More on Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent

Ashley to Michael: I'm asking whether it's unreasonable for someone to feel uncomfortable when you say it's wrong to call Shermer a rapist.  Michael to Ashley: That's a question I haven't heard before. I don't know. I'll think about it and get back to you. Capped from Damion Reinhardt's Storify

I wanted to respond at length to both Michael Nugent, who I’ve spoken with over Twitter, and to many commenters who agree with him in the previous post and on Twitter.

I don’t have a problem with Michael Nugent’s distaste for PZ’s tone.  I don’t agree in general, though like Nugent, I found PZ to be lacking in his posts about Dawkin’s childhood sex abuse and Robin Williams’ suicide.  PZ has always been a pit bull, and it generally gives his posts clarity and humor, both of which I appreciate.  But, I don’t really care if you hate that, that’s fine, to each his own.

I also don’t really have a problem with Atheist Ireland’s dissociation with PZ.  Again, freedom of association, to each their own.  I do think that, while they’ve made an exhaustive list of why they don’t like his tone, they’ve failed entirely to even try to make a case as to why an American blogger’s tone has any relevance to the work they are doing.  I’m not sure what harm PZ has actually caused to Atheist Ireland, beyond making Michael Nugent very unhappy. Why Atheist Ireland’s agenda includes breaking up with bloggers is beyond me.

The problem I have with Michael Nugent fundamentally boils down to his 9/17/14 blog post in which he equivalizes his complaints about PZ’s tone in his posts to PZ agreeing to post a firsthand account of rape in which the victim names her rapist.  This post by Nugent is in response to a lengthy, in-depth article by well-respected journalist Mark Oppenheimer, known for his work at the New York Times, in which Oppenheimer details multiple accusations of misbehavior on the part of Michael Shermer.

PZ’s tone in that blog post is approximately, “I was given this information and it felt unethical not to give this woman the platform she asked for to share her story because I have every reason to believe her, so I am doing so and fully expect it to explode in my face.”  In that post, he describes Shermer as a “putative assailant” and notes that the assault was reported to an organization (the JREF) at the time.  Other women wrote to PZ with their own stories of Shermer’s inappropriate behavior towards them or their witnessing of the event, which PZ also shared. To date, the number of individuals on record with accounts of Shermer behaving inappropriately at conferences is 15 named individuals and 6 unnamed (best collection, additional article forthcoming).

Michael Nugent writes on 9/17/14, in light of the Oppenheimer article.

In the last year or so, he [PZ] has publicly accused Richard Dawkins of seeming to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children, Michael Shermer of multiple unreported serious crimes, and Russell Blackford of being a lying fuckhead.

In recent days, he has written that Richard Dawkins has been eaten by brain parasites and is grossly dishonest, that Christina Hoff Sommers promotes lies about feminism and claims them as inalienable truths, that Michael Shermer is a liar and an assailant, and that Sam Harris has scurried off to write a tendentious and inexcusably boring defence of sticking his foot in his mouth.

One of these things is not like the other one, not like the other one, not like the other one…

The post in which PZ indirectly calls Shermer a liar is here, where he posts Shermer’s changing accounts of the evening he is accused of rape by opening with “It’s always the changing story that gives the liar away.”

In my opinion, “putative assailant” and “It’s always the changing story that gives the liar away” are a bit soft, but I’ll take it.  As for accusing Shermer of crimes, well, no, he allowed others the space to do that.

Here’s what I find offensive about this:

  1. He’s misportraying what PZ has actually written about Shermer by dropping the “putative;” by failing to note that it is not PZ who is making the accusations, but actual victims themselves; and by complaining about the use of the word “liar,” which is merely defined as someone who changes their story and then attached to Michael Shermer changing his story
  2. That he is mixing up PZ’s examination of Shermer’s behavior with a complaint of PZ’s over-the-top rhetoric, when they are entirely different things. Not of a kind at all. Unless all negative things that involve atheist celebrities are the same, regardless of tone.
  3. That he seems to care more about PZ calling Shermer a liar than about the fact that Shermer did, in fact, change his story about the night in which he is accused of rape
  4. That he seems to care more about Shermer being accused of rape than whether giving a victim space to speak to Shermer’s behavior is a worthwhile thing to do in light of the fact that the statute of limitations has passed
  5. He only complains about PZ’s behavior around Shermer in the aftermath of a professional journalist doing a thorough investigation into Shermer’s behavior in which that investigator found it safe, prudent, and worthwhile to report those same accusations publicly in a major publication
  6. He seems to offer no space for anyone to come to the reasonable conclusion that Shermer is guilty of being an assailant and liar and that anyone who does so and dares to speak so aloud will be just as much persona non grata to him as PZ

Again, to me the worst part of this is that Nugent seems to think that calling someone a fuckhead is the same crime against tone as calling them a rapist in light of very credible evidence that they have committed a rape.  Rapist is not an insult.  Neither are assailant, harasser, and liar, for that matter.  These are descriptions of behavior that it seems very clear to me that Shermer has engaged in.

If it’s not clear to you that Shermer has done these things, then fine.  But here’s what we know.

Alison and Shermer’s stories agree on these salient points – they had sex and he was sober and she had too much to drink.  They disagree on these salient points – she says she did not consent and that she was too drunk to have consented at the point they had sex, he says she’d sobered up by that point.  So, we know they had sex, that he was sober when they had sex, even if we cannot know if she said yes in the room and you refuse to take her word, we have eyewitness testimony from others about how drunk she was before and after they had sex.  She was so drunk that at least 30 minutes after their encounter, hotel security gave her friend a wheelchair to help her get around because of how much difficulty she was having walking.  James Randi confirms that he knows Shermer was misbehaving at his conferences, likely in reference to Alison.

If you accept that it is rape for someone who is sober to have sex with someone who is drunk, Shermer raped Alison.

However, neither you, dear reader, nor Michael Nugent has to conclude that Shermer is a rapist, though I don’t know how someone can be intellectually honest and look at his pattern of behavior, his shifting story, and what happened that night and come to any other conclusion, but I think it is unsupportable to claim that someone is in the wrong for coming to the conclusion that his is a rapist and a liar.  Doing so undermines any other claim you make.  And it drives away many reasonable people who’ve come to that conclusion in light of the evidence around Shermer.

Finally, complaining about someone calling Shermer an assailant and a liar – particularly in the way PZ actually did so and in light of this evidence — is why the statement “defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists” is not unreasonable.  “Defending and providing a haven for” doesn’t require the presence of the people being defended and being provided a safe space. Particularly when a reading of this could legitimately apply “defend” and “haven” unequally to the list, as one of “and”’s meanings is “and/or,” making a legitimate reading of the sentence: “Defending and/or providing haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.”  It’s not a charitable view of Nugent’s blog, but he didn’t give PZ’s a terribly charitable one either.

I don’t think that it is Nugent’s intent to create a safe space for Michael Shermer, nor do I think it is his intent to make people who find Michael Shermer’s behavior intensely disgusting feel unwelcome.  But I do think that is what happened on 9/17/14 and has been in snowball effect ever since.  Nugent has been, to his mind, fighting PZ’s tone, but people who are horrified at Shermer’s behavior have seen it primarily as a defense of Shermer.  I hope that Nugent can understand why that might be and why, for whatever PZ’s tone is, a place where Shermer is clearly unwelcome is preferable to some of us than a place where the word “fuckhead” won’t be used.

{advertisement}
More on Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent
{advertisement}
The Orbit is (STILL!) a defendant in a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

700 thoughts on “More on Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent

  1. 1

    Something to note is that Michael Nugent has always had a pet peeve about the word “liar” as long as I’ve been commenting on his blog (back when he hosted the talks over elevatorgate). Others do as well, since it assigns intent to someone that may not be there and they think it could cause legal problems for the blog host if not true.

  2. 3

    Oh, FFS:

    She was so drunk that at least 30 minutes after their encounter, hotel security gave her friend a wheelchair to help her get around because of how much difficulty she was having walking.

    You could actually address the specifics, instead of immediately attempting to derail with yet another merry-go-round of what precise BAC and level of cognitive impairment meets a legal standard of “unable to consent”. Personally, I think there are actually very difficult and complex questions to be explored there, but that can’t possibly happen when every discussion is subject to people arguing in bad faith.

  3. 4

    Some men and women believe they have lost the ability to safely make important decisions after only one or two glasses of mild wine.

    Some women and men believe they retain the ability to safely make important decisions after a quart of overproof single malt.

    Some people insist that anyone who has had any alcohol at all to drink is incapable of making any important decisions.

    Some people insist that many people can drink large, even very large amounts of alcohol and retain the ability to make important decisions.

    1. Define drunk.

    2. Define too drunk.

    3. Define consent.

    4. Define too drunk too consent.

    If you’re going to set the law, you must define and set the parameters. Otherwise, it’s all just arbitrary whimsy.

  4. 6

    PatrickG, that’s after the fact. People continue to get drunker, so to speak, for several hours after the last drink they consumed.

    As above. Provide some definitions, rather than just angry ideology.

  5. 7

    > I do think that, while they’ve made an exhaustive list of why they don’t like his tone, they’ve failed entirely to even try to make a case as to why an American blogger’s tone has any relevance to the work they are doing.

    What happens in America, stays in America. (What happens in Saudi Arabia stays in Saudi Arabia) (What happens in China …)

    and

    How can an American atheist leader writing that a leader of Atheist Ireland is providing a safe haven for rapists et. al. effect Atheist Ireland’s works (which include advocacy of reproductive rights for women?)

    To repeat from my comment in your other post, if you’re as smart and as astute as the quality of your writing leads me to believe, I have to conclude you are a shitty human being. Um, I mean that sincerely.

  6. 9

    The witness accounts of her state of mind and overall demeanor after the encounter seem to support the idea that, whatever her level of inebriation, she was extremely distressed. Which would be consistent with an assault.

  7. 11

    johngreg, you’re clearly commenting at the wrong site. The topic at hand is Shermer, PZ, and Michael Nugent (see title of post), not establishing legal parameters for consent under the influence of intoxicants. You may even note that Ashley Miller specifically said “if you accept”, not “this is the standard”, “you must accept”, or “it is indisputable that”.

    Of course, I really can only conclude that you think ‘requires a wheelchair due to incapacitation’ is hard to place on the “drunk/too drunk” scale. Bringing up the topic of legal standards is completely irrelevant otherwise, because, y’know, that’s not what the post is about.

    I see no value in continuing to engage with such an immoral stance. Therefore, I think I’ll go out for mimosas on a sunny day. Beats another round of bad-faith wankery.

    Mimosa-boots! Start walking!

  8. 12

    How can an American atheist leader writing that a leader of Atheist Ireland is providing a safe haven for rapists et. al. effect Atheist Ireland’s works (which include advocacy of reproductive rights for women?)

    It’s called the Internet and the ability, resources, will, and power to sway public opinion, and to have a direct effect upon an individual’s and/or a public institution’s public reputation and effectiveness. Worldwide.

  9. 13

    I don’t think that it is Nugent’s intent to create a safe space for Michael Shermer, nor do I think it is his intent to make people who find Michael Shermer’s behavior intensely disgusting feel unwelcome.

    There’s no need to. Shermer is a big name. He has plenty of supporters ready to fight for him. Any place is a priori a safe space for Shermer. It takes no special effort for that to happen.

    That’s the thing about the status quo: If you’re not actively fighting it, you’re supporting it. Being neutral is not an option.

  10. 14

    Re: the relevance of PZ’s blog tone to atheist Ireland. I’m not saying an argument can’t be made, I’m sure several arguments could be made, but I don’t think it’s actually self-evident and I don’t think they’re making it and I think it matters, if for no other reason than their credibility.

  11. 17

    That’s the thing about the status quo: If you’re not actively fighting it, you’re supporting it. Being neutral is not an option.

    Right. If you’re not with us; you’re against us.

    The false dichotomy of black and white thinking at it’s most basic, primitive level. Hello George Dubya.

  12. 20

    johngreg@16

    That’s the thing about the status quo: If you’re not actively fighting it, you’re supporting it. Being neutral is not an option.

    Right. If you’re not with us; you’re against us.

    The false dichotomy of black and white thinking at it’s most basic, primitive level. Hello George Dubya.

    Yeah, because obviously, since “false dichotomy” is a fallacy, it means that every dichotomy is a false dichotomy!
    Well, surprise, some things are truly dichotomic. By definition, if you’re not fighting the status quo, you’re defending it. Your comment is completely off the mark.

  13. 22

    I would say it isn’t PZ’s tone that I find distasteful. Popehat has a very similar tone, but Popehat usually includes lots of facts and good arguments that make you understand his tone. Many times, PZ just calls people names, without much explanation, and he ignores it when confronted or just calls the person more names. This is what happened when Michael Nugent confronted him, and it’s a pretty constant theme from what I’ve seen.

    It isn’t “tone” that is the issue. It’s the culture of bullying or humiliating people into doing or saying what you want.

  14. 23

    There’s a lawyers saying that goes “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither are on your side, pound the table.” Nugent is doing a lot of table pounding by attacking PZ on his “tone”. If PZ was factually wrong, Nugent needs to prove that. Instead he’s attacking the “tone” which, to me, means PZ was right in what he said at the end of the day.

  15. 25

    It seems to me that the only person who can truly define whether or not a rape has taken place is the victim. Nobody else can say how they feel, and it does really depend on how the victim feels after the event – if they feel it was a rousing role-play, or if they feel betrayed and degraded, it is up to them to decide and to say. Dragging in definitions of drunk pointless.

    Guys, if you fear being falsely accused of rape, well, you should only have sex with people that you know well, that you trust, that trust you, and possibly that you have a witnessed ceremony with. This business of guys having consequence-free sex with strangers and claiming to live in fear of false accusations, while in reality women live in fear of rape and fear of making any accusation, is deeply wrong.

  16. 26

    Guys, if you fear being falsely accused of rape, well, you should only have sex with people that you know well, that you trust, that trust you, and possibly that you have a witnessed ceremony with.

    This sounds like a plan to me, but the polyamorists here at FtB may take a different view.

  17. 27

    Menyambal, your rationalisation that rape equals little more than how the woman feels about it after the fact is deeply fucked up and frightening. Such an approach enables and condones any woman accusing any man of rape after-the-fact for nothing more than deciding she didn’t like him after all.

  18. 28

    I don’t think it’s about tone at all, Ashley. I had a twitter conversation with Nugent several months ago, the upshot of which was that Nugent objects wholly to PZ having given Alison a platform in the first place, essentially labelling it as unethical journalism. He thinks no one should accuse anyone of rape in a public forum, including the victim (because they’re “not impartial”). Only after a conviction can a rapist’s name be made public.

    I’d send you screencaps or a storify or something, but I don’t know how to do that.

  19. 29

    Further, as far as Shermer.

    Personally, I had never heard of him when I joined the atheist community. I don’t have any connection to him at all. I understand many people do. As an attorney who has worked on rape cases, there is a bit more information I’d like to know (such as some witness accounts before and after). Regardless, I have no problem with anyone concluding he raped her, or at least being very suspicious.

    However, then what? What does one do with this information? Boycott Shermer? Refuse to talk to him? Move on? Maybe he has evaluated his conduct and improved it greatly. Maybe he tries to sleep with everyone with two legs, whether consenting or not. I wouldn’t know.

    What am I supposed to do with this information once I have it?

  20. 30

    sez menyambal @23: “Guys, if you fear being falsely accused of rape, well, you should only have sex with people that you know well, that you trust, that trust you, and possibly that you have a witnessed ceremony with.”

    sez damion reinhardt (who is totally not a rape apologist, nosirreebob) @24: “This sounds like a plan to me, but the polyamorists here at FtB may take a different view.”
    Really? If it’s your position that “polyamorists here at FtB” advocate sex with people you don’t know, people you don’t trust? Or is it your position that “polyamorists here at FtB” are insufficiently concerned with “witnessed ceremon[ies]”? It kind of makes a difference which, you know. Either way, care to provide any, like, evidence that there’s any real chance that “polyamorists here at FtB” disagree with what you quoted from Menyambal?

  21. 33

    sez edward gemmer @27: “Regardless, I have no problem with anyone concluding [Shermer] raped her, or at least being very suspicious.
    However, then what? … What am I supposed to do with this information once I have it?”
    Beats the heck outta me. What should you do with this information once you have it, Gemmer?

  22. 35

    What am I supposed to do with this information once I have it?

    If you’ll recall, PZ’s motivation for giving the victim a platform from which to accuse Shermer was simply to make it public, so that other women in the skeptical movement would be aware that Shermer was a predator.

    So it’s not clear what you should do with the information, it wasn’t really directed at you. Unless you think you’re at danger of being a victim yourself.

  23. 36

    Upper right next to your article is a picture of 2 tweets:
    Ashley F. Miller: @micknugent: I’m asking whether it’s unreasonable for someone to feel uncomfortable when you say it’s wrong to call Shermer a rapist.
    Michael Nugent: @ashleyfmiller: That’s a question I havn’t heard before. I don’t know. I’ll think about it and get back to you.

    I am truly amazed at that exchange. I have been communicating a lot about this to both Michael, other members of Atheist Ireland and followers of his blog and facebook.
    That statement of Michael is at worst a bald lie and probably thouroughly dishonest.
    At best it is an amazing failure of skepticism and a complete inability to (re)view ones communication through the eyes of other people.
    And even then we (Michael and I) were both present at a conference of which he was one of the organizers.
    This was one of the talks:

    Michael pretends he knows nothing about gaslighting rape accusers. If that is true he has been amazingly negligent in paying attention to the conference his organization hosted and the discussions about rape in general.

  24. 37

    @Edward Gemmer

    I think the thing to do with the information is whatever your conscience tells you is reasonable based on your confidence in the truth of the conclusion. For me that means, I don’t give money to things that I think will give money to Shermer, I question anyone who supports him, either to myself or to them in a non-aggressive way, and I raise awareness about what I think the truth is. I don’t ask others to boycott him, I don’t assume anyone who likes him is evil.

  25. 38

    @ MrFancyPants,

    If you’ll recall, PZ’s motivation for giving the victim a platform from which to accuse Shermer was simply to make it public, so that other women in the skeptical movement would be aware that Shermer was a predator.

    So it’s not clear what you should do with the information, it wasn’t really directed at you. Unless you think you’re at danger of being a victim yourself.

    Well, right. Under that theory, no one need do anything, outside of be careful if you don’t want to have sex with him Are we satisfied with that?

  26. 39

    @Edward Gemmer

    Under that theory, no one need do anything, outside of be careful if you don’t want to have sex with him Are we satisfied with that?

    I’m not certain that we as a group need to really answer that. As Ashley just said, it’s largely up to each individual’s conscience. I’m satisfied with not supporting Shermer’s endeavors, myself. YMMV.

  27. 40

    I have a question. I once was infatuated with a woman and we dated for a brief time. This was at the beginning of the sexual revolution and I did not have any issues with letting her know that I was attracted to her and wanted to have sex. For a while our kissing and “making out” would end with stopping me when my hands roamed too far. Then one afternoon she showed up at my apartment very drunk. She wanted to have sex. Well, I was young and idealistic and for some reason I got all offended to think she had to get drunk to want to have sex with me. She was not the same person when drunk, said I. Anyway, if I had “taken advantage” would it have been rape? She wasn’t so drunk she couldn’t drive there.

  28. 41

    Ashley:

    Ashley: ”One of these things is not like the other one, not like the other one, not like the other one…”

    🙂 But I basically agree with you there that Michael is not being particularly consistent, being charitable.

    However, while I definitely sympathize with your efforts to call out “bad behaviour” – that variety in particular, I do wonder at your assertion that “the statute of limitations [SOL] has passed”. For instance, I note that MotherJones has an article which indicates that:

    Nevada: No SOL if offense is reported within 4 years; otherwise SOL is 4 years.

    Considering that Allison apparently reported the incident as a rape within hours (even if not to the police), I find it questionable that charges couldn’t still be laid if there was sufficient evidence. I wonder if you’ve actually obtained a legal opinion on the question.

    And there is still the question of libel. While it seems reasonable to argue that Shermer “probably” or “possibly” raped Allison, I would say you’re not really looking all that closely at the potential ramifications of baldly asserting “Shermer raped Allison”.

    Ashley: “Defending and providing a haven for” doesn’t require the presence of the people being defended and being provided a safe space.

    Apart from suggesting that “safe space” has acquired a somewhat odious connotation that’s probably inconsistent with the traditional definition of “haven” – i.e., “a place of safety or refuge” – I think it’s a little bit too self-serving to argue that someone saying someone else is “providing a haven for … rapists” doesn’t depend on the presence of actual rapists in the denoted environment. And that it doesn’t depend on an assertion that some people are in fact rapists. Seems to me that PZ is lucky that the SlymePit isn’t able to, or is unwilling to, mount a class-action suit for libel against him.

    Ashley: … why, for whatever PZ’s tone is, a place where Shermer is clearly unwelcome is preferable to some of us than a place where the word “fuckhead” won’t be used.

    I do sympathize. However, while I’ll readily agree that there’s more than a little justification for thinking that Shermer was probably, at best, a serious dickhead in his interactions with Allison – and possibly more than a few other women. However, do note the emphasized “probably”. Considering that Allison was apparently “best buds” with Shermer not long after the incident in question, and that you don’t really know the extent to which consent was given and rescinded throughout the evening, I think it rather judgemental and quite problematic that you’re prepared to proceed as if Shermer has been charged and convicted of the crime of rape. And while this might stick in your craw, absent that conviction I think it premature at best to suggest, as you’re apparently doing, that Shermer should be anathematized and told, in effect, to never darken again the footsteps of the “atheist movement”.

  29. 43

    Let me get this right.

    First you say Shermer is guilty – and you cherry pick the wheelchair evidence that supports this view.

    But then you say his guilt is irrelevant – though apparently you are a douche if you don’t agree.

    Then you say all that matters is that it is a reasonable conclusion for some (non douche?) people to make. Like PZ. Ergo Nugent is wrong to complain. And because this forms the core of his complain he should back off.

    And then you pick up momentum – if “rapist” is a reasonable term then a haven for rapists kind of follows. As a reasonable description of a blog that does not embrace the compelling evidence.

    A couple of points.

    Firstly Nugent’s case is that PZ is a retardant to constructive dialog because by common community standards he is grossly offensive – across multiple criteria. The Shermer issue is but one bullet point, no matter how dear it may be to yourself. Strangely you seem to agree with many of nugent’s criteria, but the tree(s) loom larger than the wood.

    Secondly you do yourself no good omitting that you are an active player in this drama as one of the “named” names castigating Shermer. Maybe a small point, but to me telling. I’d still like a better description of how you were compelled to watch Shermer masturbate for 4 mins before coming up with a reason to leave the public space. But whatever.

    Thirdly there is plenty of reason for a reasonable person to question Alison’s (and Shermer’s) simple black / white account. You see there are a few other things swirling around this incident.

    + Alision was a con organiser “on the clock” that night. With a prof rep to maintain
    + for context, she was a poly (see Skeptoid) enthusiastically attending a PU party
    + she was possibly an item with Wagg – her boss
    + talking closed doors – it’s possible something else was digested in Shermer’s room
    + Wagg did nothing the next morning for the victim – he went back to work
    + no complaint was made until much later and then without moral effect
    + neither Wagg nor Alison stopped inviting Shermer to cons – as we are now to do

    Dear reader, none of this proves Alison wasn’t raped. But I fail to see how a reasonable person, given the differing accounts, could unequivocally conclude “rape”.

    Fourthly you fail to place PZ’s grenade post in context. Krauss, Radford (remember that mischaracterised guy?) DJ – the entire A/S leadership in fact – was undergoing an ideologically inspired “swamp draining” as Lousy put it. More reasons to question the motives of PZ as he cast his IED.

    Obviously Nugent has a far higher standard of evidence and justice than you or your affiliates before he brands a man with criminal action. Blog vigilantism is not something he sees as part of the constructive dialog.

    YMMV. – but really, you need to go back and lock down your pitch.

  30. 44

    @Steersman

    IANAL but my understanding is that report means to the police. You can press charges whenever so long as you report to police within 4 years. Telling friends, employers, etc. I don’t believe qualifies as a “report” under this definition. I am happy to be corrected here by people with more legal knowledge than I have. That said, there are lots of reasons not to take a sexual assault case to the police. I’ve never taken mine (which is completely unrelated to this discussion, Shermer, and this community, and not something I discuss publicly in general), and I live in SC where there is no SOL, and I think my reasons for not doing so are valid.

    I disagree that a haven requires the presence of the people and I think the and/or interpretation here is the valid one anyway, and could certainly be argued in court. That said, I also think it would be difficult to definitively prove that no one of the 2000 I think someone said (?) members of the Slymepit has ever been accused of rape if you were to take the case to libel court. I don’t think it was a nice thing to say at all, but in response to the defense of Shermer, I certainly understand it. Conflating the Slymepit and Shermer also seems unfair, and I don’t think that the worst of the Slymepit should be lumped in with him.

    I think he should be anathematized, and I feel confident in that judgment, but I don’t hold it against someone who hasn’t gotten to that conclusion as long as they are, to my mind, reasonable about it. I recognize that I’m coming from a place where I’ve heard multiple stories first hand, not just Alison’s, so it’s easy for me to have absolutely no problem going there — it’s hard to hear stories first hand and not want to believe them; it’s hard to hear multiple stories from people who don’t know each other and not feel they demonstrate a pattern. And he creeped me out with his bizarre behavior, so I am biased to begin with.

  31. 45

    Steersman @ 39,

    Where’s the evidence that Allison Smith was “best buddies” with Shermer in the aftermath?

    In her professional capacity she was obliged to work in an environment of which Shermer was a part. Having discerned that she could expect no support from the many other men around her, she attempted to make a virtue out of necessity and to engage him in a formal discussion which might well deal with some of the issues which his behaviour and the apathy of his friends had raised. That’s not a definition of “best buddies.”

    For, say, a million women a day who have to deal professionally with people who have patronised, compromised and, yes, raped them that’s just reality.

  32. 46

    Konradius @ 34 I was at that conference too, and I remember Leonie’s talk vividly. I thought it was brilliant. (We’ve been friends ever since, but given that Nugent is a friend of hers, that may end up being impossible for her.)

    And I too was dumbfounded by that tweet of Michael’s. He’s never thought about it????? When people have been pointing it out all this time?

    I just don’t know.

  33. 47

    @brive1987

    I’m sorry you skipped the previous post, but I was very clear about my involvement. I wouldn’t describe his behavior as masturbation. He was touching his crotch and trying to drive my attention towards it, but he didn’t appear to be trying to get off as far as I could tell. It was more weird than anything else. For anyone who needs more information than that, the full post about it is here. http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2014/09/11/michael-shermers-harassment/

  34. 48

    @ Ashley,

    I think the thing to do with the information is whatever your conscience tells you is reasonable based on your confidence in the truth of the conclusion. For me that means, I don’t give money to things that I think will give money to Shermer, I question anyone who supports him, either to myself or to them in a non-aggressive way, and I raise awareness about what I think the truth is. I don’t ask others to boycott him, I don’t assume anyone who likes him is evil.

    Reasonable, though for me difficult to implement. For one, I’m not aware of anything I do that contributes to Shermer. For two, I don’t really conduct myself like that for other people accused of/convicted of rape. I still listen to Tupac. I watched Mike Tyson fights. I haven’t watched any Cosby related stuff for a while, but I guess I would if it came on. I listen to Sonny and Cher songs, as well as Chuck Berry. I’ve watched Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby.

  35. 49

    Thanks for the track back. As I said. It is at best a side note.

    Your overall involvement should form part of the argument in this post though – as it sets out to be a stand alone case. This topic, for both sides, is rooted in context and agenda.

  36. 50

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @40 wrote:

    Crystal Clear Consent. Defined and described. MS didn’t have it. Don’t like it? To bad.

    In regards to your assertion that “MS didn’t have it” – citation or floosh. You need to provide something other than unevidenced assertions, or you can and will be dismissed as an abject idjit.

  37. 51

    Maureen Brian (#43):

    Steersman @ 39,
    Where’s the evidence that Allison Smith was “best buddies” with Shermer in the aftermath?

    Yea, I’m probably mistaken on that – mea culpa. I think I was thinking of another case with Shermer. But while I don’t want to be a prude, I can’t help but get the feeling that “what happens in Las Vegas” winds up being spread all over the whole world – and by the parties of the 1st through 75th parts themselves. And some of it doesn’t look particularly edifying.

    For, say, a million women a day who have to deal professionally with people who have patronised, compromised and, yes, raped them that’s just reality.

    I can see that that sucks – and big time. But while I’ll agree that “call-outs” of one sort or another have some role in changing values on the part of the rapers, I think it’s a far more complex issue than most, including many “feminists”, are prepared to consider. Changing attitudes is an important part of the equation, but at some point, more behavioural and/or technological solutions may give a bigger bang for the buck.

  38. 53

    There seems to be an underlying assumption that Michael only holds the opinion of “irresponsible journalism” in this particular case. As if he wouldn’t have had an issue if Shermer were accused of another crime.

    When it comes to accusations of crime via media there is spectrum from anonymous accusations with no evidence at one end to only reporting the crime after a conviction. I doubt many people agree that either end of the spectrum would be classed as responsible and/or reasonable. The first because it is open to abuse and the second because it is far too restrictive especially for victims for whom legal recourse is no longer an option.

    We could wrangle for hours about where along the spectrum is acceptable and never come to a conclusive answer, hell even different types of legal cases exist on different points of the evidence spectrum. It appears Michael has a preference for the more “conviction” side while PZ sees no problem closer to the “anonymous” side.

    The discussion is heated because their disagreement of where they lie in the spectrum has occurred in the context of a rape case. I would assume both would hold same the journalistic standard regardless of the crime. It would be very troubling if Michael held a more restrictive standard for rape and harassment cases as he does for others, if that was the case then some of the smears levied against may have some merit, but I am quite certain that isn’t the case.

    Michael clearly holds a position on a point along that spectrum where he felt the reporting of a crime in the manner PZ did was irresponsible. Is This does not make him a rape apologist, nor does it mean he provides a haven for rapist. It just means he holds a different standard on what responsible journalism is, a standard he applies to all reportage of crimes.

  39. 54

    This would be a little more compelling if there were any truth to it.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

    Every thread on FtB in which someone suggests Shermer might not be guilty (or even that the facts remain unclear) has been met with immediate accusations of doing rape apology. Basically anything other than “listen and believe” is chalked up to rape apology, unless we are listening to one of the women who directed accusations at FtB men.

  40. 55

    Johngreg

    I find it utterly fascinating that you and the gang seem to have real problem with women being believed about their sexual assaults… Or maybe you only have a problem with it when prominent atheists are being accused? Or perhaps you will habitually believe the opposite of whatever FTB bloggers write? Or how about this… You are fully aware that women have had centuries of being subjected to sexual violence without much chance of justice, so the thing that terrifies you is the thought that women are driving for the scale to tip fully the other way…

    I don’t doubt that there are feminists that are driven by revenge, but they are just as fringe as you would claim hardcore misogynists are to the men’s rights movement.

    If you, when you don’t have an anti-straw feminist stick up your ass, are arguing for actual equality between the sexes, then that means challenging entrenched ideas about consent and agency with regards to sex so that you can asses the situation effectively. If the first place your mind goes is “but she wanted it really” regardless of what she is saying, then you are literally incapable of assessing the circumstances with any integrity at all.

    As an aside, that whole “but how drunk is drunk” thing should be beneath you. You ARE better than that. Next time, try writing: “is there an optimal intoxication level where her senses will be sufficiently impaired for her to have sex with me but not so impaired that it will be technically rape?”… Then delete it, because you realise how fucking awful you sound.

  41. 57

    Lito Juan @53,
    Who should we believe when we read what PZ Myers wrote about his own experience being accused, by a female student, of sexual impropriety? We have never heard the victim’s side of it, but if you accept that Myers was telling the truth, then you must also accept that the victim was lying.

    From the comments here, on Ashley Miller’s other post on this topic, and many other FtB blogs, it seems that one is in grave danger of being labeled a woman-hating rape apologist if one disbelieves the accuser or even if one merely harbors too much doubt.

    So pick your poison, please.

    Do you believe that PZ Myers was telling the truth, in which case you also believe the victim was lying (without hearing her story, mind you)? If so, then, by the standards firmly established here you are a woman-hating rape apologist or worse. Wear it proudly.

    Or, do you believe the victim (still without hearing her story), in which case you also accept that PZ Myers is a sexual predator and a liar?

    Or do you withhold judgement? In which case you are still most likely a woman-hating rape apologist for being hyperskeptical, especislly given the small number of false accusations. Bayesian analysis shows that it’s far more likely that Myers did victimize that poor woman than it is that he was subject to a false accusation. Withholding judgement is tantamount to ignoring the Bayesian analysis and assuming the likelihood of the victim lying is far higher than historical data would allow.

  42. 58

    Ashley (#42):

    I disagree that a haven requires the presence of the people ….

    Maybe. If we’re talking in general. But I would say that’s a serious stretch in the specific case of PZ saying explicitly that Nugent was “providing a haven for … rapists”, and then him saying, in response to a demand for evidence, that Nugent’s blog was “populated almost entirely by slymepitters”. Seems rather clear the accusation is, “haven=blog populated by slymepitters (AKA rapists)”.

    Ashley: … and I think the and/or interpretation here is the valid one anyway, and could certainly be argued in court.

    Most dictionaries would seem to disagree with you:

    and
    conjunction
    1. used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences that are to be taken jointly
    1. along with; in addition to:
    1. Together with or along with; in addition to; as well as.

    You make some very good points that I’m willing to agree with or support. Even if it’s not particularly popular in some quarters. However, others seem to come in under the heading of “One of these things is not like the other one ….” 🙂

    Ashley: That said, I also think it would be difficult to definitively prove that no one of the 2000 I think someone said (?) members of the Slymepit has ever been accused of rape if you were to take the case to libel court. ….

    Actually it’s 1002 as of yesterday evening, as I mentioned in your other post, but the number is, no doubt, increasing by leaps and bounds – as we speak. 🙂 However, as that post of Nugent’s suggests, the issue there seems to be PZ’s accusation that some or all of the “SlymePitters” commenting on Nugent’s blog were in fact rapists. Which, particularly in light of PZ’s “Always Name Names” Papal Encyclical, justifies a demand that he either put up or shut up (and retract). Which again emphasizes Nugent’s rather important point that PZ is, in effect, a rather loose cannon whose benefits may be greatly outweighed by his costs.

    Ashley: Conflating the Slymepit and Shermer also seems unfair, and I don’t think that the worst of the Slymepit should be lumped in with him.

    Thanks. Now if you could maybe prevail upon “the usual suspects” [e.g., Watson, Secular Woman, Benson, etc] to at least give some consideration to that view? 🙂

    Ashley: I think he should be anathematized, and I feel confident in that judgment, but I don’t hold it against someone who hasn’t gotten to that conclusion as long as they are, to my mind, reasonable about it.

    Again, I can sympathize with that objective. Although one might ask, if you’re prepared to do that with Shermer then why shouldn’t you support the efforts of Nugent to do the same thing with Myers? “Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander”. However, it still has a niggling feel of shooting ourselves in the feet. While some might contend that this case isn’t terribly productive, if not a complete waste of time, I would argue that the whole thing – encompassing both Shermer & Myers – is a manifestation of the rather important process of developing and maintaining “community standards”. On which I think some of Nugent’s arguments have some bearing. However, one might suggest that, as with the most odious aspects of Islam, that isn’t necessarily a panacea; there are maybe some broader principles or communities that have a role to play as well.

  43. 59

    Steersman @ 49,

    Thanks. I am confident that with the evidence we have from his targets and from witnesses that, on the balance of probabilities, Shermer raped Smith (in a case strong enough to be tested in court) but also and possibly more importantly in looking for a solution, that Shermer is a serial predator. I am content that others may draw a different conclusion: that’s their business.

    The real serial rapist differs in so many ways from the comic book picture of “the rapist” that we meet so often – a sort of sexually-inflamed Magwitch – that we have a long way to go. David Lisak and his colleagues have long since established that, provided the actual word is not used, any number of young men will admit to behaviour which is rape or to a willingness to do it should the opportunity present itself. Their studies have also confirmed that there are serial rapists, even among students in their late teens. Yet our societies do not consider it important to get into the heads of young people off to college even the legal definition of rape. We teach them from kindergarten that stealing, lying, personal violence are wrong but we don’t equip them with even the basic facts about rape. Why? Is it because rape is to some extent condoned or at very least excused after the event?

    The beef many of us have with Michael Nugent (and with others) is that they seem less concerned about rape than, perhaps, they should be and in MN’s case go off at tangents, completely ignoring the evidence that part of the repertoire of the serial rapist is to cultivate a public persona of amiability. They use this in manipulating their targets just as they carefully assemble a coterie of socially secure friends who will leap to their defence before anyone even asks them.

    Any serious attempt at improvement will have to find a way to convince these “friends” that they, too, are being manipulated, as well as tackling all other aspects of the problem. As we agree, we have a long way to go.

    Should we get a Labour dominated government in our general election next month then one of their plans would be to extend the existing right of victims to challenge the CPS for not prosecuting in a particular case to the police who will be liable to challenge where they fail to investigate thoroughly, starting with rape and sexual assault. It will take a brave woman to issue that challenge but, nevertheless, it could be interesting!

    (I’m sorry I could not give you links there. This computer is going through a phase where it will only “permit” me to have one tab open at a time. Let’s hope that the next software update corrects that.)

  44. 60

    To me, it’s always telling that the hyperskepticism–the demand for absolute, damning proof–is almost always directed at women who claim to be raped, but rarely at victims of other crimes. If I mentioned in a forum that I was robbed at gunpoint recently, I would be surprised if someone questioned my veracity. There’s little advantage in claiming to be the victim of a crime, especially of rape or sexual assault.

    On the whole, given the history of sexual assault–its depressing frequency of occurrence, the victim shaming, the victim blaming, the justice systems’ trivializing of it–my initial inclination when I don’t know the individuals involved will be to believe the victim’s story. Especially in this case, with multiple women coming forward, and multiple witnesses of the public behavior, it seems to me to be highly likely that Shermer is guilty of rape. Am I 100% certain? No, obviously not, I’m just a bystander who wasn’t even at the conference. But I see no reason for Ashley Miller to lie or exaggerate, and she has come to generally the same conclusion while being much closer to the details of the stories involved.

    The salient point raised by this blog posting still remains: why is Michael Nugent so resistant to the idea that the victim might actually have been raped by Shermer? Is it–as Ashley’s tweet asked–unreasonable for me to feel uncomfortable with Nugent’s vociferous defense of Shermer?

  45. 61

    One of Us @55:

    Yes, PZ Meyers was accused of rape. So was at least one other male FTB blogger. Further, let us not forget Meyers’s ‘joke’ about rape victims needing to shower after their attack (in a Google hangout which is available for viewing by anyone who wishes to subject themselves to such brutality, minimizing, and mocking of rape).

    Both, I believe, have posted their own recollections of what happened, without asking the victims to share their lived experience.

    FTB, and Meyers in particular, are on extremely swampy ground when it comes to accusing others of rape, without concrete proof.

  46. 62

    @Steersman I get why the Slymepit would be pissed about that characterization, but as long as Nugent wrote the 9/17/14 blog post linking to Oppenheimer’s piece, PZ’s characterization of Nugent’s blog as defending and being a haven for rapists seems accurate to me, because of the defense of Shermer, not because of the Slymepitters. And if Nugent wants to defend the honor of the Slymepit, that’s his choice. Certainly, they can be defended from the rapist charge at least. One can easily argue that having the Slymepit there makes it a safe space for Shermer. (I can’t get Nugent’s page to load) But PZ should have been explicit, and his conflation or lack of specificity there was likely because he really fucking hates the Slymepit and was really annoyed with Nugent, which isn’t a good enough reason to fail to be clear. So let me agree with you here, that PZ failed in two ways there, he failed to be specific about what his problems with the Slymepit were and that they didn’t include that he though there were rapists at the Slymepit, and that the extent to which he felt Nugent was creating a haven was exclusively about Shermer, which PZ did later say, but he fucked up in not saying that immediately AND in conflating Slymepit and rape.

    The thing is, I don’t think the Usual Suspects can ever see anything about the Slymepit because of how much shit they go through at the hands of either the Slymepit or people they think are the Slymepit. And I know that the pit thinks that this is unreasonable, but I wonder if it isn’t possible to empathize with them on this. The Slymepit is functionally a hate club for them, and meanwhile they get death threats and shit like that, and they don’t know where it’s coming from, they’ve got no reason to give you the benefit of the doubt because you’ve never given it to them. You offer only the least charitable interpretation of everything they say and do. Hell, someone was making fun of my vitamin D deficiency yesterday and then another person went through my Facebook page so they could mock how sympathetic or not others were to my illness? Why? What the hell is wrong with you guys? … no offense to you in specific.

    Which efforts of Nugent’s do you refer to? His tone efforts? I don’t care one way or the other about them. He can knock himself out. As you can hopefully see, I make an effort to achieve the sort of tone he prefers myself.

  47. 63

    Mr Fany Pants, #58, siad:
    “To me, it’s always telling that the hyperskepticism–the demand for absolute, damning proof–is almost always directed at women who claim to be raped, but rarely at victims of other crimes.”

    I say:
    Perhaps you could pose this question to PZ Meyers, who was accused of rape by one of his students. By his own telling, the woman was rapidly caused to retract her allegation, having been hauled before senior University staff without legal representation.

    Come on, grow some labia and stop defending this guy Meyers for his accusations of rape against other men, when his own history is the same as theirs.

  48. 64

    @Steersman

    PZ’s accusation that some or all of the “SlymePitters” commenting on Nugent’s blog were in fact rapists. Which, particularly in light of PZ’s “Always Name Names” Papal Encyclical, justifies a demand that he either put up or shut up (and retract).

    Hey maybe you didn’t know this but (I’m pretty sure) PZ wasn’t making new accusations of rape with that statement. Try reading more of what he said than one little sentence. It’s clear all that he meant by the “rapist” part is the following:

    Shermer is not commenting on your blog, so I will say that you aren’t providing a safe harbor for him, yet. But I don’t know — I get the impression that if a rapist were chattering away there, you’d rather everyone kept silent about it.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/11/01/the-end-of-the-micknugent-saga/

    You can complain that one sentence wasn’t worded clearly, but that’s it. He’s now been clear, and I’ve shown you, so you don’t have an excuse to be confused about this.

    What he said about the slymepitters is that they are harassers and misogynists.

  49. 70

    ConcentratedH2O, OM says

    Mr Fany Pants, #58, siad:
    “To me, it’s always telling that the hyperskepticism–the demand for absolute, damning proof–is almost always directed at women who claim to be raped, but rarely at victims of other crimes.”

    I say:
    Perhaps you could pose this question to PZ Meyers, who was accused of rape by one of his students. By his own telling, the woman was rapidly caused to retract her allegation, having been hauled before senior University staff without legal representation.

    Come on, grow some labia and stop defending this guy Meyers for his accusations of rape against other men, when his own history is the same as theirs.

    Your last paragraph doesn’t make sense. There’s no logical connection between accusations directed towards PZ and whether or not PZ should be defended for revealing accusations (not making them himself) against others.

  50. 71

    MrFancyPants @67.

    “Hyperbolic: of, relating to, or marked by hyperbole.”
    “Hyperbole: language that describes something as better or worse than it really is.”
    “Rant: speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way.”

    Your move, Sir.

  51. 72

    MrFancyPants @58

    “If I mentioned in a forum that I was robbed at gunpoint recently, I would be surprised if someone questioned my veracity.

    If you mentioned that [some famous skeptic] robbed you at gunpoint, and then several people started a social media campaign to get that person shamed out the community, I expect there would be at least some pushback. People might want to know, for example, why there wasn’t a police report.

    Especially in this case, with multiple women coming forward, and multiple witnesses of the public behavior, it seems to me to be highly likely that Shermer is guilty of rape.

    How many of those multiple witnesses have shed light on the key fact of intoxication in the Smith/Shermer case? Just one, and that was well after PZ chose to toss his grenade. The journalistic ethics of the famed grenade toss cannot take Wagg into consideration, unless he was privately corresponding with Myers at the time.

    [W]hy is Michael Nugent so resistant to the idea that the victim might actually have been raped by Shermer?

    Has he finally commented on that? Last I checked he took no position. https://twitter.com/micknugent/status/586639930018893825

  52. 73

    [email protected]:
    Aw, look, baby has a new dictionary.

    [email protected]:
    Rather than rehash the same discussions that have already been had by responding to your initial questions (I think we all know the standard countering answers at this point, and it probably does nothing useful to reopen the same debates), I’ll just address the last: no, as far as I know, Nugent has not responded. I think it’s a fair question to ask of him (although I’m personally more interested in the second half of that question, namely whether he thinks that it is unreasonable for someone to be uncomfortable when he says that it’s wrong to call Shermer a rapist).

  53. 75

    [email protected] said:
    “Your last paragraph doesn’t make sense.”

    Context fucking matters. My full comment was:
    .
    “Mr Fany Pants, #58, siad:
    “To me, it’s always telling that the hyperskepticism–the demand for absolute, damning proof–is almost always directed at women who claim to be raped, but rarely at victims of other crimes.”
    .
    I say:
    Perhaps you could pose this question to PZ Meyers, who was accused of rape by one of his students. By his own telling, the woman was rapidly caused to retract her allegation, having been hauled before senior University staff without legal representation.
    .
    Come on, grow some labia and stop defending this guy Meyers for his accusations of rape against other men, when his own history is the same as theirs.”
    .

  54. 76

    MrFancyPants

    I’m personally more interested in the second half of that question, namely whether he thinks that it is unreasonable for someone to be uncomfortable when he says that it’s wrong to call Shermer a rapist.

    Whether it is wrong to publicly accuse someone depends upon who you are and what you know.

    It is not wrong for Alison to tell her story as best as she can, and she has been highly consistent in doing so. (Surely Mick has never said otherwise.)

    It was wrong for PZ to pass on those accusations after stripping the story of any details that would have allowed the accused to put together a response. That is not reportage, that is straight up character assassination.

  55. 77

    @ Damion

    Every thread on FtB in which someone suggests Shermer might not be guilty (or even that the facts remain unclear) has been met with immediate accusations of doing rape apology. Basically anything other than “listen and believe” is chalked up to rape apology, unless we are listening to one of the women who directed accusations at FtB men.

    There’s always more to it than just the mere suggestion that sweet iddle Shermer might be innocent. There’s also the misogyny. And the arrogance. And the victim-blaming. And the lame sophistry. And the entitlement.

    And, oh yes, the rape apologetics.

  56. 78

    Hoosier X @75 said:
    “There’s always more to it than just the mere suggestion that sweet iddle …[Professor]… might be innocent. There’s also… the victim-blaming.. And the entitlement.”

    Put this way, you could very well be writing about The Professor and his own rape accusation.

  57. 79

    [email protected]:
    Well, my question was not about PZ, it was about Nugent. To rephrase: given all the information that is out there now–all the timelines for Alison’s story (plus witness(es)), and the other women who have come forward–does Michael Nugent think that someone would be unreasonable to be uncomfortable with his ardent defense of Shermer and insistence that he not be called a rapist? This whole conversation is really about Nugent, after all, in light of recent events (the “disassociation,” etc.).

    Regarding your comments about PZ: IIRC, he posted the material that he had at the time. I am not aware of any information stripped from the initial grenade story. To be sure, more details came to light over time due to the fact that that story came out at that time. I’m curious how you could know that PZ “stripped” information from that story, when the communications between him and the victim appear to have been private?

  58. 80

    I love how Pitters keep bringing up my false rape accusation (from 20 years ago, when I was 16, I’ll note), which I’d documented on my blog unprompted and freely, as though it’s somehow a counterpoint to the idea of trust-but-verify — as though anyone is suggesting that 100% of all rape accusations are true. It’s like they don’t realize that I’ve consistently said that if anyone feels they need to protect themselves from me, they absolutely should; that if they want to exclude me from spaces or conversations because they don’t feel safe with me in it, they should do that. This is absolutely consistent with how I feel people should treat the credibly-accused, and if the accusation I had documented rises to the level of credibility to you, then by all means, treat me as such.

    Nobody’s saying we all need to point and scream RAPIST whenever Michael Shermer enters a room, only that the accusations as they stand are a lot more varied and multiply corroborated as a pattern of behaviour and as such, if you’re disinterested in having sex with him, perhaps caution around him is, in fact, advised. You know, in the same way that you’d guard your wallet a little more closely around a known serial pickpocket even if they’ve never been convicted and all you have is hearsay.

    What I don’t get is why Ashley Miller saying so is apparently the *first time* Michael Nugent has ever considered that perhaps given the evidence at hand, it might in fact a reasonable conclusion to draw about Shermer, and that these stories are in fact testimonial evidence, an admittedly low tier of evidence.

  59. 81

    Ardent defense of Shermer, MrFancyPants?

    Ashley F. Miller ‏@ashleyfmiller Apr 10
    @micknugent Did you not defend Michael Shermer?

    Michael Nugent @micknugent Apr 10
    @ashleyfmiller No. I made no assessment of that. I made clear that I want to see rapists in jail, and I actively campaign against all crime.

    If that is ardent, I’d hate to see lackluster.

    I’m curious how you could know that PZ “stripped” information from that story, when the communications between him and the victim appear to have been private?

    He stripped out the name of the accuser, of that we can be certain. If he knew the basic background details (what, where, when, how) he stripped out that as well. If he did not know the background details, then obviously he had no business going to press with potentially defamatory accusations.

  60. 83

    Jason Thibeault @78 wrote:
    “I love how Pitters keep bringing up my false rape accusation…”

    For the record, a CTRL+F search on this page for the text strings “jas” and “thib” produces only one result, prior to this current comment, and that is the quoted comment. So, I am unsure how this tallies with Jason Thibeault’s words quoted above.

  61. 84

    ConcentratedH20,[email protected] said

    Put this way, you could very well be writing about The Professor and his own rape accusation.

    You mean, aside from the detailed story of Schermer’s assault, the numerous confirmations of the incident, the numerous witnesses with similar stories, Schermer’s ever-changing version of events, the lack of victim-blaming and entitlement in the FtB case, etc.?

    Yeah, exactly the same.

  62. 85

    Hoosier X wrote:

    You mean, aside from the detailed story of Schermer’s assault, the numerous confirmations of the incident, the numerous witnesses with similar stories, Schermer’s ever-changing version of events, the lack of victim-blaming and entitlement in the FtB case, etc.?

    Yeah, exactly the same.

    Well, you know what they say at the ‘pit: there’s no equivalence like false equivalence!

  63. 86

    [email protected]:

    Ardent defense of Shermer, MrFancyPants? … (tweet with Nugent saying that he made no assessment of Shermer’s guilt or innocence removed) … If that is ardent, I’d hate to see lackluster.

    Fair enough, I should not have said “defense.” What I meant was his insistence that Shermer not be referred to as a rapist. That was the point of my question about unreasonableness, etc. It certainly came across as a defense of Shermer, even if it were not meant so; his lack of response on the question remains. I would still like to see him answer that.

    He stripped out the name of the accuser, of that we can be certain. If he knew the basic background details (what, where, when, how) he stripped out that as well.

    This is speculation. I should think that Skeptics™ would refrain from that sort of thing.

    I think it’s safe to assume (as I said previously), that PZ posted what he had, viz. what details that he was given. That initial posting led to further details coming to light, as these things often go. It’s not unusual–as you very well know–for a story to initially break, and then more details to come once other people learn about them.

    The one piece of information that was indeed “stripped out” was the accuser’s name. By her own request, iirc. She would not have gone to PZ to post the information, otherwise. Plenty of stories break out anonymously at first, and like this one, become non-anonymous very quickly.

    If he did not know the background details, then obviously he had no business going to press with potentially defamatory accusations.

    Well, it’s his perogative, is it not? He must have known that he was missing information, he knew that well enough to say that it was going to “explode in his face.” He trusted the source enough to go forward, anyway. Is there precedent for that? I might point to, say, Nixon, and say “yes.” Not all the details of Nixon’s lawbreaking came to light right away–were Woodward & Bernstein wrong to go to press without complete details? Obviously not.

    At any rate, I feel like this particular discussion is getting us nowhere, as it is simply rehashing judgements on history. Feel free to have the last word.

  64. 88

    I love that these guys are happy to accept PZ’s word when he talks about the accusation made against him (no cries of hearsay or second-hand information there, even though PZ’s the only source), but will nitpick and second-guess and analyze Alison’s statement against Shermer, which has been corroborated by multiple other sources.

    Let’s say that ConcentratedH2O is right, that PZ and Shermer have both been credibly accused of rape (it’s not true, but let’s pretend). Is there a difference between the circumstances?
    1. In Shermer’s case, we have direct testimony from the victim. This is not the case with PZ.
    2. In both cases, we have testimony from the accused.
    3. In Shermer’s case, we have testimony from witnesses who corroborated the victim’s testimony. This is not the case with PZ.
    4. In Shermer’s case, his story has changed dramatically between accounts. PZ’s story has been consistent.
    5. In Shermer’s case, we have testimony from many other individuals (as Ashley enumerated above) attesting to a pattern of harassing or sexually-inappropriate behavior. This is not the case with PZ.
    6. In Shermer’s case, we have testimony from individuals close to Shermer, specifically James Randi and DJ Grothe, that Shermer’s behavior and reputation were known to some degree. This is not the case with PZ.

    That seems like a lot of relevant differences, to the point where I’d say that if you believe the evidence indicates that PZ is a rapist but Shermer is not, you are being profoundly intellectually dishonest. Moreover, what does it say if you believe PZ’s account but not Alison’s? That you’re more inclined to believe a man when a rape accusation is made, or just more inclined to believe an alleged rapist?

  65. 89

    JasonThibeault,
    It’s disturbing how consistently you attempt to humanize the other by referring to “pitters” as opposed to, say, “people.”

    Furthermore, can you please provide a citation as to where anyone (aside from yourself, that is) mentioned anything about your allegedly false rape accusation? Otherwise, could you explain what, precisely, compelled you to interject yourself and your own accusation into the mix?

    Lastly, that you published it freely doesn’t prove anything. If she was getting ready to step forward, your getting out in front and pre-empting her would be nothing more than a self-serving ploy to frame the narrative in your favor. As opposed to the forthright and transparent noble deed you make it out to be. If that were what happened.

  66. 90

    @81: your reference to “some other FtBer”, along with Richard Sanderson’s repeating of the accusation on every second Nugent thread I’ve seen, along with several other ‘Pitters bringing it up unbidden in comments that went to moderation. I’m throwing myself on that “grenade” here, despite not being mentioned by name, lest someone think there’s an actual credible rape accusation in public about some other male FtB blogger.

    Basically, it’s part of your mythology now, so much so that you’ll bring it up without even remembering who it was or what it was about.

  67. 91

    @86: “People who regularly post at the Slimepit and show up en force to any FtB discussion about feminism and rape” is far too cumbersome. Come on. You use shortcut labels to refer to “us” all the time.

  68. 94

    Ya, if people are going to throw around unspecified mentions of “ftb males accused of rape” you shouldn’t be surprised when someone (such as one of the accused) wants to make sure the specifics are known.

  69. 95

    Quoting Menyambal “Guys, if you fear being falsely accused of rape, well, you should only have sex with people that you know well, that you trust, that trust you, and possibly that you have a witnessed ceremony with.”

    Wow, talk about victim blaming! This reminds me of people who lecture women that they got raped because they trusted the wrong guy and act like it is their fault. When men talk about recording their sexual experiences to make sure they won’t be falsely accused of rape, many feminists will mock them as being paranoid. But as soon as a guy gets accused of rape, many people like Menyambal will say it is their fault for not having witnesses. (And before anyone accused otherwise, I do consider myself a Feminist, but I have been disturbed by the kind of sexist statements like what Menyambal said that you often see)

    The fact is that it doesn’t matter if a guy has sex with someone he knows or someone he doesn’t know. It doesn’t matter if anyone sees it or not. There is no justification for a false rape accusation. It isn’t his responsibility to try to avoid false rape accusations. It is the responsibility of those who consider making false accusations to not make them. And it is the responsibility of everyone else to go by the facts and not assume that just because a guy is accused therefore he is automatically guilty. Regardless of what you think happened in the Shermer case, views like Menyambal expressed are just disturbing.

  70. 96

    Jason (#89):

    Come on. You use shortcut labels to refer to “us” all the time.

    Some of “us” – some of we Pitters – might do that; others of us actually try to differentiate between the playas in FTB-land. Seems to me that you yourself are rather too quick to condemn the Pit for mythologizing – e.g., your post on the question – but aren’t as quick to accept that you and Myers in particular tend to do that as well, to tar all for the “sins” of a few. And you aren’t particularly willing to listen to those who would try to correct your mistakes, as with my efforts regarding Skep tickle.

  71. 97

    @88, Jason Thibeault: ” I’m throwing myself on that “grenade” here, despite not being mentioned by name, lest someone think there’s an actual credible rape accusation in public about some other male FtB blogger.”
    .
    Who the fuck are you to decide whether or not a rape accusation is credible? How fucking dare you set yourself up as The Man in charge of assessing a rape accusation’s credibility? Fuck me, have I gone crazy, or is Jason now presenting himself as the official assessor of credibility in rape accusations? Does he travel the country, interviewing men and women who have made accusations of rape, trying to trip them up and find inconsistencies in their story? Christ, this is unreal.
    .
    So you and The Professor just so happen to have been accused of rape, but neither was a “credible rape accusation”.
    .
    Do you realize how rare non-credible rape accusations are? Yet you expect us to buy the story that two out of – let’s say forty, for mathematical simplicity and generosity to you, feel free to dispute this number – two out of forty male FTB bloggers (at the very least) have been falsely accused of rape? FIVE PERCENT of male FTB bloggers have been falsely accused of rape?
    .
    There is clearly a problem at FTB, and it is somewhat bigger than “Eurgh, they’ve all got cooties”, which seems to be how you regard The Slymepit’s carefully curated arguments.

  72. 98

    C-Water: you must have inconsistent metrics for credibility if you think Shermer’s accusations are uncredible, and the ones before me are credible. A little consistency is all I ask for.

  73. 99

    There is clearly a problem at FTB, and it is somewhat bigger than “Eurgh, they’ve all got cooties”, which seems to be how you regard The Slymepit’s carefully curated arguments.

    Heh. “Carefully curated.”

  74. 100

    Jason – calling people by silly nickname versions of their name is not any better than intentional misspellings, particularly when they’ve already made a request to be addressed as their full name, cut it out.

  75. 103

    MrFancyPants @ 99. He trained at the HJ Hornbeck School of Mathematurgy.

    Ashley. I give you kudos for keeping this thread open for discussion, debate, and the occasional stone, by those across the rift spectrum. Strip away the rhetorical devices, including hyperbole, and you will see the essence of the disagreements and perhaps even the areas of agreement.

  76. 104

    @Edward Gemmer
    There have been multiple accusations of sexual assault against Michael Shermer and you are asking what you are “supposed to do with this information”? Seriously?

    The amount of time and words you spend on this topic makes me think that you DO know what you are supposed to do with that information and that you really want to tell us what WE should be doing (i.e. agree with your position) so don’t pretend that you are simply asking questions.

  77. 105

    brianpansky (#62):

    Hey maybe you didn’t know this but (I’m pretty sure) PZ wasn’t making new accusations of rape with that statement. Try reading more of what he said than one little sentence. ….

    I was quoting from Nugent’s post which quoted Myers’ tweets on October 4; you’re referencing Myers’ post from November 1. Which I’m happy to see differentiated, if somewhat imprecisely, between putative rapists on one hand, and “harassers and misogynists” on the other.

    Though one might argue that even the latter is still a rather odious accusation, not least for being categorical and with dick-all in the way of evidence to support it. Which contributes to the equally odious “mythologization” of the Pit, a process which Jason Thibeault seems to think is a one-way street that he wouldn’t be caught dead on.

  78. 106

    [email protected]:
    I’m not certain of the reference or implication vis a vis Hj Hornbeck. Since that person hasn’t commented here on this thread, that seems to be a gratuitous insult towards an absent person. Not certain why you’d bring that up, unless you want to just drive tribal conflicts. Thanking AM for keeping the thread open is actually counter to that, if it’s going to devolve into that sort of sniping.

  79. 107

    @ConcentratedH2O
    What is your point? Myers was accused of sexual assault therefore Shermer is innocent? Remember that it wasn’t Myers who accused Shermer of rape in the first place, it was the actual victims/the women involved. It is one thing to not like Myers but another to use that to shift the discussion away from Shermer.

    I also find it very wrong to compare the two situations. There are no multiple accusations against Myers, he immediately acted to defuse the situation, he doesn’t change his story, and the head of the university didn’t mention that he knows Myers is a “bad boy” and how he “misbehaved himself with the women”. Like you said above, context matters.

  80. 108

    MrFancyPants @ 103. His mathematics were on display on Ashley’s previous post on this matter. My bad for assuming some capacity in readers for continuity.

    Your choice whether you view it as sniping, or light hearted ribbing.

  81. 109

    brianpansky (#62):

    [Repost to remove embedding of links]

    Hey maybe you didn’t know this but (I’m pretty sure) PZ wasn’t making new accusations of rape with that statement. Try reading more of what he said than one little sentence. ….

    I was quoting from Nugent’s post (1) which quoted Myers’ tweets on October 4; you’re referencing Myers’ post from November 1. Which I’m happy to see differentiated, if somewhat imprecisely, between putative rapists on one hand, and “harassers and misogynists” on the other.

    Though one might argue that even the latter is still a rather odious accusation, not least for being categorical and with dick-all in the way of evidence to support it. Which contributes to the equally odious “mythologization” of the Pit, a process which Jason Thibeault (2) seems to think is a one-way street that he wouldn’t be caught dead on.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/10/13/pz-myers-has-failed-five-times-to-justify-his-smear-that-i-am-defending-and-providing-a-haven-for-rapists-on-my-blog/”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2013/06/09/splitting-the-difference-between-reality-and-mythology/#comment-112268”;

  82. 110

    [email protected]:
    If you could stick to the topics at hand, we can have a discussion. But if you’re going to revert to “light-hearted ribbing” at someone in the middle of what is clearly a topic that people take very seriously (and not “light-hearted” by any means), then I shall just consider you to be another partisan. I believe that I have tried to engage in an intellectually honest manner without sniping or “light-hearted ribbing”, with the exception of one person who was clearly not trying to do anything but start an argument–a person whom I did not engage in any real way, anyway.

  83. 111

    MrFancyPants. Sure thing. Engagement.

    @9

    The witness accounts of her state of mind and overall demeanor after the encounter seem to support the idea that, whatever her level of inebriation, she was extremely distressed. Which would be consistent with an assault.

    If you have been around seriously drunk people you would know that heightened levels of distress may also be characteristic of impaired limbic function through inebriation.

    @58

    The salient point raised by this blog posting still remains: why is Michael Nugent so resistant to the idea that the victim might actually have been raped by Shermer? Is it–as Ashley’s tweet asked–unreasonable for me to feel uncomfortable with Nugent’s vociferous defense of Shermer?

    My reading is that Michael Nugent is resistant to the spreading of accusations of criminal activity (tabloid fashion) that have not been subject to the legal process.

    @97

    Heh. “Carefully curated.”

    Please stick to the topic at hand and avoid light hearted ribbing. You might inflame the rifts.

  84. 112

    It amazes me how little it takes to be considered a pit bull.
    Talk about seeing things as dichotomies… apparently you’re automatically a pit bull if you aren’t a weasel.

  85. 113

    The salient point raised by this blog posting still remains: why is Michael Nugent so resistant to the idea that the victim might actually have been raped by Shermer? Is it–as Ashley’s tweet asked–unreasonable for me to feel uncomfortable with Nugent’s vociferous defense of Shermer?

    My reading is that Michael Nugent is resistant to the spreading of accusations of criminal activity (tabloid fashion) that have not been subject to the legal process.

    You misread. My question had nothing to do with the legal process, it was rather all about the reaction of people on the sidelines.

  86. 114

    Here’s the thing.
    None of this seems to have had an effect on Shermer. He continues to live the Life of Riley while we minions tear each other apart over his dirty deeds. What a fuck up.

  87. 115

    @KiwiInOz says:
    “My reading is that Michael Nugent is resistant to the spreading of accusations of criminal activity (tabloid fashion) that have not been subject to the legal process. ”

    Why shouldn’t the women who are affected be able to talk about it and warn others? We also need to consider that rape is underreported, i.e. many won’t go to the trial stage. Arguing that we should not be allowed to talk about a crime unless they have been subject to a legal process is hypocritical, considering that Nugent has no problems spreading accusations of “child rape” by priests (e.g. http://www.michaelnugent.com/2014/04/18/should-priests-report-child-rape-audio-and-transcript-of-my-discussion-with-a-priest-on-rtes-liveline/).

    He also talks about how we need to have compassion for the victims but why then isn’t he applying the same standard when it comes to Shermer? I don’t buy that it is just about the tone or that there is no legal process because there are no legal processes for many rapes by priests either.

  88. 116

    MrFancyPants (#111):

    You misread. My question had nothing to do with the legal process, it was rather all about the reaction of people on the sidelines.

    But if there’s some justification for not “spreading of accusations of criminal activity (tabloid fashion) that have not been subject to the legal process” then can you say that there’s any justification for people to “feel uncomfortable”?

  89. 117

    Your question doesn’t parse well, Steersman. I was specifically asking about the approach of one person (Nugent) to one question. I’m not interested in generalizing the topic. I want to know what Nugent’s response to the question at hand is. Outside of that, generalized to other people and other topics–I don’t care.

  90. 118

    MrFancyPants @ 111

    You asked two questions in the section that I quoted.

    Your first:

    why is Michael Nugent so resistant to the idea that the victim might actually have been raped by Shermer?

    My expanded answer would be that a) nothing in his writing suggests that he is passing or will pass any opinion on whether she was raped or not raped, because b) he is resistant to the spreading of accusations of criminal activity (tabloid fashion) that have not been subject to the legal process/prosecution/Court of Law/justice system.

    Your second:

    Is it–as Ashley’s tweet asked–unreasonable for me to feel uncomfortable with Nugent’s vociferous defense of Shermer?

    I would argue that he has not made a vociferous defense of Shermer; rather he has made a vociferous defense of due process. I would also argue, separately, that natural justice should apply to both the accused and the accuser.

  91. 120

    MrFancyPants (#115):

    Your question doesn’t parse well, Steersman.

    Maybe I didn’t phrase it well. But it seems clear that you’re focusing on Nugent’s supposed “vociferous defense of Shermer” – and calling it that but which looks like a judgement call, not a fact, as I don’t see that you can point to Nugent actually doing that – whereas KiwiInOz is focusing on Nugent’s stated (if I’m not mistaken) intention of not “spreading of accusations of criminal activity”.

    Looking at things from two different perspectives or frame of mind. Kind of like the spinning dancer illusion ….

  92. 122

    it seems clear that you’re focusing on Nugent’s supposed “vociferous defense of Shermer” – and calling it that but which looks like a judgement call, not a fact, as I don’t see that you can point to Nugent actually doing that – whereas KiwiInOz is focusing on Nugent’s stated (if I’m not mistaken) intention of not “spreading of accusations of criminal activity”.

    No, I’m focusing on the single question that I would like to have answered. And kiwi’s focus has been on nitpicking various statements. Can we all just agree that it would be nice if Nugent would answer the original tweet? Why is is wrong to feel uncomfortable that he’s been loudly saying that Shermer should not be called a rapist?

  93. SF
    123

    Wow, this is the most actual interactions I’ve seen between disparate points of view since the original elevatorgate rift. This is pretty rare these days, is something in the water.

  94. 125

    MrFancyPants (#119):

    Why is is wrong to feel uncomfortable that he’s been loudly saying that Shermer should not be called a rapist?

    It seems to be quite a good question that Ashley has asked – and which Nugent seems to agree with.

    However, I’m not sure that either you or Ashley really appreciate or understand that Nugent’s position is, apparently, that it is both immoral and illegal to state that someone is, in fact, a rapist until that has been proven in a court of law. You might note that most reputable newspapers will only state that so-and-so is alleged to have committed a particular crime as to do otherwise is to pre-judge the case, and probably makes them subject to charges of libel.

    Similarly with Shermer. You can allege that he committed rape and even assert that the evidence looks strongly against him. But to state he is actually guilty of that looks like crossing the Rubicon. Which Nugent, with maybe some justification, seems reluctant to do.

    And until you address that issue – whether it is immoral or illegal to state that – I can’t see that it is possible to address the question why it is supposedly wrong to feel uncomfortable in the face of that reluctance.

  95. 126

    Slightly off-topic but relevant to some of the comments. PZ wasn’t accused of rape. According to his own account, a student threatened to accuse him of rape if he didn’t improve her grade. There was no accusation to defend, no victim and no need for for evidence from anyone else.

    Unless there’s some other accusation against PZ that I don’t know about.

  96. 127

    So many words over such a simple issue.

    Quite simply there is reasonable doubt over what happened what, five years ago?

    Time, differing recollections, strange post hoc behaviour. You need a strong a priori lense to see this one in focus.

    Moreover the Alison grenade is undeniably tainted by personal and ideological agendas.

    Pitbull vilification and accusations of rape via blog is not a characteristic of reasoned debate.

    Accusing someone who disagrees as being a supporter of rapists merely underlines how appropriate Michael’s original bullet point was in his catalog of complaint.

    Btw, I still can’t see any FtBer showing even a flash of recognition to the mention of Radford. Are we still defending the ‘lived experience’ of the SciAm article? Didn’t think so. You live and you learn.

  97. 128

    We just settle this once and for all by just agreeing that Shermer should be called an “alleged serial rapist” then?
    Right?
    Because that is, in fact, what he is.

  98. 129

    KiwiInOz:

    I would argue that he has not made a vociferous defense of Shermer; rather he has made a vociferous defense of due process. I would also argue, separately, that natural justice should apply to both the accused and the accuser.

    Like I said above, Nugent doesn’t apply the same standard when it comes to Catholic priests. He will criticise priests without hesitation but when someone accuses a man of being a rapist then we need to watch what we say?

    The number of words he spent on this makes me doubt that he is simply defending due process – this is personal.

  99. 130

    Quite simply there is reasonable doubt over what happened what, five years ago?

    “Reasonable doubt” is a legal standard and whether there is one is determined by a trial and a jury.
    Which, as many excusing Shermer keep saying, is not something that has happened.
    So you don’t get to use “reasonable doubt” on the one hand and then cry “but there’s no police report! no trial!” on the other hand when it’s convenient.

    What IS true is that Shermer has been on the receiving end of multiple accusations of rape, and some people who know him find those accusations credible, some don’t (often admitting however that he’s a “bad boy) and most of us have no personal knowledge one way or the other and so we just form an opinion.

    What is undeniable is that Shermer accused of rape by more than one person, and that is a fact that nobody can just hand-wave away – without showing a bias, of course.

  100. 131

    Brive1987 (#125):

    So many words over such a simple issue.

    Indeed. Alhough, as is frequently the case, the issue seems to devolve on fundamental misinterpretations and misconceptions that are not at all easy to elucidate.

    More specifically, it seems Myers and Miller (et. al.) are insisting, in effect, that Nugent specifically state that Shermer is guilty of rape. Whereas Nugent is, with some justification arguing that he can’t do that until Shermer has been charged and convicted in a court of law.

    Seems to me that the easiest way off the horns of this particular dilemma is for Nugent to state that Shermer is alleged to have committed rape – i.e., “To assert prior to a final determination” – as that seems to cover the basics of Myers’ “Grenade” post.

    Or, as Jafafa Hots has just put it, Shermer is an “alleged serial rapist”.

  101. 133

    MrFancyPants @104:

    I’m not certain of the reference or implication vis a vis Hj Hornbeck. Since that person hasn’t commented here on this thread, that seems to be a gratuitous insult towards an absent person.

    I’ll fix that, by cross-posting between the two threads.

    =========

    There’s a great way to test [how innumerate I am]: back in September 2014, I posted a statistical analysis of the evidence against Shermer. Part one is on Butterflies and Wheels, while parts two to five are linked to [from there]. If I am as incompetent as you claim, cutting through that analysis should be as easy slicing through tissue.

    It’ll also be a big help to me; I never did update my analysis post-Oppenheimer, as promised, so I’m about to resume that. Your feedback will help me make version 1.1 that much stronger!

  102. 134

    Jafafa Hots (#):

    citation please

    I did say seems for a reason – i.e., I don’t have anything specific at my fingertips, although I’ll take a look.

    However, I might note that Ashley’s tweet (at the top of the OP) is saying “… when you [MN] say it is wrong to call Shermer a rapist”. Which suggests that Ashley thinks, with or without justification, that Nugent is in fact saying that “it is wrong to call Shermer a rapist”. And the fact that she is suggesting that “someone” is “feeling uncomfortable” that Nugent is saying that implies that that “someone” objects to that position of his. And expects him to change it.

    But I think that that illustrates the problem here: all sorts of inferences and misinterpretations, and very little in the way of explicit claims or demands. In any case, I’ll have a look to see if I can find something more specific for you.

  103. 136

    Thanks, MrFancyPants @119 re #84. I am happy that this addresses the second question raised by you (quoted by me), and the subsequent discussion.

    ginseng @ 127. I acknowledge your personal interest in this issue (as noted by you upthread). The difference between Michael Nugent criticising the Catholic Church and allegations on the internet that Michael Shermer is a serial rapist, is that the evidence brought before statutory inquiries and Courts of Law in various countries and jurisdictions have demonstrated institutionally-protected rape and abuse of young boys and girls going back decades. I note that here in Australia, a number of the priests and enablers have been charged, prosecuted, and jailed. The process continues.

    Now, Jafafa Hots @ 126 refers to Michael Shermer as an alleged serial rapist, and makes a truth claim about this. If this is the case then it is the responsibility of those who believe these crimes have occurred to notify the police so that they can collect the evidence and bring a case for prosecution. Surely at least one of the victims of this alleged serial criminal is prepared to stand up and ensure that women are protected from him.

    From what I have seen of the evidence presented, he is definitely an unashamed philanderer. He may even be a sleaze in some people’s eyes. But none of these are crimes. Put the strength of your convictions that he is a serial rapist to the test and lodge a complaint with the police. If he is found guilty and convicted then I will be joining you in calling for a tough sentence. Until then it smacks of tabloid-driven vigilantism which, as we know, is the gateway to mob justice. That never turns out well.

  104. 137

    Put the strength of your convictions that he is a serial rapist to the test and lodge a complaint with the police. If he is found guilty and convicted then I will be joining you in calling for a tough sentence.

    *adds KiwiInOz to list of clueless gobshites formerly considered allies through shared non-belief*

  105. 138

    MrFancyPants (#133):

    [email protected]: It is neither illegal nor immoral to state an opinion.

    Probably not, depending on the circumstances. But it seems potentially libelous to accuse someone of that type of crime. You can, Nugent can, state that it is alleged that Shermer is a rapist, but more than that is crossing the Rubicon. Which tends not to turn out well.

    And it is neither illegal or immoral to request an opinion out of someone.

    True. But they not obliged to give one, particularly if they think that stating it, particularly in an expected format, is likely to be libelous.

    So fuck off.

    After you Alphonse.

    The question posed to Nugent is fair.

    In your opinion. You a lawyer?

  106. 139

    I’m not sure what harm PZ has actually caused to Atheist Ireland, beyond making Michael Nugent very unhappy. Why Atheist Ireland’s agenda includes breaking up with bloggers is beyond me

    Makes me think you never read the statement. They endorsed and enabled his work before, which they now see as a mistake, and consequently, apologise for it. As they should.

    If you accept that it is rape for someone who is sober to have sex with someone who is drunk, Shermer raped Alison

    Everyone on this earth has at least 2 things. An asshole. And opinions. Until your opinions find their way into the jurisprudence and/or the legal code, we can safely ignore them.

    Or, as Jafafa Hots has just put it, Shermer is an “alleged serial rapist”.

    No. “Alleged” refers to the state accusing you of a crime before having had the opportunity to prove it. It’s a reference to a pre-trial committment to an assumption of innocence until proven guilty. No allegation, no trial. No trial, no allegation.

    As far as I understand the timely situation, that door has been closed. It’s over. There will be no allegation, and no trial. Why your opinion doesn’t rise to the level of an allegation? Because you hold no authority. You do not decide what is criminal, or who is a criminal; see [asshole+opinion].

    Take care.

  107. 140

    @ ginseng,

    The amount of time and words you spend on this topic makes me think that you DO know what you are supposed to do with that information and that you really want to tell us what WE should be doing (i.e. agree with your position) so don’t pretend that you are simply asking questions.

    I don’t have a position. I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.

  108. 141

    Call me naive, rorschach @ 135, but I believe in the principle of the rule of law and of natural justice. It’s important for civil society to function.

  109. 142

    LeSchlumb (#137):

    Makes me think you never read the statement. [AI] endorsed and enabled [Myers’] work before, which they now see as a mistake, and consequently, apologise for it. As they should.

    Indeed. Although I still question Nugent’s position to some extent.

    No. “Alleged” refers to the state accusing you of a crime before having had the opportunity to prove it.

    Are you, perchance, a lawyer? I ask because the dictionary suggests a broader application than just in law:

    Allege: to declare in or as if in a court of law; state without or before proof

    In which case one can say that Allison has alleged that Shermer raped her. Anything more than that would seem to be sticking one’s neck way out. Which one might reasonably argue Nugent has an obligation not to do. And has some justification for wishing to anathematize those who do so, particularly if they have business or professional interests or objectives in common that is going to reflect badly on the organizations which Nugent has some responsibilities to.

  110. 143

    Jafafa Hots #128. Used outside court “reasonable doubt” is idiom for using an acceptable benchmark to measure a claim. In this case no one can be confident of what “really” happened, certainly not so confident as to justify the calling in of the blog-posse.

    Btw I must have missed the specifics of Shermer’s other rapes. Please condescend to provide me details. Or are we talking hushed whispers?

    Steers #129. The FtB trope of Shermer = rapist is so firmly entrenched that the concept of dialing it back to “alleged” is far too little too late. In fact it was PZs green light to red light Shermer that is part of Nugents complaint.

  111. 145

    Jafafa Hots (#130):

    Steersman: More specifically, it seems Myers and Miller (et. al.) are insisting, in effect, that Nugent specifically state that Shermer is guilty of rape.
    Jafafa Hots: citation please

    Follow-up, although I should note again that I said seems, and in effect which may cover a multitude of sins. But here is a Myers post from November that basically summarizes the communications between Myers and Nugent. While it is a little vague, and suggests a “does too – does not” type of exchange (with the truth, or a workable compromise, possibly being somewhere in between), I think the following supports my contention, with the qualifications noted above:

    8 October email (Nugent): Can you please withdraw and apologise for your allegation that I am defending rapists?

    I made the mistake of replying. “No, because you are.”

    Now, one might, at a stretch, argue that Myers is merely alleging – “stating without or before proof” – that Shermer is a rapist which one might argue Nugent should have few if any qualms in accepting. And if Myers could actually concede that he is stating that without proof – in which case Myers would have to concede that Nugent is not defending rapists – then that might be a relatively amicable way off the horns of that dilemma.

    However, as suggested, it seems that Myers is actually demanding something substantially more, i.e., that Nugent actually accept that Shermer is in fact a rapist, and to act accordingly. In which case I think Nugent is entirely within his rights to part company with Myers, and to do so in no uncertain terms. Which is precisely what he has done. Q.E.D.

  112. 146

    @KiwiInOz

    I acknowledge your personal interest in this issue (as noted by you upthread).

    Your snarky attitude is annoying.

    The difference between Michael Nugent criticising the Catholic Church and allegations on the internet that Michael Shermer is a serial rapist, […]

    It’s a bad argument. You are directly implying that if there was no legal process it didn’t happen and/or that there was no crime. But there are multiple accusations – it was not an isolated incident and there is a history of bad behaviour by Shermer that even Randi acknowledged. So I don’t understand why you won’t take this seriously? It is good that you don’t want to be part of a mob because we should be better than that. But if we don’t accept the statements of several women who claim sexual harassment then what will we accept?

    There was a time when no would take anyone accusing a priests seriously, just like you don’t take anyone seriously who accuses Shermer. Sure, we have evidence now for the abuse by priests but that would not be possible if the victims didn’t feel comfortable enough to speak up!

    Put the strength of your convictions that he is a serial rapist to the test and lodge a complaint with the police. If he is found guilty and convicted then I will be joining you in calling for a tough sentence.

    I find it condescending of you to tell the victims that they should go to the police – as if they don’t know that already. Why do you think they won’t? You are demanding that people provide evidence but if multiple reports are not enough for you what is?

    Don’t you understand that an attitude like yours is one of the reasons that in too many cases sexual assault doesn’t even result in legal procedings? Because people like you dismiss the victims which doesn’t exactly motivate them to come out with their story. There is a reason why people don’t like to share their experiences – but if they do they get suddenly get contacted by others stating “I thought I was the only one”. First you take the victim seriously then we can talk about legal proceedings, not the other way around.

    I am also not sure if you know what rape is because the phrase “serial rapist” seems to concern you for some reason. If you have sexual intercourse with a person who cannot give consent that is rape. If you do that several times and intentionally then you are a serial rapist.

    @Edward Gemmer

    I don’t have a position. I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.

    That means either that the skeptics/atheist/etc. community is the wrong place for you (because I would assume that you would educate yourself first) or that you are acting in bad faith.

  113. 147

    Steersman, it can be said that Nugent’s arguments defends rapists, in the very same way that the crowd saying that there was no rape unless the victim can show a police report and/or a conviction is, as a matter of absolute fact, “defending” rapists.

    If your position is that barring a conviction, no rape has happened, then you are denying reality, and defending rapists in the process… and quite possibly, as the REASON for that process.

    In the same way, stating that there is no police brutality unless you can point to a convicted police officer, is, IN FACT, defending criminal police officers.

  114. 148

    Brive1987 (#141):

    Steers #129. The FtB trope of Shermer = rapist is so firmly entrenched that the concept of dialing it back to “alleged” is far too little too late.

    Certainly seems to be the case. Although one might argue that the problem is that many aren’t aware – as I wasn’t – that “allege” has a fairly specific and precise meaning that covers the fact that the charge of rape hasn’t been proven in a court of law. While Myers and Miller and many others might “feel” that the evidence is sufficient proof – in their eyes or view – it seems an egregious and arrogant imposition for them to expect that everyone else has to accept their standards of evidence and proof. Particularly when it’s moot whether a court of law would agree.

  115. 149

    Wowbagger, Heaper of Scorn #142

    The claim was Shermer has been accused of rapes – plural.

    I re-read Lousy’s screed assuming there must be something new.

    What is this? An FtB rick-roll?

    I suggest you print the post out and highlight each seperate claim of rape. It won’t take long. There is only one. Alison Smith’s.

    I did discover though that Shermer suspiciously deleted a tweet of a sign and a jokey self referential comment.

    Maybe that counts? Who knows.

  116. 150

    @ ginseng,

    That means either that the skeptics/atheist/etc. community is the wrong place for you (because I would assume that you would educate yourself first) or that you are acting in bad faith.

    I don’t understand this response at all.

  117. 151

    @Edward Gemmer

    I don’t have a position. I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.

    That means either that the skeptics/atheist/etc. community is the wrong place for you (because I would assume that you would educate yourself first) or that you are acting in bad faith.

    p.s.: If you don’t have a position on this question then how can you tell us that our position is wrong? That doesn’t make sense. Is your argument: “I don’t know what to do with accusations of sexual accusation therefore it is wrong to publicise them”?

  118. 154

    I don’t understand this response at all.

    Exactly. You don’t seem to understand what is wrong with being completely clueless when it comes to rape accusations – while at the same time telling us that we are wrong.

  119. 155

    Jafafa Hots (#145):

    Steersman, it can be said that Nugent’s arguments defends rapists, in the very same way that the crowd saying that there was no rape unless the victim can show a police report and/or a conviction is, as a matter of absolute fact, “defending” rapists.

    You can say that if you wish. But it doesn’t make it true.

    If your position is that barring a conviction, no rape has happened, then you are denying reality, and defending rapists in the process… and quite possibly, as the REASON for that process.

    But it is most emphatically not my position that “barring a conviction, no rape has happened”. It might have happened, and it might not have happened. But until we have gone through the process of legally evaluating the evidence and rendering a judgement we have no right to impose any type of penalty on those charged or accused. To do so without following that process is literally to take the law into our own hands: bad karma.

  120. 156

    @ ginseng,

    p.s.: If you don’t have a position on this question then how can you tell us that our position is wrong? That doesn’t make sense. Is your argument: “I don’t know what to do with accusations of sexual accusation therefore it is wrong to publicise them”?

    I didn’t say your position was wrong, nor did I say it is wrong to publicize rape allegations.

  121. 157

    ginseng @ 144. Actually I was being genuinely conciliatory and acknowledging your lived experience before going on to put an argument.

    It’s a bad argument. You are directly implying that if there was no legal process it didn’t happen and/or that there was no crime.

    I have implied nothing of the sort. What I have said is that rape is a crime and should be dealt with through the court of law, not the court of public opinion.

    You are demanding that people provide evidence but if multiple reports are not enough for you what is?

    I remember back in the 80s that there were multiple reports of satanic abuse of children. When evidence was asked for and provided, beyond the reports, the multiple claims were found to be false.

    Conversely, there were multiple reports of abuse of children by the Catholic (and other) church. When evidence was asked for and provided, beyond the reports, the multiple claims were found to be true. Justice was then able to be served.

    Don’t you understand that an attitude like yours is one of the reasons that in too many cases sexual assault doesn’t even result in legal procedings?

    With all due respect, this is bullshit and a cop out. The advocacy for rape victims, particularly over the last two decades has meant that police forces in most civilised countries have established specific rape units with specifically trained (usually female) staff. Rape counselling is immediately available and there are support groups to help rape victims through the legal process.

    I am also not sure if you know what rape is because the phrase “serial rapist” seems to concern you for some reason. If you have sexual intercourse with a person who cannot give consent that is rape. If you do that several times and intentionally then you are a serial rapist.

    If you know that someone is a serial rapist and you do not report that person to the police then you are morally suspect and ethically reprehensible. Your claims to care for women fall short. Once upon a time the feminist anthem was “I am woman, hear me roar”. Now I am not so sure.

  122. 160

    Steersman says,

    To do so without following that process is literally to take the law into our own hands: bad karma.

    It is vigilantism, but they don’t like the sound of that icky word, “vigilante.” Probably raised on old TV serials that routinely covered vigilante justice, and it never seemed to end well. But at times vigilantism just seems so damn satisfying, as if history hasn’t repeatedly demonstrated its liabilities. As the saying goes, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  123. 161

    If you know that someone is a serial rapist and you do not report that person to the police then you are morally suspect and ethically reprehensible.

    Words fail me. With all due respect and pardon my french but your opinions are merde.

    Once upon a time the feminist anthem was “I am woman, hear me roar”. Now I am not so sure.

    Oh, I see. You are an MRA and of course rape always attracts people like you. Must be difficult to keep up the facade and pretend to be reasonable before you can finally bring up the false rape allegation epidemic that is destroying the lives of upstanding citizens, i.e. men.

    I have zero respect for MRAs so I cannot help but being snarky.

  124. 162

    latsot #124:

    I think the issue is whether PZM followed correct procedure in dealing with a report of sexual misconduct. I don’t think many people believe the allegation was true; it was a matter of supposed hypocrisy on Myers’ part.

  125. 163

    Hunt (#158):

    It is vigilantism, but they don’t like the sound of that icky word, “vigilante.”

    Indeed. 🙂

    Although I was wondering. I can kind of sympathize with the “exasperation” that many might feel when the law has its hands tied for one reason or another. Certainly seems to be the case that the Statute of Limitations has run out for Allison. But while it is tempting to want to engage in various “extra-judicial” solutions, as we’ve suggested that can get a little problematic at best. And while there may still be sanctions of one sort or another that don’t cross the line, it still looks like a bit of a slippery slope.

  126. 164

    But it is most emphatically not my position that “barring a conviction, no rape has happened”. It might have happened, and it might not have happened. But until we have gone through the process of legally evaluating the evidence and rendering a judgement we have no right to impose any type of penalty on those charged or accused. To do so without following that process is literally to take the law into our own hands: bad karma.

    Nonsense.
    What “penalty” has Shermer faced? he has been accused by multiple people.
    He is being described as being accused by multiple people. He is being ACCURATELY described as an accused rapist.
    That is not a penalty – that is a FACT. He is accused of rape and sexual assault my multiple individuals.

    What more than that has happened? Has he been arrested? No. Has he been fired? No.
    What also has happened? He has been defended… defended to the point that his accusers have been attacked.

    There has been far more said in defense of and in support of this one man accused by multiple women of rape or sexual assault than there has been in support of the several women who say they have been raped or sexually assaulted.

    In this very thread. IN YOUR OWN COMMENTS. Far, FAR more concern is shown for the single unharmed, unprosecuted, unjailed, unpunished, unfired, still wealthy, still befriended by “luminaries” man accused of multiple sex crimes, than there has been for the SEVERAL women who have claimed to have been sexually assaulted by him.

    Rape. Sexual assault. HARM. And of course, ATTACKED by luminaries and their hangers-on. Ridiculed after-the-fact.

    The fact that you spend more words and time (as far as I can tell, EXCLUSIVELY) worrying about the still-wealthy, still-employed, still-famous, still-popular, single male individual means that you have taken a stand. Now, don’t give me this “I’m pretending I’m a jury” BS.

    What words or worry for the women who, if the claims are true, are VICTIMS, have you expressed?

    The fact is, you have taken a stand.
    You have shown your priorities.

    You will spend hundreds of words and many hours defending a possible rapist when you are in no position to know the facts. You will spend NO words and NO hours of concern for the multiple women who are possible rape and sexual assault victims when you are in no position to know the facts.

    With this position, this stance you have chosen, you show yourself to be, yes… a defender of rapists.
    Even if Shermer is innocent. Because if this is your go-to position, you will be wrong more often than right.

    Because rape is far more common than false rape accusations, you will be most often in the position of defending rapists.

    You have a bias. And it shows.

  127. 165

    But until we have gone through the process of legally evaluating the evidence and rendering a judgement we have no right to impose any type of penalty on those charged or accused. To do so without following that process is literally to take the law into our own hands: bad karma.

    Stop trying to make your opposition look like a mob that is willing to use violence. Speaking out on the internet is NOT the same as taking the law into out own hands and no one here has any power whatsoever to impose a penalty in the legal sense. However, we are allowed to give our personal opinions and to judge by taking into account the context.

    Since when is the only evidence that counts when it is “legally evaluated”? Is this dismissal of personal experiences connected to the dismissal of religious people that claim that they have “personally experienced” god? This is skepticism gone wrong and it shows a lack of understanding of why the latter is dismissed: There is no evidence for god but there is lots of evidence for rape.

  128. 166

    Rorschach (#157):

    “Wow. Thread totally hijacked by MRA-esque dudes.”
    QED.

    LoL. Yea, sure. “We” have hauled out our box-cutters, cowed the passengers into silence and submission, and are now diverting the flight into the nearest tall building.

    But seems like a great opportunity to again commend Ashley for actually exhibiting some commitment to the principle of freethought that supposedly underwrites this network instead of the mere lip service to the principle that seems to characterize many other blogs on it.

  129. 167

    @polishsalami #160

    I agree with you that nobody in particular believes that PZ was guilty, but that wasn’t my point. It’s a standard slymey claim that we on the “SJW side” believe the victim in Shermer’s case but believe PZ in his case. The claim is that we’re being inconsistent and letting our bias show. There are several comments in this thread to that effect and lots and lots elsewhere.

    My point is that this is a highly dishonest tactic.

    @Gemmer#154:

    If you know that someone is a serial rapist and you do not report that person to the police then you are morally suspect and ethically reprehensible. Your claims to care for women fall short. Once upon a time the feminist anthem was “I am woman, hear me roar”. Now I am not so sure.

    It really isn’t worth arguing with people like you, is it? There are all sorts of reasons why this is not an ethically straightforward decision, but I suspect you know that.

  130. 168

    I’m late to this and I risk repeating things which have already been said. Apologies in advance: topics with more than 100 comments can be quite overwhelming.

    Ashley wrote:

    I don’t have a problem with Michael Nugent’s distaste for PZ’s tone. I don’t agree in general, though like Nugent, I found PZ to be lacking in his posts about Dawkin’s childhood sex abuse and Robin Williams’ suicide.


    I could have written these words myself. Just a small addition: I’m one of those who don’t feel comfortable with invectives beyond a certain (rather low) level and I generally avoid blogs where this goes too far. In effect I can even sympathize with some of the distaste mentioned by Ashley. However, all of this is strictly private: it’s my distaste; there is absolutely no reason why anyone else should bother.

    Ashley again:

    I also don’t really have a problem with Atheist Ireland’s dissociation with PZ. Again, freedom of association, to each their own. I do think that, while they’ve made an exhaustive list of why they don’t like his tone, they’ve failed entirely to even try to make a case as to why an American blogger’s tone has any relevance to the work they are doing.


    After deleting the word “American” (really, I take it as irrelevant), I can only agree. I would also like to see such a case made. However, somehow I do not think a convincing case will ever be made.

    The closest AI moved in this direction was in the following passage (cf. also LeSchlumb #137):

    Atheist Ireland has previously given PZ Myers public platforms in Ireland, both at the World Atheist Convention in 2011, and at our international conference in 2013 on Empowering Women Through Secularism. We now apologise for doing this. We believe his behaviour is unjust to individuals, increases prejudice against atheists, and is harmful to the promotion of an ethical society based on empathy, fairness, justice and integrity.

    Two points here.

    1. The mere fact of giving someone a platform in the past is not an explanation by itself. The person given a platform could do various stupid things afterwards (hmm, maybe he got drunk and was caught dancing naked on a table in a pub?) without the need for the organization to “disassociate” itself from him. Such a need could indeed arise, but only if the behavior of the person in question was found to be seriously detrimental to the organization’s aims. So, how is PZ’s behavior detrimental to the aims of AI? That’s Ashley’s question.
    2. In the final fragment of the quote the AI tried to fill in this gap. They claim that PZ’s behavior “increases prejudice against atheists, and is harmful to the promotion of an ethical society”. Since fighting prejudice against atheists and promoting ethical society belong (as I gather) to AI’s goals, we seem to have a sketch of an answer.

    The problem is that this answer is … quite uninformative (to put it mildly). To start with, what’s the basis of AI’s claim that PZ’s behavior “increases prejudice against atheist”? Whose prejudice, by the way? Is it about the Catholics? Someone else? Have the Catholics – Irish, American, any others – started following FtB (and Pharyngula in particular) en masse, with revulsion and increased prejudice being the outcome? That would be news indeed! Anyone ready to supply the details will find in me a fascinated reader! The part about “promoting ethical society” is equally vague and uninformative. I can agree that PZ went over the board a couple of times. I can agree also that he is foul-mouthed (difficult to disagree with this, isn’t it?!). Still, what’s the nature of the danger? What’s exactly meant by PZ’s “harmful impact […] on the atheist movement generally” – what’s this ‘something’, which goes beyond personal squabbles and is so important as to merit being disowned by an atheist organization?

    I think Ashley’s question still stands. I think also (call me cynical for this) that neither AI nor Michael Nugent will answer it, preferring to leave the matter to their commenters – who, after all, can always be disowned as soon as the need arises. This is the prediction of the naked, bearded prophet Ariel in a holy trance, given absolutely free of charge.

    (Yes, I read the Bible and I know the fate of the prophets.)

  131. 169

    ginseng @ 150

    Oh, I see. You are an MRA and of course rape always attracts people like you. Must be difficult to keep up the facade and pretend to be reasonable before you can finally bring up the false rape allegation epidemic that is destroying the lives of upstanding citizens, i.e. men.
    I have zero respect for MRAs so I cannot help but being snarky.

    Non sequitur. Wrong on all counts. But don’t let that stop you from your fantasy rationale.

  132. 170

    Stop trying to make your opposition look like a mob that is willing to use violence. Speaking out on the internet is NOT the same as taking the law into out own hands and no one here has any power whatsoever to impose a penalty in the legal sense. However, we are allowed to give our personal opinions and to judge by taking into account the context.

    It’s true that Shermer seems remarkably unperturbed by all of this; however this is only a casual observation. He may well have suffered in ways not apparent, financially and socially. I don’t think it’s right to minimize these types of actions to the point of dismissing them as entirely innocuous to his wellbeing. This seem to be a recurrent theme in these types of debates. “What’s the harm in informal accusations, and look at the good we might do, preventing the harm of others.” Well, flaunting civil justice can cause harm. That’s why there is civil justice. And in the end you have no way of predicting what (low probability) events might fall from this. Some nut might decide that Shermer’s life should end. Less dramatically, this moves to establish the absurd precedent that any possible suspicion of harmful behavior should be publicly documented, if by chance it might save someone, somewhere, from harm, entirely ignoring any concern about wrongful accusation. That’s a society that is NOT going to work.

  133. 171

    Jafafa Hots (#162):

    He is being ACCURATELY described as an accused rapist.

    Yes, that is quite true: he is in fact an accused rapist. That still doesn’t make him actually guilty of having raped someone. You and many others do seem to have some difficulty comprehending that difference.

    With this position, this stance you have chosen, you show yourself to be, yes… a defender of rapists.

    How can I reasonably be accused of being “a defender of rapists” if you haven’t proven that Shermer is in fact a rapist? Looks like a classic case of begging the question, of assuming what it is that you want and need to prove.

    What I and, presumably, the rest of us “MRA-esque dudes” are defending is the right not to be judged as something, or as having committed some crime, until the evidence is evaluated in a court of law.

  134. 172

    @ latsot,

    It really isn’t worth arguing with people like you, is it? There are all sorts of reasons why this is not an ethically straightforward decision, but I suspect you know that.

    Uh, I didn’t write that.

  135. 173

    Since when is the only evidence that counts when it is “legally evaluated”? Is this dismissal of personal experiences connected to the dismissal of religious people that claim that they have “personally experienced” god? This is skepticism gone wrong and it shows a lack of understanding of why the latter is dismissed: There is no evidence for god but there is lots of evidence for rape

    That’s the thing, though, isn’t it? According to people like this, women exist in a pepetual state of consent. In order to “prove” she was raped, she must be able to show that not only did she say “no” and he raped her anyway, because that’s not enough. No, she musg prove that she said no and tried to enforce the no by way of fighting violently. She has to literally risk her life and sustain serious injuries to “prove” that she didn’t consent (because the default state is she did give consent), and even then the rapist can be excused. She wore this or that and thus couldn’t have withdrawn consent (because consent is already present), maybe she just likes rough sex, etc.

    In this way, they assure that only an infentismal amount of rapists get reported in the first place, and then Only a small portion gets a conviction in a “court of law”, whihc means only a small fraction of raped women are allowed to say ‘that guy raped me’.

    So in their world, no, there really isn’t that much evidence for rape, rape is something that happens when a stranger almost kills a woman in addition to raping her. Otherwise, a witness is needed to the crime itself, or how will you ever 100% KNOW that she didn’t want it?
    It’s pretty damn convenient for rapists and makes it easy for rapists to get away with rape, while their victims are shamed and silenced.

    But hey, that whole rape culture thing? Misandry! There’s no proof!

  136. 175

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    So in their world, no, there really isn’t that much evidence for rape, rape is something that happens when a stranger almost kills a woman in addition to raping her. Otherwise, a witness is needed to the crime itself, or how will you ever 100% KNOW that she didn’t want it?

    This is just it. In all those other cases, when there aren’t bloody noses, broken windows, broken bones…rape really IS hard to prove. Why do you think we’re having this discussion? What do you think is going on here? By most accounts, rape and honest sex are superficially identical. We’re talking about a crime, in the majority of cases, that leaves no fingerprints. What it usually leaves in the aftermath is conundrums like He said/She said. What makes you think this should be an easy nut to crack?

  137. 176

    We believe his behaviour is unjust to individuals, increases prejudice against atheists, and is harmful to the promotion of an ethical society based on empathy, fairness, justice and integrity.

    Can’t remember the name of the drunk teen in charge of AI’s 2011 conference now (Stephen?), but if there ever was prejudice against atheists that was justified, it would have to be including this sad excuse for a humanist.

    Anyway,
    I was at both the 2011 and 2013 Dublin conferences, and I don’t recall back then there being any problems with PZ being “unjust to individuals”, presumably since in the pre-elevatorgate perfect world of non-belief, dictionary atheism was never considered worth questioning in the first place, and the Slymepit was Vacula tweeting from his corner seat while being ignored by any decent person. In that sense, we have made progress. It’s just that the culling is taking a bit longer that anyone could have anticipated.

  138. 177

    Ashley,

    This is the nature of the problem that many people see with PZ Myers:

    http://ronmurp.net/2015/04/12/social-justice-the-pz-way

    That’s why it’s called out by his critics. While there may be some odd-balls that really think there is never any rape, or that all rape claims are bogus, or that even many rape claims are bogus, most of the critics of PZ, like Nugent, are critical for this reason.

    Then, when that’s pointed out to PZ he and his crew (and he has a vitriolic regular crew) go to town on his critic (e.g. ‘defender of rapists’, ‘haven for rapists’, …), and then gradually shift the debate to make it seem that it’s all about far less controversial issues of name calling.

  139. 179

    ronmurp,

    when you say “many people” in a desperate attempt to an ad populum, you really only mean “read my blog”, right? I might pass if you don’t mind. This post has attracted all kinds of jokers.

  140. 180

    @MrFancyPants and @ginseng why is it every time men speak up on gender issues or someone asks for evidence in a rape case, people like you refers to them dismissively as “MRA”? Are you saying men don’t get an opinion? Are you saying that any time discrimination is suggested against women it must be true and any time discrimination is suggested against men it must be false? It seems like you are making your decisions based on following the party line rather than by being a good skeptic. The fact is that we should be concerned about making sure that both genders are treated equally and that rapists are punished but that in both cases we use evidence to determine what is true and false. The fact that this position is dismissively waved away as “MRA” shows how bad of a shape the skeptical movement is in in some places.

  141. 181

    Are you saying men don’t get an opinion? Are you saying that any time discrimination is suggested against women it must be true and any time discrimination is suggested against men it must be false?

    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Amazing. This is a reproducable thing. Sociologists, pay attention!

  142. 182

    Excellent analysis. Bookmarked.

    I remember when the post where PZ related forward the rape accusation from, at the time, an anonymous source.

    My impression at the time, and my impression now, is that PZ did the absolute most ethical thing he could have done under the circumstances. I applaud him for coming forward when he did and how he did.

    Even if the claim from Alison was spurious (note: I do not argue that this is so; trust-and-verify), he would still have been in the right to have given her the benefit of the doubt. But to the contrary, from all accounts, it seems that the accusations are well-justified. The eyewitness testimony, and in particular the use of the wheelchair, are particularly damning.

    There are fair criticisms of PZ to be made. But his treatment of giving Alison the platform to make her case while respecting her right to privacy in the issue was most definitely not one of them.

  143. 183

    rorschach,

    You don’t need to read it if you’ve already made your mind up. Let me make it easier for you (though that still means you have to read some other blog posts – sorry about that, but that’s what we have to do if we want to get what people are saying rather than making shit up in our own heads):

    This is the apology by two harpies (their term) about their rumour based accusation of harassment:
    https://teamharpy.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/apologies-and-retractions/

    This the post from PZ that contains the typical comments that can have no other reading that the presumption of the guilt of the guy:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/09/23/librarians-too/

    Here is the apology from PZ and crew that they got this wrong, or at least that their reading of the rumour harpies was wrong:
    …. still waiting for that one.

    Nice try at deflection though, rorschach.

  144. 184

    I don’t find the wheelchair element as slamdunk as many do. To me it indicates the suggestion that has been made that there was further drinking in Shermer’s room. After all, both Shermer and Smith somehow made it from Caesar’s to their own hotel, according to Google maps, across a street. No doubt the vigilante side envisions Shermer dragging her by the hair. Either this or the theory of delayed intoxication, which to be honest I have never witnessed or experienced.
    Actually I’m surprised the vigilantes haven’t suggested drugging, Cosby style. Guys, your game is slipping (don’t do that).

  145. 185

    How can I reasonably be accused of being “a defender of rapists” if you haven’t proven that Shermer is in fact a rapist?

    Go back and read what I wrote. I explicitly explained how you are a defender of rapists even if Shermer is innocent.
    Completely ignoring the text where I explained and supported that argument is not the same as me not having made the argument, you know.

    I can still read what I wrote. I’m pretty sure others can too, even if you won’t.

  146. 186

    If we will all look back to the op, here is one of the big problems I have with Nugent. PZ did describe Shermer as putative assailant. I’m, of course, guilty of using no such modifiers. But PZ wasn’t when he earned Nugent’s ire.

  147. 187

    A surprising amount of the arguments here have been about how people run their own blogs. How about the following compromise: Let people run their own blogs as they see fit pretty much of the time. If Myers wants to preemptively ban Pitters, that’s okay with me, and perhaps he has his reasons. If Nugent wants to avoid republishing potentially defamatory accusations, that’s fine with me, and perhaps he has his reasons (e.g. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/libel-tourism-may-become-our-newest-cottage-industry-1.1992393).

    I’d be happy to stop grousing about PZ’s banhammer if FtB stops accusing Nugent of defending Shermer and providing a haven for rapists.

  148. 188

    What I and, presumably, the rest of us “MRA-esque dudes” are defending is the right not to be judged as something, or as having committed some crime, until the evidence is evaluated in a court of law.

    Nonsense again.
    A woman PZ knows and trusts made an allegation. He believes her.
    Neither I nor you know the truth first-hand, but unlike you, I don’t dismiss it out of hand and say “show me a guilty verdict!”

    If a woman you know and trust…a colleague, a sibling, your mother, a neighbor, whatever – tells you she was raped, are you going to say you’re not going to trust her word until there’s an conviction in a court of law?

    Maybe you would. Maybe you absolutely would.
    But I bet you wouldn’t harbor such doubts if she merely claimed her car was stolen.

    As I said, you have a bias and it is showing. Your bias leads you to defend rapists. In general. Not specifically in the case of Shermer.

    Across the board.

  149. 189

    Great post, Ashley.

    The rest is OT:

    Would you please consider not using pit bulls as an example of something vicious? The dogs are stigmatized largely because of a racist stereotype. Pit bull’s association with black men is what fuels the media’s tendency to report on pit bulls as more dangerous than other dogs. There are so many myths about these dogs that reflect racist attitudes toward black men. The fact is, they are not dangerous dogs. It is black people, their music, their culture and even their pets that I believe the mainstream find threatening.

    Also, for people like me who have a pittie, breed specific legislation and the stigma attached to having a dog that happens to be stocky with a broad head is frightening. People have had their pets taken by force and killed. People’s attitudes can be cruel. I’ve been told that I should not have been allowed to adopt my children and that I deserve them to be killed because I own a fat, happy little dog. It may seem nit-picky to most everyone else, but it matters to some of us. PZ isn’t a pittie. He’s the KRACKEN!

  150. 191

    @Hunt
    the suggestion that has been made that there was further drinking in Shermer’s room.
    So you need to introduce facts, not yet in evidence , to continue to hold your position?
    Did Shermer say in his statement “and we continued drinking , and then after sex I told her to leave , in a state that she could not walk?”

  151. 192

    @Jackie

    To join you off topic, pit bulls were bred specifically for dog fighting, and are associated with violence because of fighting in dog pits, which is an English sport, originally. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for the majority of fatal dog attacks. That could be because of training, not because of breeding, but it’s a reputation that’s not entirely undeserved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_bull

  152. 193

    @168 and @169 hit the nail on the head.

    @162 Is the whole essence of the problem.

    With this position, this stance you have chosen, you show yourself to be, yes… a defender of rapists.
    Even if Shermer is innocent. Because if this is your go-to position, you will be wrong more often than right.
    Because rape is far more common than false rape accusations, you will be most often in the position of defending rapists.

    Rape accusers aren’t usually lying. Therefore, assuming the innocence of an accused rapist is merely defending a likely rapist. Therefore the presumption of innocence merely defends rapists generally.

    This is clearly Nugent’s crime here. He is unwilling to publicly condemn Shermer as a rapist. He insists on things like due process and the presumption of innocence, and for doing so he is merely a defender of the implicitly guilty.

  153. 194

    Deepak,

    So using Shermers example under a heading of the role of Myers in demonising people, is not defending?

    There can be little doubt that Shermer has been demonized by Myers and his commenters. If you doubt this, try to count up how many times he was compared to or identified with serial rapists on the grenade post alone.

    Maybe he is really a demon, though. We have corroboration in the form of salacious remarks over dropped chicken and unobtrusive wine refills, not to mention allegations of a serious nature.

    To answer your question, though, no. It is not a defense to point out that someone has been demonized. If Nugent says that Shermer has been unfairly demonized, then we might well conclude he has been staking out a defensive position.

  154. 195

    The problem with Nugent isn’t that he is unwilling to publicly condemn Shermer, it’s that he publicly condemns PZ for calling Shermer a “putative assailant” and for pointing out Shermer’s changing stories.

  155. 196

    [email protected]

    This is clearly Nugent’s crime here. He is unwilling to publicly condemn Shermer as a rapist. He insists on things like due process and the presumption of innocence, and for doing so he is merely a defender of the implicitly guilty.

    If you really want to contribute, I suggest that you should read the relevant posts and comments instead of merely copying and pasting straw man talking points from your colleagues at Rape Culture Central.

  156. 197

    What, the thread was hijacked?

    But … they still have the ability to post? They haven’t been banned? Their posting privileges have not been revoked?

    Clearly, Ashley Miller must be providing a haven for these “MRA-esque dudes.” And in effect, rapists.

  157. 200

    Those babbling about “presumption of innocence” etc., as if we were engaged in a jury trial (we’re not) or proposing to lock up Shermer without trial or process (nobody is), should maybe reflect a little more on appropriate standards of evidence. Consider for example the OJ Simpson trial: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._J._Simpson_murder_case . The criminal case against Simpson led to an acquittal: the presumption of innocence (standard for a criminal trial) and the requirement of “beyond reasonable doubt” (also standard for a criminal trial) plus a very expensive lawyer (not standard, but handy if you can afford one) prevented a guilty verdict. However a subsequent CIVIL trial led to Simpson’s conviction on A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE that he was responsible for the two killings – costing him $40 million.

    We’re not talking here about a criminal trial; nor even about a civil trial; we’re talking about the evidence required to form and express an opinion.

    Given the preponderance of the evidence, it’s reasonable to believe that Shermer has more than once taken sexual advantage of women too inebriated to validly consent. That – is rape. If you like Shermer that conclusion may be intolerable to you. Tough.

    And this ridiculous pretence that “scepticism” or “openmindedness” actually means “assume the women are always lying and the rich white guy is always telling the truth” – well, that remains as vile now as it has been throughout.

  158. 203

    Rape accusers aren’t usually lying. Therefore, assuming the innocence of an accused rapist is merely defending a likely rapist. Therefore the presumption of innocence merely defends rapists generally.

    Except when this happened to Jason Thibeault and PZ Myers.

    And the Duke Lacrosse team.

    And Brian Banks. (Five years false imprisonment, exonerated because his accuser admitted fabricating it while secretly being filmed.)

    And the fraternity at UVA.

    And all those people examined by the Innocence Project.

  159. 204

    Pitchguest it’s like you can’t even reading comprehension and statistics. It’s like the words usually, likely, and generally weren’t even in that thing that literally is right there in your own comment brah. WHAT EVEN ARE YOU DOING

  160. 205

    Like?

    Ashley, I’m referring to the fact that we, er, “Slymepitters” get to post here on your blog and not being banned straight away. This being the same criteria that PZ used against Nugent when he said that he provides a “haven for rapists”, using the logic that, er, “Slymepitters” get to post there.

    Has nothing to do with ‘like’.

  161. 208

    Nugent’s criticism of PZ is that PZ posted an anonymous and un-evidenced (other than victim’s statement obviously) accusation about Michael Shermer. From that, many people stated as fact that Shermer was a rapist. The fact there was a much better piece by Oppenheimer later with some evidence is irrelevant to Nugent’s gripe with PZ. And the fact evidence did surface later does not absolve PZ of the fact he posted an un-evidenced, anonymous accusation.

    IS making un-evidenced, anonymous accusations responsible and/or reasonable journalism?

  162. 209

    I could be considered a haven for misogynists and harassers under PZ’s definitions, but I’m definitely onboard with the Shermer accusations, so I’ll have to be a slightly less evil version of Nugent to PZ’s eyes.

  163. 210

    The fact that Nugent posted his gripe with PZ because of that piece by Oppenheimer is INCREDIBLY relevant to anyone who thinks the accusations are valid.

    Furthermore, Nugent’s complaints regarding PZ and Shermer in the 9/17/14 piece are not about irresponsible journalism, they are a lot of inaccurate claims about PZ’s behavior. He says PZ himself accused Shermer (not true), he drops the “putative” from assailant, and he claims PZ directly called Shermer a liar.

    And the accusation was not anonymous, it was unnamed, it’s an entirely different circumstance. The victim was known to PZ. And the story vouched for by an additional person. Yes, that’s ethical journalism, it happens all the time. Eye-witness testimony is evidence.

  164. 211

    This is clearly Nugent’s crime here. He is unwilling to publicly condemn Shermer as a rapist. He insists on things like due process and the presumption of innocence, and for doing so he is merely a defender of the implicitly guilty.

    Oh stop it with your sarcastic way of demanding that people on a blog act like they are in a goddamned court of law.

    I will put up with your bullshit (and selectively used) demand that a BLOG adhere to the same rules of procedure and evidence as a court of law when commentary on a blog can sentence someone to prison.

    You don;t talk this way about other claims. You don’t demand that we refrain from calling religious charlatans frauds unless they have been convicted of fraud, etc.., so just as Steersman does, you insist in this case because of a bias.

    Do not be so arrogant as to assume that what you are doing is not plainly apparent.

  165. 212

    I can read and understand it just fine, thanks. I was just ridiculing the position that people accused of rape are ‘usually, likely, generally’ guilty.

    To take this position you must assume that false rape accusations are at least as common as rapes.

    Is that your assertion? Because if it is, you have a damned lot of homework to do to support that, and if it isn’t then you’ve demonstrated beyond any doubt whatsoever that your conclusions are based solely on bias, a bias you can’t or won’t even suggest is supported by reality.

    It’s actually quite handy when you box yourself in like this. Let’s us all know exactly what we’re dealing with… (as if we didn’t already)/

  166. 214

    I may be mistaken but I don’t see anywhere where Nugent said he posted his gripe because of the Oppenheimer piece. In fact Nugent has stated he raised concerns about PZ’s action prior to the piece publication.

  167. 215

    Just wanted to give props to Ashley F. Miller for allowing open dialogue and free exchange of ideas, including some that may be problematic. Your willingness to engage and allow people to hash out these issues here is commendable. This is the way forward.

  168. 216

    I don’t see anywhere where Nugent said he posted his gripe because of the Oppenheimer piece.

    The fact that Nugent didn’t proclaim “I’m posting this in response to Oppenheimer’s article!” is irrelevent. Nugent posted it just after the Oppenheimer piece was published.

    Of course you can argue that that’s just a coincidence, that Nugent knew nothing of the Oppenheimer piece, that it had nothing, no nothing, to do with anything.

    As for his concerns about PZ’s “action”, those are addressed in Ashley’s comment.

    Nugent misrepresented PZ’s grenade post. (Oddly, PZ, the great boogeyman of the Slymepit as channelled through Nugent, has not harrassed Nugent with endless tweets and posts demanding Mick retract his incorrect and misleading statements and apologize.)

  169. 217

    From what I read, Michael Shermer was interested in showing his etchings to women. I also got the impression this was not untypical for such conferences, with party atmosphere, like-minded (and “sex positive”) people, booze and hotel rooms nearby. Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD, who is poly-amorous, illustrated it just recently. I don’t mind adults having fun.

    I’ve read Michael Shermer came across as sleazy or creepy at times. That’s possible. I don’t know, and it tells us exactly nothing. It was reported that he raped someone – I don’t know that either. I have no problem with not knowing. What I do know is that I am not in a position to determine what happened on the other side of the world. If I was a fan – and I am not – I would have to make an assessment, how much I want to believe his enemies and whether their “web of trust” has more weight than what I knew about him. I had no idea who he was when I first ventured into this side of the internet, and so far my exposure to his work was limited. But FTB has been less than convincing as well, even looking past the fantastic fabulist Avicenna. I’ve caugth you pants down often enough now that I assume it is a fashion statement. I also believe I understand the situation why Michael Shermer is of such an importance, and it doesn’t look terribly good for the social justice atheists. Michael Nugent wrote about “unjust smears” against Richard Dawkins and since his points were evaded entirely, I can’t help but thinking this is just the usual misdirection firework.

    The “Grenade” post by PZ Myers was incoherent, corroborated nothing and according to other witnesses contained falsehoods. For example, it was disputed that Michael Shermer played the waiter and refilled glasses. The Oppenheimer piece wasn’t released yet and FTB rationalized their beliefs that rape statistics only have a small percent of false accusations. Therefore, goes the argument, the accusation was ‘likely’ true as well (and “likely true” here means absolutely true). I found that cringe-worthy for the excellent reason that you can’t deduce from statistics (unless something is 100% the case). You might want to learn about the problem of induction and the Ecological Fallacy; inferring from statistics to a concrete case. These are big blunders for people who claim to know about critical thinking. Since Professor PZ Myers, Dr. Richard Carrier PhD, Jason Thibeault and others here are people of intelligence, I can only assume their writing on such matters was satirical in nature (Jason Thibault’s “Null Hypothesis” was particularly entertaining).

    The big question is why it seems of central importance to have an opinion on Michael Shermer. It is meaningless what I personally believe. I would not parrot serious allegations anyway. However, if people present a story or a line of arguments; that is something to pick apart. The referent in that case isn’t the situation, but the reasoning. For example, I am not buying into the “we must warn women” rationalization. From what I gathered, his personality was known for a long time. It is implausible why a years’ old case is now considered urgent. He also married recently, suggesting some kind of change. Depending on your views on him, this might not mean anything to you, but just glancing over complications – another typical thing for FTB – doesn’t help your case. Much more crucial to me, however, are the additional names of other “sexually predatory thought-leader dudes” (Ophelia Benson) that were once named on this network. They all disappeared without a trace. Why? If you were honest about the project of “warning women”, then FTB writers would commit to this idea and lay out what they know. That tells me the story is inconsistent and the “warning women” is just another typical rationalization. But be careful, I am not saying this lets Michael Shermer off the hook. Your bad reasoning, general reputation of being lenient with the truth or crude storytelling does not pronounce him innocent, either!

    I believe we can be compassionate to the people who feel victimized. Whatever happened, I think it’s best to treat their experiences and feelings seriously. And this is possible without being convinced the other person is guilty, because these situations can have (potentially!) more than one side of the story. Reality is continuous, chaotic and in constant motion (e.g. memories), whereas categories, such as guilty or innocent, are discrete and clear. Here we talk about two people assessing a situation, and since the universe doesn’t keep a record how a situation was – unless it does with evidence – we are left with subjective interpretations and they can indeed be contradictory.

    However I know as well as everyone who pays attention that it isn’t about women or victims, or being compasionate or emphatic (FTB!? Are you kidding me). The reasons lie more towards {1} misdirection fireworks (cf. “Hemant Metha endorses”; “guys don’t do that”; “dear muslima” (distracted from Rape Culture introduction and Boycott of Dawkins); {2} distraction from criticism of social justice “Dear Leaders”, e.g. PZ Myers, or Rebecca Watson who are, as we know infallible and can only be called out by people close enough in the authoritarian safe spaces (e.g. elite users, regulars) {3} instead puts other people on trial and under scrutiny (e.g. switching from defense to offense), e.g. Michael Nugent, Richard Dawkins or Abbie Smith {4} topic is chosen which can be used for a Deliberate Offense Gish Gallop, e.g. rape, rape apologia, Matters Of Most Import {5} makes otherwise invisible forces in the social justice warrior ideology appear tangible, e.g. Rape Culture {6} the more controversial the item, the more people can show how committed they are. If there were facts you wouldn’t need ideology and beliefs. Here True Believers can show they truly belong to the safe space and can be trusted, it’s more than just cheap signalling {7} and finally, the holier-than-thou evangelical aspect, social justice warriors must be seen “fighting the good fight” which are akin to their sunday clothes and church attendance. The better they do this, they higher they climb in social rank in the authoritarian “safe spaces” (where you have host > elite user, formerly Order of Molly > regulars > commentariat > lurkers > dirt and worms > newbies). And for that, full circle, they need people who represent the enemy (typically involuntarily).

  170. 218

    As a male, I am afraid, and would be very reluctant to be around Michael Shermer.
    I would never find myself alone with him with alcohol being consumed.
    I would never let a friend, or even a stranger, around Michael Shermer without persistent observation.
    Everyone, to date, has neglected Dallas Haugh in these accusations. In Dallas’ suicide note, he accuses Michael Shermer of sexual assault as well.

    I do not go to conferences and doubt that I will ever meet or encounter Michael Shermer, but if I ever did then I would treat him the same way I treat any police officer in the States – with an abundance of caution and potentially lots of video in order to protect myself and others.

  171. 219

    I did not need to include, “As a male….” that part is irreverent and I apologize for including it since it is not germane to my overpoint and sounds very much like I am shaming bisexuality. I apologize for that…..

  172. 220

    To take this position you must assume that false rape accusations are at least as common as rapes.

    No I don’t. I just have to assume they are more common than is believed. I just have to assume they are more common than to believe that people accused of rape are ‘usually, generally, likely’ guilty.

    Is that your assertion? Because if it is, you have a damned lot of homework to do to support that, and if it isn’t then you’ve demonstrated beyond any doubt whatsoever that your conclusions are based solely on bias, a bias you can’t or won’t even suggest is supported by reality.

    Prepare yourself for a plethora of links.

    _http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_accusation_of_rape
    _http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/09/false_rape_accusations_why_must_be_pretend_they_never_happen.html
    _http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-19/how-many-rape-reports-are-false
    _http://www.avoiceformalestudents.com/avfms-mega-post-10-reasons-false-rape-accusations-are-common/
    _http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2009/10/how_often_do_women_falsely_cry_rape.html
    _http://www.cotwa.info/p/false-rape-allegations-assault-on.html
    _http://web.stanford.edu/group/maan/cgi-bin/?page_id=297
    _https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/false-rape-allegations-are-rare/

    I’ve looked them all over. The statistics are not immovable. Some say 2%, some say less than that, some say 10%, some 25%, some as high as 40%, some say 5.9%. I’ve included several sources across ideological ponds and they all differ. Which are we supposed to take on board? I suppose the conclusion is, we don’t know. But it is certainly to such an extent that accusations of rape are ‘usually, generally, likely guilty’ is nonsense.

  173. 221

    If you are going to suggest somebody did something “because of” you have to have some sort of evidence suggest this is true. The fact Nugent posted it after the Oppenheimer piece is not indicative of anything, especially since Nugent raised the concerns (and phrased in the exact same manner) privately to PZ beforehand. And let’s not forget that the Shermer thing was but a small bullpoint in a plethora of issues Nugent raised.

    And again, the Oppenheimer piece is irrelevant to Nugent’s gripe, he is criticising what PZ did, post hoc justifications don’t come into play.

  174. 222

    However I know as well as everyone who pays attention that it isn’t about women or victims, or being compasionate or emphatic (FTB!? Are you kidding me). The reasons lie more towards {1} misdirection fireworks (cf. “Hemant Metha endorses”; “guys don’t do that”; “dear muslima” (distracted from Rape Culture introduction and Boycott of Dawkins); {2} distraction from criticism of social justice “Dear Leaders”, e.g. PZ Myers, or Rebecca Watson who are, as we know infallible and can only be called out by people close enough in the authoritarian safe spaces (e.g. elite users, regulars) {3} instead puts other people on trial and under scrutiny (e.g. switching from defense to offense), e.g. Michael Nugent, Richard Dawkins or Abbie Smith {4} topic is chosen which can be used for a Deliberate Offense Gish Gallop, e.g. rape, rape apologia, Matters Of Most Import {5} makes otherwise invisible forces in the social justice warrior ideology appear tangible, e.g. Rape Culture {6} the more controversial the item, the more people can show how committed they are. If there were facts you wouldn’t need ideology and beliefs. Here True Believers can show they truly belong to the safe space and can be trusted, it’s more than just cheap signalling {7} and finally, the holier-than-thou evangelical aspect, social justice warriors must be seen “fighting the good fight” which are akin to their sunday clothes and church attendance. The better they do this, they higher they climb in social rank in the authoritarian “safe spaces” (where you have host > elite user, formerly Order of Molly > regulars > commentariat > lurkers > dirt and worms > newbies). And for that, full circle, they need people who represent the enemy (typically involuntarily).

    You know as well as EVERYONE (mess that follows) huh?
    Nice way to be dismissive.

    Yeah, that whole “guys, don’t do that” thing was a misdirection. And totally helped to prevent the “infallible” Rebecca Watson from being “called out.” I bet she’s just thrilled to death with the way that cleverly hidden piece of “misdirection” diverted criticism from coming her way.

    I missed the trials though. Were they televised?
    I must be a total failure.
    I personally could see how much a load of crap Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” was, I could see the years of vile and disgusting abuse heaped on Rebecca Watson and others, but I’m neither elite nor have I climbed in social rank.

    So much BS to unpack from that load you dropped there… Shermer must have changed because he married? etc… such a confused muddle.

    No, I don’t rank…
    But I do sense increase of rank of some sort.

  175. 224

    @Damion Reinhardt
    There can be little doubt that Shermer has been demonized by Myers and his commenters.
    if Alison’s statement is true , then there is nothing I or anyone can say in a blog that can come even remotely close to what he deserves . If Alison’s statement is false then the demonization charge holds true. Hence if you going to characterise Shermer as being “demonized” it follows you have taken a stance regarding his innocence.

    . If Nugent says that Shermer has been unfairly demonized, then we might well conclude he has been staking out a defensive position.
    And Nugents entire blog post reads as if Nugent thinks Myers has “fairly” demonized people?

  176. 225

    No I don’t. I just have to assume they are more common than is believed. I just have to assume they are more common than to believe that people accused of rape are ‘usually, generally, likely’ guilty.

    Apparently you have your own personal definition of those words.
    Even in your “best case” scenario, the ridiculous 40%, that still means guilty 60% of the time.

    In EVERY OTHER example you state, “usually,” “generally” and “likely” would absolutely apply.
    In the 60% guilty example, many would STILL use those words.

    Your own citations support “usually” unless you cherry-pick only the one that is a major outlier and ignore the rest… gosh, you wouldn’t do THAT would you? And then, of course, having done so, look at that sole 60% guilty example and judge it with only the strictest definition of the words “usually,” “generally” etc.

    You can’t even argue your own position with cherry-picked statistics without showing your bias.

    Oh, and that 40% figure itself? Nice misrepresentation. From the “Community of the Wrongly Accused” that 40% is the number of accused rapists “Clearanced of a report by exceptional means.”

    Clearance of a report by exceptional means occurs when the known suspect dies before an arrest is made, when the victim refuses to provide the information or assistance necessary to follow an investigation through to an arrest, or when the known suspect is being held in another jurisdiction for a different crime and extradition is denied.

    So when the accused rapist DIES before trial, or when the accused rapist doesn;t go to trial because he is incarcerated elsewhere so they don’t bother, or when the victim declines to testify further the reason for which you do not know, you count that as a “false allegation.”

    How cute. Get incarcerated elsewhere and BINGO – you were falsely accused.
    DIE before trial, and BINGO – you were falsely accused.

    I think I mentioned at some point you having a bias.
    Damn, but do you.

  177. 226

    @peterferguson @206
    And the fact evidence did surface later does not absolve PZ of the fact he posted an un-evidenced, anonymous accusation.
    So a victim telling PZ first hand counts as “un-evidenced” –
    That the victims name was known to PZ counts as “anonymous”
    If for e.g. you didnt trust Myers , you were free to ignore whatever was said. Those who trusted him were free to believe that he was actually told what he was told. Why have you arbitrarily decided what medium is allowed to discuss incidents like this ? Why is everything Nugent doing favoring Shermer (his motives are irrelevant in a way)?

    Both Nugent and you seem to ignore
    a. What Alison wanted and more importantly why
    b. What you expected Myers to do with the information. The police was discussed and Alison didnt want to do that. Now what?

  178. 227

    Are people still bringing up the Oppenheimer piece as a point of contention?

    I wrote about this extensively on the Slymepit.

    Quotes from yours truly.

    _http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=393&p=219558&hilit=oppenheimer#p219558

    I seriously doubt the question Oppenheimer asked Randi was whether Shermer frequently took advantage of drunk women.

    Probably it was more in line with chatting them up, trying to get in their pants. From rumours, though. He’d “heard.”

    I don’t think James Randi would have been so lenient if that was the question being put forth. But I also don’t think that a victim would invite their rapist to conference after conference after conference, socialising and having fun, with one’s boyfriend in close proximity – and not just a boyfriend but the General Manager of the organisation sponsoring the conferences. If you were Jeff Wagg, would you in all honesty keep quiet and allow the man who your girlfriend claim RAPED HER roam free and would you in all honesty still be inviting him to attend?

    Moreover, if you were Jeff Wagg, wouldn’t you have at least have a moral responsibility to report the man who’d commited rape to the police or at any rate to the hotel security where the rape took place? If not for the sake of your girlfriend then for the sake of other women who might be approached by him with the same purpose in mind.

    _http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=222645#p222645

    What’s funny about the finger-wagging is that we really don’t know what Oppenheimer said to Randi to make him say that.

    It was really unclear in the article and I believe it was intentionally left vague so the reader would conclude it was whatever Oppenheimer was writing about.

    _http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=393&p=221915&hilit=oppenheimer#p221915

    The Oppenheimer piece is immensely vague in just what Randi was responding to. That Shermer on occasion rapes women? That Shermer on occasion takes advantage of drunk women? It doesn’t say. And the fact that we have to theorise on what he *did* mean just proves how incompetently the Oppenheimer piece was composed.

    I don’t understand why people keep bringing up the Oppenheimer piece as some kind of slam dunk.

  179. 229

    I clearly stated early when I said un-evidenced I meant other than the victim’s testimony. Withholding the name of a person also means anonymous. Just because the person is not anonymous to PZ it doesn’t mean she wasn’t anonymous to everyone else.

    I am not arbitrarily deciding anything. My only point here is that A) Oppenheimer’s piece shouldn’t come into play when we are discussing Nugent as he raised concern prior to it. And b) saying you think it’s a bad idea to accuse somebody of a crime un-evidenced and anonymously isn’t an unreasonable position. In fact, it’s a position the vast majority of media outlets hold. The only time media outlets allow anonymous accusations without other evidence is when it’s to corroborate a pre-existing accusation. Nugent seems to hold this standard too. You might disagree with it but it doesn’t mean Nugent is defending rapists, providing a haven for rapists etc. Read my first comment, I outline my thoughts clearer there.

  180. 230

    Aneris – the Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD, thing is just as childish as the other silly nicknames and intentional misspellings I’ve called people out for, please don’t.

    Why? It’s accurate and precise.

  181. 231

    I clearly stated early when I said un-evidenced I meant other than the victim’s testimony. Withholding the name of a person also means anonymous. Just because the person is not anonymous to PZ it doesn’t mean she wasn’t anonymous to everyone else.

    I don’t know the names of most rape victims in this country.
    I guess I should take all rape statistics with a huge grain of salt.

    Hmmm. Now I think I see how some people come to their conclusions!

    1. 231.1

      Jafafa Hots, when you publish somebodies story via media and withhold their name, it’s labeled anonymous. Not a controversial thing, don’t get overly worked up about it.

      And your thing about stats and anonymity makes little to no sense.

  182. 232

    You are styled with either the title or the degree, but not with both. Using both is done to imply he is self-important. Adding Dr. to Richard Carrier, PhD, is no more accurate or precise than Richard Carrier, PhD. If it wasn’t for ridicule, Dr. Dawkins would be styled differently than he is in that comment.

  183. 233

    @4: JohnGregg

    Some men and women believe they have lost the ability to safely make important decisions after only one or two glasses of mild wine.
    Some women and men believe they retain the ability to safely make important decisions after a quart of overproof single malt.
    Some people insist that anyone who has had any alcohol at all to drink is incapable of making any important decisions.
    Some people insist that many people can drink large, even very large amounts of alcohol and retain the ability to make important decisions.
    1. Define drunk.
    2. Define too drunk.
    3. Define consent.
    4. Define too drunk too consent.
    If you’re going to set the law, you must define and set the parameters. Otherwise, it’s all just arbitrary whimsy.

    For you, personally, I recommend that you follow these rules when wanting to have sex with someone:
    1. Define drunk : You, personally, should never have sex with anyone if either of you had have one drink
    2. Define too drunk. You, personally, should never have sex with anyone if either of you had have one drink
    3. Define consent. You, personally, should never have sex with anyone if do not understand the concept of consent
    4. Define too drunk too consent: You, personally, should never have sex with anyone if either of you had have one drink and the concept of consent

    If you need definitions of Drunk, Too Drunk, Consent, and Too Drunk to Consent defined for you then you are not ready to have sex with anyone . The above rules will keep you from being accused of rape.

    @40 Nerd of Redhead posted about http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Crystal_Clear_Consent” “Crystal Clear Consent” , if you wish to have sex and understand consent. else, I recommend you not have sex.

  184. 234

    Jafafa Hots, when you publish somebodies story via media and withhold their name, it’s labeled anonymous. Not a controversial thing, don’t get overly worked up about it.

    Stop misrepresenting your argument.
    You are not arguing that these are allegations by a person KNOWN to the accused and KNOWN to who they revealed the accusation to. (and for that matter known to the person who came forward as a witness )

    You are arguing that these are ANONYMOUS ALLEGATIONS. That phrase has a connotation that is entirely different, and you damned well know it.

    If I am “worked up” over anything, it’s simply your deliberate slipperiness, redefining your definition as you see fit to keep from being pinned down to actually meaning anything.

  185. 236

    I am just using legal and journalistic definition of anonymous. See here: http://www.inbrief.co.uk/court-proceedings/anonymity-in-rape-cases.htm

    Relevant aspect “If an individual has a right of anonymity it means that they have a right to remain anonymous to the general public, this means that they will be unable to be named in any reports which are released to the general public through the press.”

    I’e. Anonymous does not mean anonymous to the perpetrator, or even legal system or press. it just means the name wasn’t released to the general public. So I am not redefining anything. If using journalistic and legal definitions is a problem for you then I don’t know what to say.

  186. 237

    Deepak Shetty @224 wrote:

    The police was discussed and Alison didnt want to do that. Now what?

    Well clearly the only option left is to have PZ Myers publish the story on his blog. No other options were or are available. It was either the police, which she didn’t want, or Myers.

  187. 238

    @201 Pitchguest

    I seriously doubt the question Oppenheimer asked Randi was whether Shermer frequently took advantage of drunk women.

    I suspect that all of us would like James Randi to come out with a public statement regarding exactly what he heard of Michael Shermer

    1. what he, Randi, had heard about Michael Shermer?
    2. what were the sources that Randi heard it from?
    3. what sources Randi deems respectable?

    Was Randi hearing about MS from the female attendees / channel that Jen mentioned in her BlagHag blog If so,

    1. why was there no more of an investigation started?
    2. Why was Michael Shermer invited back?
    3. did JREF has to increase its insurance coverage because of the actions of invited speakers, because of a the cost of doing business outside of any other actions, or did it not need to increase insurance coverage?
    4. Would not any organization, if it had come to the President’s attention, start an immediate process to fix issues so attendees did not have to rely upon a closed network for who to avoid in order to not be creeped out, and/or raped?

    Alison going to PZ was her vehicle of choice in order for other females to be protected and, as Ashley points out above If you accept that it is rape for someone who is sober to have sex with someone who is drunk, Shermer raped Alison. . In the case of JREF and TAM, they chose to ignore, dismiss, or not take seriously her claim.

    Lastly, why did TAM, and TAM under the direction of DJ so resist the implementation of a code of harassment and attack Rebecca and Amy for the low attendance when the issue was known in the back channel that Michael Shermer was, if nothing else, a creep, and if having sex with someone so drunk that they had to be wheel chaired out of the hotel an 1/2 hour after the encounter, a rapist?

    Yes, there are a lot of questions, and Allison’s public disclosure of what happened to her has provide an opportunity to improve the atheist, skeptical, humanist movement. The shit fling should be at the organizations that provided a haven for creepy / rapey behaviour for years.

  188. 240

    @peter ferguson
    . If using journalistic and legal definitions is a problem for you then I don’t know what to say.
    It isnt. The problem is trying to create a narrative as if these were just rumors (hence the use of the terms un-evidenced and anonymous). You can try to pretend that you were just being technically correct. the fact that once the name of the victim became known , made not a single whit of difference to anyone on the other side should tell you how important the “anonymous” part of the accusation was. You are just using whatevers handy to continue to hold the view you originally held.

  189. 241

    Relevant aspect “If an individual has a right of anonymity it means that they have a right to remain anonymous to the general public, this means that they will be unable to be named in any reports which are released to the general public through the press.” I’e. Anonymous does not mean anonymous to the perpetrator, or even legal system or press. it just means the name wasn’t released to the general public. So I am not redefining anything. If using journalistic and legal definitions is a problem for you then I don’t know what to say.

    You overestimate yourself.
    You aren’t fooling anyone.

    You are not using “:anonymous” as simply a way of saying that you or I personally don’t happen to know who it is. You are not using “anonymous” as a way of saying that the general public is unaware of the identity of the person.

    You are clearly using “anonymous as a way of casting doubt on the claim – as if it was sent in an unsigned email from a throwaway account and therefor to be greeted with greater skepticism.

    This is NOT the case. The accuser is KNOWN to the accused. The accuser is KNOWN to PZ Myers. The accuser is KNOWN to the witness. (I have no confirmation of this but it’s likely that the accuser is known to some others as well.)

    In most places, juvenile rape victims names are not publicized even when the case goes to trial.
    By your standard, that would make them “anonymous accusations” which would of course be absolutely ridiculous.

    Give up your transparent attempts to distort. We are no where near as foolish as you seem to think you aren’t.

    1. 241.1

      Actually the anonymous part does make a big difference, this is why I disagree with what PZ did and why I have no issue with the Oppenheimer piece.

      Jafafa Hots, I have clearly stated how I am using the word anonymous, please don’t assume my motives or intentions.

      Anyways I do not want to get bogged down over the word “anonymous”. The point I am making is do we think it is ok to do what PZ did in general. Are you comfortable with the the standard he applied to be used in journalism in general?

      And if people disagree with that standard it hardly makes them rape apologists, rape defenders, providing a haven for rapists etc. Unless of course they hold this standard purely for cases of rape/harassment/abuse etc.

  190. 242

    #223:

    Apparently you have your own personal definition of those words.
    Even in your “best case” scenario, the ridiculous 40%, that still means guilty 60% of the time.

    What is wrong with you? Why would 40% of false rape accusations equal my “best case scenario”? And why “ridiculous”? I was notifying you on the various statistical differences. I relayed it from sites from different ideological backgrounds. I wasn’t forming an opinion on which I preferred, but you’re willing to dismiss at least one of them out of hand as “ridiculous” straight away. Who’s the one with the bias here, exactly?

    In EVERY OTHER example you state, “usually,” “generally” and “likely” would absolutely apply.
    In the 60% guilty example, many would STILL use those words.

    If 60% were statistically proven to be guilty across the board, then the people who say “usually,” “generally” and “likely” to rape accusations being true would be insane.

    Your own citations support “usually” unless you cherry-pick only the one that is a major outlier and ignore the rest… gosh, you wouldn’t do THAT would you? And then, of course, having done so, look at that sole 60% guilty example and judge it with only the strictest definition of the words “usually,” “generally” etc.

    You can’t even argue your own position with cherry-picked statistics without showing your bias.

    What the hell is your problem? I wasn’t even making claims about the veracity of each statistic. I was just saying that we don’t really know which statistic to trust. As even Wikipedia acknowledges, it’s “unknowable.” How the hell am I cherry-picking when the sources I chose was just sources I picked willy-nilly and from people that probably wouldn’t want anything to do with eachother? What the fuck are you talking about?

    Oh, and that 40% figure itself? Nice misrepresentation. From the “Community of the Wrongly Accused” that 40% is the number of accused rapists “Clearanced of a report by exceptional means.”

    Misr– what the fuck is wrong with you?

    Do you could think maybe you could start having a conversation like an actual normal human being?

  191. 243

    He’s misportraying what PZ has actually written about Shermer by dropping the “putative;” by failing to note that it is not PZ who is making the accusations…

    PZ was leveling accusations almost from the beginning, though. He says straight up “A woman was assaulted…” and “I think he’s getting off easy” in the first page of comments on the grenade post. Are these the words of someone carefully suspending judgement?

    p.s. Ditto OnionHead @213

  192. 244

    Aneris (#215):

    The big question is why it seems of central importance to have an opinion on Michael Shermer.

    Good point (good points) – I’ve been wondering the same. And not just to have any opinion but to have, and express in no compromising or ambiguous terms, the explicit opinion that Shermer is in fact guilty of the crime of rape. Not quite sure what that is supposed to be the precursor to as it would seem to be entirely academic – unless people want to use that as justification for further actions against him. Maybe put him into the stocks and throw stones at him. Maybe shun him or disfellowship him or declare him a suppressive person; maybe go around to his home and paint butterflies on his driveway. I don’t know – seems a not particularly edifying state of affairs.

    About the most that could be said in support of the process is that it is of some relevance to the admittedly rather odious problem of rape. Yet that doesn’t seem to figure much in anybody’s arguments – maybe “they” just like to complain, or maybe they think that that is sufficient to get things to change, maybe they’ve never heard of the aphorism, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

    But while it is admittedly a rather intractable problem with few if any easy solutions, it certainly seems of some value to try to identify some of the factors that might lead to the prevalence of the crime. Which can then be used to create some specific solutions. Unfortunately, many seem to think that just saying, “guys, don’t rape” is going to solve it. Analogously, saying “guys, don’t steal and murder” seems not to have had much effect in reducing those crimes. Maybe there are just people, guys mostly (“more of a guy thing”?), who are sociopaths for whom verbal admonishments aren’t likely to carry much weight.

    No doubt such admonishments can have some effect, but at some point – as with putting locks on our homes and cars – maybe some technological solutions can have some utility in the case of rape as well. While no technological solution can be a panacea – people are still killed in motor vehicle accidents despite the prevalence of seatbelts and airbags – the facts indicate such solutions can reduce the murder and mayhem in that case. Similarly with rape. As the crux of the matter seems to be the fact that evidence of intent and consent are, after the fact, rather hard to come by, maybe it would help, in some cases at least, if the events in question were recorded. While some might think that obtrusive, and likely to reduce the “spontaneity” of the events, it seems we manage the analogous case of using condoms and the like.

    Seems to me that if people are really serious about trying to reduce the prevalence of that crime then they need to be giving some serious thought to its causes. And to all potential solutions, more or less regardless of type.

  193. 245

    What is wrong with you? Why would 40% of false rape accusations equal my “best case scenario”? And why “ridiculous”?

    It would be your “best case scenario” for supporting your argument that “usually, generally” etc. are not appropriate words, because the other numbers were along the lines of 2%, 5%, etc. and in those cases, (98% guilty, or 95% guilty, etc.) the words “usually, generally” would absolutely apply – unless you are prepared to argue that 98% or 95% or even 80% occurrence could somehow NOT be considered to fit those words.

    Why is 40% ridiculous? It’s pretty damned self-evident before even looking at the link… but when you DO, you find that that number (from an organization with a definite agenda to have the number be as great as possible) represents accused rapists who DIED and so were not charged, or who were not charged because they were not extradited, or who were not charged because the accuser decided not to pursue things (which in NO WAY automatically means they were false accusations)

    I mean seriously. The ONLY NUMBER you could put forward which could NOT be accurately characterized as “usually, generally, typically,” etc. is one where accused rapists who DIED or who were not charged for a technical reason having NOTHING to do with actual guilt or innocence are not only automatically presumed to be innocent, but are actually presumed to be victims of false accusations

    Your entire argument is bogus. You assert that “generally” cannot be considered valid in contradiction of most of your examples given, based solely considering non-extradited and dead accused to be “falsely accused.”

    Or rather, NOT… because now you argue that you just randomly picked some links to say “you don’t know.” Which means the REALITY is that you CHOOSE TO IGNORE all of the commonly cited statistics, the studies that have been done… and you base you argument not on those – and not even on these links you provide.

    You thereby admit that your argument is based on NOTHING. It is pure uninformed opinion.

    As I said before. BIAS. You are arguing from BIAS.

    You wonder why I can’t “talk like a normal person.” I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but pulling BS out of your ass and holding it up as fact is not “talking like a normal person.” Or perhaps it is.

    But it’s still BS.

  194. 246

    Seems to me that if people are really serious about trying to reduce the prevalence of that crime then they need to be giving some serious thought to its causes. And to all potential solutions, more or less regardless of type.

    I have an idea for a small start.
    What do you say we stop going out of your way to excuse it?
    How about we stop going out of our way to defend those accused of it to the complete exclusion of supporting those who are the purported victims?

    Just a thought.

    I dunno. Probably crazy talk.

  195. 247

    PZ was leveling accusations almost from the beginning, though. He says straight up “A woman was assaulted…” and “I think he’s getting off easy” in the first page of comments on the grenade post. Are these the words of someone carefully suspending judgement?

    If a woman you knew and trusted told you she was raped, would you suspend judgement?

    I have called Shermer an accused rapist. But if a woman I knew and trusted told me he raped her (for the record, no one has) what would I call him?

    I’d call him a rapist. If my sister accused my nextdoor neighbor of raping her, I would not call him “an alleged rapist,” I would call him a rapist. I would totally understand a stranger, you for instance, calling him an alleged rapist – but to me, a man who a woman I know and trust accuses of rape is going to be known as “a rapist.”

    You keep talking about journalistic standards. Well, as Myers has repeatedly stated, his blog is his personal blog. Not a total excuse from journalistic standards, but it’s not a fucking evening news report now, is it?

    And speaking of journalistic standards… how well would those standards fit if applied to Nugent? Do journalists send harassing tweets, etc?

    You are very selective in your criticism.

    1. 247.1

      My question still remains unanswered, is disagreeing with the standard PZ applied when publishing the accusation unreasonable? Does it make one a rape apologist, defenders of rapists etc?

  196. 248

    Jafafa Hots, I have clearly stated how I am using the word anonymous, please don’t assume my motives or intentions.

    Your intent is clear. You aren’t fooling anyone.

    As far as journalistic standards, it is often the case that rape victims names are kept out of the press… and as I’ve mentioned, even when the case has gone to court. Even where there has been a conviction.

    Even when there has NOT been a conviction.
    I personally knew a girl who was kept as a virtual sex slave by her father. Her identity never made it to press, and when she backed down from pressing charges (she would have lost her home and family, plus he was violent – she was terrified) they STILL never released her name.

    In your opinion, should they have? In your opinion, does he now count as falsely accused?
    In your opinion, since she confided in me and my girlfriend, should I not call her father a rapist because he was never convicted?

    Should I not call the two men who raped me rapists because I never reported them and they were never convicted?

    Should I not call my ex-girlfriend’s brother Dave a rapist even though she not only told me, but he admitted it to me – because he was never charged or convicted?

    The judicial and journalistic standards of thinking and talking and typing crap on the internet can be so confusing sometimes.

  197. 249

    @peterferguson

    I can’t speak to anyone else’s position, but I don’t think so. I just think that if that’s what Nugent was doing, he didn’t do it in this post. I think that critiquing someone’s choice in allowing a victim space to name her accuser and tell her story requires way more nuance than listing a complaint alongside a bunch of others and moving on, when you, in that very same post, link to a thorough journalistic piece on the subject. It, at best, is super muddy as to your intent.

  198. 250

    My question still remains unanswered, is disagreeing with the standard PZ applied when publishing the accusation unreasonable? Does it make one a rape apologist, defenders of rapists etc?

    But is that really all you are doing?

    1. 250.1

      Yes jafafa hots, that really is all I am doing. I don’t disagree with Oppenheimer’s piece and I believe Alison.

      My only point, and it is the only point I have been making since my initial comment is is disagreeing with what PZ did initially unreasonable. That’s all. I have been pretty consistent in that. Although I might disagree with Nugent myself I feel the labels applied to him because of his position are unfair and unwarranted.

      Ashley, I agree with you there, which is why I am glad Atheist Ireland didn’t list it as one of their objections when disassociating themselves from PZ.

  199. 251

    Slymepitters, by the way, I appreciate your willingness to heed criticism over name-calling and keep it civil-ish in the comments. I’ve only been really deeply irritated by johngreg, which I imagine he’s proud of, but not enough to kick him out.

  200. 252

    And speaking of journalistic standards… how well would those standards fit if applied to Nugent? Do journalists send harassing tweets, etc?

    I don’t think you can call a request to either provide coherent evidence for a claim or apologize “harassment”.

    If, for example, someone accused you of a crime or an unethical act and you thought you were innocent of that charge, would you not want them to either provide evidence or apologize? Would you not insist for them to either prove their claim or say they’re sorry? I think most people would. I know that I would.

    Accusations of crimes or unethical behavior aren’t a trivial matter. They can seriously harm someone’s livelihood, personal life and even personal safety. People have lost jobs, relationship and even their lives because of faulty or even false accusations. Therefore it’s not “harassment” to repeatedly ask someone who accuses you of something to either provide evidence or apologize.

    Journalists also routinely ask uninvited questions. It’s part of the job of being a journalist to ask questions even to people who don’t want to answer.

  201. 253

    For example it’s pretty clear that,say, a politician suspected of corruption doesn’t want to answer to some questions of the press. Yet it’s the press’ job to keep asking those questions, over and over again.

  202. 254

    #237:

    I suspect that all of us would like James Randi to come out with a public statement regarding exactly what he heard of Michael Shermer
    1. what he, Randi, had heard about Michael Shermer?
    2. what were the sources that Randi heard it from?
    3. what sources Randi deems respectable?

    I agree.

    Was Randi hearing about MS from the female attendees / channel that Jen mentioned in her BlagHag blog If so,
    1. why was there no more of an investigation started?
    2. Why was Michael Shermer invited back?
    3. did JREF has to increase its insurance coverage because of the actions of invited speakers, because of a the cost of doing business outside of any other actions, or did it not need to increase insurance coverage?
    4. Would not any organization, if it had come to the President’s attention, start an immediate process to fix issues so attendees did not have to rely upon a closed network for who to avoid in order to not be creeped out, and/or raped?

    I would guess the answer to the first question is, unlikely. In which case the follow-up questions are moot.

    Alison going to PZ was her vehicle of choice in order for other females to be protected …

    Well, then, that was a fucking stupid decision to make, wasn’t it?

    … as Ashley points out above If you accept that it is rape for someone who is sober to have sex with someone who is drunk, Shermer raped Alison

    Then they must have raped eachother, because in one version of events they had both been drinking. But in another version of events, they were both sober. Although in the original claim which didn’t delve into alcohol at all, it simply said she was “coerced into position where she could not consent.” What does that even mean?

    In the case of JREF and TAM, they chose to ignore, dismiss, or not take seriously her claim.

    …or they didn’t know about it, because the only person from JREF she told about the rape was Jeff Wagg. Her boyfriend.

    And as far as I know, Shermer was back on the convention track only two months later, with Jeff Wagg and Alison Smith in tow happily tagging along. I suppose the rape didn’t affect her that much. Come to think of it, he was invited to plenty other JREF hosted events, by Alison Smith and Jeff Wagg, that you kind of wonder after the fact just what the fuck they were playing at. What were they thinking?

    Lastly, why did TAM, and TAM under the direction of DJ so resist the implementation of a code of harassment and attack Rebecca and Amy for the low attendance when the issue was known in the back channel that Michael Shermer was, if nothing else, a creep, and if having sex with someone so drunk that they had to be wheel chaired out of the hotel an 1/2 hour after the encounter, a rapist?

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. Which backchannel? JREF? Skepchick?

    Yes, there are a lot of questions, and Allison’s public disclosure of what happened to her has provide an opportunity to improve the atheist, skeptical, humanist movement. The shit fling should be at the organizations that provided a haven for creepy / rapey behaviour for years.

    It has done no such thing. All it’s done is increase the drama that’s been culminating over the years since the schism began in 2011. Exactly how has it improved anything in terms of atheism, scepticism, humanism? The movement certainly hasn’t benefited. If she wanted to do something meaningful, then she should’ve done something YEARS ago, when it was still fresh in her mind. If she wanted to improve the movement, then the last thing she should have done was to fuel a rumour mill by having her story told by proxy.

    *****************************************************************************************************

    Oh, and by the way, Dallas Haugh? Not the greatest of testimonies.

    http://creativepooping.tumblr.com/post/58606684580/copy-of-suicide-note-from-attempt-on-8-13-2013

    “I didn’t ever have a sexual experience with another person that wasn’t being raped.” — Dallas Haugh

  203. 255

    Jafafa Hots (#246):

    What do you say we stop going out of your way to excuse it?

    And, pray tell, who is it that is “excusing it”? Can’t be Nugent as he has been rather forthright in arguing for getting the law involved in penalizing perpetrators. Can’t be me as I’ve explicitly acknowledged that it is a serious problem. And I’ve even suggested some solutions that might reduce its prevalence. And have developed and discussed a method of encrypting the data which seems a necessary part of that.

    How about we stop going out of our way to defend those accused of it to the complete exclusion of supporting those who are the purported victims?

    And who has been defending those accused of it?

    You make accusations like those ones then I think you need to provide specific evidence that that is the case, and for which individuals. Otherwise you just give some evidence that your spleen is getting the better of your brain.

  204. 256

    You wanna know what seriously harms someone, Kirbmarc? Being raped.

    I’m waiting for the apologists, being the oh-so unbiased hyperskeptics they are, to acknowledge victims of sexual assault and the pain they go through, how they aren’t believed and how the so-called justice system works against them. The statistics are there and have been posted upthread. You have no excuse to be obtuse. All I see for the apologists is a bunch of JAQing. You have offered nothing of value except for one thing: people know to avoid you. I’m disgusted by how you think and that you seemingly have no concept on consent.

    This thread hurts my head.

  205. 257

    #245:

    It would be your “best case scenario” for supporting your argument that “usually, generally” etc. are not appropriate words, because the other numbers were along the lines of 2%, 5%, etc. and in those cases, (98% guilty, or 95% guilty, etc.) the words “usually, generally” would absolutely apply – unless you are prepared to argue that 98% or 95% or even 80% occurrence could somehow NOT be considered to fit those words.

    I am the arguing against the case of using “usually, generally, likely” in the presumption of guilt for rape accusations when the percentage vary so greatly statistic to statistic. Stop being so fucking dogmatic.

    Why is 40% ridiculous? It’s pretty damned self-evident before even looking at the link… but when you DO, you find that that number (from an organization with a definite agenda to have the number be as great as possible) represents accused rapists who DIED and so were not charged, or who were not charged because they were not extradited, or who were not charged because the accuser decided not to pursue things (which in NO WAY automatically means they were false accusations)
    I mean seriously. The ONLY NUMBER you could put forward which could NOT be accurately characterized as “usually, generally, typically,” etc. is one where accused rapists who DIED or who were not charged for a technical reason having NOTHING to do with actual guilt or innocence are not only automatically presumed to be innocent, but are actually presumed to be victims of false accusations …

    I didn’t ASK what the underlying reasons why the 40% statistic was ridiculous. I asked why you felt it was ridiculous as opposed to the other statistics, when you know absolutely just as much as I do: fuck. all.

    Your entire argument is bogus. You assert that “generally” cannot be considered valid in contradiction of most of your examples given, based solely considering non-extradited and dead accused to be “falsely accused.”
    Or rather, NOT… because now you argue that you just randomly picked some links to say “you don’t know.”

    MY ENTIRE ARGUMENT? I haven’t made an argument, you ridiculous person! I’ve neither made an argument for nor against the statistics that I’ve cited! What – is – wrong – with – you?

    Which means the REALITY is that you CHOOSE TO IGNORE all of the commonly cited statistics, the studies that have been done… and you base you argument not on those – and not even on these links you provide.

    Commonly cited statistics??? There are no commonly cited statistics! They all differ! That was my entire point! People who have done far more studying than me in this regard say the true percentage of false rape accusations is unknown. If it’s unknown, then you cannot conclude the nature of how many false rape accusations are absolutely true, now can you?

    You thereby admit that your argument is based on NOTHING. It is pure uninformed opinion.

    Is your teacher Nerd of Redhead?

    As I said before. BIAS. You are arguing from BIAS.

    WHAT BIAS? I haven’t argued anything! How can I argue from bias when I haven’t even attempted to form an argument surrounding the sources that I chose at random? How can I argue from bias when it’s from several sites with several different ideological backgrounds and personal politics? How? What the fuck are you TALKING ABOUT?

    You wonder why I can’t “talk like a normal person.” I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but pulling BS out of your ass and holding it up as fact is not “talking like a normal person.” Or perhaps it is.
    But it’s still BS.

    Haven’t pulled anything out of my arse, haven’t held anything up as fact. Obviously you can’t talk like a normal person because you’ve never learned to debate. I’m not even going to bother responding if you keep being this illogical and unhinged.

  206. 258

    You wanna know what seriously harms someone, Kirbmarc? Being raped.

    Did I ever say otherwise? If you want me to say what I think about rape, I’ll be pretty clear: it’s one of the most heinous crimes that a person can commit, and for the victims one of the most horrible, traumatizing and harming experiences that one can endure, which can only be compared to torture.

    Rape causes a tremendous amount of both physical and psychological pain. It can leave long-lasting psychological scars on victims. People who commit rape are an incredible risk to others and therefore need to be isolated from society for a very long time.

    It’s not impossible to care about victims of rape AND victims of miscarriages of justice or even false accusations. I think that anti-rape activists should be the first to want an unbiased, independent investigation on every accusation that takes the accuser seriously, and also the first to see the minority of people who do,in fact, falsely accuse others as unethical people who not only commit a serious crime but undermine the cause of real victims.

    I’m disgusted by how you think and that you seemingly have no concept on consent.

    I’m afraid that this is an unwarranted assumption on your part. Just because people point out some issues on your concept of consent it doesn’t mean they don’t have one. If you support a flawed system you’re not helping anyone, least of all the young people that you want to educate to help reduce the numbers of sexual crimes.

  207. 259

    Ah, Pitchguest, you let the facade slip. You want a debate. You don’t care anything for facts, logic or reasoning. Debaters only care about winning through manipulation. Debates are for show, they offer nothing of value.

  208. 260

    Annnnd Nugent’s latest tweet gets us all back on topic.

    3/5 @PeterTatchell We have dissociated from PZ because his hateful, violent, defamatory rhetoric is unjust and delays social justice
    7:54 AM – 14 Apr 2015

  209. 261

    Ashley said:

    I’ve only been really deeply irritated by johngreg, which I imagine he’s proud of, but not enough to kick him out.

    What have I done to deeply irritate you? Seriously. I want to know so that I stop or cut back on whatever it is, specifically, that I am doing that is deeply irritating you.

    I’m enjoying the conversation and would be disappointed if you got irritated enough to ban me.

    And no, I am not proud of it. It’s what it is, but as I say: what exactly is it?

  210. 262

    johngreg

    Your defense of the dr phd thing annoyed me, as it seemed a baldly dishonest defense. Otherwise, no other complaints in this thread, but in the other, I feel like, in general, you’re just generally not willing to be kind or concede points when doing either would make you seem like a decent human or in no way hurt your arguments. See my comment at 76 versus your comments 77, 78, and the way you asked for context or anyone’s understanding around the video and photoshop.

  211. 263

    But, none of that’s been nearly enough to make me want to ban you. Don’t worry, unless you go way off the deep end somehow, you’ll get a very specific warning. I assume everyone here at the moment is not trolling, and as long as that’s clear, you’re fine.

  212. 264

    Because this and the previous post are about the Slymepit (edit: at least in part), I feel it would be deeply unfair for me to talk shit about you and not let you in the comments section, especially as you’ve never caused shit on my site, not really. Also I have to look it up how to even do it every time I want to ban someone, and it’s annoying.

  213. 265

    @Kirbmarc

    No you didn’t mention victims at all in comment #254. After you got called out on it, THEN you bothered to mention them. There are far more rape victims than falsely accused, yet your initial focus was on the falsely accused. That has been a common theme expressed by the apologists in this very thread.

    I was not clear, but everything after my two sentences that called you out was a general “you”, meaning all apologists in this thread. What exactly are the flaws with consent that have been linked by Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls waaaaaay back at #40?
    http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Crystal_Clear_Consent

    *grabs popcorn*

  214. 266

    Ashley, A ritual banning may stop you acquiring the reputation of being “just another Slymepit outpost”.

    After all.
    You gotta live here, not us.

    Pinchguest is usually happy to accept the sins of the father. Feel free. 😉

  215. 268

    First of all, I would also like to applaud Ashley for being so supportive of freedom of speech on this thread despite the gripes of some. Everyone should be able to defend their views. If you feel the need to hide on a thread that blocked everyone who disagreed with you then you aren’t properly testing your ideas.

    Rorschach’s response to me made no sense and seemed to just be an insult anyway so I’ll ignore it.

    The fact that people say that Alison needed a wheel chair to get around after spending time with Shermer is disturbing. I think that we should take the accusation seriously and attempt to come to our own conclusions given the evidence that is given to us. However, I think it is important to point out that if someone is capable of saying that they want sex or of actively seeking sex, then they are sober enough to consent. We convict men of rape no matter how drunk they are, but too many people think that if a woman has drunk any alcohol at all she is no longer responsible for her choices. This is sexist. We need to have the same standard regardless of gender.

    I understand the worry that a person who has been raped has about coming forward. However you still have the case where the accuser gets to be anonymous while the accused has their name printed everywhere. People on this thread complain about the accuser not being believed. I can guarantee that they are better off than the accused. Not only are most people just going to assume that they are guilty, they get their name plastered everywhere while their accuser gets to be anonymous. Even if they aren’t convicted, they can lose jobs, wives, and friends based on this, regardless of guilt or innocence. Their name will be locked in google searches making it almost impossible to get another job or girlfriend. In many cases, they become suicidal. In America the press may decide not to print the name of someone who has accused another person of rape, but they have the right to if they choose (as it should be). Some other countries, such as the UK, are less supportive of free speech, which can be dangerous. It is important for people to know the identities of both the accused and the accuser so that they can see for themselves whether the court is doing its job correctly. Secret courts are not needed in a democracy.

    I’ve also noticed that many people in the Social Justice community declare that “false accusations are very rare” and “most rapists aren’t convicted”. This ignores two facts: First that many studies put the level of false accusations at 8%, which is far from rare. Second that maybe the reason a man wasn’t convicted is because he wasn’t guilty. They have a harsh standard for false accusations that requires a high level of proof while they assume that any case where there is not a conviction means that it was a rapist that got free. How many of the inconclusive cases were really false accusations? The Social Justice community just assumes that none of them were without evidence.

    @kellyw, sorry but you are someone else I have to call you out for making a bad illogical immoral comment. You seem to suggest that anyone who doesn’t take every rape accusation on faith is being an “apologist”. A person can acknowledge the pain that rape victims go through while still questioning a particular case. You ignore the fact that it is the person accused of rape that is far less likely to believed than the person making the accusation. You also ignore the fact that while of course the person accused of rape is assumed innocent until proven guilty in court just like all defendants, he often is put at disadvantages as well. For example in many states it is illegal to bring up the accuser’s past sexual history in court, but perfectly legal to bring up the accused past convictions, meaning that the accused can be judged by their past but not the accuser. I pray to FSM that you never get put on a jury because you’d find the person guilty before you even learned their name or any of the facts. You lecture people on who to avoid, but it is clear that the person that should be avoided is you.

  216. 269

    Donnie @231

    You, personally, should never have sex with anyone if either of you had have one drink.

    If that is the standard for Crystal Clear Consent, then all the atheist and skeptic conferences are basically hotbeds of rape. We’re going to need more grenades.

  217. 270

    No you didn’t mention victims at all in comment #254. After you got called out on it, THEN you bothered to mention them.

    I didn’t need to. I thought it was implicit. But thank you for poisoning the well and trying to make it look like I don’t care about something just because I don’t explicitly say it. Very fair of you.

    Imagine you were writing about the oppression of the Kurds in Turkey and someone came in and said: “You’re a horrible, disgusting genocide supporter. You don’t care about the life of the people who were killed in the Armenian genocide, because haven’t seen you writing anything about it, even though you were talking about the Kurds. ”

    See how dishonest this tactic can be? I hope you honestly didn’t realize it.

    “What exactly are the flaws with consent that have been linked by Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls waaaaaay back at #40?
    http://pharyngula.wikia.com/wiki/Crystal_Clear_Consent

    First of all it’s very dogmatic and absolutist. It excludes the possibility that you might make mistakes. It only recognizes “rapist” and “willing to rape” and not “person who makes a genuine mistake”. That’s pretty bad, since humans are fallible and aren’t always thinking straight or able to understand the messages of others. This is true for people of all genders.

    Second, “just pestering someone until they give in” isn’t rape. If people give consent, they’re not being raped. Asking multiple times for something (say a raise of your pay from your boss), and finally getting that something, doesn’t make you a thief. They same is true with asking for sex: asking multiple times and obtaining what you asked for isn’t rape.

    Third, this line is very problematic: “Consent that is not communicated is not CCC.” Relationships don’t work like that. Nobody keeps asking for consent for every single sexual act. Much is assumed from context. Such strict requirements could mean that, for example, if two drunk people have sex they may have both raped each other because they wre both too drunk to clearly communicate, which is absurd.

    Fourth, if you want to take back consent but do not communicate it to the person you’re interacting with sexually they can’t read your mind, so it’s your job to say “I don’t want to do this”, not their job to perpetually question what they’re and you’re doing. People aren’t mind readers.

    Fifth, “If you initiate or offer and are declined in the context of a specifically romantic, sexual, or flirtations setting, do not act hurt or disappointed”. You’re asking people to control their emotional reactions, other wise they’re “guilt-tripping” others, as if others do not have the ability to say what they want just because you’re upset. You’re basically policing thoughts and treating adults as babies who are manipulated by a sad face.

  218. 271

    @peter ferguson
    , is disagreeing with the standard PZ applied when publishing the accusation unreasonable? Does it make one a rape apologist, defenders of rapists etc?
    I think it would be reasonable if Nugent didnt publish , had Alison come to him – wrong , but reasonable.
    I dont think he is being reasonable when he concludes Myers demonized Shermer when he chose to publish. The choice to publish or not publish is not an easy one and Nugent has no right to judge Myers for that , much less characterize it as demonizing Shermer.

    Does it make one a rape apologist, defenders of rapists etc?
    Not necessarily. However
    a) This isn’t the only thing that happened. – It wasn’t that Myers published, Nugent said not a good idea and then accusations flew – A lot more has happened.
    b) Consider this – If someone picks up a victim who is drunk and proceeds to rape the victim (with enough cunning to ensure that there are no specific witnesses and assuming there arent stupid enough to put the photographs on FB) , then almost certainly you cant get a criminal conviction. Unless the victim is famous enough or can establish a pattern , almost certainly no journalist will publish (as well as you can understand that some victims will want to remain as anonymous as they can). So then what? If nothing else can be done , then congratulations , welcome to status quo.
    A lot of the arguments being made, seem to want to defend this technique

  219. 272

    Aneris #215

    True Believers can show they truly belong to the safe space and can be trusted, it’s more than just cheap signalling {7} and finally, the holier-than-thou evangelical aspect, social justice warriors must be seen “fighting the good fight” which are akin to their sunday clothes and church attendance. The better they do this, they higher they climb in social rank in the authoritarian “safe spaces” (where you have host > elite user, formerly Order of Molly > regulars > commentariat > lurkers > dirt and worms > newbies).

    Not at all. In fact, I never voted for any OM because of that. I voted for them because I liked reading their comments and thought they were often informative or humorous. So, what you wrote there is simply not true. I know you haven’t done one bit of leg work to find out why people voted for OMs at Pharyngula (happy to help you there).

    If I recall correctly, we even had a couple people nominated for OMs who had only one or two comments on Pharyngula that were so good that it didn’t matter they hadn’t even become a regular. Not to mention, you’ve got some OMs who moved to the slymepit (and at least one ridiculously, hypocritically against PZ on Nugent’s blog’s comments). Sorry to inform you that you got it really, really wrong there, but you did.

  220. 273

    Damion, please leave the ongoing neocon Slymepit trope that Rebecca Watson is a rapist out of this purlease. We all know that is you mean when referring to people having sex after a drink at atheist/skeptic conferences.

    Rebecca opposes neocons, so that argument does not apply to her. It applies to Shermer and his leering buddies – his fellow New White Supremacist Atheists.

  221. 274

    @Sam Winston

    In this very thread, the apologists (pitters and supporters) are emphatically not believing the accuser and are instead standing by the accused. There are several of you here–you trot out the status quo with your support of the accused (who has changed his story). Your thoughts are the majority opinion in the larger atheist community. Not surprising, because siding with the accused is par for the course in most societies. Rape victims are called liars more than accused rapists. Conviction rates for rapists are appallingly low.

    You’re taking Shermer’s story (well, the current one, anyways) on faith. You have no evidence that he had consensual sex with Smith (other than his changing story). He has not, to my knowledge, provided any video or audio evidence that his sexual encounter with Smith was consensual. Why aren’t you criticizing him for that? Be the hyperskeptic you are and hold him accountable for having no evidence for his claim that the sex was consensual. Smith’s story, on the other hand, has not changed. She said she did not consent, plus she told a member of JREF about the encounter shortly after it happened. She was so drunk the hotel provided her a wheelchair to sit in. She has more evidence on her side than Shermer does. Why do you place a higher burden of proof upon Smith? After hearing both stories (oh, wait! Shermer has more than one!) I’ve come to the conclusion that I trust Smith more than I do Shermer. I can’t prove that Shermer raped Smith–no one here can (so he remains an alleged rapist), but I know who I’m more inclined to believe.

    @Kirbmarc

    Oh. my. dog. “Pestering” someone when they’ve told you no means you have no respect for someone’s boundaries. The rest is a wall of whining.

    If it’s too hard for you to figure out if you’ve properly given and received consent, do your potential partners a favor and just don’t have sex.

  222. 275

    kellyw. @267 wrote:

    There are far more rape victims than falsely accused, yet your initial focus was on the falsely accused. That has been a common theme expressed by the apologists in this very thread.

    Careful, you are veering into Dear Muslima territory with this line of reasoning.

    It should go without saying that rape is a terrible, heinous crime; that victims deserve justice, compassion, support; that rapists deserve to face the the harshest penalities allowable under the law; that the justice system is wildly imperfect and that there are many reasons a victim may not want to or be able to report the crime to the police.

    And of course there are many more actual victims than falsely accused ones and that’s where our priority should be; but that’s just not a good reason to downplay or diminish (to any degree) the seriousness of false accusations and convictions.

    As for this meme that people who disagree are “rape apologists” or “misogynists”… That, in this case and too many others, is a shameful distortion and it’s time peolple stop tossing it around so loosely.

    Since there is no one accepted definition, would anyone be so kind as to clearly define what is a rape apologist, and describe the set of traits or behaviors or opinions one needs to possess to be so labeled? Depending on the answer, I might be perfectly happy to publicly disavow and dissociate from such traits/behaviors/opinions, and you might find out that you had it wrong about some of us.

    In any case, please know this. It’s dehumanizing and it’s innaccurate and it’s unfair. Period. You people are better than this and don’t need to resort to that kind of tactic. Please stop it already.

    To be clear, I’m not denying that rape apologists and misogynists do exist. I’m just saying that it’s absurd and dehumanizing to continually paint people as such, using a very broad brush, based on merely on differing opinions (that simply don’t support your labels).

  223. 277

    kellyw. @276 wrote:

    You’re taking Shermer’s story (well, the current one, anyways) on faith.

    Bullshit. Sorry to be rude, but this is pure, unadulterated bullshit and it has to stop. This kind of gross misrepresentation has no place in honest discourse and certainly no place in a skeptical community.

    Look, I get that you disagree and disagree vigorously, but if you cannot do so without resorting to such blatant distortions and mischaracterizations, then you ought to be granted no place at the table.

  224. 278

    Kellyw, this is the way of the New White Supremacist Atheists and their neocon enablers. They defend rapists, and then have the nerve to make up complete lies about opponents of neocons such as Lousy Canuck and PZ Myers, as having allegations made against them. Just continual ongoing BS off the neocon conveyor belt.

    Shermer has changed his story because that is what neocons do. I completely believe the woman. Always believe the woman! PZ has not changed any story at all, and confidently and serenely denies any allegation from the woman student. I completely believe PZ. He has a record of opposing neocons and New White Supremacist Atheists. Lousy Canuck also confidently and serenely denies any allegations. I have seen Lousy criticise Dawkins and Harris. So, I believe Lousy.

    Also, Kellyw, you are right about consent.

  225. 280

    “Why do you place a higher burden of proof upon Smith?”

    Some people seem to want to burn down anyone who supports Shermer in any way. The question should probably be “How high of a burden of proof do we need to enact the reforms which have been demanded?”

  226. 281

    OnionHead, it doesn’t go without saying about the victims, that’s why so many people, including me, are upset at the apologists. Can you answer why several apologists say nothing about the victims but go on and on about the falsely accused? Are you stating that Shermer has been falsely accused? If not, I fail to see how the occurrence of false accusations are relevant to this thread. Pointing out that actual rape happens far more than false accusations of rape is what the statistical evidence shows. The apologists are ignoring this. I would like to know why. This is not a difficult question to answer.

    Rape apologists do at least some of these things (this is not a comprehensive list):

    –requiring a higher burden of proof of the alleged victim
    –demanding that if an alleged victim was raped, they should go to the police (when going to the police often results in being victim-blamed)
    –believing lack of physical evidence is sufficient to suggest that the alleged victim is probably lying
    –believing that physically evidence can only likely be considered evidence of consenual sex
    –demanding details of the alleged victim’s sexual history before the alleged incidence of rape while ignoring that of the alleged rapist
    –blaming the alleged victim for not saying no, wearing the “wrong” clothing, being isolated/in the “wrong” area, being “too” drunk/high
    –believing accounts of alleged rapists over that of alleged victims time and time again (a pattern, not isolated incidents)
    –asserting that a person does not have the right to revoke consent after consent is given
    –telling rape jokes
    –assuming consent is the default rather than non-consent
    — assuming if the alleged victim did not fight back, then the sex was consensual.

  227. 284

    “Pointing out that actual rape happens far more than false accusations of rape is what the statistical evidence shows.”

    Was this statistical evidence gathered on reports to police or reports to bloggers?

  228. 285

    kellyw. @283 wrote:
    I publicly and formally disavow and dissociate myself from all* of those bullet points. None* of them apply to me. As relates to my own views I would describe them all as strawmen, ranging from the absurd to WTF. (*With the possible exception of rape jokes, which I don’t feel are universally wrong, but which certainly can be problematic and which are not appropriate or funny under most circumstances.)

    To the extent that you think or thought that I espouse or support these views, you are or were flat-wrong. I’d bet my car that are equally wrong about most of the other Slymepit regulars, if not all of them.

    I do appreciate you taking the time to respond in detail and to provide links, so thank you for that.

  229. 286

    Asahley said:

    Your defense of the dr phd thing annoyed me, as it seemed a baldly dishonest defense.

    Point to you, Ashley; I can’t deny it.

    Otherwise, no other complaints in this thread, but in the other, I feel like, in general, you’re just generally not willing to be kind or concede points when doing either would make you seem like a decent human or in no way hurt your arguments.

    Well, thanks for the first part of that, but I guess for the second we’ll just have to disagree, as I don’t think any points have been made well enough to concede to.

    See my comment at 76 versus your comments 77, 78….

    I did see that, and I remain a bit confused. I’m not sure, but I think what the issue is there is that my comment at 78 is not so much a response to yours at 76, but more of an overarching comment to your OP, your general comments throughout the comment thread — those that touch upon the Pit, anyway — and to a lesser, and not a focussed degree, the anti-Pit commenters in general.

    and the way you asked for context or anyone’s understanding around the video and photoshop.

    Again, point to you; I was unnecessarily rude. I think, and thought, that my points and requests were wholly just, by my method was poor. I just sometimes get rather impatient being told that images and videos like that are sexist, or rape jokes, or etc., without any actual analysis or explanation for context, target, focus, and why, specifically, such images et al. are what they are claimed to be.

    But, none of that’s been nearly enough to make me want to ban you. Don’t worry, unless you go way off the deep end somehow, you’ll get a very specific warning. I assume everyone here at the moment is not trolling, and as long as that’s clear, you’re fine.

    Thanks. Really. As has been mentioned by some other Pit folk, you certainly get my respect for actually engaging with us and allowing us to carry on a dialogue.

    Because this and the previous post are about the Slymepit (edit: at least in part), I feel it would be deeply unfair for me to talk shit about you and not let you in the comments section, especially as you’ve never caused shit on my site, not really.

    Ashley, that comment stands as a first in rationality and openness to fair discourse on FTB with the dreaded monster: Pit People! Thanks again.

  230. 288

    Heads up, watching this thread “bloom” into a pile of roses while being unable to respond back has turned me cranky.

    Pitchguest @218:

    Prepare yourself for a plethora of links. […]
    I’ve looked them all over. The statistics are not immovable. Some say 2%, some say less than that, some say 10%, some 25%, some as high as 40%, some say 5.9%. I’ve included several sources across ideological ponds and they all differ.

    Yeah, they do. Wanna know why?

    As in any domain of research, you cannot accurately measure what you cannot reliably define. Unfortunately, many published reports either do not explicitly define what constitutes a false rape allegation or they rely on data that demonstrably include many cases that fall outside the parameters of accepted definitions. […]
    Law enforcement agencies in the United States and in other countries classify rape cases according to set guidelines; in the United States, these guidelines are provided by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) Handbook (FBI, 2004). […] Despite these guidelines, numerous studies have discovered that the misclassification of
    cases by law enforcement agencies is routine
    . Cases in which the victim is unable or unwilling to cooperate, in which evidence is lacking, in which the victim makes inconsistent statements, or in which the victim was heavily intoxicated frequently get classified as “unfounded” or “no-crimed” (e.g., Gregory & Lees, 1996; IACP, 2005b; Kelly et al., 2005; Rumney, 2006). […]

    Some of the misclassification of rape cases stems from biases and stereotypes that are still quite prevalent among law enforcement personnel. Researchers who have studied the content of police reports and/or examined police attitudes through interviews or questionnaires have found evidence of long-standing rape myths and stereotypes that influence how rape victims are perceived and how cases are classified. Victims of nonstranger assaults, victims who are intoxicated, victims who delay reporting the assault, and victims who report assaults by intimates all are frequently viewed with greater suspicion by some police officers (Clark & Lewis, 1977; Heenan & Murray, 2006; Jordan, 2004; Kelly et al., 2005; Lea et al., 2003; Schuller & Stewart, 2000).

    All of the methodological issues outlined previously underscore the necessity to scrutinize law enforcement classifications of sexual assault cases. However, such scrutiny requires access to confidential information, and few studies have either attempted or succeeded in obtaining such information. As a result, many published studies on false rape allegations have relied on the classifications made by law enforcement agencies. […]

    Given these serious limitations in the literature on false rape reports, there are actually very few studies that provide meaningful data on the frequency of false reports. Among the 20 sources listed in a recent review article (Rumney, 2006), only a handful provided clear definitions and used systematic methods to evaluate their data. In fact, Rumney concluded, “Given its inadequacies, much of the current research literature cannot be used to determine the rate of false rape allegations” (p. 155). Most of the sources report data, ranging from 1.5% to 90%, which cannot be relied upon because they are based on unscrutinized police classifications.[1]

    Science is done by people, and people can confused, ignorant, or outright bigoted. When the false report literature contains studies that argued a rape was impossible because the victim was too fat to take off their clothes, or the victim did not appear “disheveled,”[2] it’s no surprise you’re going to get answers all over the map.

    #notallresearch, though, and when Lisak et al. filtered out the bullshit, he consistently got numbers in the 2-8% range. I think he was a bit conservative, as there’s an inverse correlation between sample size and false report rate in his data, but whatever.[1]

    Most people stop here, under the assumption that every false report is due to a jilted floozy out for revenge. Problem: scientists have studied false rape reports, and found they’re quite heterogeneous. One study found, out of 53 cases where the accused admitted to making things up:

    Nine cases of avoiding confrontations with parents.
    Eight cases of hiding consensual sex with another man from husbands/partners.
    Four cases where accusations arose where the complainant was being investigated or fraud or theft.
    One case of an affair with a father-in-law. […]

    There were other unusual contexts, including a young Asian woman who made an accusation as a strategy to prevent her family taking her to Pakistan for an arranged marriage, a young woman wanting the morning after pill after having had unprotected sex and another attempting to regain her mother’s support after being thrown out of the family home.

    Only eight of them could be classified as revenge, and not a single one involved getting too drunk.[3] The lack of booze is to be expected, because everyone’s taught that the victim wanted it, even the victims.[4]

    The findings of the current study indicate that alcohol-related factors are important predictors of women’s responses to and perceptions of violent pornography. Alcohol intoxication directly decreased women’s likelihood of labeling a violent pornographic sexual assault as rape. In addition, sex-related alcohol expectancies and alcohol consumption acted independently and interactively to reduce women’s perceptions of the event as rape indirectly through the participants’ sexual arousal and judgments regarding the female rape victim.

    Regarding alcohol consumption effects, intoxicated women were less likely than their sober counterparts to label the described event as rape. Consistent with alcohol myopia models (Steele & Josephs, 1990), alcohol consumption appeared to have focused participants on instigatory sexual cues rather than on inhibitory violence cues, resulting in reduced perceptions of the incident as rape.

    There’s also the slight problem of motive; if people file false reports with the police because other people pressured them into it (38% are filed by someone other than the victim, according to one study, and “the suspect later reported that the whole thing had spiralled out of control and he or she had felt unable to stop the investigation”[5]), or they’re covering for other crimes, or even to punish someone… how do you square that with someone actively avoiding a criminal prosecution, asking to remain anonymous? Fame can’t be a motive. Nor can money. Plenty of famous people have went on to have successful careers after *convictions* of sexual assault[6][7], so that can’t be it.

    The only other plausible motive besides warning people was that Smith thought PZ Myers was so popular and well-respected that the community trusted his word by default. Can you honestly make that argument, Pitchguest? Because if you can, I want a video of all the wild contortions your face while doing it.

    And seriously people, I gave a lecture on sexual assault a mere three months ago.[8] It carried 190 footnotes, with over 100 linking to scientific research on sexual assault,[9] and that’s a mere teaspoon of the tens of thousands of papers available.[10] Quit arguing from your ass, and start fucking researching like you were skeptics!

  231. 289

    [1] Lisak, David, Lori Gardinier, Sarah C. Nicksa, and Ashley M. Cote. “False Allegations of Sexual Assualt: An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases.” Violence Against Women 16, no. 12 (2010): 1318–34.

    [2] Rumney, Philip N.S. “FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF RAPE.” The Cambridge Law Journal 65, no. 01 (March 2006): 128. doi:10.1017/S0008197306007069. pg. 134

    [3] Kelly, Liz., Jo. Lovett, Linda. Regan, Great Britain., Home Office., and Development and Statistics Directorate. Research. A Gap or a Chasm?: Attrition in Reported Rape Cases. London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, 2005.

    [4] Davis, K. C. “Rape-Myth Congruent Beliefs in Women Resulting from Exposure to Violent Pornography: Effects of Alcohol and Sexual Arousal.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 21, no. 9 (September 1, 2006): 1208–23. doi:10.1177/0886260506290428.

    [5] Levitt, A. Charging “Perverting the Course of Justice” and Wasting Police Time in Cases Involving Allegedly False Rape and Domestic Violence Allegations. Crown Prosecution Service Equality and Diversity Unit, March 2013.

    [6] “‘Mike Tyson Rape Case Was Inevitable,’ Says Former Manager.” Mail Online. Accessed April 14, 2015..

    [7] “The Slow-Burning Polanski Saga.” BBC, September 28, 2009, sec. Entertainment.

    [8] Evidence-Based Feminism 2: Rape Culture, Sexual Assault, and Consent

    [9] http://tinyurl.com/evfem2-footnotes

    [10] Some suggested searches, to get you started:
    http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=sexual+experiences+survey
    http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=rape+myth+acceptance
    http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=alcohol+sexual+assault
    http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=hidden+rape
    http://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=date+rape

  232. 290

    Oh. my. dog. “Pestering” someone when they’ve told you no means you have no respect for someone’s boundaries. The rest is a wall of whining.
    If it’s too hard for you to figure out if you’ve properly given and received consent, do your potential partners a favor and just don’t have sex.

    It must be good to avoid any problem with your concepts by simply saying “it’s your fault for not understanding them”. But while in your fantasy world a) misunderstandings never happen b) people should never ask for something more than once because people never change their mind c) people never do things on a whim d) people are mind readers and e) people can perfectly control their emotional reactions.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, all these things (misunderstandings, people who change their mind, people acting on impulses, people failing to read one another’s mind and people who simply let their emotions get the better of themselves) happen, even in sexual contexts. Both men and women do it. Are they all rapists?

    A woman I know misunderstood the signals of a person she was interested to and ended up hounding him for months because she really thought he was into her. Was she a wannabe rapist?

    A woman I was dating kept pestering me to do a specific sex act. I didn’t want it at first but eventually I changed my mind. Was she a rapist?

    Two people who are both heavily drunk end up having sex and in the morning they can’t really remember what happened. This happens all the time. Who raped whom?

    I changed my mind during a sex act, but I didn’t tell anything to my partner because i din’t want to disappoint her. Did she rape me?

    A woman I knew was incredibly disappointed when I first turned her down and eventually I decided I could try going out with her. Did she manipulate me into sex, and was she a rapist?

    I’m not the only person to whom those things happened. Misunderstandings, changes of mind, drunk sex, internal disappointments and emotional reactions are part of life. Men and women have trouble with understanding others, change their minds, have sex while drunk, do at times not communicate everything, and show their emotions after being rejected. According to your extremist view they’re all rapists or wannabe rapists, no exceptions.

    It must be nice to live in an ideal world where everything is always crystal clear. Reality is much more complicated.

    –requiring a higher burden of proof of the alleged victim

    The burden of proof for an accusation of a crime is always on the accuser, not the accused. You have to prove that someone is guilty, they don’t have to prove they’re innocent. Otherwise you’re engaging in a witch hunt, where people can freely accuse others and it’s their job to prove that the accusation is wrong. If you don’t believe this is a big deal, let me ask you how you’d react if someone accused you of a crime and you’d have to be the one to prove they’re wrong

    demanding that if an alleged victim was raped, they should go to the police (when going to the police often results in being victim-blamed)

    There’s a reason why the justice system exist: they’re generally better equipped at dealing with accusations than the public. I’d like to know what are your standards for victim-blaming from the police. While there are no doubts many policemen out there who act unethically, asking for evidence or trusting an account but verifying it isn’t “victim blaming”.

    –believing lack of physical evidence is sufficient to suggest that the alleged victim is probably lying

    Yes, people who believe that are making a wrong inference. Lack of physical evidence doesn’t necessarily prove that an accuser lied, or even that they’re wrong (two different things: you can be wrong but convinced that you are right).

    However lack of physical evidence may, in cases when there’s no other corroborating evidence, mean that it’s hard to tell if the accusation is factual. Which again doesn’t mean that the accuser is lying. but requires at times that you must withhold judgment and err on the side of caution (and therefore say that it can’t be proven that the accusation is right).

    believing that physically evidence can only likely be considered evidence of consenual sex

    Physical evidence can mean many things. However if the accuser claims something that is contradicted by physical evidence their accusation becomes far less believable. Specifically if the accuser claims that a violent sex act happened but there’s no sign of violence their accusation loses some credibility (which again doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lying: they could be simply have troubles recalling exactly what happened or otherwise assume something that is wrong).

    demanding details of the alleged victim’s sexual history before the alleged incidence of rape while ignoring that of the alleged rapist

    The history of both the accuser and the accused (sexual or otherwise) should be questioned only if it’s relevant. If an accuser had a history of making false claims their accusation becomes less believable. If, on the other hand, the accused has a history of criminal or unethical behavior the accusation becomes more believable.

    blaming the alleged victim for not saying no, wearing the “wrong” clothing, being isolated/in the “wrong” area, being “too” drunk/high

    Yes, that’s wrong and a clear example of “victim blaming”. No disagreement from me on this point.

    believing accounts of alleged rapists over that of alleged victims time and time again (a pattern, not isolated incidents)

    Yes, this falls under the “evaluating the history of the accused”. Multiple accusations may increase the credibility of a new one (although this depends on the nature of the accusations).

    asserting that a person does not have the right to revoke consent after consent is given

    Everyone has the right to revoke consent at every time. However since people aren’t mind readers if you want to revoke consent you have to make it clear to the person you have given consent before.

    telling rape jokes

    This has nothing to do with actual accusations. Jokes aren’t to be taken seriously (it’s all in the name).

    –assuming consent is the default rather than non-consent

    Consent is the default when given. If you ask me if you can borrow a book and I say yes, then later I change my mind and without telling you to bring the book back I accuse you of theft I’m not acting ethically. The same is true for contexts where sexual acts are involved.

    assuming if the alleged victim did not fight back, then the sex was consensual.

    Again, you’re right in this case, this is a faulty inference to make. However if the accuser gave consent at first, then revoked it mentally but did not make their lack of consent explicitly clear they can’t blame the accused for assuming that the previous consent was still valid. People aren’t mind readers.

  233. 291

    Where’s this idea coming from that law enforcement officials are sooooo much better at dealing with allegations of rape than, say, bloggers? All the research on this particular aspect says that they are both appallingly bad at it and inconsistent in their approach.

    Four hundred thousand unprocessed rape kits, anyone?

    (Which also puts the kibosh on this idea of one day having some magic technology which will help and we should just sit back until it arrives to save us. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY NOW which answers 50% of the questions the initial police interview should be asking and law enforcement officials refuse to use it.)

  234. 292

    Where’s this idea coming from that law enforcement officials are sooooo much better at dealing with allegations of rape than, say, bloggers?

    The idea that the justice system is better at dealing with crime in general than bloggers who aren’t trained in police work doesn’t sound too controversial to me.

    Maybe I’m biased by the fact that I live in a country (Switzerland) with a very effective justice system. Maybe the US justice system is so incredibly fucked up and ineffective that even a random person with no experience in law enforcement, interviews or proper procedure. Maybe you need Internet vigilantes because your law enforcement agencies are made up of a bunch of bumbling buffoons. Maybe.

    Or maybe even the American justice system, for all its faults, is just better at assessing crimes than bloggers, and the studies who show its flaws simply don’t focus on how ineffective bloggers are in comparison.

    I despise Internet vigilante justice as a whole (including Anonymous). I think that common people are too biased, too incompetent, and too prone to believe gossip and let emotions drive them, especially in a place where excessive emotions are rewarded like the Internet, to properly address a complex job like crime prevention and law and order in general.

    Anyway, if your police is so bad that random citizens are better at sleuthing and policing than them you have far bigger problems than Michael Shermer.

  235. 293

    Quit arguing from your ass, and start fucking researching like you were skeptics!

    I like it!

    The problem with research into “false allegations” is that there is no reliable way to determine what is a false allegation. All of the ways they are defined are fraught with problems. “The victim refused to cooperate” does not mean a charge is false. Lizak’s study focused on cases where “other evidence” showed the rape did not occur. These are reliably false, but clearly too narrow, as often the evidence of falseness is the victim recanting or other obvious evidence. Would we expect every person who lies to recant? Obviously not.

    For a good case study, look at the sad saga of Brian Banks, who was going to play football for USC until he was accused of raping a girl in the stairwell of his high school. He eventually pled guilty and spent five years in prison, and the girl’s family won a $1.5 million lawsuit from the school district. This wouldn’t have been marked as “false” under any definition in any study, until of course she admitted making the entire thing up years later, after he did five years in prison.

    There is no way to look at this situation and conclude beyond all doubt that Shermer raped this woman. However, from what I’ve read, I certainly get the sense that he was an older man who liked to prowl for women, sometimes in creeptacular ways, and it is certainly plausible he saw a young, attractive woman drunk off her ass and took her back to his room. Since we are looking at this years later, there is evidence we will probably never know, such as witnesses who saw her just before they left.

    JREF is disbanding, so it’s behavior is probably moot at this point. However, for organizations going forward, hen an employee reports a rape by someone who works with the organization, don’t continue to have the two of them work together. She probably could have sued JREF for everything they had and will have.

  236. 294

    @Kellyw. #267

    Back in the 90’s, during the first attempt at execution of Mumia Abu jamal, I did quite a bit of work on his defence campaign at my university. I did absolutely no work supporting the victims of violent crime, despite the fact that there are far more victims of violent crime than those falsely accused and imprisoned. Why?

    Is it because I don’t give a damn about the victims of violent crime? Hardly. It’s because those of us who have fought for social justice in the real world, recognise that the one of the measures of a civilised society, in addition to how women are treated in that society, is how it treats the issues of miscarriages of justice. This is because unsound convictions hurt first and foremost the oppressed and victimised in society – they bear the brunt of injustice. So wrongful accusations and worse –imprisonment or execution – is a big deal for us and it’s no accident they’re more common the more oppressive a society is.

    The intersection of racist oppression with the issue of rape seems to be ignored on Freethoughtblogs. For those of us not from North America, this seems a puzzling omission. Freethougthblogs is mainly an American network, advocates social justice issues, yet nobody ever mentions the Scottsboro boys. This is not merely an historical issue. The case of Brian Banks is a famous, more modern example, but there are of course many more, most of them not widely publicised, but available if you look hard enough – the innocence project has quite a few. Many false accusations are labelled misidentifications, such as the case of Thomas Haynesworth, misidentified and accused by a white rape victim and then by another four victims. He spent 27 years in prison, his life stolen. Did his accusers deliberately falsely accuse him? Probably not. Victims can and are wrong without lying; they can be racist; they can be used by a racist system; or they might just be mistaken.

    This is the problem with the principle of “believe the victim,” I’ve often read the argument “oh this isn’t about reversing the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” as we’re not in a court of law, it’s only about warning people on the internet and about changing rape culture.” This argument is disingenuous – it is directly opposed to the “innocent until proven guilty” principle and acceptance of “believe the victim” into popular culture would directly affect the decisions juries make and this would necessarily entail more unjust convictions. Given the history and the racist nature of the justice system in America this would necessarily mean a disproportionate number of unjust convictions on African-americans and would, in effect, support the system of racist oppression against them.

    You might think this is a price worth paying. I do not. Most people involved in social justice issues do not.

  237. 295

    oops blockquote fail. Heres what I was quoting from Kellyw. #267:
    “No you didn’t mention victims at all in comment #254. After you got called out on it, THEN you bothered to mention them. There are far more rape victims than falsely accused, yet your initial focus was on the falsely accused. That has been a common theme expressed by the apologists in this very thread.”

  238. 296

    Where’s this idea coming from that law enforcement officials are sooooo much better at dealing with allegations of rape than, say, bloggers?

    Bloggers here at FtB take a “listen and believe” approach to allegations, and regular commenters will label any expressions of skepticism (or even withholding judgement) as rape apologia. Law enforcement will take a totally different approach, at best trying to gather evidence that would convince a jury. Which of these approaches seems more likely to filter out false or unsupportable allegations?

  239. 297

    @Kirbmarc:

    A lot of nonsense to unpick here:

    But while in your fantasy world a) misunderstandings never happen b) people should never ask for something more than once because people never change their mind c) people never do things on a whim d) people are mind readers and e) people can perfectly control their emotional reactions.

    That’s a neat summary of your straw argument. I can’t see where anyone is stating or implying any of these things. I can’t see how the advice relies on any of your assertions being true. And the one about controlling emotional reactions sounds very creepy. There are some emotional reactions which sure as shit *should* be controlled, whether perfectly or otherwise. I hope you’re talking about the issue of disappointment rather than the more general issue of consent.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, all these things (misunderstandings, people who change their mind, people acting on impulses, people failing to read one another’s mind and people who simply let their emotions get the better of themselves) happen, even in sexual contexts. Both men and women do it. Are they all rapists?

    I don’t think anyone’s saying that. To decide such a thing based on such banal generalities is clearly ridiculous. Yours is the very image of a straw argument.

    A woman I know misunderstood the signals of a person she was interested to and ended up hounding him for months because she really thought he was into her. Was she a wannabe rapist?

    Knowing only what you’ve said, I’d call her a harasser. If she harassed him into sex I’d call her a rapist. If she tried to harass him into sex, I’d call her a wannabe rapist, sure. Delusion is no defence, especially since the campaign of harassment was prolonged.

    A woman I was dating kept pestering me to do a specific sex act. I didn’t want it at first but eventually I changed my mind. Was she a rapist?

    Another apparently deliberately obtuse question. Obviously it depends on whether you changed your mind because you figured you’d give it a go after all or whether you were in some way intimidated, harassed or emotionally blackmailed into it. It depends on the nature of your relationship and of the communication between the two of you. I would not call her a rapist on the face of what you’ve written, but I might do, depending on the details.

    Two people who are both heavily drunk end up having sex and in the morning they can’t really remember what happened. This happens all the time. Who raped whom?

    Ah, this one. I don’t think it’s a case of picking which (if any) person is a rapist. I think the issue is one of each deciding at the time whether or not sex is a good idea. This depends on various things, again including the nature of the relationship and of the encounter. As a rule it’s always better to not have sex with someone who is very drunk, regardless of how drunk you yourself are. If either person is so determined to have sex right then rather than waiting until another day, then perhaps they could be considered a rapist. It depends. Obviously. You keep citing examples you think are outliers and saying that hard and fast rules are insufficient. But nobody is saying such rules *are* sufficient. The CCC statement clearly admits gray areas, for example, and advises people to not have sex if they find themselves in one. They don’t say it’d be rape if you carried on having sex, but it says that you might be and it would be better for everyone if you avoided gray-area sex altogether.

    I changed my mind during a sex act, but I didn’t tell anything to my partner because i din’t want to disappoint her. Did she rape me?

    Again, because your examples are made of straw, it depends. If you didn’t object verbally but showed a lack of enthusiasm, then it could be rape, yes. We should all make sure that our partners enthusiastically consent before and during sex. If your partner senses that you’re no longer into it, she should stop. And if she’s disappointed, she shouldn’t make a big deal of it.

    A woman I knew was incredibly disappointed when I first turned her down and eventually I decided I could try going out with her. Did she manipulate me into sex, and was she a rapist?

    You’re distorting the point. First, agreeing to go out with someone is not agreement to sex. It’s very strange that you seem to be conflating the two. So based on what you’ve written, no she didn’t manipulate you into sex and no she’s not a rapist. Showing disappointment about a refusal of sex, which leads to sex in the future, could be rape though, in some cases. It could depend on a lot of things, including the balance of power and dynamic of the relationship. For example, if that person is your boss and expresses disappointment in a way that makes it clear that the consequences of the refusal could be bad for your career, then yes, that could be rape. If it’s a long-term partner who expresses disappointment with violence or excessive complaining or where there’s the implied threat of other negative consequences of a refusal, that could be rape. Even if the negative consequences are to do with your not wishing to upset your partner, overt disappointment could be a form of manipulation.

    I’m not the only person to whom those things happened. Misunderstandings, changes of mind, drunk sex, internal disappointments and emotional reactions are part of life. Men and women have trouble with understanding others, change their minds, have sex while drunk, do at times not communicate everything, and show their emotions after being rejected. According to your extremist view they’re all rapists or wannabe rapists, no exceptions.

    But these examples don’t need to pose a problem. If your primary concern before and during sex is whether your partner(s) are properly and enthusiastically consenting, you probably don’t need to worry about whether you’re a rapist. If you’re more concerned with having sex right there and then than you are about whether you could end up hurting someone, then you’re probably (at least) a wannabe rapist.

    And “extremest”? Really? Advice about how consent works and to always err on the side of caution when it comes to consent is *extreme*?

    It must be nice to live in an ideal world where everything is always crystal clear. Reality is much more complicated.

    Which is why simplifying rules are so important. Hence the idea that if there’s any room for doubt, simply don’t have sex. Doubt doesn’t mean that the encounter, should you go through with it, would automatically be rape, but it might be, so err on the side of caution. I’ve heard similar arguments about ages of consent for sex. It’s been said that such things are arbitrary, that some young people are perfectly able to have sex without it constituting (to them) abuse. Fine. But those laws exist because we are not at all good arbiters of whether a particular case is abusive. We draw a somewhat arbitrary line because the intent is to protect young people, not the people who want to fuck them.

    The burden of proof for an accusation of a crime is always on the accuser, not the accused. You have to prove that someone is guilty, they don’t have to prove they’re innocent.

    As a principle, and in a court of law, that’s somewhat true. But irrelevant. The intent of the statement was clearly that the standard of proof should not be greater for the alleged victim than for the alleged rapist. We know that there is often strong bias against victims reporting rapes or testifying against their rapist. We know that victims are often scrutinised on their past sexual history or dress: that is often considered relevant evidence in favour of a rape not having occurred, whereas that isn’t the case for the alleged rapist. In these cases, the victim is being forced to prove that they did not invite the rape, whereas the rapist is actually being relieved somewhat of the burden of having to demonstrate that consent was granted and maintained.

    There’s a reason why the justice system exist: they’re generally better equipped at dealing with accusations than the public. I’d like to know what are your standards for victim-blaming from the police. While there are no doubts many policemen out there who act unethically, asking for evidence or trusting an account but verifying it isn’t “victim blaming”.

    And as far as I can tell, nobody said it was. Many people who have reported rapes have described the police as hostile to their claims. They have reported intrusive and irrelevant questioning about their sex lives or being told that their behaviour or dress was responsible for their rape. They have been told that there’s no point in pursuing the case because factors like the above mean that nobody will believe them. This is all victim-blaming; we know this happens a lot when victims report rapes; and we know that it prevents many women from reporting rapes. I think *that* is probably the kind of victim blaming that’s meant, not your weird assertion that anyone thinks asking for evidence per se is victim blaming. Nobody thinks that.

    However lack of physical evidence may, in cases when there’s no other corroborating evidence, mean that it’s hard to tell if the accusation is factual. Which again doesn’t mean that the accuser is lying. but requires at times that you must withhold judgment and err on the side of caution (and therefore say that it can’t be proven that the accusation is right).

    Obviously. But once again, that very obviously wasn’t the point.

    Physical evidence can mean many things. However if the accuser claims something that is contradicted by physical evidence their accusation becomes far less believable. Specifically if the accuser claims that a violent sex act happened but there’s no sign of violence their accusation loses some credibility (which again doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lying: they could be simply have troubles recalling exactly what happened or otherwise assume something that is wrong).

    Again, that wasn’t the point. I’m starting to detect a pattern here…. Sex doesn’t have to be violent for rape to occur and evidence of sex is not evidence of consent. Lack of evidence of violence is not evidence of consent. I’d have thought just about everyone would agree with that.

    The history of both the accuser and the accused (sexual or otherwise) should be questioned only if it’s relevant.

    Of course, but again, that’s not what was said. The issue was quite clearly that of the victim’s sexual past being automatically called into question whereas the rapist’s is not. Is there the slightest doubt that this happens often and routinely?

    Yes, this falls under the “evaluating the history of the accused”. Multiple accusations may increase the credibility of a new one (although this depends on the nature of the accusations).

    I think you’ve misunderstood the point. I think it’s talking about people who accept the claims of multiple different rapists over those of multiple different victims. We know this happens a lot. It’s not – I think – about dozens of rape or other sexual abuse accusations against one person making us think there’s an increased chance of those accusations being true. We know very well that certain people don’t accept that logic when people like Cosby and Shermer are involved.

    Everyone has the right to revoke consent at every time. However since people aren’t mind readers if you want to revoke consent you have to make it clear to the person you have given consent before.

    Of course, and nobody is saying otherwise. Nobody is trying to claim that changing one’s mind in secret is the same thing as explicitly revoking consent (but see above).

    This has nothing to do with actual accusations. Jokes aren’t to be taken seriously (it’s all in the name).

    Not always. Jokes can be used as a form of harassment and harassment is frequently disguised a a joke.

    Consent is the default when given. If you ask me if you can borrow a book and I say yes, then later I change my mind and without telling you to bring the book back I accuse you of theft I’m not acting ethically. The same is true for contexts where sexual acts are involved.

    Consent is *consent* when given and it can be revoked at any time. I think the point was to never assume consent, even when in a long-term sexual relationship. Assume that enthusiastic consent has to be obtained even on the night of your 50th wedding anniversary. Again with the presto-changeo secret withdrawal of consent that never actually happens. Getting creepier all the time.

    Again, you’re right in this case, this is a faulty inference to make. However if the accuser gave consent at first, then revoked it mentally but did not make their lack of consent explicitly clear they can’t blame the accused for assuming that the previous consent was still valid. People aren’t mind readers.

    Wow, you’re really determined to muddy the waters with the idea of consent being secretly revoked, aren’t you? This leads me to suspect that you’re more concerned with being accused of rape than with whether you’re actually committing rape, which is as creepy as hell.

  240. 298

    Jafafa Hots @240

    This is NOT the case. The accuser is KNOWN to the accused. The accuser is KNOWN to PZ Myers. The accuser is KNOWN to the witness. (I have no confirmation of this but it’s likely that the accuser is known to some others as well.)

    But the accuser is not known publicly, and this was “trial by public opinion” in a real sense, certainly more in that sense than formal trial. It’s tempting for both sides to revert to formal legal standards when it’s convenient. So, sure, due to rape shield laws, accusers remain unnamed publicly, but they’re not regarded as “anonymous;” however the court knows who they are, the lawyers know who they are, and they are investigated (to the extent allowed by rape shield laws).

    This was the aspect of the Grenade Post that probably annoyed me the most. PZ was making this a trial by public opinion, but if the public (all of us) are supposed to judge guilt or innocence, then we have a right to the available information necessary to do that, and in THAT sense, the accuser was anonymous, which really is the relevant sense of anonymity. Add to this the fact that PZ was himself in an extremely biased position to render an impartial assessment. Recall, PZ already disliked Shermer. Both PZ and Ophelia Benson had been gunning for Shermer (remember “It’s a guy thing” and Benson’s prolific series of responses). Shermer was already a man with a bullseye on his back. These were people who were implicitly asking us to trust them to render an impartial judgement by denying us (in essence, the jury) critical elements of the case.

    Today, of course, much of this is moot, since we know the identifies involved, but the memory of that sheer audacity, the gall! It was truly insulting.

  241. 299

    The question I have for Ashley Miller and others on “that side” (if we really need to make that distinction) is whether you might agree that: Provided we assume that trial by public opinion is a good thing, we weigh all the pros and cons and say we want to do this, wouldn’t it have been moral and ethical for PZ to have recused himself due to his known bias and the risk that his dislike might color his opinion, to send Alison to an impartial publisher. Or at least to have put the decision to have published on an impartial third party. We know this didn’t happen from the part in the Oppenheimer article, where he recounts his sinking horrified realization that he was going to accuse someone (that he disliked already; how convenient…) of rape.

  242. 300

    @292

    It’s only the justice system, flawed as it is, that can enforce criminal penalties. Bloggers may be able to influence social consequence or reputational damage but it remains unlikely that this will actually protect women en masse from sexual predators.

    Many factors play into the situation regarding unprocessed rape kits in different jurisdictions, not least training and finance so I doubt it’s simply a matter of law enforcement officials refusing to use the resources available to them. See for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_kit

  243. 301

    Maureen Brian @292,
    I agree that the justice system is imperfect and, in too many cases, incompetent. Having any rape kits go untested is a travesty of justice.

    That being said, can you tell us how many rape kits have been processed on account of accusations made by a blogger? How many rapists have been taken off the street because of accusations being published on a blog? I would expect the numbers are close to zero.

    As imperfect as the justice system is, it’s still the best approach we currently have for maximizing the chances that justice will be served. And we should work to make it better rather than trying to tear it down and replace it with trial-by-blogger.

  244. 302

    HJ Horbeck @290 wrote:

    Yeah, they do. Wanna know why?

    And then…

    And seriously people, I gave a lecture on sexual assault a mere three months ago.[8] It carried 190 footnotes, with over 100 linking to scientific research on sexual assault,[9] and that’s a mere teaspoon of the tens of thousands of papers available.[10] Quit arguing from your ass, and start fucking researching like you were skeptics!

    So in other words, you interjected to provide answers to a question than nobody asked. Fine, that’s nice of you. But then you condescend to people for not attending your “lecture” or for not researching [the answer to the question that nobody asked].
    Nobody asked ‘why’ and nobody was making any arguments as to ‘why.’ The stats were presented merely to make the point that there is in fact a fair amount of variation, but nobody asked nor attempted to make any arguments as to why that is the case. So your implication that people aren’t doing proper research [into a question that nobody asked or in support of an argument that nobody actually made] is wholly unfounded and uncalled for.

    Please take your “lecture” and your “start fucking researching” and stuff them in a sac. If you’d like to add new information into a discussion, great – but next time just save the condescension and rid yourself of the idea that anyone else ought to research something just because you happen to find it interesting, or relevant, or important.

  245. 303

    Onion Head @ 302,

    I do not know the answer to the question in your second question paragraph. I imagine very few.

    Had it not been for generations of uppity and demanding people challenging the status quo we would never have seen Kym Worthy, an African-American woman, appointed as DA in Detroit. Some of the rape kits she discovered had been there for up to 20 years during which DAs, police chiefs, accountants signing off payment for the storage space had known there were wast amounts of evidence stashed here and there. Yet they displayed no curiosity as to what it was or why it was still there.

    So Worthy raised hell about it and sought funding from outside the system to begin processing them. She raised awareness and, behold, unprocessed kits began to be “found” here there and everywhere.

    When the justice system fails then bloggers are in a pretty good position to do that same thing – raise awareness to the point where the system gets off its backside and does the work for which it is being paid. Not perfect, admittedly, but better than nothing.

    Why not admit that when it comes to sexual assault due process, by which you set such store, is broken. Sure, PZ cannot don a wig and cross-examine Shermer under oath. Nor can he sentence him. I have seen, though, many changes to the law which arose out of some total screw-up by the police or some other authority but only when people were fairly loud in their demand for change. That’s what citizens are supposed to do and not just when they are bloggers.

  246. 305

    The OP is at least the third or fourth time that I’ve seen it said here at FtB that we can be confident Shermer was sober (and it’s pretty crux to the overall argument) but I’m having trouble finding a source for this other than Shermer’s own convenient and dubious revised account. Did Smith ever actually say Shermer wasn’t drinking anything at the room party with all the scotch and wine? I went back and read all her remarks at the erstwhile JREF forum, but didn’t manage to turn anything up.

  247. 307

    If I was going to collate what I think is the most likely story from all versions. Michael had a drink or two, Alison got shitfaced, Michael pretended to keep drinking, probably not specifically to trick Alison, and ultimately took Alison back to his hotel room, knowing she was drinking a lot and that she was intoxicated.

    I base this on Michael’s claim in the first e-mail, “For the record, by the way, most of the people at that party, Alison especially, could drink me under the table no problem. People kept pouring me scotch, and after awhile I was pretending to drink it and then drinking water instead, and at one point Alison said something like, “hey, he’s not really drinking his scotch,” so I was busted and everyone gave me a hard time (in good fun of course).”

    And this from Oppenheimer and Alison: “At the party, they began downing drinks. “At some point,” Smith said, “I realized he wasn’t drinking them; he was hiding them underneath the table and pretending to drink them. I was drunk. After that, it all gets kind of blurry. I started to walk back to my hotel room, and he followed me and caught up with me.””

    And this from Shermer second statement: “We were talking and flirting, and after some time she took me by the hand and led me to the bathroom and closed the door behind us, where she proceeded to proposition me in a very direct, assertive, and physical fashion. I was taken aback. Sex in a hotel bathroom isn’t my idea of a romantic evening, plus I could tell she’d been drinking, so I encouraged her to put herself back together and rejoin the party. “

  248. 308

    @304

    The law is broken in many respects, not least in its failures in investigating and prosecuting sex crimes. The police are also as prone to corruption and institutional incompetence as any other organisation (witness Hillsborough). It is indeed by protesting vigorously and loudly that such things change. But the dangers of vigilantism and of trial by public opinion should also be born in mind.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/aug/30/childprotection.society

  249. 309

    Hj Hornbeck,
    Sorry for mis-spelling your name @303. It was not intentional, just a typo that I missed. Please accept my apologies and I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

  250. 310

    Well this is curious indeed. It appears to be a consensus for some that bloggers such as PZ Myers have a duty to name names such as Shermer’s, on the basis that the due process system is flawed, and such outcries might well see to it that repairs to this system are forthcoming.

    Well okay.

    But…y’know, there’s something that’s beeen nagging at me. You see, it seems PZ Myers and certain of his fellow FTBers appear somewhat selective in who they choose to make an example of.

    Let’s take, for instance, something which cropped up on Ophelia Benson’s blog a few years back. It concerned a number of women who claimed they had been groped – even to the point, if I recall correctly, of an outright sexual assault – by a big name skeptic at numerous Skeptics In The Pub events in the UK. There was much outrage that this big name had been allowed to get away with for so long – and was, apparently, going to continue to do so.

    Ophelia did not mention the name of this big name skeptic in her article. However, it did appear in the comments section (by someone who was apparently involved in this business) – at which Ophelia Benson went on a mass deleting spree, purging any comment which mentioned the mystery groper’s name.

    If you had seen the name, then you might have some insight into why Ophelia felt moved to keep it a secret. But never mind that – if bloggers such as Ophelia Benson and PZ Myers think it important that such people be named publically, then why not simply state, now, who the mystery groper is? If Ophelia does not feel it’s her responsibility to do so, then she can pass on the name to PZ Myers, who I’m sure – given his previous form – will only be too happy to make it public. Yes?

    I mean, if you can serve the interests of justice and improving the system by giving us Michael Shermer’s name, then why not give us the name of this mystery groper, who has been accused by multiple women of severe sexual impropriety at a number of skeptical events?

    And given FTBs apparent mission to name such people publically, then why did Ophelia Benson see fit to purge any comment containing his name – and why has anyone at FTB not, as yet, delivered a blog post on this individual every bit as damning as those concerning Shermer?

  251. 311

    Maureen Brian @303 wrote:

    Had it not been for generations of uppity and demanding people challenging the status quo we would never have seen Kym Worthy, an African-American woman, appointed as DA in Detroit.

    Thanks, I had not heard of Kym Worthy but it sounds like she has done and is doing important, good work. I look forward to learning more about her. However I don’t agree with the labels “uppity” and “demanding” at all. I would never use those labels to describe people who agitated for positive change.

    Why not admit that when it comes to sexual assault due process, by which you set such store, is broken. Sure, PZ cannot don a wig and cross-examine Shermer under oath. Nor can he sentence him. I have seen, though, many changes to the law which arose out of some total screw-up by the police or some other authority but only when people were fairly loud in their demand for change. That’s what citizens are supposed to do and not just when they are bloggers.

    I do admit the justice system is broken, or at least fundamentally imperfect, in many respects. I just happen to believe that trial-by-blogger is yet more imperfect and more flawed still. And of course Myers cannot sentence anyone – but that’s not the point. The accusation itself can be damaging, regardless of whether the person is ever convicted and sentenced in a court of law.

    Please consider PZ Myers’ prior own words on this subject; he wrote:

    I had to work fast, because I knew that if it turned into a he-said-she-said story, it wouldn’t matter that she was lying, it could get dragged out into an investigation that would easily destroy my career, no matter that I was innocent.
    I was in a total panic, knowing full well how damaging that kind of accusation can be. Fortunately, I’d done the right thing by blowing it all wide open at the first hint of a threat, and getting witnesses on the spot.

    “It could get dragged out into an investigation that would easily destroy my career, no matter that I was innocent.” <— this right here is the reason trial-by-blogger is so dangerous, IMO. The accusation itself can easily destroy someone's career. No matter than they are innocent. If you disagree with this, please take it up with PZ Myers directly, because they are his words. I happen to agree with him on this point.

    This is precisely why it's so dangerous to walk this line. Once that accusation it out there, whether true or not, that bell cannot be "unrung." The [potential] damage has already been done. No matter if the person is innocent or not.

    I'm sorry I really don't know what else to say if you truly and honestly don't see a problem here.

  252. 312

    It seems that one of the general themes coming from the FTB side, so to speak, is:

    Believe all statements made by Alison Smith.

    Disbelieve all statements made by Michael Shermer.

    And, so far as I can tell, the reason for this is: Smith is a woman; Shermer is a man.

    Sure, that is something of a minor oversimplifcation; nonetheless, it seems to me to to express the general theme.

  253. 313

    @Tigzy_J

    I don’t know this story, but I do think that people commenting is different than someone known to you coming to you directly and asking you to publish a firsthand account. I also think it is different because it’s not the first account of behavior that PZ had heard against Shermer, so he felt even more morally obligated. Plus it was brought to him with someone who worked for the organization the rape had been reported to. I think it’s also a question of do you have the resources to fight the legal fight, should it come, which PZ did and I don’t know if Ophelia does.

    Is there a link to this, by the way, I am wondering if I totally missed it or have just forgotten.

  254. 314

    Ashley

    From what I can remember, a number of women had approached Michael Story with their concerns about this mystery groper, and that he said that he could not name him, on legal advice from a relative.

    In the comments section, a commenter who is a personal friend of Michael Story effectively gave his name (by way of a not-very-subtle hint) – after which, the purging of the comments section began.

    One of the things that was notable was the frustration at the legal blocks on getting this man’s name out – which would surely be the perfect time for a blogger such as PZ Myers to step up to the plate, and name names? That way, any potential legal fallout would be on blogger, rather than the anonymous complainants. Presumably, I guess, but IANAL and all that.

    Anyways, here’s the link (the comments section is a bit haywire as you can see, owing to Ophelia’s deletions): http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/09/getting-disturbingly-touchy-feely-with-women/

    Note what Ophelia says at the end: ‘My guess? No one will speak up.’

    Perhaps it’s about time someone did.

  255. 315

    @johngreg

    I dunno, I’m happy to use Michael Shermer’s statements against him when it suits my argument 🙂

    In a case in which there were no other witnesses and there were no statistics suggesting rape victims were more likely to be truthful than not and there was no pattern of behavior on the part of Shermer, I would still be more inclined to believe Alison because Shermer changed his story after hearing hers and because the parts of Shermer’s new story that don’t match Alison’s story seem more fantastical than the parts of Alison’s that don’t match Shermer’s.

    They went for a walk in Vegas for several hours at 1 in the morning? This walk was long enough for her to sober up completely after being shitfaced? When did they go back to his hotel room, 8am?

    To me, that reads as a confession. I know she was drunk when we left the party, and so do other people, I have to make up some way for her to have not been drunk by the time we had sex.

  256. 316

    @Tigzy_J

    It looks like it was speculation and she couldn’t confirm what was real and what wasn’t, as far as I can deduce from the comments. I don’t see anything in the back channel about it, so I’ve got no more insight than that, not that I could really share if there was something there anyway. I’m guessing you’d have to ask Michael Story, unless there’s a lot more to this that I just don’t know about, which is fully possible, as I knew nothing until you posted just now.

  257. 317

    Ashley

    ‘It looks like it was speculation and she couldn’t confirm what was real and what wasn’t, as far as I can deduce from the comments.’

    Here’s an idea – why not urge PZ Myers to resurrect the issue? That way, if he gets enough emails stating a certain name as regards the Skeptics in the Pub harasser, he’ll bring that name in the open – just as he did with Ben Radford. Right?

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/06/no-it-could-never-happen-to-her/

    I mean, surely it’s worth getting PZ on the case, as it’s clear people need to be protected from this harasser, and there’s no evidence as yet that this man has faced any consequences at all for his behaviour.

  258. 318

    Ashley, as I have not actually stated it before, here is my opinion, after all these years, of the multiple, various, and varying statements from both Smith and Shermer: It seems to me that some things that both Smith and Shermer have said appear and sound plausible and believable and should be given some credence as well as some skeptical examination using our best critical thinking tools and what little, nearly non-existent, actual evidence we may have. Other things they have said do not sound totally plausible or believable, especially in light of changing testimonies, and should probably be either strongly and thoroughly questioned and debated, or perhaps discarded altogether. I also think it is critically important that we all remember that one of the last things Smith said (so far as I recall, and given the time involved and the multiplicity of platforms and varying statements, I very well might be wrong about this) was that she would not now actually call/label/describe the incident as a rape. If she did say that, then I can’t even….

    Ultimately, at this late date, and especially in light of fallible memories over time and the various changes of testimony, I don’t think anyone, perhaps even including Smith and Shermer, can safely or accurately make any sort of certain guess/claim about what really happened. To some degree, I think that we are all tilting at our various windmills to no real meaningful purpose beyond flogging our various and multiple dead horses.

  259. 319

    Latsot @307 – Google “Shermer was sober” as a phrase sometime. Also, reread the OP.

    Ashley @308 – Sounds about right. It seems reasonable to conclude that he drank a bit whereas she drank a lot. Also, we can make a fair guess that he switched to Fiji brand water at some point during the party. (CN: Unfortunate camera angle)

    johngreg @313 – That certainly wasn’t the approach taken by Ashley @308.

  260. 320

    She said she would just described what happened without giving it a label, as people seemed to not hear what happened as they just want to defend Shermer against the accusation of the word “rape” than listen to her story. She clearly still thinks of it as rape, she just thinks people didn’t listen to her because they cared more about the word than what happened.

    From Oppenheimer:

    After we spoke, Alison Smith told me in an email that she had discussed Shermer’s behavior with leaders of Randi’s foundation, and Shermer kept getting invited to TAM anyway. That’s why she decided that she had to be more public about Shermer.

    If she had to do it over again, Smith said, she would not use the word “rape” because “that seems to get people’s backs up immediately. If people prefer to use the term ‘creep,’ that’s fine. I’m telling my story, not giving testimony in court.” But she doesn’t regret speaking out. “It was intensely frustrating,” Smith said, to “watch other women walk straight into the same situation. I have no idea if anyone else was deceived in this way, and actually had a, for lack of a better term, I’m going to call it a ‘sexual incident,’ with him after that, but I do know that attendees were blissfully ignorant.”

    “I kept hoping,” Smith said, “that someone would just be open and honest and say, ‘You know what? I don’t care if he was on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. [He was actually on The Colbert Report.] I don’t care that he pulls in such and such amount of money, and results in this increase in attendees. It is not worth it.’ Or even if they could just pull Shermer aside and say, ‘This behavior is unacceptable … Michael Shermer, it is not OK to have sex with someone you know for an absolute fact is plastered (particularly if you’re deceiving them by pretending to drink too!). It is wrong … Having sex with someone you know is plastered is wrong.’

    “Now, why could no one else on the entire planet have said that before? I don’t know.”

  261. 323

    In the Ophelia Benson thread, mention was made that the victim specifically DIDN’T want to name the harasser and just put it behind them and get on with their lives. So yeah, there’s that. That’s pretty much the opposite of what happened in the Shermer and Radford cases. But hey, continue swinging those false equivalences. If you lie enough, soon enough the lie will become the new truth, right?

  262. 326

    Ashley, thanks for the clarification. I still have some niggley problems with what she said in that quote. While I understand and am empathetic regarding her concerns regarding reactions to using the word “rape” (although some of those reactions are quite legitimate because of the seriousness, ethically, morally, and legally about rape and claims/accusations of rape), I still feel it’s kind of an escape clause and is somewhat wishy-washy. Either it is rape, and is a serious crime, or it’s creepy behaviour — or it’s something else altogether that fits within some kind of nuanced grey area that leads to endless complications for black and white thinkers, but we don’t want to go there ’cause we’ll never get out alive. Anyway, those two phenomena (rape vs. creepy behaviour) are fundamentally and critically different and are worlds apart.

  263. 327

    Ya, abear, correcting, especially when noting it as a correction, is not changing one’s story. Be fair. Changing one’s story is done on the sly without notification, as in historical revisionism.

  264. 328

    @johngreg

    I think the reality is that there are people who don’t grant the premise that a sober person having sex with a drunk person is rape. And that when there are a lot of people who genuinely admire and look up to Shermer, Alison is in a terrible position, most of those people don’t want to believe anything bad about him. And that’s on top of a culture in which people really don’t want to believe accusations of rape anyway.

    Alison painted Shermer as a predator, the word rape does. Not everyone who rapes is a predator, some of them are just people who made a mistake or misjudgment. If she’d told the story without the word, it would have given the story a broader range of interpretations, so that people could have walked away thinking that Shermer didn’t realize how drunk she was, so didn’t know he was taking advantage of the situation. Shermer, they guy who made a mistake one time, that’s a different story than Shermer, the guy who was accused of rape. But Alison doesn’t think he’s a guy who made a mistake one time, she thinks he’s a predator. She just thinks more people would believe her if she didn’t include that she thinks he’s a predator.

    This is related to another thing that I think is a big problem, something really problematic that we do, which is paint rapists as simple monsters. It’s problematic in both directions. It makes us unable to see people who’ve done a good thing as a possible rapists, because we’re not allowed to see three dimensions to them, and it hurts victims who have more than one feeling for their rapist, because people aren’t any one thing and when someone is raped by someone they know, they often don’t want to destroy that person and turn them into a monster in the eyes of the world.

  265. 329

    I think one thing we can say without any doubt is that Alison was very drunk and Shermer was not. Say what you will about two very drunk people having sex but one being sober and the other being very drunk, to me, reeks of predatory behaviour. I lived in New Zealand for some time and worked with a guy who’s whole “strategy” was to ply women with drink in order to have sex with them. (Forgive for me for not doing anything about it, I was young and quite timid back then, plus he was an intimidating individual). So Shermer’s behaviour as described by some mirrors this individual’s.

    Personally I think the most charitable, and I really mean charitable here, interpretation of Shermer’s actions is morally dubious.

  266. 330

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk coment 324

    Actually, in the Bed Radford link, PZ says that he was holding off mentioning the name, as Karen – according to PZ – ‘ was very circumspect in that article.’

    In his later edit, he named Ben Radford after explaining that he had received a number of emails from people saying they knew who the alleged harasser was. No mention is made as to whether or not Karen sanctioned this.

    So no, not quite the same thing.

    Regarding the contents of Ophelia’s blog post – can you point out where ‘mention was made that the victim specifically DIDN’T want to name the harasser and just put it behind them and get on with their lives’, as this does not appear to be in the OP. Please bear in mind that the words Ophelia has quoted are from Michael Story, who was a witness, not a victim of this harasser. (In fact, he urges any victims to come forward.)

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk comment 325

    Well, if Irish law is anything like that of the UK, then I guess that adds to the reasons why Michael Nugent shouldn’t be condemned for refusing to entertain the allegations against Shermer on his blog.

  267. 331

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate (#325):

    There were also some very real libel issues, with all of the players being located in the UK. But whatever, don’t let the facts derail you.

    Indeed. As T.H. Huxley put it, “The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.”

    Which one might extend to others issues, and suggest that it might have some bearing on Nugent’s reluctance to be found under the same tent as Myers.

  268. 333

    Tigzy I misread about the victim not wanting the perpetrator named. The inference that can be made from no victims coming forward is that the victim didn’t want to publish the name and just go on with her life, since no one actually came forward that we know of, and the person naming someone in that thread was not reliable.

    In the Radford case, his name was outed on Twitter long before PZ amended his post.

  269. 334

    I wrote a long post that didn’t make it through the filter for some reason. Shame, it was an old-skool point by point rebuttal of @Kirbmarc’s nonsense. It bothers me when people are obviously more concerned about whether they might be accused of rape than whether they might be hurting someone.

  270. 336

    And then allowed his comments section to become Slymepit Ireland, making it an unsafe place for any victim of any form of harassment or sexual assault or rape, which is what PZ referred to when he called it a “haven” or whatever.

    1. 336.1

      Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk.

      It is completely untrue that “Nugent scolded and basically disowned PZ for doing it.”. Nugent had many issues with PZ, he had raised these issues numerous times prior to the Shermer incident. And Nugent didn’t disowned PZ (whatever that means). Atheist Ireland disassociated themselves from PZ, and you will note that the Shermer aspect isn’t mentioned. The disassociation would have occurred regardless of Shermer. Heck, I said it two years ago to them well beforehand.

      People keep saying Nugent is criticising PZ because of Shermer as a useful delfection away from why Nugent is actually criticising PZ and why Atheist Ireland actually disassociated themselves from him. Come on, he called Nugent an Irish wanker, that’s pretty xenophobic!

  271. 337

    Ashley said:

    I think the reality is that there are people who don’t grant the premise that a sober person having sex with a drunk person is rape.

    As written, that strikes me as a very problematic statement; however, I think I understand what you are saying; what your point is. And if my understanding is correct, then that is why, over on the other thread, I stated that I think it is critically important to specify some kind of parameters to define what ” a drunk person”, in this instance, is. Otherwise, it’s arbitrary, and profoundly prone to he said/she said, and myriad other problems of interpretation and degree.

    And that when there are a lot of people who genuinely admire and look up to Shermer, Alison is in a terrible position, most of those people don’t want to believe anything bad about him.

    Yes, I agree with that.

    And that’s on top of a culture in which people really don’t want to believe accusations of rape anyway.

    And that, for me, points to one of the ongoing challenges and confrontations between “our side” and “your side”. There is so much potential nuance and grey area in there, in the sense that, for example, most SJW commentariat would classify most Pit people as being “people [who] really don’t want to believe accusations of rape anyway”, when the fact of the matter is that most Pit people are simply saying “Let’s not just accept that all accusations of rape are unquestionably proven before the fact; let’s try to at least apply the rule of law, even if flawed, to determine the facts of the matter”. And the problem with the “believe the accuser [which is usually preemptively described and/or presumed to be ‘the victim’] without question” ideology is that it quite specifically and directly leads to unquestionably proven guilty before the fact. Or so it seems to me.

    Alison painted Shermer as a predator, the word rape does. Not everyone who rapes is a predator, some of them are just people who made a mistake or misjudgment.

    I think I agree with you (tentative to a clearer definition of “rape”, I suppose), but in all sincerity, I think you put yourself at great risk of being vilified and condemned by most of your FTB co-bloggers and commentariat when you say something like that

    If she’d told the story without the word, it would have given the story a broader range of interpretations, so that people could have walked away thinking that Shermer didn’t realize how drunk she was, so didn’t know he was taking advantage of the situation.

    Yes, but isn’t that part of what is at the core of our debate here: how drunk was she; how incapable of decision making was she; how sober was he; how manipulative, consciously or otherwise, was he, and so on.

    Shermer, they guy who made a mistake one time, that’s a different story than Shermer, the guy who was accused of rape. But Alison doesn’t think he’s a guy who made a mistake one time, she thinks he’s a predator. She just thinks more people would believe her if she didn’t include that she thinks he’s a predator.

    OK, I see your point.

    This is related to another thing that I think is a big problem, something really problematic that we do, which is paint rapists as simple monsters. It’s problematic in both directions. It makes us unable to see people who’ve done a good thing as a possible rapists, because we’re not allowed to see three dimensions to them, and it hurts victims who have more than one feeling for their rapist, because people aren’t any one thing and when someone is raped by someone they know, they often don’t want to destroy that person and turn them into a monster in the eyes of the world.

    While I do not agree with everything you said in those paragraphs, and obviously think a couple of things are problematic, I also think that is one of the most rational posts on this specific topic to come out of someone who is seen by many, including myself, as being rather strongly on the FTB/SJW side of the debate. I don’t mean that with hostility; I simply use it as a sort of rough demographic of apparent sides. If that makes any sense.

  272. 339

    Gen said:

    And then allowed his comments section to become Slymepit Ireland, making it an unsafe place for any victim of any form of harassment or sexual assault or rape, which is what PZ referred to when he called it a “haven” or whatever.

    Blatant nonsense.

  273. 341

    You know, to be honest, I really don’t understand the seedy underbelly of atheist/skeptic con culture. There’s all this sex and drinking and drugs. I don’t have a problem that it’s what people want to do with their time, but I find it completely mystifying. It’s not even that I’m a teetotaler or anything, I just… people get so, so messed up. And you’re basically expected to, I feel immensely out of place at night for 1. not getting completely fucked up out of my mind like the people around me and 2. not hooking up. It’s no wonder that Shermer was hiding drinks, no wonder that Alison was shitfaced, and frankly it’s a wonder that atheism doesn’t have a bigger problem with people who were drunk being sexually taken advantage of at cons.

    And by drunk, I don’t know what other people mean, but what I mean, and what Alison describes herself as, is people who are so drunk they have trouble walking and talking.

  274. 342

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate (#336):

    … The issue is that Nugent scolded and basically disowned PZ for doing it.

    That seems a somewhat untenable position. Consider this from PZ’s own post:

    8 October email (MN): Can you please withdraw and apologise for your allegation that I am defending rapists?

    I made the mistake of replying. “No, because you are.” ….

    And you have defended Michael Shermer, preferring to demand that others not publicize his well-documented behavior ….

    Seems the issue is that PZ has rather explicitly accused Nugent of “defending rapists”. Given the state of UK/Irish law, I would be rather apprehensive about allowing that type of accusation to stand. Particularly if I had some responsibility to an organization that has substantially greater reach and impact that PZ’s pop-stand.

  275. 343

    Ashley: I don’t have a dog in the Shermer thing. What bugs me is: most of my family are still resident in Eire, I do have an investment in AI helping secure reproductive rights for women, repeal of the blasphemy law, justice for sexual abuse victims, and generally getting shot of the claws of the vatican from Irish state policy and cultural life etc etc etc. You say you “..are not sure what harm PZ has actually caused to Atheist Ireland, beyond making Michael Nugent very unhappy.”

    Really? Given all the vicious commentary from numerous twitterati and bloggers chucked in their direction? Do you think there is no intent to create reputational damage? Do you think it is of no consequence, is insignificant, is not worth bothering about? Do you think it is intended to be helpful? In some curious way supportive of goals that I’m guessing you and AI and others here might otherwise wholeheartedly support?

    What?

  276. 344

    I am constantly bemused by every time someone says something reasonable like Ashley Miller’s @329 re Smith’s word choice, people who’ve declared themselves to be in opposition of “us” warn away from that language lest the rest of “us” disown her over it as though they actually know how we feel about the argument, despite the language being warned away from being entirely consistent with our actual positions.

    Likewise with over on the Slymepit someone saying “omg it’s almost like this person is so very close to getting it!” rather than coming to the realization that that’s been our position all along and THEY’RE the ones who didn’t understand OUR position.

    Perhaps if there’s less extrapolation from our positions unduly, and with less acrimony (which is my primary sticking point with the Slymepit’s form of “nuanced argumentation”, what you can find in between the horrible slander and gross harassment), you’d see less reason to make us “the enemy”?

  277. 345

    @Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Shermer isn’t Nugent’s only issue. And Atheist Ireland doesn’t mention Shermer at all. Shermer is just the issue that PZ and our side care the most about because it’s the one with, in our opinion, the most morally at stake and the one that is absurdly thrown in with the others by Nugent. Not by AI.

  278. 350

    Gen.

    Yes I have, it doesn’t counter my point. Read what Nugent has written about it himself, about 1% of what Nugent has written criticising PZ has been about Shermer. And Atheist Ireland omitted it entirely. Now I know PZ might not be responding because of the Shermer thing , but that’s a different matter.

    Ashley,

    I never been to any Atheist cons so I wouldn’t know what they are like. But what you have described sounds like Ireland most weekends.

  279. 352

    Gen @337 – This thread is at least as bad as Nugent’s place in terms of SP infestation. #SlymePitFTBland 😉

    Yes, I know. Which is why I’ve been avoiding it. Reading the rape apologetics up there makes me nauseous. But what do I know, I’m just a victim of the “imperfect justice system” who will never see justice, and therefore will never be allowed, according to you people, to name my rapist.

  280. 353

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk, comment 334

    There was not just one victim, though. As Michael Story makes clear in the post, there have been many – and he offers an inference of his own why none appear to have come forward:

    ‘Over time, as his power and influence grew I noticed that he could go further and further and get away with it. Once someone’s prominence gets to a certain point it becomes very hard to criticise them. You think that if they were a predator someone else would have noticed or complained – surely some of those prominent feminist women (and men) in the media with whom he associates would have said something? I don’t know whether they are intimidated or what, but not one has commented in public.

    In private, a number of stories have been circulating for years, many of which are more serious than the incidents I have described.’

    So it could be down to intimidation – which would make sense if there were many victims, and the fact that the name named is indeed an intimidating figure. (All the more reason, then, for someone at FTB to resurrect this issue, see if there have been any new developments, and name names if someone has been named by multiple sources.)

    Regarding the person naming names in Ophelia’s thread: her unreliability may be a moot point, considering that she and Ophelia Benson had something of a…history, and didn’t like each other. However, the fact remains that this person *was* a personal friend of Michael Story, as evidenced by their twitter relationship – which included photos of them both being friendly and pally together.

    Regarding Ben Radford being outed on Twitter beforehand – so what? In PZ’s article, he explains that he kept coming across the name via emails, not twitter. By his own account, twitter had nothing to do with his decision to name Radford.

  281. 355

    @johngreg

    I want to be clear that when I say a culture that doesn’t want to believe rape accusations, I do not mean skeptics or slymepit or anything like that, I just mean people in general, the greater culture at large, doesn’t want to believe rape accusations, no matter what. I mean that there are people who are still like, Cosby, I dunno… This isn’t the same as the call to always believe.

    I don’t personally advocate “believe without question,” I generally advocate something much closer to “trust but verify.” With a dash of, “Kindness to the victim, if she is not telling the truth, it’s likely because something awful’s happened to her anyway.”

  282. 356

    Ashley said:

    I really don’t understand the seedy underbelly of atheist/skeptic con culture. There’s all this sex and drinking and drugs. I don’t have a problem that it’s what people want to do with their time, but I find it completely mystifying. It’s not even that I’m a teetotaler or anything, I just… people get so, so messed up.

    You might, or perhaps not, be surprirsed to know that most Pit people feel exactly the same way, and have been saying so for many years. And, much to the amazement and entertainment of the Pit, Richard Carrier has lately been vociferously celebrating in great detail precisely that boozy sex-laden pickup culture/experience that so many cons seem to be, labelling and wholly excusing it as part of his “polyamorous sexual orientation”.

  283. 358

    Ashley said:

    I want to be clear that when I say a culture that doesn’t want to believe rape accusations, I do not mean skeptics or slymepit or anything like that, I just mean people in general, the greater culture at large, doesn’t want to believe rape accusations, no matter what. I mean that there are people who are still like, Cosby, I dunno… This isn’t the same as the call to always believe.

    Yes, I understand all of that. I just do not think it is anywhere near as prevalent as you, or at least many here, seem to think, Perhaps that’s partly because I live in Canada, and it would seem to me that our general approach to these kinds of issues is definitely different from the US, and I suspect a large part of both the problem in the US, if it’s as bad as some think, and the lesser degre of that problem in Canada is due to the difference in number and degree of religious folks.

  284. 359

    Tigzy What exactly is your point, though, with the Ophelia posts? She didn’t trust the person who named the harasser told the truth, so she didn’t allow the naming. PZ did tell trust the persons who named their harassers (both times), so he named them. I see no problem with this.

    And about Radford, the person who named him on Twitter said taht Karen okayed it. And you have no proof that PZ didn’t know that.

  285. 360

    @Damion YES! I can see a thing! There’s also a Smirnoff bottle… Maybe it was vodka the entire time, and the sober thing is a lie… WHICH STORY IS IT, MICHAEL???

    Also, can I just say… that is so very much as I remember him. ha oi sorry ¯(°_°)/¯

  286. 362

    @johngreg

    In the US, there’s a very strong need for the victim to be the perfect victim. There’s a reason that the media will focus on people like Elizabeth Smart, for example. Because she was young, religious, feminine, white, virginal, sober, in her own house, and raped violently by a stranger. There’s very much still a belief that those are sort of required for it to be rape-rape. The fewer of those you have on your side, the less likely yours is going to count in the eyes of others. And a lot of that is wrapped up in ideas of purity that are heavily religious, at least in inspiration if not in the Book, but they are deeply ingrained in the broader culture and tied up in lots of other ideas, including toxic masculinity.

    But resistance is strong, from men and women, I should add. I can only offer anecdotes, though. Including a personal one, if that’s of interest.

  287. 363

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk comment 361

    Well, one of the points is that Ophelia’s dismissal of this name – and subsequent purging of the comments – because she had some personal animus against the woman making the claim is hardly the kind of blogger we need if bloggers are to be seen as an acceptable recourse for those people who haven’t gotten justice through the normal, apparently highly flawed, channels. It should be noted that PZ Myers himself commented on that thread – and what did we get from him afterwards? *crickets*

    Additionally, it is highly apparent that what we have – or at least had – here is a big name skeptic indulging in all sorts of nastiness at skeptic get-togethers. So given certain of FTBs bloggers’ commitment to ensuring names such as Shermer’s and Radford’s are brought to light, then why not resurrect the issue of this mystery harasser and likewise ensure that his name is also brought to light?

  288. 365

    Jason Thibeault (#346):

    … people who’ve declared themselves to be in opposition of “us” warn away from that language lest the rest of “us” disown her over it …

    GMAFB. For one thing, that is more of a jest than a serious concern; it’s some rather pointed sarcasm directed at the “usual suspects”. Forgotten the recent virtual anathematization of Benson over her (quite credible & commendable) comments on Islam? Jamila Bey ring any bells? Don Kane? EllenBeth Wachs? No wonder a Pitter has made a bunch of quite credible photoshops satirizing Pharyngula in particular as a pack of piranha.

    Perhaps if there’s less extrapolation from our positions unduly, and with less acrimony (which is my primary sticking point with the Slymepit’s form of “nuanced argumentation”, what you can find in between the horrible slander and gross harassment), you’d see less reason to make us “the enemy”?

    You have to be joking.

    And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye,
    but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matthew 7:3)

    While I’ll concede that some Pitters tend to be all too quick to condemn all of FTB, it doesn’t take much effort to find cases where FTB people categorically condemn all of the Pit. Consider this from the inimitable Al Dente:

    The people at FTB believe her. The Slymepit disbelieves her. We believe her for several reasons, one simple one is that she has nothing to gain by lying. You people disbelieve her because she’s a woman and “bitches be lying.” It all boils down to your misogyny.

    And then there are many cases of PZ categorically [Post #29917] blocking or banning people for supposedly being Pitters even when there’s no evidence for such.

    While you made a credible case that some Pitters are engaging in “mythologization”, it might help if you, among others, took a look in the mirror.

  289. 366

    @Steersman

    I mean, just cuz we criticize our friends when we think they’re wrong doesn’t mean we disown them. I have 451 mutual friends with JBey on Facebook. And DJ Grothe posted a picture of her Facebook the other day with a creepy comment. And whatever, she’s still one of my favorite friends in the movement.

    I also think it’s a little harder to differentiate the pit if only because y’all don’t have individual blogs, it’s a forum. But I also don’t know who is a pitter when you come here unless you identify yourselves as such or someone calls you out. With the exception of Skep Tickle, whose name I just happen to remember from a particularly distasteful post, and Rachel Astruc, though I don’t know what her handle is, because we used to be good internet friends and then I got a blog here and she found out and that was that. Apparently just having freethoughtblogs.com in front of your name makes you a terrible human and bully, even if you weren’t one the day before.

  290. 367

    Thanks for the link, Steersman! A timely reminder of why it’s useless trying to engage anyone from the slymepit, since they wouldn’t know intellectual honesty if it bit them on the ankle. (Oh no, I’m advocating violence! I’m so bad!).

    Seriously, everyone should be reading that thread.

  291. 369

    Ashley.

    I would hold some reservation if somebody is called out for being a pitter. I say this because many people including myself have been labeled as pitters despite never visiting the site and even though I dislike it. Being called a pitter has become a form of “othering”. A way of dismissing people as morally defective without actually bothering to see/hear what they have actually said.

  292. 370

    @peterferguson

    I would think some 600 comments into this discussion that it’s become clear that in my house it matters a lot more what you say and how you say it than whether you’ve signed up for some shitty forum somewhere.

  293. 371

    I’ll remind you that Pharyngula != FtB. Pharyngula is a subset of FtB. Rules there do not apply elsewhere. Bans there do not apply elsewhere. Commentariat there only rarely extends outward to other blogs, comparitively.

    It may be the biggest slice of the pie, but it’s not the whole pie. Damning FtB because PZ bans people is ridiculous in a way that damning all Pit regulars for the sort of slander that Pit regulars tolerate and encourage is decidedly not.

  294. 373

    peterferguson said:

    Being called a pitter has become a form of “othering”. A way of dismissing people as morally defective without actually bothering to see/hear what they have actually said.

    Precisely.

  295. 374

    @Jason

    I think they really don’t believe that we’re all independent blogs, no matter how many times they’re told. I mean, I don’t even know half the bloggers here. No one’s ever complained to me about something I posted. I am at a loss for where they get the idea that we’re all somehow controlled by the PZ Mothership from. I mean, what have we ever even kicked someone out for? Threatening others, plagiarism, and being a giant dickhead to everyone on the network. Jesus, how hard would I have to work to even approach Thunderf00ting my way out the door?

  296. 375

    Well, that’s the thing, Ashley @376: not many on the other side of this Rift believe the narrative of what Thunderf00t did to make working with him impossible, no matter how often we talk about it. It’s all “oooh, they have a back channel, they’re conspiring, look at how awful they therefore are”. Thunderf00t is the only person we’ve ever shown the door for being an abrasive asshole to all parties from day one over a period of time. What he did afterward, hacking back in, kinda sealed the deal, but we couldn’t have known that in advance.

    We also kicked out Greg Laden for his threatening bullshit involving Justin Griffith, who later left and went full-anti-FtB. Laden doesn’t much like many of us, either, so there’s that. A few people have left and gone full-anti-FtB, mostly people who were on the more conservative side. It’s wholly possible that Jamila Bey might do the same at some point, get fed up of this being a bastion for liberal progressives who have little tolerance for CPAC etc, but given another chance to vote her in, I’d still do the same because she’s a generally good person and if every conservative was like her, there wouldn’t be this sort of problem, we might be able to hash out differences and come to common ground.

    But there’s also a lot of influx. We have taken on bloggers of all stripes, with little in the way of solid rules as to accepting people short of a) are they fairly regular bloggers, b) are they atheists, c) are they not huge raging assholes. We missed on C for Thunderfoot, but that’s our bad. That the community self-arranged around progressive values is a testament to the first few bloggers who founded the network. That this created something of a toxic environment for conservatives is neither here nor there — and people generally don’t mind if you stick to your principles as long as you apply those principles consistently.

    And I’d rather a place where people will tell me when I fucked up and hold my feet to the fire, sans all the acrimony you get from people like those who’ve frequented the Slimepit over the years.

  297. 378

    @ Jason,

    Damning FtB because PZ bans people is ridiculous in a way that damning all Pit regulars for the sort of slander that Pit regulars tolerate and encourage is decidedly not.

    Hrm…

    I certainly agree it makes no sense to tar everyone who blogs for FTB with the same brush. But it makes more sense than tarring everyone who posts on the Slymepit with the same brush. What are there, like thirty blogs? How many people post on the Slymepit? Hundreds? I can’t keep track of who’s a “Pitter” either, because it’s a message board where anyone in the world with an internet connection can post.

  298. 379

    Anyone else find it amusing that we have so many commenters over here talking loudly about how censoring and groupthinky FtB is, _and being allowed to have their say_? The medium is the opposite of your message, guys.

  299. 380

    Ashley (#368):

    Apparently just having freethoughtblogs.com in front of your name makes you a terrible human and bully ….

    I know that more than a few people think that way – even in the Pit. But there are many others there who are quite prepared to acknowledge that that isn’t universally or categorically true of all, of either bloggers or commenters. And I might point out that many Pitters including myself, and various other fellow-travelers have acknowledged that you are somewhat of an exception to the “rule”, that that does not apply to you.

    But I think that illustrates one of the primary problems, not just in atheism but all across society. And that is the tendency to “in-group morality, out-group hostility” – you may wish to read this very illustrative article on that topic from the anthropologist John Hartung. And it is manifested in many ways – for examples, in the phrase “my country/tribe, right or wrong”, and in “wrapping yourself in a flag” – whether that is “feminism” or “libertarianism”, or “pitter-ism”. All of which causes no end of problems, and underwrites many of the problems associated with identity politics: can’t get much progress if people are more committed to their groups than to the truth of any given issue.

    And, as a case-in-point, particularly one that seems to be a major bone of contention between FTBers & Pitters, consider this somewhat ancient tweet from Ophelia Benson in which she said:

    Connecting the word “feminism” with the word “virulent” … is misogyny.

    Now I can understand that Twitter is not known for allowing much in the way of nuance. But it still seems a remarkably pigheaded refusal to acknowledge that not all “feminists” have been washed in the blood of the lamb. And there’s the recent case in which Richard Carrier has insisted – ipse dixit – that “Atheism Needs Feminism”. Yet he too has been equally dogmatic, narrow-minded, and pigheaded in even being willing to consider, much less address, the argument that many aspects of “feminism” are rather decidedly “toxic”.

    I’ve defended Carrier, I’ve defended Zvan, I’ve defended Benson, I’ve even defended Myers. But it is hard not to conclude that, in many ways and in many cases, they and many of their commentariat are more part of the problem than the solution.

  300. 381

    @ Ashley,

    No one’s ever complained to me about something I posted. I am at a loss for where they get the idea that we’re all somehow controlled by the PZ Mothership from.

    There is a sense of uniformity on these blogs. If FTB was going to stage a debate about a topic, I struggle to find some topic that there would be any diversity of opinion about. Even if you go with “atheists into social justice” as basically the template for blogging here, there are all sorts of juicy debates to be had about a wide array of issues. Hence, “Ashley Miller doesn’t ban everyone who disagrees with her” becomes the outlier.

    (I understand this is a broad brush and not necessarily accurate, but trying to explain the feel of the site from an outsider’s perspective)

  301. 382

    @Steersman

    But I wonder how much of that is refusal to see nuance where nuance exists. The people you just listed would be the first to tell you that they reject, for example, TERFs. So there’s an entire group of feminists that they would say atheism doesn’t need. And you know they don’t love Christina Hoff Summers. And while some are going to say she’s not a “real” feminist, but there are different strains of feminism, and obviously that is not the strain to which they refer. I’d argue what Atheism really needs is Intersectional Feminism, and that’s likely what they meant to.

    I think the problem is that internet discourse is toxic in general, whether it’s feminist or anti-feminist, but at the end of the day, the internet represents something that minorities have rarely had access to in the past — wide dissemination of their perspective and their voices on issues. It’s a trade off. People will complain about SJWs and toxic argument, but we also get mainstream discussion of trans issues, and women’s issues, and gay rights, and police brutality, and atheism, from the perspective of those people, in large part because the discussion is facilitated by online media. That didn’t happen 15 years ago to nearly the same scope as it does now.

  302. 383

    With a dash of, “Kindness to the victim, if she is not telling the truth, it’s likely because something awful’s happened to her anyway.”

    This, in the case of false accusations, is incredibly unfair to the people who are falsely accused. If the “victim” isn’t telling the truth, they’re not a victim and you do not know what happened to them. You have no clue.

    You only know the accusation is false. And if it can be proved that the accusation is deliberately false (i.e. the accuser intentionally lied with malicious intent) they should be punished according to the laws.

  303. 384

    @Edward that’s true for the touchy feely broad stroaks and philosophy for the most part, though not entirely. When it comes down to policy and specifics, though, there’s a broad range of what people think the actual solutions to problems are.

    @kirbmarc kindness doesn’t mean not filing charges if that’s appropriate, it means trying to figure out what’s going on and why. Many false claims of rape don’t name anyone, though.

  304. 385

    Ashley said:

    I think they really don’t believe that we’re all independent blogs, no matter how many times they’re told.

    Ashley, most of us know full well that FTB blogs are indepedent blogs. But it is disingenuous to pretend there is not an overarching philosophy, or persepective, or ideological sway over almost all of the FTB blogs — much more so than at the Pit, where the perspective or ideological sway is all over the place.

    I think the FTB is a hivemind meme more or less stemmed from the interactions that Pit people had with what is sometimes called FTB’s FC(n), the top 4-7 or so FTB bloggers, in the early months of FTB’s existence, who, at one time, very, very much exhibited a hivemind, unified type of approach to topics, and comment and commentor moderation. But yes, that has changed somewhat.

    As to the same charge (hivemindedness) being directed toward the Pit, in my opinion and experience, the closest the Pit ever comes to what could possibly be called unity or hivemindedness, is the general, but not all-encompassing, wariness for most of what is seen to go on on most of FTB, in particular within most of the commentariat.

    As for my experience over the years with the many FTB blogs, when it comes to not viewing the Pit as the One True Satan, and moderating, editing, deleting, and banning posts and posters that come from the Pit, you, Ashley, are very much the exception that proves the rule.

  305. 386

    Oh, Ashley, I should also point out that on 5 or 6 of the many FTB blogs I’ve been banned from, the sole or principle reason for my bannage was saying negative or hostile things about PZ. However, that was back in the day when things around here were somewhat more hivemindyish.

  306. 387

    Ashley (#384):

    But I wonder how much of that is refusal to see nuance where nuance exists. The people you just listed would be the first to tell you that they reject, for example, TERFs. …. And you know they don’t love Christina Hoff Summers.

    Maybe. But it seems to me that you’re at least suggesting, analogously, different shades of blue without being willing to consider entirely different colours, other perceptions. For example, Sommers’ “feminism”. While I will concede that her brand is somewhat problematic in itself, and I’ve criticized her directly for it, it seems that far too many in the FTB camp are unwilling to consider it in detail. “Four legs good, two legs bad”.

    I think the problem is that internet discourse is toxic in general, whether it’s feminist or anti-feminist …

    Certainly agree with you there. I think this SMBC cartoon says it all, and quite cogently and very succinctly. I think we need to be a little more “charitable” – one of Nugent’s many refrains – to the “other” side by being willing to give them a fair hearing, rather than rejecting them because of the groups they’re nominally associated with.

    And I also agree with you about Twitter in general, although I think it’s quite a challenge to have to deal with the 140 character limit.

    BTW, en passant, I think Kirbmarc’s point (in #385) is that the way you phrased it, there’s an implicit acceptance, a bias, that the person making the accusation is in fact a victim. Begging the question.

  307. 388

    @ Ashley 349: “Until Atheist Ireland dissociated with PZ, what harm had PZ done to Atheist Ireland?”

    You need to direct that question directly to them. Probably not much. Could even be the case that PZ attacking AI has had the opposite effect, though I’ve no doubt the intent was to reputationally damage MN in particular and latterly the rest of AI following the dissassociation.

  308. 389

    @Steersman Re:Kirbmarc Oh, yes, imprecise phrasing on my part, that’s fair.

    @Alice

    So is it that AI is being harmed in all this, so I should feel bad that they’re going to be prevented from achieving their laudable goals? Or is it that PZ didn’t cause harm before and isn’t now, regardless of his intent? Or is it that it doesn’t matter whether PZ can cause harm, if his intent is to cause harm, he should be shunned because AI is good, regardless of whether their shunning of PZ was initiated by PZ causing them harm in the first place?

  309. 391

    Alice @309,
    Thanks, you raise good points and I think we are largely in agreement, at least on the general principles, if not the finer details. Thanks for providing that link as well.

    It is indeed by protesting vigorously and loudly that such things change. But the dangers of vigilantism and of trial by public opinion should also be born in mind.

    Indeed, and I support such protests. Though we may differ as to whether PZ Myers’ “grenade post” amounts to “protesting vigorously and loudly” and on whether it was ever likely to (or intended to) result in any meaningful or lasting change.

  310. 392

    @ Ashley,

    So is it that AI is being harmed in all this, so I should feel bad that they’re going to be prevented from achieving their laudable goals? Or is it that PZ didn’t cause harm before and isn’t now, regardless of his intent? Or is it that it doesn’t matter whether PZ can cause harm, if his intent is to cause harm, he should be shunned because AI is good, regardless of whether their shunning of PZ was initiated by PZ causing them harm in the first place?

    It’s tough to determine “harm” from people tweeting mean stuff about each other. Still, Michael Nugent is the chairperson for AI, and PZ indirectly saying he supports rape probably doesn’t help the organization.

  311. 393

    @Gunboat Diplomat

    What about WOC who get raped? WOC get raped at a higher percentage than white women do and get treated like absolute shit by the “justice system”. WOC can also be rape victims, not just white women. Did you forget about that? Do you not care about them? I do. Do we just ignore all women victims of rape because….reasons? Can you at the very least give a shit about WOC victims of rape?

    I’m glad you’re working to help fix the problems with our racist justice system, but while you’re up there on your pedestal, can you help out WOC rape victims, too?

  312. 394

    @latsot 299:

    I’ll respond to your post later, but first I ask you to apologize for this unwarranted insinuation:

    Wow, you’re really determined to muddy the waters with the idea of consent being secretly revoked, aren’t you? This leads me to suspect that you’re more concerned with being accused of rape than with whether you’re actually committing rape, which is as creepy as hell.

    Please do not try to read my mind. You’re not a mind reader yourself, latsot.

    I’m not concerned about myself. I’ve never been accused of rape or any other improper sexual act and hopefully I never will. I also have had sex only with partners who were sober and very enthusiastic, and I also knew them well enough. I’m not prowling for women to have random hook ups with (although I don’t think there’s something wrong with it) So even under the strictest interpretation of the Crystal Clear Consent standards I’d have nothing to fear.

    I’m more concerned about the people who do engage in random hook-ups, especially if they’re really young and somewhat clueless, like college-age people. I’m concerned about standards that seem to be overly strict and confused, and could lead to legal quagmires and to miscarriages of justice. Colleges are places where many people have been expelled or punished because of allegations which revealed to be based on misunderstandings or even, in some cases, outright fabrications (like the Duke Lacross case).

    A standard of even more restrictive and confused rules, like CCC, could lead to a chaotic witch hunt in colleges, that could harm many innocent people.

  313. 395

    cute, abear. I guess that means you’re now free to completely ignore the substance of my post (which no doubt you did anyways before making it to my correction). I was wrong and made a correction, something that many skeptics just can’t be arsed to do.

  314. 396

    latsot (#299):

    Kirbmarc: I changed my mind during a sex act, but I didn’t tell anything to my partner because i din’t want to disappoint her. Did she rape me?

    latsot: Again, because your examples are made of straw, it depends.

    How can it be made out of straw when it supposedly happened, more or less as described? You may have some good points, but it might help if you were to differentiate between actual events and conjectures or hypotheticals.

    In any case, it sure seems you’re being rather dogmatic and judgemental – something has to be either black or white with no shades in between, much less of different colours.

  315. 397

    kellyw (#298):

    I was wrong and made a correction, something that many skeptics just can’t be arsed to do.

    You’re to be commended for doing so. Seriously – may your tribe increase. However, I might suggest that abear was probably trying to make a joke, even if it may have fallen a little flat.

  316. 398

    Jeez, Ashley M has more patience than the above-average saint to keep her equilibrium with all the verbal slipperiness oozing across her floor here.

    Anyway, a 2-days-later question: did Nugent ever manage to “think about it and get back to you”?

  317. 400

    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk @335 wrote:

    The inference that can be made from no victims coming forward is that the victim didn’t want to publish the name and just go on with her life, since no one actually came forward that we know of, and the person naming someone in that thread was not reliable.

    This seems very problematic indeed, but I assume that I have misunderstood you. Would you mind clarifying, please?

    Many victims want to come forward but they are unable to do so due for one reason or another. For example many face the very real risk/fear of retaliation, of social stigma or maltreatment, of being re-traumatized by the process, etc. Would you agree?

    If so, how can you justify your inference quoted above? That no victims have come forward could mean that (a) none of them want to do so or (b) one or more of them wants to come forward but cannot. Your inference seems to rely on ignoring (b) altogether.

    Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

  318. 401

    Jason Thibeault,
    @347:

    Perhaps if there’s less extrapolation from our positions unduly, and with less acrimony (which is my primary sticking point with the Slymepit’s form of “nuanced argumentation”, what you can find in between the horrible slander and gross harassment), you’d see less reason to make us “the enemy”?

    I think there are two really good points in here. First, I agree with you about the tendency to unduly extrapolate; that seems to be one of the most common sources of much misunderstanding and strife. Second, I also agree with you that less acrimony would be preferable and probably more productive as well.

    However, your wording suggests that these problems (tendency to unduly extrapolate, excessive acrimony) are unique to members of the Slyempit, when in fact we all know the same tendency and the same acrimony is seen within certain individuals on many of the blogs under the FtB banner, yours included at times. The tendency to paint one side as the good and the other as the bad – that’s a problem on both (or all) sides, and it’s something we all ought to avoid.

    @378,

    And I’d rather a place where people will tell me when I fucked up and hold my feet to the fire, sans all the acrimony you get from people like those who’ve frequented the Slimepit over the years.

    Again… It might help if you would be forthright enough to at least acknowledge that the acrimony can and does go both ways. Such an admission makes the difference between (a) petty sniping that elicits a “pot meet kettle” reaction and (b) fair constructive criticism that might actually be taken to heart by someone. (b) is what you claim to espouse, but (a) is what you’ve done in this thread.

    One wonders, just for example, how you would feel about being falsely labeled as a rape apologist, rape supporter, harasser, misogynist, and the like. Do you think that kind of thing might be contributing to on-going bitterness in any way?

  319. 402

    peterferguson (#380):

    I have also found it perplexing how some pitters preach about the diversity of pit yet continue to treat FTB as an homogeneous entity.

    Which Pitters are those? I’ll concede that Pitchguest, in the previous post, was kind of leaning in that direction – and which I kind of objected to. And John Greg in this one suggested that there was a common thread running through many blogs in FreethoughtBlog network – which hardly seems particularly damning as Jason Thibeault himself acknowledged that “the community self-arranged around progressive values”. Although “progressive” might be somewhat moot.

    In any case, I think you need to be a little more precise in specifying who is guilty of which “crimes”.

    Although I at least appreciate your comment (in #372), i.e., “Being called a pitter has become a form of ‘othering’.” Which I expect was probably directed at Gen Uppity Ingrate (in #371) who should probably reflect on it in some depth.

  320. 403

    KiwiInOz

    I agree that there needs to be a focus on intersectionality with regards to the justice system, but also for rape victims. Black people in the U.S. get a shit deal in all aspects of society. They get falsely accused of all kinds of crimes. They are victimized disproportionately through violent acts carried out by individuals of society (whether government agents or not) and also by institutions of power. The U.S. is, without question, a white supremacist nation. That has to be taken into consideration any time a black person (or any person of color) is accused of a crime or is a victim of a crime.

    Shermer is a white cis man who allegedly raped a white woman. This, right here, is the main subject of the thread. Shermer is not a victim of racial oppression, nor is he a victim of misogyny, nor is he a victim of transphobia. There are people here defending him despite the fact that he has changed his story and these same people are demanding a higher burden of proof of Smith.

    Injustice doesn’t just happen in a courtroom. Sometimes it happens in public. Sometimes it happens in hotel rooms.

    Ashley mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: the more marginalized groups a person belongs to, the more difficult it is for them to get justice. And the justice system is, by and large, not on the side of rape victims.

  321. 404

    Since the focus of the discussion has shifted somewhat towards the Slymepit I guess I’ll toss in my two cents . Like quite a few people, I first heard about the Pit here on Freethoughtblogs. I can’t remember the thread, or even the blog, but the impression I got from reading those initial descriptions was of an anarchic cesspit. And in some ways I guess it is; it’s an unmoderated free for all, and there are some really distasteful posts. I’ve commented there several times, although not enough or as frequently to consider myself a “Pitter”, and a substantial part of why I joined was just out of sheer exasperation/dislike with regard to what I’d come across in some leftist corners of the internet. I’m relatively new to online discourse; previously I’d commented on the odd Reddit thread, or through Disqus, but decided I wanted to become more involved. Anyway, I don’t know how it was that I stumbled upon Pharyngula, but that was the location of my initial foray, and, well I was pretty shocked at the vitriol I found .

    I’ve posted there several times, and now have a wonderful selection of colourful pejorative epithets I’ve been labelled over the course of those threads. It’s not simply Pharyngula though, or some of the other blogs on this site, but rather a broader section of the social justice blogosphere/commentariat. And It’s more than just the langauge ; it’s the bias, parochialism and the flippant bandying about of terms like ‘sexist’ ‘misogynist’ ‘MRA’ ‘rape apologist’ ‘bigot’ etc… Someone commented on a post a while back that they thought I was homophobe because of my stance that using insulting/demeaning language against people opposed to gay rights ( despite the fact that I mentioned nicety wasn’t a necessity, that you could still campaign vigorously, or essentially, the Dan Fincke approach) is wrong , even though I’m bisexual, will be taking part in rallies for marriage equality over the next month or so and finally, will be voting Yes in our upcoming referendum on the matter ( the person in question didn’t know about my sexuality, but my point is the unwarranted labeling ). I don’t want to go too far in my criticism because, ultimately, for the most part, I think they’re good people.

    Anyway, after having frequented the Pit sporadically over the last few months my opinions are mixed. Absolutely, there are posts/comments which I find offensive. Sometimes very offensive. And mean spirited. However, the endemic broad stroke vilification is unfair. Contrary to comments I’ve seen, it’s clearly not a website dedicated to harassing feminists and it’s not monolithic. There is plenty of cogent, interesting commentary; there’s also irreverence, vitriol and, perhaps too often, broad stroke vilification of Pharyngula/FtBs/’SJWs’ . That being said, and as you can tell from the site banner, it does have a focus on ‘SJWs’, and admittedly I often do find myself in agreement with criticisms voiced there regarding the more aggressive segment of the social justice movement.

    To bring things back to current events, throughout the Mick Nugent affair, the Slymepit has been the focus of a tiresome association fallacy:

    Nugent’s site is now apparently Slymepit Ireland , Hemant Metha has endorsed a hate site ( from what I can see he really hasn’t, I mean you’d have to apply some really uncharitable and tenuous interpretations to make that conclusion ) ; Ron Lindsay is now best friends with the Slymepitters. The thing is, I’ve read the comments on the posts Michael has written throughout this saga, and also on Lindsay’s latest piece, and I’m struggling to see where the problem is. Or here, for that matter. Several Pitters have posted on this thread and it’s been a pretty cogent, detailed and I’d say productive discussion. Whatever about what happens in the Pit ( which is an eclectic combination of many things ), it’s unfair to just dismiss people who post there when they’re commenting on other sites.

  322. 405

    Gemmer @295:

    The problem with research into “false allegations” is that there is no reliable way to determine what is a false allegation.

    Uniform Crime Report Handbook (FBI) @2004:

    Column 3: UNFOUNDED, I.E., FALSE OR BASELESS COMPLAINTS

    Occasionally, an agency will receive a complaint that is determined through investigation to be false or baseless. In other words, no crime occurred. If the investigation shows that no offense occurred nor was attempted, UCR Program procedures dictate that the reported offense must be unfounded in Column 3. Agencies must still record all such Part I offenses and then score them as unfounded on the current month’s Return A.

    NOTE: The recovery of stolen property, the low value of stolen property, the refusal of the victim to cooperate with prosecution, or the failure to make an arrest does not unfound a legitimate offense. Also, the findings of a coroner, court, jury, or prosecutor do not unfound offenses or attempts that law enforcement investigations establish to be legitimate. If, after scoring an actual offense in one of the Part I categories, new information is developed through investigation that shows that the offense in fact did not occur, an agency must unfound it on the next monthly Return A the agency submits. Additionally, if the offense the agency unfounds has a property value, the agency must unfound the value as well.[1]

    International Association of Chiefs of Police @2005:

    The determination that a report of sexual assault is false can be made only if the evidence establishes that no crime was committed or attempted. This determination can be made only after a thorough investigation. This should not be confused with an investigation that fails to prove a sexual assault occurred. In that case the investigation would be labeled unsubstantiated. The determination that a report is false must be supported by evidence that the assault did not happen.[2]

    It’s bizarre to see a lawyer this ignorant of the law. However, it’s depressing to see the same in most of the false reporting literature.

    There is no way to look at this situation and conclude beyond all doubt that Shermer raped this woman.

    I presented a way, in that statistical analysis I linked to earlier. Where did I go wrong?

    [1] “Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook.” Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2004.
    [2] via Lisak (2010).

  323. 406

    johngreg,

    As for my experience over the years with the many FTB blogs, when it comes to not viewing the Pit as the One True Satan, and moderating, editing, deleting, and banning posts and posters that come from the Pit, you, Ashley, are very much the exception that proves the rule.

    This isn’t totally accurate. Ally Fogg tolerates pitters, as does Miri, as “did” Avicenna. Greta Christina at least used to tolerate pitters, but then one day she announced that I was preemptively banned, and I still don’t know why. Zvan and Benson will give you a few comments but then ban you on the slightest provocation. Myers will ban outright. Many of the other blogs don’t really seem to care. So, really, it’s just four or five blogs that are prejudiced against pitters.

  324. 407

    Damien Reinhardt @298:

    Law enforcement will take a totally different approach, at best trying to gather evidence that would convince a jury.

    “At best” is a rather important qualifier.

    A thorough analysis of federal data published earlier this year by Corey Rayburn Yung, associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, concludes that between 1995 and 2012, police departments across the country systematically undercounted and underreported sexual assaults.

    Yung used murder rates—the statistic with the most reliable measure of accuracy and one that is historically highly correlated with the incidence of rape—as a baseline for his analysis. After nearly two years of work, he estimates conservatively that between 796,213 and 1,145,309 sexual assault cases never made it into national FBI counts during the studied period.

    That’s more than 1 million rapes.[1]

    One dominant and destructive characteristic underpinning police participation in rape investigations arises from exaggerated beliefs in the prevalence of false rape allegations. Concern has been expressed internationally regarding the high proportions of sexual assault complaints that are believed to be false (Mintz, 1973; Feldman-Summers and Palmer, 1980; Chambers and Millar, 1983; London Rape Crisis Centre, 1984; Blair, 1985; Kanin, 1994; Gregory and Lees, 1999; Kelly, 2002). An early study conducted in the United States of America, for instance, revealed that the police officers who participated in the research believed approximately three out of every five rape complaints to be either false or mistaken (Feldman-Summers and Palmer, 1980). Likewise, in Chambers and Millar’s (1983) Scottish study, many detectives estimated false complaints to be very common, with one saying he believed only 1:20 were ‘real rapes’ (Chambers and Millar, 1983: 85 footnote). Junior detectives would typically say that, although they had dealt with few false ones themselves, nevertheless they ‘knew’ false rape complaints were common (Chambers and Millar, 1983: 85 footnote).

    More recently, Jennifer Temkin (1997) found when interviewing police in Sussex that half of the officers considered a quarter of all rapes reported to be false. She provided the following extreme example:

    One CID officer, DC X, considered that there were ‘few cases of genuine, very genuine rape’. Genuine rapes he described as ‘off the street, didn’t know the victim at all’ rapes which he contrasted with ‘we went out for the
    evening sort of rapes’. (Temkin, 1997: 516)

    Detectives in other United Kingdom research, however, believe the proportion of false complaints to be closer to one-half (e.g. Lees, 1997: 184), with Ian Blair noting: ‘there is considerable evidence that investigators . . . seem prepared to give serious consideration to the proposition that between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of all allegations of rape are false’ (Blair, 1985: 53–4). One cynical detective even maintained: ‘After six years on the force, I don’t believe any of them’ (quoted in Burgess, 1999: 9). [2]

    Emphasis mine. By continuing to argue the police are the best way to dig up the truth, you’re denying forty years of scientific research that argues to the contrary.

    [1] Chemaly, Soraya. “How Did the FBI Miss Over 1 Million Rapes?” The Nation, June 27, 2014.

    [2] Jordan, J. “Beyond Belief?: Police, Rape and Women’s Credibility.” Criminology and Criminal Justice 4, no. 1 (February 1, 2004): 29–59. doi:10.1177/1466802504042222.

  325. 408

    Ashley (#60):

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this comment but it, and your previous one in the other thread (#76) which I’ve taken another look at given your recent comments on it here, bring up some important points. Some preliminaries:

    Ashley: … PZ’s characterization of Nugent’s blog as defending and being a haven for rapists seems accurate to me …

    A somewhat minor point, but I note that Brian Pansky linked to a post of Myers where he concedes “Shermer is not commenting on your blog, so I will say that you aren’t providing a safe harbor for him, yet.”

    But PZ should have been explicit, and his conflation or lack of specificity there was likely because he really fucking hates the Slymepit and was really annoyed with Nugent ….

    You get that impression of hate too do you? 🙂 And probably emphasized in some “back-channel chatter” as well.

    But thanks for conceding that he should have been explicit, and for saying that “he fucked up in not saying that immediately AND in conflating Slymepit and rape”. Which probably takes a commendable degree of courage to do; not likely to win you all that many friends and much influence there, at least in the short term.

    Ashley: The thing is, I don’t think the Usual Suspects can ever see anything about the Slymepit because of how much shit they go through at the hands of either the Slymepit or people they think are the Slymepit. … but I wonder if it isn’t possible to empathize with them on this.

    That certainly seems to be the crux of the matter, or at least an important element of it, and you make quite a good case that I can sympathize with. Many of us in the Pit have attempted to argue that some of the photoshopping, in particular, qualifies as “cheap shots” which may have had some effect in reducing its prevalence – kind of like the “retiring” of the porcupine meme on Pharyngula. But while some might feel that that isn’t sufficiently draconian, that process still seems preferable to one which potentially kills the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs – essentially, free speech.

    However, while I don’t want to minimize the supposed “ruthlessness” that some Slymepit members exhibit towards outsiders (you should see how they treat insiders – myself included! [ 😉 ]), I think there are a rather large number factors involved that might qualify as “extenuating”, and/or are characteristic of Internet on-line activism in general – which can be rather toxic as we’ve discussed – including at least several blogs in the Freethought network.

    And one of the prime contributing factors is the question of what, exactly, constitutes harassment. PZ said something not long ago to the effect that “criticism is not harassment” which I and many Pitters quite agreed with. Not entirely sure what the context was but I think it was related to the flak that Melody Hensley was getting over her argument that her PTSD was the same as that experienced by some army veterans. While I was prepared to, and did, agree to some extent with her on that – people have different thresholds – and think I supported her in the Pit, I saw a tweet exchange she had had with a woman who had asked quite a civil question on the topic: “How is it as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?” Unfortunately, Hensley had had, I think, so much criticism from others on the topic that she overreacted, and had rather imperiously blocked the woman for harassment. Not cool at all.

    And I think that that is rather typical of the experiences of many people. As you put it (#60), “they get death threats and shit like that, and they don’t know where it’s coming from, they’ve got no reason to give you the benefit of the doubt because you’ve never given it to them”. Which I, and many others, do sympathize with. But the result is frequently that they wind up taking out their frustrations and angers on those least deserving of the response – which tends to produce a problematic number of casualties from “friendly fire”. I think the cause is basically a case of the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back: no one incident, no one criticism – valid or otherwise, can reasonably be called harassment. But when we get a whole bunch of them, particularly in a short time frame, then our abilities to deal with them become compromised, and we wind up characterizing them all, fairly or not, as that harassment. And wind up tarring all of some groups for the “sins” of a few within them.

    For instance, relative to your own experiences, you characterized the Slymepit as “a group that has used my face to make rape jokes and made videos of me being shot to death”. Now while that is essentially true, one might suggest that you’re being somewhat overly sensitive, that you’re missing the context, that you’re “straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel whole”. And while I can understand how that might happen as the context of such jokes and satires can be rather convoluted and obscure, I think that we need to be a little more circumspect, a little less quick to jump to conclusions without doing a bit of “due diligence”. As for examples, since you seem to have discussed and/or had the video case explained to you, I wonder if you happened to have noticed that the author of that “rape joke” had provided the context for it in a comment (#201) in your other post. And, in turn, the context for that one seems to be this comment (#28901) in the Pit which argues that it was a tweet by Dawkins – to the effect that “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse” – which precipitated the “rape grading” meme, as well as leading to many in Pharyngula running around like chickens with their heads cut off. So. The “joke” really wasn’t about you or the other people in the photoshop, although there was a bit of a dig at Myers, but merely some sarcasm directed at people going ballistic over a fairly innocuous tweet from Dawkins.

    Now one might argue that any joke on the topic of rape is, ipso facto, beyond the pale. However, as the originator of that joke suggested, that might be somewhat untenable given Myers’ own “Dove Soap Rape Joke”. But humour is a rather funny thing, although the best of it can be very illuminating, and frequently lies not in the individual elements themselves, but in the incongruity, the juxtaposition of them: rape itself isn’t particularly funny; how people react to it and its context can be.

    But I also think there’s some humour to be had – though maybe of the “Who’s On First” variety – in the apparent fact that many of the arguments, and no small amount of the animosity, we have is apparently caused by simple misunderstandings of what our interlocutors are saying. No doubt, some of it is straight-up dickheadness and obstinancy, but I at least prefer to think that a substantial part is essentially a “comedy of errors”, i.e., one based on “the foolish mistakes of unintelligent characters and the chaos that derives from them”. Chaos, in-deed.

    Which reminds me of the old (?) classic joke on the flirtations, the conversations between a man and woman both of whom suffer from a handicap of one sort or another; he has a false eye, a wooden one, while she has a harelip. They’re talking and hitting it off fairly well and he screws-up his courage and boldly asks whether she would like to go out on a date. And she enthusiastically responds with, “Wouldn’ I!, wouldn’ I!”. And he, mis-hearing and wounded, responds with “Harelip, harelip!”

    They say that to people who think life is a comedy, while to those who feel it is a tragedy. And of course most of us do both, to greater or lesser extents, so we see it as a tragi-comedy. But it seems to me that there would be a lot less bite to that if we could learn to be a little less quick to judge others in the least charitable way. Although that’s frequently easier said than done.

  326. 409

    My own thoughts on the divide between Pharyngula and Slymepit reflect what others have said at different times and different ways. Because of the environment PZ has fostered on Pharyngula, there is no mystery that many victims congregate there, and victims rightly focus on their bad experiences. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. Just as when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail, when you’re a victim of assault your perspective is tainted by your experience. It’s certainly hyperbole and perhaps even verging on rape jocularity to say that a pitter is just a FtBer who hasn’t been raped yet. That’s ham-fisted, but I think most people here can refine some truth from it. When you’re a rape victim, your sympathies are naturally going to sway toward Smith; when you’re Joe Murphy your sympathies are naturally going to sway toward Michael Shermer, and the rest of us will occupy the spectrum between, depending on our life experiences. The real question is whether a person’s experiences, or lack thereof, lend them insight into the nature of reality and the capacity to see the truth, or cloud their judgement of it.

  327. 410

    Hunt, I stand partially corrected. Although, I know from first-hand experience that there are several more than 4 or 5 blogs here at FTB that will and do ban, albeit sometimes selectively, on grounds of often nothing more than Oh! Pit people. Evil!

  328. 411

    HJ Hornbeck @ 408 – so all that researchers needed to do was collate the number of false, unsubstantiated, and substantiated cases from police records to get accurate and reliable estimations of the relative proportion of each in the population? I suggest that you go ahead and do that, publish the results, and settle the question once and for all.

  329. 412

    OnionHead @304:

    So in other words, you interjected to provide answers to a question than nobody asked.

    Steersman @39:

    Considering that Allison apparently reported the incident as a rape within hours (even if not to the police), I find it questionable that charges couldn’t still be laid if there was sufficient evidence.

    Damion Reinhardt @70:

    People might want to know, for example, why there wasn’t a police report.

    KiwiInOz @134:

    If this is the case then it is the responsibility of those who believe these crimes have occurred to notify the police so that they can collect the evidence and bring a case for prosecution.

    As many people are playing the “Y NO POLICE?!” card over and over, mentioning how the police treat sexual assault cases seems rather relevant, in and of itself. But I’m rather surprised you didn’t see why the science on false rape reports would be relevant as to whether or not this was a false rape report. Let me simplify it further:

    A. Odds of a false rape report: 2-8% to police (Lisak 2010). Let’s be charitable and say it’s 4%.
    B. Odds of a false rape report involving alcohol: Kelly (2005) notes 13 of 120 cases the police considered false were dismissed due to alcohol consumption. In contrast, she also notes a strong correlation between alcohol and sexual assault:

    At minimum alcohol is three times more associated with rape than drugs, and probably closer to four times, but little, if any, work has addressed this correlation. Two aspects that deserve closer examination are the additional correlation of alcohol with rapes by recent acquaintances (55%, n=162), and that the presence of alcohol increased the levels of recorded injuries (51%, n=450). In addition, analysis of statements and data from service users suggest there is a group of predatory men who target women when they are drunk, so drunk in a number of cases that their capacity to consent had to be impaired. There were indications of a range of potential targeting strategies involved, which deserve further study. For example, two of the interviewees were women in their fifties, returning home from a night out with friends. In both instances a man presented himself as trustworthy, and in one case he offered to ensure she got home safely. She was subsequently raped in her own home. Lawyer and author Andrew Vasschs terms this pattern ‘targeted predation’, and comments:

    Rapists see two different forms of weakness: (1) she’s drunk and (2) she’s drunk. Meaning, she’s physically impaired because of the alcohol, but also no one is going to believe her because they disapprove of her drinking.

    Emphasis mine. Combining A and B together, we estimate the baseline odds of Smith falsifying her report as roughly 0.4%. Most importantly, this only takes into account Smith’s testimony; you can push it down further when you start adding in witnesses, and it doesn’t invoke any bloggers you hate. 0.4% is damn good, as you only need less than 1-10% to declare you’ve refuted the null hypothesis, or 20-35% to convict someone of a criminal act.[1]

    So any sane person should believe Smith’s account, unless they can offer up a substantial amount of counter-evidence.

    [1] Horowitz, Irwin A., and Laird C. Kirkpatrick. “A Concept in Search of a Definition: The Effects of Reasonable Doubt Instructions on Certainty of Guilt Standards and Jury Verdicts.” Law and Human Behavior 20, no. 6 (1996): 655.

  330. 413

    KiwiInOz @413:

    I suggest that you go ahead and do that, publish the results, and settle the question once and for all.

    I’d rather defer to the existing literature from people more experienced than me, thanks. Do you have any good reason for why I shouldn’t believe the academics hired by the British Home Office, or a psychologist with over twenty years of experience studying sexual assault? Or are you just going to keep denying science and logic to defend your Thought Leader?

  331. 414

    Hj Hornbeck (#414 – I have a post sitting in moderation):

    Just out of curiousity, assuming that your numbers are even half-ways in the right ballpark – which I think is a highly dubious proposition – just what is it you expect to follow from your star-chamber “judgement”? You want to use that as justification for further actions against him? Maybe put him into the stocks and throw stones at him? Maybe shun him or disfellowship him or declare him a suppressive person? Maybe go around to his home and paint butterflies on his driveway?

  332. 415

    HJ Hornbeck @ 414.

    Let’s deal with your two points in reverse order.

    Or are you just going to keep denying science and logic to defend your Thought Leader?

    Non sequitur. But anyway, who are you claiming is my Thought Leader? It’s almost as if you believe the world is made up of competing cults. And why would I deny science and logic? I’m a PhD qualified scientist with over 20 years research experience (albeit in a different discipline). I understand scientific methods, including the use of statistics.

    I’d rather defer to the existing literature from people more experienced than me, thanks. Do you have any good reason for why I shouldn’t believe the academics hired by the British Home Office, or a psychologist with over twenty years of experience studying sexual assault?

    It was you who a) suggested that the published literature is woeful, b) suggested that there is a simple means of measurement, and c) claim to be some sort of scholar. Why wouldn’t you conduct a study to test your hypothesis, even if it was just to compare the statistics in countries not covered by the British Home Office?

  333. 416

    HJ Hornbeck @ 413

    So any sane person should believe Smith’s account, unless they can offer up a substantial amount of counter-evidence.

    I suggest that any sane person would understand that the evidence is circumstantial, anecdotal, and has shifted over time, but is probably enough to give due cause to investigate further using forensic policing methods given allegations that a crime has occurred.

  334. 417

    @ 411 johngreg

    I know from first-hand experience that there are several more than 4 or 5 blogs here at FTB that will and do ban, albeit sometimes selectively, on grounds of often nothing more than Oh! Pit people. Evil!

    I know. Why do they do that? It’s a mystery isn’t it? We’ll file alongside other unsolved mysteries such as:

    Why, when you show up to a bah mitzvah wearing a Nazi uniform, do people seem slightly perturbed?
    Why, when you walk around a black neighbourhood in a white robe and pointy white hood, do the locals seem less than friendly?
    Why do atheist conventions seem reluctant to invite the Phelps family to give guest talks?

    So many unexplained mysteries.

  335. 418

    KiwiInOz @418:

    I suggest that any sane person would understand that the evidence is circumstantial, anecdotal, and has shifted over time, but is probably enough to give due cause to investigate further using forensic policing methods given allegations that a crime has occurred.

    You’re not even trying to refute me. I’ve provided a rather detailed argument, and the best rebuttal you can come up with is “no.” C’mon, that’s not how this works: show a flaw in the reasoning, show a flaw in the evidence, or accept my argument. Pick one.

  336. 419

    Ashley (#60):

    [Repost to change location of links from within to at end of text]

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this comment but it, and your previous one in the other thread (#76 [1]) which I’ve taken another look at given your recent comments on it here, bring up some important points. Some preliminaries:

    Ashley: … PZ’s characterization of Nugent’s blog as defending and being a haven for rapists seems accurate to me …

    A somewhat minor point, but I note that Brian Pansky linked to a post of Myers [2] where he concedes “Shermer is not commenting on your blog, so I will say that you aren’t providing a safe harbor for him, yet.”

    Ashley: But PZ should have been explicit, and his conflation or lack of specificity there was likely because he really fucking hates the Slymepit and was really annoyed with Nugent ….

    You get that impression of hate too do you? 🙂 And probably emphasized in some “back-channel chatter” as well.

    But thanks for conceding that he should have been explicit, and for saying that “he fucked up in not saying that immediately AND in conflating Slymepit and rape”. Which probably takes a commendable degree of courage to do; not likely to win you all that many friends and much influence there, at least in the short term.

    Ashley: The thing is, I don’t think the Usual Suspects can ever see anything about the Slymepit because of how much shit they go through at the hands of either the Slymepit or people they think are the Slymepit. … but I wonder if it isn’t possible to empathize with them on this.

    That certainly seems to be the crux of the matter, or at least an important element of it, and you make quite a good case that I can sympathize with. Many of us in the Pit have attempted to argue that some of the photoshopping, in particular, qualifies as “cheap shots” which may have had some effect in reducing its prevalence – kind of like the “retiring” of the porcupine meme on Pharyngula. But while some might feel that that isn’t sufficiently draconian, that process still seems preferable to one which potentially kills the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs – essentially, free speech.
    However, while I don’t want to minimize the supposed “ruthlessness” that some Slymepit members exhibit towards outsiders (you should see how they treat insiders – myself included! [ 😉 ]), I think there are a rather large number factors involved that might qualify as “extenuating”, and/or are characteristic of Internet on-line activism in general – which can be rather toxic as we’ve discussed – including at least several blogs in the Freethought network.

    And one of the prime contributing factors is the question of what, exactly, constitutes harassment. PZ said something not long ago to the effect that “criticism is not harassment” which I and many Pitters quite agreed with. Not entirely sure what the context was but I think it was related to the flak that Melody Hensley was getting over her argument that her PTSD was the same as that experienced by some army veterans. While I was prepared to, and did, agree to some extent with her on that – people have different thresholds – and think I supported her in the Pit, I saw a tweet exchange [3] she had had with a woman who had asked quite a civil question on the topic: “How is it as painful as my PTSD from rape, sexual abuse, and molestation?” Unfortunately, Hensley had had, I think, so much criticism from others on the topic that she overreacted, and had rather imperiously blocked the woman for harassment. Not cool at all.

    And I think that that is rather typical of the experiences of many people. As you put it (#60), “they get death threats and shit like that, and they don’t know where it’s coming from, they’ve got no reason to give you the benefit of the doubt because you’ve never given it to them”. Which I, and many others, do sympathize with. But the result is frequently that they wind up taking out their frustrations and angers on those least deserving of the response – which tends to produce a problematic number of casualties from “friendly fire”. I think the cause is basically a case of the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back: no one incident, no one criticism – valid or otherwise, can reasonably be called harassment. But when we get a whole bunch of them, particularly in a short time frame, then our abilities to deal with them become compromised, and we wind up characterizing them all, fairly or not, as that harassment. And wind up tarring all of some groups for the “sins” of a few within them.

    For instance, relative to your own experiences, you characterized the Slymepit as “a group that has used my face to make rape jokes and made videos of me being shot to death”. Now while that is essentially true, one might suggest that you’re being somewhat overly sensitive, that you’re missing the context, that you’re “straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel whole”. And while I can understand how that might happen as the context of such jokes and satires can be rather convoluted and obscure, I think that we need to be a little more circumspect, a little less quick to jump to conclusions without doing a bit of “due diligence”. As for examples, since you seem to have discussed and/or had the video case explained to you, I wonder if you happened to have noticed that the author of that “rape joke” had provided the context for it in a comment (#201 [4]) in your other post. And, in turn, the context for that one seems to be this comment (#28901 [5]) in the Pit which argues that it was a tweet by Dawkins – to the effect that “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse” – which precipitated the “rape grading” meme, as well as leading to many in Pharyngula running around like chickens with their heads cut off. So. The “joke” really wasn’t about you or the other people in the photoshop, although there was a bit of a dig at Myers, but merely some sarcasm directed at people going ballistic over a fairly innocuous tweet from Dawkins.

    Now one might argue that any joke on the topic of rape is, ipso facto, beyond the pale. However, as the originator of that joke suggested, that might be somewhat untenable given Myers’ own “Dove Soap Rape Joke”. But humour is a rather funny thing, although the best of it can be very illuminating, and frequently lies not in the individual elements themselves, but in the incongruity, the juxtaposition of them: rape itself isn’t particularly funny; how people react to it and its context can be.

    But I also think there’s some humour to be had – though maybe of the “Who’s On First” variety – in the apparent fact that many of the arguments, and no small amount of the animosity, we have is apparently caused by simple misunderstandings of what our interlocutors are saying. No doubt, some of it is straight-up dickheadness and obstinancy, but I at least prefer to think that a substantial part is essentially a “comedy of errors”, i.e., one based on “the foolish mistakes of unintelligent characters and the chaos that derives from them”. Chaos, in-deed.

    Which reminds me of the old (?) classic joke on the flirtations, the conversations between a man and woman both of whom suffer from a handicap of one sort or another; he has a false eye, a wooden one, while she has a harelip. They’re talking and hitting it off fairly well and he screws-up his courage and boldly asks whether she would like to go out on a date. And she enthusiastically responds with, “Wouldn’ I!, wouldn’ I!”. And he, mis-hearing and wounded, responds with “Harelip, harelip!”

    They say that for people who think life is a comedy, while for those who feel it is a tragedy. And of course most of us do both, to greater or lesser extents, so we see it as a tragi-comedy. But it seems to me that there would be a lot less bite to that if we could learn to be a little less quick to judge others in the least charitable way. Although that’s frequently easier said than done.

    —-
    1) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/10/the-background-of-atheist-irelands-breakup-with-pz-its-about-michael-shermer/#comment-484343”;
    2) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150413225537/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/11/01/the-end-of-the-micknugent-saga/”;
    3) “_https://twitter.com/MelodyHensley/status/453916234418253824”;
    4) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/04/10/the-background-of-atheist-irelands-breakup-with-pz-its-about-michael-shermer/#comment-484523”;
    5) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=202353#p202353”;

  337. 421

    HJ Hornbeck @ 419. What is there to refute? You beg the question from the get go. As I have just noted on the Pit, your scholarly approach is presuppositionalist, much like our old friend, creationist, Sye TenB does.

    show a flaw in the reasoning, show a flaw in the evidence, or accept my argument. Pick one.

    Lunatic, liar, or Lord. Pick one.

  338. 422

    @ HJ Hornbeck,

    It’s bizarre to see a lawyer this ignorant of the law. However, it’s depressing to see the same in most of the false reporting literature.

    Well, (1) those sources aren’t laws and (2) the issue isn’t defining a false allegation. Most people would agree that an allegation is false if it isn’t true. The issue is detecting false allegations. Lisak’s way is to look for evidence that shows an allegation did not occur. This has it’s own limitations. Sexual assaults are often difficult to prove because the only evidence is the victim’s word. This is also the reason these cases are difficult to disprove. If there is no external evidence to show an allegation is true or untrue, then false claims will not be detected.

    I read your statistical method and I did not follow it very well. This is probably my fault, because I’m home with a newborn daughter (my third) and so I’m easily distracted. But here’s a question – imagine Smith said “you know what, I made the whole thing up.” How does this extra fact affect the probability of her original claim being true?

  339. 424

    KiwiInOz @424:

    As I have just noted on the Pit, your scholarly approach is presuppositionalist, much like our old friend, creationist, Sye TenB does.

    Iron Chariots:

    Presuppositional apologetics is a form of Christian apologetics, primarily in the Calvinist tradition, that asserts that the acceptance of either the proposition “God exists” or the Biblical inerrancy is necessary in order for the world to be intelligible.

    Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, with emphasis from me:

    A Christian presuppositionalist presupposes God’s existence and argues from that perspective to show the validity of Christian theism. This position also presupposes the truth of the Christian Scriptures and relies on the validity and power of the gospel to change lives (Rom. 1:16). From the scriptures, we see that the unbeliever is sinful in his mind (Rom. 1:18-32) and unable to understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). This means that no matter how convincing the evidence or good the logic, an unbeliever cannot come to the faith because his fallen nature will distort how he perceives the truth. The only thing that can ultimately change him is regeneration. To this end, the presuppositionalist seeks to change a person’s presuppositions to be in conformity with biblical revelation.

    RationalWiki, with emphasis by me:

    Presuppositionalism is the idea that only the Christian worldview can account for logic, morality, science, induction, consciousness itself, and peanut brittle, and that all other worldviews are absurd. Presuppositionalists often go further and assert that classical apologetics and evidential apologetics are sinful and blasphemous, as they savor of “autonomy” and make human reason the judge of God’s existence.

    That seems easy enough to prove: all you need to do is point to where I argue that all logical systems have the fewest contradictions when you first assume that Alison Smith is telling the truth about whether or not she was raped by Michael Shermer, and that I therefore don’t need to provide evidence or reason to that assertion.

    Should be a cake walk for you.

  340. 426

    Ashley @ 392

    “So is it that AI is being harmed in all this”.

    Like I said: ask them. Clearly Nugent thinks there is general harm to the atheist movement (whatever that is), as a result of all this. Specific harm to AI…I couldn’t say, but as the organisation has moved to dissociate from PZ I guess they must see potential for harm.

    “…so I should feel bad that they’re going to be prevented from achieving their laudable goals?”

    Not for me to suggest how you should feel about it. Since their stated goals match mine closely, I would be disappointed if those goals couldn’t be achieved eventually.

    “Or is it that PZ didn’t cause harm before and isn’t now, regardless of his intent? Or is it that it doesn’t matter whether PZ can cause harm, if his intent is to cause harm, he should be shunned because AI is good, regardless of whether their shunning of PZ was initiated by PZ causing them harm in the first place?”

    PZ can answer as to his own intent. Since his MO seems to be to insult anyone who disagrees with his views, I’d guess it’s his (and others) intention to divide the ‘movement’ in an ‘us’ and ‘them’ kind of a way. (YMMV). It’s probably a personality thing…

    Anyway, seems to me your main point of contention with MN concerns this Shermer thing. Hard to believe people really see MN as a rape apologist given what he has written about that subject. Still, I hope you can work all that through in direct communication with him.

  341. 427

    @OnionHead
    It might help if you would be forthright enough to at least acknowledge that the acrimony can and does go both ways.
    To some extent yes – it does go both ways (usually commenters are more guilty of that than the bloggers)
    However I don’t think they are comparable – FTB was never formed to be anti slyme-pitters nor does it have it as its headline – The SlymePit does have stuff sometimes, as its headline “Myers and Benson” making everyone miserable as they are or words to the effect. Regulars also seem to like to make fun of for e.g. Ophelia , purely on the basis of how she looks – which to me, demonstrates a streak of cruelty that goes far beyond anything most bloggers at FTB might have said (as a scrawny, nerdy, hunched guy with thick glasses , perhaps I take personally too) . Perhaps the slymepit is diverse , and there is robust debate – but for the examples I have seen , I dont see anyone telling the creators of these images that they are wrong or that they should stop doing it – perhaps you have links that show me this.
    I also have seen pictures of Ophelia juxtaposed with Kunt – and so on –
    so your both sides do it , atleast to me feels like those Atheist fundamentalists just as bad as religious fundamentalists.
    (Oh and if you post a variation of If you dont like it , dont read it , Ill lose what little hair I have left , so please don’t).

  342. 428

    Does anyone other than HJ think it’s unproblematic to mathematically generalize from sexual assaults reported to the police department of a major university (within a relatively brief time after the underlying events) to sexual assaults reported to journalists or bloggers half a decade after the original events?

    Do both of those scenarios involve some sort of due process and on-the-ground investigation? Are the stakes for the principal parties similar in both scenarios? Is the penalty for false reporting comparable?