Aneris has chosen to respond to yesterday’s post in the Slyme Pit. It’s a dull little bit of self-justification, but I’ll respond to it nonetheless, because it’s past time his games got some disinfecting sunlight poured on them.
Thanks for the support, just don’t panic.She wrote a rebuttal and I welcome that she did. I like her article. It seems it boils down to these points…
- Discordianism sux. It’s post-modernist, and for espousing Discordianism I’m a post-modernist.
- Zvan uses “he”.
- Ophelia Benson’s wording was poor.
- Porcupine and rusty knifes happened, but the commentariat improved.
- Aneris sux, too, for quote mining and not showing the entire picture, and for Discordianism that espouses bending reality.
- Look Nugent! You are promoting evil slymepit version of the truth.
Well, not quite, but I’ll take the points as they come.
1) I not a post-modernist. However, for a naïve realist like Stephanie Zvan it may be the only way to describe the ideas which are put forward in a more scholary fashion by Kahnemann, Tversky, Taleb, Pinker, and other cognitive scientists, experimental psychologists and others. Richard Dawkins touches on some aspects, here).
I have very little doubt that Aneris does not identify as post-modernist. While Discordianism goes far beyond the moderate sources he cites, people disagree with tenets of the philosophies they identify with all the time. Plenty of people, as I mentioned yesterday, identify with Discordianism and its offshoots for no better reason than that they like to cause chaos.
Why did I mention it? Because it amused me to have had pitters trying to make out post-modernism to be some sort of Bad Thing, then have someone who participated in writing that statement identify as Discordian. (Post-modernism can be taken too far, like most ideas. It was, however, very useful as a critique of hard modernism.) Irony amuses me.
Because irony amuses me, I will point out that I did an entire talk on the kind of measurement/demarcation problem that Dawkins discussed in the link Aneris gave. I’m hardly a naive realist or a post-modernist, both of which I’ve now had pitters suggest.
2) I wanted to stay out of the gender nonsense. I made a point about that a few times, and there are also some legacy reason how it came that way. They turned out to be irrelevant for now, but they played their part then. She can refer to me as “he” if she wants to. No problem.
3) Ms Benson’s wording was maybe poor. The good thing is that Ron Lindsay, or Richard Dawkins or other people would certainly not make far reaching decisions because some unknown person tweeted a snipped of text at them. They certainly understand that Twitter imposes a harsh character-limit and that a link directly next to it is meant to provide the whole glory of the orginal context. What I personally think about the wording of Ms Benson is completely unimportant, because everyone was meant to see the whole context and make up their mind themselves. Let’s also keep in mind that Ms Benson is known to cry blood murder when some wording subtly goes against her perceptions. Again, two very different standards are applied (and that on multiple levels, since Stephanie Zvan hardly does what she demands, see this comical example here where she took a highly controversial comment from Brive, no context, no links no nothing). I also notified Ms Benson at the time (have to dig up that tweet) and not sure if I’m blocked, I asked Janet Stemwedel to clarify.
Well, let’s see. No, the link did not provide the whole glory of the original context. Nothing about the tweet providing the link said that there was important information in the comments, where Ophelia clarified her meaning. The link provided one snapshot in time. Nothing about it says the wording was removed when it continued to confuse people. Nothing about the link points to the conversation with Janet Stemwedel, where it was, once again, clarified that Ophelia did not mean what Aneris’s tweet distinctly implied.
Beyond that, if Lindsay and Dawkins would never take action based simply on the tweet (and let’s fervently hope this is true), what is the point of the tweet? The full story behind that tweet is of Ophelia fixing a problem when it was pointed out to her. What were Lindsay and Dawkins going to do with that? Increase their support of Ophelia? If you want to try to tell me that’s what the tweet was intended to convey, we need to have a little word about emails from Nigerian widows. Still, it is nice to have Aneris say people shouldn’t base any decisions on just the quotes he provides. In this case, I agree with him.
Additionally, no, Ophelia doesn’t “cry blood murder” over subtle wording. She does criticize it, sometimes harshly. However, she is also quick to praise when people fix or apologize for the problems she points out. That would, for anyone who needs it pointed out, be the opposite of linking to a frozen copy of the error without telling anyone it’s been fixed.
As for the clip from the Slyme Pit embedded in my Storify, Aneris is right that I didn’t link to the pit. Here’s that link. Enjoy the argument over what it’s okay to do to people at FtB, if that’s your thing. You can also compare the contents of that to this tweet Brive1987 sent me to see whether what I used captures his meaning.
— Brive1987 (@brive1987) October 25, 2014
4) Whether the commentariat significantly improved is irrelevant. There is no papertrail and no point that comes to mind where these past practices where condemned, apologies issued and stated that one wants to do better. In fact, the current rules still have the same point in short form: “V. Recommended attitudes: This is a rude blog. Expect rough handling.”. It also says they should be charitable and all that, but it’s never a value PZ Myers particularily cherished or promoted, as opposed to rudeness, which he is very proud of. Further, the issues aren’t years old (Chris Clarke left about a year ago); other people are held accountable for even older quotes (e.g. TJ’s 8 year old quote); it was specifically demanded by Greta Christina & Ed Brayton to carry old issues along to make sure a person remains a pariah.
No, it is not irrelevant whether the situation in comments has changed when you claim, “It is uncontroversial that FTB is a ‘rude’ blog, where rude means shock insults of sexual/graphical violent nature.” [emphasis added] The fact that Pharyngula has changed is directly relevant to that claim (aside from the fact that the claim conflates FtB and Pharyngula) and directly contradicts it. It makes the claim a straightforward lie. It is exactly relevant.
There is also, in fact, a paper trail. I linked to multiple places where Aneris could read through the process of Pharyngula creating a better atmosphere for commenting, if he were willing to challenge his own views. Instead of doing that, he’s simply denying those exist.
5) Quote mine? tweeting the relevant passage as much as Twitter permitted together with the link. That’s not a quote mine at all. A quote mine is taking a snipped out of context so it gives an entirely false picture of what was written, often something like a rhetorical introdcution that is then addressed and refuted. Ophelia Benson does think that Richard Dawkins is a sexist at the very least and placed him next to Michael Schermer with a very well known context. If that was just all poor wording and very careless, then Ms Benson can very easily just write down in clear words what she meant to convey or how that could happen. These are too serious allegations and too close to the official FTB narrative than I am willing to believe it was just mea culpa. See the current troubles of Michael Nugent for another example (for later reference: he was accused of harbouring and defending harassers, misogynist and rapists by PZ Myers and it was repeated by others, without evidence).
I’ve already gone over why both the claim about Ophelia’s post and the claim about the porcupine are quote mines. There is no gain to Aneris presenting either except as quote mines, because the full context invalidates Aneris’s thesis.
As for “the official FTB narrative”, that is exactly the problem with all this stuff that Aneris is writing. He’s convinced himself that there’s some sort of schema for going after people who disagree with us. It’s long and full of right-wing paranoia, but you can read the whole thing if you want to. Now that he’s built his conspiracy, he has to fit everything into it.
It doesn’t matter that no one I know of has suggested Dawkins has harassed or assaulted anyone in the two-plus years that harassment by big-name speakers has been discussed. That still has to be what we’re doing because that’s what we do. It’s a circular argument that would be instantly laughed away by anyone who wasn’t deeply invested in thinking we’re doing something evil. It’s also a perfect example of the Aneristic Principle in action. He sees what he believes because he believes it, not because it’s there.
6) The primary idea seems to be, not only a throughout actual ad hominem (Aneris is just a post-modernist and thus all can be dismissed, I’m not worried about that), but in particular to downplay the issues that were brought up on Michael Nugent’s blog and in order to make him distance himself — i.e. denounce, just as explained here.
No, I thought I’d just let you spew lies at Nugent’s unchallenged. I mean, that’s what any reasonable person would do, right? They’d let it go unchallenged that you just put this up at Nugent’s:
Stephanie Zvan wrote²: It’s an unpalatable thing to say, yes, but I’ll say it. Creating a system in which schools explicitly put accusers and accused on equal footing with regard to sexual harassment and rape will result in more innocent people being found guilty. I am willing to accept that, because the alternative is even less acceptable.
“We would gladly burn a hundred if just one of them was guilty.” – attributed to Konrad of Marburg (1195—1233)
There’s a link, of course, to this post. What there is not is any indication of what the alternative is. Here’s what comes directly after the part of my post that was quoted:
Do I want to see any false positives in findings on sexual harassment and assault? No. I don’t want to see any false negatives either. But wanting what I want will not create that perfect system.
There will always be results returned in error. The best we can do is minimize those errors and ensure that there is no systematic unfairness in how those errors hurt people. Right now, there is. The White House’s actions under Title IX addresses that unfairness. Any legitimate criticism of those actions must address that current unfairness as well.
By selectively quoting, Aneris has turned my argument for balancing the one-sided system currently on many campuses into a hunt for every last rapist, no matter the cost. Sure, I should sit back and not object when Nugent allows that kind of toxic dishonesty in his comments. Pull the other one. Or stop the bullshit. Either is fine by me.