Adam Lee has lost it

One of the most despicable attacks on Richard Dawkins in recent years (and that’s saying a lot!) has been posted at the Guardian; it’s by Adam Lee, atheist blogger who writes at “Daylight Atheism”. I won’t bother to dissect it in detail because reading it makes me ill. Dissing Richard is a regular thing at the Guardian these days, and there’s no shortage of unbelievers willing to answer the call. Lee’s piece is called “Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name.” Read it and weep. If you cheer, you shouldn’t be reading this website.

It’s one-sided, quoting only the anti-Dawkins Usual Suspects, and accuses not only Dawkins but Sam Harris of “ignorant sexism.” To do so, Lee relies on quotes that have been cherry-picked by people determined to bring down Richard and Sam.  Rather than distress my lower mesentery by going through the piece, I’ll post the remarks of one commenter:

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 11.40.39 AM

It’s time to end this relentless and obsessive hounding of Dawkins and Harris. People actually comb through Richard and Sam’s Twi**er feeds, looking for blog fodder: things they can use to smear these guys. Don’t they have anything better to do?

And let me say this: I am friends with both Richard and Sam, have interacted with them a great deal, and have never heard a sexist word pass their lips. (You may discount that if you wish since I have a Y chromosome, but I speak the truth.) Both have seemed to me seriously concerned with women’s rights, particularly as they’re abrogated by religion, and both have written about that. But does that count? No, it’s all effaced by a few remarks that can be twisted into accusations of sexism and, yes, misogyny, which is “hatred of women.”

These men do not hate women, and their opponents are ideologues.  Michael Nugent, head of Atheist Ireland and one of the most conciliatory atheists I know, has tried reaching out to those who denigrate Richard and Sam, asking for dialogue and requesting that the hounders behave like civilized human beings—as Nugent himself always has. No dice. For trying to be conciliatory, Nugent has been, and is being, vilified. It’s disgusting. I feel sorry for the man, who is learning the hard way that good intentions are not enough to stay a pack of baying hounds.

I’m not particularly concerned about the Death of the Atheist Movement, because I think religion is dying on its own, with or without these petty squabbles. But if there is anyone who is damaging whatever unity exists among nonbelievers, it is not Richard or Sam, but those who try to rip to pieces anyone with whom they disagree.

I have refrained from entering these squabbles, as I don’t want to run a drama site, but enough is enough. We will now return to our usual schedule.

****

UPDATE: If you want to see the many inaccuracies and prejudicial writing in Lees’s piece (note that neither I nor Richard [in the comments] accused Lee of “lying”), they are totted up by Michael Nugent in his piece,  “Adam Lee’s misleading Guardian article about Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the atheist movement.

 

578 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I am reminded, yet again, of the French revolutionaries once they began to purge each other. It is shameful.

    • s.k.graham
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      THIS!

      I can’t count how many times I have had similar thoughts ever since “elevatorgate”.

      • Leigh
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think you should be so dismissive of women. There is a problem; ignoring it does not make it dissappear.

        • strongforce
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          Leigh, please explain how s.k.g’s comment was dismissive of women?

          • Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:36 am | Permalink

            The radical (now orthodox) element of feminism in supposedly rationalist communities is an embarrassment to rational and intelligent women. They attempt to make “feminist” and “woman” synonyms, and stretch this further to assert that being anti-radical feminism is misogyny. It isn’t.

            They are (to borrow Haiht’s metaphor on the moral sense) a herd of stampeding elephants with no riders.

            • Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:02 am | Permalink

              *Haidt – as in Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind

    • s.k.graham
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      In the French Revolution, people were afraid of jail (or worse) simply for not cheering for the party line enthusiastically enough.

      • Chewy
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        It was vastly more complicated than that.

      • ealloc
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        That’s right! But thankfully the worst Dawkins & Harris can expect is some verbal criticism.

        • Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          Given the threats that Beard and Sarkeesian received, that might not be true …

          /@

    • Mary Drake
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      And I am reminded of Berkeley in the 60s. Talk about walking on eggs. I was actually more comfortable around the conservative students because I didn’t have to worry about every single word I said. The most innocent comment could end friendships with the liberal students. I never did get the hang of being pc, and I still haven’t. I wish I had been then like Richard Dawkins is now – brave. I don’t always like what he says, but I admire him about as much as I have ever admired a public figure.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Ah, yes, the oxymoronically named Free Speech Movement. 😀

        • GBJames
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

          In 1964 there was a ban on political activity by students at the University of California-Berkeley. The ban existed to protect the political interests of right-wing contributors. The movement was not oxymoronically named. The protests were as much about free speech as any reaction to the banning of political activity ever was.

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

            You’re right. In my defense, you know what they say about the 60’s… 😉

      • Henry Fitzgerald
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Don’t feel too bad – in his autobiography Dawkins expresses regret that he wasn’t particularly brave at Berkeley in the 60s, either.

        It’s as a result of thinking about this recent ritual flaying that I think I’ve finally understood what’s going on with that “walking on eggs” feeling, which has troubled and puzzled me most of my life. I believe it’s an “Emperor’s New Clothes” thing.

        The key point of the story, often lost when people describe it, is that the king and his subjects have been told that failing to see the clothing is evidence of some lack of insight on their part; it means they’re either stupid or unfit for their office. Similarly, if you can get across the idea that failing to see someone else’s lack of progressiveness is such a failure of perception on your own part that is itself evidence of a lack of progressiveness, you can work wonders in crowd control. What’s more, people will internalise the deception in a way they couldn’t in Anderson’s story. Not wanting to appear unprogressive will only motivate people up to the point where compliance becomes difficult; not wanting to be unprogressive will continue to motivate long afterwards.

        Unfortunately, what helps keep this meme alive is that it is indeed possible to fail to see bigotry as a result of one’s own bigotry. (Sometimes, one’s failure to see the Emperor’s clothing is indeed one’s own fault.)

  2. Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    This is not new. He lost it a few years ago when he sided with the Usual Suspects on ‘Dear Muslima’.

    • mordacious1
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure if I know what you mean by “He lost it…”. What did he lose?

      • natalielaberlinoise
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I suppose “he” stands for Adam Lee. And “it” migh refer to a sense of propriety that was lost. (Just a wild guess)

        • mordacious1
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Ah, If I read it that way, it makes sense. Thanks.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      So Adam Lee lost it (your respect?) when he chastised Dawkins over “Dear Muslima”. Did he gain it back when Dawkins apologized for that comment?

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        You (and Lee) claims Dawkins has “apologized” for a comment that now rests with the fishes. [Maybe a Wayback trawl can bring it back.]

        Lee’s claim links back to this article of Dawkins. But there is no apology there!

        What Dawkins says which may or may not address a comment about muslims is this:

        “There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.”

        There are three obvious problems with claiming this as an apology:

        – No apology is issued.

        – Dawkins says that he is sorry to have invited an interpretation of a comment (“contemplating … by comparison”). The context, the whole article, makes it clear that it was an erroneous interpretation as “belittling”. That is, Dawkins is sorry for making an unclear comment.

        – The context makes it clear that Dawkins is yet again underwriting the core of his comment (however it was expressed): “But maybe you get the point? If we wish to insist (in the face of judicial practice everywhere) that all examples of a sexual crime are exactly equally bad, perhaps we need to look more carefully at exactly who is belittling what.”

        This isn’t an apology. It isn’t a not-pology. It is clarifying and verifying that the initial comment (whatever it was) stands.

  3. Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I generally respect Lee and his opinions, but when I saw this I was seriously taken aback.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Just wanted to add that I’ve tried commenting on his most recent post, and it seems he’s only allowing comments through moderation that agree with his position or praise him. So much for free and open exchange of ideas.

      • Mike
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        It`s either censorship there or getting called all kinds of insults by his horde.

        Also Blog writers who don`t agree with the boss get kicked out (e.g. Thunderf00t). So others know this and everybody keeps in line.

        This really reminds me of communism. Started with best intentions (sharing, well being of everyone, working together) but after some time the power hungry take over and corrupt the system.

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          I think you’re confused about where “there” is. Lee blogs on Patheos, not FTB.

          /@

          • Mike
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

            The group thinking is on FTB. Adam`s story originated from the drama there and contains their arguments.

            So even though Adam wrote the article, the sources are mostly FTB and their Twitter accounts.

            • Mike
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

              Just read his comment again: Guess you were right as he was talking about Patheos.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

            Even certain blogs at Patheos are like FTB. The other day I commented on Sarah Jones’ article dismantling the very core of her argument and pointing out her hypocrisy. I did it very politely, no swear words, no name-calling, no strident language. She let it stay for 3 – 4 minutes. Then it started getting many up-votes and then – gone. The other comment, praising her, was allowed to stay.
            Ironically, one of her arguments in the article was that she’s all for free speech. Yet she couldn’t let an alternative point of view stay, lest people see through what she had written. All this is in direct contravention to what liberalism once stood for. Sad.

            • brendan reid
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

              Hey Ruthlessrecluse – can you copy and paste your deleted post here – was it on nonprophet status? (unless jerry has roolz against that sort of thing)

              I am ever amazed by the accommodation of that faithiest blog. Its almost as if its on the wrong patheos channel. I have to wonder, do they have spouses or parents who are still religious that they don’t want to offend or something? It’s astounding how they’ll tie themselves up in knots and make excuses and call a poster strident or militant or some such if a reader says as much as the emperor has no clothes on

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

                brendan,

                I’m sorry. But I posted it a few days ago and it was a rather lengthy comment. I didn’t keep a copy as I didn’t think it would be deleted.

        • Gary
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely. The whole social progressive movement absolutely reaks of the ills of communism.
          It’s very pure in intention, there’s no doubt about that. But human beings just aren’t very good at genuinely caring about people who have no real connection to them. However, we’re really good at signalling as IF we do. (i.e political correctness)
          I’d say it’s almost a certainty that any movement that claims to be about equality and diversity will eventually degenerate into totalitarianism of some kind as the most powerful and influential among them will take advantage of the generosity of others to further their own positions.

      • Alejandro
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        Just wanted to confirm this. I have gotten plenty of comments deleted too and its not something new there. When it comes to feminism and SJW issues, Adam constantly deletes comments critical of his position. At one point I think he said that he didn’t want to give misogynistsa platform to express their ideas or something like that (beause, you know, anyone who disagrees with feminist on any gender issue must hate women by default).

  4. anon
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    My education isn’t as good as GBJames, so uh,

    I am reminded, yet again,

    of the Twilight Zone episode “The Monsters are due on Maple Street”

    and the original 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (the ending here: (warning *Spoilers) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuL2QwsNeM8)

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      and the original 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (the ending here: (warning *Spoilers)

      This time it’s the pod-people attacking the good guys for being cold and unemotional.

      Don’t sleep.

    • s.k.graham
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      wow.. this is the 2nd comment that matches a comparison I had thought of many times through all this. Along with French Revolution, I also found myself comparing this zealous with-hunt type of attack to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, specifically thinking of the ending — except I had the 1978 version in mind.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Lee’s the finger-wagging Sutherland at the end.

        Or the dog with the tramp’s head.

  5. ScienceAdmirer
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Hear, hear. The violent shouting down of any who dissent from a small group’s rather narrow views is not reasoned debate but the politics of despair.

    • Muggus
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Violent? Verbal disagreement, even passionate verbal disagreement, is exactly what we encourage with skepticism and rationalism. In what way is it an outrage that people expressed frustration or even revulsion in regard to a tweet or an argument?
      The hyperbole of calling that violent is unhelpful, especially when many of those disagreeing with Dawkins on the blogosphere and on Twitter were doing so while pointing out how those positions had historically harmed people with actual violence (and continue to do so as victim-blaming and little understanding of consent is dishearteningly prevalent throughout society).
      Passionate disagreement is not shouting down; it’s exactly what we want to see more of in society! Think for a moment of how absent this type of discourse is in religious traditions. We don’t all have to agree for this to be progress, and I hate to see us doing a disservice to all of that progress (much of which we owe to Richard!) by calling rational disagreements witch hunts, or labeling those who disagree with us as “thought police.”

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        What would you call it when verbal disagreement blossoms into calls for boycott, disenfranchisement from speaking tours and meeting panels, and campaigns to get them fired from their paid employment?

        And what might you think of popular bloggers who let their comments section be overrun with hundreds of such frenzied comments, never said a word to discourage that behavior, and then take refuge behind the defense that they themselves never said such a thing?

        Are these also the types of things “we encourage with skepticism and rationalism” or is this just an ugly mob?

        • eric
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

          And what might you think of popular bloggers who let their comments section be overrun with hundreds of such frenzied comments, never said a word to discourage that behavior, and then take refuge behind the defense that they themselves never said such a thing?

          I would think nothing positive or negative of them at all. They don’t police their blog. Very well, that’s data for me to consider when it comes to deciding whether to post responses or read them. But IMO hosters are not under any sort of moral obligation to police the comments that are made on their site. And for someone like Dawkins, given the traffic he generates, such a policing effort might be practically impossible.

          I wonder under what ethical or moral framework you could hold him responsible for that behavior. If Alice publishes an Op-Ed, and in response Bob publishes a nasty letter to the editor in the same paper, in what way is Alice morally culpable for Bob’s comment? That makes no sense to me.

  6. colnago80
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    It’s rather sad that PZ Myers has joined the let’s bash Dawkins brigade.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Dawkins apparently tweeted something critical of PZ a while back, so maybe PZ returned the favor.

      • Mike
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

        PZ attacked Dawkins many years before (“elevatorgate”) and since then Dawkins is a frequent target in PZ`s network of blogs.

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I’d forgotten about that. They used to be buddies…they went to see “Expelled” together. I inferred that PZ liked the reflected glory and wouldn’t willingly damage that relationship.

          • Mike
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

            They also had a video discussion in 2008 https://richarddawkins.net/2008/07/pz-myers-discussion-810-richard-dawkins/ but at that time PZ didn`t have his blog network and Dawkins was useful to him.

          • Solius
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            I have said it before, but much as Vadier casually chatted with Robespierre on the morning of his arrest, these Jacobin cutthroats will dispatch anyone daring to have a opinion different than theirs… and they will suffer the same fate as their bloodlust will lead to them feasting upon themselves.

            • Liam
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

              I generally think of them more as the Enragés, far to the left of the Jacobins or even the Sans-Coulottes. And also lacking a coherent set of principles compared to the more moderate counterparts. Plus the name is fitting. Though maybe “Outragés” would be closer.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      I’ve stopped going to Myers’s site because of his hounding of Dawkins and his i tolerance of views that are in the slightest unlike his, it seems. Shame, because he had some good things to say but recently my take away message wasn’t pleasant. He’s become boring and boorish.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        My interest in following science blogs began with PZ’s site many years ago. I also credit him with enlarging my views about being more open about my atheism, and for advocating humanism and more recently on advocating feminism. I credit him with my being proud to say that I too am a feminist. I will always be grateful for that.
        That said, I do agree with you on how he has gone off-balance with feminism. The slightest perception of an infelicitous comment by someone in our community is whooped and hollered at with a tone of triumph by PZ, and echoed by his many sycophants. It is sadly ugly.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          ” I credit him with my being proud to say that I too am a feminist.”

          Feminist men are the only way we’re going to make any progress, so glad you’re among the ranks.

          Wish po-mo crap wasn’t distorting & destroying the original message.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I agree! Feminism needs men!

            • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

              Count me in. But not with PZ.

          • Diane Langworthy
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            What is po-mo?

            • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

              What is po-mo?

              Post modernism. An intellectual movement characterised by radical skepticism towards Western thought which used to be trendy in France back when Don Johnson posed equally valid challenges to epistemology by going sockless in Miami Vice.

              If you even get my cultural references Adam Lee thinks you are too old to voice an opinion.

              • Mark Sturtevant
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

                Thanks! I was wondering too.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

                “…when Don Johnson posed equally valid challenges to epistemology by going sockless in Miami Vice.”

                LOL!

                Alas, I think it’s hardly that dated, although it’s refreshing to know it’s an unfamiliar term to some now.

              • Diane Langworthy
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

                Thanks!

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

            I would have thought of myself as a feminist, but I must admit I get confused about the different kinds of feminism. Richard Dawkins recommends Christina Hoff Sommers as a feminist author, but other feminists deprecate her as an anti-feminist.

            Who, today, defines or represents the “real” feminism?

            I’m not seeking an essay in response! But perhaps some pointers towards useful blogs – um, websites – or books.

            /@

            • s.k.graham
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

              Go with the dictionary definition of ‘feminist’.

              Too often, when you argue with PZ et al on a feminist topic, they will throw the dictionary definition in your face and say “what is wrong with that?” or “why are you against that?” Of course, you are not against that.

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

                Which dictionary? 😉

                /@

              • Zwirko
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

                Yet when Atheism+ appeared they used the reverse argument: “Dictionary Atheist!” was a frequent battle cry.

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

              You know, Ant, that’s very tough to answer. A few decades ago I might have been able to point to certain people or organizations, but for some time now I’ve ignored organized feminism.

              I suspect there are many others like me–we’ve found we can express ourselves through our votes and through our donations and through what we teach our children. There are right-minded politicians, there are people like the Gaylors and Hirsi Ali and Jacoby, there are women making statements via their actions, their work, or maybe just by speaking up when appropriate. It’s rather like the way I still consider myself a liberal, but you won’t find me at any such self-identified organization.

              Well, that’s me now. Other women will probably have different answers.

            • Denise
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

              Who represents the real feminism? No one, of course. Feminism is the advocacy of equal rights for women. How could anything that broad not encompass a whole range of positions on all sorts of issues? How could anyone claim to represent all of them?

              As a feminist, as a liberal, as an environmentalist, as a Jew, as an atheist, as a senior citizen, as a civil libertarian – no one speaks for me. I have beliefs in common with people who describe themselves similarly, but I have differences with all of them as well. I speak with my own voice.

              No matter what the label, it’s lazy to think the loudest voices define it. The loudest voices are just the loudest. In some cases they’re the stupidest as well.

              In my opinion, that’s what’s been going on with the whole “rape culture” discussion. A lot of colossally stupid things are being said.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

                Well said, Denise.

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

                Yes, well said. Thank you for that insight.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I used to read PZ several times a day, but my attitude changed almost instantly after he posted a story about a restaurant owner who displayed a sign on his shop during a skeptic convention saying atheists weren’t welcome. The owner had an almost immediate change of heart and apologized profusely, but PZ’s reaction was “F*CK YOU”. I thought that behavior was very tacky and not even very smart.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          I remember that. Hope I recall correctly.. the restaurant owner was a very ordinary sort without higher education. He actually seemed like a nice man, but he made an honest mistake and corrected it. I would eat there.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

            “I would eat there.”

            Me too. We should reward changes in behavior. And show our Chri^H^H^H^H secular forgiveness.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        I used to like the squid pics.

      • aljoc
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        I also went to Myer’s site frequently, but I stopped when he started attacking Dawkins in such a ridiculous way. The only FT blog that I follow now is Aron Ra. Myers is a bit like a driver who is perfectly polite until he gets behind the wheel then becomes completely crazy, a Jekyll and Hyde character.

        • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

          I stopped when the commentary slid into the gutter.

          When an acceptable reply to a dissenting opinion became, “F— YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!”

          Complete waste of time.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        I stopped going to PZ’s site long before he took aim at Richard Dawkins, simply because every discussion seemed to turn into a shitfight and then a witch-hunt. It seemed to me that the commenters had lost all sense of humour and proportion and were starting to look like a witch-burning religious mob. ‘Tear him for his bad verses!’

        I suspect this comment infringes one of CC’s roolz but in the current thread I’ll risk making it…

        • Bater
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:12 am | Permalink

          Same for me.

          Back when Thunderf00t was expelled from FTB and as the discussions there shifted towards ugliness, misrepresenting peoples views, giving the worst interpretation to (even mildly) dissenting views and generally encouraging a mob mentality that silenced dissent, I thought “this is not the place for me nor something I want to encourage, I’m an atheist specifically because I was exposed to open, free and thought provoking arguments”

          And I stopped reading FTB, delete the link and was done with the likes of PZ.

          I accept that people define “Atheist culture” as many different things, but for me, it should first be about encouraging the free exchange of ideas, even (perhaps especially) those ideas critical of our most cherished beliefs and values.

    • mordacious1
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Joined? He’s leading the charge.

    • SQuiller
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Why? Myers has been bashing people for years, sometimes with disregard for the facts and your average fan was rather too taken with the mask of intellectual integrity his status as a scientist gave him.

      This is typical Lee and he is far from unique. It irks me that this kind of dishonest, disingenuous and destructive rhetoric has been going on for three years without pushback by prominent names who prefer to take a pox on both their houses stance. “If only they’d listen to each other and debate constructively” they say. Until they become the targets and learn that you can’t reason with people for whom the only acceptable response is capitulation and eternal subservience. The ideological nature of the SJW drive should have been identified and neutralised right at the outset. Unfortunately there are a few too many ‘skeptics’ out there who have been either cowed into silence or are so full of themselves that they think it’s beneath them to get involved in the ‘politics’. Thing is, it is not political, it’s about subjecting your beliefs to scrutiny and honesty in debate and about tacking unwarranted baggage onto the label ‘atheist’. IOW it is an argument about the core principles of skepticism.

      “No, it’s all effaced by a few remarks that can be twisted into accusations of sexism and, yes, misogyny, which is “hatred of women.” “. The SJW brigade eschew dictionaries when it suits. Misogyny means whatever definition suits them at the time. Anything from being unaware of the microaggressions you are guilty of by not divining a woman’s feelings to bombing a womens’ shelter. One minute they are assigning collective responsibility to all men for stopping rape and when challenged they claim their feminism is all about women being recognised as people too. You can’t have any meaningful dialogue when the opposition play fast and loose with definitions.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Myers lost his hinges years ago.

    • Marella
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      I am afraid that PZ has rather let “fame” go to his head. He used to be far more rational. I don’t go there any more, but if he’s getting stuck into Richard then things are even worse than I thought. How childish. Picking pointless fights with others over minor disagreements in order to aggrandize himself is a self defeating policy. In the end he’ll be remembered for all the people he hated, not for all the religion he debunked.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think he is ‘popular’ outside of his circle.

        Big fish, small pond; he’s like the kid who thinks he’s popular until he leaves school and realises nobody gives a damn how many touchdowns he scored or who he took to the prom.

        • Marella
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          Maybe he realised he’d got as famous as possible being rational and decided to move on to demonizing the more famous to try to take the next step. I used to frequent Pharyngula; in the early days he was very good, but he lost the plot after the first Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne where I met him. By the second one he was a different person, standoffish and on the way to being an arsehole. Maybe the stress of fame for someone who’d previously just been a minor biology professor, was too much. It is sad, but of course he had no free will about how it would pan out. 😉

      • Scote
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

        “Marella on September 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm
        I am afraid that PZ has rather let “fame” go to his head. He used to be far more rational. I don’t go there any more,”

        Yeah, he’s really too full of himself now. Phyrangula used to be my go to blog. Not anymore. He’s exchanged rationalism for hair trigger outrage. And he isn’t as versatile as he thinks, as shown by his awful book of warmed over blog posts – I had hoped he’d write a real book even as my interest in him was waning.

        • Vaal
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

          “He’s exchanged rationalism for hair trigger outrage.”

          That is a very concise way of summing up the gist of PZ’s site now.

          I stopped visiting quite a while ago and it’s fascinating to read just how many people came to the same conclusion.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      “Joined the bash Dawkins brigade”? He was one of its orignators.

    • Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      Yup, count me to the growing crowd of people who once read PZ with pleasure, but are now totally appalled by what he grew into: a boorish, arrogant, take-no-prisoners warrior fighting everything that’s not in line with his views.
      Pathetic to see a grown and well educated man behave so childish. It’s sad.

      I still check him out every now and then, but I usually regret it afterwards.

      In fact he recently attacked exactly the stance that Jerry took in this post .. to quote PZ:

      “I’m going to have to insist that either you have [Adam] Lee arrested right now for lying, or everyone is going to have stop making those accusations on blogs or on twitter”

      So he’s telling Jerry what not to blog about, which is against the Roolz! Doesn’t he know the Roolz? (Okay, he didn’t post it on Jerry’s website, but still)

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

        “Yup, count me to the growing crowd of people who once read PZ with pleasure, but are now totally appalled by what he grew into: a boorish, arrogant, take-no-prisoners warrior fighting everything that’s not in line with his views.”

        I find that this might be a bit of willful blindness from your part. Remember, PZ Myers was the guy who stirred up the Catholics by manhandling a cracker. He’s always been a boorish, arrogant, take-no-prisoners warrior fighting everything that’s not in line with his views. PZ didn’t change his style. People like it when they agree with him and are annoyed when they don’t.

        • GBJames
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          I think your example is poorly chosen. “Manhandling” a cracker while simultaneously “desecrating” a copy of The God Delusion was a clear statement that ideas deserve no special respect. This is rather different, it seems to me, from the hair-trigger outrage responses he’s been focused on in recent times.

          • Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:24 am | Permalink

            Different ideas in question. I agree with the general sentiment from Ophelia’s side on this, but I cannot follow the discussion over all the different social media to corroborate both sides’ claims to my satisfaction. However from what I see, PZ’s attitude hasn’t changed, his targets have.

            • microraptor
              Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, I think that sounds like a pretty fair assessment of the situation.

            • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

              How long have you been looking at his site?

              It’s wildly different than it was when I started viewing it. Hugely less rational than it used to be.

              And the comments section? Why bother looking?

  7. Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    The dogmatic purity demands and hair-trigger hypersensitivity of some people in the atheism movement remind me all too much of the religion I left after forty-odd years. Preachers in one schismatic branch of a nineteenth-century awakening movement of Scandanavian Lutheranism condemn those in a competing branch as heretics, for reasons nobody can clearly articulate.

    I was reading through comments today on another popular atheism website, and the infantile vitriol was just disgusting. With friends like those, Sam and Richard and others who dare to (gasp!) speak their minds are probably asking, who needs enemies?

    • Marella
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      It is exactly the same impulse to be more holy or pure than others, that leads to this foolish behaviour. The urge to outdo one’s supposed comrades leads to one-up-manship and finally war as disagreements become crimes. The religious are at least prepared to forgive; any act of repentance by an atheist is just as likely to lead to fresh recriminations that it wasn’t sufficiently contrite. People need to read “Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind” and then apply it to others as well. If you can’t be friends with anyone who ever made a mistake you’re going to be damned isolated.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Another good read might be, “Mistakes were made, but not by me.” I see so many of these huge rifts developing from what starts out as a fairly minor disagreement, then grows until people just get so entrenched with their side of things they feel they can’t reconsider or compromise without losing face.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

          Yes. Somebody has got to admit when they are wrong. I see no sign of that in this situation, however.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

        “The religious are at least prepared to forgive;”

        Well, certainly some of them are. I’d just guess that forgiveness (and charitable instincts generally) are a facet of individual character and probably not closely correlated with religiosity or lack of.

      • eric
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        It is exactly the same impulse to be more holy or pure than others, that leads to this foolish behaviour. The urge to outdo one’s supposed comrades leads to one-up-manship and finally war as disagreements become crimes.

        I think such behavior is hard to stop in any movement, but it has more to do with good intentions than an attempt to one-up. The people who are activist are, almost by definition, the folks who give a very high priority to action and speech on their issue. The nonactivist supporters, again almost by definition, are the ones who give a lower priority to action and speech on the issue at hand (often in a “yes I’d like to do more, but I have bills to pay…” sort of way). I think there is always going to be some friction between the two groups, with the activists seeing the less activist supporters as not prioritizing a critical issue high enough, and the nonactivist supporting feeling as if they are being pounded or harangued unfairly for not contributing enough when they are, in their minds, doing what they can.

        The result is a lot of good caring people fighting, because they have different priorities and the nature of a high priority issue is such that, psychologically, we often feel like others are making a big mistake if they don’t prioritize issues the same way we do. And I think the pattern repeats itself in pretty much any movement where you have a core set of people who are highly activist and a broader range of peoeple who are far less activist. There’s always going to be friction between the two.

  8. Kevin
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    In 2000 years no one will remember an iota of this nonsense, they will only remark that this was the century that broke the spell of religion. Dawkins and Harris, among many others, will have the privildge to be remembered for being an integral part of this awakening.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      There will be deep rifts between the Dawkins historicists and the Dawkins mythicists!

      /@

      • dan
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        except dawkins actually wrote stuff down. Unlike some cough cough

        • Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:31 am | Permalink

          2000 years from now… who can say what will survive? But don’t read too much into what was an essentially facetious comment.

          /@

  9. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    A male will engage in any discussion of feminism at his own peril.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Oh please.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        I rest my case. 😉

        • Grania Spingies
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

          What, I have you running scared now?
          Who knew I had such powerz 🙂

          But seriously, yes I am aware that some people try underhanded ways of shutting conversations down. The only response is to not let them.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            What is it about Greg’s comment made you say “Oh please.” ?

            • Grania Spingies
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

              I dislike generalisations and over-simplifications.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

                It isn’t an overgeneralization. It is a description of what actually happens.

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

                Sure, so do I, but do you disagree with what he said? If so, why?

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

              The way he blithely characterizes any and all feminists.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

                But, if you look again, you’ll see that he didn’t.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

                Well, the modifier “any” seems pretty all-inclusive to me.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

                As in “any and all feminists”?

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

                Yes.

              • Philip.Elliott
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

                Agreed

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:58 am | Permalink

                “The way he blithely characterizes any and all feminists.”

                This is the sort of problem I was alluding to…searching for an insult in the blandest of statements.

                My comment pertained to discussions, not feminists, when I said “any discussion”. And this short sub thread proves the point.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

                I wasn’t searching for an insult, I was supporting Grania. Who wasn’t searching for an insult, either.

      • GBJames
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Greg is right, Grania. These folk are so intensely toxic that they unfortunately silence natural allies who happen to be male, white and “old “. I’m one.

        • Grania Spingies
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I am aware of that and I know exactly what you mean. But then the case isn’t that men can’t talk about feminism, it is that in certain circles only certain viewpoints are accepted. So it is overstating the case to say you can’t talk about it. You are both here, talking about whatever you want.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

            “You are both here, talking about whatever you want.”

            You’re right, it’s not a physical silencing of us, but it is a bit of a social silencing. Those of us who support feminist causes are shocked when we get lumped in with all the others who want to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

            • Grania Spingies
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

              Yes, I know and I agree with you. I also know that it is pretty horrifying being vilified for asking perfectly legitimate and reasonable questions. But I have seen it happen to women as well as men in the last few years. It is not only men who have felt silenced by this.

            • Mark Sturtevant
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

              Gender power is a tricky issue. But a male who says at the very start that they will get push-back about even bringing up feminism is sort of asking for push-back, aren’t they?

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

                Perhaps, unless it causes the normal sources of push-back to engage in a bit of self reflection.

                But my words of wisdom were really directed toward males.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

                Oh, that helps, Greg. 😀

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

              “You’re right, it’s not a physical silencing of us, but it is a bit of a social silencing.”

              I’ll refrain from noting that “social silencing” is a big part of what women would like to overcome themselves. Oh, wait.

              We don’t make as much noise, but there a still many (now) old-school feminists, men and women, who abjure the po-mo crowd.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

                There’s a fallacy on display here.

                The existence of various forms of discrimination against women does not negate the fact that what you call “the po-mo crowd” has effectively managed to silence many of the old-school feminists who are disqualified by virtue of age, gender, and sexual orientation.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                I would never say they had. In fact, I thought I’d been saying exactly that about “the po-mo crowd.”

      • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        That was kind of my reaction too, Grania (as a possessor of a Y chromosome.) That is: I agree with your eye-roll to Greg’s comment.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      From a certain male’s comment in response to another male’s dismissive Youtube video posting about Rebecca Watson, I gather that a female will engage in any discussion of “masculinism” at no less such a peril.

      (One never hears the word “masculinism” mentioned. Is it because it is synonymous with the status quo which apparently has always obtained? Spell check recognizes “feminism,” but not “masulinism.” 😉 )

      To presume to censor his dulcet comment a bit, he said words to the effect that she needed to shut her “—- holster.”

      I haven’t exhaustively read or listened to Ms. Watson, but have her opinions been so provoking as to warrant that sort of noble, congenial response? What sweet such sentiments I’ve heard Ms. Watson herself utter have been her quoting males’ comments directed at her.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        One never hears the word “masculinism” mentioned. Is it because it is synonymous with the status quo….

        Maybe it’s because it’s too hard to say.

        😀 rimshot!

  10. Grania Spingies
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Agreed. I am disgusted by the behavior of those who claim to be promoting feminism by feverishly poring over sentence fragments to see if they can be parsed into meaning something that fits their narrative of suspicion. How any of them think they are actually improving anything for women by trying to convert the arena of ideas and debate into a safe room for infants is beyond me.

    • Connor
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Victim-blamer! (I’m kidding; others would not be. +1 to your point)

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      +2

    • Wisethat
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:13 am | Permalink

      What very sane & nail on the head words!
      + n

    • Diane Langworthy
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:20 am | Permalink

      So very well-stated!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Well said.

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      » Grania Spingies:
      feverishly poring over sentence fragments to see if they can be parsed into meaning something that fits their narrative of suspicion

      That is very well put! I have been thinking about, and looking for, something like this for a while, so thank you! 🙂

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Standard creationist tactics: Quote mining, cherry picking and confirmation bias.

        /@

    • eric
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      For some reason this reminds me about good management practices in a business. When an employee screws up, it is rarely the ‘right move’ to excoriate them in public. You wait for the appropriate time and discuss the error in private. You negotiate a future solution so it doesn’t happen again, and you move on. And when you do this, you aren’t giving the employee some special treatment or some sort of unfair bye. You do it because it’s the most time-tested effective way of getting the business back on track. The blogosphere could learn something from this, I think.

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Very nicely and succinctly said, Grania.

  11. Connor
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for ‘coming out’ and posting on this Jerry. These webdramaz only serve to reinforce what a powerful force for evil narrow-minded ideologues can be.

    Sadly, I fear that the Thought Police will only use your truth-telling as an opportunity to create clickbait posts on ‘another old, white, anti-women penis-owner’.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Well, we’ve got plenty of women (and perphaps, male feminists) here to answer back.

      (Not that I think it wise to engage in any dialogue with the attention seekers…)

  12. David Jones
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Well said. I am convinced these articles are only published for “click bait”. I managed to refrain from clicking on the latest “outrage”. It is all becoming a bit tiresome.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh no! Not the “click bait” accusation. More dangerous quagmires lie down that path… 

      /@

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    The latest bashing of Sam Harris in particular really bothered me. I think it’s because he’s one of the last people I would label sexist. The people putting on these shit shows are driving many people away. How many have they silenced? I’m sure they don’t care because it leaves room for them to basque in their own infamy, instead of actually saying something others may find interesting to discuss.

    It is ironic that Sam and Richard get this crap because the two of them are the most thoughtful and polite people when you see them interact with people of quite the opposite disposition.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I think what bothered me about the attacks on Harris was that we’d been told for years that atheism was dominated by men because it is too ‘aggressive’ or too ‘analytical’ and it should be more ‘conciliatory’ and ‘compassionate’ – yet when Harris said his work probably appeals more to men because it’s aggressive and analytical he’s attacked for ‘gender essentialism’.

      • Les
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        At a dinner party I attended tonight, the most vocally anti-religious were women rightfully distressed over women relegated to subservient roles in major religions. Probably there are more women atheists than men. No gods exist that made those rules.

        • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

          Except — that polls consistentnyl show women are generally more relgiious than men.

          Hey, bring on the women atheists, please! They have more to gain than anyone. I hope their numers grow and grow!

    • Coldthinker
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      As much as I’ve learned from PZ’s Pharyngula, the first thing that started turning me off was the insistence on abusive language and vicious personal attacks. Usually the polite wishes to keep the conversation civil were met by the “tone troll” argument. Meaning, if you in any way bring up the tone used in a conversation, it proves that the content of your message must be wrong.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        As beauty is to the eye of the beholder, likewise tone is to the ear? 😉

      • kelskye
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        The tone-trolling was a real issue there. There were always people who could come on to complain solely about the tone, and when asked to expand on issues, those people would do nothing more than keep that focus on the tone.

        Though that doesn’t excuse the behaviour at all. Pharyngula isn’t really a place for discussion – and sadly it took me far too long to realise that.

    • Cliff Melick
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Meanwhile, Sam’s new book, Waking Up, debuts this week in the #3 spot on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover nonfiction.

      Too bad Lee can’t keep the fantasy confined to his novels and out of his blog.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I saw that and it made me think how that really must irritate his detractors. I

    • Wisethat
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:00 am | Permalink

      Apologies for gate-crashing your discussion Diana but I wish to say that I agree with your assessments of both RD and SH,(plus, of course, mine WEIT host too) though I only know them through their material & public personas.
      Despite telling myself that I may just be becoming too old & cynical, I can’t help feeling that there may well be a hint of thirty pieces of silver about the recent attacks & criticisms of these individuals.
      Rent a Judas?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        No apologies required as it isn’t my discussion per se. 😉

  14. Mike
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    All that outrage comes from PZ`s blog network the freethought blogs (although it`s as “free thinking” as Fox News is “fair and balanced”).

    In the last few weeks over 100 hundred articles have been published there, attacking anyone from James Randi, Shermer, Harris or Dawkins (and countless tweets).

    To my knowledge the only prominent people who openly spoke against these social justice warriors were Harris http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/wrestling-the-troll and Sullivan http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/09/16/the-offense-industry-on-the-offense/ .

    All others are either scared of the SJW attack mob (and for good reason, as one sees how Sam Harris Tweets geds flooded with false accusations and accompanying “News” articles) or don`t seem to care. Otherwise I can`t understand why not more people spoke out for Harris or Dawkins last week.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      I love that troll picture on Sam’s article.

      • Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Thans for the link.

        This ending from Micahel is priceless!:

        “You cannot credibly promote such values in what I have paraphrased as the ethos of ‘You must be more compassionate, you fuckbrained asshole!'”

    • Marella
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Poor Sam, he has suffered grievously at the hands of lesser minds. I think he is unnecessarily fearful of the damage to his reputation. He will be remembered well, and his detractors will be mere footnotes in his biography.

  15. Mike
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    And one of PZ`s puppets went through the Adam Lee article and found that it didn`t had any lies in it.

  16. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    100% yes. I rarely chime in just to say “here here” or “fist bump”, but this is a special case. These outrage assaults have to stop.

  17. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    What one needs to understand is that all this hatred being purposely generated towards Sam and Richard has nothing to do with truth or religion or atheism.

    It’s about stirring up hatred towards men – particularly the white ones – in order to PROFIT by doing this.

    Stirring up this hatred is worth a fortune to many groups of people; such as feminists.

    But Government benefits too, because this hatred is worth billions of dollars to Government, and to the Left e.g. …

    • Susan
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Angry Harry: Question – Does this ridiculous chart and crazy conspiracy theory reflect your views? Do you have evidence?

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, but Angry Harry has left the building–for good.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

          He seems to be one of those ‘Men’s Rights Activists’.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

          Thank you!

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          That’s very un-catlike of you. I’ve watched it happen. They catch something, they play, they play, they play more- and only then is it over.
          I think I’d rather enjoy watching you do that to someone like Mr. Angry.

        • Susan
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          Yeah. Thank you professor ceiling cat!

  18. Bernhard
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    The Taliberal thought police is not just against certain thoughts, it’s against thinking.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Good one. 🙂

  19. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    The horrible attacks that Richard and Sam have had to endure are par for the course when it comes to feminist-inspired man-hatred.

    Politicians, authors, government officials – and, indeed, anyone who dares to state something of which feminists disapprove have been attacked, pilloried, and worse, for at least four decades now.

    Indeed, Professor Murray Strauss has described the types of chicanery in which academics themselves engage in order to support the feminist agenda.

    They include suppressing evidence, hiding data, citing only studies consistent with their agenda, falsifying their conclusions, obstructing publication of articles, blocking funding, demonising other academics and, they “Harass, Threaten and Penalise Researchers who Produce Evidence that Contradicts Feminist Beliefs”.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, angryharry, but the vast majority of feminists aren’t man-haters, so your characterization is simply wrong. And any right-thinking person is a feminist in at least one sense: women should not be discriminated against in any way because of their sex.

      I’d advise you to stop posting at this point or you’ll be banned.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Jerry

        ” And any right-thinking person is a feminist in at least one sense: women should not be discriminated against in any way because of their sex.”

        Totally agree.

        But feminism is no longer about equality. For some time now, it has been an ideology that has been co-opted by various groups – including Govt – to gain power – as per my earlier post.

        There are now NUMEROUS women – including Erin Pizzey (the very founder of the refuge centres for women) and Senator Anne Cools (first black female senator in N America) who are now totally ANTI-feminism as a result of what they have seen. Also Christina Hoff Sommers.

        Feminism is not about equality any more.

        And hasn’t been for a very long time.

        • Mike
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          I don`t think that there is one feminism.

          Yes there are movements like you described but that`s just because they stole the label “Feminism”.

          In our societies women still are not equal in many areas and face discrimination. Still a worthy fight (and yes, there also exist areas where men are discriminated against, something these SJW don`t want to discuss).

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

            The great thing is, I see those discrepancies reported and condemned by men. I never understood feminist movements that sought to exclude men; I always saw men as great allies. But then again, I work in a male dominated profession.

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

              They’re not just allies, they’re pretty much integral to any progress women might achieve.

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

          That’s enough. As the commenter below said, there are many brands of feminism. I asked you to stop posting, and you didn’t. So you will have to be forced to.

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Feminism is like socialism; there really isn’t one kind. Socialism stretches from anarcho-syndicalism to Stalinism and feminism stretches from bog-standard universal suffrage to totalitarian extremes – but most cluster around the ‘equality feminism’ centre just as most socialists settle for a mixed economy and employment rights.

          In any case, I don’t think this is about feminism as much as opportunism. Lee’s article also attacks Dawkind for being white, and if it wasn’t that it would be for his class, his sexual orientation, his able-bodiedness, or the fact he’s still got his own hair (at which point AC Grayling would supersede him as Witch of the Week).

          Feminism is just the field of battle, not the cause.

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            “Feminism is like socialism; there really isn’t one kind.”

            …is like atheism. Much as we might like to insist otherwise.

        • Filippo
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Does the ideology of “masculinism” exist?

      • SQuiller
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        What is feminism? When discussing feminism the first thing you have to do is agree on a definition. There is some truth in what Angryharry is saying, if a tad over the top and generalised. There is an assumption that ‘true’ feminism is all about equality but a perusal of feminist sites paints a different picture, at least for me. Obama swallows bogus statistics about college rape and wage gaps, Marxist inspired gender politics drivel has taken root on many university campuses. Critical analysis of Feminist theory brings vitriolic condemnation. There appears to be something about gender politics that shuts down the critical faculties. Gender warriors have thus far found it far too easy to send in the pitchfork brigade when challenged in much the same way that TBN hustlers pull the wool over the eyes of their flock by invoking Satan when challenged. Erin Pizzey recounts her treatment at the hands of government and academia for challenging feminist dogma. Thing is, it isn’t a new thing. Mainstream Feminism has never been only about true equality. If it was I’d have no problem with it.

        • Filippo
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          As elsewhere, I’ll ask again – does “masculinism” exist? Has it not always been the status quo and reflected by its subordination and subjugation of females?

          • John Scanlon, FCD
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:12 am | Permalink

            It doesn’t exist as an equal-rights movement, obviously. It’s never been needed.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          “Mainstream Feminism has never been only about true equality.”

          Oh, yeah? That’s not how I remember it in the 60’s/70’s.

          • Cliff Melick
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

            Me either.

        • Marella
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          There may be some feminists who desire world domination, but you’d have to agree they are very very far from achieving it, and they will have to go through equality first.

          It is not just gender politics that shuts down people’s critical faculties. Most people can’t cope with being told anything new at all, without panicking. Tell them that the way they’ve lived their lives is unjust and detrimental to the well-being of everyone and they’re going to struggle to take it in. See global warming.

          It’s a nasty shock to discover that completely unconsciously you’ve been perpetrating evil; people don’t want to believe it. Then to be told you have to change your most deep seated assumptions about how to live can be expected to create angry resistance. All social reform movements suffer the same difficulties and for the same reasons.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

          “Obama swallows bogus statistics about college rape and wage gaps..”
          What is bogus about those statistics? I hear those statistics, others say they are not real… What is the truth as you understand it?

          • SQuiller
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

            That the wage gap is about comparing apples and oranges. In as much as there is a wage gap it is down to things like the generally greater willingness of men to sacrifice social life for work and career interruptions for childbirth/raising children (which is an inequality which you could argue needs addressing). I’ve heard it claimed that women with uninterrupted careers have higher salaries than men on average, but I’m not sure about that.

            As regards college rape stats you only have to read the typical questionnaire the ‘studies’ are based on.

            • Mark Sturtevant
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

              Well, lets focus on the wage gap. Unfortunately both you and I have ‘heard’ different things. But I can cite a source, so there.
              It says that the situation is pretty complex. Men tend to work longer hours than women; women are far more likely to enter a job later and leave earlier b/c of child care and caring for elderly parents. So those are factors that cause much of the wage gap, and these penalize women. Too bad they have the ovaries and are responsible for carrying on the human race and basically taking care of loved ones.
              But even if one looks at women who work a 40 hr week, they still earn 88% of a man’s salary. The wage gap between men women becomes negligible only when one uses single women.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

                What’s interesting about this is I read a really good article a few years ago (wish I had saved it) about studies in Europe (forget which country) where they discovered that women were not held back because of children because women without children experienced the same situation. I can attest to that – I’m just as educated and hard working as my male colleagues but moving up is something I’ve given up on (oh, they also say that women often just give up because it’s too much of a struggle and too disappointing to see male colleagues promoted around you constantly).

                The only way they were able to equalize things was to mandate a certain percentage of women in leadership roles – something I abhor. I suspect this approach was successful because of hidden bias – you form an unconscious opinion about what a person in a certain role looks like – you aren’t sexist, it’s just you aren’t exposed to alternatives.

                Still, I hate the thought of forcing things – then you wonder if you were really qualified or if you got the position simply because you have and extra X chromosome & I’m sure others wonder the same, which can lead to resentment.

          • Adam M.
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know about the former, but articles and speeches about the latter topic almost always mention that women only make 75% of what men make while discussing equal pay for equal work. Now it’s true that if you add up the pay for all men and all women, you get something like 75%, but that’s irrelevant to the equal pay for equal work, and it’s bogus to quote that statistic in support of the argument that women get paid less for doing the same jobs. When you actually consider people with the same experience and seniority, working the same number of hours, at the same job at the same company, the pay gap almost entirely vanishes.

            • eric
              Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:44 am | Permalink

              Okay, so the successful women are successful. That’s not a refutation of a gender gap. Another part of it is asking why there are more successful men than women. Why that cohort of ‘women with the same experience and seniority’ is smaller than the cohort of men with the same experience and seniority. Because it isn’t always just about hours worked or output; as Diana says, sometimes you work just as hard and just as long and don’t get promoted.

  20. Larry
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sick of reading these anti Dawkins articles in the Guardian that I’ve decided to stop reading it altogether. It just makes me too angry. And the refusal to accept that ISIS is anything to do with Islam was another factor.

    And a while back, as an experiment I tried to defend Dawkins in the comments section of one of Myers’ posts. Within two posts I was called an asshole and told to fuck off. When I pointed this out I was told that if I didn’t want to be called an asshole I shouldn’t behave like one. Classic

    • mordacious1
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      You didn’t get ban hammered? That’s unusual.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        PZ will let disagreement in the comments. It gives his regulars something to gang up on.

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          He’ll let you post your first comment so his lapdogs will turn on you but he’ll deny you the right of reply.

          He no longer tells people you are banned as he’d rather they thought you’d skulked off with your tail between your legs.

          • Mark Sturtevant
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

            Really?

            • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

              Try it and see.

              • Mark Sturtevant
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

                I will take your word for it. I no longer comment there, and I would rather keep it that way.

  21. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    The brutal truth is that all males are sexist to some degree. The enlightened ones try to recognize that in themselves and consciously correct for those attitudes, but a lifetime of conditioning means that we won’t be totally successful.

    The author of this article no doubt harbors some sexist attitudes himself, maybe far more than he perceives Dawkins to hold. Many people seem to think they can get the reputation for virtue by accusing others of sin.

    I have no doubt that if Dawkins were king of the world, he would make the world a better place for women.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      The author of this article no doubt harbors some sexist attitudes himself, maybe far more than he perceives Dawkins to hold. Many people seem to think they can get the reputation for virtue by accusing others of sin.

      It’s the fucking Guardian; if Dawkins was a Muslim cleric calling for the death of adulteresses Lee would be telling us how it’s all Israel’s fault.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, swore again – but written before Jerry’s reprimand below.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      We all have our biases. We can’t help them but I hope many of them aren’t unconscious biases. I’ve even caught myself thinking “huh, a female doing this – that can’t be right” and I’m a female! I heard that thought and laughed. I worked with mostly males for so long, I was used to seeing males do all the various jobs. That made me wonder how everyone else saw me.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        The idea of gender roles has always baffled me. Why is taking out the garbage and cutting the grass a man’s job? Why can’t I learn to sew or take short hand if I found those skills useful?

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

          I’ve never understood why taking out the garbage is such a big deal. It takes what, 30 seconds?

          Compared with any other household chore the time and effort is negligible.

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

            I know, right?

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          I sew and I crochet, and I’m totally a guy. Screw gender roles – I enjoy doing those things, so I’m going to do them.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I have a telescope, can’t cook and hate sewing. I also hate all the guy jobs. I want to sit on my butt and eat bon bons but I can’t do that either. 🙂

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          The real question is just “why do I have to do this at all?”. 🙂

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            IIRC, it was in The Naked Civil Servant that Quentin Crisp declared, “after three year, the dust doesn’t get any worse.” I’ve sort of latched on to that. 😀

            Or were you referring to producing less garbage?

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

              You got it right – the chores. I hate the chores. I hate them so much, that I farm most of the vacuuming out to two roombas that vacuum daily which leaves me much less vacuuming to do on the weekends. I do have the “meh, good enough” attitude with chores. Enough to be clean but we don’t have to go overboard as there are more things to do in life.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                Sing it, sister!

                😀

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

                🙂

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:35 am | Permalink

                Likewise.

                Then my wife san I get to the point where we think, oh, we’ve been *too* lax, and blitz things. But our long-term attitude doesn’t change.

                /@

              • DrDroid
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

                My wife says she will start vacuuming when she gets a riding vacuum cleaner. :-))

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

                Ha ha! Dyson just came out with a robotic one. Like a Roomba but Dyson. It looks pretty good – you can’t really ride it though but cats ride Roombas all the time.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        The point of science is that it has mechanisms for checking our biases.

        The problem with political bias is that it is immune to evidence; there’s always an alternative interpretation of facts even if you are willing to look at them.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          It doesn’t have to be if we are willing to be honest with ourselves but I think many don’t want to be honest with themselves because it’s too painful.

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I’d agree with your description of the brutal truth, but I’d venture to guess that all people, not just men, tend to be sexist. It’s easy to see other people’s flaws, and I don’t get the impression that feminists are significantly better at finding their own blind spots.

      • Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        I’m totally with you Adam; and I admit to harboring some sexist attitudes (though I doubt anyone who knows me would ever brand me as sexist). I clean a lot (but my wife cleans more.) I do the cooking and almost all the dishes. But she does more than me.

        I was listening to a radio prgram today about sexisim in the engineering world (and believe me, it’s still very alive and well), and the thing that floored me (as it always does) is how the women commentators felt perfectly free to make sweeping generalizations about men. I’m thinking, “really, can you hear yourselves?”

    • glen1davidson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Your claim that all males are sexist would be interesting if you had any evidence for it.

      Lacking said evidence, it’s pretty worthless, save for the polemical value.

      Glen Davidson

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      “The brutal truth is that all males are sexist to some degree.”

      Sexism is a two-way street. Women have to consciously avoid broad-brush views of males as well.

    • Marella
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      “Many people seem to think they can get the reputation for virtue by accusing others of sin.”

      Bingo.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:35 am | Permalink

        A quotation from some guy about “motes” and “beams” goes here.

        /@

      • Jozsef Dallos
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        Unfortunately, in many cases they are right.

  22. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m sick of reading the words ‘white’, ‘male’, ‘heterosexual’ and ‘cis’ thrown around by people like Lee, Myers, Benson and the rest who belong to at least half of those categories themselves.

    And looking at Lee’s picture in The Guardian, surprise, surprise, he’s not a black lesbian wheelchair user.

    And if we’re unlucky he’ll live till Dawkins’ age.

    Privilege means that, all other things being equal, some groups will find life easier than others. All other things being equal, men will find life easier than woman; all other things being equal a white person will find life easier than a black person.

    But life isn’t that simple; all other things usually aren’t equal. People don’t belong to one category, they belong to several which intersect: and women from one ethnic minority are more likely to subject to sexism from members of their own group than wandering packs of cis white heterosexual men; trans* women are as likely to face abuse from cis women; homosexuals can be misogynistic (has anyone seen fucking Vicious, a rape-gag filled sitcom written, starring and targeted at gay men?); feminists can be homophobic; homophobia is higher among ethnic minorities than middle class whites; middle class women can be prejudiced against working class men.

    And privilege is also situational; a black man will find life easier than a black woman – until he meets a cop.

    So ‘privilege’ is a dynamic, orthogonal matrix of power, not a fucking hierarchy.

    Making assumptions when you don’t know where everyone is on every axis of privilege is just fucking ignorant.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Ummm. . . it’s not on to wish somebody to die young at this site. Cursing isn’t really approved of either, though it’s not illegal. But do NOT say you wish somebody will die. In general, this comment could have been made much more civilly.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        I lose my temper when dealing with The Guardian. The UK hasn’t had a genuine liberal newspaper in decades. The sooner that rag folds the better.

        • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          Really? You think it’s better than nothing? I’m not so sure.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            I quit reading it when I realised the only thing that interested me was the sudoku.

            • Adam M.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

              They do have a lot of sensationalist click-bait these days, but I can’t think of a UK news site that’s better. And George Monbiot is the most respectable journalist I know, with articles that are almost uniformly well-researched and well-argued. (That said, you could just read http://www.monbiot.com rather than looking for his articles in The Guardian…)

              • reasonshark
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:09 am | Permalink

                Good catch! Thanks for the link. 🙂

              • John Scanlon, FCD
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:49 am | Permalink

                Excellent, thanks!

  23. mordacious1
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The atheist movement (whatever that is), as all other movements, have people who have reached the mountaintop with their hard work, talent and personality. People such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Coyne, Harris, Ali, etc. have written books and/or run websites, debated, given talks, etc. They have garnered the respect of friends and enemies alike.

    Others would like to be on that mountaintop. But maybe they don’t have the talent or the personality or don’t want to do the work to reach the top of the mountain. Instead they want to, indeed feel they have to, pull those people down so they can feel elevated higher than they are. It’s human nature. Once these people realize they can’t be a Horseman, they try to unhorse those that are.

    • lancelotgobbo
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Quite right too. We certainly have at least one “unhorseman” of the atheist apocalypse. I’ve been saddened to see poor Michael Nugent slowly learning the lesson that being reasonable, polite and moderate counts for nothing with the FTB cult. I expect Jerry will find out too when he becomes witch of the week at FTB for the crime of defending RD.

      • J Smith
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Yes that is almost guaranteed to happen, so be prepared.

  24. Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Jerry.

    I long ago declared that I would not wish to go on living if I found myself in a world dominated by people who no longer care about what’s true and express open contempt for factual evidence. Either a 1984 world where the Party in power is the sole arbiter of what is “true” and enforces it with violence; or a world where truth is whatever society deems it to be, regardless of evidence, and where dissenters are ruthlessly punished by vitriolic abuse or ostracism rather than violence.

    I fear we are sleepwalking towards that feared world, where people shun evidence and despise facts: a world where dogma is king, emotion is queen and evidence is exiled; and where dissent from orthodoxy is suppressed by verbal if not physical jackboots.

    Richard

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      “where people shun evidence”

      I don’t think that most people shun evidence, but rather they don’t have an understanding of what constitutes evidence. And it’s not clear to me that this has changed much over time.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think that most people shun evidence, but rather they don’t have an understanding of what constitutes evidence. And it’s not clear to me that this has changed much over time.

        I honestly think it has changed; I’ve praised Why Truth Matters repeatedly (and still do – but buy it second hand) and it’s hard to reconcile that book’s incisive attacks on epistemic relativism with it’s co-author’s current obsession with ’emotional truths’.

        It’s like Alan Sokal taking up postmodernism.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          “Does God Hate Women?” is also quite good, and IIRC came out well before her current stance evolved.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            Yes. Iv’e likened her derailment to Cat Stevens conversion to Islam and his subsequent support of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

            Obviously unhinged now – but damn, their early stuff was good.

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

              IIRC, she used to make a point of trying to keep the discussions at her site civil & respectful, as Jerry does here. Then it seemed that the Ftb crowd started commenting there in numbers and she began to acquiesce to their style–so much for rational conversation. I haven’t been back for some time, now.

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

                Recently she’s been attacking George Orwell and Richard Feynman.

                Not exactly urgent threats to humanity.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

                Oh, my.

          • Minnow
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:12 am | Permalink

            Weirdly Benson’s co-author on that book is one of the people she now demonises as a misogynist for mysterious reasons of her own. It s very sad.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        I reasonably suspect that Professor Dawkins would have near if not at the top of his list of those who shun evidence creationist geologist Kurt Wise who, by virtue of his Harvard Ph.D. under S.J. Gould, surely understands what constitutes evidence.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      I fear we are sleepwalking towards that feared world, where people shun evidence and despise facts: a world where dogma is king, emotion is queen and evidence is exiled; and where dissent from orthodoxy is suppressed by verbal if not physical jackboots.

      I’m betting that within the hour that ’emotion is queen’ line will be quoted out of context and used as evidence of gender essentialism.

      • Diane Langworthy
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Agree. I went quickly from – “that’s such a nice bit of royal imagery” to “uh oh.”

    • jay
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Professor Dawkins, I greatly encourage you to tweet support of Phil Mason @thunderf00t who twitter has suspended over what seems to be his insightful critiques of Anita Sarkeesian in particular and Feminist Theory in general.

      [tendentious video and twi**er addresses removed by Management]

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Um, I have not followed the thunderf00t story with great precision, but as I understand it he keeps a large following of MRA types around him. I can see why Twitter would not want him posting. I think its because his gang of thugs who say ban-worthy things go with him.

        • jay
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          Oh noes! MRAs!!!! Get to your fainting couch!

          These would be the same MRAs that advocate passage of the Equal Rights Amendment?

          Ya really. Google that. Paul Elam worst MRA of all forever Equal Rights Amendment supporter.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            In the 80s, I was a card-carrying separatist radfem. At a women-only music festival in the US, I asked someone about the Equal Rights Amendment, and whether the US had any chance of it finally passing.

            She told me that US feminists no longer wanted it to pass because equality would mean they would not be able to discriminate against men at their women-only events.

            • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

              I would find the claim of one random person not to be evidence of what all US feminists believe.

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

                That’s a good point actually. After hearing that woman’s explanation, I’ve been assuming that that’s why feminists no longer fight for the ERA (as far as I know – maybe some somewhere ARE fighting for it – I hope so).

                It makes sense though. The ERA, if it were to pass, would mean no more women-only spaces/events, as well as they would have to accept equality in things like family court cases, shelter accessibility, etc.

              • Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

                Yes, it would mean that no more women only nonsense would occur. Do you have *any* evidence that women felt that giving up such a limited thing like forbidding equal rights to men in court cases, in rape cases, was worth throwing the ERA away?

                In my experience, feminists, including me, no longer fight for the ERA because it would never pass as long as there are more interests for limiting equal rights for everyone than are for equal rights for all. It has become a war of attrition, a sad thing but a reality. Women have just got the right to be paid equally in the Lily Ledbetter act, which is again, a sad thing. I hate gradualistic policies but that seems to what we are stuck with.

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:17 am | Permalink

                “Do you have *any* evidence that women felt that giving up such a limited thing like forbidding equal rights to men in court cases, in rape cases, was worth throwing the ERA away?

                In my experience, feminists, including me, no longer fight for the ERA because it would never pass as long as there are more interests for limiting equal rights for everyone than are for equal rights for all.”

                I presented an anecdote. It’s not evidence, just part of my experience. You also presented your experience rather than evidence. Is there an anecdote that goes with that?

                I think it’s the feminists who don’t want it to pass. You think it’s people against equal rights who don’t want it to pass. If your belief is true, then why aren’t the feminists at least trying to get it to pass? Just giving up because they assume the opposition will be too great? I think feminists would be at least writing articles promoting it if that were the case, yet they aren’t.

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

                I have presented what *I* believe which is evidence that not *all* US feminist do what was claimed.

                Again, it doesn’t matter what you may think, but what you can support. Again, do you know anything about what NOW and other women’s groups are doing? You can see it here, where people *are* supporting it: http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/supporters.htm

                and how they are: http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/congress.htm

                It is extraordinarily hard to alter the Constitution: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/. Considering the conservatives in the US House and Senate, do you now understand why this is taking a long time?

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

                It’s good to see that some people are still trying to get the ERA ratified. I notice you refer to ‘people’ instead of feminists now. That’s fair, since both promotion and opposition consists of more than only feminists.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Rights_Amendment says that the opposition to it have concerns about women being drafted, losing the court’s bias in family matters, and even concerns about the possibility of all washrooms becoming unisex.

                That backs up my anecdote, but only in showing that it’s more than just one woman’s opinion, and it also shows that some people (including men’s rights activists) are indeed still fighting for it, which is good to know.

                Nowhere, either on wiki or your links, does it show that opposition to the ERA is due to concluding that it is a fight that can’t be won. You said feminists gave up on it “because it would never pass as long as there are more interests for limiting equal rights for everyone than are for equal rights for all.”. I see nothing that backs that opinion up.

                Anyways, I am not saying that my anecdote is evidence of what ALL feminists think. You presented links, but those links only show that some people still want the ERA to pass. Nothing to show that its opposition decided that it’s a fight that can’t be won so why bother.

                We have very different ideas of what constitutes ‘evidence’. While glad that some people are still fighting for it, can you show me where your opinion that it’s an un-winnable fight and that that’s why some feminists oppose it?

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                Oops, “can you show me where your opinion that it’s an un-winnable fight” should have been “can you show me links backing up your opinion that it’s an un-winnable fight”.

              • Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

                Rereading what you wrote: “Do you have *any* evidence that women felt that giving up such a limited thing like forbidding equal rights to men in court cases, in rape cases, was worth throwing the ERA away?”

                I made no mention of rape cases, so I’m unsure of what you are referring to.

              • Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

                I know it’s good that people are still trying to get the ERA passed. This shows that your claim that they aren’t is false. If you note the list of supporters, you will see that NOW is there. Are they or are they not feminists? I have not changed what I have said. You claimed that “feminists no longer fight for the ERA”; with no qualifying words this indicates that you are sure that *all* feminists are no longer doing this and that is wrong.
                You seem to be intent on redefining the term “feminist” to only be those people you fantasize are standing against the ERA. That is unfortunate.
                Why yes, the wiki entry says that opposition has various concerns. Are these concerns from all feminists as you have tried to claim? From the wiki entry, it seems not: “Defending traditional gender roles, Stop ERA advocates baked apple pies for the Illinois state legislature while they debated the amendment and hung “don’t draft me” signs on infant girls.” Do feminists defend traditional gender roles? Now, if we follow the link that the wiki article footnotes, we see that the person who was defending traditional gender roles was Phyllis Schlafly, the leader of the Stop ERA movement. http://www.ushistory.org/us/57c.asp You may see her quotes about these issues here: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Phyllis_Schlafly We see that it was Ms. Schlafly who was saying that women shouldn’t be drafted, that women should only be wives and mothers in the home, etc.
                Can you show where Men’s Rights Advocates are fighting for the ERA?
                It’s rather amusing to see you try to claim that since what I have said wasn’t exactly typed verbatim on the wiki page or other links, that means it’s wrong. I was wrong in saying that the ERA has been given up on, however I am not wrong in that there is nothing to show that it will pass and that is because there are more interests for limiting women’s rights than there are wanting equal rights for all. Or can you show that the movements to expand rights are more powerful than the opposing forces?
                You said ““That’s a good point actually. After hearing that woman’s explanation, I’ve been assuming that that’s why feminists no longer fight for the ERA (as far as I know – maybe some somewhere ARE fighting for it – I hope so).It makes sense though. The ERA, if it were to pass, would mean no more women-only spaces/events, as well as they would have to accept equality in things like family court cases, shelter accessibility, etc.” Again, you did nothing to indicate that there were only “some” feminists. You have said that since feminists no longer fight for the ERA and that it “makes sense” because you wish to claim that feminists (not some, but all) want women only spaces, equality in family court cases, shelter accessibility, etc. You didn’t mention rape, I did. I mentioned it because you created a list of rights that your fantasy feminists (and likely some very real ones) wouldn’t want men to have.
                Evidence is evidence, SI. It’s defined in the dictionary and alas, your unsupported claims that all feminists do “x” is not evidence. My affirmation that I am a feminist and that I do not believe as you claim I do, is evidence.
                I know that humans love to claim conspiracies. I think it’s based in the same reason humans love religion; it makes one feel that one knows more than everyone else. However, unless you can support your conspiracy theory that feminists no longer fight for the ERA, and that they do so because they don’t want to allow men to have equal rights in custody cases, you have nothing. Good bye.

              • Posted September 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

                Wow, way to avoid what I asked you!

                I never claimed “all feminists”, only the one who I talked to about it. And I hoped, and was happy to acknowledge, that some people, including feminists AND non-feminists ARE still fighting for it, and that’s a good thing in my view. Maybe you missed that.

                Anyways, YOU claimed that you and other feminists have given up on it because it’s a fight you can’t win. I wanted to know what your anecdote behind that belief was. You instead told me all about how feminists ARE fighting for it. So, are you no longer claiming that you and the others gave up on the fight because it’s too hard?

                Also, you asked me for evidence about rape cases being affected by the ERA. What are you talking about? You said it was a limited thing (only rape laws being at stake?), yet now you acknowledge that it wasn’t even my argument in the first place, it was yours. Why do you want me to prove YOUR claim? Then you appear to be claiming that only anti-feminists are against ratifying the ERA.

                Well, I’ve already made my points and think it’s useless to discuss this further with you. You are either avoiding or not comprehending what I wrote at best. At worst, you are switching to strawmen with a bit of a gish gallup added. There’s no point continuing discussing this with you.

        • jay
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Uh, I have not followed story, durr, but urrr, I am told poeoele I don’t follw be deurr stupiddheads.

          durre, ban ‘dem okay wid me.

          • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

            Bye.

            • Mark Sturtevant
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

              Thank you.

          • Michael Waterhouse
            Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

            That’s what it sounded like to me too.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        This is not an appropriate comment. Don’t ask Richard to support one cause or another. And you shouldn’t embed videos in support of your “cause”. Do not post on this thread again or you will be banned.

      • jay
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

        Speech and well known public company’s twitter address of twitter’s CEO and their safety committee removed by supporter of speech.

    • glen1davidson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Well, aren’t you a special snowflake, expecting no criticism.

      Kidding, it’s my attempt at the usual BS answer to anyone standing up for free exchange of idea.

      I’m not one who is immune to the idea of “bourgeois freedom” and that the law is the same for everyone, so that neither rich nor poor are allowed to sleep under the bridges. But any real intellectual or social progress has occurred where there was free speech, and not where everything was locked down for fear of “triggering” or fear of any sort of offense against rather select groups.

      Anyway, Dr. Dawkins, you didn’t get Expelled from that movie, but you’re sure enough Expelled from the Guardian and FreefromThoughtBlogs. Or actually, they might allow you to write at either one, only to have any supporters Expelled while they pile onto you with strawman attacks and distortions.

      Glen Davidson

    • J Smith
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      No ones words or actions should ever be above scrutiny. Unfortunately that is not what were seeing here – instead it is demonization and personal attacks. I think quite a few of us are getting quite fed up with it. It has reached a critical mass.

    • Guestus Aurelius
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Dear Richard,

      The world has always been this way. On the whole, people never have championed evidence over dogma and emotion. It’s only ever been a minority who do.

      What’s different now is that blogs and social media have amplified the voice of another minority: the vicious, dishonest, hypocritical, misanthropic prigs of the world.

      It’s not you; it’s them. I assure you that most of us paying attention know that.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      I think people are waking up en masse, and that the feared world won’t happen. It’s like a boil that has to come to an ugly head before it goes away.

      More and more, people are speaking up, mocking the 1984ish mindset, and disputing the lies. It can’t fester in the open. It can only dry up and disappear.

      • Posted September 22, 2014 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        I was too optimistic the other day. Replace my previous “boil” with “outbreak of carbuncles”. And maybe replace “I think” with “I hope”.

        Cup’s half empty today. The other day, it looked half full.

  25. J Smith
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Adam Lee is far from the only one who has lost it clearly. We all know the names, no need to repeat.

  26. Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    It strikes me that Dawkins’s and Harris’s “sins” as seen by their critics pale besides the online (and threatened real-world) attacks on Mary Beard, Anita Sarkeesian, Caroline Criado-Perez, and others, yet those critics spill far fewer electrons on the latter.

    Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.
    — Abraham Lincoln, speech at Peoria, Illinois (16 October 1854)

    It seems increasingly clear that some people in “the” atheist movement seem far too intent on standing apart to remember to stand together on common ground (the occasional olive-branch notwithstanding).

    /@

    • glen1davidson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      Nietzsche, from Daybreak:

      “…In the presence of morality, as in the face of any authority, one is not allowed to think, far less to express an opinion: here one has to obey! As long as the world has existed no authority has yet been willing to let itself become the object of critique”

      That’s what’s happening with FTB, you are not supposed to think, only to obey.

      They don’t dare to allow critiques, because most of their claims are suspect, at the least.

      Glen Davidson

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        I Would still say that that is not true for *every* blog on FTB.

        /@

  27. Dan
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen Adam Lee start out as a pretty good atheist writer back on Ebon Musings. But when he started blogging, it all went downhill. Now he’s just another PZ lackey.

  28. Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    What’s sadly ironic is that this sort of behavior is coming from people who call themselves skeptics.

    Good skeptics value evidence, and they are aware of the danger of allowing strong emotions to hijack their reasoning.

    Yet look how Greta Christina responds at her blog to a Sam Harris quote:

    here are a lot of possible responses to this. The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole. You think women don’t take a critical posture? Come talk to some women in the atheist movement, and we will give you an earful of our critical posture.” The second response that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Do you think that maybe — just maybe — the fact that not that many women read your books might have something to do with the fact that you say horrible sexist bullshit like this, and we’re sick of it, and we don’t want to hear it, or anything else from you, ever again?” And the third response, from me in particular, is, “Do you seriously not know that the person who literally wrote the book on angry atheism — Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless — is me, a woman? Have you seen the cover art for that book? Would you really not describe the woman standing on the soapbox labeled ‘REASON’ with her fist in the air as, quite literally, a critical posture?”

    Greta, Sam Harris is one of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s staunchest public defenders. Do you really think he hasn’t noticed that a) she’s a woman, and b) that she’s a vocal critic of Islam?

    Please be skeptical of your own knee-jerk, visceral reactions.

    What a shameful performance.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Hirsi Ali is no favorite of PC, pomo liberalism, and I’d imagine no favorite of the feminists in that camp as well.

      Ever since I read Sam’s post, I’ve wanted to know how he determines who’s reading his books? I don’t remember having to indicate a gender when I bought each of them…

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I think that was the reporter who asked Sam that. I wonder where she got that information. Wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out that mostly women read his books? I somehow doubt that is the case though, given that there are fewer female atheists (which upsets me).

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

          Yes, the demographics themselves suggest a male majority of readers…

          Still, I wonder if part of the impression just means that men are more vocal about it?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Now, I’m visioning groups of women stealing away to read Sam’s books. 🙂

            It would be interesting to see what women in general are reading. I remember as a kid going into a variety store to buy a copy of Scientific American & being annoyed that they placed science magazines in a Men’s Interests section. Now, I can’t recall if it was actually labelled as such, but it was among light porn. 🙂

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

              No, seriously? 😉

              Sorry to say I’d be kind of afraid to find out what women in general are reading. When I’m not defending them I’m (mostly silently) raging about how dippy so many seem to be.

              But there might be good news, since there seem to be very few readers anyway these days–perhaps the women still doing so also have a brain in their heads.

              Yikes, aren’t I awful?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I did actually think the same thing – I’d be afraid to hear what women are reading!

              • mordacious1
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

                Most women read the same low level crap that most men read, perhaps in different genres. I would think that there’s an equal number of both sexes reading, what I would consider decent, material and an equal number reading the dregs.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:55 am | Permalink

                Yes, I thought about that a bit last night and figured there would be a lot of men reading garbage too but for some reason the women reading garbage makes me cringe more. I think it is because as a woman, I want people to regard me as capable of reading decent stuff and to break free of stereotypes, so if women are exposed for reading crap then I think that will inform others’ opinions about women and therefore me.

              • Diane G.
                Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

                @ mordacious

                Well, of course you’re right. That’s absolutely the best way to look at it.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:10 am | Permalink

                Testing…

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:16 am | Permalink

                [OK, Reply seems to be working…]

                I’m afraid scanning the popular womens’ magazines on newsstands doesn’t seem to suggest a very high standard.
                Whereas men of course read serious stuff like cars and sports and … sports … and .. cars …..

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

              “Now, I can’t recall if it was actually labelled as such, but it was among light porn.”

              That isn’t new, as I recall the Playboy Interview (which was often a very interesting read) used to be surrounded by distracting pictures. (I only read it for the articles, honest!)

            • Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:45 am | Permalink

              Sadly, this kind of everyday sexism persists in our local supermarket (Sainsbury’s) and elsewhere.

              /@

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        Hirsi Ali is no favorite of PC, pomo liberalism, and I’d imagine no favorite of the feminists in that camp as well.

        True, but irrelevant. She’s a critic of Islam, and Harris supports her for that very reason. It’s therefore inane to suggest that he thinks women can’t “take a critical posture”, as Christina claims.

        Ever since I read Sam’s post, I’ve wanted to know how he determines who’s reading his books?

        Perhaps by observing whether most of the email he receives regarding his books comes from men or women.

        Of course it’s possible that the gender distribution of the folks who send him email differs from that of his overall readership, but if so, that demonstrates the existence of an aggregate difference between his male and female readers, which is exactly the kind of difference he is being criticized for suggesting!

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you on both topics.

        • Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          I love Sam’s writing and own all of his books. I’ve tried to interest some women in them to no avail. (And it’s not becuase he’s a sexist asshole — becasue he’s not and never comes across like that in his writing.)

          Why is that? Don’t know. (My wife is highly intelligent, highly educated (way more years than me), atheist, skeptic (about most things): But, no interest.

          Puzzled look …

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted September 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            Does she read other atheist/skeptic books but just not Sam’s books?

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:32 am | Permalink

        I guess I’m in that camp, as defined by you, and I’m a huge fan of Hirsi Ali. Go figure, huh? I guess stereotypes are….not exactly accurate. 🙂

  29. Susan
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    What’s up with the crazy idea that there is only one right answer, and only one way to express oneself?

    It isn’t that we need to accept different points of view, we need to demand them.

    Sam Harris talked about the cause of gender differences and – gasp – did so in a way that I might not have done and in words I wouldn’t have used. And somehow we are all expected to join forces and trash Sam Harris for this unspeakable crime. When I disagreed with the public pillorying on a different site, I was thoroughly trashed.

    We need to set the expectation that being an atheist does not mean we all agree. It means that we must expect others to say things we disagree with.

    • jeffran
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      “We need to set the expectation that being an atheist does not mean we all agree. It means that we must expect others to say things we disagree with.”

      Absolutely, this should be the default position. And I think it was, but for a single group of people who are controlling much of the conversation and for whom atheism is packaged with various ideologies.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        « a single group of people who are controlling much of the conversation »

        Much of *which* conversation? Michael Nugent (in a post cited elsewhere) makes the point that the “deep rifts” are quite parochial, and largely irrelevant to conversations about atheism going on in most of the world.

        /@

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          That’s his opinion but the rift is real and tangible and deleterious.
          You know ‘which’ conversation, the one we are having here. Your group is guilty as charged.

  30. jeffran
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Not much to add here. I too am sick and tired of these out of context attacks, accusations of misogyny (and accusations of sexism and rape), and attempts to actually destroy people’s lives. It just boggles my mind. All coming from the same people.

    What are they hoping to achieve with these attacks? What have they accomplished up to this point outside of making people who’ve accomplished a lot of good, look bad?

    Most importantly, what do we do?

    Anyway, thanks Jerry.

  31. glen1davidson
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I accidentally posted this as a “reply” to a post to which I was not replying:

    Nietzsche, from Daybreak:

    “…In the presence of morality, as in the face of any authority, one is not allowed to think, far less to express an opinion: here one has to obey! As long as the world has existed no authority has yet been willing to let itself become the object of critique”

    That’s what’s happening with FTB, you are not supposed to think, only to obey.

    They don’t dare to allow critiques, because most of their claims are suspect, at the least.

    Glen Davidson

  32. Rob
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I hate the gang mentality I see on some sites. If the big cheese has an opinion, the followers all fall in line. Woe to any dissenters.

    Hand these folks some stones and I wonder how many would stop and question before joining the mob in public stoning.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Read in the NY Times a day or two ago of eight Guinean officials, etc., visiting and seeking to provide Ebola-related support to isolated villagers, getting stoned to death by those villagers.

  33. jwthomas
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I finally deleted my bookmark for Pharyngula today after noticing the PZ led MRA upsurge over this “issue”. It’s sad, really; PZ used to be one of my heroes. As for the heroine of “elevatorgate,” I stopped taking her seriously once I noted that there were no witnesses to the incident and that no one has ever come forward or been outed as the guy who supposedly made the extremely weak pass at her. I’m not saying her story was a lie. It’s like the argument for God – you can’t prove it’s not true but there’s no objective evidence that it is. Atheists and Skeptics herded into groups are as irrational as everybody else.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Would wearing miniaturized A/V recording gear be a reasonable and appropriate solution to fending off unwanted overtures in isolated, otherwise unwitnessed locations? Would certainly provide evidence, eh? Unreasonable but necessary? Another solution might be to arrange for hotel/convention security staff to provide escort.

      • jwthomas
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        I knew I’d get at least one comment like this. My *point* is that despite that there has never been a single piece of objective evidence to verify the story, it has become the seed accusation that has driven the atheist community – or should I say mob – into an endless and proliferating war against itself. I’m sure there are many in the anti-feminist attack force who have questioned Ms W’s story, but that doesn’t mean that raising the issue of evidence isn’t a valid response when the story has become the founding myth (“myth” in the classical sense of the term) of a self destructive battle among people who
        should be working in harmony.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          It seems to me that you are requiring an impossible level of evidence just to find a reason to push aside the origin of an unpleasant feeding frenzy. You go on to equate it to the beginning of a myth, I guess b/c of the lack of recorded evidence.
          Please realize that unwanted proposals to go somewhere alone with a stranger at social gatherings is very common, and it can lead anywhere. That is kind of scary, is it not? I would be scared of that if I were a woman. Unfounded accusations where the woman makes it up is exceedingly rare.
          Remember as well that R. Watson brought it up to the other attendees. What reason would she have to make it up? Sorry, but that makes no sense.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

        The actual reality of what happened in the elevator has little to do with the storm that followed.
        Many people thought her position reasonable. It was the reactions to dissenting opinions, from a position of power, that started elevator gate. The issues being discussed now, suppression of dissent, calling people ‘out’, being shy of evidence, started with Watson berating Steff McGraw. The reasonableness of the elevator comment has been used as a distraction, and strengthener of their position in a disingenuous manner.
        I have been an atheist and a person with social concerns for a long time. I came in to this online thing just before elevatorgate, as a feminist. Watching this and other feminist positions unfold I no longer regard myself as a feminist or think feminism is a fair and reasonable thing. For those ‘dictionary’ feminists, if you want to be taken seriously again,( by a growing number of feminism critics), you better get a handle on the extremes.
        To my great, really great disappointment, today’s feminism has become this way.

    • Taryn
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      I clearly missed something. What has Elevatorgate got to do with the original post, or with the ensuing conversation? i don’t think anyone has accused Dawkins or Harris of involvement in it, after all.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes, you have missed something, a lot. Perhaps you could look into it.

  34. ebonmuse
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Hiya Jerry,

    Well, this is unexpected. I remember when we met up for dinner in Chicago in 2011 – I still appreciate the hospitality you showed me and my wife in giving us a guided tour of the U of Chicago campus. I guess I shouldn’t expect a callback if I return to Chicago any time soon?

    You disagree pretty strongly with my article, that’s obvious. Fair enough. But you know what I noticed? You’re not the first critic who said I’m a terrible person for writing it, but who declined to say in any detail which parts of it are false (“I won’t bother to dissect it in detail”). Richard Dawkins himself accused me of lying, but wouldn’t or couldn’t say what specifically he thought the lie was.

    About the comment you quoted: Would Richard Dawkins’ statements have been less disagreeable if he were a young black woman rather than an older white man? No, of course not. But the fact that he is an older white man making these kinds of statements isn’t coincidental, just as it’s not coincidental that all of our 44 presidents up to this point have been men and 43 of 44 have been white.

    Age, gender and skin color should be irrelevant to our ability to think rationally, but they’re not. I trust you’re acquainted with the many experiments which send out large numbers of resumes that are identical except for the names on top, and which find that resumes with Anglo-Saxon-esque white-guy names invariably get more callbacks and higher salary offers than resumes with stereotypically black names or female names. Unconscious bias is an insidious force, one that affects even people who have no conscious intent of acting in prejudiced ways. Refusing to acknowledge this bias doesn’t make it not exist, it just means that it’ll have free rein to influence our decisions. And I think Richard Dawkins is unfortunately a classic example.

    As far as “relentless and obsessive hounding”: Are we not skeptics? Are we not rationalists? Do we hold our leaders as popes, as sacred figures exempt from criticism? When some religious figure says something dumb or outrageous, you can be sure we’ll all pile on him. You can hardly say you haven’t joined in on occasion. I think it’s only fair that we treat our own community as subject to the same scrutiny. Whatever the truth is, progress is made by open argument and debate however contentious, not by enforced silence.

    I’ve got one more question for you, Jerry. You say that you’ve refrained from entering “these squabbles” until now. Why was it my article that changed your mind? I’m sure you know that some of the women in our community have been regular recipients of obscene harassment and violent threats for years. As I said in my article, Amy Davis Roth opened an art exhibit this week where she literally wallpapered a room with printouts of the disgusting messages that she and others have received. I don’t mind if you criticize me, but shouldn’t you be, let’s say, an equal-opportunity sneerer?

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      You are confusing ‘scrutiny’ with the ducking chair.

    • J Smith
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      So I’m guessing your going to write an equally critical article of Dawkins critics as a follow on, or is their ideology the pure and simple truth. Guessing not.

      • Mike
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        He won`t because almost all of his “sources” (especially when it comes to the supposed outrage within the atheist community) are from PZ`s blog network.

        And Lee, how about you first provide evidence for all of your claims before demanding that other`s should refute your b.s. (that`s like the Christians saying it`s our job to prove that God doesn`t exist).

        • Steve Bowen
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:51 am | Permalink

          All of Dawkins’ tweets etc. are in the public domain. You may disagree with the context in which they are taken, but Lee’s journalism in this respect seems fair enough to me. I do not see anything factually wrong with the piece, he is not lying whatever your opinion of the conclusions he draws.

          • Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

            You need to read Michael Nugent’s response.

          • marvol19
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

            Precisely – ALL of Dawkins’ tweets are out there. Yet only certain ones are selected, and taken out of context, to twist Dawkins’ point of view.

            It’s equivalent to somebody tweeting
            “Rape is not bad”
            Then tweeting
            “compared to being hung drawn and quartered”
            With only the first tweet being paraded.

            Note that with only 140 characters this scenario of splitting the whole message is fairly common on Twitter.

            • Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

              « Note that with only 140 characters this scenario of splitting the whole message is fairly common on Twitter. »

              Which generally makes it a terrible medium for disseminating anything of import; individual tweets can easily be seen (and shown) out of context. I’d suggest that Richard might be better tweeting links to blog posts — but to do so now would be to invite his “click bait” comment turned against him. 😮

              /@

            • Denise
              Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

              This is what I hate most about discourse in cyberspace: more than the trolling, more than the personal attacks, more than the rudeness – it’s the dishonesty by people pretending that they’re having an intelligent debate, the straw men and the twisting of other people’s words.

              Trolls and idiots are easy to ignore. This is more pernicious, and depressingly, all too common even among people who ought to be better than this. But these people need to be ignored as well. If someone won’t address what was actually said but has to first distort it beyond recognition, then it’s just a waste of time talking to them.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      “Whatever the truth is, progress is made by open argument and debate however contentious, not by enforced silence.”

      Adam, I tried to engage you with open argument on your site, and you deleted my comments. Care to explain?

    • Guestus Aurelius
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Coyne didn’t say that you’re a “terrible person.”

      But yeah, you’re totally on the level.

    • drosera
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Here’s one of your lies, Adam:

      “Richard Dawkins has involved himself in some of these controversies, and rarely for the better – as with his infamous “Dear Muslima” letter in 2011, in which he essentially argued that, because women in Muslim countries suffer more from sexist mistreatment, women in the west shouldn’t speak up about sexual harassment or physical intimidation.”

      Did you get paid for your hit piece? What a worthless, sanctimonious fraud you are.

      • Cheron
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

        Could you stop complaining about someone writing a few mean words about Dawkins when there are people getting sentenced to 1000 lashes for simply setting up a website for atheist.

        I don’t see any difference between “Dear Muslima” and what I just wrote, and as such I don’t think your example of a lie is very good one.

        • drosera
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

          Dawkins made fun of the fracas manufactured by a provocative videoblogger who complained about being asked for coffee in an elevator in a posh Irish hotel. Yeah, that is totally the same as opining that “women in the west shouldn’t speak up about sexual harassment or physical intimidation.”

          The fact that you don’t see the difference reflects poorly on your intelligence or your honesty.

          • Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

            Please, do not insult other commenters here; you can make your point without impugning the other peoples’ honesty or intelligence.

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

        That is ‘essentially’ false.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      About the comment you quoted: Would Richard Dawkins’ statements have been less disagreeable if he were a young black woman rather than an older white man? No, of course not. But the fact that he is an older white man making these kinds of statements isn’t coincidental, just as it’s not coincidental that all of our 44 presidents up to this point have been men and 43 of 44 have been white.

      Have you looked in the mirror? Check your privilege.

      I’ve got one more question for you, Jerry. You say that you’ve refrained from entering “these squabbles” until now. Why was it my article that changed your mind?

      Ego much?

      If you were at all knowledgable about matters you’d know that there’s a widespread recognition of the smearing tactics of certain Po-Mo entryists (Myers, Benson and the FTB crowd in particular) on the US side of the atheist movement.

      Don’t flatter yourself you are important enough to trigger a blog post in yourself.

      • izkata
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

        > Have you looked in the mirror? Check your privilege.

        Uh… Yes. He did. And that observation was the result. You have no idea what that phrase means, do you?

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      When you do your follow-up piece* on Myers and Benson are you going to bang on about their ages?

      Are you going to champion the much younger Sam Harris?

      *Okay, being sarcastic there. No click-bait incentive in tilting at windbags people outside the movement have never heard of.

    • glen1davidson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      You disagree pretty strongly with my article, that’s obvious. Fair enough. But you know what I noticed? You’re not the first critic who said I’m a terrible person for writing it, but who declined to say in any detail which parts of it are false (“I won’t bother to dissect it in detail”). Richard Dawkins himself accused me of lying, but wouldn’t or couldn’t say what specifically he thought the lie was.

      Yeah, have you quit fornicating with farm animals, Coyne and Dawkins (thanks, Nugent)?

      Here’s a thought, Lee, you should back up your accusations, rather than demanding answers to “gotcha” questions. Sure, let’s mire the “discussion” within unevidenced and unfair accusations, rather than deal with Lee’s highly one-sided and extremely inadequately-unsupported accusations.

      It’s not for no reason that the preferred tactic is, accusation first, evidence to come along later, if ever.

      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p&quot;

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Very interesting and valid points. I think my question goes a step back. Evidently pre-suppositional attitudes exist, but how do we get from that point to automatically attributing them to any and every one who doesn’t fall into certain categories?

      Does this mean my EU passport undermines anything I might say? Or is it the photo on my passport?

    • Tigzy
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Another lie – or, to be charitable, mistruth – from Adam Lee’s piece:

      ‘Dawkins’s very public hostility toward the people who emphasize the importance of diversity, who want to make the community broader and more welcoming, and who oppose sexual harassment and sexist language, is harming the cause he himself claims to care about.’

      This is working on the presumption that Dawkins is actually against the so-called ‘good people’, and not those who, for example, might oppose sexual harassment by claiming that another prominent skeptic is a rapist (on no more evidence than gossip), emphasise the importance of diversity and make the community broader by promoting an incestuous conference circuit which seems to largely consist of the same old contingent of Freethought Bloggers & their chums, and oppose sexist language by replacing it with violent language, wherein such gems as ‘die in a fire, no I really want you to die in a fire’ & ‘go fuck yourself with a rusty knife’ once predominated on PZ Myers’ blog. Admittedly, Myers’ so-called ‘horde’ has cleaned up its act somewhat with regards to the last point, though it’s still not all that unusual to find the odd ‘die cis scum’ & ‘I wish all white males would die’amongst the wider crowd who apparently desire to make the atheist community a more welcoming place.

      • Parody Accountant
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Do you really think Adam Lee will reply meaningfully to this? I’m betting he won’t reply at all, even though Coyne has a somewhat strict moderation policy. It’s a pattern common with the sources he cites in his article. Only discuss where you can control the conversation.

        He certainly won’t be writing any articles critical of PZ’s violent commentariat (“die cis-scum” and “old white men should die”.) for the guardian.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        “claiming that another prominent skeptic is a rapist (on no more evidence than gossip)…”
        I do not think that one should dismiss the accusation as ‘gossip’. What is there to gain by making a false accusation? Do you think that a woman really wants to stir up such a hornets nest? At the very least describe her side in more objective terms than just calling it gossip.

        • Parody Accountant
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

          Mark,

          “I do not think that one should dismiss the accusation as ‘gossip’. What is there to gain by making a false accusation?”

          Several people who are stirring up this story have been accused of sexual assault, by their own admission. PZ Myers, Lousy Canuck (Jason Thiebault) have each claimed they were victims of false accusations. Do we believe the victims?

          No? Why not?

          I think you know the answer is that people deserve their day in an actual court of law. They deserve to respond to allegations with whatever facts, alibis, witnesses, DNA (or lack thereof), expert testimony, their own side, etc.

          Trial in the court of public opinion is vicious, irrelevant, and foolish. Unless you are suggesting that PZ Myers should be looked at with the exact same scrutiny for his (false) accusation of sexual assault, you should indeed dismiss this as ‘gossip’.

          There are all sorts of reasons why men and women have made false accusations of sexual assault. Regret / buyers remorse, caught cheating, spite / revenge, explain pregnancy or STD, social norms (a la To Kill A Mockingbird), etc…

          I’m not saying I know that this story is false. I’m saying that it’s not up to me, or you, or PZ Myers to say who has or has not been a victim of so and so.

        • GBJames
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          “What is there to gain by making a false accusation? Do you think that a woman really wants to stir up such a hornets nest?”

          The problem I have with this line of reasoning is that it suggests that there is a gender-based difference in a person’s motivation for misrepresentation. Do men make false accusations? Might a man stir up a hornet’s nest?

          I could go with you if the argument you were countering were based on “no” answers to those questions. But that’s not the case unless I’m very much mistaken.

    • WT
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      I think your falsehood was in saying that Dawkins has “lost it” and is guilty of “ignorant sexism” because he made the banal and common-sense point that women would be wise not to get so drunk that they are easily taken advantage of, and then can’t even remember who was involved or what happened or, indeed, whether they might have consented after all.

      To say that is NOT to excuse rape in any form or fashion. The analogy to mugging would be this: suppose I (as a man) choose to get drunk out of my mind and then to walk through a dangerous neighborhood where muggings are known to happen every night. I wake up the next morning and can’t remember whether I was actually mugged or not, or even whether I had any money with me at the time. All I have is a vague feeling of unrest — maybe I had some cash and maybe I was mugged, but I was so drunk that I can’t remember anything.

      If I was indeed mugged, that is STILL the mugger’s fault. Yes, absolutely. Still, did I make a wise decision? Not really. If I had gotten less drunk, I would be better able to know whether I had been mugged and who had done it. That seems indisputably true.

      I think the real sexism here is on the part of you and your comrades — you seem to think that women are such children that even if they get irresponsibly drunk and can’t remember anything that happens to them, they have to be held on a pedestal beyond even a murmur of critique. Only responsible adults can have moral agency and can take a tiny bit of responsibility for putting themselves in danger, whereas women are fragile little flowers who can’t resist getting stone drunk and who are too frail to stand up under the least suggestion afterwards that “you’d be better able to identify any alleged attacker if you stayed a bit more sober.”

      • Scote
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        It is a conundrum that the actions of a drunk driver are always considered his or her fault for getting drunk, but that suggesting that people shouldn’t get dunk so they can stay in control of their actions is s message we are only allowed to give vis-à-vis *driving* and nothing else. And yes, blame goes to the rapist. no question about that, by why is it OK to hold drinks respondible for their driving but not tell men and women they should stay sober to help them stay safer in general?

        • marvol19
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:59 am | Permalink

          That’s hardly a conundrum.
          Driving while drunk turns your car into a much more likely killing machine. It’s endangering others.

          Walking around drunk OTOH doesn’t, so the law (and public opinion) isn’t so fussed.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:17 am | Permalink

        The title of the piece is usually chosen by the editor, not the author.

        • Adam Lee
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:17 am | Permalink

          Yes, that’s true. The Guardian editors chose the title of this piece, not me, for whatever that’s worth.

          • Peter Beattie
            Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

            » Adam Lee:
            The Guardian editors chose the title of this piece, not me, for whatever that’s worth.

            You know, I’m a journalist and having titles changed or completely new, often enough misleading ones, used by editors is something that happens all the time. I for one will tell my readers in the comments whenever a title is misleading or otherwise misrepresents what I wanted to say. You, OTOH, seem to be saying that you can see no reason to distance yourself from your piece’s title—would that be fair to say?

    • natalielaberlinoise
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      I will choose just one example from your guardian article:

      “… Like many scientists who accomplished great things earlier in their careers, Richard Dawkins has succumbed to the delusion that he’s infallible on any topic he chooses to address, and in so doing, has wandered off the edge and plummeted into belligerent crankery. …”

      Adam Lee, how could you possibly know that Richard Dawkins believes to be infallible on any topic he chooses to adress? How have you gathered the knowledge to be able to make such a statement with conviction?

      You can not possibly know this.

      I put it to you that you may have written this for the effect that it creates rather than for its truth content.

      As a layperson of many fields, I look to read articles on science, religion and atheism, morality etc. from authors who have given the content of their words much thought. How else can I learn of something new to me that has value?

      You mustn’t be surprised if a great number of people will react to your article with disdain.

      As I believe you allude to in your article, it is no good to get set in one’s opinion to the point of not considering others’ criticism any more.

      • reasonshark
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:31 am | Permalink

        Adam Lee, how could you possibly know that Richard Dawkins believes to be infallible on any topic he chooses to adress?

        I know. This seems to me to be a total smear. Once you get Dawkins to explain his position more thoroughly, he’s usually quick to qualify his own level of confidence and to admit when he’s uncertain about a field.

      • Denise
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Mr. Lee apparently fails to see the irony in his attack. Who, after all, does he think HE is?

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:19 am | Permalink

      » ebonmuse:
      You’re not the first critic who said I’m a terrible person for writing it, but who declined to say in any detail which parts of it are false.

      See, right there’s another lie: Jerry never said or even implied you were “a terrible person”. You just made that up. And you didn’t even bother to include a quote to the effect you were claiming, which should tell you that you don’t really care that much whether the statement is true, as long as you can use it for the effect you want it to have.

      And it’s interesting that you would waltz in here pretending (in very hedgy language that will allow you to claim that you never meant to say that) that none of your critics have pointed out actual lies in your piece, when that’s exactly what happened in one of the first Twitter exchanges you had with Miranda Hale (see the thread here).

      Another lie, as natalielaberlinoise has pointed out, is your assertion that “Richard Dawkins has succumbed to the delusion that he’s infallible on any topic he chooses to address”—about which too you don’t give a fig whether it’s actually true, as long as you can use it for the desired effect. For a writer, that is despicable behaviour. And the New Statesman are completely irresponsible for publishing your piece.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Michael Nugent has done a pretty good analysis of the misrepresentations in your piece if you really are still mystified by the objections:

      http://bit.ly/1v68dk3

      • Peter Beattie
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        And I suppose Adam Lee, who was just so disappointed that none of his critics would give any details that he might actually respond to, is now busily answering all those detailed criticisms. Because he is all about reasoned, fair discussion. Right?

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      A clear problem with claiming that scrutinizing every word of Dawkins is akin to criticize religious leaders is that the dumb and outrageous comments of the latter is in abundant evidence.

      Besides, tw**ts suffers from the happenstance bad formulation and bad characterization. Never impute malice when there are simpler explanations.

      Nugent’s analysis of your article is a good response to your questions. Lots of problems there.

      I also stumbled on a falsehood of yours that Nugent didn’t cover:

      You (and othere here) claim Dawkins has “apologized” for a comment that now rests with the fishes. [Maybe a Wayback trawl can bring it back.]

      That claim links back to this article of Dawkins. But there is no apology there!

      What Dawkins says which may or may not address a comment about muslims is this:

      “There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.”

      There are three obvious problems with claiming this as an apology:

      – No apology is issued.

      – Dawkins says that he is sorry to have invited an interpretation of a comment (“contemplating … by comparison”). The context, the whole article, makes it clear that it was an erroneous interpretation as “belittling”. That is, Dawkins is sorry for making an unclear comment.

      – The context makes it clear that Dawkins is yet again underwriting the core of his comment (however it was expressed): “But maybe you get the point? If we wish to insist (in the face of judicial practice everywhere) that all examples of a sexual crime are exactly equally bad, perhaps we need to look more carefully at exactly who is belittling what.”

      This isn’t an apology. It isn’t a not-pology. It is clarifying and verifying that the initial comment (whatever it was) stands.

      Also, if a comment is no longer to be found, should you really use it? Never mind that it may have passed its best-before date, no longer being relevant. But it is poor (non-existent) evidence.

    • Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      “I’m sure you know that some of the women in our community have been regular recipients of obscene harassment and violent threats for years. As I said in my article, Amy Davis Roth opened an art exhibit this week where she literally wallpapered a room with printouts of the disgusting messages that she and others have received.”

      I’m going to take specific issue with that, Adam. First, Amy Roth has a history of throwing around damaging accusations of “harassment” based on very little. She specifically did this to Harriet Hall for nothing more than wearing an anti-Skepchick t-shirt that offended her, something that was an early template for the current attacks on Dawkins and Harris. Hall was badgered for months by the Skepchick group and its supporters over this. Hall did end up making an apology just to make peace, but that remotely justify how she was treated, nor the vile attack on the right of not just Hall, but anybody to peacefully state their opinion.

      Second, while Roth’s exhibit does include much in the way of very real examples misogyny and harassing speech, she also mixes in quite a bit of simple criticism. Including at least one statement I made over Twitter in support of Harriet Hall, and hence, in opposition to Amy Roth:

      http://pic.twitter.com/FEoOl2i8W9

      I won’t mince words – I consider Amy Roth’s posting of this as an example of “harassment”, and CFI’s sponsorship of it, to amount to nothing less than active defamation. Ditto for the inclusion of Justin Vacula’s message. And, no, I’m not the litigious type, but I am going to call this for what it is.

      And Adam, if you’re reading this, do you stand by the characterization of my or Vacula’s message as “harassment”? If so, how do you justify that characterization? I’d really like to see you give an answer here, rather than, once again, throwing around crappy insinuations and expecting them to stick.

  35. Tigzy
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Ebonmuse wrote:

    ‘Would Richard Dawkins’ statements have been less disagreeable if he were a young black woman rather than an older white man? No, of course not. But the fact that he is an older white man making these kinds of statements isn’t coincidental’

    And Ebonmuse also wrote:

    ‘Age, gender and skin color should be irrelevant to our ability to think rationally, but they’re not[…]Unconscious bias is an insidious force, one that affects even people who have no conscious intent of acting in prejudiced ways. Refusing to acknowledge this bias doesn’t make it not exist, it just means that it’ll have free rein to influence our decisions. And I think Richard Dawkins is unfortunately a classic example.’

    The words ‘thyself, ‘physician’ & ‘heal’ immediately spring to mind.

    • glen1davidson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps Lee has raised consciousness, like PZ Myers claims to have.

      Such a condition makes everything the possessor says more special (forget skepticism and rigor).

      Glen Davidson

      • glen1davidson
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        Wow, I had only skimmed the article previously, clearly being so much SJW propaganda with “evidence” that only an ideologue could credit, but I looked closer and, yes, the important thing is to be born again. Or in SJW parlance, to have a “raised consciousness”:

        On other occasions, Dawkins himself has emphasized the importance of awakening people to injustice and mistreatment they may have overlooked. But when it comes to feminism, he’s steadfastly refused to let his own consciousness be raised.

        Yes, Lee is accusing Dawkins of thinking he’s better than other people (even if true, I haven’t seen the evidence for it), when it’s clear that he’s assuming that those with the right beliefs are better and more wonderful than people wanting evidence for claims and accusations.

        It’s a cultic trait, this claim of simply being superior beings, rather than having to bother with mundane evidence, but then it’s nothing new, of course. Just as disingenuous as anything can be.

        Glen Davidson

  36. Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I know there’s no love lost between Jerry and Massimo Pigliucci, but I do want to point to a very good post Massimo did on this topic a bit over a month ago over on Scientia

    https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/stifling-discourse-on-your-left/

    I think what was a political split in atheist/secular politics between the leftists vs the libertarians and classical liberals has blown up into one of Jacobins vs everybody else.

  37. Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Can we have a new Roolz on abbreviations?

    I know LOL, but when someone says MRA and I google it, I get magnetic resonance angiography- which doesn’t make sense with the comment in this thread.

    It doesn’t need to be an enforced or punishable roolz, just one that suggests a reader is permitted to understand what’s being said.

    What’s wrong with typing out whole words? A tiny little effort would make life so much easier for those of us not ‘in’ with the lingo 🙂

    • jwthomas
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Men’s Rights Association or sometimes Men’s Rights Activists/ism.

      • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Thank you- and I apologize for my ignorance/stupidity.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

          That’s OK, I’d thought it might be something vaguely related to MRSA. 🙂

  38. Coldthinker
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    It’s sad if feminism and its truths that should be self-evident to any decent person, can be hijacked by such frustrated people desperately looking for an easy enemy.

    Actually, that has often been the problem with many liberal and leftist movements. Quite often the real enemy is beyond your reach and doesn’t much care about your feeble attacks. But you still have the urge to take it out on somebody, so you go and attack your ethical or intellectual allies, who do care.

    It might be just like people acting out their traumas on their loved ones — your boss lets you go, so you yell at your spouse. In social justice wars the scale is just different. Pentagon doesn’t care one bit, but you can always make the nice scientists of NASA feel bad. The Board of the Coal Plant dismisses you, but you can break the windows of your neighbor’s car. The Megachurch scam artists just laugh at your accusations, but you can still make the nice Christian girl in your office cry.

    And as many liberals/secularists/feminists realize, they can’t touch the complacency of Fox News, Rick Perry or the Koch brothers. So they attack people like Dawkins and Harris, who actually do give a damn about social justice, and the feelings of their fellow thinkers.

    I have seen many understandably frustrated feminists, female and male, who realize they can’t get their point across to the mullahs and wife beaters, so they keep barking at the amiable guy next door, who once made a mistake by telling sexist joke. It would fit the Dawkins-Harris-attacks perfectly. Otherwise, I can see little logic in it.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Nearly there, but not quite. Historically speaking, there’s great prominence placed on the ‘dissenter’ factor. McCaine/Lieberman et al.
      From within you pretend to be more moderate, to cross over.
      This can be found in most socio-political movements.

      • Coldthinker
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:31 am | Permalink

        Sounds interesting, but I don’t think I quite got you point. Care to elaborate a bit?

        • Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:36 am | Permalink

          If anyone from within a group criticizes the group they’re a part of, they get attention. It’s a very common manipulation technique- mostly because competing groups are happy to put a spotlight on the individual in question.

          John McCain and Lieberman made that their modus-operandi for much of their careers. Manuel Valls is another good example. A left wing politician who says left wing economic policies don’t work.

          Or a gay person who opposes gay marriage, or a woman who opposes feminism, or an African American who denies the existence of racism.

  39. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read almost all of the comments here, and the question that bothers me is do you have essentialize someone after vigorously disagreeing with their remarks??

    I vigorously disagreed with the remarks Richard D made in “Dear Muslimina” but I honestly don’t feel I really know RD well enough to conclude from this that he is an across-the-board misogynist. (I might tentatively conclude he lacks sensitivity in certain women’s issues, but that is not the same as malicious sexism.)

    People have layers.

    That said, “Daylight Atheism” has often been one of my favorite blogs. Lee has a good philosophical mind, and has one of the best critiques of Ayn Rand I have ever read. (He’s good on CS Lewis as well).

  40. Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Oolon is whining on Lee’s blog about Jerry ‘censoring’ him here.

    That’s Oolon of blockbot fame.

    My response is caught in moderation.

    Inset your own joke about irony.

    Don’t bother visiting, only 7 comments all day even after The Grauniad article.

    Oh, the humanity.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      It’s comments like yours that make me miss up-voting on Jerry’s blog.

  41. Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Adam, here’s one of your direct lies. I have tweeted it at you so to say you haven’t been presented with any is…another lie. Anyway, here you are:

    (1) ‘ Dawkins argued that rape victims shouldn’t be considered trustworthy if they were drinking.’

    What he actually said was:

    (2) ‘If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.’

    The second is talking about someone who was *drunk*, not ‘who had been drinking’. It’s an observation about the fact of the matter in courts and not a gleeful endorsement. And it was in the context of a woman who says she was too drunk to remember what had happened.

    Your turning that into (1) is a barefaced, straight out lie.

    • Rogier van Vugt
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:51 am | Permalink

      Those two quotes are equivalent.
      1) someone who has sex with a person who is too drunk to remember afterwards what happened is considered rape in both the US and UK.
      2) If Dawkins considers someone who was that drunk to be unable to provide testimony, then he considers him/her untrustworthy.
      3) While the victim might not remember the actual rape he/she will remember for instance waking up in a bed that’s not their own.
      4) Denying that someone can figure out that a rape has occurred from such evidence is similar to creationists saying “were you there?!?!” when denying the evidence for evolution.
      5) Denying that a rapist can be held accountable for a rape even if the victim was unable to remember that afterward is making rape apologies. (as in: maybe a rape has occurred, but we cannot give that consequences because the victim cannot remember anything)
      6) Using the shorthand ‘were drinking’ in stead of ‘drinking too much’ is all you can really point to. Until you consider the following Dawkins tweet:
      Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins · Sep 19
      Yes, I believe you. Why would I not? Unlike the hypothetical case of my tweets, you have clear & convincing memories.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:45 am | Permalink

        Your initial point is flat out wrong. You wrote:
        “1) someone who has sex with a person who is too drunk to remember afterwards what happened is considered rape in both the US and UK.”

        That is not necessarily the case. Some people (I am one of them) have real problems with recall without being heavily drunk and can end up with large memory holes after a night out, even though we were well able to make decisions for ourselves throughout the night.

        I ask you to place that fact alongside this, the CPS guidance for what constitutes consent with respect to rape:
        http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/rape_and_sexual_offences/consent/#a03

        Can i draw your attention specifically to the passage that reads:
        “However, where a complainant had voluntarily consumed substantial quantities of alcohol, but nevertheless remained capable of choosing whether to have intercourse, and agreed to do so, that would not be rape.”

        So what is important is the cognitive capacity AT THE TIME, not the ability to recall events afterwards. In other words:
        a) You could be too drunk to consent but still recall events afterwards
        b) You could be capable of consenting but drunk enough to not recall events afterwards

        I apologise for not addressing your other points but I didn’t see much point moving past this one tbh.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        Those two quotes are not equivalent.

        Your premise 1 is incorrect. “someone who has sex with a person who is too drunk to remember afterwards what happened is considered rape in both the US and UK.”
        IANAL but I doubt if there’s a statute that says that. No doubt courts have concluded in specific cases that the victim was too drunk to give consent at the time, but that’s a matter of evidence.

        Given that, your point 3 (waking up in a strange bed) suggests sex may have occurred (unless the parties were too drunk!) but doesn’t point to rape unless there’s some additional evidence of non-consent.

        Your ‘logic’ presumes all sorts of things not in evidence.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:06 am | Permalink

          (I see noelplum got there before me and rather more cogently than I did. Needless to say I echo his comment).

      • Denise
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

        Stock movie scene; stock scene from real life: two strangers wake up in bed together with no recollection of how they got there. All they remember is being in a bar the night before.

        Up until now, what happens is this: they get dressed sheepishly and awkwardly. The one whose house it is not declines the half-hearted offer of breakfast and goes home. They both nurse their hangovers and vow not to drink so much anymore. No one blames anyone but himself.

        At what point exactly did we start believing that one of these people is guilty of a major felony that will alter the entire course of his life, and that the other is a victim of a horrendous violation that she will never get over?

        You’d better not put me on the jury, because I don’t care what the law says – I am not convicting this guy.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

          Exactly

        • microraptor
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          When you’re out with a stranger, how exactly do you know when they’ve reached the point that they’re too intoxicated to actually consent to sex? Do you choose to err on the side of “I’m sure it’s okay,” or “how about we wait until you’re sober?”

          Just because something makes for a funny scene in a comedy doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate in real life.

          • Denise
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            It’s not just a movie, it’s a pretty common real-life experience. People drink. Lots and lots of people drink a lot. And parenthetically, sex was probably one of the things they were in pursuit of when they went to the bar in the first place. Both of them.

            We’re in the process of changing the definition of rape such that now we’re going to assume that she was comatose and he carried her home and raped her, despite having no evidence that this is what happened. Some people would even like to presume that he drugged her or is somehow responsible for her being drunk (by pouring drinks down her throat?) But we don’t convict people of crimes based on the fact that something might have happened. If it plausibly might not have happened, then we can’t assume that it did.

            That is, in a court of law, at least for now; in a university tribunal I think he may be going to be presumed guilty and expelled.

            • microraptor
              Posted September 22, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

              If neither person decides that they were raped then nothing will come of it. The issue that I’ve seen has revolved around the scenario of one person (typically a woman), who’s been drinking and someone else using that to take advantage of her because she’s got impaired judgment at the time.

              Why is it so important to you to defend the “right” of someone to have sex with intoxicated strangers, anyway? Why not just give them your number and tell them to call you when they haven’t been drinking? I’m not talking about someone you’re in a relationship with- if you and a friend or partner like getting drunk and having sex that’s fine. I’m talking about when you don’t know the person. If the person is a stranger to you, you don’t know whether they’re consenting or not. Alcohol impairs judgement and causes people to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. Is it really such a great thing to have sex with someone who’s so drunk that they won’t be able to remember it in a few hours? Why?

              • GBJames
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

                I’d pose a somewhat similar question back to you. Why do you think women don’t have a right to have sex with anyone they want if they have been drinking?

                I’m bothered by the binary nature of your world view. It isn’t realistic. Alcohol impairs judgment, but it makes some difference how much you imbibe, no? At least recognize that the reason this problem is difficult is that the world is a place where gray areas abound.

              • microraptor
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

                “Alcohol impairs judgment, but it makes some difference how much you imbibe, no?”

                Of course, but unless you’ve been with a person the whole time, how do you know how much they’ve had to drink? Especially giving that the original scenario I was responding to was one where the person had become so intoxicated that they didn’t remember the sequence of events that led to them winding up in the bed they woke up in.

                To put it scientifically, you have a choice of drawing the line where the question of “is the person too drunk to consent” might return false negatives (they are too drunk but it returns that they’re not) or false positives (they’re sober enough to consent but it returns as unable to). I personally think that for the sober person, it’s better to err on the side of assuming that your partner is too impaired to consent and therefore decline sex than to assume that they’re not too impaired. If a stranger is insulted that I decline to have sex with them because I’m unsure of how drunk they actually are at the time of the proposal, I’d just as soon not have sex with them to begin with.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

                My mistake was providing more than one question. You ignored the most important one.

              • microraptor
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

                I’m not talking about what rights intoxicated people do or do not have. I’m talking about the responsibilities that sober people have when dealing with intoxicated people.

              • Denise
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

                Oh, is that what we’re talking about – whether it’s a great thing to drink and have sex with strangers?

                Or about why the guy didn’t just give her his number and tell her to call him when she’s sober? Well, gee, let me think – maybe because people don’t always behave the way I think they ought to behave?

                But I didn’t think we were talking about whether you or I approve of anyone’s behavior. I was talking about whether we can say a crime took place, a very serious crime with very serious consequences.

                And why is this all about what he did? Maybe he was drunker than she was. Maybe she was the aggressor. Maybe she was all over him. Maybe he was the one saying “no, no, no” and maybe she was the one who dragged him home. Maybe she tried her best to get him to have sex and he was too drunk to get it up, so they never even had sex. We don’t know.

                If she wakes up and remembers being raped, then – as Prof. Dawkins said – we have a different situation. But if she wakes up and has a “feeling” she was raped but doesn’t remember? No.

                Why is it so important to me to defend the “right” of someone to have sex with intoxicated strangers? Because, in general, it IS their right, not their “right”. A person has to be very drunk before he or she is too drunk to consent. And both parties have to consent, so if they’re equally drunk then they’re equally culpable.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

                Don’t dance around the question. Do adult women have the right to have sex with whomever they like after drinking?

              • microraptor
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

                Nobody has the right to sex. Adults have the right to seek partners for sex, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t circumstances where they’re unable to give consent.

              • GBJames
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

                OK. You won’t answer the question. That answere the question, but not in a way that is respectful of women, IMO.

              • microraptor
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

                I notice that you never bothered to address any of the points that I brought up, why should I answer yours?

              • microraptor
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

                Besides, your question isn’t an accurate representation of the point I was attempting to make.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 23, 2014 at 1:36 am | Permalink

                Microraptor seems to be assuming the male is relatively sober and can make an accurate judgement of how much the female may have had to drink.

                Can I (as a male) use the fact that I was drunk and therefore my judgement was impaired, as an excuse? If not, why not?

            • GBJames
              Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:18 am | Permalink

              “why should I answer yours?”

              Because my question was the first in the specific exchange between you and me?

              My question is a logical one given the way you frame the matter. It gets to an important implication of your arguement.

              Your question “Is it really such a great thing to have sex with someone who’s so drunk that they won’t be able to remember it in a few hours?” is straw. I’m unaware of anyone making a case that corresponds to it and, as I said upstream, life has gray zones.

              Human sexuality is full of gray zones, even when both (or more) parties are stone cold sober. Your case implies only men go to bars looking for a hookup, in the lingo of young folk today. That’s, frankly, silly. And it is demeaning to women say that their sexuality is restricted in the way you recommend.

              Whose making the sexist case here?

  42. Diane Langworthy
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I love Jerry (and those who hangout in his “living room”) — and also Sam and Richard and PZ and Greta and Rebecca and Ayaan(and others). Though I likely wouldn’t call them all by first name if addressing in person, I think of them by first name because I have read or listened to them so much for years now. I don’t always agree with them all about everything, obviously, but they have all been a big help to me over the years as I’ve left religion and enjoy hanging out with like-minded humans. However, I don’t enjoy pZ’s “living room” so much now. I still stop by and hope to find useful nuggets to ponder and often do; but I don’t linger. Seems more and more what I find is cringe-worthy. Which is how I feel about this non-story he promoted about Sam Harris and his few words….and then the vitriol that keeps coming to any who disagree. It’s baffling.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      His followers are far worse.

      I don’t mean the other FTB headliners like Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina and the rest, who are obviously deeply troubled, but the real clock tower weirdos like Tony The Queer Shoop and Sally Strange.

      Much as I’ve grown to dislike Myers, those who post on his blog resemble the bubbling blob of hate that lives inside a Dalek.

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        In what way are they “troubled”, exactly? Are you a psychologist, who can somehow magically make diagnoses from your computer? Or perhaps what you actually meant was “obviously and completely pissed off” in which case you’d be correct.

        Count me as one of them.

        • Coldthinker
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:53 am | Permalink

          Not necessarily referring to the names mentioned, but the anger and lack of civility expressed in many of the FTB posts is evidence of being troubled. If you insist on taking “troubled” as a psychiatric diagnosis, that’s your priviledge, I suppose. But to me, constant anger is a serious sign of being troubled.

          Having enjoyed and learned from PZ’s writing over the years, I truly think he and many of his regulars are very, very troubled. It reminds me of an abused dog, who now bites everybody. I actually sympathise with them in this sense, as the feeling is familiar to me too. I just choose to restrain the anger in the presence of other people.

          • Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:12 am | Permalink

            I would prefer it if people would not diagnose the psychological state or “maladies” of others here. Please do not do this again, please.

            • ColdThinker
              Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

              Fair point, and even if it wasn’t: Your site, your rules.

              So I accept the rebuke, but fear I may be liable to repeat the offense unwillingly, because I’m not sure where my crossing the line happened exactly. Also, since assessing and speculating about other people’s states of mind is kind of my daily business, that makes me all the more prone to make the same mistake again. My post above was a casual attempt to understand where this often seen vitriol is coming from, so it didn’t seem pejorative in my mind.

              The consensus here seems to be that many FTB posts (like many anti-Dawkins/Harris/Ali-lambasts) are quite often quite angry, written by apparently angry people. Is it wrong to say that? Following that thought, anger is surely not a desirable state of mind for anyone. Trying to avoid constant anger myself, I feel it’s mostly caused by some overwhelming problems we encounter, externally or internally.

              Perhaps ”troubled” really conveys something more medical and diagnostic than I took it to mean. To me it was an opinion, translating into something like ”being more angered by problems beyond one’s control than is advisable”. It is a situation I sympathize with myself, as I often become enraged by the injustice I see, and in my experience excessive rage is a bad thing all around, even if it’s only intellectual.

              I’m not arguing with you Jerry, but trying to find common ground and understand certain cultural differences. This is not the first time I’ve noticed that making a remark about someone’s state of mind is considered out of line in the USA (or in the US academia, or perhaps just in any world beyond my daily routine).

              Because I really don’t understand the often enraged criticism against e.g. Dawkins, to me it seems only natural to speculate where such rage is coming from, and the psychology behind it. I simply can’t believe a faux pas here and there can just by itself merit such backlash in a world where women are stoned to death and children buried alive.

  43. Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Okay , this looks like I’m replying to Grania. I’m not.

    I’ve seen a lot of attacks on Dawkins recently for ‘lacking empathy’ and having ‘meltdowns’ or calling him ‘Spock’ and it’s pretty clear what they are hinting at.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Most likely, the paw of Ceiling Cat struck. It’s tantamount to déjà vu in the Matrix. 🙂

  44. Pabs
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Adam Lee has lost anything. Maybe a small sliver of his credibility, but I’m hesitant to exaggerate the faults in that piece of his. The problem, so far as I can tell, is that this spat between factions is characterized by altogether too much exaggeration. All of us know that the best way to get to truth is through open debate in the marketplace of ideas, but now that atheism’s got some of its own party lines, too many are forgetting that our favorite method only works when we address our interlocutors fairly and in good faith (pardon the expression).

    That is why FTB is making so many “enemies”: some of the bloggers there are much too quick to exaggerate their critics’ positions in the worst possible light. To criticize their tactics or their arguments is tantamount to endorsing the slymepit/Amazing Atheist-types out there. This defensive reflex is the impetus for all of the “thought police” and “fake outrage” accusations befalling them, although I would also hasten to disagree with the use of such inflammatory criticisms – it’s just more of the same problem, you see.

    I think this post is guilty of exaggerating the degree to which Adam Lee has blundered in his latest article about Professor Dawkins, but of course that in no way means I agree with Lee’s piece. I don’t believe Dawkins’s twitter comments about the claims against Michael Shermer were necessary or positive, and I think Sam Harris’s remarks about gendered atheism were poorly chosen and insensitive, but I’m just as frustrated at Lee’s (and FTB’s) turn of blowing those comments out of proportion into the misogynistic apocalypse of public atheism.

    Call me a disciple of the least-mentioned Horseman, Dennett. I believe we can disagree strongly, giving no quarter when the other side is wrong, but also that we must be responsible to do so while characterizing the other side so charitably that they thank us for expressing their position that well.

    • Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      That is why FTB is making so many “enemies”: some of the bloggers there are much too quick to exaggerate their critics’ positions in the worst possible light. To criticize their tactics or their arguments is tantamount to endorsing the slymepit/Amazing Atheist-types out there

      Over on Nugent’s blog he has been attacked for ‘shilling for the Slymepit’. Nugent, for god’s sake!

      I’ve found more offensive figures in my breakfast cereal.

      It really is like FTB think everyone criticising them is part of some massive conspiracy orchestrated by a swivel-eyed figure in a bath chair or lizard people from the Earth’s core.

    • SQuiller
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      “To criticize their tactics or their arguments is tantamount to endorsing the slymepit/Amazing Atheist-types out there. This defensive reflex is the impetus for all of the “thought police” and “fake outrage” accusations befalling them, although I would also hasten to disagree with the use of such inflammatory criticisms – it ’s just more of the same problem, you see.”

      If you are saying that the Myers tribe’s behaviour is a response to the ‘Slymepit/Amazing Atheist’ types then I think that you have the cart and horse wrongly ordered. The Slymepit arose as a response to the very behaviour that you are saying they caused.

  45. blondein_tokyo
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris hate women. I’m quite sure that no one else thinks that, either. You can say stupid sexist wrong things without actually hating women, just like you can say stupid racist wrong things without being a racist; and you can say stupid wrong things without actually being stupid.

    Both Dawkins and Harris said stupid wrong sexist things. And the sooner they both come down off their high horses and admit it, and apologize for it, the better.

    Until then, many women are going to continue to feel as though our concerns regarding sexism in the movement are being minimized and dismissed, and more and more of us are going to give up on doing things like commenting on blogs, going to atheist events, buying books, and participating in discussions online. We will abandon the movement- because who wants to go through the stress of constantly being told that you are imagining the sexism you encounter, or that you are just being “too sensitive”?

    I’ve been an active reader and a fairly active commentor on several different blogs over the years, leaving them one by one precisely because I got sick and tired of reading posts and the ensuing comments that dismiss the need for sexual harassment policies, denial of sexual harassment (by big name atheists as well as regular attendees) regardless of the women who come forward with personal stories to tell; bloggers and commentors who make fun of women for being “weak” or “too sensitive” because they get upset over being threatened with rape and death.

    It disgusts and appalls me that this isn’t being taken seriously by people who claim to be skeptics. I can only come to the conclusion that you either aren’t skeptics at all, or you are just so comfortable up there on your throne that you don’t want to come down and see how things really look and feel from this point of view.

    Sam Harris said atheism doesn’t have that “estrogen vibe” and Michael Shermer said atheism is “more of a guy thing”. Dawkins penned “Dear Muslima”; and claimed that if a woman doesn7t remember being raped, then she wasn’t.

    This is unacceptable.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Have you read Harris’s response to the charges?

      http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/im-not-the-sexist-pig-youre-looking-for

    • Pabs
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you, blondein.

      We are not bound to our talking heads, though. For what it’s worth, I’m happy to have company while I swashbuckle my way through bad ideas from any source – inside, outside, either side. The movement is more than its leaders. I hope you retain someplace comfortable to you.

      @Diane G: Libby Anne (Love Joy Feminism at Patheos – I haven’t figured out how to link yet, sorry) has written a response to Sam’s response that tries to explain why the charge of sexism is still relevant. I agree with blondein_tokyo that Sam isn’t sexist, let alone a misogynist, but Libby does make reasonable points.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, I’ll have a look.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        She has some points. OTOH I think she’s in denial that there are in fact biological and probably psychological differences between the sexes. Sexism is not the only reason there are more stay-at-home mothers than fathers. (Has she had any children, I wonder?)

        • Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          Yes, seems to me that in the SJW millieu at FTB, the only acceptable comment is: Women and men are exactly the same. [Which is why we have two different words. /snark]

        • victoria
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

          She has two children, FWIW.

    • Oscar
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      And who are you to demand an apology from people you don’t personally know? And to command that they should abide by your personal definition of “stupid wrong sexist things”? Talk about being on a high horse…

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:37 am | Permalink

        1) “Demand” is a word I didn’t and wouldn’t use. You using it so strongly here implies hostility, which I will be charitable about and ignore. So: who am I to ask for an apology? I’m an atheist woman who participates actively, vociferously, and sometimes even angrily in atheism. Harris owes me, and others like me, an apology because by perpetuating these stereotypes, he is either ignoring us or saying we don’t exist, and is marginalizing us. If we wants out continued support in the form of buying his books, paying to listen to his lectures, reading his blogs, and overall commenting positively on his work, then he really needs to issue that apology. And if he decides not to? Well, that’s his choice. I can take my business elsewhere.

        2) It’s not my personal private definition, and I think you know that. It’s commonly accepted that gender stereotyping IS sexist, and study after study has shown that repeating casual sexist gender stereotypes leads to those stereotypes becoming entrenched in people’s thinking. Don’t argue on that with me, then; argue with psychology.

        • marvol19
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:08 am | Permalink

          Except Harris is not perpetuating such stereotypes.
          Below in this thread is quoted his, extremely measured, extremely cautious, and tentative, explanation.

          If, in spite of that, you STILL think he is sexist, based on one off-the-cuff remark made in obvious shorthand, and contra everything else he has said, I can only conclude that the description given by Grania elsewhere applies to you: that you are poring over sentence fragments just to interpret them in that way which offends you (in much the same way that Harris’s explanation was jokingly modified below).

          On a similar note you have completely ignored tweets by Dawkins such as “rape is always bad” which again doesn’t help for you to appear unbiased.

        • GBJames
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:14 am | Permalink

          “Demand” is a word I didn’t and wouldn’t use.

          vs…

          “Harris owes me, and others like me, an apology…”

          I suppose that you didn’t literally use the word “demand”, but in common English usage, the second phrase is a demand, especially when followed by a threat (although rather feeble) to “take my business elsewhere”.

          • marvol19
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

            That struck me as well. There is a, very slight, difference in meaning between the two words but it’s almost meaningless.

            Compare “I demand you pay me 100 bucks for the favor i did you” and “you owe me 100 bucks for the favor i did you”.

            If there is a difference I don’t really notice it.

    • Adrian Lopez
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      “Dawkins … claimed that if a woman doesn7t remember being raped, then she wasn’t.”

      No, he didn’t. He said nothing even close to that. You’re doing the same thing Adam Lee is doing, although in his case I suspect it’s intentional.

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:00 am | Permalink

        Sorry for my shorthand. The tweets in full read,

        “Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.”

        Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

        “Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

        Then he backed up a bit, by saying “In my tweets I explicitly stated that I was considering the hypothetical case of a woman who testified that she COULDN’T REMEMBER.”

        That is what he said, and every one of those tweets shows his incredible ignorance of the experience of rape.

        I could go though each one and explain why they are problematic, but honestly? If you can’t see why they are a problem, then I really am not interested in having a dialog with you. You see, I’ve had these chats before, and frankly? The way they make me feel makes me want to stay away from ever commenting on any blog or participating in any discussions with men on the topic ever again. The sheer hostility, the denial, and the sexism of people who defend views like this just horrify me.

        • Peter Beattie
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:57 am | Permalink

          » blondein_tokyo:
          That is what he said, and every one of those tweets shows his incredible ignorance of the experience of rape.

          On the contrary, what you write shows your incredible ignorance with respect to the fact that RD wasn’t talking about “the experience of rape” but about one particular circumstance. You may not like that other people don’t talk about a particular issue in the way and from the perspective that you would, but that is certainly nobody’s problem but yours.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

          “In my tweets I explicitly stated that I was considering the hypothetical case of a woman who testified that she COULDN’T REMEMBER.”

          Ex hypothesi, there is no ‘experience of rape’ involved.

          I’m not much interested in your dialog either, thanks.

    • Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      ‘I don’t believe Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris hate women. I’m quite sure that no one else thinks that, either.’

      Have you spent any time at all over on FTB? Because I routinely see Dawkins and even Harris accused of misogyny there. Some examples from Pharyngula:

      ‘Ignoring the problem is what has allowed Sam Harris and Dawkins to pretend that they aren’t the condescending misogynists that they have only relatively recently revealed themselves to be.’
      – anteprepro

      ‘Dawkins is far worse than a troll. He’s an arrogant, sexist twit with a great deal of power and influence in the atheist community. When he speaks, many people listen. What he says, many people believe. He gives credence to the views of misogynists and anti-feminists everywhere, because he is one of them.’
      – Tony! The Queer Shoop

      ‘It is only more recently, now that he [Dawkins] has started opining on social justice issues such as the role of feminism, that the blinders have come off and we can see that Dawkins is, at heart, a misogynist social reactionary who is wedded to his male privilege and invested in maintaining the oppressive status quo.’
      – Gregory Greenwood

      ‘Even with the clumsy renaming of FTB, that just read to me like “women have been too uppity too long and it’s time they were put in their place.”

      Nothing about this surprises me; it just reinforces my scorn for this misogynist PoS. Everything he’s said for years seems to reinforce the “White men are Great Minds and Clear Thinkers and, golly, Human. Women? Children? Those ::shudder:: brown men? No, they really don’t count.’
      – 2kittehs

      This is from a quick scanning of two recent posts on just one blog.

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:02 am | Permalink

        Why are you quoting Freethought Blogs to me? I’m not a Freethought blogger. My views are my own.

        If you want to know what I think, personally, on any of those quotes, I’ll be happy to tell you. Pick one. 🙂

        • Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:29 am | Permalink

          I was only responding to your comment that you don’t ‘believe that Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris hate women’ and that ‘no one else thinks that, either’. I accept that you don’t think he does, but quite a few people earnestly believe they both hate women and I gave some quotes to support that statement.

    • Kurt Lewis Helf
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      blondein
      It certainly is the case that posts were written dismissive of the need for sexual harassment policies at various cons; I believe that’s why Thunderf00t was kicked off FTB. However I believe the skeptical movement’s has responded fairly well and most cons now have sexual harassment policies.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        It’s interesting that this has happened not just in the atheist /skeptic movement, but also at other cons – gaming, comics, sf and hacker. It was a bone of contention at Black Hat, the biggest hacker con, as having such a policy felt like an “establishment” thing to those who saw Black Hat as fundamentally anti-establishment.

        /@

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:08 am | Permalink

        I don’t think the response could be categorized as “well” overall. Some people jumped straight on the bandwagon, yes. Others though, i.e., DJ Grothe, had to be dragged kicking and screaming, and some bloggers and speakers have never capitulated to their need. And the commentors, wow…I completely quit reading and responding to people on some blogs because the comments were so hostile and vitriolic. I think it is not unreasonable to say that all of these together make up “the atheist community”, and as such, it cannot be said that the response went “well”.

        I also think this issue is just an aside. There is a lot more to it than the sexual harassment policy uproar. There is the fact of sexual harassment in and of itself, as well as the threats, harassment, and sexist commentary, as well as this backlash over whether or not Harris, Dawkins et al should apologize.

        No, I can’t say it has gotten better since Elevatorgate….I really can’t.

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      » blondein_tokyo:
      Sam Harris said atheism doesn’t have that “estrogen vibe” and Michael Shermer said atheism is “more of a guy thing”.

      That is untrue. What they actually did was not to say those are facts but to offer those things as possible explanations for an observed effect: the apparent under-representation of women in active atheism. That is in no was represented by what you said.

      Dawkins penned “Dear Muslima”; and claimed that if a woman doesn7t remember being raped, then she wasn’t.

      Also untrue. So blatantly untrue, in fact, that one has to conclude that you don’t really care about the truth of the matter. In other words, it’s a simple lie. If you had taken the trouble to quote Dawkins’s actual words, you might have felt the need to explain how your interpretation might somehow make sense. And you would have given your opinion the chance to fail the test of facts and argument that any rational opinion is required to take.

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:23 am | Permalink

        Those are direct quotes, so yes- they did indeed say exactly that.

        What they meant might be up for debate, and both Shermer and Harris did indeed try to explain themselves in more detail, exactly as you said. However, those explanations still don’t save either of them. As I explained in another post (look at my reply to Diane G.) gender stereotyping is inherently sexist, and is problematic in the sense that it helps entrench sexism into our thinking. I gave several examples of this, and I mentioned on recent study. If Harris (and Shermer, and Dawkins, or anyone else) wants to claim to be concerned about feminist issues, then they shouldn’t perpetuate sexist gender stereotypes.

        As an example, do you think you as a man would be upset if you heard, say, Ophelia Benson or another prominent feminist blogger announce in a national interview,

        “There’s something about childcare that is to some degree intrinsically female and more attractive to women than to men,” “The variable we have to consider in matters of custody battles is this— men don’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to give child custody to a man.”

        You might be able to argue that this is ust “possible explanations for an observed effect: the apparent less interest men have in childcare, and that they are by nature less nurturing than women.” but it would STILL be sexist.

        The analogy isn’t perfect, but I think you get the idea. I think it is reasonable to say that men dislike sexist gender stereotyping when it is aimed at them, so women can hardly be blamed for hating it when it is directed against them.

        • marvol19
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:19 am | Permalink

          “gender stereotyping is inherently sexist”

          That’s quite the claim.
          As was pointed out elsewhere, would you disagree with the statement “men are on average taller than women”?

          Because I don’t see the fundamental difference between that remark and saying that, in general and on the whole, men are more aggressive than women.

          So as to your example – I would recognize the shorthand, I would infer the caveats of averages, and then, yes, actually, that doesn’t sound that outrageous to me. It wouldn’t offend me the slightest.

          Put another way, you DO accept that testosterone and estrogen have a biological function? And you DO accept that men on average have higher levels of the former, women of the latter? Then why the reluctance to accept an inherent difference between men and women, following from the influence of these hormones?

        • Peter Beattie
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:10 am | Permalink

          » blondein_tokyo:
          Those are direct quotes, so yes- they did indeed say exactly that.

          Do you even understand the difference between presenting something as a fact and presenting it only as a potential explanation? Because it doesn’t look like you do, seeing as you completely ignored what I said…

          As to your two examples:

          “There’s something about childcare that is to some degree intrinsically female and more attractive to women than to men”

          That might well be true. Why anybody would, or should, be upset about somebody else offering that as a potential explanation for, for example, a higher proportion of women working in education is something you’d have to explain—because it certainly isn’t obvious.

          “The variable we have to consider in matters of custody battles is this— men don’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to give child custody to a man.”

          You seem not to understand the statistical point SH made with respect to active atheism potentially “lacking that extra estrogen vibe”: that is a statement about a general distribution, not about any individual case, as SH actually goes on to explain. In your child custody case, you’re doing exactly what SH says you cannot and should not do: from the general statement argue about an individual. So you got it exactly backwards.

          • Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

            Quiet so. If Sam had been trying to explain why there are *no* women in “the” atheist movement, it might well have been more exceptionable.

            That there are active, vocal women atheists in the movement is in no doubt (Greta Christina, please note), and Sam was not saying otherwise.

            (And there are certainly proportionally more women in atheism than there were in the queues for the iPhone 6.)

            Elsewhere, I recall seeing figures showing that religiosity is higher amongst women, so immediately the pool of atheist women is smaller. (Not necessarily by the same margin, of course.) Of course, why religiosity is higher is not clear…

            “less risk-averse women are less likely to go to church and more risk averse men are more likely to attend church. So, it seems that many religious preferences are linked to risk – those who fear risk go to church, no matter what their gender may be; it just happens that women are not as interested in taking risks as men are” http://ow.ly/BLMUx

            A variety of reasons (including risk aversion) here: http://ow.ly/BLND1

            Risk aversion might be *a* factor behind the relatively lower numbers of women in “the” atheist movement, given the opprobrium that might be encountered. That seems a plausible hypothesis.

            (I wonder if the same is true of other kinds of activism — excepting feminism, very likely.)

            /@

      • blondein_tokyo
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:26 am | Permalink

        As for Dawkins words, see my comment above to Adrian Lopez:

        “Sorry for my shorthand. The tweets in full read,

        “Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.”

        Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

        “Exactly. If you want to drive, don’t get drunk. If you want to be in a position to testify & jail a man, don’t get drunk.”

        Then he backed up a bit, by saying “In my tweets I explicitly stated that I was considering the hypothetical case of a woman who testified that she COULDN’T REMEMBER.”

        That is what he said, and every one of those tweets shows his incredible ignorance of the experience of rape.

        I could go though each one and explain why they are problematic, but honestly? If you can’t see why they are a problem, then I really am not interested in having a dialog with you. You see, I’ve had these chats before, and frankly? The way they make me feel makes me want to stay away from ever commenting on any blog or participating in any discussions with men on the topic ever again. The sheer hostility, the denial, and the sexism of people who defend views like this just horrify me.”

        As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

        • Peter Beattie
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:22 am | Permalink

          » blondein_tokyo:
          If you can’t see why they are a problem, then I really am not interested in having a dialog with you.

          Sums up the authoritarian and sectarian attitude to discussion perfectly: ‘If you don’t already agree with me, I want nothing to do with you.’ By the way, that’s exactly the same thing Ophelia said when she started her battle against “sexist epithets”, booting anybody out who insisted on getting an actual answer to critical questions.

  46. hawkofgp
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m unhappy in general with the culture of attacking people based on specific comments. Why can’t people have AN ACTUAL CONVERSATION and ask others to clarify their statements if there is something that seems objectionable.

    I think the fact that all this discourse happens through text form on the Internet is a big problem. We would be saved from a lot of misunderstanding if we could simply have direct real-time feedback that happens constantly in real life conversations.

    What happens instead is that these people judge others based on interpreting something they said in a certain way that may not even reflect the intended meaning at all. It’s just so unproductive and it makes me sad and disappointed that smart people are doing this to each other.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Indeed. It’s the first thing I thought in all these incidents – why don’t you ask for clarification? Do you go off half cocked like this on all the people you encounter in life? I wonder.

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      And it’s also a crouching stance of expectiing to be offended and have a search pattern for such things, and then immediately reacting in print on the internet.

      I’m not sure what gratification this provides the practitioners; but it must be there, somewhere.

      People would be better off emulating Lincoln: When he was REALLY pissed off, he’d wirte the flaimng letter, then place it in a special desk drawer. After a week, he’d bring it out again and decide it it was worth sending it. Very few were ever sent.

      • hawkofgp
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        Wish more people were able to think that way today! I think much too often people (myself included) forget to ask themselves whether whatever they are about to say actually needs to be said. The worst thing of course is when someone is consciously trying to stir up a conflict because they get some kind of kick out of it. Your typical comments section on the Internet contains a lot of this kind of sociopathic behaviour. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were popular bloggers of this ilk out there as well.

        • Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          Narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists. Google “psychology today Internet trolls”.

          /@

        • Posted September 23, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

          Before I post a review online, I read the exsiting ones and deicde: Do I have somerthing new to say here; and is it important enough to me to spend my time on it.

          Unless the answeres are “yes” I don’t post.

          I try to be as judicious in commenting (with less success).

          All that said, Sam Harris has asked his readers to (read his new book and then) post a review on Amazon, to balance the 1-star shill reviews. I will do so. I also do so with Dawkins’ books, etc., for the same reason. But I don;t post a one-liner, I post a real review.

  47. ladyatheist
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    Why do people of stature use Twitter at all? It’s beyond me, especially since they can write blog posts, articles and books. And why does he talk about rape at all? What’s the point of bringing up touchy issues and then wondering why people are touchy about it? It seems like a pointless waste of energy.

    I miss the good ole’ days of a few years ago when public people kept their private thoughts private.

    • GBJames
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Just wondering how you could tell if they don’t still.

  48. microraptor
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    You know, recently there’s been a lot of people here who have rushed to talk about how PZ has become so intolerant and requires that everyone on Phyrengula toe the party line. I’m not going to say that that’s incorrect, but I do want to point out how it’s starting to look rather similar here (only with less profanity).

    I’m not saying anything about how Professor Ceiling Cat should run his website- I’m familiar with the Roolz and make an effort to respect them, though of course I may interpret them in a way that isn’t how the person who’s actually running the website does.

    I just want to say that when we the commentators are talking about the behavior of people on a different website or blog, it’s a good idea to try making a conscious effort to make sure we’re not behaving in a similar manner to what’s being complained about. Not making any accusations, but it just looked like the danger might be there and I wanted to call attention to it.

    • reasonshark
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      Agreed. I personally find it more interesting when I read comments from people who disagree with Jerry and with each other without resorting to profanity and ad hominem attacks. Two recent examples I can think of are the “historicity of Jesus” posts and the “objective/subjective morality” posts, in which I’ve often come away with a different perspective than what I started out with Even if it’s just a refinement of the starting position, I consider it a valuable experience.

      Honestly, though, I just wished it happened more often. For one thing, taking potshots at creationists and religionists who don’t know what they’re talking about is too easy and repetitive. (Totally not telling you what to post, Jerry! That’s entirely your business!). It’s probably necessary, though, if the articles add up.

      I don’t think this site is in danger of becoming a slugfest for hypersensitive critics and “ideologue” bigots any time soon – though I could be wrong in my prediction – but I do appreciate your cautionary check all the same. No harm in pausing and checking oneself over with the critical eye.

  49. Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I have no strong opinion of the topic under discussion; I see more than enough tribalism and vitriol on both sides, and a depressing absence of the Principle of Charity from anyone.

    However I am sad that this particular blog has sunk to this level of invective. After re-reading Da Roolz, I’m puzzled why (e.g.) Shatterface has contributed over 30 pearls of wisdom in a single thread, and why so many of the comments consist of nothing more than ad hominem attacks. I though #7 and #8 were intended to address such things.

    I suppose that this comment may be interpreted as telling Jerry how to run his blog (Roolz #5), but I’m simply expressing my personal regret at the relentless Slyme-pitting of the Internet.

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      I guess I’ve not noticed all those ad hominem attacks you speak of.

      • GBJames
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Me neither. We might both be vitriolic tribal Slymey uncharitables and not even realize it.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          😀

    • Kurt Lewis Helf
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Ixnay on the ogblay.

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      » Geoff Arnold:
      so many of the comments consist of nothing more than ad hominem attacks

      Why don’t you simply point them out? They have numbers and permalinks, so that shouldn’t be too hard, really. And then we can have a conversation about them. If you simply wave your hands, then—contrary to your stated intent—there’s really nothing to talk about.

  50. keith cook
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Richard Dawkins would have been outed long before this hacks name callig if these allegations had any hint of truth and by more reputable collegues and peers I would surggest. Only then would I take notice.

  51. Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    I find it astonishing how difficult it appears to be for a bunch of adults who supposedly agree on all important matters anyway – here the importance of reason and evidence as well as the need to improve the lot of women both locally and globally – to discuss things without resorting to alternate accusations of misogyny, sexism, dishonesty, arrogance, wearing ideological blinkers, thought policing, lying, abuse, silencing and whatnot.

    Now I do not claim to know Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins personally, and nobody is immune to making the odd blunder, but they surely do not appear to be sexists. But then again, I cannot remember Adam Lee or PZ Myers writing that the former should be silenced or sent to a re-education camp either, so perhaps there is a bit of hyperbole at work in this comment thread? I am usually wary of the fallacy of the middle ground, but to the degree that there are two sides here they both seem to downright enjoy reading each other in the least charitable way possible.

    • GBJames
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      I could post a link to an xkcd cartoon, but that would be too easy.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        To repeat: “I am usually wary of the fallacy of the middle ground”.

        • GBJames
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          “…except when I’m not.”?

          • Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, believe it or not, sometimes one side is perfectly right, and sometimes two sides are both irrationally tribalistic, and sadly waving a comic or some famous person’s quote around is no substitute for actually figuring out which it is in any given case.

            In this case, I find it hard to accept that those who fill this thread with accusations of “bullying”, “thought policing”, “1984”, “witch hunts” are the totally rational tribe I should try to become a member of, at least until such time as Harris is thrown into a Gulag, or Dawkins is made to publicly renounce sexism in front of a Kangaroo court and then burnt at the stake.

            What actually happens is that some people write blog posts and articles claiming that the two said something sexist and/or clueless and are unable to admit it in a tone not noticeably different from how, say, creationists or apologists are regularly criticised around here. I disagree with most of those claims, and I wince when I see how e.g. the “I am not required to educate you” card is played on some FTBs to avoid having to justify one’s claims, but a witch hunt or thought policing it ain’t. It is public criticism full stop, even if one sees it as totally misguided.

            A major problem here seems to be that many people are happy with a nasty tone as long as it is only directed at “them”, e.g. creationists, but when it is directed at other atheists it suddenly sounds ugly. Which is why I appreciate the moderation on this site so much, where one is reminded to be polite even to presuppositional apologists when they show up in the comments.

  52. The whole truth
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, the comments below and some others like them also describe you and your blog, and your banning of angryharry is just another example of your PZ-like arrogance.

    BrightUmbra
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
    Just wanted to add that I’ve tried commenting on his most recent post, and it seems he’s only allowing comments through moderation that agree with his position or praise him. So much for free and open exchange of ideas.

    Reply

    Mike
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
    It`s either censorship there or getting called all kinds of insults by his horde.

    Also Blog writers who don`t agree with the boss get kicked out (e.g. Thunderf00t). So others know this and everybody keeps in line.

    This really reminds me of communism. Started with best intentions (sharing, well being of everyone, working together) but after some time the power hungry take over and corrupt the system.

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      Yes it`s exactly the same.

      That`s why we can still read your comment here and other comments, Jerry didn`t like, are also still on this site together with Jerry`s comment why he banned the users afterwards.

      But I guess that`s the logic they have over on the Foxnews Thought Blogs.

    • marvol19
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:15 am | Permalink

      angryharry didn’t get banned for simply disagreeing with the host, as is customary (or so I understand, I don’t go there myself) at PZM.

      angryharry got banned for posting something totally insane. I totally agree with that policy by Jerry – else this site would be quickly overrun by the crazies.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:31 am | Permalink

      Here’s the thing about free speech, everyone has a right to free speech. But that right does not extend to the right to post on someone else’s website, especially when you do it under an oh so very brave pseudonym or have crazy screeds to copy & paste.

      Any place on the internet that doesn’t try to moderate comments ends up like 4chan and conversation rapidly becomes impossible.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      “PZ like arrogance” – no, I just don’t see it, especially because many of us, myself included, have expressed contrary views to what Jerry has posted and those opinions have gotten through. If you aren’t familiar – google anything on Israel or Russia.

      And the implication that Ben has special status isn’t very accurate either as Jerry has told Ben to knock it off if things go too far.

      You might not agree with the way Jerry manages his site, but you can’t argue with the results; it’s one of the few places on the internet where you can actually have a civil discussion. People who I’ve shown this site to are always surprised at how we can argue with each other so politely.

      • Peter Beattie
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely. Thanks for saying this!

      • Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        Right on.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      “This really reminds me of communism. Started with best intentions (sharing, well being of everyone, working together) but after some time the power hungry take over and corrupt the system.”

      Might it also reasonably remind one of a capitalist private corporate tyranny?

  53. krzysztof1
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    It seems like a witch hunt to me, when I think about it, mostly because of the defensive posture of the accusers when it is suggested that their case is not strong.

    • Kate
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:55 am | Permalink

      How can it be a witch hunt? The tweets are there in all their glory. There has been no selective quoting.

      The implication is that if you’ve been drinking and memory is not crystal clear than don’t bother to report it’s your own fault.
      Dawkins has said he believes this story

      http://www.newstatesman.com/voices/2014/09/i-was-raped-when-i-was-drunk-i-was-14-do-you-believe-me-richard-dawkins

      but somehow I doubt him. In a court with the boy rebelling his ‘version’ with a lawyer saying she was drunk and now regrets (a myth that came up so often on his website after his last rape faux pad I nearly vomited) and with recollections of only the worse of it not the fine detail. Dawkins would sit in judgement and his tweet that she was too drunk to be credible is all that would matter.

      But that girls story is more the nome than Dawkins would like too think! Including not telling a single soul.

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:01 am | Permalink

        You disbelieve Richard for saying he believes a rape victim.
        Are you psychic now?

        • Posted September 23, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          No Granis I’m pointing out the huge inconsistencies between his two tweets. The first one where he states a drunk woman’s testimony is not to be believed if she can’t remember. In which case I doubt she be able to make a rape complaint, and the second where he says he believes this victim despite the fact she states clearly she’d been drinking and her memories are hazy as she drifted in and out of consciousness!

          Which is it? Because in court that poor girl would have been torn to shreds by a lawyer for the simple fact she was drinking!

          And read her last paragraph about when exactly would he stop believing her.

  54. Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never had any interest in the “drama” within the atheist community. I’ve been an atheist since I left the church in 1998, so people like Dawkins or Myers or Coyne were no influence on me. I’ve been a feminist since long before any of this outrage began.

    Feminism as a closed group is a lot like atheism as a closed group, but feminism isn’t closed the way atheism is. Both originate from a position of subordination and psychological oppression. Both have had very intelligent people do real research into how people suffer under the domination of people who don’t respect them. And both groups have people who claim to be a part of that group but possess no knowledge whatsoever about either the nature of the suffering nor how to deal with it maturely to improve your life and the lives of others.

    When I became a feminist, it was through study rather than social media and it was apparent that researched feminism, because it acknowledged the suffering caused by discrimination, supported all other groups who were discriminated against — except atheism. Atheists were not considered to be discriminated against because such an admission would undermine religious feminists, so it was characterized as a condition of choice, unlike for example homosexuality.

    At the same time the skeptic community also rejected atheism. It is not unusual for members of one group to want to reject people from other groups. I am quite happy that atheists have made strides to be accepted by skeptics and feminists alike. It would be wholly unproductive for atheists to undermine these gains by criticizing atheists who support feminism.

    There are asshole feminists who hate men and certainly have as much pain behind those feelings as atheists have pain inflicted by Christians or Muslims who sometimes become assholes themselves. Those people aren’t the movement, they just wear the labels. PZ Myers and Adam Lee are not on the side of those angry feminists any more than they are on the side of the angry atheists. They are on the opposite side of the phony Men’s Rights Advocacy movement (MRA’s) which is in itself little more than a rapist apologist club. The real men’s liberation movement is actually emergent from feminism itself, from the notion of gender equality, not a reaction to it. There are suckers in the MRA movement who foolishly believe social progress will come from their ill-informed reactionary movement. Those people are the same as atheists who think Thunderf00t or Dawkins understand feminism.

    They and their followers will still be atheists, just as angry man-haters will still be feminists, but the progress of atheism and feminism can only be made together — it would be impossible to advance either one or the other alone — so we need to foster respect for all other anti-discrimination movements in the atheist movement, because like it or not they are already under the umbrella of feminism. Atheism is therefore indebted to feminism and must show respect to the results feminism earned by itself long before atheism reared itself in the last decade and a half.

    I think it’s ironic that some people think we are trying to muzzle Dawkins and Thunderf00t while feminists can’t even try to muzzle their angries who are far more numerous and angry than atheists. If you think you can fight against racism or anti-homosexuality by attacking feminists, you might believe you can fight theism while attacking feminists, but you’d be wrong.

    • Michael Waterhouse
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      I disagree.

  55. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    This whole thing has proven to be rather upsetting. But as this batch of SJWs in the skeptic community yell accusations of sexism over mostly nothing (although I do think they have also called out real misogyny as well), I think it is already becoming more and more obvious to many that their accusations over certain incidents is mostly bullshit. Very few can maintain a sense of outrage over something with so little meat on it.
    Then a new generation of skeptics will come around (they do that every few years), and they will see this batch of SJW as having always been a bunch of over-reactive cranks.

  56. Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne, as a long-time reader, I hold you in high esteem on many topics, but not on this. Regarding the kind of leadership the atheist community needs, I’m more for Adam Lee’s point of view.

    Mr. Lee is on Patheos, like many other blogs good and bad (and many linked by RDF as “secular stars”). Lee has also avoided some of the inflammatory language of other blogs, and reads closely the texts he disagrees with (e.g. his many posts on _Atlas Shrugged_, which remind me of your diligence on religious texts). I think you dismiss him too quickly.

    I agree that Nugent’s been slammed too hard… but don’t see Lee as part of that. It’s reasonable for Lee to comment on a British atheist in a British newspaper, even if the initial squabble’s in the States.

    In my opinion, Richard Dawkins has demeaned himself with his comments on sexual assault of drunken women, a topic not well-suited to nuanced discussion via Twitter, especially when the American skeptics/atheists community is having bitter conflict over allegations against Michael Shermer. Serious allegations, for all that only one person accusing him of nonconsensual sex has agreed to be named by a reporter. (And yes, I’ve gone over Dawkins’s Twitter feed, which is a mess for one trying to discern a defensible coherent stand on consent and evidence.)

    When Dawkins tweets like that, or Harris chalks fewer women in atheism to gender-based differences in thinking, it’s reasonable to call that sexist. Whether they deserve noun-labeling as sexists is more a matter of opinion or hyperbole.

    But I don’t think much of their defenses so far.

    • marvol19
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:30 am | Permalink

      “It’s reasonable for Lee to comment on a British atheist in a British newspaper”

      That’s a very… interesting way of describing the situation. Except of course that’s not really what is happening here, is it?

      By all reasonable expectations, the Grauniad should be fully supportive of Dawkins: left-leaning, for social equality, not religious, anti-racism/sexism/homophobia, etc.

      But instead, they are running a clickbait campaign against him with weekly articles attacking him from every imaginable (and unimaginable) angle, recruiting (paid) volunteers from anywhere they can find to say “I am an atheist, BUT… ”

      Your representation of this is akin to saying “it’s reasonable for citizens of the USA to ask questions about the place of birth of their president” or “it’s reasonable for Putin to ask for the rights of Russian citizens of the eastern Ukraine to be protected”.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

        Dr. Coyne’s criticism of the Guardian involves the totality of their content that I haven’t kept track of. I do appreciate that paper for coverage of American issues, such as the NSA, that get weak coverage from our domestic fish-wraps.

        Part of Dr. Coyne’s criticism of Adam Lee is via boosting the signal of Nugent’s piece — which, while relatively even-handed, tasks the global atheist community with not focusing so much on fights within its American contingent. That’s the context in which I intended to frame my (minor) point about Lee’s placement of his critique being appropriate.

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      » paulhavlak:
      When Dawkins tweets like that, or Harris chalks fewer women in atheism to gender-based differences in thinking, it’s reasonable to call that sexist.

      Um, no, it isn’t. If you have seen the video of SH making those remarks (which you should have when you’re commenting on them), he gives a comparison: in general, women are weaker, smaller, and less aggressive than men. That is a statement about an empirical fact. It also has exactly the same logical form as that SH said about women potentially being less likely to be attracted to a certain form of active atheism. So, if you think that last statement is sexist, then saying that women are generally smaller than men is also sexist. And I hope you will agree that that would be a stupid position to take.

    • Curt Nelson
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      “…or Harris chalks fewer women in atheism to gender-based differences in thinking, it’s reasonable to call that sexist”

      Why on earth is it sexist to refer to gender based differences in thinking? This, it seems to me, is the crux of the issue, the premise that there are no gender based differences.

      More women than men wear dresses. Do you think that is not true or that saying it is sexist? Women tend to prefer men as romantic partners and vice versa. Is that not true or is saying it sexist?

  57. kelskye
    Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    This sane kind of thing happened to me on Pharyngula long before the A+ movement, where I was viciously attacked and labelled a “sexist asshole” – not for anything I actually argued, but because sexists made the same arguments. And the sad thing was though everyone could see that I wasn’t advocating the position, the horde was quick to defend the aggressor.

    Some of the comments Dawkins has made on Twitter have been baffling, and some a bit iffy, but the aggression displayed towards him and the sheet delight people are taking in that aggression are embodying the most disturbing aspects of religion. Toe the line or be shamed and ostracised – if that’s the kind of thinking behind the atheist movement, then I want no part in it. Moralism is ugly.

  58. Denise
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    “Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. He created Daylight Atheism to push back against undeserved privileging of religion…”

    Although I agree with the thought, the word “privileging” makes me want to run the other way.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:18 am | Permalink

      Me too. Usually closely pursued by ‘hegemony’, ‘narrative’ and ‘transgressive’ 😉

      RD has not been kind to that camp
      http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/dawkins.html

      I suspect they have never forgiven him.

  59. Larry
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Now that we’ve had a justified moan about all this, what to do about it? Firstly, well done Jerry for willing to stand up and be counted, but they’ll be coming for you now.

    Normally I’d say just ignore them, they’re a tiny minority of atheists/agnostics/secularists, most of whom aren’t even aware of all this going on, but the fact that they can get articles into the Guardian is disappointing and worrying. I now see them as analogous to creationists (oh the irony). Creationists have to be challenged, yet I agree with people like Richard who refuse to actually formally debate them.

    I now have a personal policy of never visiting FTB. There may be bl*gs there that are good and don’t get involved in this behaviour – I can think of at least one person who bl*gs there who is an ally of Richard. What would be great would be if someone like this would make a statement opposing this behaviour and move their bl*g elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, we had Richard launching “openlysecular” the other day. He’s actually doing something to try to change the world, whereas all that these people can do is examine the minutiae of statements by the likes of Richard and Sam in order to try to stir up a hornet’s nest of manufactured controversy.

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:04 am | Permalink

      They won`t make a statement because they fear of PZ kicking them out of his network (lucky for Jerry that he built his site on wordpress and not one person`s clickbait network).

      • Larry
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:21 am | Permalink

        Indeed. But what would be great would be if they made such a statement AND moved their bl*g elsewhere at the same time

      • Kurt Lewis Helf
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

        Actually, Ed Brayton started FTB and so technically it’s his network. Btw, to Ed’s credit, I don’t think he’s joined the chorus on this issue.

    • jeffran
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      “Meanwhile, we had Richard launching openlysecular the other day. He’s actually doing something to try to change the world, whereas all that these people can do is examine the minutiae of statements by the likes of Richard and Sam…”

      Ye shall know them by their fruits.

  60. David Evans
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    “It’s one-sided, quoting only the anti-Dawkins Usual Suspects,”

    How can you say that when it links extensively to Dawkins’ own tweets?

    • Kate
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:49 am | Permalink

      The tweets are there and as reported. There is no positive spin you can put on them. Women who are too drunk should not report rapes. Adam Lee is not putting any negative spin on that because he doesn’t need to.

      It is difficult to gauge anything other than Dawkins holding to the popular myth of women just waiting to drag innocent men to court. Yet I know of at least one clear case of drunken rape and another where the woman was drugged. Neither dared go to the police because of attitudes like The one Dawkins tweeted.

      I don’t think Dawkins is particularly sexist but I do think he’s spent too much time in an ivory tower. I think he needs to come down and experience the real life. He once said something about the nice moderates of religion propping up the extremists by giving them credence. This of quote from Dawkins does exactly the same for the tiny minority of men who are genuine misogynists and rapists. Why not apply the same logic to that!

      • Vaal
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:48 am | Permalink

        Putting aside what still seems to be a slanted interpretation of Dawkins’ position:

        You DO know that intoxication is acknowledged in the Law profession as a liability for eyewitnesses GENERALLY…right?

        It’s hardly confined on mere sexist lines to women claiming rape.

        If you are a witness who was known to be heavily intoxicated at the time of the crime, the other sides lawyers will seize on this, and it becomes a factor in how the judge and jury weigh the testimony.

        This is obvious…but the way you are talking about this seems to be a sexist angle, as if only women-who-might-have-been-raped testimony is compromised by intoxication. If I’m a very drunk male claiming to be a witness of a crime, the default is added pressure on my credibility as a witness due to being intoxicated.

      • Peter Beattie
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        » Kate:
        The tweets are there and as reported. There is no positive spin you can put on them. Women who are too drunk should not report rapes. Adam Lee is not putting any negative spin on that because he doesn’t need to.

        A classic: Not caring enough about the actual truth of a matter to even bother quoting what the person you’re passing judgment on actually said.

        IOW: That RD said “Women who are too drunk should not report rapes” is a simple lie.

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:01 am | Permalink

      Because all the arguments against Dawkins come from the FTB side.

      The links to Dawkin`s tweets are almost exclusively to things he said about his attackers (only one to a comment of him on the drunk issue – so one sentence to make a case against him).

      The article didn`t include even ONE quote of Dawkins but calls him all kind of things!

      Poor journalism at best.

  61. Vaal
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Well what a perfect time to vent on this!

    The recent criticisms of Sam Harris by folks like Ophelia Benson are quite dispiriting.

    I was only peripherally aware of Ophelia Benson. I seemed to remember reading a few reasonable atheistic posts she had written.
    But then from links at Sam Harris’ site I saw the recent squabble about the charges of Sam’s purported sexism. I followed it to Ophelia’s site, her dissections of Sam’s words, and read much of the commentary by her readers.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2014/09/not-the-sexist-pig/

    I was appalled. I’ve followed Sam ever since The End Of Faith and he has never said ANYTHING that struck me as being sexist; quite the opposite: he has displayed very thoughtful sensitivity, often to the plight of women particularly due to religion. He’d be just about the last person that I’d label as insensitive about sexism and women.
    I was looking for the explanation for why Sam ought to come under such disparagement on this issue but what I saw was mostly pathetic. Sam wrote in a very nuanced, very thoughtful and qualified manner. And yet that’s STILL not good enough; you can see how Ophelia and her commentators rake the piece over finding sexism still inherent, whether they can even SHOW it or not! And when there clearly ISN’T anything sexist, ah hell, let’s just rag him anyway. For instance, Ophelia quotes same writing:

    SAM HARRIS: ” Although I share the common perception that there is a gender imbalance among active atheists, I don’t actually know whether this is the case. I used to joke that my average “groupie” was a 75-year-old man. Happily, my audiences are now filled with young people, but I still encounter many more men than women. I wouldn’t be surprised if the split were 70/30. I would be very surprised if it were 50/50. Again, I am talking about active atheists. I have no idea whether there are more male unbelievers than female.”

    Which is a very carefully written, cautious, qualified and nuanced statement. Yet Ophelia replies:

    “You know, I can think of an explanation for that that’s nothing to do with Our Essential Womanly Natures. It could be that a lot of women think Sam Harris is kind of an asshole about women, and don’t feel like going to his talks.”

    What the hell? Nothing about what is actually wrong in what Harris wrote. Does she back up this “a lot of women think Sam Harris is an asshole about women” comment at all? NO. She was asked to in the comments section repeatedly to do so and wouldn’t bother. On that blog post she quotes Harris sounding very reasonable, and then simply follows it with sarcasm and the tone of offense, without actually showing where Sam is wrong or being sexist!

    At one point she quotes Sam qualifying how he meant that the type of “active” atheists involved in conventions, atheist events, debates, read his books etc, seem to comprise more men than women. And Ophelia characterizes Sam’s observation as “offensive and patronizing.” Unbelievable!

    First…what Sam says it patently TRUE!
    Obviously as one of the world’s most famous and followed atheists, who has done a great many debates, who is familiar with his demographic from also reading thousands of emails from his readers, who has attended many book signings, and many atheist-oriented conventions, he’s in quite a sound position to notice that he encounters more men in all these situations than women.

    Anyone paying attention has noticed the skew towards men in the aggressive or vocal atheist movement for years. Go watch debates on youtube. Count how many debates you can find where the atheist debater is female, vs male. They are almost always male. Look at the many videos of atheistic conferences, look at the panels of speakers, mostly male. It’s so obvious it’s often been raised as a big issue by males and females alike in the New Atheist movement: WHY DOES THIS SEEM SO FULL OF MEN, HOW CAN WE ATTRACT MORE WOMEN TO BECOME MORE VOCAL IN THIS MOVEMENT? I’ve been part of the atheist on-line discussion forums since the 90’s and it has ALWAYS skewed extremely heavily to male participation (as discussions on those boards about the very subject of “who posts here” showed).

    Does Ophelia give ANY evidence that Sam’s observation of the skew towards men is wrong? No. She just chooses to find offense in Sam’s merely suggesting this from observation. He’s being “patronizing.”

    A number of reader comments in that blog post had my jaw on the floor at just how badly they misrepresented Sam in order to voice offense. This tweet perfectly captures the experience of reading some of those comments:

    I do remember reading some quite good comments by Ophelia on atheist issues, so I am happy to take her good stuff while noting the bad. I don’t just dismiss her on the basis of one area of disagreement. But it was disappointing to find in her blog the type of behavior that so closely matched the caricature painted by critics of some feminists.

    Vaal

    • Vaal
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:24 am | Permalink

      (Oh, I’m sorry, I think one is not supposed to imbed images, correct? I had no idea that tweet would show the image – I thought I was just printing the link to the tweet. Sorry).

    • Vaal
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      Apologies, the Ophelia quote above was supposed to be:

      And Ophelia characterizes Sam’s observation as “insulting and patronizing.”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:52 am | Permalink

      Harris’s crime is that his comments are absolutely verifiable, measured, and reasonable, and hence can’t be attacked on any rational grounds. Of course this is really infuriating to the other side in a debate, what they seem to want is obsequious mea culpas.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      This was a useful summary about the Sam Harris thing, and I profusely thank you. What a total fool she is becoming, and it is sad that there are people falling for it.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      I agree with all you’ve written. Further, when the same people grew tired of unreasonably criticizing Sam Harris, they attacked those who supported him, tweeting out hyperbolic quotes and attributing them to “Sam Harris’s fans”.

    • secularjew
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      I remember Ophelia accusing Harris of sexism for using the word “man” in cases where the word means “person.” Even ignoring her extremist views on language, her unjust and public defaming of a man whose apparent crime was using the language correctly, just not to her liking, was truly shameful and ignorant. Never took her seriously after that.

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Actually, many people would continue to try to change common usage. Just because it’s traditional doesn’t mean the situation can’t be improved.

        • secularjew
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps, though I’m not convinced such changes are necessary (some give more power to the roots and origins of words than to their actual meaning, i.e. “mankind”). At any rate, it seems ridiculous to malign a person for using the language correctly just because you have your own view of how it should be.

    • Posted September 21, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Ophelia used to comment here very regularly.

      • Peter Beattie
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

        That’s when she talked about things with respect to which she was comfortable using actual arguments, and was good at using them.

    • Henry Fitzgerald
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

      One thing that struck me forcibly early on was Benson’s claim (her blog, 12 September) that: “…I’ve thought of Sam Harris as both sexist and smug right from the beginning, i.e. when The End of Faith came out.”

      I wondered: Why? Given how thin her evidence is now, what on Earth was the source of her impression then? Divine revelation? The author herself gives us no clue here.

  62. Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    With respect, Professor Coyne, you very much should dissect the piece, because all you have said is that you dislike it. Misogyny is deeply ingrained. One doesn’t have to deliberately be hateful of women to harbour prejudices.

    Talk of jackboots, thought police, the French revolution, and witch hunts is hysterical. Especially where those words come from Richard Dawkins, who has a huge potential audience, eloquence, brains, and an ability to actually address the criticisms made.

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:07 am | Permalink

      No, first Lee should produce quotes from Dawkins which led to his opinion. But the article is mostly quoting other people what they say about Dawkins.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:39 am | Permalink

        To be fair here, Dawkins did say a couple things that were not wise even without the current witch hunt climate; and he did not do well at walking them back. Those would be easy for Lee to point out. That said, there were other items that were totally ok, IMO, but they too led to eruptions from the skeptic police. If he (Dawkins) even mentions things about gender now, however appropriate, he will be excoriated by that crowd.

    • Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Misogyny as a specific meaning. It means the hatred of women. Not the hatred of feminists. Or idiots. Or feminist idiots. But idiots calling themselves feminists don’t mind hiding behind women’s skirts as if *real* misogyny doesn’t matter.

      • Denise
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        Well said Paula.

      • strongforce
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        +1

      • Posted September 22, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Yes, being a little insenstive or bumbling in one’s word choice is not equal to being misogynistic.

    • Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      “Talk of jackboots, thought police, the French revolution, and witch hunts is hysterical. Especially where those words come from Richard Dawkins, who has a huge potential audience, eloquence, brains, and an ability to actually address the criticisms made.”

      I beg to differ. I think Dawkins is talking about the “social justice” movement more generally, of which PZ and much of Freethoughtblogs are an exponent, and the deeply authoritarian, even totalitarian, leanings of their particular kind of leftism can be quite staggering. I’ve seen quite a bit of sentiment among these types for doing away with things like free speech rights for those who are “misogynist” or are just deemed to uphold a reactionary “status quo”, the elimination of due process when dealing with accusations of rape, and an devotion to feminism not just as a general promotion of gender equality, but a rigid ideology on par with some of the more quasi-religious forms of Marxism.

      Here’s the “base assumptions” of Double Union, a feminist hacker space in San Francsico:

      https://www.doubleunion.org/base_assumptions

      And while this might seem to be the rather extreme rules of one particular feminist space, I’ve seen a lot of attempts, sometimes successful, to impose similar rules in mixed spaces in the name of “social justice”.

      Not everybody in the social justice movement is that extreme, but many of their leaders and goals are, and most importantly, the social justice folks reflexively circle their wagons around the extremists in that bunch time and again.

      I might not agree with some of Dawkins views on social issues, but it he’s an active force against “social justice” Jacobinism, he’s got my support.

  63. Kate
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    Whether you think Dawkin sexist or not, surely even you can see this is a sexist comment. Smacks of drunken women bringing innocent men to court on whims.

    Dawkins has tweeted that he believes this drunken girls story

    http://www.newstatesman.com/voices/2014/09/i-was-raped-when-i-was-drunk-i-was-14-do-you-believe-me-richard-dawkins

    But would he in reality. When he heard the boys story which would inevitably match his story at school. And the lawyer who would claim she was drunk, consented then regretted it. I suspect Dawkins would revert to his claim that she was too drunk to be credible therefore shouldn’t have brought the case.

    Dawkins is getting very close to a religious take on women’s behaviour. Whatever he meant by this tweet, it remains a sexist one.

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:45 am | Permalink

      Yes, let`s speculate what Dawkins would do and don`t believe him if he says otherwise.

      Good that Kate knows Dawkins better than the man himself.

      And “Dawkins is getting very close to a religious take on women’s behaviour” sounds like the “Atheism is a religion” argument.

      Is she really unable to see the differences between religious views which are purely based on belief and Dawkins views which he defends with logical arguments (even if she doesn`t agree with them)?

      Is this the kind of discussion we want to have within the “skeptic community”?

      After having fought decades against the illogical arguments from creationists a new group emerges which attacks Dawkins in a similar way. I really don`t envy him.

      • Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:16 am | Permalink

        Please point out the illogicalities in my argument! Dawkins has tweeted that a drunken woman is not credible. He has also said this women has clear memories. She herself says she doesn’t. She has memories of an awful event where she passed in and out of consciousness and she is not unique.

        Dawkins then says he believes this woman. But in a court of law where the boy says she consented and the lawyer points out how drunk she was! That is exactly the scenario Dawkins was on about wasn’t it?

        So the man has contradicted himself straight away! And he has perpetuated the myth that rapists love, too drunk to know!

        And you know well I’m talking about the victim blaming inherent in religions take on women. This sound like victim blaming to me so what’s Dawkins excuse!

        • marvol19
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:39 am | Permalink

          I don’t see the contradiction between saying “I personally believe what this person X is saying ” and “I think that what person X is saying would not hold up in court”.
          Because obviously there are different standards in place for both.

          Please explain how this contradicts.

          • A Hermit
            Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:43 am | Permalink

            So the question is why does he believe that story but not the story about his friend Michael Shermer? That’s where the inconsistency appears.

            • Grania Spingies
              Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

              Please can you show us where Richard Dawkins issued a statement on Michael Shermer’s innocence?

              • A Hermit
                Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

                What do you think prompted his recent tweets about rape and drinking? Are we really supposed to think there’s no connection to the recent news… http://www.buzzfeed.com/markoppenheimer/will-misogyny-bring-down-the-atheist-movement

                This tweets didn’t come out of nowhere, there is context here.

                And if you’re telling me that Dawkin’s doesn’t have an opinion about this that’s not much better. It means he’s commenting in complete ignorance of that context. Or that he just doesn’t care.

          • John Scanlon, FCD
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:07 am | Permalink

            Saying “I believe you” could be construed as merely polite. Or as also implying “but millions wouldn’t.”
            Which would be not polite, but accurate.

    • Vaal
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:31 am | Permalink

      Kate your view on this strikes me as being quite over the top and, like many others, taking the most uncharitable reading of Dawkins on the issue.

      Look at Dawkins’ 3 tweets quoted in that article. He has given clear qualifications: it’s not “blame the victim” thing as he unequivocally condemns anyone raping a person drunk or otherwise. Rather, he’s talking about the liabilities of drinking heavily in regards to being able to give good testimony in cases like rape.

      He had already said don’t accuse someone of a crime IF you can’t remember what happened And you HAVE no other evidence! He’s talking about the perils of getting too drunk to “remember what happened.”

      In the case of that 14 year old being raped,
      she remembered some of the rape, but more important she had a witness rescue her from the rape! Obviously that comprises “other evidence” so why would Dawkins’ advice lead to inherently doubt the story? And he tweeted that he believed her. How irrational and religiously-hard headed is THAT of him?

      If that victim had been so drunk that she didn’t remember what happened at a party and had no other incriminating evidence that a boy raped her…would that be basis to conclude a boy raped her? On such non-evidence, why WOULD the rational person conclude “Ok, no memory of rape, no evidence the boy raped her…but let’s conclude the boy raped her nonetheless.” It certainly wouldn’t pass in a court of law…and for good reason. Terrible things happen to people, but they have to be able to produce good reasons to THINK the thing actually happened to them before concluding it happened. A drunk person who can’t remember critical evidence or details makes for a poor witness. Dawkins is being consistent here, not insensitive.

      And he’s right, is he not, that IF you want to be in a position to make a good witness to a crime against yourself, getting memory-erasing drunk is going to undermine that position. It’s not a “get drunk and you deserve it” stance or a “we don’t have to believe anyone’s story who has been drinking.”

      He’s qualified already the type of memory-erasing drunkenness he was referring to – that if you drink heavily you can risk not only being taken advantage of in the wrong situation, but also your position to even remember enough to make your case against an offender.

      What is “sexist” about this?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:18 am | Permalink

        If I was on a jury I’d never convict on the unsupported word of someone who was too drunk to remember critical details. I wouldn’t do it on any other charge, why would rape be different?

        (In fact I was on a jury in a more clear-cut similar case, a teenager was sleeping in the same room as a male relative, both drunk after a party, she had her first period the next day which alarmed her and thought something must have happened. An older relative hauled her down to the police station by which time there was no forensic evidence of anything. The jury was about 50-50 men and women, we concluded unanimously and instantly that (probably) nothing happened, most of our discussion was whether our Not Guilty verdict would seem more emphatic if we went back immediately or wait half an hour. I felt a bit sorry for her situation, the female members of the jury were less charitable. The jury unanimously added a rider to the judge that we felt the charge should never have been brought.)

      • reasonshark
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        Yes, I think this is what Dawkins meant. You’ve explained it well.

        I’d also add to your fifth paragraph a point that isn’t brought up nearly as often as it should be: the risk of accusing an innocent of committing rape because we lax our standards for determining guilt. This isn’t merely the possibility of a false conviction; there’s also the risk of the innocent getting severely stigmatized if we can convict via a low standard of evidence, even if they aren’t found guilty, because they are “convicted by public opinion”.

        By their own logic, the critics who accuse Dawkins of blaming rape victims for getting drunk (which isn’t what he’s saying) are blaming innocent bystanders for having anything to do with the alleged victim on the off chance they get accused. Of course, they probably don’t intend this uncharitable reading of their position, but in that case they have to admit their own reading of Dawkins’ position is uncharitable as well.

      • Denise
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        You are more charitable to Kate than I am. I don’t think she’s being uncharitable; I think she’s being dishonest.

      • A Hermit
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Let’s forget being on a jury for the moment. If you heard these allegations about someone you were likely to come into close contact with would you take them into consideration before going out drinking with that person, or letting him drive your daughter home?

        • strongforce
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

          Moving the goal post are we?

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:48 am | Permalink

            Looks like it, doesn’t it?

          • A Hermit
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            Not at all. See this is what the question actually is; it’s Shermer’s defender’s who keep moving the goalposts to pretend it’s all about jury trials and courtroom standards of evidence.

            But you don’t have ot have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to think that maybe one ought to exercise caution around an individual with a well known reputation for bad behaviour. No one (outside of a few blog commenters perhaps) is demanding that Shermer be locked up. The real question is whether you would, knowing what you know, leave your 18 your old daughter alone with this guy. I wouldn’t.

            • Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

              This thread, and Lee’s post, is not about Shermer. So, Hermit, you’ve made your point and I’d advise you not to keep banging on about Shermer. What prompted you to bring him into this thread?

              Don’t answer that. You have made your point now.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:52 am | Permalink

          There’s a difference between being cautious about the safety of your daughter (in which case all you’re doing is depriving the suspect of the pleasure of her company) and sending someone to jail for a number of years. Don’t you think?

          • A Hermit
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

            Yes that;s exactly the point. No one is demanding that Shermer be locked up. They’re just advising women to be careful around the guy.

            It’s also about extending support to the women who say they’ve been mistreated. If Dawkins can take the word of an anonymous woman in an online article describing her rape and persecution why should we dismiss Alison Smith’s concerns, especially when her story actually has more support?

            We even have James Randi acknowledging that he knew Shermer had a reputation for “misbehaving with the women”.

            Interestingly enough, Shermers excuse to Randi was that he was drunk and couldn’t remember such events. Now he claims that he was sober…and that Smith was sober too. His story keeps changing which by itself is enough to make me suspicious.

            Not enough to lock him up, no, but that was never the point.

      • A Hermit
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

        Alison Smith also has witnesses who say she was very upset in the aftermath of her encounter with Shermer.

        And of course in the 14 year old’s case all we have is her claim that there was a witness. We don’t have the witnesses name or their own words.

        So the question remains, why should Dawkins believe the latter and not the former?

        • allison
          Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

          People having consensual sex then regretting it later, and being “upset” about it, is hardly a rare situation. It’s happened to me more than once…

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      » Kate:
      Smacks of drunken women bringing innocent men to court on whims.

      It’s funny how people who say that sort of thing are so comically oblivious to the fact that their speculations say nothing at all about the state of mind of those they are trying to criticise and quite a bit about their own.

      Whatever he meant by this tweet, it remains a sexist one.

      Priceless! ‘I have no idea what he meant, but my interpretation is correct.’

  64. Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    And don’t pretend this is anything like creationism. I argued with them for years! Creationism is a myth. Men raping drunk women is a reality!!!

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:15 am | Permalink

      “Men raping drunk women is a reality!!!”

      Who said anything to the contrary? Nobody suggested that it doesn`t happen.

      Once again you`re arguing against strawmen positions here and making up stuff.

    • strongforce
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      “Men raping drunk women is a reality!!!”

      If this non sequitur a flailing attempt on your part to avoid admitting your failure in reasoning in your previous posts?

      Men and women both getting equally drunk and having sex is a reality!!!!

      Women having sex with drunk men is a reality!!!!! Btw, is this rape on the woman’s part? If so they I have been raped more than once.

      • strongforce
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        If should be Is

  65. Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    This is why I like this website the most. It focuses on the actual issues and doesn’t just resort to attacking people over the smallest things. I do still read other sites but they often seem to be very insulting to others when it’s absolutely not necessary.

  66. Bill
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    from this long list of comments it seems to me that Thunderfoot’s “Feminism poisons everything” is not that exaggerated as it seems on first sight.

    • Mike
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:05 am | Permalink

      But it`s still exaggerated especially since there is not one “Feminism”.

      Fighting for equal rights in all areas is often considered as “Feminism” and a worthy cause.

      What we can observe in some of the comments here and the attacks on Dawkins, Harris,… has almost nothing to do with feminism but more with professional victimhood and generating controversy for clicks, money and ego.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:52 am | Permalink

      The poison is not the feminism. Everyone should work for equality and absence of fear. The poison comes from the reaction to that cause. It comes from those who oppose moving forward and making us better (and there are sexists in this community), and from those who over-react and cry wolf.

  67. Mike
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    One of the reason for these “controversies” is clickbaiting. They want more clicks on the FTB network to make more money.

    Just look how the website is sturctured:
    http://imgur.com/f5ftTEJ

    The first link in the primary navigation bar goes to their advertising – the first link on every site! (Btw. the fourth link goes to their shop) Even Huffpo doesn`t make it so blatantly obvious that they are after the money.

    And on their advertising page FTB boasts about their ad impressions (150.000/day).

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      It was in the comments at Pharyngula that I first heard of AdBlock+ on Firefox. And then I stopped going there. How ironic.

  68. ScienceAdmirer
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Comments are now closed in the Grauniad, a shame as Mr Lee was getting a pasting

  69. Sameer
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I think Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are themselves responsible for taking a hit to their reputation. Dawkins because of his tweets and Sam Harris because of his recent comments. I don’t see why they should be beyond criticism. Also I don’t see why a bit of criticism directed at these too should suddenly be characterized as hounding and witch-hunt. As far as I can see, they are perfectly capable of defending themselves. Ultimately I think all this debate will end up helping the cause of atheism. At the very least it will show that we are not just another religion with infallible leaders.

    • Sameer
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      *these two

    • secularjew
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      I fail to see what Harris did wrong. He was asked to speculate, he did, and gave a perfectly reasonable opinion. What is your problem? Yes, this is a witch-hunt because it has all the elements of one, including the concentrated activism to accuse people of crimes they did not commit in an atmosphere of hysteria and under the guise of protecting the public from an almost nonexistent menace while indulging in self-promotion and power trips. PS. I would defend Dawkins too, but I have long ignored all attacks on him.

      • Sameer
        Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

        According to you Harris gave a perfectly reasonable opinion. According to his critics, his opinion was not so reasonable and was actually sexist. How does that amount to hounding and witch hunt? I don’t have a dog in this fight but at least in the case of Harris it does seem like his off the cuff remark was indeed a bit sexist in that he seemed to suggest that the “critical posture” is somehow inherently a male thing. His extended response was a long read but failed to provide any specific evidence to support his off the cuff hypothesis.

        The way I see it, despite the claims to being a rational person amenable to evidence, none of the bigwigs show any signs of ever backing down or rethinking any of their “expert” opinions in the face of criticism. In that sense they are like commentors on the internet – nobody every changes their mind. Sam Harris e.g. on torture, ethnic profiling and his latest remark; PZ Myers on his tone deaf comments about Robin Williams; Dawkins on his numerous inane tweets. They always double down. At least in this case, Harris could have defused the whole thing by saying “well, it seems I was mistaken in my off the cuff hypothesis. I was thinking out loud and after giving it some more thought, I don’t find any evidence to support it.” But he had to double down by giving a long lecture about how he is not a sexist. Same with PZ, he wrote a long post about how he was not actually demeaning William’s death. With Dawkins, he writes long “explanations” of his tweets on RDF website.

        The only person in the atheist blogosphere who has changed his mind publicly AFAIK is Hemant Mehta who set out on a picture book/book project and after people pointed out that the idea might not actually be in good taste, backed out and canceled it. I applaud him for it.

        • secularjew
          Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          First of all, short of maybe actual hate speech, there is no reason for anyone to apologize for their opinions, right or wrong. The proper response to opinions you disagree with is “I don’t agree and here’s why”, and NOT “How dare he! He should shut up and apologize!” Secondly, Harris did not say anything sexist, unless your definition of sexism is any statement that admits any difference between men and women. He was talking about women in the aggregate and merely proposing (“I think it may have to do with…”) an idea based on observation that certain things seem to appeal more to men than to women. Would it be wrong to notice, for example, that boxing appeals more to men than to women? If you’re going to categorically state that he’s wrong, you should provide proof for why that is. So far, all I’ve heard is a lot of outrage and at Sam’s supposed sexism, but no good arguments for why his point is invalid.

          • Vaal
            Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

            ^^^^ Yup, yup, yup!

          • Peter Beattie
            Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            Oh, shut up, you … rational person, you! 😉

          • Sameer
            Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            I think these are Sam Harris’ exact words: “There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women.”

            Granted that he was speculating and these were off-the-cuff remarks. Granted also that in general there are gender differences the causes of which could be both biological and sociological. Now, the burden of proof is I think on Sam Harris to provide evidence for the claim that “something about that critical posture that is to some degree intrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women.” I don’t see anywhere in his extended essay that he offers such evidence. In which case I think he should admit error. Note: I am not asking for an apology. I don’t actually believe that Sam Harris is a sexist person. But even then it is possible to make statements which appear to be sexist and indeed are sexist. I can see why some people especially women might take offense. If you can’t see that then I dunno what else to say to you. As I said before, nobody on the internet ever changes their mind. So I don’t expect anything different here.

            • marvol19
              Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:33 am | Permalink

              “Granted that he was speculating”

              “the burden of proof is”

              Sorry but since when does speculation need to be supported by proof?
              On the contrary, it seems to me that speculation is done precisely when and because one has no proof. Else it’d not be called speculating.

              • marvol19
                Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

                Put it another way, UNLESS the question was “Sam, do you KNOW why there are fewer men attending and participating in atheist meetings?” and Harris answered “well, as a matter of fact, I do, and it IS BECAUSE…”, Harris is under no obligation to support his answer.

                Anything like “I think” or in the question “what do you think” means there is no burden of proof, merely the question “WHY does Harris think that?”

                And lo and behold, Harris HAS answered that question – quite clearly.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      It is a witch hunt on these individuals, because every little comment is scrutinized.

      Criticism on details is not relevant anyway, it should go after their ideas or behavior. And then they do fine (except Harris on buddhism/meditation/spiritualism =D).

      There was a criticism of the US skeptic movements that was relevant some way back, turns out that US conferences or at least skeptic conferences had nothing (AFAIU) in the way of ethical and practical arrangements against sexual harassment. I’m fairly sure that is standard in Europe.

      But that must have been taken care of now. Maybe that is why we see some of the sour comments on “feminism”, misogynists wouldn’t have liked it.

    • Vaal
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Sammeer,

      People keep raising this strawman of Dawkins and Harris being held as “beyond criticism” which is ludicrous. Their ideas are scrutinized like anyone else – look at all the disagreements there have been among atheists over Sam Harris’ stance on morality, consciousness and free will, for example. People (like me) who hold Sam in high regard have no compunction in voicing disagreement with him on various fronts.

      The issue with the recent criticisms of Sam highlight the over-the-top reactions, the hair-trigger outrage, the divisiveness and tendency to box people into “us vs them” categories on the meagerest “offense.”

      I have read most of what Sam has written, seen pretty much all his appearances, debates and all his talks, over the years and nothing suggested he was a sexist pig – in fact, just the opposite – he seemed very vocal and attuned to woman’s suffering, especially in the context of religious oppression. In an off the cuff answer to a question he, my god!, dared to reference the idea of males being more aggressive and women being more nurturing (generally speaking). His reference to “nurturing” and “estrogen” struck me as clearly a slightly humorous reference to people’s general impressions of male and female discourse, in the same way as the word “testosterone” is so often used as a flag for “macho/male/aggression” like “there was a lot of testosterone in the room.” Joking references to Testosterone in males isn’t the same as “I’m now laying out a scientific case for the role of Testosterone in the behavior I am citing.” We can’t hold everyone’s comments to some absurdly scientific or literalistic standard.

      Instead of seeing Sam’s casual reference in the context of his overall work and behavior (which does NOT suggest he’s a sexist pig) many critics seized on the most uncharitable possible inference and you got things like “Sam Harris says women by nature can’t think critically” and that Sam was to be branded sexist, and (in Ophelia’s case) an “asshole to women.” They could have noticed the casual nature of the response and if they disagreed, explained why and asked Sam for clarification of his view. But his clarification had to come at the end of critics already dis honing association with him, throwing him under the bus as an asshole or sexist pig.

      Look at his post where he clarified his views:

      http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/im-not-the-sexist-pig-youre-looking-for

      How anyone can see it as sexist is beyond me.
      I see someone who clearly is sensitive to women, to the complexities of untangling variables in how we explain human behavior, nuanced, cautious and qualifying statements throughout. I’m a fuzzy squishy liberal about women’s rights, and gay rights etc. And I wish I could write something half as nuanced as Sam did on the issue of possible differences in gender.

      And yet his critics, like Benson, look at his follow-up and STILL judge it to be the words of a sexist – of an “asshole” about women!

      So when I see just how outrageously severe
      the standard is for not being branded “an asshole to women…one of THEM and not one of US”…it turns me away from any hope of comradeship with those particular persons on the issue (short of murmuring “yes,yes, yes” to everything they say on the subject of sexism). They behaving like the negative caricatures of feminism, which couldn’t be a more sure way of shooting their own cause in the foot.

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      » Sameer:
      I don’t see why they should be beyond criticism.

      As you should be perfectly aware, nobody has suggested that Adam Lee’s piece (or any other criticism of RD or SH) is beyond the pale just for being critical of them. The objection is about completely unfair and untruthful criticism. You do appreciate the difference, don’t you?

  70. Randy Schenck
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I believe many are missing the point that Dr Coyne is making by bringing this up. Any of us who have followed Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris for years would give very little thought to an article such as this one by Adam Lee. Trying to psychoanalyze reasons why the guy even put it out there is a real waste of energy.

    The only damaged reputation will be the guy who wrote it down and put it out to the public. His own personal motivations are of no interest to any reasonable person. Leave the pot shots and stupid stuff to the religious inclined.

    • John Scanlon, FCD
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      That’s very… reasonable. And yet a lot of people even here are defending Lee.

  71. JJ
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    “I’m not particularly concerned about the Death of the Atheist Movement, because I think religion is dying on its own, with or without these petty squabbles.”

    I couldn’t agree more with the above. In fact, I think these internal squabbles – while fruitless and divisive – are a sign that atheists are winning the war of what is rational. Our opponents have become so weak, we are now attacking each other. Reminds me of the Irish Civil War of 1922 (we defeated the Brits, who do we fight now?). It’s actually a pretty common event in previously besieged communities that start to gain ground.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Nugent calls it “US infighting”, which is pretty localized. Dawkins is not a US citizen but a symbol in such case.

  72. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    It is a mess and, yes, a disgusting one. When people start to sift through and weigh every word for or against an _impression of a person they have constructed_ it is a useless pattern search and an ill founded opinion.

    It is action that speaks. In that regard, the victims of these unfortunate witch hunts are in good standing and the perpetrators not.

  73. Zwirko
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Jerry, this is the sort of post I’d hoped you’d never write. Not because I disagree, but because I don’t want to see you impaled upon a 1,000 pitchforks.

  74. Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this article, highlighting the selective misquoting of Dawkins and the fact that his critics who falsely accuse him of sexism or racism, themselves hypocritically use Dawkins race, age and gender against him. And for highlighting the issue of the hounding of people who simply ask for a sensible dialogue.

    It is not just Adam Lee, but others like PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson I am disappointed to say.

    I used to really like certain Free Thoughts Blogs (FTB) writers like PZ Myers and Ophelia Benson, because they were so good at countering all the superstition, misogyny, and irrational nonsense put out by creationists, Islamists and other religious bigots. Now it is just shrieking. And vendettas. And utter pettiness. And the vast majority of angry, embittered people who comment on PZ’s articles on FTB are fawning sycophants. Many of the comments on FTB on Harris and Dawkins are pretty nasty. FTB seems to attract lots of les enragés.

    Why do PZ and his toadies dislike Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins? Supposed sexism probably has little to do with it. That is a stick with which to beat Harris and Dawkins. The reason probably is that PZ and his followers are Lewontinites. That might be the reason they find any possible reason to attack Harris.

    PZ Myers is critical, quite rightly, of people pontificating on subjects they don’t understand. But PZ Myers these days also seems to have very forthright opinions on all sorts of subjects, like politics, economics and history. But he doesn’t actually realise he isn’t as informed on those subjects as he thinks he is.

    There are plenty of other writers out there taking on superstition, irrationality and religious extremism, for one not to bother with FTB any more.

  75. d4m10n
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Blue Ball Skeptics and commented:
    Yup.

  76. Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Spot on article… Adam Lee is doubling down on his tripe and on the defensive. Deleting many comments on FB and his blog that don’t show the necessary support for his dribble.

    Lee should get used to his radical feminist playmates… because they will be the only ones coming around after a hack job like this.

  77. secularjew
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    In addition to political correctness and other factors, I think there may be something here that smacks a little of the belief in the blank slate. If you believe that the differences between the sexes are practically nonexistent, then any discrepancies between the sexes can only be explained by sexism and misogyny. In this frame, any speech that does not hold to this idea is not just incorrect, but actually seen as dangerous; not merely insulting, but harmful. Could this be behind some of the vitriol coming Sam’s way?

    • Denise
      Posted September 21, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes.

  78. Posted September 21, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Deliberately insulting our host is a pretty sure path to banishment.

    /@

  79. Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    To clarify, Richard did call Adam Lee a “liar” on Twitter:

    I also want the ‘hounding’ to end, but for this to happen Richard has to stop making such ill-conceived and offensive comments.

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:44 am | Permalink

      Sorry – didn’t expect a twitter link to embed like that.

      • ZenGuard
        Posted September 23, 2014 at 3:25 am | Permalink

        Dawkins’ comment isn’t necessarily ill-conceived or offensive if it is accurate. The author demonstrated far less consideration when publishing that smear piece. If someone spreads obvious and overt lies, why shouldn’t they be called out on it? The milder terms ‘misrepresentations’ and ‘untruths’ are letting the author off too easily in this case, but that is just my opinion.

        The invitation to ‘debate in any forum’ is also a transparent gambit to piggyback Dawkins’ popularity and should be completely ignored. The author should not benefit in any form from this shameful hit piece. In fact, the general response has been to pillory the author and the propaganda, even in the comments at the Guardian, which is entirely called for and appropriate.

  80. Vaal
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Just one more comment:

    It has been nice to have this thread to vent a bit about these issues, and to see the thoughts of other WEIT readers.

    That said, I hope Jerry
    continues his general trend of not posting much about these internecine “social justice warrior” squabbles. Many of us here clearly appreciate the very lack of that toxic environment here at WEIT.

    (Not that I’m telling Jerry what to post about – only expressing one of the aspects of WEIT that I have come to appreciate)

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Thinking about toxicity, I think “SJW” tends to poison the “social justice” term for those of us who simply care about equality regardless of nationality, race, sex/gender/orientation, or anything else. I came across this quotation from Virginia Woolf today, via the BHA, which seems apt:

      * My notion is to think of the human beings first and let the abstract ideas take care of themselves. *

      If we try too hard to take care of the abstract ideas, say “feminism”, it seems they can all too easily become dogmatic ideologies.

      /@

      • Vaal
        Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I just want to add that my reference to the “social justice warrior” issue wasn’t actually meant as an indication of “side-taking” on the issue. I put it in quotes
        because that is the phrase used by their critics. I’m not saying I agree with everything critically said about people often referred to by the “social justice warrior” epithet.

        In fact, it’s the very black and white thinking, the firm taking of sides and the hair-trigger search to create “us and them”
        categories that bother me about the whole squabble.

        I take huge issue with *some* of the criticisms I’ve seen of Dawkins and Harris, but I take them in a case by case basis and do not use them to dismiss entirely their critics as unworthy of further consideration on the matter.

        That said, I’ve been following some of the criticisms of Sam Harris around the web and it has been literally disorientating. Over and over again the criticisms amount to a combination of the most uncharitable reading of what he says, but more often pure misrepresentation. I’ve seen some comment sections full of righteous indignation and the most total dismissal of Sam, where I can not spot one iota of his view being accurately depicted. It’s actually chilling.

        But…again…while I think so many of the critics have been wrong about Sam, I don’t wholly dismiss their worth as participants in such conversations, as they seem to do with Sam (and Dawkins).

    • Posted September 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t worry about this becoming at all frequent. It’s stressful, attracts the kind of rudeness I prefer to avoid, and, on the whole, I’m not interested in such squabbles. I post what I’m interested in, and once in a blue moon some bad behavior interests me.

      It’s back to the usual business now.

  81. strongforce
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Excellent post by James Lindsay related to this subject

    http://goddoesnt.blogspot.com/2014/09/36-things-i-hope-my-daughters-dont.html

    36 Things I Hope My Daughters Don’t Learn from Social Justice Warriorism

    I have daughters. Watching the ongoing dyspeptic outpouring from social justice activists warriors (these being social justice activists who seem to have run amok) makes me dread their upcoming decade. Here are 36 things I truly hope my daughters do not learn from social justice activism warriorism.

    1. That feminism actually means the odious mischaracterization of itself perpetrated upon it by ill-contented social justice activists warriors claiming to work in its name.

    2. That liberalism means any part of the same.

    3. That social-issues activism means any part of the same.

    4. That a sincerely holding a feeling or belief, even considering it of the utmost importance, somehow can be construed to count as a credential by which people are expected to take them seriously.

    5. That rumor-mongering is an acceptable way to present oneself as a professional or for them to gain recognition and importance in any field.

    6. That the misuse of someone’s words to mischaracterize them and to slander their character is a way to get ahead, especially for them as young women.

    7. That hyperbolic and malicious misrepresentations of someone’s words or deeds is an acceptable form of discourse, particularly when in service to a cherished cause.

    8. That anything like productive conversations can hope to follow from smashing flat the meaning of various words (like rape, abuse, sexism, misogyny, and so on), as though there does not exist an obvious and meaningful spectrum of severity to various phenomena.

    9. That if they’re mad enough or offended enough, they are acting responsibly by saying whatever they want about whoever they want as unfairly as they want, including occasional libelous accusations, and then badmouth anyone who so much as raises an eyebrow to them.

    10. That facts only matter if those facts support their narratives.

    11. That opinions are only valid if those opinions support their narratives.

    12. That the experiences of others are only valid insofar as they line up with the experiences of those who share their narratives.”

    the rest are on his blog and a very worthwhile read.

    continued on his blog

    • GBJames
      Posted September 23, 2014 at 5:23 am | Permalink

      Well worth looking at. Thanks.

  82. Posted September 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I am closing comments on this page. People have had their say, it’s been up a while, and I don’t want the bickering to continue any longer. People who want to continue the discussion can go over to Michael Nugent’s site, where there are several posts on Lee’s article.


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