Stephanie Zvan is one of the hosts for the Minnesota Atheists' radio show and podcast, Atheists Talk. She serves on the board of Secular Woman. She speaks on science and skepticism in a number of venues, including science fiction and fantasy conventions.
Stephanie has been called a science blogger and a sex blogger, but if it means she has to choose just one thing to be or blog about, she's decided she's never going to grow up. In addition to science and sex and the science of sex, you'll find quite a bit of politics here, some economics, a regular short fiction feature, and the occasional bit of concentrated weird.
Oh, and arguments. She sometimes indulges in those as well. But I'm sure everything will be just fine. Nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.
33 thoughts on “Interesting to See the Resulting Comments”
Uhmm, I skipped reading the blog… Where are the comments? I thought they were supposed to be interesting?!?
Yes. Thank you for stating it so clearly.
Whoever runs the Pro-Life Humanist’s twitter has been replaced with a plywood midway clown with its hand held out and a sign reading “← You Must Be This Vulcan To Talk About Your Own Rights”. Guest post by plywood midway clown! Nice work Hemant. Thoughts?
Thank you, Stephanie.
Clearly, vulcanism is bad for reading comprehension.
It’s kind of surprising to me how many people seem not to grasp the idea that people could be upset by that kind of ‘discussion’ of their rights. Even if they didn’t think of it that way when they said/wrote it, it seems to me not difficult to grasp the criticism.
I don’t get it either, but after bashing my head against a certain brick wall for a good half hour earlier today, it’s clearly a malady than infects many, including “important leaders.”
oh that’s rich. the group whose argument relies almost entirely on showing people icky pictures and squicking them out about abortion is asking ppl to not be emotional?
every time another atheist/secularist/skeptic pulls this stunt where they point to some non-theist bullshitting about “reasons” for being anti-abortion and claim that’s what Silverman was talking about they do exactly what people criticized Silverman for: they separate the anti-abortion bullshit from the anti-gay bullshit and make it look like the former is to be taken more seriously than the latter. The impression given is: anti-abortionism is worth giving a guest-blog to (while pro “racial realism” or anti-gay-marriage secular “arguments” apparently aren’t); it’s less clear cut and less obviously theocratic (while anti-assisted-suicide and anti-gay-marriage is definitely clear and definitely theocratic), there’s a secular argument for it (but not against gay marriage or against the right to die); etc.
All of these create an image of bodily autonomy of pregnant people being up for debate. And in context (the wooing of conservatives) it means they’re on the bargaining table, where gay rights or assisted suicide aren’t. It means the rights of pregnant people are damn well being thrown under the bus here.
I think I “get” it. It might be an overly narrow interpretation of what a “right” is. See, you have a right to criticize. They’re not stopping you from criticizing, so they’re not taking that right away. Plus, they are using their right to criticize to criticize your criticism.
Yeah…I don’t find it impressive if that is their way of justifying their actions. If someone has the right to criticize, what is the point of criticizing a person for criticizing but not to get them to stop?
I’m wondering how that person would feel if PZ hosted a guest post about women’s rights by Cathy Brennan…
It continues to amaze me how many previously marginalized minorities don’t see this.
I might have to go read the post on FA again (please, don’t make me…..), but it seemed a fair amount of that argument was pretty much appeal to emotion, so this:
makes me wonder if the twitter post was written by someone else with access to that account, or the hypocrisy/lack of self awareness is really that bad.
Dana at En Tequila Es Verdad might disagree. 😀 Or maybe not, considering what the awful books she’s been reading for us lately have to say about volcanos.
[…] it stands now isn’t exactly welcoming to the notion that abortion is some terrible wrong (and for good reason). Saying “there are secular argument[s] against abortion” and then suggesting that […]
I don’t agree with you at all here. There are two important components to Friendly Atheist as a blog–news, and reader participation. Since FA does a lot of news coverage, they quote unfavorable views *all the time*. Sometimes they quote from other articles, and sometimes they solicit interviews or guest posts from people. Just the other week, there was an excerpt from a Christian apologetics book (complete nonsense btw, but good blogging fodder). The writers often make negative comments about these views, but they don’t really need to because the readers will pick apart anything for them.
As for what kind of unfavorable views are acceptable to present, not all of them. I would hate if they posted transphobic views, because I don’t have enough faith in the commentariat to disagree with transphobia. I am more certain that the commentariat will predominantly reject secular pro-life arguments. Stuff like atheist suffrage would be acceptable, but about as interesting as talking about bigfoot.
I personally liked that FA posted the secular pro-life arguments, because now I feel more sure than ever that there’s nothing there. We are not strawmanning secular pro-lifers, they really are that bad. You say that you do not like the debate over your own rights, and I think that is extremely reasonable. But how can we reconcile our directly contradicting desires? Perhaps, if we had different websites where we filled our respective needs.
I haven’t seen this post of the apologetics excerpt. Point me to it so I can see that Hemant frames it as a guest post, please.
Yes, fair enough. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/03/10/is-atheism-rational-a-new-book-attempts-to-refute-that-idea/
The framing of the excerpt is slightly negative, which definitely supports your point rather than mine. My impression over the years reading FA is that unfavorable guest posts and interviews are not out of place, and I would be willing to look around for a less recent example.
Here’s a guest post from 2012, from a Christian complaining about not getting enough credit as an ally: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/06/12/a-christian-urges-atheists-to-not-make-it-harder-for-her-side-to-support-the-lgbt-community/. And if you go *really* far back, Hemant used to have a Christian regular contributor (Mike Clawson).
However, I’m more sympathetic to these Christians than I am to the pro-life humanists. This exercise in finding specific examples has convinced me that FA should have framed the guest post more negatively, or should have had a slightly hostile interview. I still assert the value of being able to see the secular pro-life arguments.
You know, he could have written a pro-choice post and linked to their webpage and the Dillahunty debate.
Giving those people space on your blog is giving them validity.
It’s like giving a young earth creationist time at a scientific conference about evolution
Gilliell, would it be okay to not only link the webpage, but to quote it extensively? What about embedding dozens of videos of some absolutely horrible pastor? I think hosting a guest post is only different by degree.
As I said, FA has unfavorable quotes all the time, often with negative commentary. But I often think this commentary is unnecessary, since the commentary is too brief to contain complete arguments, and since the quotes are self-evidently wrong.
No, quoting somebody is different.
In order to honestly deal somebody and their argument you need to quote them. You don’t need to give them a a soapbox and a microphone
Hemant’s comment on that excerpt:
That is what I expect when something like this is posted. Anderson’s views are described as “bizarre”, “misguided”. His ideas are engaged with, frequently with sarcasm. There is no question of “degree” here. Uncritical presentation is a different beast. Go reread what I said about how people present materials from creationists.
Then feel free to search this blog for “abortion”. It isn’t as though I haven’t discussed the topic before. Nobody is telling anyone to censor abortion arguments. We’re telling people to take the same care with them as they would any issue where the “controversial” nature of the debate is maintained by bad arguments and eliding the human rights of others.
So apparently “women are things for fetuses to use” is not an idea he strongly disagrees with
Uhm, sorry for the borkquote
Last sentence is mine
I think I agree that the presentation should have been more critical, to be in line with the rest of the blog. I also agree that the fact that the presentation was not very critical could reflect a certain degree of sympathy on Hemant’s part (not necessarily to the point of agreement of course). And even if it does not reflect any sympathy, it was an error to give that appearance.
Although on the other hand, in general I think the negative commentary is superfluous. Honestly, what do I care what Hemant Mehta himself thinks? Either he thinks one thing and I agree with him, or another thing and I disagree with him. His opinions don’t mean a thing to me without arguments or evidence. Hemant’s usual snarky commentary doesn’t give me arguments or evidence, it just gives me entertainment. I like PZ’s “I get email” series too, and I also think PZ’s own commentary is superfluous.
Sorry, but I personally appreciate the value of giving someone a mic so they can spout nonsense. I believe in the backfire effect, and I believe it can be used for good.
This is distracting me from work, so I’m committing not to comment further, but I’ll read (and appreciate) your responses.
You “believe in” it, huh? So much that you’ve done what Hemant did where it’s your rights on the line? Even he hasn’t done that. I don’t believe you. I don’t come close to believing you. But boy, it’s sure a great place to cut and run in an argument.
Stephanie, I’m breaking my commitment only to say this: I reserve the right to “cut and run” out of any argument because I honestly believe my time and mental health is worth more than getting the last word, or winning an argument. I will happily state for the record, you win everything in this argument, not because I ran out of time, but because you are honestly and truly right. There. I will read no further responses, unless you send me mail.
…while getting the last word.
Because the anti-abortion people don’t have anywhere else to spout their nonsense? Yeah, it’s really difficult to find out what they believe.
Do people really not see the difference in framing between “I disagree strongly with this guest post, but I’m publishing it because I think it’s important to understand our opponents’ arguments so we can better refute them” and something like “And here’s a guest post from _______ with an interesting perspective on ________”?
[…] a hashtag started because apparently a woman’s right to choose is up for debate in the atheist community […]
[…] that was a controversial statement. For some reason, people seemed to think that because we’re skeptics, that means we have to […]
I direct you here and here.
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