. It probably exist in all languages. It’s when a person is so much disliked that even if they invented a cure against cancer, it is dismissed as “they’re just doing it for their reputation”.

On a deeper level, we have categories and we tend to see stuff within the category as more homogenous, and items in different categories, even when they are relatively alike, as more heterogeneous than they are:

We think in categories. But there are these problems. The first one being that when you think in categories you underestimate how different two facts are when they fall in the same category. When you think in categories you overestimate how different they are when there happens to be a boundary in between them. And when you pay attention to categorical boundaries you don’t see big pictures. – Robert Sapolsky

Real life examples might be nations where North Germans, who are more similar to the Dutch and Danish people across the border are conceptually seen as Lederhosen wearing Bavarians.

And you find that sort of thing perhaps in groups in a movement on the internet. People who want “deep rifts”, want category boundaries and they want to overstate differences between groups, and downplay similarities between people seen in different groups. “With us or against us” type of thinking that is allegedly not meant as seriously as often stated.

I believe that this is how PZ Myers ticks. And I even feel it is characteristically for many people in his faction. Yes, mentioning factions makes me stop for a second, but groups once declared do exist.

It could be that I am “othering” since that type of behavior is what I find quite strange and it is no accident that I cite people above who I see as exact opposites. They’re open minded, anti-dogmatic, anti-narrative, perspective shifting characters of the type I look up to.

It can be shown that PZ Myers is primarily driven by this kind of thinking and I’ll show that maybe later. Because this instance provides a most excellent and very vivid example of the kind of blinkers PZ Myers has put on.

181 Jack Rawlinson December 4, 2014 at 6:34 am

@Deepak Shetty, #166

1) Since he says [named alleged accused] has been “smeared” , the only way that comment makes sense is if you believe [named alleged accused] is innocent (factually, not legally) – i.e. he does not believe [named alleged victim] is telling the truth.

It really is quite disturbing how many people these days seem to fundamentally not understand either the importance or the full implications of “innocent until proven guilty”.

182 John Greg December 4, 2014 at 6:39 am

Jack Rawlinson said:

It really is quite disturbing how many people these days seem to fundamentally not understand either the importance or the full implications of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Indeed. And it often seems to go hand-in-hand with a fundamental inability to distinguish between “guilty” and “accused”.

It is all most worrisome.

183 Steersman December 4, 2014 at 6:54 am

Aneris (#180):

A “nice” analysis Aneris – I quite like the point about categories as they tend to be “a trap for the unwary”. Maybe of some interest and apropos of that, my recent comment (1) in the Pit which I think illustrates some of the reasons why there’s some substance behind “it’s more of a guy [or a gal] thing”, as well as your quote of Sapolsky.

As for the questions of whether Myers is “uncharitable or intellectually” dishonest, or is an authoritarian saddled with “confirmation and congruence biases”, I can certainly see there’s probably some justification for the latter – maybe the more charitable interpretation. However, I think Jan [#152] provides some credible evidence of some outright intellectual dishonesty relative to “[that] Kanazawa person”. In addition, I find this passage (2) equally damning:

PZ Myers: I know a lot of modern radical feminists. I’m pretty solidly in the left-wing camp myself. And NO ONE denies the physical differences between men and women, or claims that evolution could not have played an important role in shaping the diversity of modern humans. Nor do any claim that there aren’t significant behavioral differences — we encounter those every day. What we oppose is the credulous insistence that every single difference is a product of selection, that the influence of culture is noise gently overlaying the purity of the biological signal ….

Well, I sure would like to know who is actually saying that “every single difference is a product of selection [presumably of genetically determined traits]” as I don’t think any credible proponent of the field is insisting on that. And I’d like to see him argue that physical differences don’t lead to or motivate behavioural differences. Talk about “straw men” – and hypocrisy as he led off with that accusation.

——-
1) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=240307#p240307”;
2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/12/02/jerry-coyne-is-trying-to-defend-evolutionary-psychology-again/”;

184 Jan Steen December 4, 2014 at 7:11 am

@Steersman,

Well, I sure would like to know who is actually saying that “every single difference is a product of selection [presumably of genetically determined traits]” as I don’t think any credible proponent of the field is insisting on that.

That’s one of the things I was referring to when I accused Myers of strawmanning evo psych. In my opinion, unlike Aneris’s , it is not merely confirmation bias what we are seeing here. I firmly believe that this is deliberate dishonesty, motivated by ideology. L y i n g for radical feminism.

185 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) December 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

@ Michael Nugent

Thank you for your response to my comments.

If I can just make one small criticism with regard to the style your response, it would be that it is a little too wordy. A few hundred words should have done the trick, by my estimation. But in excess of 4000 words, and it tends to get a little verbose.

I have a suggestion right out of the gate – that is to say, in the very first line: “Theophontes, a pseudonymous commenter here and on PZ Myers’ blog,”

The word “pseudonymous” seems entirely superfluous and should have been omitted. Most commenters post pseudonymously, so this may be seen as the rule, rather than the exception. On the other hand, perhaps you think you are making a meaningful point thereby.

The only people making an issue of others pseudonymous writings,in my experience, tend to be some very smug bloggers/commenters, who use their real life names in online discussions.

Michael, if you feel comfortable putting your name out there, good for you. If you enjoy the privilege of living in a country that does not look ill upon the freedom of expression, then I am truly happy for you. I long, and struggle, for a time when such is universally accepted.

Tonight, again, I write from the barricades. My words shan’t be any less heartfelt, or meaningful, if I do so with the nym I have used online for the past many years.

186 Steersman December 4, 2014 at 8:18 am

Jan Steen (#184):

I firmly believe that this is deliberate dishonesty, motivated by ideology.

Indeed. Although in the interests of charity at least, I might note the following portion which suggests that he’s not totally deluded and may even retain a modicum of “intellectual honesty”:

What we oppose is the credulous insistence … and worst of all, the idea that the status quo is justified as a product of biology (which Coyne at least tries to distance himself from at the end).

You may wish to take a look at the on-line chapter (1) on Gender from Pinker’s The Blank Slate for some evidence that more than few actually do try to “justify the status quo as a product of biology”.

But that does suggest some support for Aneris’ thesis – or that PZ is letting his spleen get the better of his brain.

——–
1) “_http://www.pasadena.edu/files/syllabi/txcave_18360.pdf”;

187 jimthepleb December 4, 2014 at 9:02 am

….and that is what you took away from the blogpost Theo?
It’s too long and you use a nym.
Well it’s brave of you to address the issues raised.

188 Phil Giordana FCD December 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

I’ve had kitties with a wider attention-span than Theo. But that seems to be SOP in Lalaland. TL;DR is funny as a meme, but it gets depressingly idiotic when it paints an actual behaviour.

189 jimthepleb December 4, 2014 at 9:23 am

It’s a strange world where one can smear and defame to your heart’s content, but to write too much information or explain that your accuser is using a nym is verboten.
Do you have any kind of rebuttal to Michael’s commentary Theo? and to your own hideous framing of him as a fascist?
To give you a tiny bit of credit, you are here, which is braver than the bully and coward Myers.

190 Minnow December 4, 2014 at 9:36 am

“The word “pseudonymous” seems entirely superfluous and should have been omitted.”

But it isn’t superfluous because it conveys information not otherwise provided, that your real name is not ‘Theophontes’ as it well might be. Since you don’t understand that pretty basic point I think it is far to ignore the rest of your comments about prose style as mere argle bargle.

191 Jonathan December 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

So Theophontes, do you think your attempt to associate MN with fascists from the 30s was justified, then? If so, why?

192 piero December 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

I commend Deepak’s and Theo’s willingness to engage in this discussion, even if they tend to repeat the same mistakes over and over, because there is always a chance that the penny will drop. I just hope it happens before the thermal death of the universe.

Deepak says that Michael

does not believe [named alleged victim] is telling the truth

and

is very concerned about the harm the reputation that [alleged accused] might suffer. He however has shown no indication of why [alleged victim] might have asked Myers to publish the account.

I was pleasantly surprised by Deepak’s use of “alleged.” Some progress is being made after all. But I’m afraid the underlying assumptions are still faulty: there is no way Deepak can access Michael’s brain and find out what he believes or does not believe about the accuser and the accused. Nor should it matter, and this is the point that Deepak still fails to grasp: what anyone believes is wholly irrelevant. When making an accusation, all that matters is whether it can be proved. Until then, stating the accusation as fact constitutes a smear.

Accusing Michael of not dealing with the accuser’s motivations seems at least bizarre. Why should anyone try to play such guessing games? Just as Deepak cannot know the contents of Michael’s mind, Michael cannot know the contents of the accuser’s, and refraining from spewing ad hoc speculations is the right thing to do.

Theophontes complains about Michael’s use of “pseudonymous,” implying that Michael was somehow trying to paint him as a coward. That’s a wholly unwarranted assumption, and serves as a perfect example of an uncharitable reading.

Further, Theophontes complains about the post’s length. Unfortunately, it is impossible to refute an accusation in just a few words. Theophontes accused Michael of being a fascist. That accusation takes up four words at the most: “You are a fascist.” How does one go about refuting it? Had Michael merely replied “I’m not a fascist” Theophontes would no doubt have considered that reply inadequate too. My advice to Theophontes is this: if you don’t want to read long dissections of your stupid accusations, don’t make stupid accusations.

193 piero December 4, 2014 at 11:29 am

@Theophontes:

Given that Michael has shown (in 4,000 words, no less) that your accusation was baseless, can you apologise?

194 Dave Allen December 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Michael, if you feel comfortable putting your name out there, good for you. If you enjoy the privilege of living in a country that does not look ill upon the freedom of expression, then I am truly happy for you. I long, and struggle, for a time when such is universally accepted.

I very rarely get into the calls of hypocrisy, because on the whole I think they are overcooked, but coming from you – who has repeatedly complained about who Michael lets post here, and what that means about Michael – this is simply too rich to ignore.

195 Dave Allen December 4, 2014 at 12:19 pm

If anyone is interested in PZs latest volley about EP and Jerry Coyne I have a post here:

http://psych0drama.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/pz-makes-more-of-same-erroneous.html

Whilst there is a bit less rancor involved I suppose it’s worth pointing out that PZs critique of EP shares in common his smearing of Michael in that his mistakes have been pointed out a number of times and he bullishly continues to repeat them.

I also think it’s worth publicizing Ed Clint’s public challenge to PZ. I am sure PZ will either ignore Ed or work out some way to smear him too, but I think an online debate moderated by the likes of Aron Ra might work well, as well as being interesting to see if they should happen.

196 Jan Steen December 4, 2014 at 1:53 pm

@Dave Allen,

Whilst there is a bit less rancor involved I suppose it’s worth pointing out that PZs critique of EP shares in common his smearing of Michael in that his mistakes have been pointed out a number of times and he bullishly continues to repeat them.

Mistakes? Can there be any doubt left that they are deliberate misrepresentations? How much more evidence is needed to conclude that Myers is an utterly dishonest scumbag who is a disgrace to the scientific community?

197 Jan Steen December 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

theophontes is exactly the kind of commenter PZ Myers cultivated and deserves.

198 Dave Allen December 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Mistakes? Can there be any doubt left that they are deliberate misrepresentations? How much more evidence is needed to conclude that Myers is an utterly dishonest scumbag who is a disgrace to the scientific community?

I guess since becoming interested in psychology I’ve become very careful about suggesting what might be going on inside other people’s heads – for the most part.

That said I do think there is more to PZ than dishonesty here. For example his recent championing of neutralism might explain some of his opposition to EP – but which of them came first?

Also, as I said in the blog, I do agree with PZ that Jerry Coyne’s own bemoaning of left wingers and EP was unnecessary.

Those things aside – my opinion is that you’re probably right.

199 Jan Steen December 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Dave Allen,

I think a case can be made that “his recent championing of neutralism” was also driven by ideology. But I shall not attempt to make that case here. :)

200 Aheydis Vaakenjab December 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

@Theo #185

So you claim to come from a place on this planet where your personal viewpoints, if exposed publicly, could cause you personal harm. Yet you subscribe to a clique of individuals who use their abilities for “free speech” to smear and harm others. MN uses his ability for free speech to rebut the ridiculous claims from you and PZ, and yet you come in here with that response? The “Poor Theo” routine about how you are locked in a metaphorical dungeon typing away to save us all from these rapists and fascists.

You ignore the entire piece MN wrote, coming out with your best and only rebuttal point first of “it’s too long”. I can only imagine if the piece was 500 words, you’d complain there’s not enough evidence. The point of this and all the preceding articles is to point out the completely uncharitable interpretations you and your merry clique do on a daily basis to people. Unsubstantiated rumour of rape? Blog it of course! Disagree with me? You’re a fascist of course! Have no proof of either? No problem, make it up!

You could have earned some respect by admitting what you did was childish and not grounded in reality. But instead you chose to perpetuate a fabrication against MN such as what your dear leader has done.

Enjoy your life Theo – Hopefully nobody does to you what you and your clique have done to MN.

201 Gerhard December 4, 2014 at 3:35 pm

We think in categories. But there are these problems. The first one being that when you think in categories you underestimate how different two facts are when they fall in the same category. When you think in categories you overestimate how different they are when there happens to be a boundary in between them. And when you pay attention to categorical boundaries you don’t see big pictures. – Robert Sapolsk

You could also look at this in terms of abstraction. In a way, Benson abstracts to an absurd degree when diagnosing misogyny. She follows this chain of ‘logic’ which involves relating situations, attitudes etc. by comm0n attributes and assuming that the commonality is salient when it is often completely irrelevant and usually obscure.

202 John Greg December 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Theophony, to have someone like you, who regularly calls for the censoring, censuring, and shunning of people who have opinions you don’t like, say the following:

If you enjoy the privilege of living in a country that does not look ill upon the freedom of expression, then I am truly happy for you. I long, and struggle, for a time when such is universally accepted.

Well, that is beyond ridiculous. You long for free speech? WTF? Since bloody when?

Theo, are you an intentional clown, or an accidental clown?

203 JetLagg December 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

This is a standard tactic in the SJW camp. Ignore the substance of an argument. Zero in on one, trivial detail. Using said detail as a jumping off point, perform an armchair psychoanalysis of your opponent. Once the opponent has been diagnosed as an ideologue, their arguments can be safely dismissed.

204 Phil Giordana FCD December 4, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I must again say that this is good. Theophontes posting their lunacies here is a great learning tool for bystanders. Same with Andy.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving, really.

205 Gurdur (Tim Skellett) December 4, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Theo: “…. Tonight, again, I write from the barricades. …”

I sincerely do not think you have ever been anywhere near a genuine barricade. and the pathos shown is not impressive.

206 Aneris ✻ December 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

RE: PZ Myers: Dishonesty vs Delusion

Quick recap, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne might as well agree on the biology. If they disagree somewhere, at least it doesn’t come out well in this piece. Both also agree that there was pseudo-science published under the label of Evolutionary Psychology.

What PZ Myers argues about is a step up meta. I will try to map this out. You probably have heard of “meta”. Two people talk about apples. Going one step meta: Three people talk about the way the two people talked about apples. Going one step meta: Four people talk about how the three people talk about the two people who talked about apples.

The idea here is to simply name the meta levels M1—M3. Hardly anyone can keep track of M4, where it’s just “He Said She Said”, M5: All Hail Eris, and Elevatorgate is perhaps M23.

Now if you crank up your theory of mind you can try to halfway keep track of where is what. Let’s try to get an idea.

Meta 1 – Statement Pool

“Sex and gender are culturally constructed” ✻ “sex and gender are determined biologically” ✻ “culture is everything, because neuroplasticity” ✻ “scientist found math gene” ✻ “sex and gender is performance” ✻ “nature and nurture is a meaningless distinction” ✻ “human minds are blank slates” ✻ …

Meta 2 – Statement Pool

“Feminist prefer … for ideological reasons” ✻ “evolutionary psychologists maintain … because they use wonky premises” ✻ “PZ Myers believes … because he wants to belong to a particular camp” ✻ …

Meta 3 – Statement Pool

“This is not what X thinks” ✻ “it is a strawman to say that X believes Y for reason Z” ✻ “Evolutionary Psychologists don’t think that, but instead…” ✻ “critics of evolutionary psychology don’t deny that we evolved” ✻ …

Jerry Coyne sits in M2, but also makes M1 statements. Examples for M1:

“our male ancestors competed with each other for females, and bigger bodies made for more successful competitors.”

“the physical result of this behavioral difference remains in our species, why would the behavioral difference itself not remain as well, with males competing for female attention”

M2 example statements of Jerry Coyne:

“There are some science-friendly folk (including atheists) who simply dismiss the entire field of evolutionary psychology in humans, saying that its theoretical foundations are weak or nonexistent.”

“the left-wing opposition to evolutionary psychology as a valid discipline in principle, especially when it involves differences in sexual behavior, seems to me based more on ideology than on biology. Ideologues cannot allow any possibility that males and females behave differently because of their evolution. Such people think that this would buttress the view that one sex would be “better” than the other.”

Now enter PZ Myers. PZ Myers, by virtue of being a social justice warrior, will inevitably drift meta. They tend to scurry away from anything concrete.

What’s common with PZ Myers and his faction (with social justice warriors) is first establishing who has the prerogative of interpretation: who is allowed to set the framing, decides where the controversy is, what controversial is, what each sides believes and so on. Some general examples: “people who disagree hate women”, “they just want to sin”; “we’re pro life, they want to murder babies”; “Gamergate is about ethics in journalism”; “Gamergate is about harassment”… and so on.

In my attempt at mapping this out, PZ Myers goes straight to M3 and here are the M3 type statements:

“Why, oh why, do EP’s defenders rely on throwing up armies of straw men to slaughter? It’s silly.”

“Have you ever seen a critic of evolutionary psychology deny that we evolved, or that features and differences of the human body and brain are products of evolution? Not me.”

“But then Coyne pulls his magic “proof” out of his hat: the existence of sexual dimorphism. Yeah, who has a problem with that? Men and women look different in grand and subtle ways. Some of those differences were almost certainly selected for. Again, I don’t know anyone who denies that, so it’s kind of weird to use it as his triumphant example. Except that he seems to think all those lefty wackos — you know, feminists, apparently — are in the business of denying the obvious.”

And NO ONE denies the physical differences between men and women

Formatting in original. So, PZ Myers appears to agree with Jerry Coyne on M1, but strongly disagrees with his assessment on M2. That’s where “left wing” and other such key words come in. And where he himself adds “feminists”. Defcon Red!

PZ Myers feels this was an attack on his identity and on his political tribe and in my eyes his whole piece is about hoisting the correct colours as his readers expect from him. A tenet is to reject Evolutionary Psychology.

As suggested before, he is in my view an extreme high authoritarian and it is perhaps not dishonest. I don’t know. I alternate between explanations myself. He is like a mirror image of a Fox News host. It may be that he knows in his heart of hearts that he is wrong. Maybe these people are that way. Maybe there are states in between knowing they are wrong, and deluding themselves they got it all correct. Like with Ray Comfort and such people, it is unknown where delusions end and dishonesty begins.

PZ Myers introduces feminism and stronly suggests that no feminist “denies the obvious”. He stresses that several times and very strongly. He writes “Again, I don’t know anyone who denies that …” and even goes all caps bold italic when he states “And NO ONE denies the physical differences between men and women”. That is astonishing.

We have to go slow motion here. What he asserts is Bagdad Bob level of denial. The most basic reading material of feminism tells you about various feminist ideas that question both sex and gender as constructions. Skepticism of sexual dimorphism is there, too, and doubt about the role of biology is a fairly common sentiment. Of all people PZ Myers, bona fide feminist, lord shepherd of the social justice warrior Flock™ allegedly has never caught wind of anything of it? He knows NO ONE, in bold italics and all caps. Really?

Agreeing with Jerry Coyne was terribly easy for him. Yet, PZ Myers not only cannot agree that such views exist, he must histrionically all caps bold italics state that he cannot fathom at all where Jerry was coming from. That is astonishing.

Let’s look at who these NO ONES are, PZ Myers amazingly never ever heard about.

_plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-gender/

“that gender is socially constructed. […] Judith Butler critiques the sex/gender distinction on two grounds. […] she also holds that the sex/gender distinction is unintelligible […] some feminists have argued that sex classifications are not unproblematic and that they are not solely a matter of biology […] These examples suggest that physiological features thought to be sex-specific traits not affected by social and cultural factors are, after all, to some extent products of social conditioning. Social conditioning, then, shapes our biology.”

Here is a Norwegian documentary that looks into the gender debate:

Hjernevask (Brainwash) 1/7 – The Gender Equality Paradox
_youtu.be/E577jhf25t4

The documentary illustrates the long running conflict between different parts of the academical world. PZ Myers has never heard of it? He might as well claim he never heard of the Cold War.

Here is an apparently feminist commenter filling PZ Myers in:

SkeptiFem (48) wrote: i don’t think you’ve been on tumblr lately, but there is a new wave of transgender activism that absolutely denies the physical realities of sexual dimorphism. […]

PZ Myers whole faction is associated with Tumblr style social justice warriorism and it is astonishing that he hasn’t noticed anything. Here is an exchange PZ Myers had on twitter two months ago:

PZ Myers tweeted: The biological differences in behavior are poorly supported by…biology. So no, she’s right. Culture is the major factor.

He got a reply like this…

@pzmyers “Biological sex” is a socially constructed illusion and not a scientific reality derived from research.

I don’t know if PZ Myers even reads twitter. Such views are run-of-the-mill in social justice circles.

Here is FreeThoughtBlogs Con 2 (!), Evidence Based Feminism, by FreeThoughtBlog regular and contributor HJ Hornbeck, quoting De Beauvoir and commenting “Anyway, the vast majority of the feminist movement still agrees with De Beauvoir”

“The biological and social sciences no longer admit the existence of unchangeably fixed entities that determine given characteristics, such as those ascribed to woman, the Jew, or the Negro. [tablet: 1949!] … But does the word woman, then, have no specific content? This is stoutly affirmed by those who hold to the philosophy of the enlightenment, of rationalism, of nominalism; women, to them, are merely the human beings arbitrarily designated by the word woman. Many American women particularly are prepared to think that there is no longer any place for woman as such; if a backward individual still takes herself for a woman, her friends advise her to be psychoanalysed and thus get rid of this obsession.” […] Anyway, the vast majority of the feminist movement still agrees with De Beauvoir.

That’s a bit muddled. But here you have it clearer that such views exist (and keep in mind, we only need to show they exist and PZ Myers could have heard about it, especially when he goes all caps bold italic with his statement). HJ Hornbeck put in his transcript and probably says in the video:

Though the second wave of feminism popularized the idea that a person’s gender is distinct from her or his physiological sex and is socially and culturally constructed, it largely left unquestioned the belief that there was such a thing as true physical (biological) sex. The separation of gender from sex was a powerful rhetorical move used to break down compulsory gender roles, but it allowed feminists to question only half of the problem, avoiding the question of the naturalness of essential female and male sexes. Transfeminism holds that sex and gender are both socially constructed; furthermore, the distinction between sex and gender is artificially drawn as a matter of convenience.

Video_youtu.be/PPgCLIc0W_I
Script_tinyurl.com/ev-fem

That’s from FTB Con 2. FTB like… FreeThoughtBlogs. And that’s a “faction” PZ Myers affiliated with, too, which makes it even bizarrer.

“Maybe the right phrase is “revolutionary feminist”
_/bit.ly/PZ-RadFem

Keep in mind that nobody who knows FTB these days is surprised by any of this. That makes PZ Myers state of denial utmost perplexing. He wrote in all caps bold italics that he cannot fathom how anyone could believe such views were uttered, and that is far too strong for any nitpicking or semantics games.

Now why did he write the reply? Because he was angry at Jerry Coyne and felt his identiy was assailed by Jerry’s statements which were entirely reasonable even if PZ Myers doesn’t subscribe fully to them. It seems PZ Myers has totally forgotten what it means to understand where others are coming from.

So, Dear PZ Myers. Such views exist. Such views are wedded to ideological movements. Such views are featured in documentaries and books written about the subject. Such views even made into your own FTB Con and really, nobody but you is surprised by it. Steven Pinker wrote a book “the Blank Slate” about some of the things here. Such views can be found in basic feminist reading material. Such views aren’t exactly uncommon within social justice warrior circles. You know, the type of people that are now associated with you. See FTB Con. It is really no surprised for anyone, but you.

207 Carrie December 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

How very odd of Theo to obsess about the word “pseudonymous” and the number of words Michael uses, instead of addressing the issues in the post. It would appear that the [p-word] is offensive; who knew. Being [p-word], Uncharitable Theo gets to smear people who are not [p-word] and hide, so it is a relevant point for Michael to make. As for the wordiness, I for one am grateful to Michael for giving us enough historical and background information to be able to assess the situation for ourselves.

Steersman 165, by all means quote me thither and yon LOL…

But I think the point in all of it is the question of whether people should be necessarily getting their knickers in twists if someone else is insulted by a term that references an attribute or bodily feature that they share with the person insulted. Really seems a question of identity politics, and that those who insist on that response are little more than rabble-rousers & demagogues.

Yes — this. And a whole bunch of nonsense, from Shirtgate shirts to “the motherlode of bad ideas”(1), is fuel for the Outrage Olympics. As for Frank, you make good points. I should have used the word “bigot” rather than “racist” — I fell into the trap there of using words in the way that others were using them without thinking. Oops.

The nonsense of the Outrage Warriors is everywhere today, of course. You see it by default among the religious, and it is apparent among the hyper-PC “community”, which includes modern radical feminists. It has seeped out from social media to infect the mainstream media. But what I find extremely unsettling is that many “skeptics” are falling for it. I think it’s good to be basically courteous to each other, but to claim offence and outrage when someone questions or disagrees with one’s position is to be, quite frankly, an arsehole. By my definition therefore, Michael is a reasonable skeptic as are Jerry Coyne and several posters here. PZ, Theo and their ilk are not.

John Greg @ 161 *grin* I aim to please (2) 😉

1 _http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/can-liberalism-be-saved-from-itself
2 _https://www.etsy.com/uk/market/we_aim_to_please

208 Aneris ✻ December 4, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I forgot… that again calls for Austin Powers Swedish Pump Moment.

THATS NOT MINE!!! (in PZ Myers all caps bold italic)
http://youtu.be/3WCvULMRUq8

209 Lancelot Gobbo December 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Aneris does it again. Were I in mitteleuropa I should buy you a drink. Please keep it up.

210 piero December 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm

@Aheydis #200:

Spot on.

@Aneris #206:

Flawlessly argued and instructive. Thank you.

Maybe the two of you could team up? Aheydis-Aneris sounds good.

211 JetLagg December 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Aneris@206

Quick recap…

1,500 words later…

:p

I tease though. Brilliantly written, as usual.

212 Kopper December 5, 2014 at 12:45 am

As Aneris points out, PZ jumped needlessly to “respond” to Coyne’s comment on EP. On the flip side, PZ remarkably omitted posting about the Maher/Harris vs Affleck affair. One would think that he didn’t comment on that issue because he would have to agree with Maher and (gods forbid) Harris. Notably, the only post addressing such affair was written by a guest.

213 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) December 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

@ Michael Nugent

Charitable Theo’s defence (which, as I have already said, I mostly agree with)

You say “mostly agree with” and then give a summation that is wholly at odds with what I have written right here on your blog. My point is not being made “charitably”, it is being made accurately.

I fail to see why you have such a problem with simple concepts, such as pornography being perfectly OK in the context of a non-exploitative and consensual relationship. I question what goes around in your mind when you read things into others dreams that are only in your own mind. Do you imagine the mermaids were naked, or that they had sex? Or you just have an issue with such fantasy creatures in general? Such would reflect only on your own imagination in this regard. (Hey, its OK to be sex-positive Michael. Relaaax)

With regard to rape, it is important to be able to discuss this subject openly and frankly. No-one benefits from hiding such matters. It is wonderful that there has been a dramatic turnaround in this regard in recent years and that rapists are being exposed, along with their apologists and protectors. Will all such discussions be in a serious vein? No. This is also part of coming to terms with the issues. But certainly, too, there is no space for denigrating rape victims, nor threatening people with rape – even if such remarks are made “in jest”.

Fantasies are fantasies. Yes they can be strange at times. It is often in our fantasies that we can resolve our fears, be they being chased by naked mermaids, or even, as in Greta’s case, being raped.

There are even people who act out their rape fantasies with their loving and consenting partners. Are you going to stand on your pulpit and tell them about your catholic notions of how they should behave? Such is, after all, very different from actual rape, that your “Uncharitable Theo” would roundly condemn.
………

Hint: I notice that this response brings me up to a mere 3,25% of the way through your epically verbose OP. If you are going to write a 4000 word opus, at least split it up into chapters and verses, as suites something of such biblical proportions. It certainly would help people who wish to respond.

214 Phil Giordana FCD December 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

Theo:

“Hint: I notice that this response brings me up to a mere 3,25% of the way through your epically verbose OP. If you are going to write a 4000 word opus, at least split it up into chapters and verses, as suites something of such biblical proportions. It certainly would help people who wish to respond.”

That everybody here but you seem to have grasped the gist of Michael’s OP should really clue you in on where the problem is coming from.

Hint: you.

215 Phil Giordana FCD December 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

Oh Theo, and I don’t read most of what you post here because I find it TL:DR. I think it’s easier to just read your last paragraph. Says it all, really.

216 Minnow December 5, 2014 at 9:33 am

“Fantasies are fantasies. Yes they can be strange at times. It is often in our fantasies that we can resolve our fears, be they being chased by naked mermaids”

But a male educator who publicly discusses his fantasies [about his students] is in a particular position. He is entitled to his peaches however he wants them, of course, but you can see how it might be intimidating to young women thinking of taking his classes, especially when he has been accused of sexually assaulting a female student in the past on at least one occasion. It is, quite obviously, a contribution to rape culture when this sort of thing is normalised. I think men in education have a responsibility to think about how rape culture can limit opportunities for women and to combat it, rather than contributing to it, especially in STEM subjects where women are often in a minority still. It is a pity you don’t agree Theophontes.

217 Jonathan December 5, 2014 at 9:43 am

I see Theo has commented again, so again I ask:

Theo: do you think your attempt to associate MN with fascists from the 30s was justified? If so, why?

218 Phil Giordana FCD December 5, 2014 at 9:48 am

“especially in STEM subjects where women are often in a minority still”

I blame that one on tacky t-shirts.

219 piero December 5, 2014 at 1:58 pm

@Theophontes:

Are you going to stand on your pulpit and tell them about your catholic notions of how they should behave?

You’ve missed Michael’s point by about eight miles. Did you actually read the OP? Did you understand this part?

Like PZ, Charitable Theo has completely missed the point of that post. The very first sentence was:

“I don’t believe that PZ Myers is sexist.”

And I concluded:

I am not condemning PZ for any of this behaviour. I am asking him and his colleagues to act ethically consistently when judging others.”

You keep addressing a phantom issue that has never been brought up by Michael, and you fail to address the substantial ones. For example, you accused Michael of being a fascist: when are you going to apologise for that?

220 piero December 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Blockquote fail: last paragraph is not a quotation. But perhaps it bears repeating:

Theophontes, you keep addressing a phantom issue that has never been brought up by Michael, and you fail to address the substantial ones. For example, you accused Michael of being a fascist: when are you going to apologise for that?

221 Aheydis Vaakenjab December 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

@Theo #213

Remarkable – [slow clap] – You make up an entire story about MN being a fascist and then comment, about how YOU’RE projecting in to MN’s mind that PZ’s mermaid story has naked mermaids and then proceed to argue that point. Simply Remarkable.

Talk about Aneris’ Meta-Gone-Wild analysis… this one goes in to a top 10 list somewhere.

So let me, with your assistance, get this completely straight:

You accuse someone of being a fascist without evidence. When confronted with contrary evidence, you then proceed to accuse them of a thought crime. The thought crime being that MN after reading PZ’s mermaid story, thought that the mermaids were naked whereas in PZ’s story, they were what….fully clothed in a burqa? Can you not see the bias in your own words? Your entire “argument” is based on projection and falsehoods.

Simply amazing Theo. This is the EXACT problem most people here and around the Internet have with FtB. The sheer lack of self reflection, strawmanning and projection has gone on for too long and too far and is starting to damage those on both sides of the fence. Your accusations damage MN and they have also damaged you. You’ve sullied whatever good will or benefit of the doubt someone may have extended you with your childish responses.

Again, I must say this: I wish nobody does to you what you’ve done to MN in real life.

222 JetLagg December 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Piero@219

You’ve missed Michael’s point by about eight miles. Did you actually read the OP? Did you understand this part?

I don’t think they did. Wasn’t that what they meant about only getting up to 3.25% through the OP?

@Theo
Most of us don’t have trouble plowing through 4,000 words. Regardless, it’s now been boiled down by Jonathan nice and neat for you.

“Do you think your attempt to associate MN with fascists from the 30s was justified? If so, why?”

223 FishCakes December 5, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Theo,
Sorry to hear you don’t have the spoons to read Michael’s post all the way through. No matter, your responses so far seem to miss the point entirely, so not reading the rest is probably not going to make much of a difference. You apparently already know what Michael really means to say and why he’s saying it, so enacting the labor to read and understand his actual words before replying (multiple times) seems unnecessary.

224 jimthepleb December 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Self-reflection is for misogynists only, the rest of us have no need for it as we are perfect.

225 John Greg December 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Theoplasty is a signal and perfect example of the kind of reading noncomprehension (never mind Gish galloping, non sequitoring, and abundant other fallacies) that is so deeply prevalent at FTB, Skepchick, and A+.

It must be something in the water.

….

Or, um, Kool-aid.

Theo, you are in dire need of a remedial reading comprehension course. They might have one at the university of Peez … erm, Morris. Give it a try, and when you have succeeded in reading through all your Dick and Jane Readers, give us a call.

226 Carrie December 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Theophontes at 213

I fail to see why you have such a problem with simple concepts

Yes, I fail to see why you, and others from FtB, have such a problem with the simple concepts that Michael highlights. Also I find it amazing that you write so much about points that he has not made and make a fuss about how many words he uses. Since you never respond to his actual points, but instead go off at all sorts of weird tangents and continue to smear him, is it really surprising that he uses more words to try and make you understand? It’s pretty clear really, he wants apologies for un-evidenced smears and he wants you and your ilk to admit your own double standards.

With regard to rape, it is important to be able to discuss this subject openly and frankly. No-one benefits from hiding such matters

And no-one benefits from spreading un-evidenced smears around the Internet. In order to take actual criminals to account for their crimes, people are encouraged to come forward to the Authorities to report cases of rape. All that internet-hunts do is muddy the waters and make fair trials more difficult. We already see false accusers being prosecuted and sent to gaol, which certainly benefits no real rape victim, so it is important to do more than wholeheartedly believe an accusation. Proper procedure, real evidence, and zero virtual lynch-mobs are vital to gaining trust.

227 piero December 5, 2014 at 8:29 pm

@Carrie:

Proper procedure, real evidence, and zero virtual lynch-mobs are vital to gaining trust.

Bravo! I cannot understand why the FtB clowns insist on making the lives of rape victims worse.

228 piero December 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Oh, and by the way, Theophontes: have you apologised yet? You should: your attempt at smearing Michael has been thoroughly debunked, and in such cases an apology is expected. Of course, a spontaneous apology is always better, but in your case I think a bit of gentle prodding won’t hurt.

Can you apologise now, please?

We are waiting…

229 Aneris ✻ December 5, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Correction: My M3 characterisation is slightly off. He does include what Jerry Coyne believes opponents of Evolutionary Psychology believe, yet the critical parts are not entirely about what Jerry Coyne believes, but rather that he (PZ Myers) has a different idea what opponents of Evolutionary Psychology believe. Just the warning that such structures are meant to work out where conflicts are and what the referent is (which is disputed).

230 Aneris ✻ December 6, 2014 at 4:54 am

Re: Double Standards // Godwin’s Law

I have compared the social justice faction to authoritarianism. I have stated that I don’t like that we get rid of evangelicals only to wake up to fascists and by that refered to the socisl justice warriors (however I strongly oppose terms such as “feminazi”, which was apparently fashionable before my time. I describe the faction as SJWs so actions don’t damage feminism as an idea even more). Slymepit photoshops exist that depict PZ Myers in totalitarian dictatorship roles (more often Stalin than Hitler). I myself contributed as well, like casting Myers as the opposite of “be this guy” (August Landmesser) as “don’t be that guy” effectively indicating that PZ Myers is a blind follower of a dubious movement.

There are various “Downfall” videos from the film in the Hitler bunker with spoof subtitles, typically the scene where a “Führer Myers” is angry because some inane plan failed. Other names of the cast of characters are named as well (Reichsmarschall Zvan, Bjarte Komedykorps etc). A new one came out just today about a plan to land a V2 missle on a comet. Guess why the propagandistic effort failed (episode is titled “shirtsturm”). I just laugh out loud while typing this.

Now let’s talk double standards. Are there differences? Are they just rationalisations to condone one thing and to condemn the other? What’s the difference after all between the “hateful” photoshops and depictions and “hateful ” smears we complain about.

The difference lies in objectivity and subjectivity. The general idea is that the presentation must be proportional to the evidence for the comparison that is made. The more ambiguous or mere opinion something is, the more it must be expressed in subjective ways, where you have satire, polemics, insults and the like. The severity of the claim must also be in proportion. The more serious, and the more it appears to be factual, the more it must be unambiguously established as such. And the way the information is presented must also be in proportion to the confidence someone places into the truthfulness.

231 Steersman December 6, 2014 at 7:13 am

Aneris (#230):

(however I strongly oppose terms such as “feminazi”, which was apparently fashionable before my time. I describe the faction as SJWs so actions don’t damage feminism as an idea even more).

Way before your time, verily, if not at the dawn of Time, then at least at its first glimmerings …. 😉

Actually, if I’m not mistaken Paul Kirby coined the phrase, or at least increased its currency or circulation several years ago in her “Sisterhood of the Oppressed” – an entertaining read, and a cogent analysis. (1) A relevant quote:

The Sisterhood of the Oppressed:

Since neither Twitter nor Facebook are suitable places for long explanations and since I don’t have a blog, I am posting this open letter to spell out my position on the “Women in Secularism” issue. It will be a long letter, because, unlike some, I haven’t been posting ad nauseam on the issue for the last year, so there will be quite a lot to say.

Totalitarian attitudes:

First, since I gather this has touched a nerve in some quarters, I shall deal with the terms “feminazi” and “femistasi”. As a general principle, I oppose the use of any kind of name-calling. But sometimes an apparently rude term is doing more than being rude: it is conveying a meaningful point in shorthand form. For the record, I am categorically NOT suggesting that the people I have applied these terms to are, in fact, Nazis or Stasi members, or would ever have sympathized with either of them. There are many of us who are proud to be called Grammarnazis and who know perfectly well that no aspersions are being cast on our intentions towards either Jews or Poland.

——
1) “_http://www.scribd.com/doc/98971743/Sisterhood-of-the-Oppressed”;

232 Steersman December 6, 2014 at 7:14 am

Oops: Paula Kirby.

233 Blueshift Rhino December 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Shorter Steersman: “metaphors are not literal claims and should not be taken as such.”

(See how easy that is?)

234 Shatterface December 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I think it’s telling that when the likes of Theo or Benson encounter a large body of text their first instinct is to count the words rather than to read them.

235 Shatterface December 6, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Shorter Steersman

If only.

236 Steersman December 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Blueshift Rhino:

Thanks for the “TL;DR” / conclusion. 😉

However, you might note that Paula said pretty much the same thing so I thought it hardly needed much amplification – particularly as it was late for me. But, as it has some relevance to one of my favorite “hobby-horses” – i.e. the use of supposedly racist or sexist insults, it bears repeating:

But sometimes an apparently rude term is doing more than being rude: it is conveying a meaningful point in shorthand form.

In addition, the source and quote were provided to emphasize and give support to Aneris’ thesis – i.e., the authoritarianism, if not fascism, of the social-justice-warriors / “feminists”. (I like to quote the latter term to emphasize the rather large number of frequently competing sects under that umbrella – kind of like Christianity with its 38,000 different ones.)

237 Phil Giordana FCD December 6, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Paula doesn’t deserve to be pulled into this discussion. She has managed to distance herself from the infighting while staying more than relevant.

And I have nothing but utter respect for her.

238 Jack Rawlinson December 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Paula doesn’t deserve to be pulled into this discussion. She has managed to distance herself from the infighting while staying more than relevant.

Word. Paula’s takedown of these foaming nitwits was deadly, and I re-link it at every opportunity, but while I regret that the shameful misbehaviour of Myers, Zvan, Benson and their horrible ilk possibly helped cause Paula to withdraw from the “atheist movement” I respect her decision and avoid any attempts to further dissect her words which, in my opinion, stand up solidly and unambiguously without any need for discussion. She got tired of the children in the “movement”, numbered them, and left. The only thing more amusing than her brilliant piece was their reaction to it. Benson actually said “I remember when she used to be sane.” That was the first time I realised that Benson possibly isn’t.

239 Jan Steen December 7, 2014 at 1:40 pm

The a/s community is not the only one currently suffering from an infestation of SJWs. Similar things are happening in the Gaming and the Science Fiction/Fantasy communities. I do not consider myself a member of the two last mentioned, but it is instructive to see how much the symptoms of the infestations agree.

Here is a recent post by a SFF writer, Larry Correia, titled Why I don’t like Social Justice Warriors

http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/11/14/why-i-dont-like-social-justice-warriors/

Many of his observations will sound eerily familiar to those who have been following the antics of the FTB/Skepchick/Atheism+ brigade.

And this paragraph from one of the comments fits our friend theophontes to a tee, doesn’t it?

One of my favorite reactions from SJWs is when they obviously hate what I’ve written and will say something like “Whoa, that’s insanely long, LOL. What a batshit stalker screed unibomber” or something along those lines. They’ll even cite the word count as if it’s a crime in and of itself or sign of insanity.

Compare Theo writing in this thread:

If I can just make one small criticism with regard to the style your response, it would be that it is a little too wordy. A few hundred words should have done the trick, by my estimation. But in excess of 4000 words, and it tends to get a little verbose.

It’s almost as if the minds of these SJWs all come from a single template. My guess is that they’ve been designed in a factory in North Korea or a similar workers paradise. Where else could the “Shut up and listen,” “Check your privilege,” and “Punching up” memes have originated if not in some re-education camp?

240 Shatterface December 7, 2014 at 4:07 pm

You can see the attraction Twitter has for theses people: 140 characters is all that is necessary to convey their ideas.

The thought it might take 4,000 words to explore an issue must blow their tiny minds.

Christ knows what they’d do if someone gave them a book to read.

241 Blueshift Rhino December 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

It’s not just the 140-character limit. I have found that any sentence construction more complicated than subject-verb-object is doomed to failure, although I will readily admit that my tendency to insert a minimum of three dependent clauses and prepositional phrases, no matter how useful they might be, isn’t helping them much, even when I use dashes – like this – as an aid; semi-colons to avoid a run-on doesn’t seem to help, either.

This is relevant here because our host appears to know this and, therefore, writes in very simple sentences. MN also includes both a prefacing summary and a trailing summary in most of his posts. All of this adds to the length of said posts (as well as illustrates his incredible patience, because being so clear takes more effort than producing word salad). As irony would have it, the response of his targets (and/or their white knights) to MN enacting the effort to write in a manner that they can understand – which requires many words – is to complain about the number of words that he uses.

242 piero December 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Theophontes made his unfounded accusation on November, 24. It is now December, 7 and he still hasn’t apologised. I think we can safely assume that he is incapable of admitting when he is wrong, and therefore not worth engaging.

243 Jan Steen December 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Complaining about the length of a post stems from two motives. In the first place, they (the SJWs) do this because they are simply unable to give a valid rebuttal. In the second place, it’s a way to suggest that the writer is at least slightly obsessed for using so many words.

Yes, it is the usual dishonesty, but when you are on the right side of history this is justified. Or so they seem to believe.

244 Blueshift Rhino December 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Of all the knee-jerk, illogical counters, I find the “you’re obsessed, stalker!” to be the most amusing when used on the internet. It is also applied with the one of the most strict double standards around: if you comment positively to every post made by a given blogger, then you are a fan or a follower (in some positive sense); if you make the occasional, critical comment, then you are an obsessed stalker and, quite possibly, the source of the blogger’s self-diagnosed PTSD and, quite definitely, the valid target of some serious doxxing.

The supposed goal of blogging is to publicize your (worthwhile) ideas to a huge audience. Calling anyone – whether they agree or not – an obsessed stalker when they read what you wrote is just weird. Activating comments on your blog and then complaining when those who read your blog use this option is a tad more than weird. If your mode of operation is best described as “either agree with me or shut up and listen,” then maybe the comments shouldn’t be activated.

245 Blueshift Rhino December 7, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Oops. Silly me. Blogs with disabled comments don’t get many clicks.

246 Patrick December 7, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Jan Steen @239:

The a/s community is not the only one currently suffering from an infestation of SJWs. Similar things are happening in the Gaming and the Science Fiction/Fantasy communities. I do not consider myself a member of the two last mentioned, but it is instructive to see how much the symptoms of the infestations agree.

I do read a lot of science fiction and the SJWs wield significant power there, to the point of having one of their own (John Scalzi) as a former president of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

The Hugo awards have become a battleground, with the SJWs voting for works based on the authors’ ethnicity and gender rather than the quality of the stories. Many publicly state that they will not read works by certain (white, male) authors who are nominated, but still vote.

Here is a recent post by a SFF writer, Larry Correia, titled Why I don’t like Social Justice Warriors

http://monsterhunternation.com/2014/11/14/why-i-dont-like-social-justice-warriors/

Correia’s politics probably don’t align with many people participating here, but he does post interesting information about the SJW’s techniques. Like the Slymepit, he doesn’t censor his comment section.

Many of his observations will sound eerily familiar to those who have been following the antics of the FTB/Skepchick/Atheism+ brigade.

It’s standard SJW entryism. As you point out, they’ve done it in SF-fandom, they’re doing it in the atheism/skepticism movement, and they’re trying to do it in the gaming world. They care nothing for the communities they invade, everything is about their politics and their own self-aggrandizement.

I hope with GamerGate they’ve bitten off more than they can chew and that we’re seeing the beginnings of a significant backlash. I look forward to an expose of their disingenuous and destructive techniques. They can’t stand up to even minimal scrutiny.

247 Blueshift Rhino December 7, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Short version of my thesis from previously elsewhere: there is no money in atheism; there is very little money in modern publishing; there is a ton of money in video gaming. Relatedly, while the A/S community was an easy target for the SJWs and Sci-Fan wasn’t very difficult, they will most likely fail in the GamerGate war. It isn’t scrutiny that they need fear, as they quite adept at dodging all attempts at true discussion; the key is money. They don’t have any, either.

248 Jan Steen December 7, 2014 at 10:23 pm

You would expect SJWs to be less successful in the a/s community than anywhere else. It’s disappointing that the opposite appears to be true.

An important factor in explaining this apparent paradox is that many atheists are not sceptics in any meaningful sense of the word. They may not believe in gods, but they often swallow other dogmatic nonsense as readily as any cultist. At the same time, there is some truth in the criticism that sceptics occupy themselves too much with debunking relatively harmless stuff (bigfoot, ghost stories) while shying away from attacking religion. I would add that they also tend to shy away from critically examining the pseudoscience that many SJWs appeal to.

And so we see that even a community of atheists and sceptics is far from immune to groupthink and dogmatism.

249 Kirbmarc December 7, 2014 at 11:27 pm

You would expect SJWs to be less successful in the a/s community than anywhere else. It’s disappointing that the opposite appears to be true.

Atheists are particularly vulnerable to the SJW rhetoric because they want to defend themselves from the widespread religious meme that “without religion there’s no such thing as morality”.

Many atheists think they have to be extremely compassionate to counter this idea. The SJW rhetoric is all about empathy and compassion for the poor victims of oppression.

Many liberal-minded atheists accept the SJW dogmas simply they want to promote a new kind of secular morality, better than the traditional religious one. The SJW ideology offers them an easy way to solve the problem of a secular foundation of morality.

The catchy memes and the tales of privilege, oppression and empowerment are the secular equivalent of the Holy Books and their tales of sin and redemption. SJW atheists can be confident that they are morally better than the religious, because their moral is based on “social science”.

SJW atheists are desperate white knights searching for a princess to save to show the world that they’re heroes.

250 Jan Steen December 7, 2014 at 11:37 pm

@Patrick,

I hope with GamerGate they’ve bitten off more than they can chew and that we’re seeing the beginnings of a significant backlash. I look forward to an expose of their disingenuous and destructive techniques. They can’t stand up to even minimal scrutiny.

Like any radical movement (and I include most religions among the radical movements) SJWs claim to fight for a better world. A world without inequality due to gender, race and sexual orientation, a world without rape and ableism. Who could be against that? Only a vile libertarian right wing reactionary MRA, surely? This is the propaganda that many useful idiots swallow like nectar.

Fortunately, some SJWs, such as Richard Carrier and Stephanie Zvan,
have been stupid enough to write down what they actually envision. But even without such evidence, the dishonesty and bigotry on display would have given away the true nature of the SJWs.

What they are actually fighting for is a world where the likes of Richard Carrier get to decide whom to kick into the sewers and who is “one of us.” Society as a whole will come to resemble the Atheism Plus Forums, where you have to walk on eggs in order not to offend the offence-seekers and where everything you say is scrutinised by all-powerful and capricious moderators who constantly refer to a body of obscure dogma called Feminism 101. Sci-fi writers will only get to write books about oppressed minorities, scientists will be obliged to wear SJW-approved shirts. “Always believe the victim” will become enshrined in the Law. The presumption of innocence will be replaced by the presumption of guilt. It will be a totalitarian nightmare without precedent.

tl/dr. These people are fundamentally anti-democratic.

251 Jan Steen December 7, 2014 at 11:47 pm

@Kirbmarc,

Atheists are particularly vulnerable to the SJW rhetoric because they want to defend themselves from the widespread religious meme that “without religion there’s no such thing as morality”.

Yes, there is certainly more than a grain of truth in that. At the same time, I think that most of the leaders of the SJWs are cynical authoritarian narcissists who are not nearly as well-intentioned as their followers believe.

252 Blueshift Rhino December 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Funny you should mention the idea that “What they are actually fighting for is a world where the likes of Richard Carrier get to decide whom to kick into the sewers and who is “one of us.” ” In a recent piece on The FreeThinker, Ophelia Benson informed us that she is among those who get to decide which social-justice issues are more important than others, while Richard Dawkins is among those who are not allowed to have an opinion. This is why it’s OK when OB writes a ‘Dear Muslima’ post, as she did, while it is still not OK for RD to do the same. I’ve asked her to tell us who else is in her category and who else is in the sewer (as you put it) with RD, but have yet to be graced with a reply. This may be due to a certain derailment and the subsequent moving of the discussion to a location where she knows that I and certain others cannot participate. Or maybe it’s simply a secret categorization, subject to change without notice if one steps out of (or into) line.

I’ll stop here to prevent a Godwin’s Law trigger.

253 JetLagg December 8, 2014 at 3:17 am

That the most fierce resistance against SJW mentality has come from gaming makes a lot of sense. Gaming is driven by capitalism more than skepticism or atheism. It’s a force of nature (whether people want to admit it or not). Like evolutionary pressures, it’s not to be taken as a model for morality, but you’re a fool to ignore the tides.

254 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) December 8, 2014 at 7:38 am

As one example of his [Frank’s] ethics,…delivering them to individual targets.

I find such behaviours absolutely appalling. You have my sympathies for having suffered such abuse.

I will also address PZ and Theo’s pattern of judging of me on the basis of their opinion of other people, who are either commenting on my blog…

You attract the attention, and support, of people like Thunderf00t and Vox Day (inter alia) because they see you as being somehow aligned with their twisted, deeply reactionary, world views. They sought you out. Perhaps you should address them as to why they have done this. And yes, their support of you does make you look bad – whether or not we point this out.

Theo tried to link to a page about me being an election candidate for Fine Gael in Dublin in 1999, but by mistake linked to a page about a different Michael Nugent who was an election candidate for Sinn Fein in Cork in 2014.

My apologies, the correct link is here: http://electionsireland.org/result.cfm?election=1999L&cons=16

Nobody in Ireland seriously associates Fine Gael with the Blueshirts of the 1930s, other than as a joke.

It is a matter of simple historical fact. You treat it as a joke, yet take offence when the historical connection to Fine Gael is pointed out. Why do you play down Fine Gale’s christian and conservative political orientation? When were they ever not so? In 1999? Is your “constitutional pluralism” referring to their banding up with other such christian parties across Europe?

Democrats used to support slavery.

Both Democrats, and Republicans, hold responsibilities for the continuing racial disparities and iniquities in the USA – that stem originally from that very same, racist, slave-owning, past. Perhaps if people cared more about history, they would be less confused about what happened in Ferguson.

255 citizen_wolf December 8, 2014 at 10:00 am

Theophontes
**It is a matter of simple historical fact. You treat it as a joke, yet take offence when the historical connection to Fine Gael is pointed out.**

You’re not Irish and thus probably have little understanding of the nuances of Irish politics. Any connection between Fine Gael now (or in the 1990s) and the Blueshirst of the 1930s is a completely ridiculous comparison. It sounds so preposterous to Irish ears that at first glance it makes one think that it must have been a joke. Indeed, depending on who it is that makes the comparison, it might even be a funny joke.

However I doubt the comparison is what MN is concerned about. He’s more concerned by your attempt to throw muck in the hope that some of it sticks.

It didn’t work in this case because the muck you attempted to throw was so obviously (to an Irish person) ridiculous. But that doesn’t make your attempt any less scurillous, and in fact only highlighted your bad faith and poor ethics.

256 Kirbmarc December 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

At the same time, I think that most of the leaders of the SJWs are cynical authoritarian narcissists who are not nearly as well-intentioned as their followers believe.

It all depends on who you are calling “leaders”. People like Anita Sarkeesian, Rebecca Watson or Stephanie Zvan seem self-aware enough to cynically exploit the naive followers for self-promotion, fame and money (this is especially true for Sarkeesian, who’s very good at this game).

A few “leaders” (PZ Myers springs to mind) may enjoy the fame and the praise from their dedicated followers, but routinely shoot themselves in the foot, apologize, and struggle to show how dedicated they are to the “cause”. I’m not entirely sure that this behavior is consistent with the one of a cynical manipulator.

I think that Myers genuinely believes in at least some of the SJW dogmas. He also seem to be convinced that his peculiar approach to ethics is a superior alternative to all the others.

257 Minnow December 8, 2014 at 10:20 am

“Perhaps you should address them as to why they have done this. And yes, their support of you does make you look bad – whether or not we point this out.”

If you think this is true you must surely also accept that the support of PZ Myers by an avowed child rapist, a rapist who has sought him out, makes Myers look bad? Or perhaps you can really see that the whole idea is absurd?

258 piero December 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

@theophontes:

It is a matter of simple historical fact. You treat it as a joke, yet take offence when the historical connection to Fine Gael is pointed out.

You were not making a historical point; you were trying to say that Michael was a fascist. You should apologise for that.

259 piero December 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

@Jan Steen:

The presumption of innocence will be replaced by the presumption of guilt. It will be a totalitarian nightmare without precedent.

And if proof is needed, it can be found here:
No matter what Jackie said, we should generally believe rape claims

260 Jack Rawlinson December 8, 2014 at 11:40 am

Jesus, piero (#259), that article is terrifying. Now that deserves to be called “doubling down”.

Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist.

Isn’t it telling how this writer left out the word “wrongly” between the words “costs of” and “calling someone a rapist”? They just can’t get it into their zealot heads that it is not only possible to be wrongly accused, but that the effects of such a wrong accusation can ruin a life every bit as much as the effects of a rape can. A wrongly-accused rapist may lose his job, his family, his prospects… he may be attacked by vigilante thugs or enraged family members… he may be ostracised by friends and family… his reputation may be wrecked for the rest of his life… he may ultimately be driven to suicide. And all of these outcomes are made far more likely by this horrific “always believe accusers” wickedness. How dare these people say that such an outcome is not as terrible an injustice as an unpunished rape? Monstrous presumption, monstrous lack of empathy.

These people are crazed. Really.

261 piero December 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm

@Jack Rawlinson:

Terrifying indeed. Just as it is terrifying that theophontes can call Michael a fascist, be proven wrong and still refuse to retract and apologise. Instead, he knows changes the accusation to “christian and conservative”. And when the evidence shows again that he is wrong, he’ll change it to something else.

I used to think the likes of Theophontes were harmless nuts, but seeing as their views are published even in the Washington Post, I now think they are dangerous. Very dangerous.

262 Kirbmarc December 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Monstrous presumption, monstrous lack of empathy.

I think you’re still being charitable in calling them “crazy”. Not all of them are crazy or fanatics. There are at least some of them who follow a very rational, if morally appalling, strategy.

The SJW crowd might blindly accept every new imperative of the leaders, but some of the leaders care little about the ideals they claim to believe in and use the sympathy from the masses as a tool to shamelessly promote their careers.

A SJW-friendly journalist-political analyst like the author of the article is likely to win journalism and ethics awards, receive the support of academia and the US State Department, have thousands of followers on Twitter, write for liberal medias, and be frequently invited on TV. Her career is built on parroting SJW dogmas to the masses, and she looks like a paladin of oppresses to the left-leaning public.

I don’t know whether she genuinely believes that being accused of rape is no big deal or she’s just posturing for her public, but given that she seems to be fairly successful I think it’s unlikely that she is as clueless as any author of a random comment on Myers’ blog.

She might be genuinely convinced that she’s fighting the good fight, but she probably knows that dismissing false accusations as no big deal is a dirty move. Maybe she believes that all is fair when “fighting rape culture”, or maybe she just sees this article as another stepping stone in her career. Either way, she knows what she’s doing.

263 Blueshift Rhino December 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

In response to being called out for his defamatory attack on MN via some association with others (e.g., T-foot), Theo dances aside with the following: “You attract the attention, and support, of people like Thunderf00t and Vox Day (inter alia) because they see you as being somehow aligned with their twisted, deeply reactionary, world views.”

In other words, rather than support his original claim or – upon realizing that it wasn’t accurate – retracting and apologizing, Theo has decided to “triple down” by adding two more targets.

ps. MN has also attracted the interest of PZ Myers and some troll called Theophontes – what does that say about him?

264 FishCakes December 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Theo,
I’m really surprised that I have to explain this, but apparently you don’t seem to understand and so perhaps this will help to clear up some of your confusion.

A person’s arguments stand or fall on their own merits, regardless of who else that person is associated with. If Nugent’s arguments are sound, pointing out that someone else (whom you dislike) agrees with him won’t magically make them unsound. If his arguments are unsound, they can be refuted without recourse to this silly guilt-by-association nonsense.

To all sane and rational people, the fact that you felt it necessary to resort to these childish guilt-by-association tactics makes clear that you are utterly incapable of dealing with Nugent’s actual points. As if that wasn’t already obvious from your first two replies, neither of which addressed the actual points Nugent made.

Whatever it is you think you are accomplishing, please keep it up because you are providing some really great examples of how people like you behave, which may prove useful as future reference.

265 Patrick December 8, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Jan Steen @250:

tl/dr. These people are fundamentally anti-democratic.

Indeed. As George Orwell noted, “The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.” Myers and the rest of the FTB community are solidly authoritarian. They are either fundamentally incapable of conceiving of other means to achieve their goals or they recognize that non-authoritarian means don’t support their real goals of self-promotion and attaining power over others.

266 Dave Allen December 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Just as it is terrifying that theophontes can call Michael a fascist, be proven wrong and still refuse to retract and apologise.

“Terrifying”? Really?

I’d say it’s more disturbing that anyone expects some sort of common decency from that quarter at this point.

267 piero December 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Come on, Dave, allow me some poetic license.

268 Lancelot Gobbo December 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

<blockquote?Terrifying indeed. Just as it is terrifying that theophontes can call Michael a fascist, be proven wrong and still refuse to retract and apologise. Instead, he knows changes the accusation to “christian and conservative”. And when the evidence shows again that he is wrong, he’ll change it to something else.</blockquote?
Whether or not Fine Gael can justifiably be linked to a fascist past, the accusation was evidenced with a link to a different Michael Nugent running as one of their candidates. Surely that deserves an apology even if Theo continues to hold unusual views on Irish politics?

269 Lancelot Gobbo December 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Dammit. What happened to my closing >’s?

270 Pitchguest December 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm

You attract the attention, and support, of people like Thunderf00t and Vox Day (inter alia) …

First of all, guilt by association fallacy. Second of all, he also attracts people like you, Theo, my boy. Maybe you haven’t thought this through.

271 Matt Cavanaugh December 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Theophontes wrote: “Perhaps if people cared more about history, they would be less confused about what happened in Ferguson.”

Throughout history, trying to take a cop’s gun has always been a bad idea.

272 Minnow December 8, 2014 at 4:20 pm

“A person’s arguments stand or fall on their own merits, regardless of who else that person is associated with.”

Or, as Orwell said: ‘Some things are true even if Lord Halifax says they are true.’

273 Minnow December 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm

“Throughout history, trying to take a cop’s gun has always been a bad idea.”

For some value of ‘bad idea’. In the UK a police officer threatened with a man wielding a blood-dripping cleaver that had just been used to decapitate another man had the self discipline to shoot him in the foot rather than killing him outright. That is because she a) knew what she was doing b) had some training and c) wasn’t a moron who for some reason had been given a gun, presumably by other morons.

274 Jan Steen December 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm

And another comical interlude by theophontes. Always keen to provide a life illustration of the typical SJW modus operandi. He’s instructive, if nothing else.

275 Gerhard December 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Minnow:

For some value of ‘bad idea’. In the UK a police officer threatened with a man wielding a blood-dripping cleaver that had just been used to decapitate another man had the self discipline to shoot him in the foot rather than killing him outright. That is because she a) knew what she was doing b) had some training and c) wasn’t a moron who for some reason had been given a gun, presumably by other morons.

I am very impressed with the level of training that would enable targeting of an onrushing 300lb thug’s foot.

276 Darby December 8, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Oh for fuck’s sake, take the “Rah, rah cops, get the thugs” bullshit back to the Pit. Leave Michael’s blog for the serious business of making Theo look like a twit.

277 Jack Rawlinson December 8, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Yes, please, for the love of all things unholy, let’s not have a bloody gun thread here. The Steersman derail was bad enough.

278 piero December 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm

@Darby:

Leave Michael’s blog for the serious business of making Theo look like a twit.

But.. but theo has had enough practice to manage on his own. What are we expected to do, sit and watch?

279 Gerhard December 8, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Oh for fuck’s sake, take the “Rah, rah cops, get the thugs” bullshit back to the Pit. Leave Michael’s blog for the serious business of making Theo look like a twit.

How about you take your mind reading module in for an overhaul.

280 Aneris ✻ December 8, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Theophontes wrote: You attract the attention, and support, of people like Thunderf00t and Vox Day (inter alia) because they see you as being somehow aligned with their twisted, deeply reactionary, world views. They sought you out. Perhaps you should address them as to why they have done this. And yes, their support of you does make you look bad – whether or not we point this out.

You misunderstand the situation. If I admit only people with blue shirts into my club, then those who are outside can still wear any shirt they want. If I want to expand my “blue shirt only” policy across town, then I will find people in the opposition who wear all sorts of shirts, but might disagree with my “blue shirt only” policy. It is mistake to assume that therefore, everyone must wear a shirt of a particular colour. A red-shirt might speak up and people with green, yellow, pink, black and even blue shirts can agree to it.

Regarding Vox Day: Not that it is particularily important, but now that I looked up “Vox Day” I see that he is a “fundamentalist Southern Baptist” and a New Atheist flea, who apparently isn’t exactly a great admirer of Richard Dawkins. That would be again very odd to place a “fundamentalist Southern Baptist” who dislikes Richard Dawkins into the same camp as Michael Nugent, from Ireland, who defended Richard Dawkins against smears.

Do you genuinely believe the world only consists of two teams? Your and the enemy team? Are you just doing it because you want to rile someone up with it? It’s odd that such names always come out of nowhere, as if you (and others like you) always try to create an impression as if all “awful people” in your opinion somehow conspire against your Good People faction. And then, where did this person show support for Michael Nugent?

281 Steersman December 8, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Jack Rawlinson (#277):

The Steersman derail was bad enough.

Your opinion, and you’re welcome and entitled to it, although I might point out that not everyone here shares it, even apart from myself. In any case, “I am glad to have been exposed to this point of view and appreciate the time you took to express it.” … 😉

282 Steersman December 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm

JetLagg (#253):

That the most fierce resistance against SJW mentality has come from gaming makes a lot of sense. …. Like evolutionary pressures, it’s not to be taken as a model for morality, but you’re a fool to ignore the tides.

Indeed. While I am generally in support of #GamerGate, it doesn’t take much of a “charitable” or skeptical frame of mind to realize that there are more than a few flying that particular flag who are anything but a reasonable or credible “model for morality”. Which is unfortunate as it tends merely to give ammunition, “aid and comfort”, to those sporting that “SJW morality”. For instance, consider this recent post (1) by H.J. Hornbeck on M.A. Melby’s blog; while his “logic” is frequently highly suspect, as is his grasp of the difference between a map and the territory it represents (2), and I think he too tends more to “grinding an axe”, I also think he at least identifies a “problematic” cohort here under that umbrella:

Opfag: I’m debating whether or not we should just attack zoe
Opfag: turn her into a victim
Opfag: let her cry and take it further
NASA_Agent: she’s already a victim
OtherGentleman: She’s a professional victim
NASA_Agent: it was real in her mind
ebola-chan: She’s victimizing herself.
Opfag: push her… push her further….. further, until eventually she an heroes
Silver|2: She’s a professional victim. She doesn’t do it for free
OtherGentleman: She can’t even into depression. What makes you think she has the balls to kill herself?
Opfag: I kind of want to just make her life irreparably horrible.

I don’t think trying to sweep that rather large mess under the carpet does anyone any good at all.

——–
1) “_http://sinmantyx.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/my-little-takedown-of-christina-hoff-sommers/”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map%E2%80%93territory_relation”;

283 JetLagg December 9, 2014 at 12:44 am

I was trying to say that capitalism should not be used as a model for morality, and more than evolution should (as Dawkins points out), but it’s foolish to think you can build a moral system that is completely at odds with evolutionary and capitalist pressures, and expect that system to succeed.

The anti-sex feminists who wish to make men ashamed of their desires are one example. Indie devs who effectively don’t want games to be fun are another. I believe their efforts are ultimately doomed. People will pay for games that are fun, and capitalism then dictates success will come to the companies that meet that need. Sexy women are to men what laser pointers are to cats, and evolution then dictates success will come to the women who meet that need.

284 Steersman December 9, 2014 at 1:13 am

JetLagg (#283):

That wasn’t really clear from your comment, although it might have been if I’d read more of the surrounding comments for context. However, my point there was largely that “fierce” is one thing – being a dickhead and a bully is something else again. Which many on “our” side seem somewhat loath to confront – somewhat uncharitably.

In any case, while I appreciate that you qualified your position with “completely at odds with evolutionary and capitalist pressures”, it still looks like condoning & pandering to our worst instincts. Maybe, probably, banning games isn’t the solution of choice as in this recent case in Australia (1):

Target Australia is removing Grand Theft Auto V from store shelves after more than 40,000 people who say the video game encourages players to murder women for entertainment signed an online petition asking the retailer to stop selling it.

But I hardly think it unreasonable to argue or suggest that we should be better than that.

———
1) “_http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/gta-5-game-banned-from-target-stores-in-australia-1.2860195”;

285 JetLagg December 9, 2014 at 2:02 am

That we should do better than what capitalism and evolution, viewed in isolation, dictate is exactly my point. I also believe, however, that there are some hard limits you run into when trying to enact change. Hypothetically, the world might be better if you could get men to stop obsessing over breasts, but that simply isn’t going to happen (barring some sort of radical advancement that allows us to rewire our evolutionary programming). So, any proposed program needs to take that into account. This fact (and I say it is a brute fact) is ignored by your average SJW. The naivete on display is mind-boggling.

Essentially, I’m saying anyone who believes they can achieve utopia within their lifetime (or, depending on how hard a definition of utopia you choose, within the lifetime of the universe) are being childish. By way of anecdote, I was given an assignment in the 6th grade to create a fictional nation. I invented a system of government I thought was revolutionary, and couldn’t believe nobody had thought of it already. The next semester we covered the Soviet Union, and I realized I hadn’t really thought things through. I see a lot of the same ignorance in the current culture war.

286 Steersman December 9, 2014 at 2:35 am

JetLagg (#285):

That we should do better than what capitalism and evolution, viewed in isolation, dictate is exactly my point.

Well then we agree – largely in any case. :-)

I also believe, however, that there are some hard limits you run into when trying to enact change.

Yea, probably, although I think we’re a long ways away from them. However, while I also agree with you about “the ignorance in the current culture war” – which one might argue is based on wishful thinking, on letting ideology dictate science and much else (Jerry Coyne’s recent point, if I’m not mistaken, that led to PZ getting his knickers in a twist [again] about evo-psych), it also seems you’re ready to abandon the field long before the battle is even joined. Somewhat apropos of which, you might enjoy this article by A.C. Grayling on some views by another philosopher, John Gray:

The secular view is a true narrative of incremental improvement in the human condition through education and political action. [John] Gray thinks that such a view must of necessity be utopian, as if everyone simplistically thought that making things better (in dentistry, in the rule of law, in child health, in international mechanisms for reducing conflict, and so forth for many things) absolutely had to be aimed at realising an ideal golden age to have any meaning. But it does not: trying to make things better is not the same as believing that they can be made perfect. That is a point Gray completely fails to grasp, and it vitiates his case. Since that is so, the point bears repeating: meliorism is not perfectibilism.

———-
1) “_https://newhumanist.org.uk/1423”;

287 theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物) December 9, 2014 at 9:36 am

@ OP

Democrats used to support slavery.

A far more pertinent comparison, to the linked image, would have been the American salute to the stars-‘n-bars. It was promoted by a Baptist Christian-Socialist, and only later adopted by the German National-Socialists.

Aneris ✻

And then, where did this person show support for Michael Nugent?

Where else but his own blog? Vox Popoli He cites Michael’s words verbatim, to endorse his little hoggle-fest. (As does Conservapedia.)

Your multicoloured patchwork quilt-of-shirts aside , you must surely – at some stage – become aware that Michael is receiving a load of endorsement from reactionary types of all stripes.

288 Jack Rawlinson December 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm

…you must surely – at some stage – become aware that Michael is receiving a load of endorsement from reactionary types of all stripes.

FTFY.

By the way, theophontes, when are you going to apologise for implying Michael is a fascist based on nothing but snide innuendo and wildly inappropriate guilt by association?

289 Jack Rawlinson December 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Well damn. Guess the strikeout tag doesn’t work. Imagine the blockquote above has the words “reactionary types of” struck out and you’ll get the point I was trying to make.

290 Michael Nugent December 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Jack, I’ve corrected that. The strikeout tag is del.

291 Aheydis Vaakenjab December 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm

@Theo

So, 3 or 4 comments on this thread and you’ve still not apologized to MN for calling him a fascist or contributed anything meaningful to the, albeit, slightly derailed conversation (not looking at Steersman.. nope :-) ).

You see Theo, therein lies the dilemma – you can either continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that you’re wrong and continue to snake around having to actually apologize for something you did wrong, or you can just admit a mistake like a person with credibility does.

Although most people here probably have no pity for you at this point (me being one of them), it would go a long way towards building some sort of dialogue with both sides of the fence if you could own up to your absolutely fabricated story. You’ve stepped up as a member of FtB’s clique willing to smear someone – like it or not, you’ve become the face of FtB along side PZ, recognizable via smears and innuendo against people who do not perfectly align with your points of view. This is the public face you’ve put on your nym. I hope you enjoy that.

Again, I certainly hope for your sake you’re never accused of being half of what you and PZ have accused MN of being.

292 Dave Allen December 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

The anti-sex feminists who wish to make men ashamed of their desires are one example. Indie devs who effectively don’t want games to be fun are another. I believe their efforts are ultimately doomed. People will pay for games that are fun, and capitalism then dictates success will come to the companies that meet that need. Sexy women are to men what laser pointers are to cats, and evolution then dictates success will come to the women who meet that need.

On the other hand – novelty is important for both evolution and capitalism.

Anita’s vids, for example, would be fairly useful if the notion of “tropes” was cleaved to without all the abject nonsense about how damaging they were. If her message was not so much “be less exist according to a rather narrow view of sexism” and more “be more creative”.

That’d be a worthwhile exercise, because the thrust would be to encourage novelty rather than stamp on creative expression.

It even might not be about denying the selling power of sexiness, as opposed to finding new ways in which to present or depict sexiness.

293 Dave Allen December 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Somewhat apropos of which, you might enjoy this article by A.C. Grayling on some views by another philosopher, John Gray:

Always fun to see a world renowned philosopher strawmanning it like, I dunno, PZ Myers or someone.

Gray’s arguments against progress aren’t vs meliorism as attempted project. He just points out that it can’t be relied upon in perpetuity.

294 Jan Steen December 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

@theophontes,

(…) Michael is receiving a load of endorsement from reactionary types of all stripes.

Is this supposed to prove anything? What are you insinuating?

Moderate, democratic politicians who opposed Maoist rebels in various countries were probably endorsed by “reactionary types of all stripes”. Does that prove that the democrats were wrong and the Maoists right?

And guess who I think are the equivalent of Maoist rebels in this comparison.

295 Matt Cavanaugh December 9, 2014 at 6:54 pm

@ Minnow 273, Darby 276, Jack R 277

Theo made a passing comment; I made a quick rejoinder. Wasn’t attempting a “derail”, & not interested in discussing that topic at length here in any case — especially not with folks working off a misinformed & clichéd picture of US police and race relations.

Still, I’m surprised that, even when a subject is broached by another commenter, you all consider certain points of view verboten.

296 Bill December 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm

I am going to try my hand at creating a smear. This is only to illustrate how incredibly acidic people who do this are.

Person X provides a safe haven for rapists. By publicly accusing Person Y of rape, he alerts Person Y that he is suspected of committing a serious crime. Sex offenders are at their most vulnerable when they have no idea they are suspects in committing a serious crime. If you ask them about the sexual encounter they self report as long as you do not refer or label the encounter rape, assault, sexual violence etc. See Lisak and Miller 2002 and McWorter 2009.

Person Y is now protected by his legal team and hard to get evidence against thanks to the rapist enabler Person X. Progressives and liberals like Person X also support grooming culture that enables rapists to operate by grooming the most vulnerable people in our society like women, homosexuals, etc by identifying vulnerabilities of these groups, by judging how they treat the most weakest members of our society, which is how sex offenders groom their victims, by looking for needs and “being there for them.”

Please stop name calling. It is incredibly counter productive and it drives people away.

297 Steersman December 9, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Dave Allen (#293):

Steersman: Somewhat apropos of which, you might enjoy this article by A.C. Grayling on some views by another philosopher, John Gray ….

Dave Allen: Always fun to see a world renowned philosopher strawmanning it like, I dunno, PZ Myers or someone.

Yea, maybe, at least to some extent. For instance, I figure Grayling was a little too quick to dismiss Gray for “calling any view or outlook a ‘religion’”. While that is probably predicated on a fairly narrow definition of religion, I figure there are others (1) that support Gray’s argument:

re•li•gion (r-ljn)
n.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

Which is maybe evidenced or supported by the rather dogmatic stance – and “totalitarian impulses” – that many take – and give free rein to – in their atheism and “social justice warrioring”.

However, not sure that this holds much water:

Dave Allen: Gray’s arguments against progress aren’t vs. meliorism as attempted project. He just points out that it can’t be relied upon in perpetuity.

Seems Grayling has some justification for throwing a stone or two at Gray’s apparent denial of any “progress” at all:

Grayling: How can Gray so far ignore this bald fact of history as to make the modern secular West the inheritor of the ideals and aspirations of what it fought so hard to free itself from (and is still bedevilled by)? His accordingly is a bizarre fantasy-version of history. In the face of the central heating that warms him, the modern dentistry that allows him to chew his peanuts, the computer he writes his strange books on and the aeroplanes he travels in, he asserts that “progress is a myth”. But perhaps he does not mean to call material progress a myth, but rather alleged progress in the political condition of a large portion of mankind. Does he thus mean that the movement from feudal baronies to universal suffrage and independent judiciaries is not progress? If it is not, what is it? Regress?

Seems there’s something to be said on both sides of that issue – as there frequently is on most of them. But, arguably, many of the bones of contention may be more apparent than real – largely or substantially predicated on idiosyncratic differences in “lumping and splitting”, on various cognitive illusions as with the “spinning dancer” (2), on various “problems of induction” (3).

———
1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/religion”;
2) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_Dancer”;
3) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction”;

298 Dave Allen December 9, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Steers:

To me it just seems that Grayling hasn’t read much further into Gray than the titles of his books (though I suppose you’re in for some brickbats if you do author a book called “Against Progress”).

Gray’s central argument isn’t that developing some sort of comfort or improvement isn’t to be appreciated. For example one of his best pieces is a satire aimed at bemoaning torture, which would seem to be a strange effort from someone who doesn’t think there’s anything better about modern ethics than, say, Roman ones.

It’s more that he finds the notion that progress could satisfy an escape from humanity’s eventual extinction, or that people ignore periods of history in which progress was halted or set back.

Grayling seems to read this as a dislike or disavowal of progress on a personal level. I didn’t get that myself – it’s more a dislike of the notion that progress can “save” us in the extreme long term.

There are things about Gray that strike me as worth bellyaching about – he depends a lot on Lovelockian stuff that even Lovelock distances himself from these days, I think. However, he’s not the nutter Grayling seems to paint him either.

I really like Grayling – but I don’t think he’s doing much more than poking at first impressions here (and to be fair, I’ve seen Gray do just as badly in regard to his own criticisms of Pinker – he didn’t like “Better Angels” but didn’t articulate why very well – , and maybe even Zizek).

299 Jack Rawlinson December 9, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Cheers for fixing that, Michael. Must remember… ‘del’, not ‘s’!

300 Steersman December 9, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Dave (#298):

… though I suppose you’re in for some brickbats if you do author a book called “Against Progress”.

Indeed. While I haven’t actually read any book from either of them, it seems Gray at least is forcing his argument somewhat, that he has a bit of an axe to grind, that he’s trying for the proverbial “bridge too far” – so to speak.

It’s more that he finds the notion that progress could satisfy an escape from humanity’s eventual extinction, or that people ignore periods of history in which progress was halted or set back.

Yea, even assuming we could surmount the problem of personal mortality – not impossible methinks, although that doesn’t address the view that “against boredom even the gods struggle in vain” – there’s the “big crunch” to contend with. In the face of which, “ultimate purposes” is a bit of a thorny problem. Somewhat apropos, a quote from a paper (1) by the anthropologist John Hartung who in turn quotes a popular passage from Bertrand Russell:

Hartung: Engels was wrong about the details (the sun will expand and burn the earth to a cinder), but the dilemma does not lie in the details. As put by Bertrand Russell (1927):

All the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and . . . the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.

And the proletariat’s question remains the same: why sacrifice to save the snail darter, or even the ozone layer, in order to inflict the final disaster on generation Y instead of generation X? Religion is the opiate of the masses, but taking away their drug will not resolve the angst that drives them to addiction.

Hartung was talking in the context of the “eco-morality” answer to that question of purposes, but his statement seems to have some general applicability. Not least to the limited ability of atheism – and the “atheist movement” – to “resolve that angst”.

——–
1) “_http://strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=12”;

301 Dave Allen December 10, 2014 at 11:21 am

While I haven’t actually read any book from either of them, it seems Gray at least is forcing his argument somewhat, that he has a bit of an axe to grind, that he’s trying for the proverbial “bridge too far” – so to speak.

Well, I do strongly recommend “Straw Dogs”.

That said, on one hand you say he seems to be forcing an argument, and on the other you’re admitting that an end will come.

The return of sanctioned torture as a tool of how ‘the west’ does things – whilst it is something he is angry about – does also support his argument – ‘the west’ in this regard adopts what itself tends to regard as an atavistic moral stance despite all the progress in other regards.

302 Steersman December 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Dave Allen (#301):

That said, on one hand you say he seems to be forcing an argument, and on the other you’re admitting that an end will come.

Those aren’t mutually exclusive positions to be taking: some of his arguments are forced, others – not so much. For instance, consider this from Grayling:

Grayling: When Gray writes, “The Bolshevik and Nazi seizures of power were faith-based upheavals just as much as the Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic insurrection…The very idea of revolution as a transforming event in history is owed to religion…”, this lumping exactly where splitting is necessary for clarity allows him to argue a spectacular circle: the “secular religions” arose from religion, have failed and were inevitably violent because they were based on myths of progress that required coercion to get people to conform, and now the only thing that can and will take their place is “the violence of faith”.

And this:

Grayling: Were there space enough and time here, there are scores of points that require what bloggers call “Fisking” – debunking and correction. One example is Gray’s claim that Christianity introduced the concept of teleology into Western thought. Hello? What of Aristotle’s priority here?

Methinks that those constitute some evidence that Gray is more interested in grinding an axe – forcing an ugly argument into a glass slipper of facts, so to speak – than he is in providing an honest assessment. More particularly, while I’ll concede that there’s some faith that the premises underlying communism in particular are “true”, I’d say it’s a serious stretch – at best, being charitable to a fault – for Gray to insist that the Russian Revolution, for example, was just as much a “faith-based upheaval” as “Khomeini’s theocratic insurrection”. Care to argue that there weren’t more facts on the side of the former than on the side of the latter?

But the upshot of that is, I think, to acknowledge that not all faiths are created equal, and that the differences are frequently crucial: seems intellectually dishonest – or particularly obtuse or narrow-minded – to argue otherwise. And that there is frequently some necessity for some degree of faith – tempered by large dollops of facts and reason. For example, consider this passage from The Human Use of Human Beings from Norbert Wiener, one of the progenitors of the science of cybernetics (1: “stems from κυβερνήτης [kybernētēs] ‘steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder’”):

Wiener: I have said that science is impossible without faith. By this I do not mean that the faith on which science depends is religious in nature or involves the acceptance of any of the dogmas of the ordinary religious creeds, yet without faith that nature is subject to law there can be no science. No amount of demonstration can ever prove that nature is subject to law. [pg 193]

Why I think that there’s some merit in this perspective of Gray’s, one that one might justifiably argue Grayling seriously misconstrues:

Grayling: One thing that cannot be let go by is Gray’s backhanded defence of religion as “at its best … an attempt to deal with mystery rather than the hope that mystery will be unveiled”, and regrets that “this civilising perception” (one gasps) has been lost in the current clash of fundamentalisms.

While I don’t want to engage or indulge in “mystery-mongering”, it seems to me that the “flaw” – possibly a fatal one – in much of the atheist & skeptic community, “movement”, and philosophy is a problematic level of hubris, an insistence that science and philosophy itself are exhaustive and “done deals”, a refusal to acknowledge that “there are [probably] more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in [either]”: there may well be crucially important “mysteries” that are simply unfathomable – consciousness for example and the issue of free will for another, and which can’t be “dealt” with short of simply going “forward” with a modicum of “faith”, in some degree of “fear and trembling”.
———
1) “_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybernetics#Etymology”;

303 Dave Allen December 10, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Care to argue that there weren’t more facts on the side of the former than on the side of the latter?

No – because I don’t know enough about the Iranian revolution to be able to appraise it with much nuance.

But when we do look at things like Bolshevik processions depicting “machines of reason” crushing the older order I do think we are seeing a certain naive fetishisation of reason which is actually a whole lot less reasonable than a great deal of moderate religion.

The Jacobites? Even worse in terms of fetishising reason.

Just as whilst we might bemoan Iranian theocracy, presumably the excesses/depredations of the Shah provided a body of argument that had nothing to do with the metaphysical content of the Hadith or Koran. Now the Shah wasn’t some secular hero – but he was both less theocratic and less ‘reasonable’ in many ways than the ayatollahs – terrible as they may be.

Another more stark example: he points out the the bomb vest tech we now associate with Islamic terror was developed and liberally employed by secular Marxists.

Hopefully movement atheism has got over naive fetishisation of principles that shouldn’t be fetishised – reason, by definition I would say, shouldn’t be hyped up by anyone who doesn’t want to look a hypocrite – but there might be reason to be pessimistic here. For example Gray did compare the four horsemen phenomenon to Comte’s Church of Positivity (a hilarious attempt to marry secularist thought with religious trappings – noted as providing sermons on such matters as “how canals will put a stop to tyranny” and so on).

I feel this is unfair – but what of A+?

304 Steersman December 12, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Dave Allen (#303):

Steersman: Care to argue that there weren’t more facts on the side of the former than on the side of the latter?

Dave Allen: No – because I don’t know enough about the Iranian revolution to be able to appraise it with much nuance.

That looks a little disingenuous. While I’ll certainly concede that there was probably no shortage of inequities – and iniquities – in both Russia and Iran at the time of their revolutions, I’d say it is a serious stretch to suggest that the differences in the fundamental premises motivating both wouldn’t have had serious and problematic consequences. Why I think Grayling had some justification for criticizing Gray’s rather specious claim that “The Bolshevik and Nazi seizures of power were faith-based upheavals just as much as the Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic insurrection”: “just as much” looks like a claim of identity which seems rather clearly not the case – unless you think believing in Allah is on par with believing in the concepts underlying, for examples, “the proletariat”, or the structural deficiencies of capitalism.

Dave Allen: But when we do look at things like Bolshevik processions depicting “machines of reason” crushing the older order I do think we are seeing a certain naive fetishization of reason which is actually a whole lot less reasonable than a great deal of moderate religion.

Certainly some propaganda there. But I’ll concede that many in the atheist/skeptic communities seem to have some misplaced faith in reason – for instance Jerry Coyne’s recent post on free will (1) which seems predicated on a rather dogmatic interpretation and misunderstanding of the concept of “physical laws”.

——
1) “_http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/the-dark-side-of-free-will/”;

305 Dave Allen December 12, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Why I think Grayling had some justification for criticizing Gray’s rather specious claim that “The Bolshevik and Nazi seizures of power were faith-based upheavals just as much as the Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic insurrection”: “just as much” looks like a claim of identity which seems rather clearly not the case – unless you think believing in Allah is on par with believing in the concepts underlying, for examples, “the proletariat”, or the structural deficiencies of capitalism.

In terms of Gray’s original argument I don’t think it was so much about belief in Allah as believing those who did believe in Allah would lead those who rallied to their cause into a better society.

Faith in a utopian vision – whether or not that vision is inspired by Hadith/Koran or Das Kapital.

306 Steersman December 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Dave Allen (#305):

In terms of Gray’s original argument I don’t think it was so much about belief in Allah as believing those who did believe in Allah would lead those who rallied to their cause into a better society.

And what justification would people have for thinking that “those who believe in Allah” would actually create “a better society”? Unless they themselves believed in Allah, and agreed with the style of government dictated by the Quran. Which looks rather problematic – you may wish to read Ibn Warraq’s “Why I’m Not a Muslim” for support for that term and argument, notably the view that Islam is intrinsically antithetical to democracy, that it is intrinsically fascist and totalitarian with no option whatsoever for questioning “received wisdom”.

Faith in a utopian vision – whether or not that vision is inspired by Hadith/Koran or Das Kapital.

I agreed with Gray, at least to the extent of accepting that there’s some elements of faith in both cases. But he, with your apparent support, appears to insist that all faiths, all manifestations of the perspective, are identical, and that they should be condemned equally. Which, as I’ve endeavored to illustrate, is not at all supported or justified by the facts of the matter.

307 Dave Allen December 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

And what justification would people have for thinking that “those who believe in Allah” would actually create “a better society”?

Well, in that circumstance, the Shah really. I believe the situation was that populist leftist movements against the Shah had been tried and failed – perhaps because certain western powers wouldn’t countenance an alliance between a socialist Iran and the USSR – so following a religious revolutionary leader was the only practical option left to those looking to overthrow the Shah.

That the Ayatollahs are awful strikes me as obvious, but given the choice between them and the Shah I’m fairly certain I’d prefer them.

And given the consequences of the Bolshevik revolution was faith in the Ayatollahs any more or less disastrous than faith in Bolshevik Marxism?

But he, with your apparent support, appears to insist that all faiths, all manifestations of the perspective, are identical, and that they should be condemned equally.

No. He’s a fan of a Churchillian view of western liberal democracies I think. Best of a bad bunch.

308 Steersman December 14, 2014 at 1:26 am

Dave Allen (#307):

Well, in that circumstance, the Shah really.

That might provide some motivation, but I can’t see that it provides much justification for believing that the Ayatollahs could actually deliver on the promise. Particularly given the rather backward and barbaric nature of most if not all Muslim countries. Although it may have been the only option available.

But I’ll concede that the West – particularly Britain and America – had a rather deplorable hand in creating the circumstances that led to the Iranian revolution.

No. He’s a fan of a Churchillian view of western liberal democracies I think. Best of a bad bunch.

Well then there’s some hope for him. :-) However, while I might have gone overboard somewhat in characterizing his position as arguing “that all faiths … are identical, and should be condemned equally”, I think the following from Grayling’s article pretty much supports it, as well as raising a question as to how much a fan of “western liberal democracies” he really is:

Grayling: In a nutshell the book [Gray’s Black Mass] consists in the repeated assertion that modern secularist thinking is utopian in aspiration, has inherited this aspiration from Christianity, has failed because its belief in progress is false and has in fact been violently regressive.

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