PZ Myers defenders are now smearing the integrity of Atheist Ireland committee members

by Michael Nugent on April 11, 2015

I had a constructive Twitter conversation with Ashley Miller yesterday, which we hope to continue soon, about Atheist Ireland’s dissociation from the harmful and hateful rhetoric of PZ Myers. Parts of it are storified here. I appreciate Ashley’s commitment to researching the evidence, and her willingness to engage in reasoned dialogue. It is a hopeful sign.

However, not everybody has responded in the same way. I’ve learned some time ago that, whenever you highlight the smears of PZ Myers, you have to also schedule some time to correct the new smears that will be invented to distract attention from the original smears.

This time around, some defenders of PZ’s hateful rhetoric are now extending the ongoing smearing of me personally, to now also smear the integrity and good work of Atheist Ireland, and to outrageously link our Dublin Chairperson Ashling O’Brien, our Newsletter Editor Derek Walsh, and our Human Rights Officer Jane Donnelly (who chaired our international conference on Empowering Women through Secularism), with supporting abusers and silencing rape victims.

I am typically more comfortable defending others than defending myself. Indeed, it was in response to me defending others that PZ turned his focus on me. And believe me, I will strongly defend my friends and colleagues in Atheist Ireland against these scandalous smears against their character and the important work they are doing.

Fortunately, outside of the choir to which these smears are being preached, they will bump into the reality of Atheist Ireland’s hard-earned reputation for patient, detailed, robust, persistent work on the ground to promote atheism, reason and ethical secularism, and the integrity and good character of our committee members. Nevertheless, it is useful to put on record the new smears, and to contrast them with the actual work done by Atheist Ireland.

This post examines recent responses involving:

1. Xenophobic prejudice against Atheist Ireland and Ireland
2. Attributing false motivations to Atheist Ireland
3. Outrageously defamatory smears about Atheist Ireland
4. Suggestions that Atheist Ireland is only Michael Nugent
5. Contrasted with an overview of Atheist Ireland’s work
6. And reports from the most recent Atheist Ireland AGM

1. Xenophobic prejudice against Atheist Ireland and Ireland

Ophelia Benson described Atheist Ireland’s statement as:

“Excommunicating PZ from a tiny organization he didn’t belong to in the first place, in a country with a population the size of Louisiana’s.”

Aside from the incorrect use of the word excommunicate, this is simply a prejudiced dismissal of both Atheist Ireland and Ireland itself, based solely on the size of our population.

It came soon after PZ had described me as ‘the Irish wanker’, and then later ‘that wanker from Atheist Ireland’. Altogether a nice mix of xenophobic prejudice that adds nothing constructive to the discourse.

This is particularly strange coming from Ophelia, who predicted this very argument and condemned it in advance last year, when she tweeted about me:

Ophelia – “Imagine if we called him some slur for “Irish” but pretended it was ok because specific to him. Explosions would ensue.”

SpokesGay – “And he’d immediately expect you to have banished such a commenter yesterday without having it pointed out to you.”

Ophelia – “I’d have banished or rebuked before he saw it.”

2. Attributing false motivations to Atheist Ireland

Ophelia also said about the Atheist Ireland statement that:

“This business of “disassociating” is just trying to make “I hate you I hate you I hate you!!!” look official and important. I don’t think many people are fooled.”

But did Ophelia say the same when PZ Myers published a post titled:

“I officially divorce myself from the skeptic movement”?

Did Ophelia say then that PZ was “just trying to make “I hate you I hate you I hate you!!!” look official and important”? No, she didn’t. So why is she saying it now about Atheist Ireland?

This is particularly strange, given that Ophelia personally knows several of the Officers of Atheist Ireland. She actually knows that this is not how we think, that we do not hate anybody and indeed campaign against hatred, yet she chooses to write it anyway.

It is also strange because, after our Empowering Women in Secularism Conference in Dublin two years ago, Ophelia said that she mostly agreed with what I said to her about “the drama”.

3. Outrageously defamatory smears about Atheist Ireland

A commenter on Ophelia’s blog described Atheist Ireland as:

“an organization that’s happy to let bigots run amok and provide a safe space for creepy men to harass women. So fuck Nugent, and fuck his organization. He is an Irish Wanker, and he can quote me on that.”

This is scandalously false. Atheist Ireland campaigns actively to protect and promote women’s rights within our organisation and within society. We are one of only two atheist organisations in the world to have hosted an international conference on Empowering Women Through Secularism. We have women in key positions of Secretary, Human Rights officer and Dublin Chairperson.

Also, the SecularWoman Twitter account joined in with a similar smear, linking Atheist Ireland, our Dublin Chairperson Ashling O’Brien, our Newsletter Editor Derek Walsh, and our Human Rights Officer Jane Donnelly (who chaired our international conference on Empowering Women through Secularism), with supporting abusers and silencing rape victims. Thank you to Atheist Northern Ireland for bringing this to our attention.

SecularWoman – We believe in supporting victims of rape, harassment, and stalking not silencing them and supporting their abusers. Instead of supporting abusers support folks like @ashleyfmiller @pzmyers @rebeccawatson @AlexGabriel @heinousdealings @GretaChristina

Atheist NI to SecularWoman – Are you saying that our colleagues @atheistie support abusers? If so, that’s an outrageous statement.

SecularWoman to Atheist NI – that is the definition of supporting abusers and we disassociate ourselves from it.

Ashling O’Brien to SecularWoman – Hi @SecularWoman I am on the executive committee of @atheistie, are you saying that I support abusers?

Derek Walsh to SecularWoman – Same goes for me. Are you also saying I support the silencing of rape victims?

Jane Donnelly to SecularWoman – And me. Are you also saying that I support the silencing of rape victims?

SecularWoman to Ashling O’Brien, Derek Walsh and Jane Donnelly – that depends. Do you stand behind Nugent’s comments and the statement that was released? If so we have nothing to discuss.

SecularWoman – Documentation of Nugent’s comments and silencing of rape victims: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/11/01/the-end-of-the-micknugent-saga/

As an aside, if you follow this link, it alleges that I support silencing of rape victims, while actually quoting me saying the opposite of that. Also, it was posted last November by PZ Myers and titled ‘The end of the Mick Nugent saga.’ That seems to have worked pretty well, then.

Derek Walsh to SecularWoman – Yes I do. But neither I nor any other @atheistie committee members – including @micknugent – support silencing rape victims.

SecularWoman to Derek Walsh – this timeline and Nugent’s own words say otherwise: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/11/01/the-end-of-the-micknugent-saga/

Derek Walsh – They don’t though, at all. Most of it is Michael requesting that PZ withdraw the sort of defamatory smears you are now making. It’s not clear why you would continue to make such blatantly false and harmful statements. Please withdraw them.

Jane Donnelly to SecularWoman – Never heard of you before, obviously a troll and I agree we have nothing to discuss

SecularWoman to Jane Donnelly – we are not a troll or a trolling account. You and others came into our mentions with questions and we are responding. if you would like us not to contact you we will honor that immediately.

Jane Donnelly to SecularWoman – Spent 3hrs at Children’s rights meeting, came home to a tweet that I supported abusers

Secular Woman to Ashling O’Brien – that depends. Do you stand behind Nugent’s comments and the statement that was released? If so we have nothing to discuss.

Ashling O’Brien to SecularWoman – the statement that was released was from the @atheistie executive committee, I am on that committee, I stand behind it 100%. So are you saying I support abusers?

Secular Woman to Ashling O’Brien – do you do or support the things we have outlined as supportive of abusers? If so that answers your question.

Ashling O’Brien to SecularWoman – tbh I find it quite shocking that any group which claims to give a voice to women would ask another woman that question

Secular Woman to Ashling O’Brien – why? women are just as capable of supporting and perpetuating abuse, sexism, etc.

Ashling O’Brien to SecularWoman – the statement I put my name behind outlined atrocious behaviour towards the secular/atheist community by @pzmyers & for that you try to tell me I am supporting abusers? You can’t see anything wrong with that? Have you become so desensitised?

Derek Walsh to SecularWoman – But why are you making these heinous accusations of women who have spent years fighting for women’s rights? They are disgusting allegations that are not only unfounded but fly in the face of all the evidence.

During this, Ashling O’Brien also had this exchange with a person named Donnie @DPSisler

Donnie to Ashling O’Brien – Just so we are same page, AI does not stand behind victims

Ashling O’Brien to Donnie – on the same page? We’re not even reading from the same book. @atheistie has stood behind me.

Donnie to Ashling O’Brien – Thank you. AI supports speakers who have non-consensual sex (rape) of attendees.

Ashling O’Brien to Donnie – What are you thanking me for? Last AI conference nearly all women speakers. Are you suggesting one of them raped an attendee? http://facebook.com/EWTS2013. As much as I would love to continue this, I’m going out canvassing for marriage equality. You know, with nice social activists who don’t resort to calling each other wankers. you describe yourself as a skeptic and humanist, I see evidence of neither in this interaction. Can I suggest you do more research preferably outside of Free Thought Blogs and then we can talk further if you want.

Here is another exchange between Jennifer McCreight @jennifurret and former Atheist Ireland Committee member Peter Ferguson @Humanisticus. In particular, the final tweet by Jennifer is entirely false.

Jennifer – Apparently Atheist Ireland only supports feminism when it’s critiquing religion. Michael Nugent loved my talk but missed the big picture

Peter – What has criticising PZ’s violent rhetoric and defamatory smears got to do with Atheist Ireland’s support of feminism?

Jennifer – the fact that you’re delusional enough to think anything @pzmyers has said is violent or a smear

Peter – Even if I and Atheist Ireland are entirely wrong on that matter it still doesn’t say saying about their position on feminism.

Jennifer – They’re attacking @pzmyers completely bc of his support of women coming forward about harassment & rape. Feminism is relevant

4. Suggestions that Atheist Ireland is only Michael Nugent

Several of PZ’s defenders are implying in various ways that Atheist Ireland is only Michael Nugent, presumably in order to minimise the significance of a national organisation dissociating itself from his behaviour.

Flattering though it may be to attribute to me all of the achievements of Atheist Ireland, it is nonsensically untrue, and it is disrespectful to the many people who devote countless voluntary hours every week to our work in Ireland and internationally.

We have been trying for years to ask PZ to behave more responsibly, both in private conversations and in online disagreements between PZ, some of his defenders, and some Atheist Ireland committee members.

But this has been only a tiny part of our overall work. An increasingly important part, but still only a tiny part. Here are some examples of our work.

5. Overview of Atheist Ireland’s work

  • Atheist Ireland founded 2008, run on a voluntary basis.
  • Regional groups around country, 7,000 online supporters.
  • Promote atheism, reason through conferences, publications, media.
  • Preparing objective course about atheism for primary school pupils.
  • Brief TDs and Senators, address Oireachtas hearings and meetings.
  • Registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission.
  • Advise people on human rights and liaise with human rights bodies.
  • Work with other rights-based groups including ESC Children’s Rights.
  • Met Presidents of European Commission, Parliament, Council 2010.
  • Hosted successful World Atheist Convention in Dublin in 2011.
  • Affiliated to Atheist Alliance International, relaunched in Dublin in 2011.
  • Briefed and attendedOSCE Human Dimension in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
  • Met Council of Europe delegations about human rights in 2012.
  • Hosted Conference on Empowering Women Through Secularism 2013.
  • Briefed and attended United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2014.
  • Founder member International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws 2015.
  • Met Irish Prime Minister, Education Minister and Civil Servants in 2015.
  • Will be attending UN session on ESC rights in 2015
  • Will be attending UN session on Rights of the Child in 2016.

6. Reports from most recent Atheist Ireland AGM

Atheist Ireland had a very busy and successful 2014, with breakthroughs in international lobbying at the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the OSCE annual human rights meeting; ongoing national lobbying on secular education and healthcare as well as laws including blasphemy and the Civil Registration Act; plus strong organisational development at regional level and upgrades to our website.

This video covers some of these achievements, as reported to the 2014 AGM on 25 October, by Chairperson Michael Nugent, Human Rights Officer Jane Donnelly, Regional Officer Kevin Sheehan, Dublin Chairperson Ashling O’Brien, Cavan Monaghan Chairperson John Hamill, North West Committee Member Kelvin O’Connor, Secretary Helen O’Shea and Finance Officer Sean O’Shea.

6(a) International Political lobbying on Human Rights

October 2013

  • Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly spoke at the OSCE’s international human rights implementation conference in Warsaw, Poland. This annual conference monitors how OSCE states are implementing their human rights obligations under international treaties.
  • We highlighted ongoing breaches of the human rights of atheists to freedom of conscience and belief, freedom of expression, equality before the law, freedom from discrimination, the right of pregnant women to health, the rights of the child and the right to a secular education.
  • We asked the OSCE to specifically combat discrimination against atheists in the same way as it specifically combats discrimination against Muslims, Jews and Christians. Read more.

November 2013

  • The UN Human Rights Committee published the list of issues that it will ask Ireland about, under the fourth periodic review of Ireland’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • The UN is to ask Ireland about three specifically secular issues raised by Atheist Ireland – the religious oaths for Irish public office holders, discrimination against atheists and religious minorities in Irish primary schools, and the Irish law against blasphemy. Read more.

March 2014

  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission to the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on Ireland’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland published an analysis of Why religious education must be neutral and objective, and how the Irish State is ignoring our human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Read more.

July 2014

  • Michael Nugent and Jane Donnelly briefed the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva about religious discrimination in Ireland, particularly in the education system. The issues we raised in our briefing were directly reflected in many of the UN’s questions to the Irish State delegation, led by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Read more.
  • In a significant exchange, the Irish Government formally accepted that the will of the Irish people as expressed in a referendum or parliamentary vote cannot be used to deny human rights, including to pregnant women who need an abortion to protect their health. Read more.
  • The Irish Government evaded most of the secular-related questions in its formal written response. Read more.
  • The UN Human Rights Committee told Ireland to stop breaching the human rights of atheists and minority faiths in the education system. Read more.
  • The UN Human Rights Committee told Ireland to stop breaching the human rights of atheists and minority faith teachers and health workers. Read more.
  • The UN Human Rights Committee told Ireland to remove religious oaths for public office and to remove the law against blasphemy. Read more.
  • These conclusions will form the basis of much of Atheist Ireland’s political work in the coming years. We have been working towards this event for several years, and this is the culmination to date of our policy of building our political lobbying on the foundation of human rights law.

September 2014

  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, who will be questioning Ireland next year on its obligations with regard to these rights.
  • We outlined the failure of the Irish State to protect the human rights of atheists and secularists in the Irish Education system, and with regard to employment in senior political and legal jobs, and with regard to discrimination against women under the right to health, and with regard to blasphemy laws under cultural rights, and it shows how Irelands’ human rights obligations are incompatible with the Irish Constitution. Read more.

October 2014

  • Michael Nugent and Kevin Sheehan attended and spoke at the OSCE’s international human rights implementation conference in Warsaw, Poland. This annual conference monitors how OSCE states are implementing their human rights obligations under international treaties.
  • We highlighted ongoing breaches of the human rights of atheists to freedom of conscience and belief, freedom of expression, equality before the law, freedom from discrimination, the right of pregnant women to health, the rights of the child and the right to a secular education.
  • We again asked the OSCE to specifically combat discrimination against atheists in the same way as it specifically combats discrimination against Muslims, Jews and Christians. Read more.

6(b) National Political Lobbying on Constitutional Change

October 2013

  • Atheist Ireland welcomed the call from six members of the Council of State for the removal of the religious elements from the oaths that the Irish President, judges and Council of State members have to swear in order to take up office. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission to the Constitutional Convention, titled A Secular Constitution for a Pluralist People. We recommended (a) Remove specific references to God (b) Replace all religious oaths for public officeholders with a single neutral declaration, and (c) Amend the Articles on Fundamental Rights to explicitly give equal protection to religious and nonreligious philosophical believers. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission to the Constitutional Convention, titled Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Without Discrimination. We asked the Convention to add the protection of ESC Rights onto its agenda, and to recommend to the Government to examine how best to protect ESC rights without discrimination on any of the grounds listed in the ICESCR. Read more.

November 2013

  • Michael Nugent, David Nash and Jane Donnelly addressed the Constitutional Convention on the topic of the blasphemy clause. We highlighted the impact of the Irish blasphemy law in ireland and internationally, including the case of Asia Bibi in Pakistan. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland members, coordinated by regional officer Kevin Sheehan, attended all public meetings of the Constitutional Convention in Cork, Galway, Waterford, Dublin, Sligo, Athlone and Monaghan.
    Atheist Ireland responded critically to the Constitutional Convention’s report on blasphemy law. We are concerned that the Convention wanted to replace the offence in the Constitution with a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland made a supplementary submission to the Constitutional Convention titled First, Fix the Foundation: Separate Church and State. Read more.
  • The Constitutional Convention responded disappointingly to the many citizens who asked it to discuss Separation of Church and State. Only 2% of Convention members voted to discuss the topic, despite it receiving more support than any other topic in the Convention’s public feedback process, and it will therefore not be on the Convention’s agenda. Read more.

October 2014

  • The government has finally announced that a referendum will be held next year to remove the offence of blasphemy from the constitution. Atheist Ireland has campaigned against blasphemy laws since its inception, and is now planning our referendum campaign which will be formalised once we know the wording that the Government is proposing.

6(c) National Political Lobbying on Secular Education

October 2013

  • Atheist Ireland published advice for parents and other citizens who are making a submission to the Department of Education’s consultation on promoting greater inclusiveness in primary schools. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland made a formal written submission on the Draft General Scheme of an Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2013. We argued that the proposed legislation fails in its overall objective to ensure that school enrolment policies and procedures are non-discriminatory and are applied fairly in respect of all applicants. So called religious exemptions are in fact religious discrimination which breaches the human rights of minorities. Read more.

November 2013

  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission to the Equality Authority, regarding a proposed amendment to Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act 1998-2011. This is the Section that allows religious, educational or medical institutions to discriminate against employees or potential employees who do not share the religious values and ethos of the religion that runs the institution. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland wrote to the Minister for Education about inclusiveness in primary schools. We said that a Government consultation leaflet on the issue had ignored fundamental human rights issues raised buy the UN Human Rights Committee. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission to the Department of Education on Promoting Greater Inclusiveness in Primary Schools. We argued that Catholic Church teaching on education is incompatible with human rights law, and the Irish State has failed to respect and protect the human rights of secular parents and their children in denominational schools. Read more.

December 2013

  • Jane Donnelly made a presentation, and answered questions from TDs and Senators, at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection. The meeting was discussing the Draft General Scheme of an Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2013. Jane told the Committee that Irish schools breach human rights law. Read more. And more here.
  • Atheist Ireland wrote to the Ombudsman for Children, about the need to protect the human rights of secular parents and their children from the religious integrated curriculum in denominational Irish primary schools. Read more.

January 2014

  • The European Court judgment in the Louise O’Keeffe case changed everything in the campaign for secular education in Ireland. The State was arguing that it was not responsible for protecting Louise O’Keeffe’s human rights while she was in school, because the State did not run the school directly. The European Court has now told the State that it was responsible for protecting Louise O’Keeffe’s human rights while she was in school, regardless of whether it runs the schools directly. And that ruling has implications for all of the human rights that are breached by religiously-run national schools in Ireland. Read more.

February 2014

  • Atheist Ireland wrote a second letter to the Ombudsman for Children, about the advice that she has given to the Minister for Education on religious discrimination in admission to primary schools. Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland published, with permission, stories from two parents about religious discrimination and indoctrination in their local schools. Read more.

March 2014

  • The Oireachtas Committee on Education called for integration not segregation in schools, as proposed by Atheist Ireland. It concluded that multiple patronage and ethos as a basis for policy can lead to segregation and inequality in the education system, and that the objectives of admission policy should be equality and integration. Read more.

May 2014

  • Atheist Ireland published an analysis of a speech by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, in which we argued that ‘Parental Choice’ in education is a euphemism for religious segregation. Read more.

August 2014

  • Educate Together made two statements recently that undermine the duty of the Irish Government to provide secular education though new non-denominational schools, as required by the UN Human Rights Committee. Educate Together did this by blurring the distinction between multi-denominational schools (which Educate Together schools are) and non-denominational schools (which the UN Human Rights Committee has told Ireland to provide access to). Read more.
  • Atheist Ireland published an analysis of how Irish law effectively prohibits non-denominational secular schools based on human rights, despite the Irish Government telling the UN Human Rights Committee last month that there are no obstacles to establishing such schools in Ireland. Read more.

September 2014

  • Atheist Ireland responded to a call by Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre for a “revolution of inclusivity” in Irish schools and “an upheaval in Irish educational perspectives”, by inviting the two publicly funded National schools under the patronage of the Islamic Foundation of Ireland to lead the way by including the children of atheists and secularists in their schools. Read more.

6(d) National Political Lobbying on other Secular Issues

February 2014

  • Atheist Ireland published an analysis of the Civil Registration Act titled Rules for secular marriage? The Irish Civil Registration Service is making it up as they go along. It included a summary of our lengthy correspondence with the Civil Registration Service and Information Commissioner over the past year. Read more.

March 2014

  • Atheist Ireland made a written submission on the Draft General Scheme for Advance Healthcare Directives for Incorporation into the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill (2013). Read more.

April 2014

  • Atheist Ireland began asking European and Local Election candidates to sign a Secular Statement, based on the one adopted at the World Atheist Convention in Dublin in 2011, and to publish details of all responses, to enable voters to know which candidates are most and least supportive of freedom of belief and separation of church and state. Our Cavan Monaghan branch started that process led by branch chairperson John Hamill. Read more. And more. And more.
  • Atheist Ireland sent a briefing to document to Senators about a Bill that aims to amend Section 37 of the Irish Employment Equality Act. This is the Section that allows religious institutions, including schools and hospitals, an exemption to discriminate against employees to protect the religious ethos of their institution. Read more.
  • The concerns and proposals raised by Atheist Ireland in our briefing document to Senators were raised in the Seanad, during a Committee Stage debate on Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act. Read more.
  • The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said that the approach of the current Seanad Bill allowing religious discrimination is undesirable, and may continue to leave the State exposed to a breach of its obligations under the European Employment Equality Directive 2000/78. Read more.

May 2014

  • The Irish Catholic newspaper manufactured a controversy about Atheist Ireland and the Green Party, using poor research and failures in basic journalistic standards. It also misled its readers by failing to report its own role in the controversy. Read more.

November 2014

  • Atheist Ireland wrote to Kerry County Council about the decision to erect a crucifix in the new Council Chamber. We have asked them what steps they have taken to see whether this decision complies with equality legislation and the code of conduct for councillors. We will be following up on this issue during the coming year.
  • Atheist Ireland wrote to the Minister for the Environment about the use of religious oaths, and the display of Bibles and religious symbols, in polling stations during the coming referendum on blasphemy. We highlighted the UN Human Rights Committee’s reminder to Ireland about the human right to not be required to reveal your religious or nonreligious beliefs in public.

6(e) Primary School Lessons about Atheism

  • Atheist Ireland launched the fundraising for our project to finance, develop, design and piloti Ireland’s first ever primary school course about atheism. We are working with Educate Together to coordinate this project, with information provided by us and developed into lessons by professionals. This project caught imaginations around the world. Read more.
  • In January 2013 we started preliminary meetings with Educate Together regarding the new course about atheism. There are around 70 Educate Together schools in Ireland out of over 3000.
  • We now have the funding raised to begin developing this course, and we will be announcing more details in the coming months.

7. Summary

As usual, after highlighting the smears of PZ Myers, I have to correct the new smears that are invented to distract attention from the original smears.

This time around, these smears are aimed at Atheist Ireland, and outrageously link our Dublin Chairperson Ashling O’Brien, our Newsletter Editor Derek Walsh, and our Human Rights Officer Jane Donnelly (who chaired our international conference on Empowering Women through Secularism), with supporting abusers and silencing rape victims.

I am typically more comfortable defending others than defending myself. Indeed, it was in response to me defending others that PZ turned his focus on me. And believe me, I will strongly defend my friends and colleagues in Atheist Ireland against these scandalous smears against their character and the important work they are doing.

This will be done alongside Atheist Ireland’s continuing work on the ground building an ethical secular society, and our continuing work to challenge the harmful, hateful, violent and defamatory rhetoric of PZ Myers.

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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phil Giordana FCD April 11, 2015 at 11:13 pm

(still reading, lots of quotes) Attacking either you or Ashling on a human, personal level is a shit move.

Thanks again for the great time in Dublin, and despite all the shit above, you are wonderful, kind people. You have my full support and friendship.

2 Skep tickle April 11, 2015 at 11:18 pm

To save detractors some time: The above post contains 4,821 words. Though why you think that impacts its worth one way or another is beyond my ken.

Michael & Atheist Ireland: bravo once again, including but not at all limited to your calm but uncompromising interactions with detractors.

3 Jeff Hansen April 11, 2015 at 11:21 pm

I really hope everyone is starting to wake up & see the pattern of slander, misdirection, & general childish nastiness that characterizes this little clique. They’ve almost done as much to discredit secular activism online as AI has done to promote it in the real world. Thanks again, Mr. Nugent.

4 Glen Davidson April 11, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Well, when smears were all they had previously, what are they likely to have for the next round?

Plus, it’s easy. But who do they think they’re fooling besides themselves, by now?

5 Shatterface April 11, 2015 at 11:50 pm

The population of Ireland may be small compared with the USA but it has a history going back over 4,000 years, and culturally punches above it’s weight.

In addition, the Irish are quite a mobile population and have enriched other countries including the USA.

My family is Irish and in the area of the UK where I live about half the population have Irish roots.

6 muffy April 11, 2015 at 11:53 pm

And they are smearing Hemant Mehta too. Despicable.

7 Jan Steen April 12, 2015 at 12:22 am

The difference between Michael Nugent and his colleagues and PZ Myers and his apologists is precisely the difference between Social Justice Activists and Social Justice Warriors. The difference between a positive, constructive force and a negative, destructive one.

Those who smear you may forgive you your mistakes (or at least what they consider to be mistakes), because these can make them feel superior. But they won’t forgive you your accomplishments, because these can make them feel inferior.

8 john welch April 12, 2015 at 12:35 am

What Jan said. Just in the last two years, AI has accomplished more in a country that is damned near a theocracy than FTB et al have accomplished ever.

That AI has actual accomplished things of real value that help out *everyone* in Ireland, not just atheists, but everyone is the greatest sin you could have committed in their eyes. Because at the end of the day, all they have is hot air.

9 Guestus Aurelius April 12, 2015 at 12:36 am

Congratulations to AI for all you’ve done and are continuing to do. You all have a lot to be proud of!

10 Gerhard April 12, 2015 at 12:47 am

Good luck with Ashley Miller, Michael. She’s been parroting the party line untruths about the great internet bogeyman that is Pit. Was just watching a Babs Drescher talk about intelligence and rationality which explains that cognitive ability does not by itself lead to rationality. Dispositional factors play a big role. One must not only have the ability to reach rational conclusions, one must also be invested enough in expending the mental effort to do so. Clearly there are some people out there who find it far more comforting to find a thousand ways to deflect and shift focus than honestly evaluate the evidence.

Every single scenario from brain parasites and Slymepit mind control techniques to replacement by a reptilian lookalike clone will probably be tried before the idea that AI is genuinely independently disgusted with Myers shite will be entertained.

11 GroglinVampire April 12, 2015 at 12:59 am

Another well thought out and well written post Michael. As an observer and first time poster on this issue, with no particular axe to grind, I can only say how clearly your objective, no nonsense approach highlights the distortions and yep, I think it’s fair to say, fabrications, thrown out by the people who are clearly smearing you, your colleagues and belittling the work you and Atheist Ireland are doing.

12 peter Hinchliffe April 12, 2015 at 1:04 am

I would love to point out how wrong the Secular woman org have things, but they banned me after one polite tweet and two polite posts asking them to support their position with evidence on their FB page.
The tactic seems to be to accuse you of the most bizarre motivations and actions possible and then simply stop listening- hence I am a “Stalker” and “You have made it clear that you are not opposed to intimidation and harassment to get what you want”
Its beyond comprehension how they believe they can get away with these smears against yourselves and the others, anyone with a passing interest in the facts of all your work can look them up- anyone who has been lucky enough to work with you and receive your support (as we have in kerry) will know how ludicrous these accusations are.

13 Jacques Cuze April 12, 2015 at 1:06 am

What that Guestus Aurelius said!

Mazel Tov!

14 Gerhard April 12, 2015 at 1:19 am

Its beyond comprehension how they believe they can get away with these smears against yourselves and the others, anyone with a passing interest in the facts of all your work can look them up-

It is not beyond comprehension at all. They think they can get away with it because they have been getting away with it for a long time. Evidence is no match for the urge to maintain worldview.

15 SF April 12, 2015 at 1:29 am

We know what the response will be. From past experience, PZ will either ignore it/ pretend none of this ever happened, complain about Michael Nugent’s obsession with him, complain this is wild exaggeration, just say he was throwing out valid criticism, or actually say the smearing is going on the other way. Then his echo chamber of like minded bloggers and sycophants will try to amplify the effects with plenty of potty language.

16 ATM April 12, 2015 at 1:33 am

I appreciate atheist/secular organizations like AI and others that 1) engage in rational, civil discussion with the public and 2) present specific projects that they are working on.

The A+/FTB/Skepchick network appears to have never even attempted either of those things. My impression is that they just blog for beer money.

17 Nonplussed April 12, 2015 at 1:38 am

<>

Because PZ truly seems like he was trying to make “I hate you I hate you I hate you!!!” look official and important, and apparently she was okay with it then.

18 Shatterface April 12, 2015 at 1:41 am

What Jan said. Just in the last two years, AI has accomplished more in a country that is damned near a theocracy than FTB et al have accomplished ever.

Quite.

On the one hand we have an organisation challenging the laws in a country where religion runs deep; on the other hand rage bloggers failing to persuade their government to uphold a seperation of church and state guaranteed by their constitution.

If you are losing the battle for secularism when the law is on your side you are doing it wrong.

19 Colin Morrison April 12, 2015 at 1:45 am

Another strand of this has been Alex Gabriel’s cover, attempting to paint Michael and AI as ‘tone trolls’, when it’s about actual defamation.

This led to his extraordinary admission that anger, hate and viciousness were justifiable as a basis of advocacy. Being from Northern Ireland, I’m something of an expert on where hate gets you – nowhere, it’s utter poison and leads to awful acts.

This tweet is the end (so far) of that conversation, with me operating the Atheist NI account.

Take a look at @Atheist_NI’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/Atheist_NI/status/587034251771715585?s=09

20 Shatterface April 12, 2015 at 1:45 am

Then his echo chamber of like minded bloggers and sycophants will try to amplify the effects with plenty of potty language.

‘Potty language’ can mean two different things.

And either would be correct.

21 A Bear April 12, 2015 at 1:46 am

Congratulations AI for those remarkable achievements and setting a standard for fair dialogue.
Ireland (both of them) aren’t large or populous but they can still demonstrate that decent people can use respectful dialogue and achieve results.
I hope that other A/S in North America and worldwide will follow your example.

22 lvlln April 12, 2015 at 1:50 am

I just want to thank you again, Mr. Nugent, for the hard work you’ve been doing and you continue to do to push forward the secular cause in Ireland and in the world. I’m very glad to see that that work has brought you to calling out PZ Myers and those who support him for their hateful and dishonest actions. Make no mistake about it – criticizing and dissociating from these toxic elements are very important parts of pushing forward the secular cause.

23 Harrison April 12, 2015 at 4:01 am

It’s really upsetting to see them going after people like Hemant Mehta and JT Eberhard. Both took great pains to express that the news of Atheist Ireland rebuking Myers was both unwelcome and sadly inevitable, and that they took no joy in having to turn and tell Myers, someone they both once considered a friend, that his behavior has become simply unacceptable.

24 Billie from Ockham April 12, 2015 at 4:21 am

You might want to read Ashley Miller’s latest blog post before restarting your conversation with her, Michael. While she is editing it as the errors in her accusations are made clear, many problems remain.

_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/10/the-background-of-atheist-irelands-breakup-with-pz-its-about-michael-shermer/

25 Jack Rawlinson April 12, 2015 at 5:34 am

Excellent work taking these increasingly vicious and increasingly desperate untrue claims apart, as ever. And, more importantly, exposing just how inexcusable they are to a wider audience.

As I said on Miller’s blog yesterday, they’re now starting to spin so hard you could hook them up to a few dynamos and power a small city.

26 Ashling O'Brien April 12, 2015 at 8:52 am

Thank you all for your continued support, and thanks Michael for writing this.

I spent most of the day yesterday out canvassing on the up-coming Marriage Equality referendum. It was a day spent with positive social activists who are working hard for change in Ireland. It wasn’t always an easy day, not everyone we spoke to had nice things to say to us, but we kept each other upbeat and at the end of the day as we posed for a group photo we felt really good about what we had achieved together.

I have to admit I turned my phone and laptop off last night just to take a bit of a break from all the online negativity. And the irony of it coming from those who claim to support women in atheism and social activism is not lost on me.

Thanks again for the support voiced here :-)

27 Jim the unofficial FtB spokesprattler April 12, 2015 at 9:23 am

I’m sorry Ashling but I see nothing in the above that promotes speaking gigs for the established crowd at Freethoughtblogs. This oversight is yet another indication of your internalised misogyny and deep xenophobia. I realise that you and every other atheist activist in Ireland is a sockpuppet for Michael, and therefore this is pointless. But I must spew my bile somewhere as I find it cathartic and my emotional wellbeing outweighs your positive work.
I shall now disappear in a puff of self-righteous smoke.
*poof*

28 Citizen Wolf April 12, 2015 at 11:50 am

Here’s something that I’d be curious to find out, if it’s possible. In the comments section to various posts on FtB it’s oft repeated that most of those that comment here in Michael Nugent’s blog are from the slymepit.

I’d be curious to learn what proportion of the readership here is A) Not associated with the slymepit & B) a poster at the slymepit. Also what proportion of A posts here and what proportion of B posts here.

For the record, I’ve never even been to the slymepit, let alone ever posted there. I used to be a daily reader (never posted) of Pharyngula but eventually stopped when the hate and vitriol became too much to stomach.

29 Phil Giordana FCD April 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm

I’m from the Slymepit. That’s how I discovered Michael and Atheists Ireland. Then I took an interest.

30 Jack Rawlinson April 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I created an account at the Slymepit quite a long time ago, because I was curious. To the best of my recollection I have not posted there (or maybe once, near the beginning – I honestly don’t recall) and I almost never read the site. When I have looked, it seems like a fairly no-holds-barred but fun site.

31 Steve Duggan April 12, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Great work. As a former committee member I was proud to work alongside Micheal and Jane, in an organisation that “punched above it’s weight”. I can see Atheist Ireland is now a big player and Aisling, Sean, John, Kevin and others are going strong to work for tangible results.
Great work!!
But blog networks on the Internet are no match for the tyranny of oppression that exists in the real world. However an organisation’s reputation needs to be protected from mindless smears.
Reason shall prevail.

32 Steve Duggan April 12, 2015 at 12:30 pm

@Citizen Wolf
I’m not a pitter but I have occasionally lurked. My conclusion is they have robust debate and a daft-laugh. If I was into forums I’d join in.

I first learned about it chatting to PZ & RW in Köln in 2012, asking what the deal was with Abbie Smith; I was told “ohhhh don’t go there, there all misogynists”
My thoughts were “ohhhh the whole interneting things these Americans love – meh they’re probably talking about another 4chan or something” and said “my glass has gone dry, I’m going to the bar for another”

33 Shatterface April 12, 2015 at 1:11 pm

I’m from the Slymepit. That’s how I discovered Michael and Atheists Ireland. Then I took an interest.

I came from the other direction. I’d kind of heard about the Pit from FTB and didn’t realise it was really called that – I thought it was Myers nickname for something else.

Which , I suppose it is, since they took the name from Myers.

I either believed what I’d been told about the Pitters or just didn’t think about it much; either way it was a failure in skepticism on my behalf.

Having seen Pitters in action here I realised they weren’t what I’d been told and then lurked at the Pit for about a month. The humour takes some getting used to not simply because it can appear tasteless but because there’s several years backstory to many of the memes.

The jokes are like pealing an onion. There’s layer upon layer and you’ll probably have tears in your eyes long before you reach the centre of them.

34 Shatterface April 12, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Here’s something that I’d be curious to find out, if it’s possible. In the comments section to various posts on FtB it’s oft repeated that most of those that comment here in Michael Nugent’s blog are from the slymepit.

I’d be curious to learn what proportion of the readership here is A) Not associated with the slymepit & B) a poster at the slymepit. Also what proportion of A posts here and what proportion of B posts here.

You need to know the direction of travel too: whether people came here from the Pit or joined the Pit because of the comments they read here.

I posted at FTB – particularly B&W – before I came here. The sneering at Robin Williams suicide was the final straw. I think I’d have choked on my own vomit if I’d still been part of FTB when they started kicking the corpses at Charlie Hebdo.

35 Carrie April 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Atheist Ireland is doing amazing work against great odds, and I have a huge respect for every one of the activists there who are really getting things moving to get some kind of equality for non-beli evers. They do so under harder conditions than activists in America, since the US has “separation of church and state” in their constitution.

I am appalled that anyone tries to smear these hard-working people. And yet it does not surprise me that this is the PZ-FtB / Skepchick response, given the way in which they have behaved to Michael and others.

PZ and co don’t seem to care that they are trying to harm atheist activists, nor do they seem to understand just how dangerous real-life situations in Ireland can become.

They are too obsessed with their “social justice warriorism” and with their “privilege” of living in a relatively safe society. Because of their obsession, their blogs are no longer interesting to skeptics and atheists. I used to look at PZ’s blog for items regarding atheism or biology, but for a long time now I have seen nothing there of that nature. I am not interested in visiting blogs that tell me, without evidence or citation, that all the problems in the world are caused by “rape culture” or racism. Especially when, for instance, any comments suggesting that islamic religious dogma contributes to these problems are dismissed as racist.

I hope that you can help Ashley Miller to see things clearly. I think you may be a little too optimistic but truly I hope that I am wrong.

36 Carrie April 12, 2015 at 1:50 pm

P.S. as regards the “how many from slymepit post here” question. I am not from the pit but I far prefer reading the posts there than reading the main FtBlogs. I found the online scene in 2010-2011. My “go-to” sites each morning are: SP, Nugent, and WEIT, not necessarily in that order. I sometimes pop in to read ERV at science blogs. I used to include pharyngula, back when he did interesting posts on atheism or biology, but I am not interested in his stuff now largely because it is vituperative and angry whenever I am shown an archive of it. I have never found the Skepchick site interesting.

37 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 12, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Yet another smackdown post from Michael. I am surprised the likes of PZ, Ophelia and their hate supporters even DARE to open their mouths anymore. They should be apologizing and grovelling on their knees as far as I am concerned.

The thing, PZ and Ophelia now know they are on the wrong side of history. They are like a wounded animal thrashing out. It is worth noting the names of the people who STILL persist in creeping out of the woodwork to defend PZ Myers, i.e. Alex Gabriel, Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Mona Richards, etc. These people are defending and supporting a known enabler of hate and abuse. The atheist, secular, and humanist movements need to take note of this, and these people need to be sidelined.

Any healthy secular, atheist, liberal movement SIMPLY CAN’T have the likes of the aforementioned involved.

38 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 12, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Ashley Miller said she “literally cried” when she Hemant Mehta’s piece.

You know, a bit like when a devout religious person reads about facts, science, evolution, et al. They can’t handle the truth! If she is prepared to ignore the vile abuse from PZ Myers, but “literally cries” at the much-needed liberal-promoting truth from Hemant Mehta, Ashley is obviously not the type of person the atheist, liberal, secular movement should welcome.

39 Matt April 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I visited Freethought Blog$$ today for the first time in years and was surprised by how much it’s changed. I was assaulted by a seemingly endless array of ugly advertisements and the pages I visited had very little content (Ophelia’s blog was just cut and pasted from another news site in its entirety). There was also a Patreon account that you could donate to at the top of each page with no indication of where that money would go. If I had the choice between supporting a money making blog network and a small non-profit in Ireland that devotes itself to effective real world secular campaigning, I would choose the latter. Thank you Michael Nugent and co. for all the good work you do.

40 Gerhard April 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Been at ERV/Pit under a different nym from day 1. It was the knee-jerk wagon circling around Watson and the dishonest, almost always unevidenced mis-attribution of critics’ motives that drew me in. The near complete failure of skepticism and the inability to engage in good faith debate were there from the start and the only change has been a winnowing out of the less zealous.

41 SF April 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm

The cultish behavior of PZ Myers and freethoughtblogs in general is exemplified by their co-opting of the label ‘feminist.’ These days labeling oneself as a humanist, thinking that we should promote human rights, is de facto code for being a misogynist. Similarly calling oneself a feminist, and not buying into ‘rape culture’ and ‘patriarchy’ renders one as a ‘gender traitor.’

42 tina April 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Ashling @ 26

I’m sorry you (and other AI members) are now being subjected to the same sort of defamatory abuse from Myers & Co. I hope it will not interfere with the invaluable work you all do at AI.

Citizen Wolf @ 29

Why don’t you go to the Pit and find out what it is like for yourself?

I probably encountered Pharyngula via RD.net in the days before the forum was shut down. At first I found his antics entertaining, but was uneasy about his dismissiveness and the often savage, puerile commentary from his ‘horde’.

Several other red flags quickly appeared following ‘Elevatorgate’. The tone of bitter contempt for others; his growing inability to deal rationally with criticism or opposition; his authoritarian glee at wielding his ‘banhammer'; the discrepancy between his aggressive online persona and mild mannered nature in meat space, including his encouragement to the ‘horde’ to be similarly abrasive in their ‘flensing’ of opponents with porcupines and whatnot, and generally throwing any norms of reasonable human discourse overboard.

All this behaviour deepened and became more and more overt as time went by, much to the consternation and amazement of many who once held PZ in some regard. But many held back from confronting this; many still do knowing what they will face in consequence.

PZ & co grew somewhat confident in their approach as their accusatory and shaming tactics and willingness to pursue the reputational damage of their opponents at all costs seemed to produce little effective pushback.

I realised quickly what sort of damage this could do to the attempt to promote secular values in society and mitigate the poisonous influences of religion. It was puzzling that they would do this, until it occured to me that this did not matter to them very much, because adherence to social justice and radical feminist dogma and their status within that milieu was of far greater importance than the actual goals of secularism. This is made apparent by their immediate and scornful dismissal of criticism, their inability to recognise that the problems they create and the behaviours they adopt are their problems; they are ego-syntonic i.e. their behaviours genuinely seem completely normal and intellectually justified to them – everyone else is wrong. The package then attracts and consolidates into a community of personality disordered individuals with high degrees of narcissism and it becomes self perpetuating as they dig the ideological trenches ever deeper and push the ‘You’re Either With Us Or You’re Against Us’ meme as far as it will go.

Anyway, I decided to visit the Slymepit to see what all the fuss was about and just found a robust and open forum of individuals who, for a long time, were practically the only opposition to the poison being spread amongst us, so I joined. I don’t do much there; just keep an eye on the goings on.

It’s either your cup of tea or it’s not. If you can hold down a rational argument there and you like irreverent, bawdy company and have a sense of humour, you will do absolutely fine there. Don’t take my word for it.

43 JackSkeptic April 12, 2015 at 5:33 pm

What I have always found strange is the fact that they happily attribute behaviors and motives to people without bothering to find out or know one thing about them. It is as if they are scared they may discover most are for social justice and equal rights. In AI’s case and many other people and groups they abuse they actually walk the walk rather than simply blow hot air from their protected spaces. But they do not care about that as it does not fit their narrative.

They need demons to fight and will contort facts and abuse words to find them. It is embarrassing the lengths they will go to protect their minds from bad thought.

It is very religious in nature and I have often wondered if it arose due to the heavy political influence of religion in politics in the US. All this nasty rhetoric, spinning and ‘us and them’ mentality is very religious, extremely tribal and alien to many other cultures where mutual respect and co operation is the norm.

I find it very parochial but most importantly it harms and damages real social justice and equality work. They trivialize rape, treat women and minorities with patronising reverence, claim offense at every opportunity while spewing out hate for any real or imagined difference in opinion. The definition of cults follows closely their actions, in particular Scientology with the concept of ‘othering’ and mental control through emotional and verbal manipulation.

This should have been dealt with years ago when there was a chance of nipping it in the bud. It wasn’t. It won’t go away and the lack of action is now paying the price. So I commend Nugent and AI for trying but you have an uphill struggle and please do not assume any direct assistance for most of the US AS community. They have already proven themselves cowards and they failed in their duty of care to their subscribers a long time ago.

44 Kirbmarc April 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm

“This led to his extraordinary admission that anger, hate and viciousness were justifiable as a basis of advocacy. Being from Northern Ireland, I’m something of an expert on where hate gets you – nowhere, it’s utter poison and leads to awful acts.”

Alex Gabriel is part of group which believes that they’re always right no matter what they do because they’re following the Only Moral Way and everyone who disagrees is either a monster or a brainwashed idiot.

Hate, for him and his ilk, is simply a way to get rid of monsters and undo the magic brainwash of the Patriarchy.

45 Colin Morrison April 12, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Alex denied that hate could lead to atrocious acts, to which I replied with a link to an example, caught on camera, in the darkest days of The Troubles.

Warning: Do not watch if you are sensitive to violent scenes.
https://twitter.com/Atheist_NI/status/587034251771715585?s=09

Alex has not responded, and appears to now be ignoring the Atheist NI account.

46 Carrie April 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm

@ Colin Morrison Yes. I think that people like Alex do not truly understand how dangerous hatred can be, and why it is important not to smear people in a way that causes hatred.

NIhas been through so much so recently. It makes what you do all the more valuable, knowing the background / historical backdrop against which you campaign.

47 donron April 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm

i was accused of being a “pitter” so i went to check the thread. turns out i was. i never post, not a member but now read regularly. ftb, not so much.

48 Skep tickle April 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Colin Morrison @46: I watched that video yesterday from the link in your twitter conversation with Alex Gabriel and want to thank you for posting it. It may seem hyperbolic to some people who don’t live in areas of the world, or areas of their society, where violence between groups is so real, but the event was real and the general lesson should be clear. Hating the other side of a conflict – dehumanizing & demonizing the people on the other side of whatever points of difference exist – can lead to very real harm, and only perpetuates or escalates the situation.

49 Richard "The King" Sanderson April 12, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Don’t bother with Alex Gabriel.

THE KING exposed Alex Gabriel as an Islamist-enabler when he defended Sarah Jones, who wrote about the anti-segregation protests in the UK. She claimed they originated from the Far Right. They actually originated by the liberal left, including progressive Muslims and ex-Muslims, plus POC. Alex Gabriel defended her view.

Gabriel was exposed as a pseudo-liberal. He has no future in the atheist, secular, liberal movement.

50 Skep tickle April 12, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Here’s something that I’d be curious to find out, if it’s possible. In the comments section to various posts on FtB it’s oft repeated that most of those that comment here in Michael Nugent’s blog are from the slymepit.

I’d be curious to learn what proportion of the readership here is A) Not associated with the slymepit & B) a poster at the slymepit. Also what proportion of A posts here and what proportion of B posts here.

I fall in: “B) a poster at the slymepit” – which would be completely out of character for me except for the Schism and that fact that no other site that I’d found, as of 2012, allowed frank skeptical evaluation & discussion of the issues at hand.

I had been active in Christian-atheist dialog sites, then the first iteration of The Friendly Atheist blog, then starting around 2009 various skeptic forums (fora) including as a moderator at one. It was clear by early 2012 that the Schism was tearing the skeptic community apart – that this was a topic people who could discuss all sorts of other topics rationally were having great difficulty discussing this one.

I first heard of the Slymepit in 9/2012 in Greta Christina’s post at Atheism+ Forum “Petition to remove MRA Vacula from SCA leaderrship” [sic] and visited the ‘Pit solely on a fact-finding venture, checking the claims she made about Vacula. On first view I was startled at how rude some people seemed – I think I landed in the middle of one round of the discussion on rude words that arises periodically – and I backed out pretty quickly (after finding the info I’d come for). Not long thereafter, upon being banned from Atheism+ Forum in that same thread amidst accusations that I lacked “intellectual honesty”, I went back to the ‘Pit and observed more, deciding pretty quickly that while it was rough & tumble, it allowed for far more frank discussion of topics (particularly the Schism) than anywhere else I’d seen.

I find that mentally adding a winkie or a [/sarcasm] tag to the end of every 3rd post or thereabouts can enhance the ‘Pit viewing experience for those who find themselves becoming concerned about what they read. They don’t take themselves seriously (for the most part), and they rib each other mercilessly at times.

I heard about Atheist Ireland not long before the Empowering Women in Secularism Conference, which I then encouraged Justin Vacula to attend.

51 john welch April 12, 2015 at 11:52 pm

It’s funny how one of the FTB lot’s big defenses now is “The Pit’s no better than we are!”

I thought FTB was waaaaay better than the pit. Now they’re…no worse?

52 tina April 13, 2015 at 1:02 am

But Peezus has come to earth again to save us! He will do this with the gift of the first ever human emotion: shame. Shame at our rape apologia, our misogyny, our racism, our sexism, our wankish type behaviour. He will cast us from the garden and teach us to shun chill girls and sister-punishers, neo-cons, MRA’s, old white cis-het men, etc etc, as well as not to lie down with octupi. Those that cannot be saved will be cast into everlasting darkness (aka the dungeon), never more to bask in his glory. It is writtid that his righteous anger shall accomplish all of this, (tho some minor details are disputed by world-renowned lecturer Dr Richard Carrier PhSTD polyamour). Nevertheless, it shall come to pass and there might be a plan to turn all the wine, gin, vodka, whisky and rum back to water which will be a real downer imo.

53 tina April 13, 2015 at 1:09 am

But srsly, all they have to do is codify the repentance and absolution rituals and sell indulgences on Patreon and they’ve got their frikkin religion all sorted….

54 franc April 13, 2015 at 1:29 am

Colin Morrison #46:
//Alex denied that hate could lead to atrocious acts, to which I replied with a link to an example, caught on camera, in the darkest days of The Troubles.//

Alex is very much a product of the current education system which is more a system of indoctrination than one of knowledge accumulation and critical thinking (at least as far as many liberal arts faculties go).

As an example, he seems very firmly convinced that “freethought” is a concept derived from the left wing “liberal”/progressive movements that have created this entire madhouse we live in. In his world, it’s as if the Enlightenment never happened. .

http://greylining.com/2013/09/28/what-utter-toxic-bollocks/

55 SF April 13, 2015 at 2:25 am

Even though I’m pretty much on the liberal/left side of politics, I think atheism should be kept distinct from other social movements like feminism, muliculturalism, socialism, libertarianism, any isms you want to name. If you want to be part of these movements, fine, just don’t tangle them up with atheism. Atheism should be about promoting the evidential position that the universe seems to lack gods or supernatural influences or positively that science and reason should shape our decision making. Different flavors of politics, even ones I might deeply disagree with can be compatible with atheism, and as such should not be promoted as if “atheism” per se entails feminism or even in my case left/liberal politics. They are distinct things, one is about how the universe functions, the others how we should function as humans in our culture in the universe. Two completely distinct things even if they may influence one another. That is one of my peeves, conflating atheism with various social movements, even if I might subscribe to some of them. I’m sorry but there is nothing about the universe that proscribes which politics we should have. I may vociferously disagree with the libertarian positions of Penn Jillette but that doesn’t in any way make him any less of an atheist than anyone else with the correct political views. Atheism should be about a unified movement that there are no gods, where we can disagree about other social issues based on these facts, based on a separate set of rationalizations, but sadly PZ and others have poisoned the well and killed that kind of atheist movement for good. Now atheism is just another factionalized movement unfortunately that it never needed to descend to.

56 john welch April 13, 2015 at 4:17 am

Oh no, I think you absolutely nailed it in terms of that. Given a leader saying the right things, they’ll agree to pretty much anything, hence my Scientology comparisons.

But I also know that they read the hell out of this even if they won’t admit it, so I didn’t want them thinking anyone was actually worried about them. Ultimately, action is an anathema to them, because once you take action, you can’t pretend it was something else, so their love of doubletalk escape hatches pretty much ensures they won’t do much beyond squab imitations

57 Jack Rawlinson April 13, 2015 at 6:18 am

Having read a bit more of Gabriel’s writing, it’s now pretty clear to me that he’s a classic Young Zealot. He has a burning sense of wide-ranging injustice (come on, we oldies remember it) and he’s found The Way and The Truth. That means he can pursue it as vociferously as he likes, because he’s right, dammit, and anyone who utters the slightest hint of criticism or dissent is obviously thoroughly bad and therefore deserving of the righteous fire of holy hatred.

58 chill chick April 13, 2015 at 7:27 am

In response to #29, I am not a pitter – I’ve never posted there and rarely read it. Not that I have anything against the pit. It’s just that the odd format – one thread with thousands of posts – makes it hard to keep up unless I were willing to devote a lot more time than I have available. It was the Streisand effect that made me aware of the pit – people were going on about what a horrible den of rape and misogyny it was, so I had to see for myself. My reaction was: what’s the big deal? But by then I already knew that the FTBullies were presenting a false narrative.

I used to be a regular reader and frequent commenter at Pharyngula, using my real name. It was one of the main factors solidifying my atheism. When Elevatorgate happened, I was shocked that the blog seemed to turn overnight into a left-wing Fox News. I was disgusted that Rebecca Watson seemed to be hyping up a relatively trivial incident to distract attention from her obnoxious treatment of Stef McGraw, and the true believers were lapping it up with no trace of skepticism. I posted a pretty mild comment to this effect, and instantly had 20 people screaming at me that I was a rape apologist, gender traitor and what not. After a few weeks of dealing with the endless screeching and raging, plus some vague threats alluding to some personal information I had posted about myself over a year previously, I decided to bail and let the haters stew in their own juice.

I had always considered myself a feminist, without realizing what a hateful ideology academic feminism had mutated into, so the whole thing was a real eye-opener for me. As an undergrad, I was frequently called a “chill chick” by my (mostly male, and nerdy but sweet) friends, as a sign of affection. I was astonished to be called a chill girl as an insult by other women. I wanted to ask them, “do you really think hatred and shouting, and calling all men rapists, is going to be more effective at winning them over than educating them in a calm, friendly and non-accusatory way?” That’s why I admire Michael’s approach so much – it takes patience and perseverance, more than I have! But it is working, and Myers is being increasingly isolated in the larger A/S community (at least it seems so to me.)

Well, this comment ended up being a lot longer than I planned so I will just say to AI and in particular the women on the committee: you guys rock! Keep up the awesome work.

59 Michael Kingsford Gray April 13, 2015 at 8:21 am

chill chick wrote:-

“do you really think hatred and shouting, and calling all men rapists, is going to be more effective at winning them over than educating them in a calm, friendly and non-accusatory way?”

That goal of “winning folk over” is the absolute antithesis of what these ideologues desire!
They actively seek the opposite.

Identitarians positively revel in being sociopathic victims, and will do as much damage as they can to others, and the world in general, in order to raise their victim-hood points, ramping it up to insouciant criminal defamation of others, as Mr. Nugent has experienced.

And it is NEVER EVER their fault. Nothing is.

60 Henry Fitzgerald April 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

I’ve been reading a lot here recently and very occasionally posting – starting from around the time Michael was defending Richard Dawkins against Adam Lee. So I might as well take part in the “are you a pitter” poll.

No, I’m not. I visited the pit out of curiosity – who here hasn’t, by now? – and I can’t say I like the site: the general vibe is not my cup of tea, and maybe I’ve just become old codger before my time, but I think anyone who can even navigate the site deserves a prize. (For sheer awfulness of design, though, it can’t begin to compete with FTB.)

Then again, it seems a heterogenous bunch of people there – so it’s hard to make any generalisation about them at all. And I did rather like that comic with the fish.

61 GenerallyFading April 13, 2015 at 11:03 am

Citizen Wolf – I was a 100% committed FtB person, having read Greta Christina and then went on to J T Eberhard. I heard about the Pit from people there, and decided to mount up my indignation guns. I went to the Pit, fully intending to bring the place down and have them grovelling. Instead, I had my entire belief system blown away. I discovered the difference between a jerk reaction and actually considering other people’s point of view.
I did flounce from the Slyme pit about two years ago, and I still don’t agree with their ideas about “Thin privilege is earned through exercise and not eating too much” but I kept reading and came to accept that actually…..we just don’t agree. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t post very often because I don’t have much to contribute to the humour. I’m often laughing out loud too much.
I have learned so much from the people there, both for me personally and in my work life. I feel I am a more balanced person from being exposed to points of view there.
Thank you Michael and everyone here who are doing so much important work. Who are actually making a real difference.

62 Zenspace April 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Citizen Wolf:

I am a former regular visitor and infrequent commenter at FTB and, like Generally Fading above, learned of the Slymepit from the scathing commentary by Myers and company. Like many before and after me, my curiosity finally got to the point that I had to have a look myself. When I did, the entire FTB narrative collapsed. I was already well on my way towards leaving FTB in disgust and the sudden realization of the extent of Myer’s blatant misrepresentations of the Slymepit resulted in a pretty sudden awakening to what was actually going on. After lurking for a few months, I finally registered as a member so I could occasionally comment or ask a question on a point of interest, but doing so is a rare event and I typically go weeks at a time without visiting.

My general observations are that the Slymepit is not for everyone. It is an open, freewheeling and occasionally very crude and/or rude place. It can be in turn sophomoric and brilliant. Mostly it is hysterically funny. Some of the photoshop work (yay, shoops!) are satirically and artistically fantastic.

So, in the end I visit the pit for two main reasons. First, it is the best one stop shopping location to learn of the continuing idiocy that eminates from, FTB, Skepchik, Adam Lee, etc. Second, it is just plain entertaining a good part of the time.

But the best reason is that is a virtually unmoderated forum where you can post pretty much anything, but you better be prepared to back up any assertions with sound reason and argument. No false victimhood permitted. No, the Slymepit is not perfect, far from it in fact, but is a far better place than the authoritarian, regressive Puritanism that FTB and friends will ever offer.

63 JackSkeptic April 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm

I’m a fairly regular poster at the Slympit. Forgive me Father for I have sinned….

64 citizen_wolf April 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Slymepitter poll

Since I asked the question, 15 people have said whether they would think of themselves as slymepitters or not. Some of the answers were a little unclear. I’ve tried to be fair and divide the respondents into those who might be described as non-pitters (might occasionally read the forum but not post) and those who could be described as slymepitters (those who contribute at least some comments).

Of the 15 that have replied 8 are non-pitters and 7 contribute something at the slymepit.

What’s interesting is that the vast majority of people here on Michael Nugent’s forum (including slymepitters) used to be over at FtB but became disillusioned by the destructive nature of the posts and comments there. So, as Shatterface pointed out (#35) the origin of people posting here is important. As most of us originally came from FtB, we could all just as easily be called FtBers instead of Slympitters, as those who remain at FtB like to portray those who post here.

Disclaimer: This is in no way a scientific poll and is clearly influenced by self-reporting biases and small sample sizes.

65 Gerhard April 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm

GenerallyFading:

I did flounce from the Slyme pit about two years ago, and I still don’t agree with their ideas about “Thin privilege is earned through exercise and not eating too much” but I kept reading and came to accept that actually…..we just don’t agree.

Perhaps an assumption was made. One aspect of the Pit people should be aware of when participating is that not everyone feels inclined to jump in on every issue, so you can end up battling a small sample of the membership who are strongly opposed to your point of view and feel isolated when it is entirely possible that most either don’t care one way or the other or agree with you. Nobody owns the Pit (Lsuouma aside), or has the power to prescribe official points of view, and most opponents won’t hold a grudge, and even if they did you’d have as much right to be there as them.

Obvioulsy there are limits. I don’t think that an SJW zealot would ever feel comfy there, although I suspect that even they would find people to talk to if they found a mutual interest.

66 GenerallyFading April 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Hello Gerhard

Yes, that is true, and was also a lot to do with my state of mind at the time. Plus I did start the antagonism because it was something which struck at me, and I reacted with emotion rather than listening. As I say, I have changed a great deal. Nowadays, I see a large majority of people who do agree about exercise etc. but I just don’t comment or I leave and come back. Anyway, sorry, heading for a derail here, just to say you are right.

citizen_wolf, that is also true but I don’t really read FtB any more and certainly don’t comment there, except for last night. How long does the Statute of Limitations last :-)?

67 John Greg April 13, 2015 at 4:26 pm

citizen_wolf, sorry, I should have commented on your “poll”. I am a Pit person and have been one since before we were actually called Pitters, i.e., during ERV’s initial Bad Form, Rebecca Watson post on July 1, 2011.

Gerhard said:

I don’t think that an SJW zealot would ever feel comfy there, although I suspect that even they would find people to talk to if they found a mutual interest.

All of that is almost certainly ture. But I think the more important point would be that even though the SJW would not be comfortable, unless they actually posted something criminal, they would not be moderated, edited, or banned.

68 Larry Metcalfe April 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

My story is pretty similar to a lot of others. I used to visit Pharyngula years ago but gradually just stopped visiting when the topics were no longer science and atheism. I never used to read the comments anyway. I only really got interested in the story of the ‘great rift’ in the last year or so, and especially when I started to read Michael’s posts. I’d never heard of the Slymepit so off I went to have a look. What I found was genuine scepticism (remember that?), top-notch analysis of the failings of the likes of Myers, Benson and Watson, together with merciless piss-taking of same. And of course some of the shoops are hilarious, Ape+Lust in particular being something of a genius. It really is the best way of keeping yourself up to date with the antics of FtB/Skepchick – if you want to that is, it is quite depressing sometimes to see just how low the SJW mindset has sunk.

The demonisation of the Pit is actually quite shocking and the response to AI’s recent announcement finally led to me registering an account there. It’s fast moving and I don’t expect to be able contribute much, but they’ve been doing this a long time and I think they deserve our gratitude for what they’ve done over the years.

69 Jack Rawlinson April 13, 2015 at 5:48 pm

citizen_wolf: I’m sure you counted me as a non-pitter, and that would be right as I don’t contribute there and rarely read it.

I, too, used to hang out at FtB a lot – mainly at Pharyngula but also on Greta’s page and occasionally a couple of others. I was quite a fan of Myers and as I’ve said previously, didn’t have a problem with his combative style at all. But in those days he almost always applied it where it was due, and he was pretty consistent with his criticisms and praises.

Then, as we all know, he went off the rails to an alarming degree. For me it was around the time of the “Dictionary Atheists” post. That was the first time I remember frowning and saying, “No, you’re totally off-beam here, PZ.” And that was around the time I learned what it felt like to be on the receiving end of the horde’s gentle attentions. :-)

70 skhome April 13, 2015 at 7:03 pm

I frequently read this blog, but am definitely NOT a Slyme Pit-er. I’ve never even visited that site. The main reason not to visit is its name. “Slyme Pit” seems a bit juvenile. Someday, I’ll visit it.

If the point of the Slyme Pit is to see how far Myers has fallen, I can read about it here…or better yet, just read Myers’ latest tripe.

71 Mel April 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

You don’t have to have an account, or read there, or post there, or even know the site exists to be branded a Slymepitter by Myers/FTB/Skepchick/A+ et al. Harriett Hall was labeled a Slymepitter after she wore a T-shirt they didn’t like!

Now my story, which is looking pretty familiar by now: I heard of the Slymepit from FTB and went over there loaded for bear. That was over a year ago and, while I’m not a huge fan, I’m still waiting to see the “misogyny”. Maybe I need to give it another year? Ophelia Benson once said that one doesn’t see the misogyny because they fake it (being not-misogynist, if I understand her). Perhaps one needs to apply the Zvan technique of adding words, as she did with Hemant Mehta. Like if you see “What a beautiful day” you don’t think anything of it, but if she shows you “What a beautiful day [to be abusing women because I hates them so]” it all becomes clear. But I’m not divorced from skepticism, so that doesn’t work for me.

I’ll keep lurking.

72 JackSkeptic April 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm

I joined the Slympit because a couple of years ago I was shocked that no one seemed to be bothered by the AS community being invaded by people who has no interest in skeptical thought. These people routinely banned and attacked people they disagreed with, encouraged exclusion, actively tried to rewrite history with memory holing and were highly totalitarian and judgmental. Classic entryism that had wrecked many good groups in the past.

I thought the world has gone mad when I realised I was one of the few who knew Atheism Plus was going to be a disaster from the start. It was set up to provide a political arm to atheism with the aim to exclude those not fully on board with their bait and switch policies and us and them mentality. It was divisive by nature and had only a passing interest in atheism or basic human rights and social justice. Luckily the inherent narcissism exhibited by many who run the forums and the vicious attacks by some vocal supporters assured its failure.

So it did not matter to me if the Slympit was sometimes offense or sometimes angry. To me it was the only small island in a sea of madness. Since I joined I discovered how kind many of them were although if you are sensitive or can’t handle self mockery you won’t last long. It is intended to be the opposite of an SJW site and for that reason it does everything they hate, sometimes just for the hell of it.

I am fine with people hating the place as long as no one tries to tell me what I am allowed to think and what I can do. I do not want people who know nothing about me telling me I hate women and minorities as well as supporting rapists. At that point they have crossed a line and they will get push back.

I have debated with the religious for years and despite being an open atheist I have never faced the hate and vitriol I and others have received at the hands of these people, not even close. Too long has nothing been done about it. In my opinion it is too late. The damage has been done and will continue. Good people like Nugent and his associates will continue to be abused. The next witch of the week is already in their sights. And like before, they will get sod all support from the community as a whole. So as far as I am concerned the community can stuff it.

73 Kirbmarc April 13, 2015 at 7:18 pm

To contribute to citizen_wolf:

I frequently post on the Slymepit. Unlike many others I’ve never been a fan of Myers and actually I think I had never heard of him before the Elevatorgate debacle (or if I had I can’t remember it now).

I’ve been fairly active in the online atheist community, especially in the Italian-language forum Atei.it (my mother tongue is Italian, since I’m a Swiss Italian from Canton Ticino/Tessin).

I joined the Slymepit after a friend of mine posted Richard Carrier’s post about “Atheism Plus”. I was baffled by the authoritarian tone of Carrier’s post, which actually used the sentence “with us or against us” with no hint of humor or irony.

I was shocked that a person who seemed to be an important figure in the Atheism/Skeptic movement, which I had thought to be dedicated to fight religious dogmatism and authoritarianism, had been using the same words you’d expect from a preacher or an imam.

Carrier was also quick to declare anyone who didn’t agree with him an “asshole atheist”, which I thought was pretty similar to an excommunication. While I scratched my head I decided to see what this “Atheism Plus” idea was all about and I eventually ended up on the Atheism Plus forum.

The forum seemed to be teeming with people who glorified their own psychological issues and basically demanded that the entire society changed to accommodate for them, instead of vice versa.

I still wasn’t sure whether the forum was a huge parody of Carrier’s article or a genuine place where people wrote stuff such as “stupid is an ableist slur that causes people to die” and actually believed them.

So I decided to test the forum. I created an account and I introduced myself as a “friendly neighborhood psychopath”(like Dexter, but without the murders). I expected to be banned immediately as a troll but it turned out that they were actually welcoming me with open arms.

My welcome post was quoted on the Slymepit and one of the members of the Atheism Plus pointed it out to me by PM. I checked out the Slymepit forum and I found out that I wasn’t the only one who thought that Atheism Plus was a ridiculous idea and the the “Atheism Schism” was between authoritarian leftists (the “SJWs”) and everyone else.

74 john welch April 13, 2015 at 9:15 pm

While I don’t post there anymore, I’m about as “old school pit” as it gets, going back to “Bad Form Rebecca Watson”.

Re-reading my first comment, I was still trying to give PZ the benefit of the doubt, and contrary to meme, Watson’s treatment of McGraw really was what set it off for me at least. Here, in its glory, my first comment in what would become “the slyme pit”:

I love PZ, but he really has a bad case of “more feminist than thou” some days. Watson wasn’t wrong for being creeped out, annoyed, scared, whatever she felt. You get to feel what you feel in a situation, there’s no right or wrong there, it just is.

But when you control a mic, and you’re a speaker, you don’t get to play the game Watson did. That was a total dick move, because she knew, *knew* that there was no way Stef could actually counter her argument. At best, stef could have asked a one minute question, and then hoped watson wasn’t still feeling dickish. Barring the entire audience taking her to task, which I doubt would have happened. Even when they disagree, fans won’t say the person they’re fans of is wrong during a speech or public Q&A, it’d be rude, or a dick move.

Disagreeing with Stef McGraw is not a dick move, disagreeing on her website is not a dick move. That shit during the speech? Total dick move.

Note that I still feel that way. Watson had and has, like every other person in the world, the right to her feelings. We all do. But she didn’t have the right to be such a raging tool towards Stef McGraw.

The FTB lot will never admit that, more than anything is what blew this up for many.

75 Jan Steen April 13, 2015 at 9:27 pm

Pharyngula = The religion of Peez.

76 Jack Rawlinson April 13, 2015 at 9:32 pm

“Note that I still feel that way. Watson had and has, like every other person in the world, the right to her feelings. We all do. But she didn’t have the right to be such a raging tool towards Stef McGraw”

Spot on.

77 Robert Seidel April 13, 2015 at 10:42 pm

A pattern emerges, and I can contribute: Former regular of FTB, which I discovered via Pharyngula, which I discovered via The God Delusion. Left it partly because it became a drain on my time, and partly because of the drama (I think Dawkins’ “sex abuse scandal” was the final straw). Didn’t really knew what it was all about, until this recent spat blew (after Adam Lee published his piece on Dawkins) and someone here provided the link to James Onen’s piece on Elevatorgate – thanks to him and the linker, you both made a convert!

Never been to the Slimepit until half into the “Mick Nugent Saga”, had a look, and nothing more.

78 Gerhard April 13, 2015 at 10:54 pm

Jack Rawlinson

I, too, used to hang out at FtB a lot – mainly at Pharyngula but also on Greta’s page and occasionally a couple of others. I was quite a fan of Myers and as I’ve said previously, didn’t have a problem with his combative style at all. But in those days he almost always applied it where it was due, and he was pretty consistent with his criticisms and praises.

Were you in the habit of verifying his sources? I must admit that I bought into the intellectual honesty crud he was selling and took a lot at face value. After becoming disillusioned with him I did a little digging and found that he wasn’t always quite as honest as I thought he was. It is true that he was mostly going after intellectually stunted creationists and the like, but he was not above misrepresenting them and puffing up his own image as the fearless warrior.

79 Gerhard April 13, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Mel.

Maybe I need to give it another year? Ophelia Benson once said that one doesn’t see the misogyny because they fake it (being not-misogynist, if I understand her). Perhaps one needs to apply the Zvan technique of adding words, as she did with Hemant Mehta. Like if you see “What a beautiful day” you don’t think anything of it, but if she shows you “What a beautiful day [to be abusing women because I hates them so]” it all becomes clear. But I’m not divorced from skepticism, so that doesn’t work for me

That’s Ophelia for you. She got upset with Justin Vacula about something and refused his invite to state her case on his podcast because he was making untrue claims and he had some nefarious motive. She actually said that she did not want anything positive said about Justicar on her blog because it might make him look like a good guy. She bizarrely imputes motives and then accuses people of being dishonest when they fail to confirm her projections. Nutty.

Talking about dishonest interpretations , on Ashley Miller’s blog the other day Thibeault had the nerve to dismiss Slymepitters as arguing in bad faith in a thread where the usual suspects were trotting out time honoured gender warrior standards of the “bitchez be lyin, amirite” form.

80 Gerhard April 13, 2015 at 11:15 pm

What is with the spelling on my last post. Is there a stealth autocorrect in operation? Were instead where, wanting instead of want, block instead of blog. I can’t believe I typed that.

[Gerhard, all corrected – MN]

81 franc April 14, 2015 at 3:01 am

skhome #73 –

//The main reason not to visit is its name. “Slyme Pit” seems a bit juvenile//

Juvenile? Precisely. And who gave it that name?

Peezee Myers.

82 KiwiInOz April 14, 2015 at 5:51 am

Citizen Wolf @ 29 – A little late to the party, but my journey was from TalkOrigins => Pandas Thumb => Pharyngula => ERV => SlymePit. I used to enjoy Pharyngula and other Science Blogs (e.g. Aetiology and ERV). I became disillusioned with Pharyngula when some members of the comentariat started to use MRA , rape apologist and similar epithets against other atheist commentators.

I found that I enjoyed the humour more at ERVs periodic table of swearing post, and switched across to the Pit when it was set up. I have yet to earn my misogynist badge as I spend most of my time taking the piss out of other members.

To be honest, I think that the SlymePit epitomises what PZ Myers hoped to achieve with his FreeThoughtBlogs version of Pharyngula. That is, a site and readers that cast a skeptical but compassionate eye over truth claims, speaking truth to power, robust debate, and vulgar through to high brow humour and satire. He sort of succeeded, given his inspiration and fueling of the Pit. Just not in the way he intended.

83 Glen Davidson April 14, 2015 at 10:06 pm

To be honest, I think that the SlymePit epitomises what PZ Myers hoped to achieve with his FreeThoughtBlogs version of Pharyngula.

Oh, I don’t think so. He always wanted pack animals, people who would all think the same–have the same goals:

You know that in the childhood of our species, we were prey to the predators of the African continent. Alone, we were soft, weak, and tasty, and I’m sure the lions and leopards enjoyed a hominid snack. But together…I’m sure that when some ferocious big cat came upon a tribe of humans, together, and when they all turned 10 or 15 pairs of eyes on the predator and reached for stones and sharpened sticks, that cat felt fear and slunk away. Those eyes, those hunter’s eyes on the front of the face…when a group of us turn those eyes in cold calculation on any problem, when our hands work together, we are the most powerful force on the planet.

Sacking the City of God

Yes, I could cooperate on chasing away a would-be predator (Myers, for instance). But beyond that, the simile fails.

Nietsche on Last Man:

No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.

Thus Spake Zarathustra

It’s really Myers’ dream, this Last Man. He does want people “thinking for themselves,” he just can’t imagine anyone neither evil nor stupid disagreeing with him. Disagreeing with him, by the way, is pretty much disagreeing with the most (self) righteous academics, something that, as far as I can tell, he has never done. He really seems not to know the difference between scientific fact and (self-serving) academic belief.

He complains of religious sheep, but demands that the Pack not question the most certain “truths,” claims that utterly evidence but are unquestionable. That’s why his simile merely trades the Flock for the Pack, apparently with no realization that the only difference in his world is his utter lack of concern and regard for the Flock, while the sameness changes not a whit (he actually suggests that it does, it just doesn’t–which is why he keeps going back to the same-thinking Pack).

I think he wanted the Pit in the sense of its being free-wheeling, just so long as it didn’t disagree with his absolute truth, with the Pack’s “coordinated activity.” He couldn’t have both, of course, so the freedom to disagree had to go.

84 Glen Davidson April 14, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Was supposed to be: “He complains of religious sheep, but demands that the Pack not question the most certain “truths,” claims that utterly lack evidence but are unquestionable.

85 John Greg April 14, 2015 at 11:46 pm

Which of course compels us to ask do Peezoids dream of religious sheep?

/runs

86 john welch April 14, 2015 at 11:59 pm

sheep, no.

squids tho…

87 Matt Cavanaugh April 15, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Dawkins directed me to Pharyngula, which never really impressed me. Myers railed against The Slymepit, so I checked it out, expecting to encounter 4chan/anonymous type jerks. Instead I found a diverse group of intelligent, thoughtful and witty folks, who most of all prize skepticism and open debate of a range of subjects — without needing to demonize their interlocutor. I’ve been a regular ever since.

As Shatterface & Skep tickle note, many of the comments & jokes at The ‘Pit are tongue-in-cheek, allude to earlier discussions, or are intentional ‘play-acting’ in response to egregious mischaracterizations of us. As such, they ought be viewed in context, but do provide excellent quote-mine ore for the Outrage Brigade.

The ‘Pit’s tone, language, and style of humor may not appeal to everyone, but no one is obliged to visit it. A point that FTBers like Myers, Svan, Benson, and Miller — who lurk and vanity search the Pit apparently daily — can’t seem to grasp.

I first learned of Michael from his attempt to referee “The Dialog”, and have kept tabs on his blog and on AI’s work ever since. Given Ireland’s religious history and its present overlap of church & state, AI efforts are (pace Ophelia) of an importance to A/S worldwide greatly disproportionate to Ireland’s size. Not to mention AI’s energetic engagement with the European Community.

I fully empathize with the indignation felt by AI’s members, who are making tangible, highly impactful contributions to A/S, only to be savaged by a pack of petulant internet slackivists.

88 Shivar April 15, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Citizen Wolf @ 29 – Used to be a regular on the Pharyngula comment threads, until I had to leave in utter disgust when PZ started going completely off the rails. I read the Slymepit and applaud their dedication to exposing PZ and his wretched band for what they are, but never felt compelled to sign up. There’s some interesting conversations there but there’s always some tedious obsessives who try to dominate every conversation, especially two that lately have made the Slymepit eminently not worth the time. These two also inundate every Myers-related thread on this site, and it gets very boring.

89 Richard Weed July 21, 2015 at 4:51 pm

There’s no nice way to say it. Nugent has become a (unwitting?) slymepit tool.

90 Jack Rawlinson July 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm

There’s no nice way to say it: a guy called “Weed” has dropped in to a long-dead thread to be a dick.

91 David Eaton September 3, 2015 at 4:56 am

I consider myself skeptic, though unaffiliated with any group. I recall back in my college days when my once idealistic communist friends became really boring by aggressively denouncing one another, then rather than countering with an argument, reacting with disbelief that they might be questioned. Then everyone said, many times, that they really had nothing to discuss. They did have plenty to discuss, but they wouldn’t. I could never decide who was lazy, and who was so purist that potential allies who dared violate some orthodoxy must be declared unworthy of debating.

Cool.

92 Madison December 26, 2015 at 11:53 am

no one created God, that’s why He is cleald God. God is THE ultimate. See, people r quick to dodge if God exists, so they attach rather with, then who created God’. No hold on, Does He exist or doesn’t He?Jip.So God will judge you according to His standards REGARDLESS of my and your beliefs.Forget who created Him.We’ll ask Him 1 day how it all happened.1st face t fact that God is just will punish all those according to what they have done, and give life to those who put their trust in Jesus.

93 http://www./ November 13, 2016 at 9:59 pm

I want to start an affiliate programme and hire affiliates to sell my products. Whats the best affiliate programme out there. The products that I want to sell are 1) Digital Products/ Services2) Physical goodsPlease indicate why you think they would be good. I am looking at cost, reliability , support , wide functionality.

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