PZ Myers and the Little Shop of Hatred

by Michael Nugent on July 28, 2015

Update: PZ Myers has now closed down the social interaction aspect of his blog, after blaming his commenters for attacking an insider in the way that he has always encouraged them to attack outsiders. He also complains that FreeThought Blogs itself is ‘less a unified group than a disparate collection of loosely affiliated blogs that have found a convenient hosting service.’

PZ’s new view on community-building is that ‘we are all objects in space, drifting, occasionally bouncing off each other or tugging gently at each other’s masses. And that’s about it.’ PZ now says that he ‘will be a cold dark ember of a star, following my own whims, drifting alone, not trying to create a hospitable atmosphere.’

This shows that PZ Myers has learned nothing useful from the Little Shop of Hatred that he created and nourished until he lost control of it.  Yesterday I wrote that, while I welcomed PZ’s diminishing influence in the international atheist movement, I would also welcome a genuine conversion by him to civility and empathy and fairness and justice. This has not happened. So be it.

Original post follows:

PZ Myers, who made and broke his reputation by being hostile and uncharitably misrepresenting people, is now criticising his own commenters for being hostile and uncharitably misrepresenting his friend Ophelia Benson.

PZ Myers is right to defend Ophelia from unjust attacks. But his commenters were only doing to an insider what PZ himself has for years encouraged them to do to outsiders, led by the example of his own hurtful, dehumanising, hateful, violent, unjust and defamatory rhetoric.

This is the online community equivalent of the movie Little Shop of Horrors, in which flower shop assistant Seymour repeatedly feeds an exotic plant’s ever-greater craving for human blood, until the plant finally grows large enough to turn on Seymour himself and destroy the flower shop.

But the bloodthirsty plant is not an analogy for PZ’s commenters, some of whom seem vulnerable and unjustly hurt in life themselves. It is an analogy for the channelling of anger, which can sometimes be valid, into personal hatred and unjust behaviour towards outsiders.

I believe PZ and his commenters genuinely want to see social justice, whatever it is that means to them. But you cannot bring about social justice by spreading hatred of outsiders, and you cannot bring about any justice by unjustly attacking anyone.

On the face of it, PZ Myers seems to be serious about bringing about at least some change. He has closed down the main thread on his blog where most of the hostility was conveyed, which he accurately described as the internal reinforcement of tribalism.

Now here is the big test for PZ Myers. If he realises that his commenters are wrong to behave like this, his natural empathy should lead him to realise that he himself is also wrong to behave like this.

I have welcomed PZ’s diminishing influence within the international atheist movement, as he alienates more and more people who are actually working for change in the real world. I would also welcome a genuine conversion by him to civility and empathy and fairness and justice.

Assuming that he is sincere, he could demonstrate his sincerity by applying his new standards to himself, starting by making amends with the many people he has unjustly smeared over the years.

Civil dialogue and lobbying versus hateful and violent rhetoric

Since I last wrote about PZ Myers, I and Atheist Ireland have been campaigning hard to promote atheism and ethical secularism in Ireland and internationally. We have contributed to Ireland’s historic marriage equality referendum, and we continue to lobby at the United Nations and within Ireland to defend the human rights of atheists and religious minorities.

This type of relentless, reasoned, robust, patient, determined civil lobbying, combined with legal and political pressure, is how we will eventually bring about an ethical secular society, using methods that are consistent with the outcomes that we are seeking. It is the same approach that gradually brought about the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Needless to say, we would never have passed the Belfast Agreement or the Irish marriage equality referendum if, like PZ Myers, we had proudly proclaimed that we hate and despise Christians, made outrageous personal allegations against people with whom we disagreed, and regularly called people fuckheads and wankers and lunatics.

We wouldn’t tolerate behaviour like that from our children, and we shouldn’t tolerate it from our adult colleagues.

PZ now seems to finally realise at least some of this, albeit when his own type of attacks are directed at one of his friends. I hope that this can begin a rehabilitative journey in which PZ moves towards genuinely promoting civil dialogue and justice.

PZ Myers’ defence of Ophelia Benson

For the record, here is some of what PZ Myers has said about the attacks on Ophelia. It reads like a copy-and-paste of what I and others have repeatedly told PZ about his own behaviour.

  • What I’m seeing is an incestuous reinforcement of assumptions, where reading between the lines becomes a statement of unimpeachable fact.

  • It is a really good example of how people are translating one uncharitable reading of a comment about one thing into a whole string of ugly inferences about something else.

  • I suggest that you back off and instead of building a tottering edifice of circumstantial stories, you try to reach out in a less hostile and argumentative way — you might just find that in the absence of the kind of assertively preconceived, self-reinforcing claims made here, she’s actually far more enlightened than you think.

  • So what we’ve got is a lot of innuendo and anecdotes and uncharitable interpretations flying around, all tailored to turn her into The Enemy.

  • If you want to have a conversation and get past the wall of dismissiveness, you’re not going to get there with the kinds of angry assertions seen here… or this constant cycle of reinforcement of the initial poorly supported claim.

  • Saying it 50 times doesn’t make it true, but it does tend to make the target unlikely to think you really want to discuss it fairly.

  • Having a community with strong social bonds is nice, except when it turns into a search for markers for the outsider and subsequent vilification. I am not enjoying it at all. One solution might be to remove the internal reinforcement of tribalism.

  • Thread closed. It won’t be reopened. Thus endeth the Thunderdome/Mended Drum experiment.

PZ Myers’ response to similar attacks on Richard Dawkins

What would happen if PZ Myers applied his new standards to the considerably worse attacks that his commenters have made against Richard Dawkins?

PZ did not challenge his commenters who said that Richard is a ‘racist misogynist piece of shit who thinks child molestation doesn’t count unless there’s rape or murder’, that ‘if he’s not actually a child molester he’s dangerously close to wearing the uniform of one’, and that ‘Dawkins and his rape cheerleaders can fuck a power socket’.

But he did ban a commenter who defended Richard, telling him: ‘Goodbye. We don’t need your petty resistance to any dissent from the sacred position of your great heroes around here. Fuck off.’

What if PZ Myers applied his new standard to his own behaviour?

What would happen if PZ Myers applied his new standards to his own behaviour? How many times has has PZ conveyed innuendo and uncharitable interpretations, tailored to turn his target of the day into The Enemy?

As some of many examples, he said that ‘the scum rose to the top of the atheist movement’, that it is ‘burdened by cretinous reactionaries’, that ‘sexist and misogynistic scumbags’ are ‘not a fringe phenomenon’, and that if you don’t agree with Atheism Plus, you are an ‘Asshole Atheist’.

He said that Richard Dawkins ‘seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children’ and ‘has been eaten by brain parasites’, Ann Marie Waters is a ‘nutter’, and Russell Blackford is a ‘lying fuckhead’.

He said that Ben Radford is a ‘revolting narcissistic scumbag’ and his lawyer is ‘J Noble Dogshit’, and Rosetta scientist Matt Taylor and Bill Maher are ‘assholes’. He called Irish blogger ZenBuffy a ‘narcissistic wanker’ after she said she has experienced mental illness.

He said that Robin Williams’ suicide was ‘the death of a wealthy white man dragging us away from news about brown people’, Charles Darwin was a ‘sexist asshat’, Richard Feynman was a ‘reprehensible asshole’, and Christopher Hitchens was a ‘bloodthirsty barbarian’ and a ‘club-carrying primitive’.

When I wrote about his hurtful and unjust behaviour towards others, he responded by accusing me of defending, supporting and providing a haven for rapists. He has since refused for ten months to withdraw and apologise for this smear.

These are only some of many examples — and that’s without even touching on his overt hate speech against Christians, his public despising of people as mild as Alain de Botton and Karen Armstrong, and his often violent rhetoric.

The start of the end of the Little Shop of Hatred?

So where are we now? Are we seeing the start of the end of the Little Shop of Hatred? It seems unlikely, but I always remain optimistic about the ability of people to change.

PZ Myers is by no means the only person responsible for the hatred in the atheist movement, and he has been the victim of many unfair personal attacks himself. However, given his previous influence, his role has been central in shaping how things have developed.

As I said earlier, I have welcomed PZ’s diminishing influence within the international atheist movement. I would also welcome a genuine conversion by him to civility and justice. He could demonstrate his sincerity by applying his new standards to himself.

As part of this, I again ask him to withdraw and apologise for his defamatory allegation that I defend, support and provide a haven for rapists. That allegation remains incredibly serious, and it will not go away until it is resolved.

I don’t plan to return to this topic for a while, as I am busy with Atheist Ireland and other projects, but I felt that it was important to note this development as part of my chronology of misrepresentations and smears by PZ Myers and others.

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{ 192 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MosesZD July 28, 2015 at 1:04 am

Ah, you got wind of this. Yes, it’s been pretty interesting. This is the hostile, toxic, bullying community he built.

He explicitly encouraged this behavior. He wouldn’t see sense and banned those who spoke out. Taking glee in it and slandering them as booted them.

The Horde drove out others. And they were proud of it.

And then there were people like myself who left years and years and years ago because we saw the inevitable purity-test end-game long before now and knew it was only a matter of time before being ‘on the wrong side’ some trivial issue would make us the target.

2 Shivar July 28, 2015 at 1:15 am

Well done as usual Mr. Nugent.

However, I somehow doubt that PZ Myers has the mettle for the necessary introspection that a changing of his awful ways necessitates. He doesn’t even seem to understand that his commenters are behaving EXACTLY as he has been exhorting them to act for many years. It’s quite hypocritical of him to shut down his main thread-o-nasty when people are just behaving as he encouraged them to behave.

But that’s the tribalism of the FtB echo-chamber – when it’s one of their own that gets mauled by the call-out culture they created, then all of a sudden it’s “waahhh.. unfair…. let’s be a bit more civil OK?” As usual when contemplating FreethoughtBlogs, the word “hypocrisy” springs to mind.

3 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 1:32 am

Well said, very well said.

I can’t help but enjoy the sight of the monster turning on itself. This was inevitable given the culture they have created but it’s fun to see how it”s all playing out.

It’s pitiful but unsurprising that Myers puts a stop to this nasty behavior if and only if he or one of his friends becomes the victim. I have serious doubts that he’s capable of bringing himself to recognize and admit that he’s been engaging in, leading, and nurturing the same kind of behavior for years, only targeted toward those he considers part of the out-group. He won’t make the connection. It’s too much of a stretch for him and his empathy circuits seem to have withered away long ago.

I hope he proves me wrong but I just don’t think he has it in him. It will be the fault of his commenters and the FtB boogeyman (aka slime pitters).

4 Linda L July 28, 2015 at 1:50 am

I wonder if Ophelia (and PZ) will ever realize these commenters/allies didn’t suddenly change. They were horrible then, and horrible now…only difference is SHE is now the “other” who needs to be destroyed.
And these commenters will ignore her pleas that she is being lied about or misunderstood, as she ignored everyone else who said that in the past.

This was predictable and it was predicted. All differing opinions were banned from FTBs, and the philosophy of those remaining requires a constant, never-ending need to “perfect” the beliefs of others, and shame them if they refuse.

PZ is supporting Ophelia, so it really is a matter of time before he either bans many commenters who will go after him and/or FTB implodes.

This is the result of not actually allowing “Free Thought” at a place called “Freethoughtblogs”

5 muffy July 28, 2015 at 1:57 am

The inquisition eventually died out when it reached the people behind it. When they started eating their own. This is what always happens with witch hunts.

6 Comrade Bala July 28, 2015 at 2:11 am

Does anyone have a screencap of what Ophella supposedly said?

7 Shermertron July 28, 2015 at 2:26 am

@ Comrade Bala 6

It’s not really one comment. It’s more of a general feeling had by many of the FTB Commentariat and associated people. I guess that a fair abridgment of the reason Ms. Benson has been (to my mind, unfairly) labeled a TERF can be found in screen shots at this blog post:

https://archive.is/yGyCI

Ms. Benson was asked a Yes/No question and she declined to answer, causing many to associate her (again, unfairly) with undesirable social attitudes.

The great irony is that the vast majority of fair readers have no reason to believe that Ms. Benson has any negative attitudes about transgender people. Her unwillingness to follow in ideological lockstep is the reason she’s being criticized. (As Mr. Nugent makes clear, this is another of PZ’s faults: a minute difference in belief or understanding or even rhetoric can make one a sworn enemy worthy of pack criticism.)

8 Linda L July 28, 2015 at 2:27 am

There isn’t one thing she said…it is basically what she refused to say when pressured. So there are twitter conversationsa as well as posts multiple places on Pharyngula (PZ’s blog) and at Butterflies and Wheels (Ophelia’s blog)

This came to a head recently, but there have been people who felt Ophelia was a TERF* for several months at least based on her following known TERFs on social media and not denouncing them…even though she herself says she supports trans people.

*TERF is a catchall term, usually used as a pejorative, which means Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist, which are feminists who do not see transwomen as women, but as men. It varies, but that is the simple meaning.

9 franc July 28, 2015 at 2:58 am

I believe PZ and his commenters genuinely want to see social justice, whatever it is that means to them

Well meaning, but reality will disappoint you. I am far from alone now in making observations I made some 5 years ago – observations since echoed by Paula Kirby, Cathy Young and many others.

What you are witnessing is an ideological hive of the kind seen in cloistered communities in communist regimes where self appointed commissars vie amongst each other for dominance on the basis of purer-than-thou by denouncing ideoligical heretics, and more recently, islamist movements where maniac clerics doing the same. These people are essentially nihilists – they cannot create anything of worth to affirm their value to their communities.

All they can do to maintain their status is denounce and destroy. They live in a vicious circle where they must remain purer than their competitors and the only way they can do this is find fresh scapegoats and hate targets to present to their mindless subordinates. The blood on the altar must never dry. There can never be a good result. These kinds of communities always end up choking themselves to death.

Peezee is too full of hubris too ever change. It is debatable whether he actually believes his own nonsense or has merely exploited it for personal advantage – but this is doesn’t really matter. He is a slave of his own pride and he too will end up being consumed by it.

I wish I could share your optimism, but I can’t. I have studied these kinds of loons for decades. They all end up the same way.

10 Parody Accountant July 28, 2015 at 4:16 am

FTB has sunk.

Except for physioproffe, all of the decent blogs have moved to patheos.

PZ just closed his all-purpose hate threads. Guess how that’s going to affect the already dwindling alexa rating.

The ‘problematic’ comments are coming from the entire community he cultivated. It will spill into the other threads, and a large portion of them might flounce entirely.

His book sold very poorly. I bet he made more money from the ad revenue the first time he wrote The Happy Atheist. Back when it was called Pharyngula.

He’s now doing speaking gigs with known alien / ufologist quacks. It’s drying up.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Every time you make a phone call or email to an American organization, you should warn them as well.

The only thing left

11 Parody Accountant July 28, 2015 at 4:17 am

The only thing left is the dying FtB blog network. It’s currently eating itself alive.

12 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 4:40 am

Comrade Bala @6,
In terms of this current purging/cleansing of suspected TERF Ophelia Benson, I think the following comment of her’s was more or less the straw that broke the camel’s back; or at least that which ultimately led to the “do you believe trans women are women, yes or no” question, in response.

It’s from her blog post called Free Pride Glasgow says no drag, comment number 15 (July 19, 2015):
“A friend of mine remarked yesterday that ‘This is like objecting to blackface on the grounds that it makes Rachel Dolezal feel uncomfortable.'”

http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2015/07/glasgow-pride-says-no-drag/
https://archive.is/kaHJR

Given the context, several commenters interpreted that to mean that Benson was comparing Rachel Dolezal (alleged transracial person) to transgender persons. As you can imagine that kicked things up a notch.

This seems to be ultimately what led to the dreaded question. The question to which Ophelia Benson and a small group of defenders have compared to McCarthyism, the Inquisition, an interrogation, a hunt for scalps, etc.

13 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 4:51 am

This archive version has 4 additional comments that apparently were purged at some point and are no longer visible:
https://archive.is/JFfdx

Just so everyone can see what kind of comments are moderated out of existence, you can compare to the previous version I just posted.

14 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 4:53 am

Oops, that was premature. Predecessor comment still in moderation.

15 Hunt July 28, 2015 at 5:54 am

Let’s not forget the similarity in all this to the rush to condemn Tim Hunt, which both PZ and Ophelia endorsed. Of course, they were following a nearly global “witch hunt,” which now seems to be at the very least badly founded, but so far uncorrected.

Another dramatic analogy would be to Dr. Morbius from Forbidden Planet, nightly besieged by a monster created out of the Freudian id of his own personality and imbued with uncontrollable power by the Krell machine. Ironically, the Pharyngula commentariat, culled and selected by the preferences of PZ himself, has become a reflection of his own personality by a process of artificial evolution, quite fitting for a biologist. All of this is to say that PZ has nobody to blame but himself. He’s the one who formed it, nurtured it, rewarded it. Now the monster has turned against its creator. Forgive me if I don’t shed a tear.

16 chill chick July 28, 2015 at 6:10 am

I’m less optimistic than Michael about the possibility of a change of heart from PZ. The problem is, SJW’s have the perfect defense against cognitive dissonance. If they do something nasty, it’s “punching up” and therefore perfectly justified. But if someone from the out-group does the same thing, it’s “punching down”and makes the perpetrator Literally Hitler (TM).

But I remain hugely impressed by Michael’s optimism, his patience, his unfailingly polite but persistent remainder of the importance of consistent ethical standards, and his willingness to forgive and extend the hand of friendship if only PZ would show a shred of decency and retract his libelous statements.

17 JackSkeptic July 28, 2015 at 6:24 am

For them there are no bad tactics only bad targets.

Myers thinks they are going for the wrong target so he only mentions the tactics used as it is his friend. He otherwise would encourage it. In fact he created his poisonous community to attack those who failed his purity tests (tests he consistently fails to live up to) and those he simply does not like, which seems to be almost everyone.

Some people enjoy destroying communities to ‘rebuild them’, pontificating and telling people how to behave ‘to bring awareness’ and hating through ‘righteous anger’ and I suspect it can get very addictive. Years of this behavior won’t suddenly go away.

There will be no conversion although I do commend anyone still hoping that this highly destructive behavior will stop. My main aim has always been to try and mitigate the damage these people cause as it is part of a wider issue occurring through several cultures at the moment. Most here already know those that thought it would all go away were naive in the extreme and clearly do not learn from history.

It seems to attract certain personality types and there is nothing to be done about that as those people will always exist. Only the harm they cause can be mitigated by us all supporting each other and not running away in fear (I’m looking at some US AS leaders and personalities here)

18 Jan Steen July 28, 2015 at 6:32 am

Expecting that PZ Myers will come to resemble a decent human being is like expecting that a jackal develops table manners and turns vegetarian.

19 Kendall July 28, 2015 at 7:12 am

It find it interesting that it’s the “TERF” debate that’s sparked this off. With some of the writers on FTB identifying as “sex positive”, and one or two (e.g. Greta Christina) people who’ve dabbled in the fringes of the sex industry, I’d thought that it might be her status as a “SWERF” (sex work exclusionary radical feminist) that would cause a rift.

Benson is more clearly and unambiguously anti-sex work than she is anti-trans, for example posting a video that promoted the “end demand” criminalisation model, and defending feminist Kate Smurthwaite when she was criticised for blaming sex workers for causing rape. There were one or two comments critical of Benson then, but nothing compared to this kerfuffle. That’s obviously a topic where it’s still acceptable to have a difference of opinion within the group.

20 Nathan (late: GerardO) July 28, 2015 at 8:50 am

I don’t think hate is necessarily a bad thing — it depends on what you hate and for what reason. Myers seems to hate everyone outside his clique, which is similar to the mindset of religious fundamentalists. He’s toxic.

21 Shatterface July 28, 2015 at 9:39 am

There’s a fundamental incompatibility between old school feminism, which regards gender as socially constructed and oppressive, and trams politics, which refards gender as an authentic expression of one’s true self.

All the same, there’s a difference between the genuine transphobia of Julie Bindel and other TERFs on the one hand, and someone struggling with the concept, like Benson.

The Horde were bound to turn on her eventually. If it hadn’t been for this, it would be for perceived ‘Islamophobia’.

By which I mean she doesn’t think cartoonists deserve to be murdered.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for her because of her harassment of other atheists but I think it’s a shame she was brought down for things she didn’t do by some of the most odious people on the Internet.

22 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

FTB has always been a joke – and not just Myers’ blog.

Atheism+ merely acted as a catalyst to startisfy the layers and make things clearer.

I don’t understand why anyone would evangelise atheism per se. What’s important to me is removing those manifestations of religion which are a legacy, so, yes agitating for secularism in terms of removing control of education from the religious orderss, legalising divorce, homosexual acts, SSM etc are all separate issues being fought and won over time.

The Myers, Dawkins, Dennets don’t seem to have an agenda which extends to more than atheism good/religion bad.

There was more than a hint of naivete in New Atheism, such that there was a very non-critical attitude to fellow-travellers, which saw some disreputable characters and behaviour tolerated.

I doubt that FTB has changed anyone’s views.

In the meantime, one of their contributors seems to have turned his blog into a version of Graigslist crossed with e-Bay.

23 Jan Steen July 28, 2015 at 10:46 am

What makes me think that Myers is incorrigible is precisely that which at first sight suggests that he finally understands why his behaviour is criticized.

Myers said:

It is a really good example of how people are translating one uncharitable reading of a comment about one thing into a whole string of ugly inferences about something else.

This is exactly, exactly, what Myers himself has been doing, and what he has been encouraging his Flock to do for years now. Carefully construct the most uncharitable interpretation of something and use it in an all-out attempt at character assassination. In his world everyone is an asshole, except when you are with him 100%. Then you are above criticism. His us-vs.-them mentality is as primitive as that of George W. Bush.

That Myers is able to accommodate the cognitive dissonance that allows him to come to the defence of Ophelia Benson with arguments that can equally be used against himself, is not evidence that he is improving his ways. It is evidence that he is a massive hypocrite who is as self-aware as a cabbage.

His willingness to throw members of his Flock under the bus when it suits him is typical as well. It’s practically a diagnostic trait of cult leaders and ideologues throughout history. Bully your followers into submission. A related phenomenon is the radicalisation and the sickening conformity of those remaining in the leader’s camp. It’s what purges do and what we see in Myers’s commentariat.

Yes, history repeats itself; the second time as a farce.

24 Minnow July 28, 2015 at 11:23 am

I am hoping that this will end with OB leaving FtB and becoming something like the blogger she once was. It is hard for some people to realise that she was once the scourge of the sort of anti-intellectual ,identity politicking anathemetisers that she ended up serving.

25 Richard Sanderson July 28, 2015 at 11:56 am

The problem stems from the fact that there is a group of extremist trans activists, enabled by cis-white, middle class SJWs, who seemingly insist that EVERYONE view biological sex the same as gender. I’ve seen some incredible William Lane Craig style wordplay to try and get “others” to accept the anti-scientific position of a trans woman being biologically a woman. Very few of the people they are frothing at the mouth at (that includes Ophelia) refuse to label trans women as women in the general, everyday sense. Like most intelligent progressive liberals (the opposite of #FTBullies and SJWs), I am very happy to label and view trans people as the gender they choose to be, but if you start demanding I deny scientific fact, I’m going to put you in the same box as religious fundamentalist creationists. You get NO mercy or leeway for your anti-science nonsense with me, matey.

BTW, a look on Twitter or Pharyngula will reveal just how hateful and abusive some of these trans-activists are (or more usually, their cis-white, middle class supporters). Naturally, you can find equivalents in other activist groups, but there is a rather nasty coterie of bullies driving their agenda on this one. I have NO sympathy for #FTBullies who decided to get into bed with them, just as I have no sympathy for idiots who side with right-wing nutcases just to support a cause they have.

BTW, excellent article Michael. You are a true champion for the movement.

26 Richard Sanderson July 28, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Minnow:

I am hoping that this will end with OB leaving FtB and becoming something like the blogger she once was.

I’m not convinced about that. I certainly don’t see a return to the person that co-wrote a very sensible book with Jeremy Strangroom. The thing is, she has managed to retain good old solid liberal positions on say, the problem of Islamism, and was one of the few voices of reason during the turgid Charlie Hebdo response period at FTB. [BTW, notice that OB got a lot of flak from the Horde over CH, while the likes of Maryam Namazie did not – that reveals something!] However, she has gone completely overboard and drank the SJW Kool id on so many other hot-button issues, such as rape and sexual consent, etc. She’s not one of those crazies who insist any form of PIV sex is “rape”, but she ain’t far off at times! She has lost all sense of logic and nuance on any issue involving rape or sex in general.

27 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm

I so look forward to hearing from John Morales, theophantes, Aratina Cage, and Deepak Shetty.

Let it not be forgotten that these characters (and maybe one or two more besides) were so keen on coming here and defending Myers at every turn, and on trying to minimize, dismiss and distract from Michael’s criticisms.

I’m sure they all will stop by shortly to tell Michael how many words are in this post, and to demonstrate their latest mental gymnastics floor routine that somehow exonerates Myers from any measure of blame for what’s happened.

28 Gerhard July 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm

PZ recently posted about the burdens of being right on his core issues and how that can be mistaken for dogmatism. He carried the tactics of mocking without engagement previously used against patently pseudoscientific and unfounded beliefs over into his crusade for dogmatic points of view on social issues. He mistakenly takes pushback against the extreme nonsense he spouts as attacking more universally accepted positions such as “women are people too” which he reverts to with bait and switch tactics. He was always quick to back up his commenters when they were wont to respond to reasonable statements with stock phrases like “bitchez ‘aint shit, amirite”. It could be that he is really unable to see the parallels with the attacks on Ophelia because he’s right when he does it, dammit!

29 allan July 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Atheism+ RIP. It’s 2 or 3 years since I read anything on FTB. I want to hear contrarians, mavericks, people not adhering to a party line, opinions I disagree with.

30 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 3:49 pm

@ allan:

TBH, I don’t like the concept of a party line, and hate the whole idea of an atheist “movement”, so in that sense it’s rewarding to see people conflict over issues – albeit preferably when done with respect and in a robust manner without personal attack.

What is the “movement”? What did Dawkins achieve for example? Some signs on buses? Big deal. What did Hitchins and Dennet achieve, beyond some great articulation of the atheist position? When I ask what did they achieve, I mean to say what “change” did they achieve.

Very little, is my guess, with possibly a hardening of attitudes against atheists being a side effect of their form of demagoguery. Dawkins’ style, in particular, my be loved in America, where he has all the hallmark suave attributes of the monied British aristocrat in a Hollywood rom-com. To me he comes across as exceedingly patronising and condescending. That may be a cultural relic, though. When I’ve met him he’s been polite to a fault but somewhat diffident behind it. Whatever, the point is not him, but the spearheads of this “movement”. The point is suchlike as the “Brights”.* Was there ever a more patronising and intellectually vacuous label ever created?

I know that there are two approaches possible.

The first is that somehow an entirely secular republic is declared tomorrow. From that all else follows. Control of education is wrested away from the churches, a more liberal approach to social issues becomes inevitable. Utopia! Except not. It would likely the seizure of power and the imposition of secular values without first going through all that bothersome voting stuff. That’s how it was done in France and it failed first time around.

The other option is the one which is more painful to lobbiests for secularism, but easier on the population, which is peaceful agitation for changes to the law in an incremental process to change offending laws nd practices one-by-one. This takes time, but the hope is that one day the capstone will be placed on the edifice, signalling that the State is finally secular. This appears to be AI’s policy. It is one I agree with. It should be acknowledged by me at this stage that certainly in the US despite the “In God We Trust” stuff it is certainly largely secular in terms of education and a lot of social policy. Maybe they have little to fight about beyond crucifixes in courtrooms or the attempted hijacking of the teaching of biology in certain school districts.

The Four Horseman appeared to have a rather more nebulous and less practical approach. Indeed, on occasion sometimes they came across as being rather more antitheist than atheist.

I’ve been following the atheist and sceptic “movements” on the internet right from the first days of the ‘net. What I’ve seen has been an entirely incoherent set of values ascribed to atheim by severl people who headed the New Atheist movement (although of course they always denied that, seemingly unaware that their prodigious rate of public speaking, publication, and tours pointed elsewhere).

All along there were public rifts, there were charlatans who lent their voices in the hope of picking up some quick fame and easy bucks. Boards had meltdowns (RDEF being one of them). Implacable enemies were made and dubious partnerships were formed.

Scepticism and atheism enjoyed a split along with New Atheism and Atheism+. What’s next? Atheism V3.1.0.?

In the meantime I’ve remained an atheist, unbeholden to any oother atheist. That’s sort of the point isn’t it?

* An aside: one of the more repeated behaviours I’ve seen in all of this internet activity is that anyone who includes any of the following in the username: “Analyser”, “Sceptic”, Rational Thinker” or variants thereof is most likely none of the above.

31 Billie from Ockham July 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm

There is no way to “prove” it, Nialler, but I believe that the rise in the number of atheists in the US who are willing to say, out loud, that they are atheists is due, at least in part, to the actions of the Horsemen.

32 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 4:45 pm

@ Billie from Ockham:

Of course there’s no way to prove it all, and I accept your point to some extent on that basis. But the question has to be asked as to whether that willingness has increased the net number of atheists rather than simply the number willing to express such. Now, even if it’s only the latter then that is significant in itself. But you are correct, yet there is no way to ascribe cause and effect. No meaningful way, that is, unless some sociologist can establish it through means available to someone more clever than I am. That latter bar is not a difficult one to clear.

The rise in self-declared atheists crosses borders and oceans, though, and I would require some degree of evidence that specific individuals were behind that. There may be other common societal trends responsible for that.

All I know is that I have been atheist for 40 years. These guys haven’t really shaped my views other than to the extent that I occasionally get annoyed at their misrepresentations of my views when they cross into anti-theism.

It doesn’t keep me awake at night, though. I don’t wake wake up checking if I’m more athier or less athier than when I went to bed.

33 Gerhard July 28, 2015 at 4:53 pm

@Nialler.
“What is the “movement”? What did Dawkins achieve for example? Some signs on buses? Big deal. What did Hitchins and Dennet achieve, beyond some great articulation of the atheist position? When I ask what did they achieve, I mean to say what “change” did they achieve.”

Dawkins brought arguments against theistic beliefs to a much wider public than previously. You may find his arguments simplistic, but perhaps they were an epiphany to people never exposed to atheist arguments expressed by an actual atheist and not strawmanned by clergy. Fundamental change at the grassroots strikes me as a much more constructive way to do things than campaigning for political change on individual issues, which brings me to this strange false dichotomy;

I know that there are two approaches possible.

No room for public dissemination of arguments against theism and a resultant withering away of policies inspired by dogma?

I must admit to some irritation at much of the criticism of Harris and Dawkins in particular because it is rare that they are criticised for faults or behaviours that they actually possess. Harris in particular bends over backwards to give hearing to his opponents, which is entirely at odds with the way he is portrayed, and his views are routinely mischaracterised to an extent which is quite painful. Dawkins is one of the few people I’ve actually seen appear to stop and consider new viewpoints when put to him.

34 The Commenter Wars July 28, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Related:

Will David Futrelle go the way of PZ Myers?

tl;dr: PZ Myers crashed and burned partly because he couldn’t control his infamously vicious commenter horde. The same thing may happen to We Hunted The Mammoth’s David Futrelle, who is presently in the midst of a commenter revolt.

https://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/3edizg/will_david_futrelle_go_the_way_of_pz_myers/

35 Smoochy July 28, 2015 at 5:50 pm

PZ will never change.

This incident is just the latest in a series of “incidents” wherein the core group of smug, arrogant, unapologetic assholes who follow him have turned their attentions on the wrong person.

There have been plenty of incidents over the years of them tearing into someone for the slightest deviation from the In-group consensus, and by “tearing into” I mean accusations of being stupid, being a harasser, misogynist, or even a rapist.

I could easily list a dozen incidents, except that Pharyngula has become so utterly horrific over the past few years that it’s now blocked at my workplace as a “hate group”, so I can’t search very effectively.

But even without searching, I can point out the Don Kane incident, where a new commenter who had not chimed in with full-throated agreement with whatever the hell they were all angry about (and was therefore already putting up with a raft of crap from them) used the word “phenotype” in a way that one of the Usual Suspects didn’t like.

His explanation that he knew what it meant because he was an evolutionary biologist was the trigger for nearly a hundred comments over the course of several hours completely savaging him until he gave up and left.

When he reappeared in another thread a few days later, they didn’t even bother waiting for a trigger before dogpiling him and crapping all over him until PZ himself stepped in to explain that Don Kane 1) really was an geneticist, and 2) was a personal friend of PZ himself

Changes to the attitudes and behaviors of PZ and his minions to everyone else? None.

But the most telling incident, really, is the Chris Clarke incident, wherein the only person PZ ever allowed as co-blogger on Pharyngula stepped down as a contributor and left the site completely because he felt the comments section was just too farking toxic.

He wasn’t particularly worried about them being mean to *him*, he was actually more worried that his continued participation was turning him into one of them, and that was horrifying to him. But he was also clear that he felt the sheer nastiness was harming a lot of good people.

He pointed out that that he couldn’t ask *any* of his non-Pharyngula friends to participate because he knew they would be “savaged” by the horde of toxic, angry extremists who dwell there, as was well proven by the fact that the one time he *did* ask one non-Horde friend to participate, and she was put through such a load of fuckery and abuse that Chris had to personally step in and say “Um, hey guys – this is a friend of mine”, pretty much exactly like PZ did for Don Kane.

Long term changes to attitudes of PZ and the gang? None.

So no, PZ won’t change, and unless the entirety of the core group of intolerant howler monkeys running rampage through his comments section are rermoved, the site won’t either

36 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 5:58 pm

@ Gerhard:

No. Dawkins responded very poorly when problems occurred at his forum.

He allowed a form of “Is it ok if I celebrate Christmas with my theist family? I really quite enjoy the hymns/service aspect purely for their aesthetics?” question to be in the hands of his moderation team. The rote answer “Professor Dawkins approves and indeed enjoys these events” became a seriously and awful pathetic hallmark of his forum.

He never directly addressed these supplications which were overwhelmingly of the sad form form of the “Am I still an atheist if I . . .” ? form. He was aware of them; he was aware of my concerns that his forum was acting towards the creation of a different mind-hive.

I was asked to become a moderator and refused unless I had certain freedoms. That is perfectly fair and I bore no problem when they came back and said “maybe not”. That’s fine and entirely in his right. It’s his place after all.

Three weeks later his wife put up some paintings on the site for auction. I suggested that they weren’t great.

Banned.

Fine. His place after all.

The point is that when people tout freethought, yet restrict voices on it it is not freethought and is nowhere near anything appropriating it. I’m not saying that anyone espousing it is bound to host voices which are aggressively and illogically antagonistic to the concept, but there should still be room for some disagreement.

I spoke to Dawkins on the issue; he was entirely and blandly dismissive. His only virtue is a politenes in person which he absconds when online. MN may not like this view, but Dawkins is rather unpleasant unless you agree with him.

37 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Nialler,

Three weeks later his wife put up some paintings on the site for auction. I suggested that they weren’t great.

Banned.

At risk of being labeled hyperskeptical, you wouldn’t happen to have any links or archive versions, would you? I’d be curious to see if your characterization of the situation is fair and accurate.

38 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 6:35 pm

@ Fishcakes:

The link to the archives is here: https://richarddawkins.net/discussionsarchive/

I’m banned from access there.

39 Harrison July 28, 2015 at 6:40 pm

My take on this is that by closing his two purely social threads PZ is trying to not too subtly encourage his biggest problem posters apart from himself to move on. It’s a way to attempt to steer his blog in a better direction without having to take responsibility for it.

40 Gerhard July 28, 2015 at 7:06 pm

@Nialler. You have reasons not to like Dawkins. Doesn’t have a lot to do with the effect of his dissemination of atheist viewpoints through the media. I agree that his handling of the RD forums has not been stellar, but then I suspect that he may have been placed too much trust in some unfortunate personnel choices and may perhaps be a little too impatient too deal with the fallout effectively.

The bottom line for me is that I have never seen him go in for vitriol or the kind of unevidenced personal attacks some others do. I’m not a fanboy, although I respect his work, but TBH it grates me that almost every time Myers nastiness is brought up commenters pop up to throw in a dig at those unsophisticated Gnus as if they are even in the same league of unpleasantness as the gender ideologues..

41 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Nialler,
Thanks for the link to the archives, but there is too much there to wade through to find what you are referencing.

In any case, I agree with Gerhard that there is no equivalency here at all, no real comparison to be made, between Myers and Dawkins, in terms of their behavior and level of discourse.

42 john welch July 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

“Ah, Monsieur Robespierre, welcome, I trust your journey was as painless as possible?”

“I suppose it was. The blade is very sharp, it is in truth remarkably painless”

“That is something then, a small mercy.”

“You make a joke at my expense sir?”

“No, no, a small pun perhaps, forgive me. I have perhaps too much free time.”

“It has been some time since I forgave anyone, but I suppose now…now I could. Very well, and in truth, it is a good pun.”

“Merci. Might I address you by your first name? We are informal here, titles have little meaning here.”

“Of course, I see your point. Yet, I am somewhat confused by where I am.”

“You were expecting something different?”

“Nothingness, to be honest. if not that, then torment, hellfire, and the screams of the damned…you laugh at my confusion?”

“A bit. No, we have none of that here. That is your invention, and sometimes even we cannot prevent people from assigning themselves to it.”

“So all of Dante’s hells?”

“A remarkable piece of political revenge, nothing more. But in some souls, the guilt is so great that it can shape things, so they create their own pit. We try to stop them, but ultimately, they are too strong, even for us.”

“If you are who you appear to be, that should be impossible.”

“We don’t force here. All are welcome, even the worst of us. When you are ready, there’s a royal couple you might want to talk to. But that is for later, come, walk with me while we talk. I find walking helps clear and sharpen the mind.”

“Thank you, for all this.”

“It is our way here. Forgiveness is important when you have eternity to contemplate a few small years.”

“Even one such as me?”

“In time, there will be those who make your…crimes…seem like childsplay. They too will be welcome, though some of them will not be able to accept it. They will cast themselves into their own pits.”

“So what would we talk about?”

“Your revolution. Tell me, take your time, we have no hurry…where do you think you made the first mistake, the one that led you to your somewhat early arrival here?”

“I…the king, and his bride. I think that was the start.”

“Interesting. Why?”

“I had always opposed the death penalty. Yet I argued tirelessly to justify it for him. He was too dangerous to live, I said. His office and his abuses of it required death I said.”

“And why was that the start?”

“I allowed myself to walk the easier path. Was Louis a danger to the revolution? Undoubtedly, but that didn’t justify his death, certainly not Marie’s. It was my own cowardice, my own fear of the work letting him flee in exile, banishment, or even life imprisonment would cause.

We had such important things to do, we couldn’t be distracted by one life, so I set aside one of the beliefs that had guided me until that point.”

“That must have been hard to do.”

“Perhaps. I was angry, and anger gives us strength. But if it was hard the first time, it became terrifyingly easy afterwards. Once the first throat is cut, the hundredth…that one you don’t even remember cutting. The life you take doesn’t matter, just the effort you expend in doing so. I more resented the time the sham of a procedure we had created took to kill someone than I regretted the death it lead to.”

“I do not think this will help, but it may: you are not the first to walk down that path, you will not be the last. Anger is both powerful and self-serving. But I sense that is not the only cause.”

“…no. It was the start, but in the end, it was our purity of cause that killed our revolution and ourselves.”

“How so?”

“Purity is a concept. It is like a sunset. It can inspire, but you can never reach it. Our anger, our arrogance allowed us to think of Purity as a thing we could hold, the bed of Procrustes himself, an immutable standard to which all were held, and in the end, no one could meet.”

“Why do you think not?”

“Because it was a lie. Purity is not a brick, or a horse, or a building. You cannot measure it or weigh it. At best, you can say a thing is ‘so pure’, but it will never be perfectly pure. We knew that, or should have. But our blind belief in our cause kept us from seeing that.”

“Did it?”

“Effectively. We all knew that no one could be perfect. Well, present company excluded.”

“I thank you for your compliment, but you will learn that perfection is no more housed here than anywhere else.”

“Indeed. That is both comforting and terrifying. But back to my end…no one could match my purity of cause. Not even I, but I had no one to answer to of course, so my judgement was all that mattered. I had already subverted my judgement with Louis and Marie of course, so in the end, how could I possibly be pure when I was so able to throw out my own beliefs, justifying anything I did with the righteousness of what we wished to accomplish.”

“The ends justify the means.”

“Yes, I have not before heard it put so succinctly, but yes, that…and only now I see how quickly that can become a perversion of itself. It is a way to justify anything, and if you only take small steps into a bog…”

“You can be in up to your knees before you realize you are sinking.”

“Exactly. Our purity was our swamp, or more correctly, our demon. It sat on our shoulders and led us to find any imperfection, or create them if needed. Then, since we had decided there could be no mercy in attaining our goals…”

“The good doctor’s invention.”

“Yes. Only now can I see how horribly wrong it all was.”

“you are not the only one…”

“As you said, knowing that does not help.”

“No, it does not, but with time, it will.”

“So what is next for me?”

“We have all eternity to decide that Maximilien. For now, you’ve had quite a day. Your own death, and self-realization is enough for any man. Come, walk with me some more, I have some other questions to ask.”

“Such as?”

“I wish for you to describe…bread. Your people have a way with it, and I have always wished I could experience it the way you do…Now it is you who laugh.”

“Apologies, but I am amazed that out of everything, you care about bread, and that you cannot know it for yourself.”

“I do not get to visit often, and when I do, I’m rarely gifted with free time to patronize a bakery.”

“I suppose not. So then my new friend, let me tell you about bread…”

43 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 7:42 pm

@ Fishcakes: There is an equivalence, but the scale of one is massive as against the other. Dawkins’ website and forum as much much lrger that that of Myers. Dawkins let very very many more people down, and that includes the staff who had moderated the place day and night for free and who were given no notice of the closure of an effort into which they had poured energy.

That was a bad thing.

Myers lost control and closed down his social threads. That’s another matter.

Both of them should have learned. When you allow people to socialise in off-topic threads then people criticise each other. Everyone by dint of that must read those threads in order to check whether they are being criticised. Chaos follows. These are the basic mechanics of the internet.

Myers and Dawkins were both guilty of a degree of naivete amounting to stupidity.

Dawkins is capable of stupidity in both his public and private discourses.

Myers probably more so, but when both are incorrect I don’t see the sense in comparative assessments. When they are wrong they are wrong.

44 Billie from Ockham July 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Nialler: Some of us see a failure to control something bad that was not encouraged [Dawkins] as being a bit different from failure to control something bad that was not only encouraged [read the “rules” on PZ Myers’ blog], but was modeled on numerous occasions [read the content of PZ Myers’ blog]. If you wish to see them as equivalent, I cannot stop you, as much as it pains me to see another horse die of thirst on the bank of a stream.

45 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm

@ Gerhard:

“The bottom line for me is that I have never seen him go in for vitriol or the kind of unevidenced personal attacks some others do. I’m not a fanboy, although I respect his work, but TBH it grates me that almost every time Myers nastiness is brought up commenters pop up to throw in a dig at those unsophisticated Gnus as if they are even in the same league of unpleasantness as the gender ideologues..”

BTW, Dawkins has indulged in cheap abuse in the past.

“A leering old villain in a frock, who spent decades conspiring behind closed doors for the position he now holds; a man who believes he is infallible and acts the part; a man whose preaching of scientific falsehood is responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa; a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence: in short, exactly the right man for the job. He should not resign, moreover, because he is perfectly positioned to accelerate the downfall of the evil, corrupt organization whose character he fits like a glove, and of which he is the absolute and historically appropriate monarch.”

Is all cheap abuse. A “leering old villain in a frock”? That’s childish crap.

I’m not sure about about you, but I prfer to call Benedict on the evil that he would inflict on Africa during the trip in which this quote was made. I will happily call him out – having worked in that continent – o the evil consequences of his words. I’d be unhappy to swap stories with him of my direct experiences there – including the arrival of a bus of schoolgirls at the hotel where I was staying and the Malawi cabinet were having a dinner when a schoolbus full of girls arrived. I’d be happy to share my temporary relief that at least condoms were being passed around (few of which would be used). I’d be happy to share my experience with him of the devastation wrought among my project team by AIDS.

I’d be happy to do all that with Benedict. I’d also be happy to do so with Dawkins.

Don’t use my former colleagues to make points.

46 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 8:26 pm

@ Billie from Ockham:

“Some of us”? Who do you speak for ?

I speak for me. I have no dog in this fight other than my annoyance at various and diverse activit atheists – all of whom annoy me.

Your “us” implies some form of collective – not something I’m aware of. Who are this “us” of which I’m unaware and therefor from which I am excluded?

47 Gerhard July 28, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Nialler, I confess to have been slightly mystified at what you were getting at until your last post clarified that. I think the issue for us all is the overt malice of Myers commenters, his encouragement thereof and reinforcement by selective culling along with smearing and hounding of other figures in atheism to the extent of attempting to ruin them. There is no analog in RD’s mismanagement of his forum.

48 Billie from Ockham July 28, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Actually, it’s not “all cheap abuse”; only the bit about a “leering old villain in a frock” is such and even that is rather mild.

49 Gerhard July 28, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Nialler.

I’m not sure about about you, but I prfer to call Benedict on the evil that he would inflict on Africa during the trip in which this quote was made. I will happily call him out – having worked in that continent – o the evil consequences of his words. I’d be unhappy to swap stories with him of my direct experiences there – including the arrival of a bus of schoolgirls at the hotel where I was staying and the Malawi cabinet were having a dinner when a schoolbus full of girls arrived. I’d be happy to share my temporary relief that at least condoms were being passed around (few of which would be used). I’d be happy to share my experience with him of the devastation wrought among my project team by AIDS.

I’d be happy to do all that with Benedict. I’d also be happy to do so with Dawkins.

Don’t use my former colleagues to make points.

I don’t understand what you are saying, let alone the point of it.

50 FishCakes July 28, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Nialler,
Myers is guilty of a helluva lot more than just naiveté; and nobody ever suggested that Dawkins wasn’t capable of stupidity. I’m not arguing that Dawkins wasn’t wrong either.

The bottom line for me is this: there is a seemingly endless list of people who have been unfairly villified by Myers, and who have been victims of both organized and emergent smear campaigns by Myers and his crew. To the tune of rapists, rape aplogists, harrasers, misogynists, etc. To my knowledge Dawkins has left no such list of victims in his wake.

Mishandling forums or even shutting them down without notice just doesn’t come close in my book. Naivete in managing an online community isn’t the same thing gleeful participation in malicious smearing of named individuals. Saying something mean about the Pope is not the same as going after regular people (Skep Tickle, etc.) and it’s also not the same as insulting and smearing people on a near-daily basis for years on end.

I don’t know you from Adam and I have not been around these online communities nearly as long as you and many others, so I don’t have first hand experience to draw upon in terms of what happened on Dawkins forums. However, based on the (limited) information I have and the examples you gave, I would describe it as a difference in kind not just degree.

51 Smoochy July 28, 2015 at 8:59 pm

@Nialler

Let’s be clear – the unrelenting anger, vitriol, and vicious dogpiling of anyone daring to express the slightest unorthodoxy on Pharyngula was not an unintended consequence of allowing the commentariat to “socialize” in off-topic threads.

It was a direct result of deliberate choices made by PZ, intentionally nurtured and encouraged by PZ. It didn’t go off the rails as a result of people being allowed to comment in open discussion threads, it went off the rails because encouraging a constant stream of one-upmanship in ideological purity will inevitably result in more and more extreme behavior from a group that become more and more fanatical extremists, and people like that don’t need “socializing in discussion threads” to go off the rails

Saying PZ “should have learned” is like saying Republicans should have learned that cutting taxes doesn’t result in wealth trickling down. It’s trivially true, but pointless. PZ “should have learned” YEARS AGO when one of the regulars admitted to raping three children in a thread specifically designated as a safe space for survivors of rape to tell their stories, and all of the rest of the raging Pharyngulites not only offered up overflowing condolences, hugs, kisses and reassurances of “you’re a good person” to this self admitted child rapist, but started shitting all over anyone who had the temerity to complain that this might just be inappropriate in a rape survivor discussion thread, including other rape victims.

PZ didn’t naively allow a problem to develop – PZ is the guy who starts a wildfire, cheers as the houses of his enemies burn, and then, when some of his *friends* houses burn down, offers up a single handheld fire extinguisher to the rest to prevent it from happening to them as well

52 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 9:29 pm

@ Mots of you:

I agree largely.

PZ is an enormous dick. Please don’t get me wrong in that respect. Please also accept that there has been an element of competitive atheism in place over the years, hence my my use of the word “athier”.

There has been a clear fight for prominence among atheists in that time. A classic example is Richard Carrier, who refers to his “fans”. WTF? “Fans”?

A historian and philosopher claiming to have ‘fans”. Then he tries to use his FtB blog to sleep with them. A guy who claims to have published peer-reviewed books.

53 Kirbmarc July 28, 2015 at 9:48 pm

@Nialler:

although I don’t find your specific arguments about Dawkins very convincing (a “leering villain in frock”isn’t “abuse” by any standard, it’s just some very mild satire) you’re perfectly right about Carrier, who’s a narcissist, a mediocre scholar and has some serious issues with sharing details of his sexual life where they don’t belong.

54 dave kiernan July 28, 2015 at 9:49 pm

So PZ took too much rope and unfortunately `hanged himself’.

55 Nicholas July 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm

I just wanted to take a moment to say Thanks Michael. I lurk more than I post here, but your site sets a very good example of how you can host a thoughtful discussion on topics where people of a like mind can respectfully disagree on certain topics. The exact opposite of what PZ’s site has become. The schadenfreude in all these comments is certainly deserved.

56 Billie from Ockham July 28, 2015 at 10:04 pm

So the goal-posts are now set in front of “competitive” atheism. Fine. (It isn’t a complete derail, as I have long suspected that one motive for PZ Myers’ nastiness is some kind of personal competitiveness with those that people [in general] have heard of.) But is it worth anyone’s time to look for evidence of this in any of the Horsemen, or to start compiling a list of examples from PZ Myers, or should we wait for the cement to dry around said goal-posts?

57 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

@Kirmarc:

I find a lot of Dawkins’ rhetoric very cheap, but I’m happy to disagree on that. I just find that it it is unsuitable for someone of his degree.

I just feel that his form of discourse has become more truculent than constructive over time. He has become more doctrinaire over time while I’ve become more relaxed. Diverse directions. I guess we’re both allowed to take those separate paths.

I’m an atheist. I don’t really give a shit about anyone else so long as they’re not interfering with the educations of my kids or my relationship with my wife or our family control.

58 Billie from Ockham July 28, 2015 at 10:27 pm

I’m delighted that you can “just find” things and “feel” things. Wake me up when either of those matures into evidence.

59 Nialler July 28, 2015 at 10:32 pm

@BfO:

If you want utter certainty in anything you are living in a Universe which features far more dogmatism than the level with which I am comfortable.

From where do you derive such certainty, because all that I know is is that with age comes less certainty and greater comfort with that unknowledge?

60 MacGruberKnows July 29, 2015 at 12:12 am

What the hell does Dawkins and his old site have to do with this thread? None of it is relevant to PZ and his horde. Nice derailment. Start your own freaking thread on your site about Dawkins and his website. Talkie the toaster can only talk about toast.

61 Iamcuriousblue July 29, 2015 at 12:46 am

“So where are we now? Are we seeing the start of the end of the Little Shop of Hatred? It seems unlikely, but I always remain optimistic about the ability of people to change.”

Some signs of change, notably this call from Greta Christina for progressives to stop using violent rhetoric:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2015/07/01/why-progressives-should-stop-using-violent-rhetoric/

Of course, it’s weighed down by GC’s belief in the stupid “punching up/punching down” dichotomy, which results in some huge double standards as to what kind of rhetoric is acceptable from those ostensibly standing up for oppressed groups, versus their opponents. Her piece also presents a huge conflation of concepts of incivility and harassment, a point of view which leads “progressives” to all-too-often reach for the big stick of censorship (of both the institutional and, increasingly, legal kind) when dealing with unkind rhetoric from those opposed to their views. But even with those issues, this does represent a call for de-escalation (if not charity) from one of the people who’s shown some intense hatred toward those not sharing her views.

“As part of this, I again ask him to withdraw and apologise for his defamatory allegation that I defend, support and provide a haven for rapists. That allegation remains incredibly serious, and it will not go away until it is resolved.

I don’t plan to return to this topic for a while, as I am busy with Atheist Ireland and other projects, “

And good for you Michael! I do like your strategy here. You have been relentless about not dropping point, and demanding that Myers and company withdraw that one false accusation in particular, and start treating other people more humanely in general. (Which has earned you the nickname “Mick the Sealion” among the FTB crowd.) On the other hand, that’s far from your main focus, for all of PZ’s claims of “obsessiveness”, and Atheist Ireland has been an exemplary organization, not only in the fight for secularism, but in a range of issues (like marriage equality) that help push toward liberal civil society in general. In the US, we have many secular orgs, but none that I can think of that are this successful in their lobbying. Ironically, the “atheism plus social justice” crowd that are so critical of you could actually learn a lot from AI.

62 Sean July 29, 2015 at 1:04 am

I bailed from FtB long ago, having grown weary — to the point where it was impacting upon my mental health — of an environment that was becoming increasingly noxious. I dislike Myers for a number of reasons: his belief that competance in one discipline — biology — grants him a passport for pronouncing on the totality of the public sphere; his evident enthusiasm for self-elevation via derision; his performative moralising against straw men and the unwittingly dim for the edification of his baying crew; his privileging of his own morality over others; his fostering of an atmosphere of wild-eyed aggression, in which every commenter begins every interaction at the very limits of their patience with those upon whom they are taking up cudgels.

At the risk of invoking Godwin, Alfred Polgar put it best:

“To reform an evildoer, you must before anything else help him to an awareness that what he did was evil. With the Nazis this won’t be easy. They know exactly what they’re doing: they just can’t imagine it.”

And therein lies the rub: PZ Myers knows exactly what he has done, he just can’t imagine it, which is to say he doesn’t care about the cost of the world of dogma and excommunication and casus belli he has created. Compare how Michael Nugent has tried, time and again, to lead him, via a process of patience and compassion, to an understanding that, whatever the merits of what he believes — and I dare say many of us agree with much of Myers’ politics — it has come at a considerable price. Pharyngula used to be great. That was a long time ago. What remains now is a moralising scrum, which having driven everybody else away, and having parsed the world and all who inhabit it for evidence of quantum nonconformity, now has nobody left to fight apart from itself. It was all so dismally predictable. I shed no tears.

63 Kirbmarc July 29, 2015 at 7:27 am

@Nialler:

“I’m an atheist. I don’t really give a shit about anyone else so long as they’re not interfering with the educations of my kids or my relationship with my wife or our family control.”

I can sympathize with this sentiment. However even “peaceful” religions interfere with non-religious people’s lives in many, many ways (tax exemptions for churches, religiously-sponsored laws on abortion and birth control, public funds for religious associations who provide shitty services and hire only people who agree with them despite being funded by we the public, defending criminals and hiding them from the investigations of authorities, blasphemy laws, etc.) that some satire is more than warranted, even if it’s not always top notch.

To say nothing of the non-peaceful ones (like many branches of Islam).

And moreover everything should be made fun of and criticized. What should be avoided are baseless smears, attacks on other people’s livelihood and safety, and the hypocrisy of advocating violent rhetoric against “enemies” while defending one’s friends as “victims of harassment” when they’re made fun of.

In other words PZ Myers’ way.

Dawkins is tedious at times and a bit clueless about philosophy and rhetoric, but he’s been attacked without reason by Myers and his ilk.

64 Nathan (late: GerardO) July 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm

As bad as Myers is I think many people are prepared to overlook the misbehaviour of other atheists to whom their political views are more closely aligned.

As is known from my previous comments here, I sent Jerry Coyne a vicious email under the pseudonym ‘Gerard O’Neill’ (a famous experimental physicist). I have no regrets about sending it — Coyne got what was coming to him IMAO — but it did result in an Instagram user being incorrectly doxed as the sender of that email.

I have sent several emails to Coyne asking him to take down those photos, to no avail. Coyne even has my real name and address if he wants to pursue legal action. The Instagram user in question has now privatized their account, possibly due to harassment from Coyne’s fans.

65 Smoochy July 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm

@Iamcuriousblue “Some signs of change, notably this call from Greta Christina for progressives to stop using violent rhetoric:”

Color me unimpressed. Not with GC, but with the idea that anything might change. It’s reminiscent of the whole “porcupine” issue at Pharyngula. After years of pretty much anyone not among the elect being dogpiled , slandered, and invited to shove a porcupine up their ass, even PZ decided that maybe it was a bit too much, and came up with a major “rules revision” to tone it down. The net result? a big fat nothingburger. There’s no more porcupine talk, but the situation is worse, not better

Calls for reducing violent rhetoric will do absolutely no good unless the worst offenders are removed, or at least no longer recognized as thought leaders, and that is no simple matter.

I predict that majority response to GC will be mostly silence, with some mild agreement (with no significant action) along with a non-trivial amount of “FUCK YOU STOP TONE POLICING ME MAYBE YOU SHOULD JOIN THE SLYMEPIT”

66 Nialler July 29, 2015 at 5:40 pm

@ Kirbmarc:

All me secular needs are met where I live. Religion doesn’t intrude on my life.

Of course where I live is largely a Catholic country, but I am free in the sense of my rights in society to be fairly free of religious interference.

I’m no fan of Dawkins, but I have to agree that one of the behaviours of the A+ crowd seems to be one which was alluded to earlier: “If you’re not with us, you’re agin’ us.”

This is a hugely idiotic and ridiculously binary view to take.

There is room for nuance.

67 Shatterface July 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Niallor

No. Dawkins responded very poorly when problems occurred at his forum.

He allowed a form of “Is it ok if I celebrate Christmas with my theist family? I really quite enjoy the hymns/service aspect purely for their aesthetics?” question to be in the hands of his moderation team. The rote answer “Professor Dawkins approves and indeed enjoys these events” became a seriously and awful pathetic hallmark of his forum.

He never directly addressed these supplications which were overwhelmingly of the sad form form of the “Am I still an atheist if I . . .” ? form. He was aware of them; he was aware of my concerns that his forum was acting towards the creation of a different mind-hive.

I was asked to become a moderator and refused unless I had certain freedoms. That is perfectly fair and I bore no problem when they came back and said “maybe not”. That’s fine and entirely in his right. It’s his place after all.

Three weeks later his wife put up some paintings on the site for auction. I suggested that they weren’t great.

Banned.

Did it occur to you using someone else’s forum to be a dick about his wife wasn’t a good idea?

68 Nialler July 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm

@ Shatterface:

No. There was effusive praise for her work. I merely suggested that it wasn’t all that. My comments were mild.

Her medium is ceramics and textiles. These paintings were poor – at least in my own opinion.

Posting links to them and barring negative comment turned the RDEF website into a vanity project. The site was not the property of Dawkins but belonged to RDEF.

69 JackSkeptic July 29, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Wow nice derail, banging on about something that must have happened several years ago on someone’s forum which is long closed down and over which the owner had little control anyway.

Good job, again. Not the first time this has happened.

70 Nialler July 29, 2015 at 9:37 pm

@ JackSkeptic:

The Myers threads are all based on tone. That’s a general discussion.

If I’m off-topic I’m sure the blog owner will moderate my posts.

71 Gerhard July 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm

@Nialler. The Myers threads are based on a lot more than tone.

72 john welch July 30, 2015 at 12:28 am

Last I checked, the problem was Myers calling people here “rapists” because some of them also post on the ‘Pit.

That’s not a “tone” issue.

73 FishCakes July 30, 2015 at 3:14 am
74 JetLagg July 30, 2015 at 3:56 am

I think that a pattern of behavior stretching out over a period of years, that has persisted despite alarms sounded by peers (increasing in prestige, up to yourself and others) points very clearly to the idea that this is Myers’ nature (and furthermore, it’s not in his nature to change his nature). Like you, I’d welcome any attempt at reconciliation, but at this point no one should blame me for being a cynic.

You are exceedingly patient, Michael, and I genuinely admire you for that. I also hope though, that these events have given you a bit of sympathy for the more boisterous members of the atheist community, who don’t share your patience.

75 noelplum99 July 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Someone linked me this entry via twitter a couple of days ago and as a result I have attempted to provide a rough run through of this latest series of events on YouTube (alongside my own thoughts on the question posed to Benson in Part2). If anyone has sufficiently little of a life to spare the time and so motivated I will leave the links:

FreeThoughtBlogs (un)Civil War Pt1: The Shitstorm Cometh
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0ief0WshpY

FreeThoughtBlogs (un)Civil War Pt2: Trans Women – Are they Women?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrB2NyAaZq0

…and take this also as a courtesy note Michael that I discussed you on video (Part 1 only)

take care all,
Jim

76 Nialler July 30, 2015 at 10:36 pm

@ fishcakes:

Patronisation isn’t yet an Olympic event but you would appear to be a certainty for a gold medal if it were.

77 Nialler July 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm

@Gerhard: I’m speaking about the Myers threads here rather than Myers threads in general.

78 John Morales July 31, 2015 at 10:57 am

FishCakes @27:

I so look forward to hearing from John Morales, theophantes, Aratina Cage, and Deepak Shetty.
Let it not be forgotten that these characters (and maybe one or two more besides) were so keen on coming here and defending Myers at every turn, and on trying to minimize, dismiss and distract from Michael’s criticisms.

We did that dance at the time. That you still imagine that criticising criticism is defending the target of the criticism doesn’t surprise me.

Michael’s gloating post doesn’t surprise me any more than the persistent rancour of those who couldn’t hack it in Pharyngula comment sections and are yet to come to grips with it.

For example, MosesZD @1:

And then there were people like myself who left years and years and years ago because we saw the inevitable purity-test end-game long before now and knew it was only a matter of time before being ‘on the wrong side’ some trivial issue would make us the target.

Heh. Years and years and years is literally a minimum of 6 years, but I suppose poetic license is de rigeur for tales of woe.

79 John Morales July 31, 2015 at 11:05 am

I note that the metonymic is still employed, too, because posts about PZ are posts about FTB and posts about FTB bloggers:

I doubt that FTB has changed anyone’s views.

In the meantime, one of their contributors seems to have turned his blog into a version of Graigslist crossed with e-Bay.

80 John Morales July 31, 2015 at 11:17 am

Sean @62:

And therein lies the rub: PZ Myers knows exactly what he has done, he just can’t imagine it, which is to say he doesn’t care about the cost of the world of dogma and excommunication and casus belli he has created. Compare how Michael Nugent has tried, time and again, to lead him, via a process of patience and compassion, to an understanding that, whatever the merits of what he believes — and I dare say many of us agree with much of Myers’ politics — it has come at a considerable price.

I am vastly amused.

“patience and compassion”!

LOL

81 FishCakes July 31, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Nialler @76,

Patronisation isn’t yet an Olympic event but you would appear to be a certainty for a gold medal if it were.

Yeah, and if whining about some trivial shit that happened years ago were an Olympic sport, you’d not only win gold but you would break every record.

82 FishCakes July 31, 2015 at 1:47 pm

John Morales @78,

We did that dance at the time. That you still imagine that criticising criticism is defending the target of the criticism doesn’t surprise me.

John you are so very confused. It’s not that your criticism of criticism that leads me to call you a defender of Myers; it’s your utter failure to condemn any of the nasty behavior he engages in on a regular basis.

By choosing to only criticize the criticism, you are making clear that you don’t have much of a problem with Myers’ behavior in and of itself, but you do have a problem with people criticizing the same. By any reasonable definition, you are defending Myers.

You should really own up to that and stop trying to play it off, not least because you aren’t fooling anyone (aside from perhaps yourself).

83 John Greg July 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm

One of the problems of debating with Morales is that he is what might be called OCD (obssesive compulsive disordered) pedantic about diction — his diction.

He will insist (often tacitly and/or implicitly, and sometimes regressively retroactively) that the one single solitary meaning he ascribes to a word, or words, within his oft really, really wierd and tangential arguments, is the only possible meaning available to that word because that is the meaning he intended.

And therfore, because he knows what the meaning he intended must be, he therefore, ipso facto reductio magico, cannot, under any circumstances be wrong, and anyone who disagrees with him can only be wrong.

So, (puff), when any of us use metaphor, creative diction, analogy, allegory, and so forth and so on, especially differing variations on those themes, and double-especially so when those themes and their variations appear within the same paragraph, or worse yet, the same sentence (!! meta !!), Morales is adrift, totally, in the Metasea sea, but blames it all on anyone and everyone else.

He is really very aratina latsot about it all, in a sort of deepakly theophantic fashion.

As it were.

84 Ian Staines July 31, 2015 at 4:37 pm

I’ve been a fan of Ophelia Benson’s since reading her work on and off since her fantastic 2009 book “Does God Hate Women?” and have followed her writings on and off ever since.

I and many others are deeply saddened to see the lies and slanders of the Slymepitters (notably, Oolon among many) attempt to ruin Ophelia’s reputation like this.

Even now they are crowing about their victory, slapping each other on the back and congratulating each other on a job well done, as if tearing down women who dare speak out about feminism is something to be proud of.

Of course I would never use the word “witch hunt” in reference to this situation (as there are no literal “witches” involved and the metaphor itself has misogynistic connotations) but the abuse and hysteria directed at Ophelia is eerily reminiscent of those women accused of being in league with the devil in the days gone by (witches).

Until the slymepit forum is closed down for good and all those associated with it are either arrested for hate speech and/or banned from using the internet for a long, long time our communities will never flourish.

85 John Greg July 31, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Staines said:

I and many others are deeply saddened to see the lies and slanders of the Slymepitters (notably, Oolon among many) attempt to ruin Ophelia’s reputation like this.

Oolon, a Slymepitter!?! Oh, oh, my aching sides.

I know you’re just Poeing, but I love that one. And some folks are actually serious about it!

Wheeeeeeeee, all the way down.

86 john welch July 31, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Ian Staines @84:

Bless your heart honey.

John Greg:

Actual Video of Morales Arguing in Person:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa8Iap7Ta1k

87 Ian Staines July 31, 2015 at 4:58 pm

@John Greg
Oolon has an account at the Slymepit, does he not?
Oolon has posted numerous times at the Slymepit, has he not?

Cogito ergo sum, he is a Slymepitter.

88 Shatterface July 31, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Ian Staines:

I’ve been a fan of Ophelia Benson’s since reading her work on and off since her fantastic 2009 book “Does God Hate Women?” and have followed her writings on and off ever since.

You should read her earlier Why Truth Matters. It nearly skewers the Pomo bullshit shed later adopt.

I and many others are deeply saddened to see the lies and slanders of the Slymepitters (notably, Oolon among many) attempt to ruin Ophelia’s reputation like this.

Slymepit neith confirms nor denies Agent Oolon has been working for us all along.

Block Bot was designed so that feminists would never encounter dissenting opinions online so that they would ultimately be incapable of dealing with them in real life.

We also invented vocal fry and up speak so that women would not be taken seriously when speaking in public.

Even now they are crowing about their victory, slapping each other on the back and congratulating each other on a job well done, as if tearing down women who dare speak out about feminism is something to be proud of.

Of course I would never use the word “witch hunt” in reference to this situation (as there are no literal “witches” involved and the metaphor itself has misogynistic connotations) but the abuse and hysteria directed at Ophelia is eerily reminiscent of those women accused of being in league with the devil in the days gone by (witches).

Until the slymepit forum is closed down for good and all those associated with it are either arrested for hate speech and/or banned from using the internet for a long, long time our communities will never flourish.

If you think the Slymepit are breaking any laws you you should call the police. You won’t, because you know it’s bullshit.

89 Shatterface July 31, 2015 at 6:54 pm

HTML fail.

Bloody patriarchy.

[I’ve tried to fix it. Please let me know if I got it right – MN]

90 Nialler July 31, 2015 at 6:57 pm

@ John Morales:

Posts about Myers’ behaviour on FtB must perforce be also about FtB. Even if he were not a co-founder of the place, the management allow him free rein and are publishers of his work. They would, for example, have liability in the event of a defamation committed by one of their bloggers.

I appreciate the intent behind their enterprise, but they are naive if they think that they freedom they offer their bloggers absolves them of responsibility for the content of those blogs.

91 Nialler July 31, 2015 at 7:04 pm

@Ian Staines:

“Cogito ergo sum, he is a Slymepitter.”

Brilliant!

92 Richard Weed July 31, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Once again almost every comment here is from a slymepitter on their best behavior, though with a few slips.

If you want to see them in their natural habitat, check out http://slymepit.com/phpbb/

93 John Greg July 31, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Richard Weed, do you think that a good thing, or a bad thing?

And what does it matter anyway?

And especially, what does it matter what form of what you call behaviour Pit people engage in on their own ground? Or elswhere?

And is it not considered a preferred social norm to engage with others on their own territory either on one’s best behaviour, or in the fashion dictated and/or requested by the host?

Michael’s policy excludes no one — except, of course, those, including Pit people, who break his rules.

If anyone other than Pit people want to comment — and some of those others do comment, from time to time — they are more than free to do so.

In all, one of the clearest signs of the in-group/out-group; us vs. them ideology of FTB people, et al. (and their lack of intellectual depth and flexibility), is this deep unwillingness to engage in debate with anyone anywhere where the totality of that conversation, in all ways it manifests, is not controlled by them.

94 Baruch July 31, 2015 at 9:33 pm

I think this quote which Michael Shermer made back in Jan 2013 is very appropriate, I often pondered it since then as it is almost prophetic in its nature:

“I shall close with a warning about the propensity for social movements to turn on themselves in purges that distract from the original goals and destroy the movement from within. (I wrote about this effect in my book Why People Believe Weird Things, most notably with regards to Ayn Rand’s Objectivist movement, in which members were judged—and subsequently purged—for such trivial matters as liking the wrong music; in the end the movement was reduced to Rand and a handful of sycophants alone in her New York apartment.).

As the aforementioned Harriet Hall e-mailed me, she “was vilified on Ophelia’s blog for not following a certain kind of feminist party line of how a feminist should act and think. And I was attacked there in a disturbingly irrational, nonskeptical way.” I asked her why she didn’t defend herself: “I did not dare try to explain my thinking on Ophelia’s blog, because it was apparent from the tone of the comments that anything I might say would be misinterpreted and twisted to use against me. I have always been a feminist but I have my own style of feminism. And I have felt more oppressed by these sort of feminists than by men, and far less welcome in that strain of feminism than in the atheist or skeptical communities.”

95 John Morales July 31, 2015 at 10:13 pm

FishCakes:

John you are so very confused. It’s not that your criticism of criticism that leads me to call you a defender of Myers; it’s your utter failure to condemn any of the nasty behavior he engages in on a regular basis.

Sanctimony is not my schtick.

By choosing to only criticize the criticism, you are making clear that you don’t have much of a problem with Myers’ behavior in and of itself, but you do have a problem with people criticizing the same. By any reasonable definition, you are defending Myers.

It’s remarkable what motivated reasoning can achieve, no?

You should really own up to that and stop trying to play it off, not least because you aren’t fooling anyone (aside from perhaps yourself).

I hardly need to fool you when you’re doing such a great job of it yourself.

John Greg opines about me:

One of the problems of debating with Morales is that he is what might be called OCD (obssesive compulsive disordered) pedantic about diction — his diction.
[blah blah blah]

People like John Greg have learnt that their best approach is to avoid directly challenging what I’ve written, because so doing never ends well for them.

96 Michael Nugent July 31, 2015 at 10:28 pm

#92 Richard Weed,

Once again almost every comment here is from a slymepitter on their best behavior, though with a few slips.

Every comment here is from an individual person. I will read each comment on its own merit, and I encourage others to do likewise.

If you have a specific issue with a specific comment, please feel free to discuss it, but please don’t just make blanket generalisations about ‘almost every comment here.’

Thanks.

97 Harrison July 31, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Generally I wait for people to make something resembling a point before I try to challenge it.

98 FishCakes August 1, 2015 at 12:28 am

John Morales,
If you think I got it all wrong, by all means correct me.

99 John Morales August 1, 2015 at 1:40 am

FishCakes @98, I don’t think you’ve got it wrong about my own motivation, I know it — unlike you, I have access to my own mind.

100 Gerhard August 1, 2015 at 2:11 am

Morales said

Michael’s gloating post doesn’t surprise me any more than the persistent rancour of those who couldn’t hack it in Pharyngula comment sections and are yet to come to grips with it.

This is just so Scientologist. PZ pulls this one all the time; the critics are just pissed that that they can’t post on his blog, they’re whiny and hateful. Even when they’re just laughing at him they are supposedly in a frenzy of hate. There have been so many people over the years leaving Pharyngula in disgust at the inability of the commentariat to engage in any semblance of rational discussion on certain topics without resorting to distortion. No matter how crystal clear this pattern is it seems that the cult members can’t see it. They credulously swallow PZs BS about people trying to sneak back in using 20 different nyms. Morales, the idea of spending much time in Pharyngula’s comment section is abhorrent to people outside the cult. You don’t seem to get that. “Hacking it” would involve suspension of critical thinking skills and that isn’t something people should be aspiring to.

The irony of PZ and company is that they proselytise rationalism and have now taken it on as an identity rather than a practise. The result is that they now seem incapable of examining their prejudices because they are the true rationalists and therefore right. Their behaviour is very Scientology like with Critical Theory dogma as their equivalent of the “Tech” and Slymers as SPs who can only oppose them because of “overts” against the Church. This take on PZ is far, far more prevalent outside of Slymepit circles than ever acknowledged. I don’t know if PZ knows this and is why labels almost all critics “Slymers” or if he is genuinely ignorant and paranoid.

101 John Morales August 1, 2015 at 2:52 am

Gerhard:

Morales said

Michael’s gloating post doesn’t surprise me any more than the persistent rancour of those who couldn’t hack it in Pharyngula comment sections and are yet to come to grips with it.

This is just so Scientologist. PZ pulls this one all the time; the critics are just pissed that that they can’t post on his blog, they’re whiny and hateful. Even when they’re just laughing at him they are supposedly in a frenzy of hate.

Heh. I wrote nothing about whininess or hatefulness.

(Much easier to attack what I didn’t write than what I actually did, no?)

There have been so many people over the years leaving Pharyngula in disgust at the inability of the commentariat to engage in any semblance of rational discussion on certain topics without resorting to distortion.

Those grapes were sour, anyway, right?

Morales, the idea of spending much time in Pharyngula’s comment section is abhorrent to people outside the cult. You don’t seem to get that. “Hacking it” would involve suspension of critical thinking skills and that isn’t something people should be aspiring to.

<snicker>

Yet a number of those people have repeatedly created new identities so as to be able to comment there after being banned. Go figure.

I don’t know if PZ knows this and is why labels almost all critics “Slymers” or if he is genuinely ignorant and paranoid.

I’m sure there are many, many things which you don’t know — but don’t let that stop you from pontificating about them.

102 FishCakes August 1, 2015 at 3:10 am

John Morales,
I accept that you have direct access to your own mind and that I do not. I was referring to my reasoning, which you pointed out was in error and resultant of motivated reasoning.

Though if you’d like to explain what is actually in your mind on this point I’d be happy to hear it. In addition to your correction to my reasoning.

103 John Greg August 1, 2015 at 3:13 am

Morales said:

Yet a number of those people have repeatedly created new identities so as to be able to comment there after being banned.

Did they now? And outside of PZ’s (and other commenters in their raging tears) say so, how do you know for a fact that what you claim is so?

104 John Morales August 1, 2015 at 4:09 am

FishCakes:

Though if you’d like to explain what is actually in your mind on this point I’d be happy to hear it. In addition to your correction to my reasoning.

Sure. Being familiar with this saga, and seeing my name invoked, I thought I’d contribute my own (dissenting) opinion.

Really. That’s it.

As for your reasoning (“By choosing to only criticize the criticism, you are making clear that you don’t have much of a problem with Myers’ behavior in and of itself, but you do have a problem with people criticizing the same. By any reasonable definition, you are defending Myers.”), you have not encompassed the possibility space.

(Consider, for example, the role of a Devil’s Advocate)

Greg: yeah, they did. And I know it because I’ve seen it happen.

Do you really dispute that claim? :)

105 John Greg August 1, 2015 at 5:25 am

Morales said:

Do you really dispute that claim?

No, I do not dispute that claim on the surface.

I do, however, dispute the frequency of instances wherein it’s supposed to have happened. When either Peez, one of the other blog hosts, or one of the horde has made the claim, I suspect it is true perhaps only 10 to 25% of the time. I have no proof of that; it’s just a hunch.

106 FishCakes August 1, 2015 at 8:32 am

John Morales,
Thank you for explaining, and apologies for making unwarranted assumptions.

107 Gerhard August 1, 2015 at 10:00 am

@Morales.

I’m not going to clutter the place with more quotes. Re your last reply to me, I was drawing ana nalogy with PZs method of dismissing critics as anything but genuinely fed up with his rubbish. I was unclear, perhaps.

PZ often makes clearly ludicrous claims about the identity of critical posters, which I know are ludicrous because I am very familiar with the people he is talking about and their actual opinions and behaviour. I also know from 1st hand that he is sometimes mistaken or bullshitting. That doesn’t mean that nobody registers with new IDs, but their motivations for doing so are very unlikely to be because they are upset because they couldn’t “hack it” at Pharyngula. You need to be outside the cult to see how stupid that claim is.

The rest of your reply is pretty much childish snark which illustrates the point I was making. I know what my experience of Pharyngula was, I know the contempt which I feel for the behaviour and blindness of the commenters, and I know that so many others have described exactly the same experience. I trust that enough people have witnessed the insular Pharyngula spin that there is no need to respond to any more of your dissemination.

108 Nathan (late: GerardO) August 1, 2015 at 5:01 pm

I think there is something about Slymepitters creating fake identities repeatedly to comment at Pharyngula. It only serves to harden Myers’ resolve and further convinces him that he’s being victimized. If they had any brains they would let him stew in his own juices for a while.

This is also a learning moment for the atheist community in general. No-one complained when Myers & Horde were shredding creationists; now he’s firing on his own troops it’s a big deal.

109 John Greg August 1, 2015 at 6:44 pm

Nathan, whether or not it hardens Myers’s resolve (which I don’t believe anyway, by the way) is more or less irrelevant. Myers’s resolve, and so on, is a daily if not hourly changing thing that only reflects what particular brand of rage, and which particular horde-guided path, he chooses to follow on any given day, hour, moment.

He can certainly use his petulantly juvenile and incoherent rage at Pit people to claim it hardens his resolve and convinces him that the moon is blue. So what? His claims, his resolve, his convictions are malleable, ludicrous, inconsistent, and of little meaningful interest to almost anyone except himself and his lunatic fringe of rabid followers, The Horde.

Nathan said:

This is also a learning moment for the atheist community in general. No-one complained when Myers & Horde were shredding creationists; now he’s firing on his own troops it’s a big deal.

Actually, lots and lots of people complained and were up in angry arms over many of his shreddings. To whom do you specifically refer, and which particular shreddings? And what relevance is that anyway? Apples and oranges. I mean, Oh look. No complained when the army shot the enemy, but now that the army is shooting its own soldiers, everyone’s getting all pissy. Must be a learning moment for military personnel in general. Snuh?

110 Nialler August 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm

@ Nathan:

“This is also a learning moment for the atheist community in general. No-one complained when Myers & Horde were shredding creationists; now he’s firing on his own troops it’s a big deal.”

What is the “atheist community in general”? I’m been atheist since 1975 and nobody has approached me to be a member of such a community.

Nobody whatever speaks for me or my interests.

I am interested and invested in secularism, and that necessarily involves reading what prominent atheists have to say (a lot of which is of no assistance to the ideal of secularism or indeed humanism). The internal debate has been characterised so far ass I can see by competing personalities all fighting for the athier highest ground and has more splits that the Republican movement in Ireland.

111 Nialler August 1, 2015 at 7:01 pm

I should add that when I posted this:

“The internal debate has been characterised so far ass I can see by competing personalities all fighting for the athier highest ground and has more splits that the Republican movement in Ireland.”

I wasn’t referring to AI, whi Think do an admirable job.

112 Richard Sanderson August 1, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Let us not forget it was the the hate-filled atmosphere of Pharyngula and the #FTBullies who helped create and breed the likes of CJ Werleman. Werleman simply borrowed their insane anti-New Atheist nonsense, and upped the “anti-Zionist” spiel.

PS – John Morales, have you counted the number of serviceable lifeboats at Pharyngula? Just askin’……

113 John Morales August 1, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Richard Sanderson:

PS – John Morales, have you counted the number of serviceable lifeboats at Pharyngula? Just askin’……

It’s a blog. It was always a blog.

Why would a blog need a lifeboat, metaphorical or otherwise?

There are none.

… the hate-filled atmosphere of Pharyngula and the #FTBullies …

I feel the love.

114 John Greg August 2, 2015 at 12:02 am

Yes, well, Morales, one of the ongoing self-evidential bits of hoohah in your posts is a deep and severe failure to understand metaphor (and all other forms of creative language), and the reasons for using it.

115 John Morales August 2, 2015 at 12:56 am

Greg, your expertise at hoohah aside, care to substantiate your allegation?

(What’s the number of serviceable lifeboats on this blog?)

116 John Greg August 2, 2015 at 3:44 am

/sigh

Youse just don’t get it, man.

117 John Morales August 2, 2015 at 5:13 am

Greg, actually, I entirely get you: you bluster (cf. 95).

118 JetLagg August 2, 2015 at 6:09 pm

It’s a joke, dude. It implies the blog is sinking, or likely to sink soon. Nobody else has a problem getting that. Really, I have to agree with Greg. Your inability to grasp other’s creative use of language (while simultaneously retreating down your own rabbit holes of meta meaning when challenged) is comical.

119 John Welch August 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm

John Greg et al: you realize that Morales has, in this site, straight-up said that he makes sure to never say anything definite enough that he might have to defend or be held accountable for, right?

He is actually proud of never saying anything that doesn’t leave him half a dozen semantic escape routes. You keep trying to nail him on a point when he never says anything even close to a point. The fact he’s not a career Mid-leve politician is actually kind of a waste. He’s the perfect flunky.

120 John Greg August 2, 2015 at 8:15 pm

John Welch, yes indeed, good point. Trying to nail him (or Latsot, Aratina, Deepak, and so on) on a point, any point, is rather like trying to nail Jello to the wall. If they’re not Shuffle-toe Sams, they’re dancing with the Gish sisters (as it were), madly running after the combine harvester, or playing three little monkeys.

121 MosesZD August 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm

For example, MosesZD @1:

And then there were people like myself who left years and years and years ago because we saw the inevitable purity-test end-game long before now and knew it was only a matter of time before being ‘on the wrong side’ some trivial issue would make us the target.

Heh. Years and years and years is literally a minimum of 6 years, but I suppose poetic license is de rigeur for tales of woe.

I know I was posting regularly as late as Cracker Gate in 2008. Here I made up a recipe called “Koran Wraps” and how it could upset all the religions…

Moses

July 20, 2008
Ohh… Oh…

Koran Wraps:

Thin Beef (Jainians, hindus, some devout buddists, also plays off the kosher laws later)
Port Wine Cheese (violating kosher and getting at the Mormons at the same time)
Bacon (multiples here)
Drizzled with an Olive Oil-mustard dressing containing the crushed wafer (consuming on an Eastern Orthodox Fast day to get the EO’s)

All wrapped in an edible paper wrapper printed with squid ink with verses from the Koran.

I know some of it is a bit Molecular Gastronomy for the head-up-their-ass purists, but it’d be fucking awesome. And taste dam good if you put in some seasoning work with the sauce.

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/20/rolls-eyes-its-a-cracker-peopl/

And I did it again, later on in the thread:

Moses

July 20, 2008
Jebus Frackin’ Christ, this horse has been beaten so relentlessly it’s now soup. Yeeeeech.

Posted by: E.V. | July 20, 2008 6:09 PM

Hmmm…. While I was thinking Koran wraps, horse soup could be done… We’d have to do it along the lines of a solid french onion.

We’d have the beef, the cheese, the crouton (cracker), most is fortified with some type of alcoholic beverage (wine, port, sherry, etc.) to fortify the depth and flavor… We toast-up the cracker in a little EVOO and inscribe it with Koran versus and garnish it with some bacon crumbs and we can insult everyone.

See how bad I was… Of course, it’s not nearly to the level of the ‘ol dribbly porcupine and die in fire stuff. I’m just being slightly rude in a slightly goofy way… I’m certainly not threatening bodily harm or death on/to anyone.

Anyway, I left a long time ago. Probably sometime in the fall because there was big kerfluffle around Myers and his second rate student’s crappy blogs. Watching the back-stabbing and in-fighting, I bailed to never come back.

And, FWIW, I’ve been in this community LONG before you. You go back to The Panda’s Thumb during the Kitzmiller v Dover trial and you’ll see me there. I’ll be ‘Moses’ or, eventually, MosesZD as I unified my ‘nym’ over time.

Anyway, I could go back (or forward) further. My dirty little participation fingerprints are all over certain parts of this community and its archives. All the way back to the late 1990s. Before Paul set up Pharyngula.

And you want to go back to the late ’80s. You can see me on Kesher.net and Use.Net. Talking faith, religion and atheism long before your voice changed.

PS: Hope I didn’t mess the formatting up too bad. Sorry if I did. There is no preview function.

122 MosesZD August 2, 2015 at 10:14 pm

@Morales

Half-an-hour of Archive search and I was definitely gone from Pharnygula by January, 2009. That was the month and year New Scientist published its article “Darwin Was Wrong.”

I discussed the heck out of that article. At Why Evolution is True and other blogs. But not a single comment at Pharyngula.

I also went through a good ten other posts. All of them hot-button issues I dicussed on the Internet. Yet, nothing from me. So my old memory isn’t off.

I did this, btw, because memory fades and gets jumbled and I was worried I’d gotten it wrong all these years. And being FACTUALLY CORRECT and HONEST is something I believe should be a baseline for all human interaction. Unlike Myers and the Horde at Pharyngula who speak out of both sides of their mouths depending on whether it’s in-group or out-group time.

123 John Morales August 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

MosesZD @121, your comment was about Pharyngula, not about the “this community”. And you bailed long before Michael Nugent considered PZ was unable to behave ethically or that his commentariat was a hostile, toxic, bullying community. And before “Elevatorgate” and “The Monument”, for that matter.

(My reference was not to your bona fides, but to your complaint about the place so many years after you participated)

JetLagg, leaving aside that if Pharyngula is a ship, then this blog is a dinghy, I know very well the pit narrative.

Again: there are no lifeboats on blogs, whether or not they’re sinking.

(Ask a silly question, get a silly answer)

John Welch @119:

John Greg et al: you realize that Morales has, in this site, straight-up said that he makes sure to never say anything definite enough that he might have to defend or be held accountable for, right?

You’re confabulating — the part about definitiveness and accountability is entirely your contribution. Here:

[JW to JM] Never actually say anything that you’d have to actually defend

[JM to JW] Easier and better not to say anything that’s indefensible.

(Is that sufficiently definite for you?)

124 John Greg August 3, 2015 at 3:38 am

Morales said:

Again: there are no lifeboats on blogs, whether or not they’re sinking.

HAHAHAHAHA. Case closed.

125 John Morales August 3, 2015 at 4:09 am

Greg, it is indeed laughable that someone imagines blogs have lifeboats.

(Case closed indeed)

But hey, I concede that perhaps one day, if Pharyngula sinks far enough, its waterline might descend even unto to this blog’s level.

(Still, dinghies don’t have lifeboats)

126 Aheydis Vaakenjab August 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Morales and co. just can’t seem to give credit to someone who they’ve othered. Take for example Morales’ comment in #125:

“But hey, I concede that perhaps one day, if Pharyngula sinks far enough, its waterline might descend even unto to this blog’s level.”

Bravo. Nugent is out actually changing the world, asking for civil discourse, while PZ and people like you play word games to vilify people without a shred of credible evidence (see Tim Hunt). You’ve insinuated that Nugent’s blog is worse and more hostile than PZ’s — at this point, I really can’t take you seriously anymore. I’m pretty sure you’ll then point to that comment as a joke, but quite honestly, you’re not funny, and nor is any of the damage PZ and his horde has caused this community.

Laugh about it all you want Morales. Do your now infamous hand-waving around Pharyngula’s hostile environment and PZ’s harmful rhetoric. The rest of the community has recognized PZ for what he is and what he’s created and want nothing to do with it any longer.

127 Billie from Ockham August 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

John Morales wrote “there are no lifeboats on blogs, whether or not they’re sinking” which had me a bit scared for a minute. But then I remembered that oceans are a social construct and simply started walking to the shore.

I’ve now been walking for most of a week and I’m beginning to get a bit nervous again.

Any chance that some of you socially-connected folks could get together and construct me a shore?

128 Shane Phillips August 3, 2015 at 4:50 pm

It’s unfortunate that peezus cries foul when one of his inner circle is treated the same as he treats everyone else outside of that circle, it’s proof if anyone ever needed it that he’s another of those “do as I say and not as I do” social justice warriors.

For what it’s worth I think the attacks on ophie are a bit unfair, it seems like “transphobe” is the slur du jour in socjus communities at the moment, and although it’s definitely unfair, given how they treat anyone who falls outside their circles, it’s gratifying to see them turn on each other.

129 Harrison August 3, 2015 at 5:01 pm

@Aheydis Vaakenjab: It’s the Bill O’Reilley defense. “We get better ratings.”

Michael’s not trying to cultivate a blogging community. He like many activists uses social media inasmuch as it’s become a necessity for modern communication.

For some people who don’t have a foot in the offline activist world anymore, social media is all they have, ergo it seems to be all that’s real to them.

130 John Greg August 3, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Shores! Pffft. Billie, walking is totes a social construct. Check your privileged shoes, please.

131 John Greg August 3, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Shane Philips said:

For what it’s worth I think the attacks on ophie are a bit unfair….

In terms of the content and the cause, so to speak, and how intellectual debate and dialogue should go, yes the attacks on Ophelia are very unfair.

In terms of those attacks representing the general modus operandi of FTB, Skepchick, and other related ersatz feminist ersatz skeptic folks, they are quite accurate.

Lastly, in terms of those attacks being reflective of the general methodology and attack style of Ophelia herself, then once again, they are spot on, and reflect, to a prefect Tee, how Ophelia operates in the world and how she treats those with whom she strongly disagrees, and are therefore perhaps not so much unfair as they are just deserts.

132 Jack Rawlinson August 3, 2015 at 8:57 pm

It was only a matter of time until these turned on one of their own. It always, always happens with zealots and ideaologues of any stripe: one step out of line – a line which keeps moving towards ever-stricter demands – and it’s the ice pick to the skull; the purge.

Karma and schadenfreude. I can’t pretend I don’t relish them.

133 Jack Rawlinson August 3, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Oh… and I see you guys have allowed Nialler to red-herring and goalpost-shift the fuck out of the thread, as usual. :-)

134 Pips the Cat August 3, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Morales, you seem to be simultaneously supporting Ophelia over on her blog wherein she claims she is being persecuted and the environment is hostile, while mocking the idea that it is hostile on Free Thought Blogs here. Is Ophelia one of those that “just couldn’t cut it” on FtBs? You’re mocking the OP, while Ophelia is making very similar observations regarding a good part of the commentariat of FtBs. There seems to be a dichotomy between what you say over there and over here. Would you care to comment?

135 John Morales August 3, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Pips:

Would you care to comment?

Not only would I do so, but I actually do so:
1. The OP is about PZ and Pharyngula, not about FTB in general.
2. My comment about those who couldn’t hack in Pharyngula comment sections applies to Pharyngula comment sections, not to FTB in general.
3. Ophelia has commented in Pharyngula fairly recently, so obviously she is one of those who can manage it.
4. It is entirely possible for someone to find a place to be “hostile, toxic, bullying” yet be able to cope with it. Not everyone is a delicate flower.

Aheydis @126, you are nearly completing the recapitulation of my previous experience commenting here with the grammatical person shift:

Morales and co. just can’t seem to give credit to someone who they’ve othered. Take for example Morales’ comment in #125:

“But hey, I concede that perhaps one day, if Pharyngula sinks far enough, its waterline might descend even unto to this blog’s level.”

Well, if blogs allegorically are water-vessels which can sink, what does it mean for a blog to sink? 😉

(Any othering there doesn’t originate with me)

Bravo. Nugent is out actually changing the world, asking for civil discourse, while PZ and people like you play word games to vilify people without a shred of credible evidence (see Tim Hunt). You’ve insinuated that Nugent’s blog is worse and more hostile than PZ’s — at this point, I really can’t take you seriously anymore. I’m pretty sure you’ll then point to that comment as a joke, but quite honestly, you’re not funny, and nor is any of the damage PZ and his horde has caused this community.

You should distinguish between the blogger and the blog, if you want to understand what I write, and you should realise that I speak for myself, not for others.
And, speaking for myself, I have faced barely less hostility here than in Pharyngula.

(I do like my little jokes, such as giving rhetorical answers to rhetorical questions, but I don’t joke about the substance of my contentions)

If you don’t think that any vilification occurs here (other than by me), fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion*.

Laugh about it all you want Morales. Do your now infamous hand-waving around Pharyngula’s hostile environment and PZ’s harmful rhetoric. The rest of the community has recognized PZ for what he is and what he’s created and want nothing to do with it any longer.

Really? How then do you account for his just-completed attendance at the Gateway to Reason conference?

(I know whose hands are waving, and they ain’t mine)

* In passing, I note that derogatory misnaming (oaphie, peezus) of people is also visible on this blog’s comments.

136 Michael Nugent August 3, 2015 at 11:54 pm

John Morales @123

if Pharyngula is a ship, then this blog is a dinghy

As long as the dinghy can accommodate a sealion, I am happy that it can do its job :)

137 Michael Nugent August 4, 2015 at 2:39 am

Noel Plum @75

and take this also as a courtesy note Michael that I discussed you on video

Thanks, Jim.

138 John Greg August 4, 2015 at 3:37 am

Morales said:

In passing, I note that derogatory misnaming (oaphie, peezus) of people is also visible on this blog’s comments.

Hmm. Why, outside of specific context — I note, you have not clarified or specified context — why is that usage derogatory? Why not just playfully taking the piss? Why not a simple nickname? On what grounds do you determine “derogatory”? Seriously, spell it out for me.

Ophie/Oaphie is just a short from for Ophelia. PeeZus/peezus is just an allusion and obvious ironic/satirical dig at Myers’s massive ego and social control pretensions.

As I say, why derogatory and not just poking fun at? Spell it out. Before my lifeboat deflates in a sea of bluster.

139 John Morales August 4, 2015 at 4:46 am

Sure, Greg, poking fun at people isn’t derogatory, and Ophelia is not an oaf at all.

(And you’re not aware of how she perceives that particular mockery, because you don’t read what she writes, right? Purely innocent, that)

140 John Greg August 4, 2015 at 5:49 am

Legitimate mockery (offense-free or otherwise — not all mockery is derogatory, as not all satire is an insult) is one thing. Fabricated offense over imaginary mockery due to self-cultivated snowflake sensitivities developed to feed the rage engine is something else altogether.

And Ophie does not equal oaf (as Benson does not equal Hedges), regardless of the Pomo and hurt snowflake tricks and twists you have to go through to get there.

But then, you don’t get creative language, metaphor, satire, and so on, so I don’t think you’ll get this either.

141 John Morales August 4, 2015 at 9:59 am

No worries, Greg.

It looks as if Michael doesn’t find it problematic, either, so you’re good.

142 John Morales August 4, 2015 at 10:12 am

PS, Michael @136, I do appreciate your tolerance towards me no less than your moderation, with which I am comfortable. Thanks.

143 Aheydis Vaakenjab August 4, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Morales @135 said:

Really? How then do you account for his just-completed attendance at the Gateway to Reason conference?

Has he accused anyone of rape yet? If not, then I’d call it a smashing success at PZ taking ANY opportunity to keep his brand in the mix. Good for him. See Morales, I can’t stand Myers, but yet I can compliment him and give him credit when it’s due. If he provided an engaging talk that at least one person got something out of it at the conference, then I’d call that successful. Good for him. I hope he keeps it up.

It’s been shown many times that PZ in person does not equate to the PZ who feels safe to shred someone from long-distance, behind the safety of his keyboard — Ask Gelato guy… or the named people he’s smeared as rapists, rape apologists or misogynists.

You also said:

And, speaking for myself, I have faced barely less hostility here than in Pharyngula.

If “hostility” in your mind is being told you’re a Myers apologist, and not having physical violence directed at you or not being banned for merely disagreeing, or not being doxxed, then I guess I can agree with you on that one. Otherwise, you’ve got a skewed sense of reality.

144 JetLagg August 4, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Aheydis@143If “hostility” in your mind is being told you’re a Myers apologist, and not having physical violence directed at you or not being banned for merely disagreeing, or not being doxxed, then I guess I can agree with you on that one. Otherwise, you’ve got a skewed sense of reality.

It’s the latter.

I can’t recall which particular PZ apologist this happened with, but a long while back here at Nugent’s I said they might come around to the pit’s way of thinking in a few years. They informed me this was the most grossly offensive thing I could have said to them, far worse than calling them a misogynist or a “fucking asshole”.

That’s the sort of mentality we’re dealing with here, and it explains much.

145 john welch August 4, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Funny how morales is suddenly all concerned about mocking names…wait, of course it’s not funny. Morales doesn’t care about mocking names as long as the source is properly Clear. It’s only when the SPs do it that it’s bad.

and as far as his comment @123 goes:

you just confirmed that you deliberately say anything that you might ever have to defend for any reason.

I’m pretty sure you weren’t planning to support my contention, but hey, thanks anyway.

146 John Greg August 4, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Of the many things that separates, and elevates, Michael over folks such as PeeZee, is his sense of humour (even when he’s the target):

As long as the dinghy can accommodate a sealion, I am happy that it can do its job :)

As well as lacking in the usage of, and reasons for, creative language, FTBers, Skepchickers, and SJWs in general are also pretty seriously lacking in the sense of humour department.

147 John Morales August 4, 2015 at 11:33 pm

It amuses me how, once I comment here, threads become all about me and my character.

Anyway.

Aheydis:

If “hostility” in your mind is being told you’re a Myers apologist, and not having physical violence directed at you or not being banned for merely disagreeing, or not being doxxed, then I guess I can agree with you on that one. Otherwise, you’ve got a skewed sense of reality.

By hostility here I mean the same thing as hostility there; perhaps you should read some of the threads in which I have participated earlier to see to what I refer. I’ve linked to one of them @123.

(Not that I mind; when I get dogpiled, it’s a target-rich environment for me)

Funny how morales is suddenly all concerned about mocking names…wait, of course it’s not funny.

I’m not concerned about it, Welcher, I’m noting hypocrisy.

and as far as his comment @123 goes:

you just confirmed that you deliberately say anything that you might ever have to defend for any reason.

I’m pretty sure you weren’t planning to support my contention, but hey, thanks anyway.

Such acumen!

Has it occurred to you that not saying something indefensible means I can (and often do) defend what I write?

Greg, dropping internet slang might amuse you, but its inappositeness when applied to me amuses me no less.

Correct usage refers to persistent attempts to engage an unwilling group by feigning civility and constantly asking for evidence for that group’s claims.

As with any other blog in which I have commented, if the blogger asks me to fuck off, I do. No biggie.

(Alex Gabriel, most recently)

148 Jack Rawlinson August 4, 2015 at 11:43 pm

“It amuses me how, once I comment here, threads become all about me and my character.”

Your vanity amuses me.

149 John Morales August 5, 2015 at 12:25 am

“You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you”. :)

150 Pips the Cat August 5, 2015 at 12:30 am

Morales, your little word games no doubt amuse you, but they reflect poorly on your honesty and character. PZ and Ophelia have declared the commentariate hostile and toxic at Pharangula. Dissembling only makes you not just an apologist, but a poor one. You might find yourself clever, but if you’re trying to bolster PZ’s image to any undecideds, you might trying being forthright instead of indulging in sophmoric word games.

151 Aheydis Vaakenjab August 5, 2015 at 12:49 am

It amuses me how, once I comment here, threads become all about me and my character

A song comes to mind with you Morales: “you’re so vain… you probably think this [blog] is about you…..”

So, I perused the link you provided in #123. Can’t seem to find where someone told you to kill yourself, doxxed you or accused your meatspace identity as being a rapist, or rape apologist. Nor were you banned, and nor did anyone tell you to stop posting, and nor did anyone even suggest that people attack you and nor did anyone remotely suggest that you’re not welcome. I don’t see anywhere where you’ve been outed as a misogynist, or as a rape enabler and nor do I see any reference to people adding you to block lists and gloating about it.

You then go on to call Welch, “Welcher” thus cementing your own hypocrisy in regards to name calling.
(I’m !!!!outraged!!!! (not really) that you would twist his name into something it is not for simply making an immature point. [sarcasm] But I could easily have been offended on Welch’s behalf. And if I was offended, because I’m not on the right identity side for your politics, you wouldn’t give two hoots.)

If you can’t rise above it yourself, you’re no better than those who do it, so why stand on a soapbox of faux-morality and tell people who you’ve othered that they’re immature or that their name calling is hurtful but yours is not. Your lack of self awareness is astonishing.

Listen, I get it. You’re a contrarian and it’s your schtick. Your online persona projects a smugness and self-satisfaction for typing 500 word replies with zero self awareness of the identity politics you play. That’s fine. But you’re still not funny and nor is the harm your cohorts at FtB have done. Now that most people in the community have recognized what FtB is, the snake is finally eating it’s own tail and yet you STILL can’t admit that FtB, and specifically the house PZ built, is a toxic environment, even though Gabriel told you to F-off and Ophelia is getting attacked.

What’s left is right, what’s up is down, what’s inside is outside…

152 Aheydis Vaakenjab August 5, 2015 at 12:50 am

“You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you”. :)

Darn it Morales!!!! Kudos to you for beating me to the reference!

153 John Morales August 5, 2015 at 1:14 am

Pips:

You might find yourself clever, but if you’re trying to bolster PZ’s image to any undecideds, you might trying being forthright instead of indulging in sophmoric word games.

Do I really have to explicitly deny that’s my purpose yet again?

Aheydis:

You then go on to call Welch, “Welcher” thus cementing your own hypocrisy in regards to name calling.

To what hypocrisy of mine do you refer? I obviously have no problem with doing it.

(What part of “Sanctimony is not my schtick” confused you?)

I acknowledge that I was apparently wrong to think Michael himself had a problem with people in his comments using monicker which the person to which it refers considers degoratory.

Listen, I get it. You’re a contrarian and it’s your schtick.

You are mistaken. I think I appear to be a contrarian to you because on this blog my opinion is contrary to the consensus.

Now that most people in the community have recognized what FtB is, the snake is finally eating it’s own tail and yet you STILL can’t admit that FtB, and specifically the house PZ built, is a toxic environment, even though Gabriel told you to F-off and Ophelia is getting attacked.

Your appeal to popularity aside, I don’t personally find FTB a toxic environment; FWIW, it was Pharyingula which found me toxic.

What’s left is right, what’s up is down, what’s inside is outside…

If you don’t distinguish between objective and subjective propositions, you will remain confused by my comments.

(Hint: opinions are subjective)

154 Pips the Cat August 5, 2015 at 1:33 am

If you deny that is your purpose, then please state your intent please.

155 John Morales August 5, 2015 at 2:12 am

I already did, Pips, at #104.

156 Pips the Cat August 5, 2015 at 5:38 am

Morales, logic fail 101. Please state your intention clearly. Devil’s advocate, possibility space is not intention. Those are positions, not intentions. Your intent is…?

157 John Morales August 5, 2015 at 7:27 am

Pips, what logic do you imagine I have failed?

Again: My motive for my initial posting was that, being familiar with this saga, and seeing my name invoked, I thought I’d contribute my own (dissenting) opinion, which was an option available to me.

There is no particular purpose to it, because I don’t seek to achieve any goals.

(Such vanity to imagine that this thread has become about me, right?)

158 Aheydis Vaakenjab August 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Your appeal to popularity aside, I don’t personally find FTB a toxic environment; FWIW, it was Pharyingula which found me toxic.

Bwahahaha.. Sorry. You ARE funny. I take that all back. Chris Clarke leaves FtB because it’s toxic. PZ scrambles to curtail the toxic environment and goes as far as to state that himself (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/07/28/between-me-and-my-mind/comment-page-1/#comment-963461) and your claim is that it’s not toxic. Ophelia gets attacked by her own colleagues and is about to be run off of FtB, but it’s not a toxic environment.

Brilliant. You do understand that you are entitled to your opinions, but not your own facts. When the owner of Pharyngula states its toxic, who else do you need to convince YOU that it’s toxic?

You would have made an excellent Iraq Minister of Information.

159 JetLagg August 5, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Pips @154

Morales, logic fail 101. Please state your intention clearly.

[emphasis mine]

I’ll direct you to Welch’s comments, as he’s spot on. Morales is intentionally nebulous, so as to avoid ever be caught in a blatant contradiction (he’s all but admitted this). It would be kind of amusing if he didn’t act as if it amounted to a debating victory. Instead it’s just tedious.

160 FishCakes August 5, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Aheydis Vaakenjab @157,
I think I’m starting to get the hang of John Morales, and so I offer the following response on his behalf:

Please, don’t be silly.

The word “toxic” comes from the medieval Latin “toxicus” (poisoned); from Latin “toxicum” (poison); and from Greek “toxikon” (poison for). “Poison” is a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed.

A blog can no more be considered “capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed” than it can be considered to be literally “sinking” and in need of “life boats.”

161 FishCakes August 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Sorry, I forgot the [snicker] tag at the end.

162 Aheydis Vaakenjab August 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm

@FishCakes #159

Ha! Nicely done. Conveys no meaning, answers nothing, provides contrary claims to the already established fact and does so with the slight smugness of superiority! I think you’ve got it nailed down!

Either way, that is the type of discourse that has cemented FtB’s fate. Everything else is toxic and in dire need of harping about whilst the actual toxic pit they’re standing in is A-OK.

Nugent is at the UN and battling for the rights of the humans he lives with, while the only thing FtB can do is claim everyone are “slymers” and “harassers”. The distance between what Nugent fights for and FtB drones on about is measured in parsecs.

163 John Greg August 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Fishcakes, you are closer to the reality of these clowns than you know … perhaps.

A couple of years ago, and it still rears its head occasionaly, there was an extended (raging, as per usual) argument circulating FTB, and a few other SJW hotspots, that contemporary so-called “witch hunts” do not and cannot happen because there are no actual witches involved, and because no one is actually being burned at the stake. And those arguments were offered in all seriousness.

The current nonsense noise is similar, but states that “witch hunts” do not and cannot happen because that term was coined to describe McCarthyism stuff, and McCarthy’s dead, and there is no longer a communist scare, and no one is currently being called up in front of HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) and therefore, duh! witch hunts simply cannot happen. And they offer this in all seriousness.

Doolally in the membrane.

164 John Greg August 5, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Aheydis Vaakenjab said:

The distance between what Nugent fights for and FtB drones on about is measured in parsecs.

Well, it’s well known that Millenium Michael did the Parsec run in under twelve Stations of the Kessels.

165 FishCakes August 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm

John Greg,
The level of hypocrisy is almost too much to take in, it really is.

166 John Greg August 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Hypocrisy, and a truly monumental, benumbing, and bewildering (to outside viewers) lack of self-awareness.

167 Harrison August 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

PZ has now accused his ravenous comment section of, get this, being like Michael Nugent. The ultimate insult!

168 Jan Steen August 5, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Myers has closed down the current tread about Ophelia Benson because he can’t stand seeing her criticised, comparing his commenters to … Michael Nugent:

You know, I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of campaign before. You’re all sounding like Michael Nugent, the Mouth of the Slymepit: according to him, I’m a homicidal monster who connived to railroad an innocent young woman who threatened to accuse me of rape, which apparently, according to a mob on twitter, I’m guilty of. If all you do is look over any voluble person’s record on the internet, you can find words and phrases you can twist or take out of context to support any nefarious claim you want. You just have to ignore 99% of what they say!

Did Michael call him a homicidal monster? I don’t believe he did. I do remember that Myers accused Michael of providing a haven for rapists, refused to give real evidence for that assertion, and called him an “Irish wanker” for insisting on a retraction. But poor ol’ Peezus is the victim here. Yeah, right.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/08/04/and-some-of-the-boxes-are-wired-to-explode/comment-page-1/#comment-965457

169 Jan Steen August 5, 2015 at 8:12 pm

The second paragraph should have been a block quote. Sorry.

170 JackSkeptic August 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

And further down the rabbit hole they all go. The cognitive dissonance must be off the scale.

This bit:

PZM:

”If all you do is look over any voluble person’s record on the internet, you can find words and phrases you can twist or take out of context to support any nefarious claim you want.”

Is that something he really said or a self aware parody?

A few years back I remember thinking what would it be like if aliens took over our brains but did quite get it right. There would be numerous small clues but would we notice? The question I have now is ‘have we been invaded?’ I’m waiting for the Mothership to pick up what remains of FtB.

171 john welch August 5, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Morales@147:

Has it occurred to you that not saying something indefensible means I can (and often do) defend what I write?

No, because to say something you might have to defend carries a risk that someone will, for whatever reason, find it indefensible. The examples of this are as common as gravity.

To never say anything that might be indefensible means you never say anything you might have to defend because you won’t take the risk you can’t defend it, that someone finds it *indefensible*.

Oh wait, did you think that *you* were the one who determines if something is defensible or not? Oh you are so precious if you did, given the massive amount of evidence from your lot that it is the people hearing/reading what you say who determine that, not the person saying/writing the thing.

So because you, the initiator of the message aren’t the one who determines if it is indefensible or not, the only way, the *only* way you can avoid that is to never say anything definite that you cannot redefine at will, even to the point where your definitions contradict each other. Which again, the content of your statements here easily show.

You never defend morales, you simply redefine so that words mean what you wish them to mean at that specific moment in time, nothing more, and usually quite less. I will give PZ this: he is, at least occasionally, willing to say something definite, to take a stand. I just wish he wasn’t so astoundingly stupid about what he takes a stand on, and more able to admit error and/or exageration.

172 john welch August 5, 2015 at 11:57 pm

Aheydis @151 (first, nicely done on the ‘nym)

You then go on to call Welch, “Welcher” thus cementing your own hypocrisy in regards to name calling.
(I’m !!!!outraged!!!! (not really) that you would twist his name into something it is not for simply making an immature point. [sarcasm] But I could easily have been offended on Welch’s behalf. And if I was offended, because I’m not on the right identity side for your politics, you wouldn’t give two hoots.)

OMG…”welcher”. I haven’t seen that used even ironically in…oh my, must be decades. Maybe even not since the 1970s.

Seriously, “welcher” is the best he has? He could have at least gotten to high school level and gone with “belch”.

He can’t even juvenile well.

173 A Bear August 6, 2015 at 1:51 am

Mouth of the Slymepit?
Well, I guess PZ is having problems keeping his friends happy.
Maybe he could throw them some chew toys?

174 Pips the Cat August 6, 2015 at 4:59 am

Apparently the environment was so target-rich that Morales has indigestion as a result. He seems to have retired.

175 John Greg August 6, 2015 at 6:11 am

Beware the mouth, baring red polo necks!

Beware.

Be very ware!

176 JG64 August 6, 2015 at 10:43 am

Michael, if you are the mouth of the Universe, does this mean you are God? Fancy that, God is an atheist and wears a red polo shirt. Why I can’t even

177 FishCakes August 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Ed Brayton is leaving Freethought Blogs.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2015/08/06/why-im-leaving-the-network-i-created/

This is probably going to come as shocking news to a lot of people, but I have made the incredibly difficult decision to leave the network I created and own.

So why am I leaving? Also omnipresent since the start of FTB, as I’m sure you well know, has been controversy. The bloggers here have often gone on crusades and launched battles, most of them necessary and justified. But along with that has come a great deal of drama and stress. I’ve endured several threats of lawsuits against me as the owner of the network over the words and actions of others. I’ve had continual demands that I do something about this or that blogger, that I throw them off the network or censor them. I’ve been caught in the crossfire of a great many fights, continually taking shrapnel in battles that I wasn’t even involved in.

I believe it has to some degree impeded my ability to engage in important activist projects by making some people reluctant to work with me because of all that controversy. That frequent stress has also begun to affect my health. I have two autoimmune disorders that are triggered by stress and I have come to the conclusion that it would be better for my health, both physical and mental, to get out of the crucible and be responsible only for myself and my own words and actions.

So what happens now? My blog will be moving to Patheos, where I can be just a lone blogger doing my own thing and in no way responsible for what anyone else says or does. The new blog address is http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/.

178 FishCakes August 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Here’s what PZ Myers has to say about Ed Brayton’s departure.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/08/06/farewell-ed/

The rest of us are still here, though, and we’ve got a committee that will be stepping up to take the place of one guy — we hope that will diffuse the attacks, although I’m pretty sure they’ll start ramping up now.

So nothing changes.

179 JackSkeptic August 7, 2015 at 12:19 am

@FishCakes 178

At least they now have a committee.

180 Jan Steen August 7, 2015 at 1:58 am

Meanwhile, Ophelia Benson is also deserting the sinking barge of FreethoughtBlogs, skillfully run into the ground by the SJW crew. But Captain Myers, seemingly unperturbed, maintains that his vessel is still fit for luxury cruises to the Caribbean. Just look at the flag. Isn’t it beautiful? “You know what?” he said to himself, “I’m going to buy a new cap. A white one with golden trimmings.” He heard a man in a red polo shirt on the pier shouting that all that mud in the hull should be pumped out first. “No way,” Captain Myers said, “that’s my cargo. It’s my mud, and I’ll fling it when I feel like it.” And he went down with his ship.

181 JackSkeptic August 7, 2015 at 3:51 pm

It is far from over but I think, if the mood takes him, Michael could turn his eye to the evil machinations of the Slympit.

I predict we’re going to be bored over there in the next few months and I for one would welcome the discussion.

182 john welch August 10, 2015 at 2:40 am

It’ll last until PZ, now no longer protected from the mind-aching daily dullness of running a complicated blog site, and dealing with the issues that Brayton had to, like, you know, how to pay for its costs, decides “fuckit, i’m out”

He’ll be back on NatGeo in a year, pretending the concerns over “censorship” never happened.

183 Richard Weed August 14, 2015 at 5:51 am

Does The Slymepit Have A Future?

Now that Ed Brayton has resigned from FTB and moved to Patheos and FTB appears to be crumbling, is the Pit necessary?

https://disqus.com/home/channel/istheslymepitahateforum/discussion/channel-istheslymepitahateforum/does_the_slymepit_have_a_future/

184 John Greg August 14, 2015 at 8:27 pm

Troll post.

185 Lsuoma August 14, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Just so people know, Richard Weed is registered under a different name at the Slyme Pit, yet he made exactly the same post over there without disclosing that he is a registered user. Trolling, I think it’s called. Oh, and sock-puppeting, which will get him banned the next time I see him doing it.

186 Lsuoma August 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm

And over at Disqus the discussion is really heating up, with Weed, and that well-known fence-sitter and shit-stirrer DayDays Reinhardt going at it hammer-and-tongs. (Four posts so far.)

187 john welch August 19, 2015 at 1:41 am

The important thing is that Reinhardt is Right.

188 Ooo August 30, 2015 at 11:40 pm

It’s very simple. Let him drift away. I called him out for what he was back when everyone still thought he was the darling of atheism and most of you lot still fellated him regularly. Yeah, yeah, I’m the hipster of skepticism. 😛 So happy to see him disconnecting.

189 2maik7 September 29, 2015 at 12:55 am

It’s been a long time since I cared for anything Myers had to say. I did when I first became an atheist. As I pursued my studies and learned how to better think critically I began to dislike him more and more. His unbelievably irrational defense of feminism , his promotion of some kind of patriarchical conspiracy, and his censorship of any comments or ideas that conflict with his made me despise the man not just intellectually but as a human being. Woman who simply want equal rights are feeding the patriarchy to this idiot. HIs censorship, along with others, on ‘freethought’ blogs is amazingly Orwellian. I am so happy that they are a marginal force in the secualar/freethought movement.

190 Gary January 8, 2016 at 9:20 am

Didn’t you officially say you were breaking ties with that cretin about a year back? Why you still even mentioning him?

191 Christopher Mankey October 30, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Fuck off.

192 Fleury June 5, 2017 at 9:29 pm

Ten years ago I published articles showing that there exist vortical tissue movements in embryo development. Since then PZ mYers has constantly ridiculed me, calling me crackpot and lunatic and all kinds of insults. Now these vortical movements have been seen in many embryos, and such visco-elastic movements in embryos are being studied by many groups. And PZ Myers keeps on insulting me once in a while on his blog. This person is not only a bizarre character, but he is also not such a good scientist, to say the least. Of course he should apologize, but he should also catch up with recent progress in his own field. If he cares.

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