A new group of skeptic blogs

(Sorry, I had to use the word “blog” since it’s necessary here.) John Loftus, ex-Christian preacher and author, has started a new group of blogs, Skepticblogs.com, whose intent, as he said in the mission statement, “is not to antagonize any other skeptical or freethought blogs.” The mission statement is below:

WELCOME TO SKEPTIC BLOGS

Posted by  on Aug 09, 2012 in Welcome

Skeptic Blogs has been designed to be a network community of skeptical bloggers, podcasters and Vbloggers. Our intention is not to antagonize any other skeptical or freethought blogs. We merely seek to offer a fresh perspective, one we think other skeptics and atheists will appreciate. It will include like-minded people who will run their own individual blogs as they see fit given our mission statement and posting policy (below).

Mission Statement:

We seek to collectively provide a positive set of voices on behalf of science, reason, and skepticism. We take aim at critically examining the basis of religious faiths, their holy books, claims of miracles, and of the paranormal, without neglecting the adverse cultural impact they have on us. We will do so from a diverse set of perspectives and disciplines of learning.

Our Posting Policy

Bloggers have agreed to post something at least once a week, barring unusual circumstances. Invectives which demean individuals on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender identification, or age, will not be tolerated. Wherever there is room for debate about controversial issues we will do so reasonably based on evidence. While it is fashionable in some corners of the internet for atheists to crassly denigrate people, that is not acceptable here (although, sometimes we can only tolerate the tolerable). We will focus on the arguments themselves. No position worth defending requires the sacrifice of respect or manners. We want a respectful intelligent debate on the issues that divide us or none at all, and we demand the same from our commentariat.

John’s old website, “Debunking Christianity,” is now located there, as well as seven other sites.  So far John et al. seem to maintaining an atmosphere of civility (at least in the posts; there are few readers’ comments so far), and the sites are heavy on ideas and philosophy, which I like.

Two posts I particularly appreciate include “Gould’s NOMA—a thorough analysis” at The Tippling Philosopher (which, I note, has stolen my phrase “sophisticated theologians™”!), a post that has lots of reference and debunks not only Gould’s specious idea, but also the common claim that Augustine was the original Sophisticated Theologian™ who, presciently, saw the Bible as pure metaphor.  Another good post is “Of miracles” at the Hume’s Apprentice site.

The whole enterprise looks good, and so far refreshingly free of drama, but it’s new and needs publicity, readers, and comments; so go over and have a look. (I’m hoping that a cat will appear now and then.)

As always, I’ll maintain the independence of my own site, but I wish John and his comrades well. And while I’m at it, let me put in an unsolicited plug for John’s new book, Why I Became an Atheist.  Despite its unfortunate title, which implies that it’s a personal story of John’s journey from faith to unbelief, it’s really a thoroughly-reasoned and well documented account of the follies of faith. It belongs on your shelf beside the books of Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, Stenger, and Dawkins, and I recommend it highly.

h/t: Chris

60 Comments

  1. chriskg
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    Thank Ceiling Cat for John Loftus!

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      I have so much admiration for him.

      • Loftus Fan
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        I love the first chapter of John’s book.

        He admits that he lied to his congregation, his family, and his friends.

        That took courage.

        So you can trust him now.

        • lisa
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

          First I should make it clear that I have not read this gentleman’s work, and I mean no insult to anyone, but as a cautionary note to any and all; it is never safe to trust a writer in any type of medium simply because he/she has confessed to lying multiple times to those he/she owed the truth most. Even when the confession is public and requires courage to do so, it does not follow that he/she can be trusted now or in the future. Not to say that everyone in these cases can never be truly remorseful and ‘seen the error of their ways.’ Never generalize.

          • John W. Loftus
            Posted August 17, 2012 at 1:00 am | Permalink

            I’ve heard this crap from Christian trolls before. So let me quote Robert Ingersoll:

            “The arguments I advance are either good or bad. If they are bad, they can easily be answered by argument. If they are not, they cannot be answered by personalities or ascribing to me selfish motives. It is not a personal matter. It is a matter of logic–not a matter of slander, vituperation or hatred. I presume I am about as bad as most folks, and as good as some, but my goodness or badness has nothing to do with the question. I may have committed every crime in the world, yet that does not make the story of the flood reasonable, nor does it tend to show that the three gentlemen in the furnace were not scorched. I may be the best man in the world, yet that does not go to prove that Jonah was swallowed by the whale.”

            • lisa
              Posted August 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

              Don’t get your knickers in a knot.

              Try as we might it is impossible to completely disassociate the message from the messenger. While “I may have committed every crime in the world, yet that does not make the story of the flood reasonable” may be valid, the credence of the speaker lends strength to the statement or, conversely, detracts from the statement.

              Were Hitler to suddenly start posting that he had changed his mind and Jews were an ancient and honorable race that deserved emulation you would immediately look for an underlying motive.

              As McLuhan stated: “The medium is the message.” The medium is sybiotic with the message and strongly influences how the message is perceived.

              • Posted August 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

                The biggest liars are those who deny having lied in the past.

              • lisa
                Posted August 18, 2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

                A valid point. I only commented that a public confession, even a courageous one, is not necessarily a valid reason to trust anyone. I do not know the person being discussed in any way, so I was not referring to him personally. I meant that it is dangerous to trust someone, anyone anywhere or any time ONLY because the person has admitted to being guilty publicly. I have suffered enough disillusion on my path from a 6 year-old preening because, as the shortest kid in first grade I was first in line when we trouped into church for our First Communion (a lot of OCD nuns) to the skeptical and grumpy old lady I have become. And I don’t know if I agree about which are the biggest liars, especially in an election year.

  2. johnnyp76
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the recommendation, Jerry – really appreciated.

    Hopefully the project will be a success. My own hope is to get civil discourse with dissenting views. There’s nothing quite like CIVIL debate.

    Thanks for posting this, and keep up the very good work.

    Jonathan Pearce (and I’m sure Andreas Schueler who guest posted the NOMA article – part 2 tomorrow!).

  3. lanceleuven
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the heads up. I shall wander over and take a looksie.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

      “A looksie”
      That works, but I always thought it was a “look-see”.
      I think “looksee” is China Coast pidgin. Luksi is Tok Pisin (blong PNG) for “look at”.

  4. lanceleuven
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Is it just me or does the first link not lead anywhere? I’m just getting a blank page.

    • johnnyp76
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      I think it’s just you!

      • papalinton
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

        It worked fine for me.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      I just got a blank page too, but I’m sure the address is correct. It may have crashed due to traffic or other problems. At any rate, go to one of the other sites of the group, which will take you to the main page if it’s working.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

      Right now the homepage is failing, but try the individual posts Jerry links to. They work for me.

      • notung
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:37 am | Permalink

        Just after I posted this it all started working.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      The top link was blank for me as well. The link to Loftus’ own blog worked.
      .
      I wish them well.

      • lanceleuven
        Posted August 17, 2012 at 4:54 am | Permalink

        It’s working for me today! Yay!

  5. johnnyp76
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    It keeps working for me! Hmm, strange.

  6. Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    .. and so far refreshingly free of drama

    Then I will definitively check it out!
    (I used to frequent a similar site that I used to enjoy, but that slowly descended in a, what it looks like, ‘drama only’ site that’s now fairly void of any substance. Almost as if its owner/founder chose to become the Shock Jock of Atheism)

    • chascpeterson
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      pretty subtle

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      That happened to me, too. I wonder if it’s the same place 😉

      • Posted August 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Nah .. what would be the odds? 😉

        • Spirokeat
          Posted August 16, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

          Me too!

          Shame, I enjoyed it a lot to start with.

  7. lisa
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    There is always hope; it appears to be a deciding human trait. One other is a biological imperative to not only to domesticate animals to do be use as living tools,we also ave the need to seek out a bond of both love and loyalty for them. And if these bloggers fail to see cats as a great arbiter between man and all the other animals, we will simply have to provide his blog with our own incredible kitty cats.

    • chascpeterson
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      cats as a great arbiter between man and all the other animals

      and fine arbitrage it is, too, esp. with the likes of songbirds, lizards, and voles.

      • lisa
        Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:11 am | Permalink

        Those ‘song’ birds are so annoying in the morning. Thankfully, my guardian kitty cat does her very best stop these kinds of interruptions of the quiet.

  8. Kylie Sturgess
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Apparently the site has been active since August 2011 (one of the blogposts, unless they’re archives from another site), so maybe it’s not that new.

    I’m all for new blog networks (have contributed to SheThought.com, The Odds Must Be Crazy, We Are SkeptiXX, and JREF Swift) – but I’m very confused about their choice of name. Shermer’s Skeptic.com has been running skepticblog.com (no plural) since 2008.

    When it comes to branding, how do you feel about new ventures like:

    Skeptic’s Guide to the Galaxy?
    Skeptoidz Podcast?
    Skeptikality Podcast?
    Skeptchixs?

    Companies avoid using the same branding / name as other companies for a number of reasons. Anyone remember “Coming To America”?

    “They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick.”

    • johnnyp76
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      You can migrate blog posts from previously existing blogs which is what some have done.

      • Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

        Yep. It launched today (yesterday for some), and those writing by invitation had no input on the name, although it is properly descriptive, and Shermer’s choice of name for his blog was, perhaps, a touch unoriginal. The present intent is to host skeptic blogs on the new site, and to represent a variety of opinions, hopefully without name-calling or hostility. Each of the new or migrated blogs has its own original name, BTW.

        Also are you seriously suggesting that Freethought Blogs is an original name? For the most part, it’s not even accurate. Have you not visited www dot freethought dot com? Pot meet kettle.

        • Posted August 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          >”Shermer’s choice of name for his blog was, perhaps, a touch unoriginal.”

          That’s because Shermer runs Skeptic Magazine, I suspect. Most of the writers for skepticblog.com are also writers for Skeptic Magazine. The publication has been running since 1992.

          >”For the most part, it’s not even accurate.”

          I look forward to your blogpost that defines “skepticism” then?

          >”Have you not visited www dot freethought dot com?”

          No, because it’s not a previously established blog network that’s got well-known contributors who are highly regarded in freethought, atheism, skepticism, rationalism, et al.

  9. Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    I will go check it out. thanks for the info

  10. Sigmund
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Good to hear this.
    I enjoy reading Debunking Christianity and look forward to reading the others on this new network. They have the benefit of hindsight and may avoid the mistakes that have led others into infighting and petty interpersonal drama.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Loftus has a pretty good discussion of St. Augustine.

    While on the one hand it is true that !*strict*! or full/complete Biblical literalism is a recent position, ancient Christians definitely believed in a real Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden etc. The notion that early Christians thought it was ALL metaphor (a la Karen Armstrong) is a massive overstatement.

    Other early Christian champions of allegorical readings of the Bible are Origen (he found the temperamental character of the Old Testament God embarrassing) and Clement of Alexandria.

    However, the early Christian church also included Biblical literalists such as Basil the Great, and John Chrysostom.

    And although St. Augustine thought we should not use the Bible as a book of science to explain “the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars” etc., he did in fact think the earth was 6000 years old.

  12. Posted August 16, 2012 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    Am I alone in WEIT readers in not having read any of the ‘New Atheist’ books? I get the impression that I would just read through & agree with nearly everything that was written, so would I really learn much that I wouldn’t learn from reading blogs & websites or watching videos on YouTube?

    • Sigmund
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

      None of them?
      I’m tempted to go all Berlinerblau on you!
      What I would recommend is reading Hitchens “The portable atheist”. There is plenty in there that isn’t in the youtube lectures and debates available from the “four horsemen”.

      • Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        I’ll give that a read then, if only to remove your temptation to take up Berlinerblau’s mantle 😉

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      I agree with Sigmund’s recommendation. But I would like to add that some of “new atheist” books can be ENJOYED as good writing. I love Dawkins books particularly for elegant precision ~ not a word wasted, misused or out of place.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      By contrast I rarely find good writing on blogs. Very rare.

      • jwthomas
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        If you don’t require your blog reading to be about atheism or science, and aren’t allergic to political commentary, then try James Wolcott’s blog on the Vanity Fair site.

        • Posted August 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          Thanks ~ I see he’s quite funny & not a fan of the right-wing media so I’ll give him a go

    • chriskg
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

      J.

      Are you saying you haven’t read John’s books either? They are well worth the money and if the “de-conversion” part does not interest you, just skip the first chapter. That’s where the meat of his work rests.

      C.

      • Posted August 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        I have not. I’ll consider it though.

  13. Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    “I rarely find good writing on blogs.” I suppose that’s trivially true, since many bloggers concentrate on cranking out a high volume of short posts. But there is a lot of excellent writing on atheism, skepticism, social issues, and science on the blogs. Let me recommend these:

    Adam Lee’s Daylight Atheism.

    Greta Christina’s Greta Christina’s Blog.

    Eric MacDonald’s Choice in Dying.

    P.Z. Myers is also an excellent writer when he takes the time. I have been particularly moved by his series of essays titled Sunday Sacrilege (this link launches a search on the Freethought Blogs website — for some reason it only returns three posts, although I know there are 25 earlier ones in the series, starting in 2010). [And P.Z., if you’re reading this, please polish these up and publish them as a short book, à la Letter to a Christian Nation.]

    And of course, excellent writing is to be found daily right here on WEIT, but of course, ceci n’est pas un blog.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the Adam Lee link Peter ~ I don’t know him

      I like blog posts best that are built on one simple idea ~ this is because of my limited time & also because the quality of reasoning & writing exhibited by many [but not all] writers tends to plummet when say scepticism & feminism are shoehorned together 🙂
      [BTW I’m for sceptical thinking in feminism when I can find it]

      My quote: “I rarely find good writing on blogs”
      Your reply: “I suppose that’s trivially true, since many bloggers concentrate on cranking out a high volume of short posts”
      I don’t think that it’s “trivially true” that short, frequent posts results in poor writing. Pithy, pertinent posts are a skill & an antidote to the more usual ego-driven windbaggery ~ a perfect post for me is anything by Sigmund [the above commenter] over at Sneer Review.

      Some net writers I admire:- Ethan Siegel, Carl Zimmer, Ed Yong & our dear JAC [‘cept for the free will]. If I have the time I enjoy a dose of James Rosenhouse & the Eric MacD you mention ~ the long length of the latter two are not barriers for me because their reasoning is usually iron clad

      Now here’s my recommendation to you: The work of VEG & her guest posters over at Never Seconds ~ a model of simplicity, good humour & getting-to-the-point…

  14. Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I like John’s blog, but I give it a week before some sort of mishegas goes down between Skepticblogs and FtB.

    • Posted August 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      If I read ‘Skepticblogs’ intentions correctly, then that will probably be a one way conversation.

  15. pjmad
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Color me mystified by all the pearl-clutching about FTB and the passive-agressive tendency to refer generally to “certain corners of the internet”. Uttering PZ’s name doesn’t summon him, if that’s what Loftus is worried about.

    Anyway there’s plenty of room on the internet and the more skeptical voices the better.

    • chriskg
      Posted August 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      If you say his name three times he appears.

      • gsenski
        Posted August 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, at the Donkey Show in Tijuana.

      • hyperdeath
        Posted August 17, 2012 at 3:25 am | Permalink

        Note to Brits: When summoning him, it’s important to get the pronunciation right. The incantation is “Pee-Zee Pee-Zee Pee-Zee”, not “Pee-Zed Pee-Zed Pee-Zed”.

        • lisa
          Posted August 18, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

          Correct pronunciation is vital when doing a Summoning. There’s no telling who you could end up with!

  16. papalinton
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Yes. It is timely for a new site on the web, and Skepticblogs.com is a welcomed addition to the range.

  17. mordacious1
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I recommend this talk by Dr. Cornwell about civility on the internet: http://richarddawkins.net/videos/646781-r-elisabeth-cornwell-at-tam-2012-social-networks-civilizing-the-future

  18. johnnyp76
    Posted August 17, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Second part to the NOMA article is now available:

    http://www.skepticblogs.com/tippling/2012/08/16/goulds-noma-a-thorough-analysis-part-2/

    Cheers

    Jonathan MS Pearce

  19. chriskg
    Posted August 20, 2012 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    Skepticblogs is now on Facebook. That bumps up FB to a status where I can go online without feeling too guilty about it. https://www.facebook.com/SkepticBlogs

    • johnnyp76
      Posted August 20, 2012 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      The more time I use facebook, the more intellectual my usage of it is. I think I am a facebook geek inasmuch as I spend no time fraternising with friends, and all my time debating science and religion!

      Check out my article “Why don’t all animals photosynthesise?”

  20. johnnyp76
    Posted September 8, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Hey guys
    Sorry to bother. Was wondering whether, as purveyors of evolutionary writing, you knew of Baba Brinkman who mixes rap and evolutionary theory. He’s what I would call a genius! He is getting fairly well known now. His lyrics take some beating in the context of the music world.

    If you don’t know him, see what you think:
    http://www.skepticblogs.com/tippling/2012/09/06/bloody-awesome-rap-and-evolution

    http://www.skepticblogs.com/tippling/2012/09/07/darwins-acid/

    I am trying to get an interview with him.

    Jerry, have you featured him here?


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