Honesty Matters, Aneris

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…

  1. Discordianism sux. It’s post-modernist, and for espousing Discordianism I’m a post-modernist.
  2. Zvan uses “he”.
  3. Ophelia Benson’s wording was poor.
  4. Porcupine and rusty knifes happened, but the commentariat improved.
  5. Aneris sux, too, for quote mining and not showing the entire picture, and for Discordianism that espouses bending reality.
  6. 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.

That’s not quite the story told here. Or the one told here. But whatever.

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.

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.

Honesty Matters, Aneris

22 thoughts on “Honesty Matters, Aneris

  1. 1

    Shine that light, that light so bright! Watch the pitters scurry. Bullshit is what these people deal in, they aren’t accustomed to intelligent, honest and straight-forward discussions like this so they are out of their element as fish out of water.

    Also, we take note of Aneris’s willingness and ability to lie, spin, and evade so effortlessly. We wonder if this is one of the True Believers or just someone looking to smear shit all over the walls.

  2. 2

    Truly the best way to prove that you don’t quote-mine is to quote-mine in your post that says you don’t do that. JFC. And these are the “real skeptics.”

  3. 3

    Ah, the SlymePit, skepticism/atheism’s home-grown hate group. Don’t believe me? Let’s ask these sociologists about what defines a hate group:

    In the earliest days of every hate group, someone must inspire and lead the movement. In the case of other hate groups that exist in a physical setting, the hate group will continue to depend on the leader; however, this is where the internet’s leaderless nature becomes an incredible advantage to hate group formation. …

    after this initial spark, multiple figureheads (right-wing journalists, Twitter and YouTube “personalities”) took up the charge and spun a single person’s outrage into a solid movement. Eventually, as the movement gained its own momentum, it snowballed beyond the leaders. This leaderless quality what makes the message so hard to control, and so potentially terrifying to the targets they choose to harass.

    Yep, because they they can call “No True SlymePitter” and remove themselves from responsibility. It took Abbie Smith to get the ball rolling, though, by cultivating the Periodic Table of Swearing into the self-sustaining organism which became the the Slime Pit.

    Woolf and Hulsizer state that one essential feature of the hate group is that it can “provide a sense of belonging, identity, self worth, safety, and direction for those experiencing crisis or vulnerability in their lives.”

    Oh they’re quite proud of being part of the SlymePit, to the point of wearing T-shirts proclaiming as such. They have their own lingo and code, making themselves easily recognizable and firing off those signals of belonging and identity.

    After the group has been recruited, they develop a set of mechanisms to keep them confident as a group, spread their message, and maintain group order.

    Propaganda is the most vital tool in this process. It educates new members in the accepted ideals, reinforces the ideal to existing members, and provides them with convenient methods with which to spread the group’s message to those outside. Woolf and Huslitzer talk about propaganda as that which is used to “increase the ‘otherness’ of the object of hate.”

    The endless parade of Photoshops, the central meeting ground where they discuss and brainstorm the memes they share elsewhere, all of which is focused on a few high-profile individuals. Repetition helps quite a bit, too, but I’ll get to that.

    After successful indictment, hate group members begin to practice dehumanization, and commit actions without thinking of their victims as human beings. When they’re organizing an attack, targets are no longer human beings; they are means to praise from the group for “contributing to the cause.”

    Threatening to doxx someone else in order to punish PZ Myers? Transposing peoples heads onto dolls and placing them in shocking situations? Unthinkingly publishing someone’s home address to prove something to a person on another forum who’d never see the comment? Fixating on appearance instead of content? It’s all there.

    But no-one wants to wake up and realize they’re in a hate group. So to protect themselves, the ‘Pit has constructed a treadmill of myths and lies: they’re Brave Heroes hiding behind fake names, and from their obscure corner of the internet that everyone reads they ridicule the obviously ridiculous, in this case a small number of authors who’ve taken over an entire movement that has rejected them. The glaring contradictions of these authors need to be cataloged and exposed to the public who cannot see them, primarily by waving around quote-mined Photoshops. By endlessly cycling from myth to lie, they avoid having to consider any one in detail and thus can convince themselves they’re just a bunch of skeptical satirists.

    In reality, this just makes them gullible, credulous, and thus easy to fuck with.

  4. 4

    Has anyone tried to show or explain these back and forths with the pitters to an initiated party?
    I mean, I follow this stuff fairly closely. I read the Freethoughtblogs regularly, but every time I venture into a neutral playing field (or formerly neutral in the case of Nugent), the pitters just vomit out these obscure ancient grudges and an endless list of minor charges of hypocrisy that only thinly work when you interpret obviously figurative language as literal.

    They’ve become such an insular cadre of insecure dolts, vapid dupes, and just plain old assholes, that I don’t see how they can communicate with anyone who doesn’t speak their secret code. What would you think if you didn’t know who Ophelia or Stephanie were and the history of being targeted by these numbskulls? Could you even figure out what their problem was?

    “Hey, this woman said Dawkins was a sex criminal.”
    “Yeah, that sounds bad *reads link* oh, see, it was mistake. It was corrected in that comment right there…”

    How does it go any further than that? It’s bizarre and fascinating (recognizing that I’m not the target of the shitty harassment – obviously not fascinating to the people they bother endlessly).

  5. 5


    “Hey, this woman said Dawkins was a sex criminal.”
    “Yeah, that sounds bad *reads link* oh, see, it was mistake. It was corrected in that comment right there…”
    How does it go any further than that? It’s bizarre and fascinating

    I’m not the target either so I can afford to find it fascinating as well. How about: you start reading something, you decide quickly that the material is exactly what you expected (of course, how could it be otherwise?), so … you stop reading and start writing?

    At the moment this is the most charitable interpretation I can think of.

    Ah, and these words of Aneris:

    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

    That’s one of the problems I’m completely exasperated about, with the phenomenon being replicated over and over again, in myriads of contexts and conversations. It is known. Period. It’s 101 level, how can you not see it when OUR GROUP tells you that this is the case? Details are not needed – all of this is so well known, that something must be deeply wrong with you when you ask for evidence, expecting God knows what in return.

    I used to be naive enough to think that atheists/sceptics will be better than that. But … they are not. They are just like everybody else.

    Sorry, at the moment I can’t think of anything optimistic to say.

  6. 6

    HJ, I do have to disagree that the slimers constitute a hate group. In the paper, Woolf and Hulsizer state that a group has to reach a certain size to qualify. I don’t think the slimers have ever reached such a size.

  7. 7

    doubtthat @4:

    Has anyone tried to show or explain these back and forths with the pitters to an initiated party?

    I’m guessing you meant UNinitiated party. My question is where would you start? This shit goes back a few years.

  8. 9

    If you look at the group of people who interact on a regular basis, either on the forum or on Twitter, you’re looking at somewhere in the ballpark of 100 people. There are more than that who have ever been part of it, but people leave as new people come in. They like to talk about us being a fading, marginalized group, but they really only manage any volume when they get a larger MRA group interested in the same thing they want.

    I have seen the uninitiated come across their schtick. They like to reach out to people I’m talking to on Twitter every now and again. The general response is “What the hell are you on about?” They’ve built their own language and mythology, and the longer they’re at it, the more opaque it is to anyone else.

  9. 10

    Hj @3,
    Brilliant analysis, we think you are spot on. How much overlap is there between hate groups and cults, and would they qualify as the latter as well as the former? Is one a subset of the other or are they separate things entirely? Have you considered writing this pit phenomenon up as some kind of formal case study or academic paper or anything?

    Tony! @8,
    We have heard rumors that many of the pit denizens are actually just sock-puppets, used to give the appearance of a larger group of supporters. Specifically, that Apples, Jett Lagg, Tribble, and at least two others are actually controlled by Mykeru, the guy who makes hour-long videos during which he can be heard literally seething, shaking and slobbering with rage the entire time. If they aren’t sock-puppets, they are at least his closest disciples and toadies.

    If that’s not a hate squad within a cultish-hate group, we don’t know what is.

  10. 11

    No, they’re not all socks of each other. There really are that many assholes out there. The person who went by Elevatorgate had/has a ton of socks, but almost all of the rest of them are individuals.

  11. 12

    Zvan @9:

    If you look at the group of people who interact on a regular basis, either on the forum or on Twitter, you’re looking at somewhere in the ballpark of 100 people.

    My last headcount was 180, but it’s been a while. That number doesn’t tell the whole tale, either. About two dozen people make up the core of the ‘Pit, as top commenters, and surprisingly enough that’s also true for Pharyngula and Watt’s Up with That. Where the three differ is in the long tail; while the ‘Pit has 180 active members, Pharyngula has 1,325 and Watt’s Up has 2,805. So it still manages to be an insular community, with the top two dozen posters at the ‘Pit generating 60% of all comments.

    I take it you didn’t spot my research on the matter.

  12. 13

    We are Plethora @10:

    How much overlap is there between hate groups and cults, and would they qualify as the latter as well as the former? Is one a subset of the other or are they separate things entirely?

    There’s some overlap, in my opinion, as both rely on similar cognitive flaws to prop up the facade of self-consistency. The key difference comes from their actions, though; cults and religions tend to be inward-facing, focussed more on benefitting the in-group, while hate groups are more about tearing down an out-group. The former also tend to focus on more abstract concepts. Compare “the devil makes people commit sin” to “homosexuals make people do bad things.” But when the latter becomes not just material but personal (“Gay person X makes people do bad things”), it transitions into what Umberto Eco calls Ur-Fascism (PDF).

    Have you considered writing this pit phenomenon up as some kind of formal case study or academic paper or anything?

    Not really. I’m not a sociologist, it’s tough getting anything more than an opinion piece about hate groups past an IRB, and quite frankly the ‘Pit aren’t that new or unusual. Hate groups like them have already been studied, by smarter people than I, and the only differences that spring to mind are that they’re almost entirely online, and they came from the skeptic/atheist subculture.

    If you still want to read more of my writings on the ‘Pit, I recommend this. Forgive the blustery, gloating tone, I was just trying to attract the ‘Pit’s attention.

    Worked like a charm. 😉

  13. 14

    Stephanie Zvan @11,
    That’s even more scary, to think there are that many people out there with so much rage inside. We would have slept better at night thinking it was one person pretending to be many assholes, rather than many different assholes. But alas, we are afraid that you are correct, there really are that many assholes out there.

  14. 15

    Hj @13,
    Great analysis, thank you for that. We are looking forward to reading the previous writings that you linked to. You seem to have a wonderful insight into the pathologies that drive these pitters, and we can only imagine the horror that must come from having to expose yourself to their brand of hate and filth often enough to be able to discern what’s behind it all. You are owed a debt of gratitude for your willingness to stare into that abyss, and your ability to come back and provide new insights for the rest of us.

  15. 16

    @7 Tony

    You’re absolutely right, it should be uninitiated.

    I think I would explain the divide as the belated realization that there were a shitton of conservative/libertarian assholes that revealed themselves when women began asserting their priorities in the community.

    It’s the micro level that is baffling. You’ll be arguing about some substantive issue – how should we handle the allegations against Shermer, for example – and you get some response about a poster to someone’s site 4 years ago combined with a pet name for an FTB blogger that makes no sense, and then some ridiculous conclusion that if _____ can do X, then we should be able to do Y…it’s bizarre.

    You need to have such a detailed understanding of all the players, their petty grudges (Ophelia banned me from her site…), as well as the metastasized bullshit that keeps building from one interaction to the next, that it’s impossible to explain in any coherent way.

    At least I’m on the side that can say, “This prominent atheist likely assaulted someone, and now there are a bunch of assholes trying to excuse it.” Try to explain it the other way and you can’t make it three sentences without invoking some bizarre conspiracy theory.

    I have seen the uninitiated come across their schtick. They like to reach out to people I’m talking to on Twitter every now and again. The general response is “What the hell are you on about?” They’ve built their own language and mythology, and the longer they’re at it, the more opaque it is to anyone else.

    That does not surprise me. If I move away from the back and forth for a month or so, just coming back is confusing – “Did you know that tumblebumble said turtles were green on Lousy Canuck? ANSWER THAT!!!!!”

    What? I don’t…why does that mean people shouldn’t ask you to stop saying c*** all the time?

    At least I’m aware that they’re always lying, which is a helpfully starting point.

  16. 17

    We are Plethora @15:

    You seem to have a wonderful insight into the pathologies that drive these pitters

    Careful, there. My analysis has its basis in the normal cognitive biases that all human share, so if it is “wonderful” then that suggests these are just ordinary people who’ve come to extraordinary conclusions. Viewing them as pathological carries the twin dangers of dehumanizing them and abandoning all hope their views will change. I know how seductive that label can be, once you’ve seen the amount and consistency of the harassment they’re able to generate, but resist it.

  17. 18

    Whoops, missed this one:

    Zvan @6:

    In the paper, Woolf and Hulsizer state that a group has to reach a certain size to qualify. I don’t think the slimers have ever reached such a size.

    The dividing line for me is self-sufficiency: are there enough of them around that they can feed off one another and persist for a time? Sadly, I think we hit that point two years ago; when Smith was forced to clean up her comment section, they just erected a forum elsewhere and carried on.


    I have seen the uninitiated come across their schtick. They like to reach out to people I’m talking to on Twitter every now and again.

    They still do that? I remember when they’d self-promote in blog comments, and every reply I saw went along the lines of “holy fuck, what is WRONG with you people?!” I’d thought they’d collectively given up the tactic after too many humiliations, and relied on osmosis to attract new members. Looks like I got that wrong.

    They’ve built their own language and mythology, and the longer they’re at it, the more opaque it is to anyone else.

    One of the more amusing examples I’ve seen was Brieve’s website about Karen Stollznow. The splash page featured a big picture of an angry pit bull barking at the viewer. He added some small print that waved it away as symbolizing the volume of the debate, but to those in the know it was a clear dog whistle signifying ‘Pit membership (Abbie Smith adores pitbulls). Those not in the know would immediately think “crackpot website,” and close the tab. But Brieve had become so wrapped up in self-justification, and so used to interacting with his fellow ‘Pitters, that he wasn’t able to look outside of himself and see it from a layperson’s point of view.

    Their inability to talk with people outside of their group is a solid bit of evidence they’re not the skeptical satirists they claim to be, but the hate group that most every else claims they are.

  18. 19

    Hj @17,
    Thank you, your point is well taken. We definitely did not mean to suggest that anyone is less than a full person, nor that those who frequent the pit are “lost causes” who are incapable of change, and so we acknowledge that our choice of words (e.g., “pathologies”) was problematic.

    We just meant that whatever is driving them seems to be negative, unhealthy, unproductive, etc. Things like fear, anger or hatred, and jealousy, come to mind.

  19. 20

    [Responses inserted in the comment, because the whole damned thing is to dully long to repost by way of replying to it. –SZ]

    because it’s past time his games got some disinfecting sunlight poured on them.

    Ms Zvan, allow me to grace your blog for a reply. You asserted in the previous article, as a long form ad hominem fallacy, that I was a postmodernist and thereby I was unreliable. In this article, you admit that you knew that this was false. Correct, I am not a postmodernist. You now admitted that you lied.

    In this his article. Titled “Honesty Matters, Aneris”. Are you telling me that you wanted to be honest this time around? Good! Maybe you can continue on that path. This whole Discordianism detour here and in the previous article is nothing but obfuscation, where you try score points with nothing. What’s your point?

    Nothing I wrote about myself is contradictory. However, you’ll understand I have little desire to share personal details with you.

    [Not to interrupt a good rant or anything, but my first post doesn’t even say that you’re a Discordian. Read it again. Nowhere. Not once. It says you took your name from Discordianism, which you’ve said yourself. Explaining Discordianism puts the name in context so that people can understand that you should understand what you’re doing in selectively quoting. Saying you’re a postmodernist is just one more thing you assert I’ve done because you assume I would have done it.]

    You further allege that I was quote mining and essentially using a “gotcha” moment to embarrass Ophelia Benson. Nothing could be further from the truth. All parties involved are intelligent enough to click a link and look further into the matter, in particular as they deem it important. You are here confusing map with territory, as your “types” (h/t Ariel) seem to love doing. My link was an “index”, a pointer to a context. And I’m happy to walk you through it:

    It is of course false that Ms Benson clarified anything. She did nothing of the sort. But I urged her to at the time and then Janet Stemwedel to please do it (since Ms Benson might have blocked me or ignored me). Now, we can also look at the current article as it stands. Dawkins is removed from the main article, but he’s still there in the comments. As of present it reads, comment 5—7:

    aziraphale wrote: but did you really mean to include Dawkins among the sexually predatory?

    Janet Stemwedel: I take it Dawkins was being included among people whose sexism, racism, etc. we are being urged to consider as no big deal relative to his great scientific achievement (or achievement in science communication, popularization, etc.).

    Ophelia Benson wrote: Yes, that’s what I meant by including Dawkins.

    And the last comment after some other comments…

    Ant (@antallan): I’m confused by comments #5–#7 — where do you include Dawkins among the sexually predatory?

    Super clear isn’t it? Again, I urged them to clarify this. A clarification would have been, at minimum: “No, aziraphale, Yes, Janet”. Or like: “I meant that Richard is a sexist, but not a sexual predator” or something of the sort. So again, for the record, nothing was achieved by taking his name out of the main article. To fix that, she also would have to clear up the comments, or better write out what went wrong.

    [Here’s what I said in my post: “Not only did Ophelia clarify her meaning in the comments. She also went back and changed the text itself when the misreading proved persistent.” I acknowledged that it remained confusing to some. I said that Ophelia fixed that by removing the reference to Dawkins altogether. Now no one will be confused by the post.

    Will they still be confused by the comments? Perhaps, but not nearly as confused as someone who read the link you gave. If you think avoiding confusion around people’s reputation is a priority, practice what you preach. Then, don’t go referring to what you’re doing with your buddies as sharing something someone still has to “own”.]

    That’s far from it. Contemplate an alternative scenario, where I would have tweeted the current site (to the comment 5—7) and which I take it would have been better in your opinion (since my quote was your problem). So Ron Lindsay goes to the site, reads “where do you include Dawkins among the sexually predatory?” and then what? He would have asked Ms Benson what this is about, and we’re back at square one.

    Further, it is unclear what Ophelia Benson truly had in mind at the time and it is even unclear how a charitable interpretation would look like.

    Ophelia Benson wrote: This is what quite a few people tried to tell me about Shermer. It’s what a lot of people insist about Dawkins. It’s what gets said and implied about various other sexually predatory Famous Thought-Leader Dudes.

    I am not a native English speaker, so I can only be somewhat sure about it, however the sentence structure suggests to me there are two people who share the properties “sexually predatory Famous Thought-Leader Dudes” and that comes from the word “other”. As in: “I’ve saw a little rhino. There were many other cute animals there”. Which means, there is a set of animals with the property “cute” and “little rhino” is one of them.

    Now I tell that story to a person who hates rhinos, so I decided to not mention it (i.e. Ms Benson’s new version). Does the little rhino cease to be cute? Certainly not, it just goes into the set of “other cute animals”. Which means that without specifically mentioning Richard, he simply went into the set of unnamed dudes.

    [Now you’re back to acting as though this hasn’t already been cleared up for you and wasn’t at the time. It was, more than once.]

    Let’s suppose we go with the “charitable” interpretation. Nevermind the huge, red glowing context around Michael Shermer and that it could be somewhat tendentious to have Shermer and the word “sexually predatory” sandwich Richard Dawkins. Never mind all that. Let’s assume we all got the correct meaning, or better, it was all cleared up and Ms Benson only wanted to convey Richard is a “sexist” – at minumum.

    Should someone who espouses that view, in context on “outreach” and “the perils of idolizing human people” (the context of the article where she wrote that) be present when Richard Dawkins receive a Lifetime Achievement Award? Not my decision to make, but I think people involved in these matters should have the information on the table.

    I don’t have an interest in getting Ophelia Benson into trouble. That’s entirely her thing.

    [Again, if this is what you want to say, you probably don’t want to be telling your friends on the side, “She has to own that one then. I tweeted the information to Ron Lindsay. I see no reason why such smears are used by her for her advantage, farm SJ points, stoke resentment against Richard Dawkins but then it is hidden when inconvenient. The facts are as they are.”]

    My preferred situation would be that this smearing ends, and gets cleared up. Then I would prefer the scenario where Richard Dawkins politely turns down the offer, allowing Ms Benson to attend. Why is that? Because the CFI has to do with inquiry as much as FTB has to with Freethought. Nothing.

    Of course, in the future I would prefer when the sides part their ways – as is inevitable anyway. You can do your social justice warrior thing, fight the patriarchy and wrap your minds around when a person is “sex positive” or furthering “rape culture” and all that and those who are interested in other issues than dealing with insular US american conservativsm (or kink) can do what they like to do, like promoting education, critical thinking, and nonbelief.

    [Then you’re probably in the wrong place at the pit, which devotes itself to following us. Go find something productive to do instead.]

    Besides, the other issue you listed in the previous article are as unconvincing. Let’s take the “conspiracy” (Secular Women and you) at the end of the article. That’s a non-issue you play up with your histrionics, since both you and I know about the ties, but others play über-obtuse, hence it gets explained to them (like Ariel).

    [That other people are not as obsessed with us as you are does not mean that we’re hiding anything or that they’re pretending not to know. It’s actually a very rare thing to devote as much attention as you do to a group of bloggers, even when you like them.]

    Or the whole FreeThoughtBlogs porcupine language thing. You understand that it is a shorthand for certain type of violent shock insults, and they weren’t dropped at all. So you moved from rusty knives to porcupines to something new.

    [“Something new” that you don’t name because you can’t. There is no new violent shock insult. You just assume we do…something, because you’ve already decided this is what we do. This is exactly the behavior I was saying you should know better than to do, given the name you’ve chosen. This is exactly the point of my first post.]

    Great! That’s what the next line I “omitted” says. And it’s curious that you want me to trace the history of language on your blog network, where your side can’t even maintain the most basic standards of decency, as Michael Nugent is documenting very nicely.

    [Yeah, no.]

    Feel free to make yourself more rope. Cheers.

  20. 22

    […] they’ll move the goalposts by bouncing to a new argument. As a result they’re trapped endlessly cycling through their laundry list of talking points, so if you keep them talking a parade of bullshit is the inevitable result. At the same time, that […]

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