Atheist tribalism poisons everything

Atheists, we need to talk. We need to talk about our tendency to think we are better than other people and better than religious people in particular. We need to talk about how we think that religion is the reason that bad things happen in the world. We need to talk about our culture of turning a blind eye towards the despicable behavior we see among ourselves. All of those things we do are exactly the problem with the religious institutions we hate: tribalism at the cost of morality.

Reason without decency is useless. If it’s unreasonable for the pope to hide rapists, why do we accept it from our organizations? If it’s unreasonable for the Catholic Church to trivialize child molestation, why do we accept it from our supposed leaders? If we don’t like Christian politicians peddling untrue stereotypes of Muslims, why are we ok with it when it comes from bestselling atheist authors? Atheists heal thyself.

There is anger and fear from atheists today upon the revelation that the most recent of the mass shooters in America was a non-believer who targeted Christians. They will blame us, they will think this is all atheists, they will think we are all the same as him.

Yes. They will. Just like we do to Muslims and Christians. “Oh look,” we smirk, “another religious person killing a dozen people. Just goes to show religion poisons everything.

Hitchens was wrong. Human institutions and tribalism poison everything, regardless of creed, and atheism is no different. Radical atheists who want to kill people are not different from radical Christians and Muslims doing the same thing.

Militant Muslim, Christian, and Atheist
So stop posting this picture

This is not the first atheist shooter, there have been many throughout history. Earlier this year, Craig Hicks took the lives of three brilliant humanitarian Muslims over a parking dispute.  Atheists tried to distance themselves and label him as “anti-theist” and others thought he was secretly really a Christian.  Still others labeled him as a redneck from NRA-land, because hatred of the ignorant South is acceptable among educated atheists. I am sure atheists will be eager to point out that the current shooter was a Republican and No True Atheist.

I don’t know enough about the current shooter to say. But Craig Hicks was a typical atheist until he pulled the trigger.  He was friends with a lot of atheists on Facebook, we had many mutual friends.  If you went through his Facebook feed, he did not come off as an Islamophobe or a racist or someone likely to go on a shooting spree.  The guy acted like literally hundreds of atheists I know on Facebook. The majority of his posts were reposting things from George Takei. He was friends with feminist activists. He hated right-wingers and country music, but loved Obamacare.

He was one of us. So was the shooter yesterday.

I want us not to flinch away from that fact, because it’s not useful to us to ignore it.  Stop with your buts and your wells and whatever you want to add, just sit with it and live with it for a minute. Let it make you uncomfortable.

Atheism can motivate terrible crimes, just like religion can. This is a thing we have to get used to.  Atheists are so used to being exceptional, to being smarter and less criminal than other Americans, that the fact that someone was an atheist and did a bad thing seems to be exceedingly difficult for us to understand.  Atheist exceptionalism cannot survive the exponential growth of atheism — all atheists are not better than all religious people.

Furthermore, the atheist community is culpable of spreading bad ideas. We share memes and the belief that religious people are bad and that all religions and expressions of those religions are bad. That people who are religious aren’t worthwhile and are certainly too stupid to be respected. We dehumanize people who disagree with us instead of arguing about ideas. This is because we are human, but we have to guard against. Atheism itself doesn’t create these ideas, but atheist culture does — just like religions don’t encourage the bombing of abortion clinics, but some religious culture does.

My article, “The Non-Religious Patriarchy,” delved into why removing religion did not remove sexism from the atheist movement, but we have to remember that removing religion is not going to remove any basic human behavior or system of power. Humans are tribal, humans are sometimes sociopaths, humans are power-hungry, humans get angry. The atheist demographic being dominated by young white men means that it’s not surprising that there are mass shooters who are atheists, shooters are predominately young white men (the Oregon shooter was mixed race).

Atheism is a rejection of a belief, but it is not a philosophy or creed. The atheist community online builds up creeds and philosophies in light of that absence. It is reactionary. Many of us have come from environments that were hostile to our non-belief and so we respond with hostility to the kind of beliefs and people who were responsible for our unhappiness. We, like nerds have always done, take refuge in our intellectual superiority to salve wounds of rejection and, in doing so, think other people are less worthy than we are.

We have to let it go. We have to stop thinking we are better than other people just because we know something they don’t — that’s exactly why religious people act the way they do. We aren’t better than anybody and we never were.


See this from Libby Anne for more on Atheist Tribalism.

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Atheist tribalism poisons everything

177 thoughts on “Atheist tribalism poisons everything

  1. 4

    ” They will blame us, they will think this is all atheists, they will think we are all the same as him.”

    I don’t know if you intended this, but this seems to me to be an appeal to reputation.

    I have criticized Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Shermer, and others at length, either because they were clearly wrong, or they were promoting dangerous ideas, or there were strong reasons to believe them (Shermer, not the others so far named) were rapists. But I do not do this out of concern for my reputation as an atheist. Much the opposite; I have in fact seen many of these criticisms of Dawkins, Harris, etc, picked up by those who oppose atheists, and used to criticize atheists, including atheists who have sharply criticized all those “leaders”. Nonetheless, I do not plan to tone down my criticisms of any of those “leaders”.

    Internal criticisms of influential atheists are essential for reducing the danger said atheists present those within atheists who are marginalized. And it is essential for correcting the beliefs, ideas, and direction of atheist communities. But it is not good for our reputations with the larger public. Much the opposite. People who are primarily concerned with how the reputations of their perceived “leaders” affects their own reputations rarely criticize such “leaders”, except in spaces they think are not widely known.

    This is one of the reasons attempts to fight tribalism by appeals to reputation are unlikely to work; protecting reputations is very important in tribalism, and tribalism in turn is often effective at protecting reputations.

  2. 5

    So…
    1) I totally agree about the arrogant and condescending atheists. I was earlier putting up with supposedly progressive atheists claiming that religious people are mentally ill. Very, very, frustrating…and sad…and disgusting…and ironic (because they’re berating people for having irrational beliefs, yet hold this irrational belief themselves).

    2) The evidence I have seen (which was on ABC’s GMA — I don’t know if there is a video link) for claiming this shooter “targeted” Christians is that he is said to have asked people about their religion and that he said to someone who identified as Christian something like, “Good. You get to meet your god today.” And then proceeded to kill the person. No information was given as to his attitude toward non-Christians. So far it reads more like typical Christian persecution claims, where they’re starting from that conclusion and seeking out evidence to support it, ignoring any contradictory evidence.
    If anyone has seen anything more concrete, I’d be interested in seeing it.
    The larger point here is I don’t like the idea of having to own up to something that I may not even own.

  3. 6

    Sam Harris says that Atheism is irrelevant because dictionary atheism has no values: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10153748317486015&id=22457171014

    It turns out the shooter was probably a conservative, used a lot of violent rhetoric, and was a misogynist.

    And that is potentially ironic; it’s possible that Sam Harris’ own use of violent rhetoric, including calls to mass murder, and his frequent arguments that atheists should ally with conservatives in order to fight the exaggerated dangers of Islam, and his shitty behavior toward women may all turn out to be relevant, though only indirectly … but, right now, I don’t think enough is known.

  4. 7

    Llewelly @4 It’s not an appeal to reputation from me, it’s more a shoe’s on the other foot now maybe let’s be more mindful of blaming religion in future as we don’t like being blamed either.

    Leo @5 There’s an eyewitness account, but it’s not clear how accurate it is. For me, the thing that is relevant is that atheists are not necessarily above this behavior, regardless of what we ultimately learn about this particular shooter. Atheism isn’t culpable for shooters, but they are creating a culture in which the ideas necessary to dehumanize people enough to kill them are promoted. More importantly, atheist culture and atheists aren’t as different from religious culture and people as we would like to believe and it is important for us to see that.

  5. 8

    I agree with your general points, and am glad you said them, Ashley. My only nit is that ‘spiritual but not religious ‘ is not a definition of atheist. We don’t know yet, and may never know if this man considered himself an atheist (unless you have information I’ve not yet heard). The Hicks case was much less ambiguous.

  6. 9

    Sam Harris says that Atheism is irrelevant because dictionary atheism has no values:

    Of course he does. Sam Harris will never waste an opportunity to shove his Dunning firmly up his Kruger.

  7. 10

    Radical atheists who want to kill people are not different from radical Christians and Muslims doing the same thing.
    So stop posting this picture

    If atheists who gunned down 10 or more Christians were labeled “militant,” you might have a point to make. But no, atheists who merely speak out about their nonbelief and do not in any way perform, threaten or advocate violence are called “militant.” So what the eff point do you think you are making by reminding us that their are actual militant atheists in the world? Does it in any negate the misuse of this rhetoric by anti-atheists?

  8. 11

    Llewelly @4 It’s not an appeal to reputation from me, it’s more a shoe’s on the other foot now maybe let’s be more mindful of blaming religion in future as we don’t like being blamed either.

    “we don’t like being blamed either” is about reputation. It is in direct conflict with “It’s not an appeal to reputation” . I think you have been unclear in explaining yourself.

  9. 12

    My apologies. I left a forward slash out of a blockquote tag.

    Llewelly @4 It’s not an appeal to reputation from me, it’s more a shoe’s on the other foot now maybe let’s be more mindful of blaming religion in future as we don’t like being blamed either.

    “we don’t like being blamed either” is about reputation. It is in direct conflict with “It’s not an appeal to reputation” . I think you have been unclear in explaining yourself.

  10. 13

    I guess I don’t really understand what you’re meaning by “appeal to reputation.” We don’t like being blamed because it’s upsetting to have people think ill of you, so I guess that’s reputation, but the appeal isn’t change so people won’t think ill of you, it’s hey, how you feel right now is how you make other people feel. It’s an appeal to empathy or an appeal to recognizing our current experience in experiences we have caused others to have and recognizing that our objections to that are the same as their objections to that and using that as a starting place to consider our behavior to others and our in-group behavior.

  11. 14

    Atheist organizations? Atheists don’t organize as atheists like religions do. That’s a false equivalency.
    An atheist acting alone cannot be compared to a person acting out of their religious beliefs.
    There is no ateist doctrine, and certainly not one that says that any one must die.

  12. 16

    We need to talk about how we think that religion is the reason that bad things happen in the world.

    Yes, please. A lot of the “islam = bad” bullshit that Sam Harris is selling (and Hitch sold, too) is based on willful ignorance of the political roots of jihadism and the long-running effects of european colonialism in the arabic world. The “religion is the cause of all badness” neatly obscures the fact that a lot of the islamic world has a lot of reasons to be pretty pissed off at Europe and the US for inflicting generations of brutal dictators on them, overthrowing their few attempts to establish democratic governments, assassinating their leaders, embargoing them, and otherwise marginalizing them. Gosh, it’s hard to understand why a lot of them don’t like us — it must be their religion, amirite?

  13. 17

    Time will tell more. It could be true in this case, but keep in mind the same thing was said after Columbine, that religious were targeted, and that turned out to be not true.

  14. 18

    This is an interesting piece, and I will think about it more later. My initial response is simple, however – the current atheist “culture,” for lack of a better term, is a nasty one for people outside the intellectual and white male tradition. While I see a lot of venom directed toward women, particularly feminists, black and brown people are completely ignored. Yet I assure you that black and brown atheists exist, and they’re being shut out. Right-wing atheists exist. I’m in agreement that today’s well-known atheists seem to draw a veil of sanctimony around themselves and give rise to a general tone that the “Other” – those who demand equal rights – are somehow fucking up the movement. If we’d only go away, then well-educated and privileged atheists could return to the business of lecturing and publishing their views without comment.

    We mustn’t toss all these voices overboard (only some, IMO) however, because they did put the subject on the national table. I agree mightily with Reginald Selkirk, though, that we’re called militant for mere speech, just as feminists and civil rights activists were (and still are) called militant simply for advocating equal rights. Of course Stalin suppressed the Orthodox Church, but he didn’t kill millions in the cause of atheism, unlike jihadists do. I disagree that politics inflame Islamists more than Islam does, because as a person from a Spanish family, I know only too well that Al-Andalus had nothing whatsoever to do with Arab suffering in Spain, but was a movement to have dominion over the known world. I’m not denying that 9/11 didn’t happen because of U.S. policy and allegiance with the genocidal behavior of Israel’s government; I’m denying that Islamic State is strongly motivated by the suffering of Palestinians. Certainly that’s used as a rallying tool, but it’s the age-old desire for the return of the Caliphate that provides the rationale for conquest.

    My two cents.

  15. 19

    “…removing religion is not going to remove any basic human behavior or system of power.”

    Thank you! I get a lot of people who argue against this from both sides (religious people who argue that religion is necessary for morality, and non-religious people who argue that religion always leads to bigotry and violence). It’s refreshing to realize that most terrible people are that way for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with religion or a lack thereof – they certainly might express part of their unpleasantness through such areas, but it’s hardly good reasoning to say that “a lot of religious (or secular) people are jerks, therefore religion (or secularism) causes people to be jerks”.

  16. 20

    it’s the age-old desire for the return of the Caliphate that provides the rationale for conquest.

    The caliphate was more a political power than a religious entity. The wish for the return of the caliphate is a reaction to the political and military break-up and disempowerment of parts of the islamic world. It’s not a religious mandate at all; at best that stems from an interpretation of a tiny bit of the koran.

    Militancy is the “political” part in “political islam” and political islam is a reaction to the political pressures that have pushed the islamic world from its perceived position as a once-upon-a-time political power. None of this is religion; religion is a thin veneer on top of a hankering for a return to the good old days of power before “divide and conquer” from the great powers before WWI. Or the crusades, or the reconquista, etc… All of which were political/military reversals that were sometimes dressed up on religious garb, but were none the less just bloody politics as usual. The religious narrative is window-dressing for the rubes who need to be whipped into a killing frenzy. Atheists who adopt the “islam is violent” trope are falling for the window dressing just as much as the fanatics who think god wants them to X for any given X, god not having said anything on record since long before the current political landscape was established and therefore god’s will having nothing to do with that landscape.

  17. 21

    I found your article very interesting, though I am in disagreement on a few key points. I believe that the Chapel Hill murders and this recent shooting are not representative of an endemic problem amongst atheists, whereas religious violence is often representative of an endemic problem within religion. The thrust of your argument seems to be (correct me if I’m wrong) that this is a hypocritical stance to adopt, so I’ll try to justify it and will be interested to hear your response if you have the time.

    The first reason is simply that, even if I grant that both these shooters were of sound mind and motivated by their atheistic views to carry out attacks on the religious (which isn’t yet confirmed in the Oregon case, and seems unlikely as regards Hicks given his relatively benign comments pertaining to Muslims) then that still leaves us with just two attacks. Two tragic attacks which shouldn’t have happened, but nevertheless this is a small number (you allude to others, but can you actually name any?). Whereas religious groups carry out thousands of terrorist attacks every year all over the world, and that isn’t even including the violence against women, homosexuals, children etc. which happens every day. The relative scale of the issues makes the comparison of religious and New Atheist tribalism a tenuous one.

    The second reason is that I don’t believe the ‘doctrines’ of New Atheism (for want of a better word—I’m referring to the collected works of people like Harris and Dawkins and Hitchens) can reasonably be said to encourage violence*. These people, and the New Atheist movement in general, want to work peacefully (if not entirely kindly, at times, and often with a pompous white-boys’-club attitude) to encourage debate and the criticism of religious ideas, not to inspire shootings. Having read much of their work (particularly Harris’ books) I can say this with confidence. There are plausible and implausible readings of texts after all; I don’t hold Noam Chomsky or his followers accountable for Bin Laden’s obvious misconstrual of his words to justify terrorism, and nor would I hold the New Atheists accountable if someone were to mistakenly cite their ideas to rationalise violence.

    It isn’t, however, implausible to see a link between religious doctrine and religious violence. The stated ideas people have can often have consequences in the way they behave, and violent doctrines are fairly mainstream in most of the world’s religions—or at least they’re often in a sizeable minority. You seem very quick to pin the blame for the world’s problems on tribalism, to establish it as the root cause of ideology** (religious and otherwise) or at least the most significant dimension to human conflict. But this ignores the crucial role ideology can have in dictating the way we act upon our tribalistic urges, which makes it an important factor in its own right. Is it a coincidence that in Tibet, Buddhists oppose the Chinese by non-aggressively setting themselves on fire, whilst in Palestine Muslims seek Martyrdom as fighters or suicide bombers? I’m not sure the role of religious doctrine can easily be dismissed, and often plays an important role. This isn’t to say that religious violence can’t exist purely as a result of tribalism—see Buddhist violence in Malaysia for example, which could in no way be rationalised through any accepted reading of Buddhist teachings (and I don’t think those who are currently indulging in it even bother to try). I’m just saying you can’t usually wholly ignore ideology. A good example is the Sunni-Shia conflicts in the middle east: they bear all the hallmarks of religious tribalism at its worst, but at the same time the mainstream religious ideas espoused by both sides regarding jihad, martyrdom and the status of apostates under Islamic law is very relevant to the conflict (if the pacifistic Jains had a similar split, you can bet the ensuing conflict would be rather less bloody).

    To conclude then, there isn’t much violence in the West carried out by atheists motivated by hatred of the religious (it certainly isn’t mainstream) and what little there is cannot be reasonably justified with reference to the ‘doctrine’ (again, for want of a better word) of the New Atheists, who basically just want to argue religion out of existence, not murder anyone. But religious violence is very mainstream around the world, often tribalistic (Northern Ireland, Malaysia), often a mixture of tribalism and ideology (Zionists vs. Muslims, Sunnis vs Shias) and sometimes purely ideological (specific cases of violence directed, for example, at a member of one’s own tribe e.g. honour killings). The religious belief can often, therefore, be held in some way accountable for the violence (in the same way we might want to say a racist belief ‘caused’ a racially motivated attack).

    So that’s why I don’t view my initial stance as hypocritical. I’d be interested to hear if you’d like to discuss this further, or maybe point out somewhere I’ve misunderstood you.

    All the best,
    Tom

    *They’re often misrepresented, particularly Harris, and I’d encourage anyone who believes that he wants to torture, nuke and profile Muslim babies to actually read his work, rather than Glenn Greenwald’s tweets

    **Sorry if this is a misunderstanding, I was going on “Human institutions and tribalism poison everything, regardless of creed” and “removing religion is not going to remove any basic human behavior or system of power. Humans are tribal, humans are sometimes sociopaths, humans are power-hungry, humans get angry”

  18. 22

    As a practising orthodox and orthoprax Muslim, I do not hate all atheists for Chapel Hill martyrdoms, but I think that anti-theistic and Islamophobic rhetoric of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris plays the role of inciting such violence. The martyrdom of more than a million Muslims in Iraq has a lot to do with the rhetoric of Godless liberalism to liberate Iraqis and to bring pagan democracy to Middle East.This rhetoric has a lot of political influence so the future of Middle East will be shaped a lot by it especially Harris who hasn’t overcome his Jewish tribalism yet. The purpose of Caliphate in the past was to ensure freedom of both pseudo-religions and the true religion to save humanity from Hellfire. which has been achieved. So, according to scholar Yusuf Al-Qardawi Islam will prevail in the west intellectually and spiritually through dialogue of civilizations not clash of civilizations. We believe atheist intellectuals have a lot of Crusader tendencies towards Islam (that’s why they are called horsemen) which they share with Christian fundamentalists which they need to overcome.

  19. 25

    jfc, did the author bother to put one second’s thought into the logical consequence of throwing in this racial reductionism:

    “The atheist demographic being dominated by young white men means that it’s not surprising that there are mass shooters who are atheists, shooters are predominately young white men”

    because, yeah, a majority of *multi-victim homicide* offenders are white, but if that’s all it takes to start throwing around generalizations about what’s “not surprising” to find in any given association of individuals of a certain race….

    http://web.archive.org/web/20121019014646/http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/race.cfm

  20. 28

    BRILLIANT. I think this piece points to the danger of being overly critical about others and not being self-critical about oneself. There is a smug self-righteousness that obscures problems of racism, sexism and classism. Feelings of intellectual superiority often make atheist groups forgo nuance in discussing complex issues. We need more voices like yours.

  21. 30

    @abear

    Try making a reasoned argument with evidence (actual quotes) and such. Instead of making a useless straw enemy to attack.

    But also, how do you propose problems in groups should be talked about? What errors in group criticism are you seeing? Or are you just looking at the truth and you can’t handle it?

  22. 31

    Brian Pansky; How is this for a quote?

    And that is potentially ironic; it’s possible that Sam Harris’ own use of violent rhetoric, including calls to mass murder,

    I can recall PZ talking about sticking a shiv in a Christian, but I never heard of Harris making a call to mass murder. Do you want to ask Ll for evidence of that?
    How about WOC Jamila Bey getting run out of FTB because she said shared some ideas with conservatives? Ophie getting run out for not denouncing terfs?
    Atheists are a tribal lot but SJW/feminists aren’t? You can’t see the examples right in front of your nose?
    Sounds like someone that has fallen into the tribalism trap.

  23. 34

    Brian Pansky @ #27:

    Try making a reasoned argument with evidence (actual quotes) and such. Instead of making a useless straw enemy to attack.

    Seems to me that there’s an embarassingly large number of cases of “tribalism in feminism or social justice activism”, just within the “sainted” confines of “FreethoughtBlogs” (what a laugh, what an oxymoron). Consider this example from your dear leader, PZ Myers (1), wherein he banned – with “extreme prejudice” – “Skep tickle” (writing as “skeptixx”) for the “crime” of being part of the Slymepit “gang”:

    Skeptixx: Slymepitters are never welcome here — your gang crosses the line from sexism into outright misogyny, and I don’t think that group’s fondness for inventing ‘creative’ versions of people’s names using crude slang for genitals counts as rational discussion. Banned with extreme prejudice.

    You may wish to review the few comments of “skeptixx” and ask yourself whether she herself had actually given any evidence of “crossing the line from sexism into outright misogyny” or had used “crude slang for genitals” in naming someone in that post, or whether PZ was guilty of engaging in some egregious tribalism, in engaging in some guilt by association, in relying on “in-group morality and out-group hostility”.

    While I will readily concede that Ashley is a rather significant and notable exception to the rule, and for which she should be commended, it seems to me that it is an absolute joke that FreeThoughtBlogs bill themselves as championing “Reason, Discussion, and Opinion” when the facts prove that they, by and large, pander more to illogic, echo-chambers, and dogma. And it shouldn’t take you much effort to find any number of examples of the latter, Lousy Canuck’s “Woman” is a gender, not a marker of fecundity (2) being one of the more egregious cases exemplifying that latter set of attributes.

    ——
    1) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150129013104/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;
    2) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20151003200918/http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2015/09/23/woman-is-a-gender-not-a-marker-of-fecundity/”;

  24. 36

    Oh good, abear, you finally have a point. Now…maybe some evidence?

    Of course I know there are issues, I just don’t know or particularly care about their proportion. The issues are big enough and me and other feminists and SJWs do take problems “within our ranks” (so to speak) seriously.

    And there are many problems within the ranks of atheists that also need to be corrected.

  25. Al
    37

    @21
    That’s a good one, mate. Meek, mild little men of peace Hitchens and Harris. Made me laugh.

    By the way, the Tibetans have engaged in violent campaigns against the Chinese occupation as anyone with a basic knowledge of history will tell you. Likewise, the Palestinians tried peaceful approaches to Israeli aggression and it didn’t work.

  26. 38

    The author writes:
    ” They (the religious right) will blame us, they will think this is all atheists, they will think we are all the same as him. Yes. They will. Just like we do to Muslims and Christians.”
    This statement makes me sad. I am what you may consider “religious”. Though I do believe in God, I consider myself a person of faith as I dislike the trappings of religion. Anyway, I want to say for myself and so many others of faith, that it never crossed my mind to consider that this man’s actions are representative of the atheist community, and certainly not any of the atheists that I know. He is likely a man who had greater emotional struggles than anyone would have guessed.
    Peace to you.

  27. 39

    [email protected] First you want me to gather evidence then say this:

    Of course I know there are issues, I just don’t know or particularly care about their proportion. The issues are big enough and me and other feminists and SJWs do take problems “within our ranks” (so to speak) seriously.

    We are in agreement that SJWs need to address their tribalism problems so why do you want evidence?
    You say that you and others take these problems seriously yet at the same time you don’t know or particularly care about their proportion? Shouldn’t you try to be aware about all the poisonous rhetoric that is giving SJWs a bad name as much as all the mistakes made by atheists?
    When someone like llewelly makes a claim like Sam Harris hates women and wants to promote mass murder does anyone here ask for evidence or is it fair play for SJWs to just slander people outside their tribe and not question each other on it?
    I don’t agree with everything that Harris, Dawkins, and other atheist authors say, for instance, the “religion poisons everything” is an over generalization or at least hyperbolic, but to see the dishonest quotemining and hateful slander that comes from so many of these alleged social justice advocates is sickening.
    It seems to me, that trying to point mistakes made by SJWs just gets lots of name calling and no introspection.

  28. 40

    Steersman, being banned isn’t a punishment for a crime.

    It seems fine to blanket ban all people from the slymepit. Until the slymepit changes considerably. Let’s not forget that skeptixx and slymepit folk like you never shut up about your group criticism of FTB. So how could any of them object to group criticism? Group banning is just an extension of group criticism.

  29. 41

    @abear

    We are in agreement that SJWs need to address their tribalism problems so why do you want evidence?

    For the other things you said or implied in your past post. And in your new post. Obviously.

    Talking to you is a real treadmill. I’ll stop now.

  30. 42

    @34 Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

    I never said the New Atheists were meek. I know they’re often not very likeable as people, and—as has been pointed out here and elsewhere—their expertise seems to drop off alarmingly rapidly whenever they stray from the topic of religion and start mouthing off on, for example, rape (I’m looking at you, Dawkins). But whilst they’re very belligerent, I do believe they’re men of peace for reasons I already stated; they write books with the aim of persuading people to challenge religion on an intellectual level. I suppose the one exception may well be Hitchens, who was a devout neocon towards the end of his life, but even then it isn’t strictly true to say he advocated the Iraq war to fight Islam—Saddam Hussein was at least nominally a secularist, and Hitchens’ own cited motivations were to stop the genocide of Shia and Kurdish Iraqis, who are Muslims. But regardless, my point was merely that neither they nor their ideas can reasonably be said to call for mass shootings, I wasn’t trying to paint them as nice people.

    The problem with having a ‘basic knowledge of history’ is that it’s often just that; quite basic, whereas in reality things often require a more sophisticated appraisal. As it happens, in this case I didn’t have to go beyond Wkipedia to find the information: “many Tibetans desire greater cultural and political autonomy, if not full independence, and outbreaks of violent clashes with authorities in the region occur only intermittently, such as in the 2008 Lhasa violence. Ogden credits the low incidence of conventional terrorism in Tibet to an undereducated population, swift and harsh responses to terrorism by the Chinese state, and the pacific influence of Buddhism.”* So at the very least I have one historian agreeing with my assertion that you can’t just ignore ideology (I never said it was the only factor). And you’re right, there are elements of Palestine resisting peacefully of course, though Palestinian antisemetism pre-dates Israel by some time, and Palestinian armed aggression was a more or less constant factor from Israeli Independence until the occupation and onwards, so saying they ‘tried peaceful approaches to Israeli aggression and it didn’t work’ implicitly gets the chronology of the issue a little mixed up—though I’m quite keen to skirt around the Israel/Palestine conversational quicksand, because that wasn’t and isn’t my point here.

    I wasn’t saying that all Tibetan Buddhists have resisted peacefully and all Palestinian Muslims have resisted violently, the point was that the disparity between the levels of violence doesn’t make sense if you try, as people often do, to ignore the importance of specific ideological tenets (i.e. the religious doctrines themselves) like the Eightfold Path or Martyrdom and Jihad, to the people resisting.

    All the best,
    Tom

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_China#Tibet

  31. 43

    OMG! Organisations? Leaders? I didn’t know you had to be in one of the former or to follow the latter to be an atheist! Seriously, dude, you don’t talk in my name 😉

  32. 44

    Brian Pansky @ #37 or #38 (comment in moderation):

    Steersman, being banned isn’t a punishment for a crime.

    So then what is it for? To express peevishness and pettiness and narrow-mindedness? And I did quote the word “crime” for a reason.

    It seems fine to blanket ban all people from the slymepit. Until the slymepit changes considerably.

    Methinks that you’re unclear on the concept of tribalism, but that you’ve expressed a clear case of it. It generally means, colloquially speaking, “my tribe, right or wrong” – regardless of the truth or credibility of the position being presented. It means to ascribe guilt or odiousness based not on a person’s own actions or statements, but on their supposed tribe – and generally without any evidence in support of the action. You may wish to read the article Love Thy Neighbor: The evolution of in-group morality (1) by the anthropologist John Hartung for some elaboration on the idea.

    … slymepit folk like you never shut up about your group criticism of FTB.

    Maybe because there’s no shortage of FTB actions and positions that merit the criticism?

    So how could any of them object to group criticism? Group banning is just an extension of group criticism.

    You – or PZ or Thibeault or whoever – have some criticisms of the Pit then voice them – and you’re even welcome to do so in the Pit. But banning looks like crossing the Rubicon, like egregious tribalism, like a repudiation of free thought and free inquiry, like putting “your” heads in the sand, or some other place where the sun don’t shine, because the arguments don’t comport with “your” dogma and narrow-mindedness.

    ——
    1) “_http://www.strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=13”;

  33. 47

    That cartoon is intended to illustrate the level of activity that it take to be labeled a militant as a believer or an unbeliever. No way I’m going about stop sharing it until it becomes socially unacceptable to call an atheist militant merely for forthrightly stating that gods are not real.

  34. 48

    Brian Pansky @37,

    It seems fine to blanket ban all people from the slymepit. Until the slymepit changes considerably. Let’s not forget that skeptixx and slymepit folk like you never shut up about your group criticism of FTB. So how could any of them object to group criticism? Group banning is just an extension of group criticism.

    This, 1000% this!

    Auto banning based on other forums you frequent is nothing more than a type of criticism which is itself a form of free expression. If Steersman and abear were really advocates of free expression they would be supportive of group auto banning and they would be in favor of important services like the BlockBot too. These tools merely help us to express our desires and our views as to what and who is worth paying attention to and what/who should be ignored instead.

    What those like Steersman and abear seem to be asking for is to have their right to freeze peach respected and to demand the right to post criticism and dissenting views on other forums without being moderated and blocked. In essence they seem to be saying they should have the right to completely run amok (rhetorically speaking) in someone else’s space and nobody else should have the right to stop or silence them.

    Well sorry not sorry but that’s just not how it works. That’s not what “freethought” means here and they ought to know it by now. It doesn’t mean that creationists or homeopaths or anti-vaxxers are given free reign either so why should this be any different?

    Bottom line: your right to free expression ends where our killfiles and BlockBots begin.

  35. 49

    Auto banning based on other forums you frequent is nothing more than a type of criticism which is itself a form of free expression.

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read so far this year. Bonus points for writing it without irony on a thread about the dangers of tribalism.

  36. 50

    The criticism of religion in relation to violence isn’t “a religious person did something wrong, so religion is bad and associates should be ashamed.” If that’s the criticism, then it’s not a criticism of religion at all, as the religion becomes fine so long as no one does anything wrong.

    The base criticisms of religion address religion itself. When delving into mysticism, the claims are fundamentally nonsensical and unsupported. This does not change whether you kill 100 men or save just as many. For example, let’s define those two positions as religious beliefs, where two people believe in some god and following its commands:

    Person A has faith in the idea that the god wants them to kill 100 people

    Person B has faith in the idea that the god opposes killing 100 people

    We have the good and bad religious beliefs listed. How does one show that their belief about what the god wants is correct? Faith supports both sides equally, so it’s not reliable in any way. This is a base criticism of faith and applies to both conclusions.

    Likewise, if there is no actual god, then there are no actual commands to follow in the first place.For the same reason they can’t know what a god commands, they also cannot show that it exists in any way, let alone know what the nature of one that does exists is, or provide any sort of useful information about it. That is a base criticism of religious beliefs; once they delve into the mysterious, there is nothing there, nor no means to find it.

    All of the fundamental criticisms of religious belief exist independent of the foibles of religious people. If someone thinks a god will reward them for helping someone, they’re making the same poor judgment as someone who believes a god will punish them.

    So that when someone finally does do something stupid “in the name of religion”, all of the above criticisms will apply to it: in simple terms, their religious reasons for acting will be fundamentally flawed; they will be based on a poor understanding of what they are doing, why they are doing it, who they are doing it to and the results of their actions. Those issues all exist and need to be addressed even when people aren’t doing something so stupid we can’t ignore them.

    If we are looking at atheism in the same way, then you do not need to wait for an atheist to kill someone before you have a point. There should be a fundamental problem you’re addressing with atheism itself, and if it’s a problem with not being a theist, then the only thing that criticizes atheism at that level is a case for the validity of theism.

    If that’s not the case, then that sort of criticism is not comparable to criticism of religion. Because the latter is not based on any kind of guilt by association or the societies formed by religious people; the primary criticism is of the ideas themselves. They can be addressed completely removed from religious people, in addition to whatever social problems you want to bring up.

  37. 51

    Ashley said:

    We need to talk about our tendency to think we are better than other people and better than religious people in particular. We need to talk about how we think that religion is the reason that bad things happen in the world. We need to talk about our culture of turning a blind eye towards the despicable behavior we see among ourselves. All of those things we do are exactly the problem with the religious institutions we hate: tribalism at the cost of morality.

    In all seriousness, what the heck do you think the Pit has been doing for the last 4 years?

    This is precisely what the Pit does. And anyone who approaches the Pit with any degree of intellectual honesty knows that this is so. And that is proven by the wide range of disagreement among the Pit members, and the almost total lack of consensus or so-called purpose.

    As I say, there is almost no consensus among Pit folk — with some very minor exceptions. I know the tribal commentariat here at FTB, with rage tears in full flow and fondly remembered porcupines a-dangle, will do its tribalistic best to vilify me, my claim, and every Pit person who ever lived, and in trademarked FTB rage and reaction condemn us all as all sorts of unspeakable filth and evil. But what I say is true.

    And I think the best proof in that pudding is that there have been dozens, literally dozens of FTB bloggers and commenters who have given the Pit fair view — meaning using actual skepticism, critical thinking, and good faith — and read as many posts as they could without focussing only on those they disagreed with, and discovered in noted surprise that the FTB bloggers and commenters who described the Pit as racist, homophobic, misogynist, anti-trans, etc., and so on, were in fact lying. And most of those FTB bloggers and commenters have then, themselves, joined the Pit as regular visitors and commenters therein. This is simple fact.

    The primary problem here is that the majority of the FTB / A+ / Skepchick wing of contemporary atheism is so deeply, profoundly, embedded in the angry tribal identity politics of SJWism, that the blinders are two feet thick and immalleable. Cataracts to reality and the intellect.

    So, anyway, I support much of what you say Ashley. But I really think it’s time to review the wisdom of a borrowed poetic religious quote:

    1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
    5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

    I am a life-long atheist, without dogma, but I nonetheless feel that that quote is profoundly apllicable to many FTB bloggers and almost all of the FTB commentariat, and certainly to the majority of SJWs — self-described or otherwise.

    And for the record, despite angry SJW rage to the contrary, Pit people are constantly trying, if not always succeeding, in casting the beams out of their own and each others’ eyes on a daily basis. That is to a very large degree what the Pit is about, and in that instance, that is very much and profoundly what the Pit approach to free speech is all about.

  38. 52

    Plethora (#comment-492375):

    Bottom line: your right to free expression ends where our killfiles and BlockBots begin.

    Clever and kind of amusing. But not particularly accurate or relevant. Yes, I will readily concede that “you” have the right to use “killfiles and BlockBots”, and that there is periodically some justification for doing so – some people do periodically act like dickheads and engage in “harassy” behaviour (*cough Ophelia Benson *cough) of one form or another.

    However, it seems the crux of the matter is the question of whether their use is always justified: the police, and homeowners, generally have the right to use deadly force but that right is circumscribed by law; it is not always justified (1):

    The ruling in Tennessee v. Garner determined that deadly force was not justifiable simply to prevent a fleeing suspect’s escape if the suspect does not pose a significant threat of death or serious harm to others.

    And relative to the case in question – Myers banning, with “extreme prejudice”, of Skep tickle – I notice that neither you nor Pansky have actually addressed the question I raised, i.e., whether Myers was justified in doing so, or whether he was simply being a dickhead and doing so out of pettiness and spite and peevishness. Did Skep tickle engage in any misogyny, or use “crude slang for genitals” in naming someone in that post? Or was it simply a case of using her membership in the Pit as a pretext, as a convenient or petty excuse, for banning someone who was questioning his dogmatic positions on feminism? And if the latter then that seems to qualify as a case of egregious tribalism in action – the standard you walk by and all that.

    Speaking of which, and not to belabor the point overmuch, but since Jason – gutless wonder that he is – banned me before I had a chance to respond to your various points in that “Woman” is a gender, not a marker of fecundity post of his (2), I might point out that your “trans women are women” is merely an article of faith, and one not particularly well supported by the facts. A point and question which neither you nor Jason nor many others in the “FreeThoughtBlogs” (ha!) network apparently have sufficient stomach or intellectual honesty to address.

    Kind of amusing, in a gallows-humour sort of way, that Jason’s argument, echoed by far too many, that “trans folk generally find that nomenclature [i.e., transwoman] is insulting and damaging”, is not all that far removed from the calls of religious fundamentalists for anti-blasphemy laws. Y’all may wish to reflect on a cogent observation from Hitchens (3):

    Hitchens: In this country, I’ve been told, “That’s offensive” as if those two words constitute an argument or a comment. Not to me they don’t.

    Amen to that.

    —–
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_killings_by_law_enforcement_officers_in_the_United_States#Background”;
    2) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20151003200918/http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2015/09/23/woman-is-a-gender-not-a-marker-of-fecundity/”;
    3) “_https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6ImcEBIIAEn15M.jpg”;

  39. 53

    “…Radical atheists who want to kill people are not different from radical Christians and Muslims doing the same thing…. Atheism can motivate terrible crimes, just like religion can….”
    How does it logically follow from “I see no reason to believe God exists”, to arrive at the conclusion “Therefore, I must kill all these people”? Atheism leads to mass murder? I think you still need to make a case for that.
    Obviously every type of person, conservative or radical, could be an atheist. But of the many things that a person could do, which of their actions are causally connected to atheism? Whatever these actions may be, I would not count among them mass shooting.
    So if a mass shooter was also a baseball fan or a vegetarian, you wouldn’t call her a Militant Baseball Fan or Radical Vegetarian unless you thought that this was a relevant, motivating factor. How much of the well-worn theist memes “atheism is a religion” and “atheism leads to amorality” are you assuming here?

  40. PA
    54

    @Marcus Ranum:
    How much do you know about Islam? I ask this in all honesty because I read your two posts here and as an ex-muslim born and raised in a muslim country, who was forced fed years of Islamic education up and in the university level, I can tell that you have no idea about history of Islam or much of its tenets.

    willful ignorance of the political roots of jihadism and the long-running effects of european colonialism in the arabic world.

    As soon as the issue of Islam is brought up, it is almost certain that a clueless
    western liberal will parrot lines very similar to the above. And almost always,
    the point does not stand to scrutiny: if you think you have a valid point, try and answer the following rebuttal
    question asked by Majid Nawaaz: “What crimes did the Yazidi commit, or they gays commit, or the women have committed that they are punished, enslaved, or killed?”

    Gosh, it’s hard to understand why a lot of them don’t like us — it must be their religion, amirite?

    Yes, this a very typical western point of view. The women victims, gays, marginalized groups, minotiry religions are all non-existant, since otherwise, you would forced
    to admit that West had nothing to do with suppression of say Baha’is in Iran or with sexual slavery of Yazidis.
    You have no answer, you just need to erase them to desperately cling to your position that “all this Muslim
    brutality is because of the West, Europeans, white people …” whereas I can just connect a direct line from Sunnah to the sexual enslavement of the Yazidis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_malakat_aymanukum

    The caliphate was more a political power than a religious entity.

    Politics is much more entangled with religion in Islam due to strong historical reasons.
    The typical talking point for establishing religios theocracies in Muslim countries
    is because the founder established a religious government. Again, judging from my
    own experience when discussing Islam with Westerners, this is a really tricky point
    to get across. So no, you can’t say the caliphate was more political than it was
    religious.

    political islam is a reaction …

    Again wrong. Political Islam has always existed, or at least its exapnisionst part since the second
    Caliphate, the second of the Rashidun (the four “holy” early Caliphs) did various
    expansions. And this was mere a few decades after the death of Muhammad.

  41. 55

    I could see how banning someone just because they were a member of Slymepit is tribalistic, but I do not see how observing or being told about someone’s behavior and deciding you don’t want to deal with that individual in your own space is tribalistic. Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with a lot of bullshit, you know? Sometimes it’s the 20th person to throw around lies and ridiculous insinuations about you today and you’re just done with dealing with other people being obnoxious in your space. Our maybe you’re just like, “I really don’t care what you were fighting with Jason or PZ about, what the fuck am I to do with that, why are you talking about it here?” Or possibly you’re like, “Are you seriously acting like ignoring whatever bullshit you have to say about trans people is the same as using deadly force for no reason? Really?” Sometimes your world needs to be smaller — that isn’t saying you’re better than the people you’re banning, it’s saying you can’t deal with the people you’re banning right now.

    I am not saying that there isn’t tribalism re: FTB and Slymepit, but I think that is an example where the tribes have done OK, despite their hate for each other. When Slymepit brought forward evidence of plagiarism, FTB verified and acted, and there are examples of Slymepit agreeing with FTBers (above) despite their dislike for FTB on principles.

    For me being anti-Slymepit is approximately the same as being anti-/b/ or anti-r/athiesm — I’m not saying take it down or everyone participating is necessarily bad or even that different from me, I’m saying I don’t want to go there and I don’t want the worst of it brought to me. I’m saying that I don’t like to go to Slymepit because it makes me sad and is a place where people say awful things about me (and other people) that aren’t criticisms of ideas just mean shit for no reason but to be mean. I’ve got other things to do that aren’t awful, why would I want to be there?

    But, It’s not like everyone on Slymepit hates everyone on FTB just because they’re on FTB. We have disagreements on what is moral — FTB and Slymepit disagree with each other so vehemently because we are trying to bring different values to the atheist community not because we ignore the things we think are immoral. We wouldn’t talk so fucking much otherwise.

    On this topic, the reason I said “We” is because *I* am not exempted. FTB is certainly not, though I don’t really think of FTB as one entity or viewpoint anyway. We are all humans with these tendencies that we should think about and we should make sure our actions match our morality.

  42. 56

    @48, Steersman

    However, it seems the crux of the matter is the question of whether their use is always justified:

    Oh yes of course I agree. Plethora is missing this point (but is correct in showing how minimal of a point you are fighting over: banning just isn’t that big of a deal compared to pit activities)

    In the case of the pit, it’s at the point that I’d have to see strong evidence of someone trying to clean it up and push back on its activities from within before I would call banning someone (with this information known) unjustified. Got any of that? Or is character judgement only justified when someone says something bad (and in the exact thread they are banned in, no less)? Because failing to do so is all the character evidence that is needed to justify a mere banning.

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear about this in my previous post, which mentioned the group but didn’t connect it to the individual. Always a bad move.

    I might point out that your “trans women are women” is merely an article of faith, and one not particularly well supported by the facts. A point and question which neither you nor Jason nor many others in the “FreeThoughtBlogs” (ha!) network apparently have sufficient stomach or intellectual honesty to address.

    Um, false: I have spent much time critically investigating the topic of gender and trans gender. Sorry to burst your bubble which somehow was still intact after reading everything I had to say in that comment section you linked to.

  43. 57

    *Actually, Plethora might not have missed that, just focused on a different aspect. And I think I’m being too charitable by conceding that banning needs to be “justified”. Do I need evidence someone is misogynistic or whatever before I block them on facebook? Can’t I have my own boundaries? This is also just like being a blog owner. And, like I said, the character judgement is totally understandable in this case.

    What a waste of time. Of all the things I could be doing right now.

  44. 58

    Brian Pansky said:

    In the case of the pit, it’s at the point that I’d have to see strong evidence of someone trying to clean it up and push back on its activities from within before I would call banning someone (with this information known) unjustified.

    re. “clean it up and push back on its activities from within” at the Pit, what does that mean? Do you mean cancelling free speech and free thought so that people can only say what some as yet undetermined arbiter decides is good speak vs. bad speak? Or are you suggesting that you, Brian Pansky, should be the moral paragon who decides what is and what is not allowed to be said, discussed, argued about on the Pit?

    On a related note (and Ashley, if you deem this to be derailing, let me know and I will not post anything more in this direction/topic, but please leave it in place as it seem to me to be germaine to the discussion currently under way, and is responding to a previous commenter’s comment):

    There have over the years been many, many accusations of bad behaviour occuring at the Pit. Some of those accusations are only judgemental blather covering simple differences of opinion, and that kind of disagreement simply cannot be resolved — nor can it be covered under cleaning up the Pit because it’s not something absolute; it’s just difference of opinion.

    However, there have also been many, many accusations of really serious stuff originating from Pit folk while posting at the Pit and being condoned and support by the entire Pit, including, but not limited to, such things as:

    1. Threats of real-world violence.

    2. Threats of, and actual real-world stalking

    3. Rape.

    4. Threats of rape.

    5. Wallowing in rape jokes.

    All of those accusations have been followed by folks like myself, and Pitchguest, and a handful of other Pit people requesting proofs of such behaviour coming from the Pit.

    To date, over 3 years passed, not one, I repeat NOT ONE single factual piece of evidence has been presented to support those accusations, accusations which continue to be spread about, tribalistically, w ith vim, vigour, and a sincere wish to cause harm to putatively innocent individuals.

  45. 59

    Ashley said:

    When Slymepit brought forward evidence of plagiarism, FTB verified and acted, and there are examples of Slymepit agreeing with FTBers (above) despite their dislike for FTB on principles.

    Ashley, that’s not how it went down.

    When the Pit began posting actual proofs of Avi’s plagiarism, Myers vigourously defended Avi and cast aspersions and false claims of lying at the Pit.

    However, when an individual who was not associated with the Pit reposted the Pit’s evidence, plus evidence of his own, then, and only then, did Myers and Brayton reluctantly take action. And they both did so while issuing further statements vilifying the Pit, and implying obliquely that in some magical fashion the Pit was actually responsible for Avi’s deceit.

  46. 60

    [email protected] wrote:

    But, It’s not like everyone on Slymepit hates everyone on FTB just because they’re on FTB. We have disagreements on what is moral — FTB and Slymepit disagree with each other so vehemently because we are trying to bring different values to the atheist community not because we ignore the things we think are immoral. We wouldn’t talk so fucking much otherwise.

    Sounds reasonable to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if both sides agree more often than they think too.

  47. 61

    Ashley (“_http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/10/02/atheist-tribalism-poisons-everything/#comment-492402”):

    Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with a lot of bullshit, you know? Sometimes … you’re just done with dealing with other people being obnoxious in your space.

    I can kind of understand your point there. However, I might ask you, since neither Plethora nor Pansky see to have the chops to do so, whether you think that Skep tickle was being “obnoxious” in Myers’ space, and that he was justified in banning her, or whether you think he was just punishing her for the supposed obnoxiousness of other Pit members – and not even in his “space” either.

    Our maybe you’re just like, “I really don’t care what you were fighting with Jason or PZ about, what the fuck am I to do with that, why are you talking about it here?”

    And I can sort of appreciate your apparent position there: why should you be taken to task for, or have to deal with, the supposed crimes of others on the FTB network? Kind of like faulting Skep tickle for the “crimes” of other Pitters. However, my point was sort of that you broached the somewhat moot question of atheists having to take responsibility for the crimes of others nominally within that movement. Consequently, I was, in effect, wondering whether that position was just largely academic, whether it was no more than a politician’s “motherhood and apple pie”, whether you were prepared to put your money where your mouth is, whether you were prepared to “name names”, particularly those a little closer to home.

    All fine and dandy to espouse grand principles, but at some point “we”, if we want to have any claims to intellectual integrity, actually have to consider how those principles are impacted by reality, how they play out in the real world, not in some fantasy one based on zero-sum video games – as LC and a few others seem wont to do. And my argument is that one of the most salient places where the proverbial rubber meets the road is on the question that Benson was confronted with: “do you believe that trans women are women, yes or no?”.

    Philip Wylie in his Generation of Vipers (highly recommended, particularly if you’re into jeremiads) argued that when a man “kids himself, or believes a lie, or deceives another man, he commits a crime as real and as destructive as the crime of deliberately running down a person with an automobile.” And I find it hard not to think that those insisting on an affirmative answer to that question, particularly those among the FTB crowd who should know better – at least if they took to heart the principle implicit in the network name, are engaged in perpetrating such lies. While you are to be commended for arguing that “the atheist community is culpable of [and capable of?] spreading bad ideas”, one might reasonably wonder how serious you are about that position if you’re unable to deal with the specific examples of such in your own back yard.

    I’m saying that I don’t like to go to Slymepit because it makes me sad and is a place where people say awful things about me (and other people) that aren’t criticisms of ideas just mean shit for no reason but to be mean.

    And I can well sympathize with that position – I and more than a few other Pitters have criticized the tendency of more than a few there – some of us all of the time, many of us quite frequently – to “gratuitous nastiness”. Which I think is frequently more counterproductive than not. However, I tend to the view of “accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative” – and that feedback from the “community” is more effective than draconian bannings by blog owners. Which kind of kills the goose – i.e., free speech – that lays the golden eggs.

    On this topic, the reason I said “We” is because *I* am not exempted. FTB is certainly not, though I don’t really think of FTB as one entity or viewpoint anyway. We are all humans with these tendencies that we should think about and we should make sure our actions match our morality.

    Generally agree that those are entirely common and quite human tendencies – ones which take some effort to counteract; you might enjoy reading a post by a Christian pastor on the topic of Libido Dominandi: St. Augustine and the Lust for Domination (1). Not at all easy to keep that in mind – or that, “honest men and women may disagree”.

    And I kind of understood that you weren’t really exempting yourself. However, not getting down to brass tacks by addressing some specific close-to-home examples is going to naturally raise some questions about how serious you are – as Aneris more or less argued (2). Even if I thought, and subsequently argued (3), that she was somewhat wide of the mark, or wasn’t being entirely fair or was being somewhat “tribalistic” herself. While I think the open forum nature of the Pit reduces the likelihood of that, I don’t see that it entirely precludes it.

    ——
    1) “_http://www.jimtonkowich.com/libidodominandi.php”;
    2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=311220#p311220”;
    3) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=311236#p311236”;

  48. 62

    I didn’t want to engage on the Jason thing because it felt, as so many things do, that you were trying to use this space to criticize other people because they won’t let you do it on their own space. If you can explain to me how saying “trans women are women” is dehumanizing, go right ahead. Even if he was incorrect, where is the material harm likely to cause people to treat someone worse or demarcate them as other? One can have incorrect opinions without those being damaging to anything other than one’s own credibility. And if one were to ere on the side of being decent to people in other tribes…

    Also, how many rape jokes does it take to be wallowing, because it is not like there aren’t any. Hell, it’s not even like there aren’t any about me from the last couple of months. This is what I get for going to see if it’s still terrible over there.

  49. 63

    Ashley wrote:

    Also, how many rape jokes does it take to be wallowing, because it is not like there aren’t any. Hell, it’s not even like there aren’t any about me from the last couple of months. This is what I get for going to see if it’s still terrible over there.

    Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com/ashleymiller/2015/10/02/atheist-tribalism-poisons-everything/#ixzz3neVq31im

    Are you saying there have been rape jokes about you in the Slymepit in the last few months?

  50. 64

    Brian Pansky (October 4, 2015 at 7:37 pm):

    Because failing to do so is all the character evidence that is needed to justify a mere banning.

    Christ – some pretty trivial if not some rather petty “justifications” for banning, for curtailing free speech & open inquiry. Not to mention providing some evidence of stereotyping – sort of like sexism and racism – if not of some outright bigotry, of judging by class rather than personal behaviour. In a word, tribalism writ large.

    Steersman: I might point out that your “trans women are women” is merely an article of faith, and one not particularly well supported by the facts. ….

    Brian: Um, false: I have spent much time critically investigating the topic of gender and trans gender. Sorry to burst your bubble ….

    I don’t think you appreciate the difference between opinions and facts. It is merely your opinion, and that of Jason’s, that “woman” is a gender – which neither you nor anyone else has so far managed to define; however it is a manifest fact that most if not all dictionaries, and most scientific publications, apparently provide or use a primary definition of “woman” as a “female human”, with “female” in turn being defined as the sex able to produce ova. While I will readily concede that the label “woman” is essentially a “social construct”, it is another and rather brute fact, to which the label refers, that some 49% of the human population has, had, or will have that particular ability. Which you and many trans-activists seem bound and determined to repudiate or deny – not to mention trying to impose a rather specious and idiosyncratic alternative on everyone else. Talk about the “spreading of bad ideas”; Ashley, please note.

    But since you seem to reject that definition, one supported or adhered to by most scientific publications and lexicographers, one might ask what specific attributes you think might uniquely define the category “woman”. Does being bad at math qualify? Maybe having an “inordinate fondness for shoes” will do the trick? How about turning on the waterworks at the drop of a hat (preferably with lace & feathers, and a fetching yellow ribbon)?

    The point is that all of those are secondary or trivial behavioural characteristics or stereotypes that don’t necessarily correlate all that well or frequently with “being able to produce ova”; if you insist on using those to define a class then you might just as well say that there’s a different gender for every last person on the planet.

    Relative to which, I’m currently in the midst of reading Logic for Dummies – and many in this neck of the woods would do well to do likewise. But it argues that set theory – a close cousin of taxonomy (1) which is the science of “defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups” – is “the foundation of logic and, ultimately, of formal mathematics itself”. If “you” are unable to provide any criteria for the sexes “man” and “woman” that differentiate between those classes, those sets, then I can’t see that “you” have a worthwhile definition – or are being particularly rational or logical.

    —–
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_(biology)”;

  51. 65

    Ashley:

    I didn’t want to engage on the Jason thing because it felt, as so many things do, that you were trying to use this space to criticize other people because they won’t let you do it on their own space.

    Yes, that is part of what I’m trying to do. And I sort of apologize for attempting it. However, as mentioned, you’ve championed or broached the idea or principle, for which I at least commend you, of at least talking about “our culture of turning a blind eye towards the despicable behavior we see among ourselves”. Which I’m therefore asking you to give some thought to some specific examples, to open your eyes to that fact and its consequences.

    And relative to which, it’s hard not to argue that the “witch-hunt” that Benson was subjected to by many of your confreres over that question – over whether we can even talk about what “gender” really means – eminently qualifies as “despicable behaviour”. And likewise with banning, anywhere on FTB, those who don’t subscribe to the “conventional wisdom”, to the manifest dogma, on the point.

    But I kind of think that it’s not really a case that “saying ‘trans women are women’ is dehumanizing”; seems it is more a case of denying or repudiating some rather significant and profound scientific and philosophical principles, many of which have their roots in taxonomy, logic, linguistics, and lexocography. I’m all for considering peoples “feelings”, but not really at that expense. Largely Hitchens’ point if I’m not mistaken.

    And while you might have a bit of point in asking “where is the material harm” in accepting such idiosyncratic definitions, one might argue that that is the thin edge of the wedge – like “teaching the controversy” – and that it is not all that far removed from pandering to the delusional. While one might reasonably subscribe to a “live and let live policy”, one might suggest that more than a few transactivists are trying to use that as a pretext for crossing the Rubicon, for further more unreasonable and untenable demands. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    But my apologies if my links led you to view more than you wanted to – certainly wasn’t my intent. However, you might consider that different people are traumatized by different levels of sensations and phenomena and memories: there are a few in the pit who freak out over spiders, or over seeing maps in books. But while it might be of some limited consolation, I kind of doubt that the rape jokes were meant in a particularly malicious way – probably more related to the question of how viable the concept of rape culture really is. However, if you really think that is the case then please provide a link and I’ll either provide at least an explanation or a criticism of it.

  52. 66

    Ashley said:

    Also, how many rape jokes does it take to be wallowing, because it is not like there aren’t any.

    Proofs? I’ll eat my words if you got ’em.

    Hell, it’s not even like there aren’t any about me from the last couple of months.

    Rape jokes targetting/about you, Ashley? And in the last couple of months? Really? Proofs? Like I said, I’ll eat my words if you got ’em.

  53. 67

    I applaud the author of the article. A very fair and balanced set of observations.

    I would add one thing – if this article makes the case for owning atheist shooters – does it also make the case for finally owning up to the inherent atheist ideology of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, and other monstrous socialist utopian experiments that made atheist ideology a key part of their regimes?

  54. 70

    TW: sexist language and rape “joke” or reference

    johngreg @54,

    1. Threats of real-world violence.

    What about threatening to kick Ophelia Benson in the cunt? Wasn’t there some kind of crowd funding campaign a while back to raise money to fly Justin Vacula out to some conference for this purpose?

    @62,

    Rape jokes targetting/about you, Ashley? And in the last couple of months? Really? Proofs? Like I said, I’ll eat my words if you got ’em.

    How about this (posted October 4):

    DO YOU WANT TO PLAY A GAME OF RAPE?
    That’s the spirit.

    Followed by this (posted a few minutes later):

    Now that joke was addressed to ‘you’ , meaning whoever is reading. To be technical, if and only if Ashley reads the joke, does it become a rape joke about her.

  55. 72

    Plethora said:

    What about threatening to kick Ophelia Benson in the cunt?

    That was a joke predicated on the individual first becoming a woman to do so, a simple fact consistently and intentionally ignored by everyone whose paranoid panties got twisted. And anyone who thought it was an actual threat was/is an idiot. It was satire mixed with a frisson of sardonic irony intended to draw out the obsessive misrepresenters and mendacious morons of the land of SJW, which indeed it did. In rivers, torrents, and floods.

    Wasn’t there some kind of crowd funding campaign a while back to raise money to fly Justin Vacula out to some conference for this purpose?

    HAHAHA. No.

    How about this (posted October 4):

    Firstly, if you want to provide proofs, include links. Second, if you think that qualifies as a rape joke fitting the discussion, then I suspect you also also think Mr. Rogers is Darth Vader.

    Wait.

    Godfrey? Is that you, Elfwick, you magnificent bastard?!

  56. 73

    @steersman
    It wasn’t traumatic, it was just a reminder that it’s a place where people say all kinds of shitty things for the lulz and I’m just not that interested in wading through the shit — it’s fatuous, tiresome, and certainly doesn’t help me see Slymepit in anything like a positive light.

    “Thin edge of the wedge” is just another way of saying “slippery slope.”

    Language is a tool for expressing meaning and it evolves constantly to be more useful to us. It seems that the current evolution involves differentiation between “female” and “woman,” so that we have words for gender identity that are different from the words for biological sex. This kind of specificity to language allows it to be more precise. As gender is the less intrusive and more socially relevant term for people, we generally use their gender identity. There is no reason to think that this will be static and there’s no reason to think everyone has the same preference in terms, but it’s a kind of starting place.

    @Johngreg @abear
    There’s this whole conversation based on how amusing it is that I share a name with some Florida woman who was having sex with a dog which includes a joke about how the dog was raping me. I understand the joke, I just have no interest in being in that environment.

    @We Are Plethora
    FYI I wouldn’t count Rayshul’s comments against the Slymepit, she takes it as a personal betrayal that I write for FtB because we were once good friends. I don’t really understand why she’s so very angry, but it’s definitely a different kind of thing than the others. It’s a shame, she’s a wonderful novelist.

    And to all, God is Not Great is one of my favorite books and Christopher Hitchens is probably my favorite non-fiction writer of the 21st century. It just doesn’t mean he was right all the time.

  57. 74

    Ashley said:

    There’s this whole conversation based on how amusing it is that I share a name with some Florida woman who was having sex with a dog which includes a joke about how the dog was raping me. I understand the joke, I just have no interest in being in that environment.

    I can understand why you wouldn’t want to be part of that conversation. I don’t think I have ever said otherwise? Also, I am not aware of that conversation. I guess either it passed right over my head, or I interpreted it in some way different from you. Or something.

    I must say, I do not look overly closely at all comments at the Pit. There are some that just don’t interest me, so I just skim-and-scan them, and others from commenters whose topics generally bore me. So maybe I just missed it. As there are no links or other proofs, I still cannot either rebut, reinterpret, or agree/disagree with your (or others’) claims as to rape jokes etc. at the Pit; it still does not, so far as I can see, invalidate my point.

    It just doesn’t mean [Christopher Hitchens] was right all the time.

    I certainly agree with that. The meat of the matter is in the interpretation and determination of when/where/how he went right/wrong/bit-o-both, though, isn’t it.

  58. 75

    Ashley, forgive me if I’m being a little bit nitpicky but I looked up the dog sex thing and it was clear that the article was not about you and was about someone that just had the same first and last name as you. Neither the dog or the women was accused by the people posting of rape nor is the word rape used. The nearest to that was the article stating that the woman asserted that the dog acted voluntarily.
    http://slymepit.com/phpbb/search.php?keywords=Ashley+Miller+dog+sex
    I’m not saying that you don’t have the right to be offended by this, just that in the interest of accuracy that there was not a rape joke made with you as the subject.

  59. 77

    Ashley, you are saying that atheists should not act defensively when the media blames atheism for a murder that was committed by an atheist. You say “we” are often angry with religion, and that can (and does) lead to violence. “We” shouldn’t be tribalistic, as atheists, and acknowledge this problem. Is this characterization generally fair?

    I have many possible angles to this topic, I like to explore just one. You are not honest with your “we”. Your regular readers who agree, I assume, are also evidently not included in the “we”, either. What you are really saying is that other people – in fact your opponents – should leave their guard down when attacked by yet another party. You mask this by word games and rhetoric.

    We all know that you and your fellow writers intensely dislike Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris or Ayaan Hirsi Ali and that you have made some efforts of defining yourself as a different type of atheist: social justice aware, with a strong dash of post-modernist feminist theory, and like many liberals in the US rather friendly towards Muslims, who are perceived as a minority that is anyway unfairly attacked (and allegedly for racist reasons, #Islamophobia). Fellow bloggers have attempted to brand this type of atheism “Atheism Plus” at one point. I actually would have liked that this label worked and was embraced by everyone, because this would make it far less cumbersome to always state the obvious – that you really are your own faction. According to PZ Myers, this was one intent to have a network with a different slant and so I hope it doesn’t come as a surprise that “Social Justice Atheists” are recognizable as a faction. How much your faction is mainstream is a matter of debate. Some believe you are on the way out. Social Justice Warriors generally believe they are the underdog anyway, even if cited by every second media outlet and invited to google and the UN. I believe you represent the US secular movement and I think you were, and you are (and were) the mainstream. Maybe when you know “behind the scenes” it looks different, but I know no blog network or community cluster that has so many conferences speakers, connections to organisations and general support (despite that you believe it isn’t enough) in the US secular movement. Not even on the height of drama did anyone come out and object to various episodes. As a matter of fact, the one and only lone gun out there was Michael Nugent. Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, are at this point rogue authors who mostly do their thing.

    The media however don’t really care about the atheist movement circus, and the secular movement. They look for stories, and they accuse the “New Atheists”, like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. In other words, they don’t accuse you, and you have long established that you have nothing to do with them.

    Hence, you can easily say “atheists” should embrace it when someone blames Sam Harris for inciting murder, because you anyway hate him, and you aren’t meant anyway. That’s the other camp from your point of view. PZ Myers can agree to your post, because he is anyway not meant, either. So of course you applaud and like it when people unfairly attack “atheists”, meaning the “Other” atheists. At the end of day you want that your opponents, who you unfairly smear and misrepresent anyway, get smeared and misrepresented more. Which isn’t surprising at all.

    Try again by addressing points that are genuinely in YOUR camp, or build bridges so that you can legitimately say “we” and mean the people on the other side of the river, too.

  60. 78

    Ashley:

    … it’s a place where people say all kinds of shitty things for the lulz ….

    Yea, there’s some truth to that, although I would qualify that with “some people”. And something that I and a few others have periodically objected to, in one form or another. But it is generally a case, for me and I expect for many others, of taking the good with the bad, of separating the wheat from (the periodically odious) chaff, of “accentuating the positive” and deprecating the negative where possible.

    “Thin edge of the wedge” is just another way of saying “slippery slope.”

    True. But would you deny that there are, in fact, slippery slopes of one sort or another, either literal or figurative? That allowing religious fundamentalists the right or opportunity to “teach the controversy” probably qualifies on both accounts?

    And I would say likewise about permitting or condoning sloppy definitions for “woman” and “man”, about being careless in conflating the concepts of, and terms for, sex and gender. If that had not been allowed, if people had been insistent on being a little more precise in their use of language, then that question that Benson had been confronted with – i.e., “do you believe trans women are women, yes or no?” – would never have gotten out of the chute; it would have been obvious that, in my view, it was asking, in effect, whether a gender (transwoman) was a sex (woman), and the answer would have been a flat “no”. Could have saved an awful lot of grief and bad blood.

    Language is a tool for expressing meaning and it evolves constantly to be more useful to us. It seems that the current evolution involves differentiation between “female” and “woman,” so that we have words for gender identity that are different from the words for biological sex. ….

    Yes, I quite agree that it is a tool, and a rather important one at that. And that it is something of a work in progress, something that can be adapted to different circumstances. However, as my signature quote from Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum (new instrument or tool) puts it, “Therefore shoddy and inept application of words lays siege to the intellect in wondrous ways.”

    Apropos of which, you might note the Wikipedia entry on equivocation (1):

    Equivocation (“to call by the same name”) is an informal logical fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time). It generally occurs with polysemic words (words with multiple meanings).

    And I would argue that conflating, or equivocating between the terms for, sex and gender is either sloppy or “shoddy and inept” language, or criminal demagoguery and propaganda in action.

    —–
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation”;

  61. 79

    Can’t decide what’s worse: pit-tourists’ “jokes” about rape and cunt-kicking, their unusual focus on this blog network as if all its authors read from the same hymnbook or the near-universal and fucking tedious pomposity of their FTB regulars. It’s one thing to read obvious trollery designed to enrage or frighten; another entirely to wade through a waffle-swamp complete with dictionary references and fucking footnotes, of all things. I suspect that even if I agreed with some of these leather-elbowed defenders of gender compartmentalisation and whisky-swirling apologists for misogyny I still wouldn’t talk to them. There are only so many hours I have to spend online.

  62. 80

    Some tribalism is necessary. To be inclusive of women, one must explicitly exclude anti-feminists and misogynists.

    Voila, that’s why it’s not just OK but desirable to avoid the Slymepit and treat the people who frequent it as suspect.

    I mean, if all you can come up with for why we should “give peace a chance” with Pitters, so to speak, is that their rape jokes are only tangentially about my friends or myself, well, sorry bub, but that just isn’t quite the shining recommendation you seem to think it is.

  63. 81

    Steersman @57,

    However, I might ask you, since neither Plethora nor Pansky see to have the chops to do so, whether you think that Skep tickle was being “obnoxious” in Myers’ space, and that he was justified in banning her, or whether you think he was just punishing her for the supposed obnoxiousness of other Pit members – and not even in his “space” either.

    Without links to the full discussion we couldn’t begin to say what was and was not justified. Besides which we have no way of knowing the inner thoughts and motivations of Professor Myers or really of any other being when it comes right down to it.

    More than that maybe you shouldn’t dwell in the past and should consider joining us in the future instead. As George Bernard Shaw said:

    “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”

    @71,

    However, as my signature quote from Francis Bacon’s Novum Organum (new instrument or tool) puts it, “Therefore shoddy and inept application of words lays siege to the intellect in wondrous ways.”

    Signature quote from Novum Organum? Presumably you’ve read it then? What do you think of it overall?

    Either way we feel you are missing the point. The Ophelia Benson debacle was not down to “shoddy and inept application of words” at all. It’s about ideas and actions. Ophelia Benson is a professional writer and clearly has a mastery of words. No matter how the question was phrased (even if it was “shoddy and inept”) Benson has free agency and could have chosen whatever words would have been clear and precise in answering. That a question is poorly phrased doesn’t magically constrain the response in any real way. Not that it’s even been established that it was poorly phrased given the context but even still.

    It was the underlying ideas about trans people that initially caused concern and then it was Benson’s supremely inappropriate reaction that caused it all to blow up. Rather than simply clearing it all up with more precise language (as you perhaps naively suggest) Benson went to DefCon 1 started smearing shit all over the place and then left the house. Now Benson spends part of each day smearing shit but now it’s somewhere else at least.

    The suggestion that it’s down to “shoddy and inept” [use of] language seems demonstrably wrong then. At worst that might cause confusion and miscommunication but at heart it’s ideas and actions that move people.

  64. 82

    SallyStrange @73,

    Some tribalism is necessary. To be inclusive of women, one must explicitly exclude anti-feminists and misogynists

    Yes exactly.

    It may be counterintuitive to some (hi Steersman) but this is true even when those we must exclude are themselves women (like Abbie and Skep tickle). IOW in order to be inclusive of women sometimes we need to explicitly exclude even other women.

    If they are anti-feminist or have deeply internalized misogyny or if they hang out with and amongst others who are anti-feminist and misogynist they too must be excluded. To not exclude them would equate to excluding and erasing other women who refuse to put up with anti-feminism and misogyny.

  65. 83

    silver_hawk (October 5, 2015 at 7:43 pm):

    … complete with dictionary references and fucking footnotes ….

    Seems some in this rather benighted neck of the woords are unclear on the concept of dictionaries or how to use them so I figure that that’s the least I can do. And the footnotes are largely because the comments go into moderation – never to be seen thereafter – if I don’t disable their hot-linking.

  66. 84

    SallyStrange (October 5, 2015 at 8:11 pm):

    Some tribalism is necessary. To be inclusive of women, one must explicitly exclude anti-feminists and misogynists.

    Sure – in principle I can readily agree that some people are beyond the pale, and need to be excluded from civilized company: murderers and father-rapers and such.

    However, I think you’re unclear on the concept of tribalism which generally has a negative connotation. Seems to me that the essence of it is “in-group morality, and out-group hostility”, in judging people not by their own actions and statements, but by those of the groups they’re nominally associated with, in engaging in “guilt by association”. I would recommend that you take a real close look at the paper Love Thy Neighbor: The evolution of in-group morality (1) from the anthropologist John Hartung.

    —-
    1) “_http://www.strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=13”;

  67. 85

    Plethora (October 5, 2015 at 8:17 pm):

    Steersman: However, I might ask you, since neither Plethora nor Pansky seem to have the chops to do so, whether you think that Skep tickle was being “obnoxious” in Myers’ space, and that he was justified in banning her ….

    Plethora: Without links to the full discussion we couldn’t begin to say what was and was not justified. ….

    I provided the link at the bottom of my earlier comment (#31, #32 [October 3, 2015 at 4:28 pm], the first of which is still in moderation but which could be deleted as the second is a duplicate), but here (1) it is again, at the bottom, at the end of this comment.

    More than that maybe you shouldn’t dwell in the past and should consider joining us in the future. As George Bernard Shaw said: ….

    Sure, and Shakespeare said that “what’s past is prologue”; can’t very well understand or correct current behaviours if we don’t understand their roots or precursors. Feedback, toujours le feedback.

    Signature quote from Novum Organum? Presumably you’ve read it then? What do you think of it overall?

    Can’t say that I’ve read much of it – mostly reviews and analyses, the first and most important of which was probably Richard Tarnas’ The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View (highly recommended). While some, not particularly credible readers, have argued that it was “one of the most intolerable, stodgy, dull, rambling pieces of philosophical bullshit” they had ever read, some far more credible ones have argued, with some justification, that it had a seminal influence on the development of logic and the scientific method.

    Either way we feel you are missing the point. The Ophelia Benson debacle was not down to “shoddy and inept application of words” at all. It’s about ideas and actions. Ophelia Benson is a professional writer and clearly has a mastery of words. No matter how the question was phrased (even if it was “shoddy and inept”) Benson has free agency and could have chosen whatever words would have been clear and precise in answering. That a question is poorly phrased doesn’t magically constrain the response in any real way. Not that it’s even been established that it was poorly phrased given the context but even still.

    Don’t really think I’m “missing the point” as Bacon’s argument is apparently that “shoddy and inept application of words” obscures the meaning and implications of ideas – which tends to cause everyone to ride madly off in all directions. As the “Benson debacle” rather clearly illustrates.

    But you might have a bit of a point that Benson “could have chosen whatever words would have been clear and precise in answering”. However, I think that you’re being somewhat uncharitable to her as she stated, more or less and more than once if I’m not mistaken, that she found the idea of gender rather obscure and confusing – with some justification considering that no one using the term “woman” as a gender has given anything in the way of a precise definition: care to take a stab at it yourself(ves)?

    In any case, while I note that she’s recently banned you, and that both you and I might reasonably fault her for, thereby, being “culpable of spreading bad ideas”, I don’t think you can reasonably fault her expressing some confusion about the idea, or for wishing to engage in a discussion on the point – even if the wish is more academic than not.

    —-
    1) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20150129013104/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/21/an-experiment-why-do-you-despise-feminism/comment-page-1/#comment-518836”;

  68. 87

    1) “To be inclusive of women, one must explicitly exclude anti-feminists and misogynists.”

    2) We may safely assume Slymepitters hate women and/or do not see them as equal, because tribalism. (Unstated)

    3) “Voila, that’s why it’s not just OK but desirable to avoid the Slymepit and treat the people who frequent it as suspect. “

  69. 88

    Damion Reinhardt (October 5, 2015 at 10:06 pm):

    This is the best parody account since Parsehole went dark.

    🙂 Not sure that it counts if the inconsistencies are inadvertent.

    But seems to me that dogma tends to cause people to do that, to paint themselves into corners of one sort or another. Reminds me of Ignatius Loyola:

    Rule 13 of Ignatius’ Rules for Thinking with the Church said: “That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity[…], if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black.”

    —-
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Michael%27s_High_School,_Patna”;

  70. 89

    Sally Strange wrote:

    SallyStrange says

    October 5, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Some tribalism is necessary. To be inclusive of women, one must explicitly exclude anti-feminists and misogynists.

    Voila, that’s why it’s not just OK but desirable to avoid the Slymepit and treat the people who frequent it as suspect.

    I mean, if all you can come up with for why we should “give peace a chance” with Pitters, so to speak, is that their rape jokes are only tangentially about my friends or myself, well, sorry bub, but that just isn’t quite the shining recommendation you seem to think it is.

    Hi Sally! I’m guessing you are agreeing with me saying that intersectional feminists are a tribalistic lot.
    Are the rape jokes about you that the pit has told is the innocent wrestling you did with your little brother?
    If so, I’m totally on your side, that was kind of mean. I don’t think you are a rapist.

  71. 90

    Jeez, more accusations, still with no proofs, of rape jokes at the Pit. And now they’re coming from SallyStrange, the FTB commenter infamous for suggesting that, Yes folks, in some contexts rape jokes can be funny, especially if they’re on The Onion, about which Sally said:

    The Onion is the only place where I’ve seen rape jokes that were actually funny.

    And yes, folks, that is indeed a direct quote from SallyStrange.

  72. 91

    SallyStrange also said:

    To be inclusive of women, one must explicitly exclude anti-feminists and misogynists.

    Indeed. As we all know, “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it”, or in our current funtimes, it becomes necessary to exclude the women to include them.

    Yippee.

  73. 92

    John Greg (October 6, 2015 at 12:19 am):

    Yes folks, in some contexts rape jokes can be funny, especially if they’re on The Onion, about which Sally said:

    The Onion is the only place where I’ve seen rape jokes that were actually funny.

    Methinks you’re not being terribly fair or charitable there, John – I doubt Michael Nugent would approve.

    While Ashley may not approve either or be terribly amused, there may be some value – seriously – in asking Sally what she had in mind – lo these many moons ago (1) – in that long forgotten but not lost conversation on Pharyngula. While I rather doubt anyone would argue that all jokes based on such events could be construed as particularly funny, there may well be some cases – maybe where the potential rapist is hoist by his (or her or xir) own petard? – that are illuminating or cathartic. After all, “gallows-humour” is a “thing”, and I have a well-thumbed book of jokes – Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates by Cathcart & Klein – that uses “philosophy (and jokes!) to explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in between”.

    ——
    1) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20151006073718/http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/28/episode-cclxxviii-evolution-sorta/comment-page-1/”;

  74. 93

    SallyStrange #76

    it’s not just OK but desirable to avoid the Slymepit

    Slymepit has changed. Their preoccupation with FtB seems to belong to the past (although I don’t know how permanent this is going to be).

    For an external observer like me, at the moment the picture of the Slymepit is this: we have page after page after page of nasty, sadistic sneers and mockery about *one woman* only – not a leader of anything, no one of particular importance, just… a target.

    It’s sadder than ever. I noticed that even some of the regulars protest, but to no avail.

  75. 94

    @ 86 Ariel

    at the moment the picture of the Slymepit is this: we have page after page after page of nasty, sadistic sneers and mockery about *one woman* only — not a leader of anything, no one of particular importance, just… a target.

    That’s actually how it started (just a different target). It’s never been anything other than a hatefest for sociopathic bitter fuckers.

  76. 95

    Ariel said:

    For an external observer like me, at the moment the picture of the Slymepit is this: we have page after page after page of nasty, sadistic sneers and mockery about *one woman* only – not a leader of anything, no one of particular importance, just… a target.

    If you are referring to the ongoing public meltdown of Elyse, then clearly you have not read the content with anything other than a pre-determined mindset and an ideological agenda/goal.

    It is Elyse, not the Pit, that is continually posting this amazing, saddening, child-threatening personal meltdown mess. The Pit is just documenting it with commentary.

    Some Pit folks are saddened by it, and say so; others find it deeply disturbing, and say so; some Pit folk are seriously worried for/about Elyse’s kids, for whom I cannot think this whole situation (Elyse and her continual photo-accompanied public broadcasting of the horror) is anything short of emotional abuse at best that is being ongoingly encouraged by her deranged friends, and yet others think it is somewhere from pathetic to chthonically humourous. Language counts; don’t forget your dictionary.

    Anyway, if you’re going to make accusations about the Pit, that’s fine, but at least be accurate, present facts (links, screenshots, etc.), and at least try for some degree of objective honesty.

    Oh, and if you are not talking about Elyse’s self-directed and self-publicized meltdown, what are you talking about.

    Silentbob said:

    That’s actually how it started (just a different target). It’s never been anything other than a hatefest for sociopathic bitter fuckers.

    Ya, ya, typical proof-free misrepresentation and historical revisionism from an unreliable narrator with a grudge and an ideological agenda.

  77. 96

    Steers, I hear you, and yes, you’re right, I am being uncharitable. That lack of charity is based on Sally’s widely variable denials over time, followed by conflicting and contradictory explanations as to her/his/them/their/whatever’s context and motives.

    I feel if Sally is going to rage, without proof or context, at the Pit about rape jokes, then Sally’s old comments (verbatim quote), in or out of context, are warranted.

  78. 97

    johngreg (October 6, 2015 at 10:53 am):

    I feel if Sally is going to rage, without proof or context, at the Pit about rape jokes, then Sally’s old comments (verbatim quote), in or out of context, are warranted.

    Yes, I quite agree that there’s some justification, some warrant, for bringing up those old comment’s of Sally’s, not least because it may offer somewhat of a teaching moment: if she can provide some justification for her argument then maybe she’ll realize that there’s at least some possibility that some of the supposed “rape jokes” created or discussed in the Pit aren’t necessarily beyond the Pale.

    Which, in turn, might lead her to be less hasty in her continued demonization of the Pit, in her own rather questionable “mythologizing” and “tribalism”. Which might even lead her to – horror of horrors – actually lurk about in the Pit and see for herself whether the advance billing, the propaganda peddled by many FTBers, is justified or not. And at the very least, it might help her to realize the truth in the aphorism, “no guts, no glory”: if she can’t provide an adequate justification for her arguments then she needs to retract them. Or not make them in the first place.

    In any case, somewhat more generally, the question of rape jokes is certainly a sensitive one, and I can well understand that many people, Ashley for example, may find it rather difficult to find any humour at all in that topic – as in her response to that “rape grader” joke graphic discussed in a previous post of hers – and to similar topics – as in her staring role (as Ashley Muller) in one of Gefan’s Downfall videos.

    But I think more than a few Pit people have some difficulty understanding that different people have widely varying degrees of sensitivity to various types of violence, stylized or not, and for one reason or another. Reminds me of watching a TV movie when I was a young whipper-snapper of 10 or 11 – more than 50 years ago – that showed some thug about to smash someone’s face in with a brick – seriously freaked me out, and I remember a younger sibling telling me it was only a movie. And I saw a recent tweet from Sarkeesian where she had been similarly freaked out on watching some of the stylized violence in some video game – “Doom”, if I’m not mistaken.

    Seems to be some justification for arguing that “we” should be making some efforts to at least try to understand each other’s points of view. Otherwise, “tribalism” seems to be the inevitable result.

  79. 98

    The question of rape jokes, as you call it, certainly can be a sensitive one, but like anything else in the world that is sensitive, demonizing it to render discussion of it unallowable, and to encourage tribalistic nonsense and to help support this ludicrous notion of safe spaces, rather than discussing it openly and honestly in an attempt to better understand its causal factors, focus, function, and so on, is not, in my opinion, in any way, shape, or form productive or constructive.

    Safe spaces are anathema to change, intellectual development, knowledge, and so on. They encourage little or nothing more than ignorance, fear, paranoia, tribalism, and a sort of pathetic reliance on ostriching one’s self into quivering immobility. One can never fight the demon at the door if one knows nothing about it due to an insistence on hiding behind the chimera of safe spaces.

    I think we’re getting off topic. And anyway, any moment now one of the FTB regulars is going to accuse us of hijacking the comment section because we, the Others, the outsiders, dare to palaver back and forth. Shame, shame, on us.

  80. 99

    Back on topic, Ashley wrote:

    I don’t know enough about the current shooter to say. But Craig Hicks was a typical atheist until he pulled the trigger. He was friends with a lot of atheists on Facebook, we had many mutual friends. If you went through his Facebook feed, he did not come off as an Islamophobe or a racist or someone likely to go on a shooting spree. The guy acted like literally hundreds of atheists I know on Facebook. The majority of his posts were reposting things from George Takei. He was friends with feminist activists. He hated right-wingers and country music, but loved Obamacare.

    Why do you put him in the atheist tribe? Why not classify him as a feminist? He had a copy of the Minnesota Atheists anthology so chances are he wasn’t a dictionary atheist but more likely an adherent to A+.
    Nevertheless, I recall some bloggers trying imply that Dawkins and Harris had some culpability for his actions.

  81. 100

    Criag Hicks did espouse feminist and liberal values — the reason I said he was one of us is because I was talking to what you call “my side of the movement.” I would not have been surprised to discover that he was a member of Atheism+ – I don’t really know who is or was, but it wouldn’t have struck me as unusual given the nature of his posts. And I define him as an atheist because that is the community to which he and I both belong and therefore the relevant detail.

    I do not think that Dawkins or Harris have blood on their hands nor do I think atheists should not stand up and say we cannot be painted with the same brush. I just think that atheists should acknowledge reality and accept our lack of inherent superiority just because we are non-believers. I also think we should pay attention to the dehumanizing ways we talk about people so that we can forestall encouraging this kind of behavior.

    I think the way we talk about one another, in movement and out, can get really nasty for no reason. This is a problem on both sides. It is exacerbated by strong personal feelings and relationships, which creates a sense of betrayal and anger. Matt Dillahunty posted today one of the most reasonable denunciations of bad behavior within the movement I have ever seen — it models perfectly how not to be tribalistic and refuse to see faults within atheism and how not to be so tribalistic that you can’t see other people as humans rather than monsters.

    I am not triggered by the nasty shit that happens, I am exhausted by it. It is depressing. It makes me not want to participate at all. Yeah, having been repeatedly raped, beaten, and a victim of gun crime makes that shit unpleasant for me personally, but mostly it just makes me wish people weren’t awful — both the people who were responsible for those crimes and the people who take cheap shots because they don’t care. And that is not just Slymepit. People call sides and then pile on, partially because they want to be on the right side of the issue and make it known and partially because some people are assholes and love to stir shit.

    And whatever other people on this network say, I do not personally dislike Dawkins or Harris or whomever. I met Dawkins once, he was perfectly nice, I bet we would get along great in real life as long as neither of us was dependent on the other for a paycheck. I think he’s got some bad ideas and is bad at expressing himself accurately on Twitter. I also think he writes beautifully, especially about biology. There are people who transmute their disagreements with him into hate. I don’t particularly have the energy to hate anyone who hasn’t actually done something to me, and even then, why bother? But because he was adored and then became “bad” people feel like it was personal.

    And y’all are so angry or obsessed with FtB, it’s like the people here aren’t anything but fodder for your jokes and comment wars. It makes me genuinely sad because I bet almost all of the people of the pit aren’t cruel anywhere but online and would be perfectly interesting and polite in real life.

  82. 101

    Ashley #93, reading your last comment felt strange, almost like looking in a mirror.

    I am not triggered by the nasty shit that happens, I am exhausted by it.

    Mostly my reaction too. In addition, it’s so very exhausting and unrewarding to explain over and over again why the shit is nasty (so, John Greg, some other time, ok?) The temptation not to participate at all … ah, yes.

    I would also be ready to bet that “almost all of the people of [most online spaces] aren’t cruel anywhere but online and would be perfectly interesting and polite in real life.” Sometimes it’s a good and consoling thought; at other times it only adds to the exasperation.

  83. 102

    Is this satire or are you trying to prove that atheists can be less intelligent than religious.

    Do you have any sense of irony or understand what a paradox is when you say : “This is one of the reasons attempts to fight tribalism by appeals to reputation are unlikely to work; protecting reputations is very important in tribalism, and tribalism in turn is often effective at protecting reputations.”?

  84. 103

    My apologizes, I copied the wrong quote : “We have to let it go. We have to stop thinking we are better than other people just because we know something they don’t — that’s exactly why religious people act the way they do. We aren’t better than anybody and we never were.”

  85. PA
    104

    I think the way we talk about one another, in movement and out, can get really nasty for no reason.

    I completely agree.

    This is a problem on both sides.

    I mostly disagree.

    Let’s look at the prominent members of each tribe: On one hand you have Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and all those prominent atheists who are branded “rich white doods”. On the other hand we have PZ, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia, and all those who are branded “Social justice warriors”.

    Having these two groups in mind, now let’s see how much manufactured outrage is coming out of each group targeted at the other. Well, it is mostly coming from the second group of prominent atheists towards the first group of prominent atheists. Criticism of Dawkins or Harris is absolutely fine and I personally disagree with them on many issues but of course the problem is that most of the hate directed at Dawkins or Harris is exactly because of tribalism while there is no equal degree of hate coming from Dawkins or Harris at people like PZ, or Rebecca. So I disagree that this is two-way street. For example, most of what Dawkins or Harris say about Islam are perfectly fine criticism of Islam (and I can say that as an ex-muslim, heck, most ex-muslims I know are on board with Dawkins, and Harris on Islam) but let’s see how Rebecca Watson just manufactures outrage here: http://skepchick.org/2013/11/the-top-ten-responses-to-richard-dawkins-honeygate/
    She brings up two issues: “TSA honey issue” and “Muslims having fewers Nobel prizes than Trinity college” and if you dig a little deeper on what Dawkins said and meant, you will immediately see that her piece is bogus and the only reason for its existence is to throw eggs at Dawkins. Now, can you show me an equivalent piece (one that is unfair and intellectually dishonest as opposed to normal disagreements) coming from Harris or Dawkins that targets PZ or Rebecca?

  86. 106

    So he was one of you, lucky i am not one of you, iam an atheist, but clearly, from what you wrote, i am not one of you.

    this blog makes me not want to use the word Atheism anymore.

    i think i start using, “i don’t believe in gods” instead of atheism. no atachements to that.

  87. 107

    This post is entirely predicated on discredited rumors.
    –Evidence shows the shooter was no atheist.
    –There is no eyewitness evidence to support the claim that he targeted the religious, only second-hand reports that subsequently were not confirmed by the actual survivors .
    –There IS evidence from multiple eyewitnesses that he did not seem to intend to target the religious.
    –The evidence does not support the claim that it was in fact the religious who were targeted. Only two of the murder victims are confirmed Christians, while one was an agnostic, one a pagan, one a secular Jew. For the remaining four, there is no evidence from either their substantial social media presence or family/friends that they wished to be known by any religious identity.

    My in-depth analysis: On CNN’s Reliable Sources, Host Wrongly Calls Oregon Shooter an Atheist Targeting Anyone Religious

  88. 109

    Wow, you guys are really reassuring me that the SlymePit has changed by digging up, what, three or four years old comments I made on the subject of rape jokes, in the course of explaining why most rape jokes are out of bounds, how power dynamics apply, and how some jokes that might be termed “rape jokes” are acceptable because the butt of the joke is not rape victims or people who might be raped, but rather rape culture itself. Well done, fellows.

  89. 110

    The above, by the way, is the exact same thing I’ve said about that Onion article, which was, as I recall, about how the “raped environment” had been “asking for it” with its “pristine unspoiled verdure” and so on.

    I mean seriously.

    Y’all are pathetic.

  90. 111

    Ashley said:

    And y’all are so angry or obsessed with FtB, it’s like the people here aren’t anything but fodder for your jokes and comment wars. It makes me genuinely sad because I bet almost all of the people of the pit aren’t cruel anywhere but online and would be perfectly interesting and polite in real life.

    And that comment is what sets you apart from almost every other blogger on FTB.

    And whatever other people on this network say, I do not personally dislike Dawkins or Harris or whomever. I met Dawkins once, he was perfectly nice, I bet we would get along great in real life as long as neither of us was dependent on the other for a paycheck. I think he’s got some bad ideas and is bad at expressing himself accurately on Twitter. I also think he writes beautifully, especially about biology. There are people who transmute their disagreements with him into hate. I don’t particularly have the energy to hate anyone who hasn’t actually done something to me, and even then, why bother? But because he was adored and then became “bad” people feel like it was personal.

    And it is comments like that that have some folks, me at least, really perplexed as to why you associate yourself with a place like FTB. The top bloggers here at FTB, reduced to only three or four, I think, now that Brayton and Benson have gone, make a regular, almost daily habit of wishing one form or other of serious violence, either practical and physical, or intellectual/civil rights on everyone and anyone they don’t like.

    All the Pit ever does is point fingers and laugh. And yet somehow, you express the feeling that the Pit’s pointing fingers and laughing at people is as hostile and as violent as a top blogger saying he would like to “fuck him into the ground” to a harmless ice cream seller who apologized to him, or “stab him to death” to a good samaritan christian. No, Ashley, I do not get it.

    The bottom line, Pit-wise, is really little more than a widely differing sense of humour — and, so far as I can tell, a sense of humour of any sort, is something that is lacking in almost every SJW I’ve ever encountered. Not all humour is for all people, but that does not make it bad in and of itself.

    As I said, for the most part, almost exclusively, all anyone at the Pit does is point fingers and laugh, and a couple of talented folks create sometimes very funny shoops. And for that we receive rebuke, dismissal, threats, insults, dire misrepresentations, profoundly dishonest descriptions, all far, far, far worse than almost anything that ever comes out of the Pit. And the vast majority of that hostility comes from a handful of FTB bloggers, and a large percentage of the FTB commentariat.

    I have never, ever posted threats of violence to anyone on FTB (or anywhere else), yet I have been accused of a wide range of crimes from rape to physical assault and stalking, labelled as having various mental diseases, and threatened with a range if violent reprisals, from dieing in fires, to porcupines up my nethers, to contacts with my employers to fire me (luckily I am self-employed), to contacts with friends and family with accusations of rape, assault, threatening behaviour, and on and on and on.

    And ALL of that, for a number of years now, has come from FTB. And yet you and so many others here continue to directly accuse me of criminal acts and/or egregious bad behaviour of which I am altogether innocent, and condone the rest of FTB as the white knights and heroes of contemporary culture who are on the right side of history.

    Yes, colour me baffled.

  91. 112

    And another thing: WHY is it so important to you people that I or anyone else change their mind about the Pit? That is the part that I find puzzling. I enjoy a FTB, I enjoy a lot of the bloggers here, some more than others. I realize that a lot of people really really hate it. Yet I don’t feel it’s important to change their mind about FTB. Like, it’s not that big a deal? People have different tastes? Years down the road, this is a whole lotta WTF and not much else from where I sit.

  92. 113

    All the Pit ever does is point fingers and laugh.

    That’s true.

    So why get so upset when people conclude that the only reason for the Pit’s existence is to mock people who are doing things apart from mocking other people?

    Gawd, the whining. It’s amazing.

  93. 114

    SallyStrange said:

    And another thing: WHY is it so important to you people that I or anyone else change their mind about the Pit?

    I can only speak for myself, and so, it is not at all important to me that you or anyone else change minds about the Pit. Not at all. What is important is that you and people like you stop lying about it, misrepesenting it, and spreading endless reams of distortions, and further lies and misrepresentations about it, and all while saying you hate it so much that you never visit it, never been there, etc., etc., etc.

    That is the part that I find puzzling. I enjoy a FTB I enjoy a lot of the bloggers here, some more than others.

    I enjoy FTB too, but for reasons that are somewhat different from yours.

    I realize that a lot of people really really hate it.

    I don’t hate FTB or any FTB bloggers or commenters, as such. I just really dislike the incredible amount of deceit and mendacious blather, and the almost endless posts and comments about how wonderful, inclusive, and all-loving FTB and its commentariat is set smack dab down in the middle of endless posts and comments about how the day’s enemy needs to be drawn and quartered, silenced and stifled, and all of that surrounded with complaints about how a meaningless little BBS like the Pit is harassing, silencing, assaulting, and stalking people via shoops. It’s all just so bloody silly and hypocritical. I mean, figuratively speaking, reading FTB is all too often rather like reading someone condemning violence while lynching their latest enemy with vim and vigour.

    Yet I don’t feel it’s important to change their mind about FTB. Like, it’s not that big a deal? People have different tastes?

    Precisely, Sally, pre-fucking-cisely.

    So why get so upset when people conclude that the only reason for the Pit’s existence is to mock people who are doing things apart from mocking other people?

    Huh? I don’t understand that question? As I say, I don’t much care what people feel or say about the Pit, so long as it’s honest. And there is very, very little honest commentary about the Pit coming out of FTB.

    Gawd, the whining. It’s amazing.

    Who’s whining? I’m not whining; I’m describing.

  94. 115

    Bo Gardiner, thank you for the link.

    This confirms what I suspected all along, that this blogger, Ashley F Miller, was merely trying get some buzz out of this tragedy by posting her poorly organized and not very well thought out, yet insulting and condescending, opinions.

  95. 116

    @johngreg

    I guess I just think of ftb the way I do Patheos. I don’t have to agree with anyone else here, it’s a platform that hosts, promotes, and supports my writing. When I have the opportunity and the inclination, I help out the other people who are here and whose writing I like. When I read something they write that I disagree with, I write about it if I care enough. I’ve posted things criticizing Rebecca Watson or PZ, and it’s just not that big a deal. I have made friends with several of the other writers here and I like them as people. They are not infallible. *i* am not infallible. If someone wanted to pay me better money for writing about whatever random things I want to write about, I’d go there and it, again, just wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

  96. 117

    That Onion article is hilarious, and an example of the “right” kind of “rape joke”, just as you say. (This is a difference of opinion, but that old Penny Arcade comic is another example, because my reading of it is that the “dick wolves” aren’t the butt of the joke, but is exactly as horrifying as it reads, and the butt of the joke is how gamers get bored of doing the same thing over and over again, even if that “thing” is saving people from terrible fates. Sadly, I think that applies in the real world, where people can grow weary of suffering to the point that commercials asking you to donate money to starving children become a cliche no one pays attention to.)

    And those in the Pit don’t seem to understand this. They’re in an echo chamber where any doubts can be soothed with a few words from the rest. Um, that’s not to say we aren’t also an echo chamber. No matter how rude or argumentative we get with each other, no group is immune from group think, and thinking one IS immune is all that’s needed to fall for it. Nevertheless, I am convinced they’re worse by far.

  97. 118

    @Dark Jaguar

    I think the difference is in the trying. FtB bloggers do not always succeed in being kind and generous people, and I am not sure all of them want to be, but at the root of what most do is an attempt to improve the world for people and do so in a thoughtful way. Sometimes they get mad and yell and say things that aren’t terribly nice. Certainly there are commenters who are not onboard with that and say some shitty things. But the anger from FtB comes from empathy for people being mistreated, while the anger from the Slymepit seems to come from just hating people for being dumb-dumbs. That’s not universal — I think there was a disproportionate response to the whole honey pot Dawkins thing, for example. But I have always gotten the sense from what I’ve seen of the Slymepit that they generally care more about ideas than people.

  98. 119

    Ashley said:

    I guess I just think of ftb the way I do Patheos…. If someone wanted to pay me better money for writing about whatever random things I want to write about, I’d go there and it, again, just wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

    And it is that attitude and approach that sets you apart from the rest of FTB. And, as I said earlier, makes folks like me rather confused as to why you post here at FTB rather than somewhere else that is less, shall we say, ideologically immalleable and intellectually moribund.

    Seriously, Ashely, like Ally Fogg, your posting here is a tad confusing. You don’t fit, and he doesn’t fit. As I said earlier, reading most of FTB is rather like reading someone ranting against the horrors of violence while lynching there latest greatest bestest ex-friend. Or perhaps fucking them into the ground. Or stabbing them to death.

    I haz confuzednesses.

  99. 120

    Dark Jaguar said:

    And those in the Pit don’t seem to understand this. They’re in an echo chamber where any doubts can be soothed with a few words from the rest. Um, that’s not to say we aren’t also an echo chamber. No matter how rude or argumentative we get with each other, no group is immune from group think, and thinking one IS immune is all that’s needed to fall for it. Nevertheless, I am convinced they’re worse by far.

    HAHAHA. What utter bolsh. How can an echo chamber have such complete lack of agreement? Getting the Pit folk to agree on just about anything* is an impossibility.

    *Perhaps one of the only things Pit folk agree on, or close to but not total, is a disrespect for FTB. But, as I say, that is not total, and some Pit folk actually do like and respect some FTB bloggers. It might be closer to reality to say that almost all Pit folk really really disrespect what most Pit folk define as SJWs. That is probably the closest one can find to what might be called Pit consensus. But otherwise, your comment is simply unsupportable nonsense.

  100. 121

    Ashley said:

    I think the difference is in the trying. FtB bloggers do not always succeed in being kind and generous people, and I am not sure all of them want to be, but at the root of what most do is an attempt to improve the world for people and do so in a thoughtful way.

    I must assume, from that comment, that you do not in fact read very much of what goes on on FTB. There is just far, far too much evidence contrary to your statement that it makes that statement glaringly unsupportable.

    Sometimes they get mad and yell and say things that aren’t terribly nice. Certainly there are commenters who are not onboard with that and say some shitty things.

    I would say a majority, by miles, of commenters fit the bill. But that’s just my perspective.

    But the anger from FtB comes from empathy for people being mistreated …

    I’m sorry Ashley, but there is simply no evidence to substantially support that claim, but a great deal of evidence to break it. What I mean is, there is a very, very small subset of people that FTB, generally speaking, support and decry any mistreatment against. However, that subset changes almost daily, and yesterday’s FTB hero is today’s avowed and most awful enemy, and almost universally for the slightest and most insignificant of reasons.

    … while the anger from the Slymepit seems to come from just hating people for being dumb-dumbs.

    Most Pit folk don’t actually hate anyone. Generally speaking, Pit folk are just amused by the deep and profound contradictions, hypocrisies, and general dishonesty that is daily on display on most, though not all, FTB blogs and other dens of SJWism. You, Ashley, are something of an exception, but I don’t think you are actually aware of how true that is.

    That’s not universal — I think there was a disproportionate response to the whole honey pot Dawkins thing, for example.

    It wasn’t disproportionate, it was ludicrous. It was deep and intentional misrepresenting what Dawkins said. It was twisting nonsense meanings into every word he stated. It was idiocy on vivid display.

    But I have always gotten the sense from what I’ve seen of the Slymepit that they generally care more about ideas than people.

    I think that is probably quite true, although having recently undergone a major fundamental personal crisis, the help and support rendered to me by many Pit folk was above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak. They, quite literally, saved my life.

  101. 122

    Ashley said:

    … I have always gotten the sense from what I’ve seen of the Slymepit that they generally care more about ideas than people.

    I’ve been thinking about this (and my earlier reply to it). I think it might be both more accurate and more fair to say that Pit folk generally care more about the expression and sharing of ideas than the expression and sharing of people’s feelings.

    Some Pit folks are rather notoriously cold-hearted, but most, while being rather warm-hearted individuals (yes, I know, there will be a lot of rage tears and expresssions of deep disbelief at that claim), are really much more focussed on what people think than what they feel. And, in my opinion, the opposite tends to hold sway at FTB — generally speaking.

  102. 123

    Ashley said:

    … I have always gotten the sense from what I’ve seen of the Slymepit that they generally care more about ideas than people.

    I’ve been thinking about this (and my earlier reply). I think it might be both more accurate, and more fair, to say that Pit folk generally care more about the expression and sharing of ideas than the expression and sharing of people’s feelings.

    It is true that some Pit folk are notoriously cold-hearted, but while most Pit folk are actually really quite warm-hearted (yes, I know, there will be a lot of rage tears and expressions of disbelief over that claim), they do focus much more on ideas than on feelings. Generally speaking. And, in my opinion, the opposite holds true at FTB. Generally speaking.

  103. 125

    […] “Atheism can motivate terrible crimes, just like religion can. This is a thing we have to get used to.  Atheists are so used to being exceptional, to being smarter and less criminal than other Americans, that the fact that someone was an atheist and did a bad thing seems to be exceedingly difficult for us to understand.” Read more. […]

  104. 126

    SallyStrange (October 7, 2015 at 3:46 pm):

    So why get so upset when people conclude that the only reason for the Pit’s existence is to mock people who are doing things apart from mocking other people?

    You might have a point. But even assuming that that was the case – although, it’s more likely to be only partially the case rather than the whole of it – one might ask, just what is wrong with mocking? As a point of reference, you might note Thomas Jefferson’s view on religion and the use of ridicule, i.e., mocking, as a defense against it:

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity.”

    And it’s hard not characterize any number of claims of various “social justice warriors” and members of the FTB commentariat as anything other than “unintelligible propositions”, salient cases in point being the claim that Caitlyn Jenner is a woman; that there’s a nefarious and shadowy “Patriarchy” that’s responsible for everything from sexism to rape culture to the wage gap to in-grown toenails; that Michael Nugent was “providing a haven for rapists”; and that (your own contribution) “the exclusion of women [from mathematics has] slowed down mathematical discovery” (1). And, somewhat in passing and relative to the latter, while I may have been overly harsh in my response, although I enjoyed the TED talk you referred to, my point was that there are any number of possible reasons why there might be fewer women in mathematics than there are men, none of which provide any support for your claim that there’s a discriminatory process of “exclusion” in play.

    But I think that all three of those cases, and many more besides, are a manifestation of egregious dogma, and proof-positive that “the atheist community is culpable of spreading bad ideas” and “unintelligible propositions”. A crime it compounds, at least in the case of more than a few Freethought Blogs (ha!), by promoting and condoning the existence of echochambers and “Internet Silos” (2). No wonder the Pit never runs short of targets for its ridicule.

    —–
    1) “_https://jadehawks.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/a-collection-of-reading-comprehension-fails/#comment-3276”;
    2) “_https://edge.org/response-detail/23777”;

  105. 127

    Ashley (October 8, 2015 at 11:52 am):

    But the anger from FtB comes from empathy for people being mistreated, while the anger from the Slymepit seems to come from just hating people for being dumb-dumbs.

    There are probably at least a few people on each side of “the Great Rift” that that could apply to, although I think it decidedly moot to what extent it would apply to everyone. And I rather expect that many on the SlymePit side have no shortage of “empathy for people being mistreated” – e.g., EllenBeth Wachs, Don Kane, Stef McGraw – and that no few people on the FtB side seem rather “hateful” towards those not subscribing to the same dogma, to the same “conventional wisdom”, that they do – e.g., PZ & Gelato guy, and the whole ethos of the Pharyngula commentariat. Apropos of that set, I note that Massimo Pigliucci – admittedly, no particular friend of Myers – characterized Pharyngula as “a blog where the level of nastiness (both by the host and by [Myers’] readers) is rarely matched anywhere else on the Internet” (1).

    But I have always gotten the sense from what I’ve seen of the Slymepit that they generally care more about ideas than people.

    And there may well be more than a little justification for that view, although I think that it is only part of the picture. Eleanor Roosevelt (2) said that:

    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

    While there is, no doubt, some justification for that perspective, for that aphorism, it seems to me that “great ideas” are that precisely because they allow us to get more of a handle on both events and people – and the societies they are the fundamental constituents of; because they, hopefully, allow us to maximize every individual’s rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. So to speak.

    So I think it’s less a case of the SlymePit caring “more about ideas than people” than one of recognizing that “spreading bad ideas” is decidedly and profoundly antithetical to that rather imporant and credible principle – with very negative consequences for everyone as the historical record plainly shows.

    —–
    1) “_https://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/reflections-on-the-skeptic-and-atheist-movements/”;
    2) “_http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/eleanorroo385439.html”;

  106. 128

    @johngreg

    I think it might be both more accurate, and more fair, to say that Pit folk generally care more about the expression and sharing of ideas than the expression and sharing of people’s feelings.

    Bwah ha ha ha. A good bit of the time (atleast the last I checked) was spent mocking people for how they looked with a good deal of spite thrown in (and worse) .

    The accurate and fair representation is pit folk generally dislike the ideas expressed by this side and choose to express that in juvenile ways at best and hateful ways at worst.

  107. 129

    Deepak said:

    A good bit of the time (atleast the last I checked) was spent mocking people for how they looked with a good deal of spite thrown in (and worse).

    Yes, it’s true that there is a contingent of people who do that. However, if you were an honest interlocutor you would have also noted that there is also a contingent of folks who decry and criticize such actions, and a contingent who cares little about it one way or the other. That’s what you get when you allow for actual free speech, as opposed to the tailored and circumscribed forms of extremely limited free thought and free speech available at such places as FTB.

    Ashley and Ally Fogg, so far as I am aware, are the only FTB bloggers who make a legitimate attempt at allowing actual free speech and free thought. The rest appear to mostly enforce/create a variable range of false consensus, editorial thought control, and so on, through, moderation, editing of posts, deleting of posts, and banning of posters.

    Anyway, the bottom line stands that the majority of Pit folk generally care more about the expression and sharing of ideas than the expression and sharing of people’s feelings.

    And no, your “accurate and fair representation” is neither accurate nor fair.

  108. 130

    You would expect a free-for-all internet chatroom to be entertaining, but the thing that struck me about The Slymepit is how tedious it is. If it’s not repetitive diatribes against the FtB-Skepchick-SJW clique, it’s people whingeing about this or that medical condition, or something else mundane or irrelevant.

    As to the article here, I can only assume that a blog written at FtB denouncing ‘atheist tribalism’ to be some sort of attempt at humour. Very droll.

  109. 131

    polishsalami said:

    You would expect a free-for-all internet chatroom to be entertaining, but the thing that struck me about The Slymepit is how tedious it is.

    You’ve got a good point there actually. The Pit can indeed be tedious, repetitive, and rather boring, especially when there’s no major thing blowing up in SJWville. When that kind of slump happens, Pit folk tend to snarl at each other. However, when the SJWs go mad with one of their highly entertaining episodes of self-focussed doolallyisms, things do perk up a bit.

    At the moment, Melody Hensley has just announced that she has quit CFI — no reason stated. As Hensley is an ongoing point of world-wide focus and entertainment — the Melody Hensley PTSD and Trigger meme mainly — this might add some entertainment value to the daily posts.

    In my view, the most entertaining aspect of the Pit, aside from the occasional SJW explosion, are the shoops by Ape+Lust, Gumby, and Jan Steen (and a few others who occasionally do some very good ones), and the now fairly rare Downfall quips from Gefan.

    If it’s not repetitive diatribes against the FtB-Skepchick-SJW clique, it’s people whingeing about this or that medical condition, or something else mundane or irrelevant.

    There are far, far, far more topics than those two you list. But, whatever.

    Also, “mundane and irrelevant” is 100% in the eye of the behoder, so that’s not much of a point.

    Anyhow, all blogs and BBSs are, by their very nature, limted in topics. That’s more or less the nature of the beast, especially one like the Pit which, while it has no particular or specific socio-political goal, it does have a understandabley limited topical focus.

  110. 132

    . However, if you were an honest interlocutor you would have also noted that there is also a contingent of folks who decry and criticize such actions,

    Admittedly I have neither the time nor the inclination to actually check if this is true. So I will ask you instead – Provide a single link where someones looks were being made fun off (hence not an idea discussion ) that demonstrates the “contingent” of folks who decried it. This wont change my opinion of the pit but it would atleast demonstrate that you are arguing in good faith.

    extremely limited free thought and free speech available at such places as FTB.

    Heh. You really don’t get the concept of free speech do you ? But anyway you complain about bloggers not allowing you to respond on their blogs – There are other in the Atheist space – Jerry Coyne comes to mind – who do heavily moderate and ban folks (and in my opinion , arbitrarily) – or say Richard Dawkins whose forums I left, years ago, when the moderators turned trigger happy and Dawkins didnt seem to care a whit- Show me the pit threads where you’ll have heavily criticized these folks(i.e. Atheist “leaders” generally perceived to be in opposition to FTB who also moderate their sites) for being anti free speech? If on the other hand you’ll only criticise FTB bloggers for banning people then its not an “ideas” discussion – Its a I dislike these personalities discussion – i.e feelings.

    And no, your “accurate and fair representation” is neither accurate nor fair.

    YMMV.

  111. 133

    deepak said:

    Admittedly I have neither the time nor the inclination to actually check if this is true. So I will ask you instead – Provide a single link where someones looks were being made fun off (hence not an idea discussion ) that demonstrates the “contingent” of folks who decried it. This wont change my opinion of the pit but it would atleast demonstrate that you are arguing in good faith.

    Your intellectual integrity, vigour, and curiousity is a wonder to behold.

    Shorter deepak:

    I don’t know what I’m talking about and even when proven wrong will keep on misrepresenting and lying about these things I don’t know anything about.

    You really don’t get the concept of free speech do you?

    Enlighten me, oh Swammi of free speech.

    As to the rest of that paragraph’s contents, many Pit folk criticize precisely the people you mention, and lots of other non-FTB folk for doing precisely what you describe. Just because you who has “neither the time nor the inclination to actually check” have not seen it does not mean it is not there.

    But seriously, in this instance and the previous, do you really think I’m going to go back over more than 300,000 posts to find ones that point out something you’ll probably not read anyway, and the contents of which you would continue to ignore while also lying about and restating with profound misrepresentation even if you did read it?

    As if.

    Why don’t you go shovel doughnuts and white men with Sasha Pixlee. It might better suit your intellectual character.

  112. 134

    johngreg (October 14, 2015 at 2:33 pm):

    deepak said:
    deepak: Admittedly I have neither the time nor the inclination to actually check if this is true ….

    johngreg: Why don’t you go shovel doughnuts and white men with Sasha Pixlee. It might better suit your intellectual character.

    Admittedly, it’s not particularly easy to go back over those 300,000-odd posts and find what is required, although not impossible so one might fault deepak for not doing his own “due diligence”. However, I don’t find it unreasonable that he should ask for evidence (“or FLOOSH”), and think you’re missing a bet in not providing it – not to mention being a bit of a dick in your response: hardly likely to win many friends and positively influence people in the “battle for the hearts and minds”.

    In any case, to more or less answer his question, here’s a link (1) to a search on the term “cheap shot” (126 hits) that I, among others, have used for various purposes. And while not all of them are relevant, there are a number of cases where others have agreed with my assessment. In addition, there’s a comment by Kirbmarc (2) which elaborates on one of those in some detail; here’s a comment (3) on “insulting diminutives” (kind of like Zvan’s “dear Dick” …) in the context of a discussion on “mocking physical attributes”; and the search results (4) for those terms.

    —–
    1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/search.php?keywords=%22cheap+shot%22”;
    2) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=294469#p294469”;
    3) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=134588#p134588”;
    4) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keywords=+%2Bphysical+%2Battribute%2A&start=65”;

  113. 135

    @johngreg

    Your intellectual integrity, vigour, and curiousity is a wonder to behold.

    Again – when I looked , I didn’t see anything that would come near to “contingent of people who decry it” – My looking was not exhaustive and I gave you a fair chance to respond.
    I’ll also point out to you that since you agreed with my assessment that there are instances of people who make fun of other people purely on the basis of their looks – you didnt need any additional evidence from me. You are making the claim that people decry this , so you have to provide the evidence – in much the same way as you demand people show you links when they say slymepitters make rape jokes – or is that a demonstration of your integrity ?

    Enlighten me, oh Swammi of free speech.

    Oh please – Im sure you have read the definitive XKCD cartoon. But here you go if you havent
    https://xkcd.com/1357/

    do you really think I’m going to go back over more than 300,000 posts to find ones that point out something you’ll probably not read anyway

    Which is why I asked you for a single instance not for exhaustive examples- when you said there was a contingent of people who decry such things , I assumed you had examples in mind and would know specific incidents to search for. I on the other hand already know for the examples I have seen, there was no such contingent(again when I looked) but that would merely be met by “oh well not in this specific case but in general there is a contingent of people who decry such things”

  114. 136

    @Steersman
    Maybe I’m not seeing it in your examples correctly but let me give you an example of what I mean . Here’s a comment by Phil G http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=351&p=151847#p151855 referring to Ophelia B
    Or maybe I could call her a fucking old, shrivelled lying twat, and just relax while having lunch and watching An idiot Abroad.
    Notice that this isn’t discussing ideas – it’s making abusive comments based on looks / age with a dose of sexism. If you want to convince me the pit isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be and that youll are really interested in ideas over feelings , all you need to show is a “contingent” of people who decry such comments from the pit – especially when the target is someone who the pitters in general dislike.
    Im not seeing anything close to that in the links that you have provided.

  115. 137

    @Steersman
    So I see that in the “cheap shot” you have voiced 2 objections (atleast in the 10-15 ones I read) for Melody Hensley or for Gilliel and a couple of times about Ophelia B- I dont see a contingent of people – If your response is that you personally call out some stuff (in a nudge nudge wink wink manner – oh cheap shot but amusing) , then fair enough – but there is supposed to be a contingent of people who decry such things.

  116. 138

    deepak shetty (October 14, 2015 at 4:53 pm):

    Maybe I’m not seeing it in your examples correctly but let me give you an example of what I mean . Here’s a comment by Phil G referring to Ophelia …. Notice that this isn’t discussing ideas – it’s making abusive comments based on looks / age with a dose of sexism.

    I at least don’t dispute that more than a few people in the Pit have made, and continue to make, what I have periodically called “cheap shots” (whether I get a chortle out of them or not) – and which more than a few people there have agreed with. And you kind of have to read somewhat closely those threads to see that as the Pit format tends to intersperse comments on other topics. But your example is from December 2013 whereas many if not most of the criticisms of that type of language were subsequent to it – and which, I think, has contributed to a general reduction in the frequency of it: takes time to change a community’s “standards” – kind of like Pharyngula and its porcupine “jokes” ….

    However, somewhat parenthetically, I and, I expect, most Pitters would dispute your apparent suggestion that “twat” is instrincially sexist: certainly a somewhat rude and crude insult but somewhat untenable to argue that it is necessarily sexist. But you might be interested in a separate Pit thread on the “Nigger-Cunt Hypothesis” (1) which I started to address an analogy between those terms and related ones; from the opening comment:

    Specifically, the NCH is that “cunt is to sexism as nigger is to racism”. Or, more formally, cunt:sexism :: nigger:racism.

    And that analogy seems to support at least two different constructions depending on the relationship between the features in the target and source referred to in the analogy, specifically: if “cunt” is necessarily sexist then “nigger” is necessarily racist, and, if “cunt” isn’t necessarily sexist then “nigger” isn’t necessarily racist.

    An argument, which I’ve been harping on for some time, that I advanced in part because Benson had – quite reasonably, I thought – questioned why the former term was relatively accepted while the latter was anathematized. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that most Pitters support that position – which I consider to be rather inconsistent at best if not egregiously hypocritical.

    But more to your point, there may well be – past and recent – many such “abusive comments” that don’t receive any concerted condemnation by the entire Pit membership, in part because it’s a fast moving message board and not everyone is going to read every comment to begin with. However, I think the evidence is clear that there is a “contingent” – as you put it – of more than a few people who do periodically raise an objection or two to various specific cases of such “abusive comments”. For instances:

    ThreeFlangedJavis: …. All that said, horseface barbs are intended to wound. That’s not about appearance, that’s about being nasty. (2)

    JackSkeptic: ….

    windy wrote:
    I also hope he comes back, but after all those horseface jokes Matt has graced us with, handwringing over a few “your mom” jokes seems a bit ridiculous.

    The thing with the Slympit is that you have to take the rough with the smooth and it is always hard to know when words may genuinely hurt. For me there are always some things off limits, family being one of them. Actually I have a whole list as I’m a Saint, such as someone’s looks, artistic talent or defect or feature they have little control over (body weight, bad speaker etc) But then the clowns have never hurt me and If they did maybe I would think differently. (3)

    CaptainFluffyBunny: The mocking of appearances is a grey area for me. I agree that it can be petty and spiteful, but if something is chosen rather than natural, it certainly opens some doors for legitimate criticism …. (4)

    debaser71: I say that mocking people’s appearances in in poor form but then I remember what some of these people said, especially if they mocked or shamed others.

    Even so, it still feels mean. Anyway I think AS looks nice in that pic. Her smirky face is hilarious. YMMV. (5)

    And there has been a great deal of discussion on the general topic of “body shaming”, both by those inside and outside the Pit (6).

    So it seems that “contingent” is proven, or at least substantiated – although YMMV.

    —–
    1) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=443”;
    2) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=88140#p88140”;
    3) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=166680#p166680”;
    4) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=270743#p270743”;
    5) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=270747#p270747”;
    6) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/search.php?keywords=%22body+shaming%22”;

  117. 139

    Steers, don’t forget who you’re dealing with here. deepak, like Latsot, Aratinacage, and one or two others, is of the group that claimed and stated that when PZ said on Twitter (“_http://www.michaelnugent.com/2015/01/03/pz-myers-new-defamatory-smear-support-rapists/”):

    It’s not about what he thinks, but what he’s doing: defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.

    He (PZ) did not actually say:

    It’s not about what he thinks, but what he’s doing: defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.

    And most certainly did not mean:

    It’s not about what he thinks, but what he’s doing: defending & providing a haven for harassers, misogynists, and rapists.

    So, well, arguing with deepak is rather like arguing with a cloud. An angry cloud. An angry, windy-drifty cloud.

  118. 140

    When it comes to this issue of cheap shots, whether they’re based on personal appearance, or other choice-based phenomena, is something I admit I kind of go back and forth on.

    Generally speaking, I think the issue, for me anyway, is that if someone makes a choice about something, anything, in terms of apperance, lifestyle, intellectual/socio-political ideas, and so on and so forth, simply by making a choice they are then open to criticism from anyone, anywhere, anytime.

    And determining whether or not that said criticism is a cheap shot or not is an almost impossibly difficult thing to determine due to an almost infinite range of personal opinions.

    If that “something” is not choice-based, but is something they’re born with, then I think it is much harder to allow for criticism, especially the so-called cheap shot or nastier criticisms.

    But you know, as I said elsewhere, one person’s comedy terrorist is another person’s Barte stick figure.

  119. 141

    johngreg (October 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm):

    Steers, don’t forget who you’re dealing with here. deepak, like Latsot, Aratinacage, and one or two others, is of the group that claimed and stated that when PZ said on Twitter ….

    You have anything specific to justify the accusation that deepak himself made those specific arguments? Otherwise, it looks like you’re engaging in some guilt-by-association, tarring all with a narrow brush that only applies to a few: in a word or two, engaging in some “atheist tribalism” yourself.

    You too may wish to read and pay close attention to John Hartung’s Love Thy Neighbor: The evolution of in-group morality (1).

    And regardless of whether you come up with evidence of that or not, I hardly think that obviates or precludes his right to ask for evidence for your own claims. Looks a little disingenuous at best to suggest otherwise.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=13”;

  120. 142

    Steers said:

    You have anything specific to justify the accusation that deepak himself made those specific arguments?

    I seem to recall that he did, but I could be in error. Anyway, I’ll try and remember tomorrow to peruse Nugent’s chain of events and see if I am right. If I am wrong, I will most certainly post that here. If I am right, I’ll post a link.

    And regardless of whether you come up with evidence of that or not, I hardly think that obviates or precludes his right to ask for evidence for your own claims. Looks a little disingenuous at best to suggest otherwise.

    Did I say he did not have the right to ask me for evidence of my claims? Please show me where.

  121. 143

    johngreg (October 14, 2015 at 11:51 pm):

    Looks a little disingenuous at best to suggest otherwise.

    Did I say he did not have the right to ask me for evidence of my claims? Please show me where.

    I didn’t say that you said he didn’t have the right; I said, in effect, that you had suggested (1) that; that that was the effect and implication of your response:

    suggest:
    2. To express or say indirectly: The police officer seemed to be suggesting that the death was not an accident.
    3. To make evident indirectly; intimate or imply: a silence that suggested disapproval.
    4. To bring or call to mind by logic or association; evoke:

    Seems like a reasonable word, an accurate verb, to describe you getting in a great huff about his quite reasonable and civil request – “So I will ask you instead – Provide a single link”. And then, adding insult to injury, inferred that he didn’t know what he was “talking about and even when proven wrong [would] keep on misrepresenting and lying about these things [he didn’t] know anything about.”

    Why else would you do that unless you thought he didn’t have the right to ask you for evidence for your claim? “Atheist tribalism” in action? In-group morality and out-group hostility?

    ——
    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/suggest”;

  122. 144

    That is an interpretation that I do not share.

    I do not, and did not suggest or intentionally imply that deepak does not, did not, nor will not have the right to ask me to provide evidence to support my claims and statements. S/h/it has all the right in the world to do so.

    I have all the right in the world to refuse the request, knowing full well that that weakens my claim.

    I just have too much experience with deepak and deepak’s ilk, as it were, and know that when provided with links, and even the firmest of proofs, the response will be one, or both, of two:

    1. Misinterpret, reshape, and historically revise all links, claims, statements, and proofs, while also trying one or more various obfuscations, argument shifters, topic derailers, and/or logical fallacies so as to avoid accepting and/or agreeing with any and all proofs.
    2. Pretend the proofs weren’t offered and refuse to rejoin or continue the conversation.

  123. 145

    johngreg (October 15, 2015 at 4:22 am):

    That is an interpretation that I do not share.

    Seems to me that it isn’t really a question of whether you, as the creator of that response to deepak, share that interpretation or not; the question is whether that response implied or evoked that interpretation in the minds of those who subsequently viewed the response. And I’m telling you that that is the one that it “called to mind” for me, whether anyone else agrees or not. You may wish to reflect on the old saw, “intent isn’t magic”: disingenuous at best, as I said earlier, to ignore the likelihood of that interpretation.

    I have all the right in the world to refuse the request, knowing full well that that weakens my claim.

    Sure. But if you know that refusing the request weakens your claim then why make it? Or, having made it, why not at least attempt to provide evidence for it? Particularly as I subsequently provided chapter and verse in support of it?

    And I rather doubt your “experience with deepak and his ilk” holds much water as it isn’t something that’s been tabled in these discussions, or presented to those partaking or lurking about. Far better, in my view, to provide the requested evidence and then, if they react that way, your point would be proven – and manifest to all. Think you’re missing a bet, and aren’t really contributing or promoting anything – except maybe animosity, if you think the worst of people and refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  124. 146

    @Steersman
    I accept that you personally do not seem to either engage or support some of the behaviors I have objections to and have voiced your objections. I do think you are downplaying it by calling it a cheap shot. For e,g, if you respond to me saying your views are shitty , just like your last name – thats a cheap shot – calling someone a “shriveled old twat” or Photoshopping someone to be extremely obese and having sex with someone else is not a cheap shot – it is vile abuse .
    But like I said , I will consider that you, personally, are arguing in good faith – my opinion of the pit remains unchanged (even if you’ll did it nicely , a good bit of our views would still be diametrically opposed)

    “twat” is instrincially sexist

    Reducing a woman to her genitalia is inherently sexist whether the person using the word intended that or not. A lot of the pitters seem to think if they use common abuses , they aren’t using sexist terms , without stopping to think why that term is an abuse in the first place.

    I don’t see what you think I should in some of your examples – For e.g. someone says horseface barbs are nasty – I dont see them asking for it to be stopped or doing in fact anything about it.(And I guess a good bit of pitters, like the horde , believe that being nasty is justified when the target deserves it , no?). Or someone is saying that he/she personally wouldnt use some insults but I dont see any condemnations of people who do. Others express that mocking people for appearance is a grey area. I do not see any place where pitters decry the people who are indulging in that behavior.

  125. 147

    @johngreg
    Amusing. So this side expresses the idea that it is possible to “support”(for a nuanced definition of support) rapists by certain behaviors , even if one does not actively participate in the rape , and that society, in general does support harassment/rape of women (see for e.g. Bill Cosby/ Geoff Marcy) – whereas the pitters worry about the person who is said to have supported rapists, his reputation etc. What was that about pitters care only about the idea being expressed?

    Did I say he did not have the right to ask me for evidence of my claims

    Heh. So I have the right to ask but If I actually do so then my

    “intellectual integrity, vigour, and curiousity is a wonder to behold.”

    I just have too much experience with deepak and deepak’s ilk, as it were,

    Great – then we can agree , there is no particular reason for you to ever respond to me or me to you. Bye.

  126. 149

    To get back on topic, if that’s possible.

    Ashley said:

    Atheism can motivate terrible crimes, just like religion can.

    I take very strong exception to that, for several reasons. Perhaps the most compelling reason is:

    Most religions have as a profoundly important part of their fundamental tenets, a direction/process/formula of othering and specifically targetting for violence, if not outright annihilation, those who do not accept their creed.

    Ahteists, many, not all, and I seriously doubt a majority of them, may other those who do not accept the creed of atheism, but very, very, very few atheists, if any, seriously actually specifically target for violence, if not outright annihilation, those who do not accept atheism.

    The only person I am directly aware of calling for violence against religious folks is PZ Myers in his dictat that if a theist tried to console him were he in a serious accident, he would stab them to death.

    Please refresh my knowledge, but I cannot remember anyone else, especially any so-called atheist leader, espousing such deeply violent desires based upon their hatred of religious folks.

    Also, atheism, as a specific philosophy, nowhere officially states that othering anyone who does not accept atheism is a good and proper goal of atheism. There is no bible of atheism that does so; there are only a handful of so-called atheist leaders who state so.

    I would also like to challenge you Ashely, to show us, if you can, how the actual violent horrors of mass shootings, and so on, are actually a product of the perpetrator’s atheistic philosophy and theory, rather than a product of the perpetrator’s fucked up mental state and probable psychopathic anti-social tendencies that are directly unrelated to, though perhaps caught up within, their atheism, and for which they just throw in various I am an atheist and this is what I want to do bits of blather.

  127. 150

    deepak shetty (October 15, 2015 at 11:04 am):

    … calling someone a “shriveled old twat” or Photoshopping someone to be extremely obese and having sex with someone else is not a cheap shot – it is vile abuse.

    That seems to be a matter of opinion, a case of idiosyncratic interpretations – I don’t see any definitions for “vile abuse” that explicitly encompass “calling someone a shriveled old twat”.

    But like I said, I will consider that you, personally, are arguing in good faith ….

    Well, thanks for that – it’s a start. 🙂

    “twat” is instrincially sexist …

    Reducing a woman to her genitalia is inherently sexist whether the person using the word intended that or not

    I’ll certainly agree with you that it is a rude and crude insult that does, in fact, reduce a particular woman to her genitalia. And, presumably, particularly odious aspects of them. However, I think that you, along with many others, are unclear on the definition for and concept of sexist (1):

    sex•ism (sĕk′sĭz′əm)
    n.
    1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
    2. The belief that one gender is superior to the other, especially that men are superior to women.

    How is “reducing one woman to her genitalia” doing so for all women”? Much less asserting that all men are superior to all women? Because they share that attribute in common? Because you think that the insult implies that genitalia, in general, are intrinsically and entirely odious? I will readily concede that if someone had said, “all women are twats”, then that would be a reasonable case of egregious sexism. But asserting that of one?

    A whole lot of highly questionable inferences there that are not at all supported by the facts. You may wish to take a real close look at that Pit thread on the “Nigger-Cunt Hypothesis”, particularly the discussion on and the paper The semantics of slurs: A refutation of coreferentialism (2) by the linguist Adam Croom. And you may also wish to give some serious thought to Francis Bacon’s “Therefore shoddy and inept application of words lays siege to the intellect in wondrous ways.”

    I don’t see what you think I should in some of your examples – For e.g. someone says horseface barbs are nasty – I don’t see them asking for it to be stopped or doing in fact anything about it. …. I do not see any place where pitters decry the people who are indulging in that behavior.

    What were you expecting? To see the perpetrators crucified along the road leading to the Pit? Some people made some nasty or “cheap shots”; other people “decried” (“To express disapproval of (a person); denounce”) them; the perpetrators are at liberty to continue or curtail those behaviours – which many have done. Kind of the nature of free speech if I’m not mistaken; anything else – like draconian moderation policies – tends to kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs, as illustrated by the dearth of comments on many FreethoughtBlogs (ha! What a joke.)

    And I might point out that johngreg’s original claim was that there’s a “contingent of folks [in the Pit] who decry and criticize such actions” – which my list of explicit statements to that effect by more than a few people there seems to rather clearly prove. Denying that or refusing to acknowledge that looks kind of like the fellow who wanted to see a forest and who, when shown a bunch of trees, insisted that he couldn’t see the forest for all the trees in the way – at best.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexist”;
    2) “_http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215039015000041”;

  128. 151

    johngreg (October 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm):

    Steers: blahblahblahblah….

    LoL. Nothing says “not an honest interlocutor” like responding to a civil argument, to a civil request, with a childish raspberry, with a bunch of ad hominems; what a dickhead, way to let down the team.

    And, to kill two birds with one stone, I think that argument speaks rather clearly to the entire concept and topic of “atheist tribalism”.

  129. 152

    @Steersman

    How is “reducing one woman to her genitalia” doing so for all women”?

    Ha ha – because only one woman in the entire history of humans has been called a twat. What next – nigger isn’t racist if you only call one black person that ? It is sexist because it falls in the second category – a woman is only her genitalia (i.e. good only for sex or giving birth).

    What were you expecting?

    Maybe the same level of insults that get directed towards FTB bloggers since that seems to be the acceptable way in the pit to express disagreements of ideas?
    Seriously though I would expect a stop doing that – Saying I don’t personally do it is more like You like chocolate and I like vanilla. And of course everything continues exactly as before.

  130. 153

    OK, Steers, OK.

    Steers said:

    Seems to me that it isn’t really a question of whether you, as the creator of that response to deepak, share that interpretation or not; the question is whether that response implied or evoked that interpretation in the minds of those who subsequently viewed the response.

    I have little control, regardless of how carefully I phrase my text, over how dishonest word twisters like deepak (and ilk) respond/react outwardly or inwardly to my text — not to mention deepak’s essential lack of expansive literacy or intellectual depth. As to you, who should know better, you are, in essence, saying that the fact that my intent is not what you perceive it to be, and the fact that I do not agree with your interpretation of my intent and content, is irrelevant because what counts is how you interpret what I said regardless of and outside of what I state my intent to have actually been, or not, as the case may be. At any rate, that is how I interpret your argument.

    And I’m telling you that that is the one that it “called to mind” for me, whether anyone else agrees or not. You may wish to reflect on the old saw, “intent isn’t magic”: disingenuous at best, as I said earlier, to ignore the likelihood of that interpretation.

    I agree, and understand, that that is the one that it “called to mind” for [you]. However, I am trying to state that even though that is what was called to your mind, that was not my intent. If, after I have tried to clarify my intent, you still insist on holding on to your earlier, and mistaken, interpretation of my intent (and content), there is nought that I can do do further clarify.

    I said:

    I have all the right in the world to refuse the request, knowing full well that that weakens my claim.

    Steers said:

    Sure. But if you know that refusing the request weakens your claim then why make it? Or, having made it, why not at least attempt to provide evidence for it? Particularly as I subsequently provided chapter and verse in support of it?

    My principle reason for not continuing to provide evidence is because, as I have stated, my many past interactions with deepak (and ilk) repeatedly assure me that deepak (and ilk) will not, under any circumstances, acknowledge any fact, proof, or other piece of evidence/data/information that counters deepak’s (and ilk) claims. deepak (and ilk) will inevitabley do what I said, and gish gallop, obfuscate, intentionally misinterpret, distort, out-and-out lie, build a fence of logical fallacies, and as a last resort simply ignore any and all proofs of whatever value that counter deepak’s (and ilk) argument. So, why should I bother when the past experience of a year or two shows that to do so is utterly, completely, and without exception, pointless?

    And I rather doubt your “experience with deepak and his ilk” holds much water as it isn’t something that’s been tabled in these discussions, or presented to those partaking or lurking about. Far better, in my view, to provide the requested evidence and then, if they react that way, your point would be proven – and manifest to all. Think you’re missing a bet, and aren’t really contributing or promoting anything – except maybe animosity, if you think the worst of people and refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    See above. I am sick to death of the word games, the mendacity, the endless distortions, and the neverending dance of provide proofs, have proofs distorted or topic-shifted, have proofs ignored, and so on and so forth forever. If you wish to play that game — and I honestly think you do and are somewhat OCD about it — go for it. Have fun.

  131. 155

    deepak shetty (October 15, 2015 at 5:28 pm):

    Steersman: How is “reducing one woman to her genitalia” doing so for all women”?

    Deepak: Ha ha – because only one woman in the entire history of humans has been called a twat.

    What the fuck does that have to do with anything? Someone having called Fred an asshole last week, and someone else having called Mike an asshole the week before means that me calling Sam an asshole today is asserting that every last Tom, Dick, and Harry in the world is an asshole? Does not compute; English wouldn’t be a second language for you, would it? Sure kind of looks that way, and for many reasons.

    Steersman: What were you expecting?

    Deepak: Maybe the same level of insults that get directed towards FTB bloggers ….

    And what the fuck does that have to do with the point in question? Which I might point out again as you seem to have a short attention span, is whether there’s a “contingent of folks [in the Pit] who decry and criticize such actions”. That you seem incapable of or unwilling to address that question, and the evidence adduced in support of it, is hardly painting you in a flattering light.

  132. 156

    johngreg (October 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm):

    I agree, and understand, that that is the one that it “called to mind” for [you]. However, I am trying to state that even though that is what was called to your mind, that was not my intent. If, after I have tried to clarify my intent, you still insist on holding on to your earlier, and mistaken, interpretation of my intent (and content), there is nought that I can do to further clarify.

    Fine. Except I wasn’t “holding to my earlier interpretation”. I was pointing out that I had said that, at the time you made your response to deepak, it looked like you were suggesting that he didn’t have the right to ask for evidence. And now that you’ve asserted that that was not your intent, which I’ll more or less accept as the case, I’m still left with asking, with some justification as I did before – several times, whether or not your response constituted a case of “in-group morality, and out-group hostility”. That is, “atheist tribalism”. Although that may or may not boil down to the same thing.

    In any case, based on deepak’s latest response to me (October 15, 2015 at 5:28 pm), I’ll have to concede that your subsequent point, and previous one, has some justification, to wit:

    My principle reason for not continuing to provide evidence is because, as I have stated, my many past interactions with deepak (and ilk) repeatedly assure me that deepak (and ilk) will not, under any circumstances, acknowledge any fact, proof, or other piece of evidence/data/information that counters deepak’s (and ilk) claims.

    Although I think that your point is still a little categorical or absolutist as it’s clear that he at least conceded that I was “arguing in good faith”. However, my point was and is that I think that you, that “we”, have to be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and respond in more or less good faith – in virtually every venue and at every time. If “they” then fuck up then “we” have the goods on them, and can then refer to the specifics in later conversations. And, in deepak’s case, considering his non-response to my points and evidence, I think there’s some justification for arguing that either he’s a fucking idiot, or he’s got a short attention span, or he’s a dishonest interlocutor; and one is thereby justified in telling him to go play in the traffic, citing this thread for proof, if he ever asks for or demands any further evidence on any point of discussion.

  133. 157

    Steers said:

    I’m still left with asking, with some justification as I did before – several times, whether or not your response constituted a case of “in-group morality, and out-group hostility”. That is, “atheist tribalism”. Although that may or may not boil down to the same thing.

    Ah! I was confused. I am still a bit confused, but yes, indeed, I think it could represent some potentially bogus in-group/out-group dynamic.

    And no, I don’t think tribalism boils down to quite the same thing as in-group/out-group stuff (as you describe). I suspect there are a lot of workable definitions of tribalism. For me it’s essentially a case of tribalism when you (the royal you) support someone who states things you have previously (and will again after-the-fact) disagreed with simply because they are in your group; you will still maintain your original position so long as the in-group member is not around, or so long as you are somewhere other than within your in-group. If you see what I mean.

  134. 158

    johngreg says (October 16, 2015 at 12:40 am):

    Steersman: I’m still left with asking, with some justification as I did before – several times, whether or not your response constituted a case of “in-group morality, and out-group hostility”. That is, “atheist tribalism”. Although that may or may not boil down to the same thing.

    johngreg: Ah! I was confused. I am still a bit confused, but yes, indeed, I think it could represent some potentially bogus in-group/out-group dynamic.

    And no, I don’t think tribalism boils down to quite the same thing as in-group/out-group stuff (as you describe). I suspect there are a lot of workable definitions of tribalism.

    Taking last things first, while the case you described might qualify as a specific case of tribalism, I think it’s more important to try to elucidate a general principle that covers most if not all of them. Which the anthropologist John Hartung has done in his Love Thy Neighbor: The evolution of in-group morality (1), a paper I’ve referenced before but which you apparently haven’t even bothered to look at. In any case, a salient quote or two:

    The world’s major religions espouse a moral code that includes injunctions against murder, theft, and lying – or so conventional 19th- and 20th-century Western wisdom would have it. Evidence put forth here argues that this convention is a conceit which does not apply to the West’s own religious foundations. In particular, rules against murder, theft, and lying codified by the Ten Commandments were intended to apply only within a cooperating group for the purpose of enabling that group to compete successfully against other groups. In addition, this in-group morality has functioned, both historically and by express intent, to create adverse circumstances between groups by actively promoting murder, theft, and lying as tools of competition. ….

    Here the question, “Thou shalt not kill who?” is answered “Thou shalt not kill thy neighbor – the children of thy people, your countrymen” ‚ [i.e.,] your fellow in-group member.

    How unconventional is this interpretation? Not very. The rabbis of the Talmud determined that an Israelite was not liable for murder unless he intentionally killed a fellow Israelite. Indeed, if an Israelite intended to kill a non-Israelite, but killed an Israelite by mistake, he was not guilty of murder. The law (Mishna) is explicit in this regard (Sanhedrin 79a) ….

    And the common, over-arching, and defining principle there seems to be essentially one set of laws and standards of behaviour for the in-group, and another set for the out-group which can be, and frequently is, viewed as second-class (or third & fourth-class) citizens – as with Islamic laws for the dhimmis (2), the “non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state”.

    So, it seems rather clear that the most all-encompassing – and most relevant – defintion for tribalism (“a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group” (3)) is one which emphasizes or incorporates that concept of “in-group morality, and out-group hostility”.

    In which case, taking first things last, I was suggesting that your hostility to deepak, and your apparent refusal to grant him a right to have evidence for your claim – a right you would normally and presumably honour for any member of the in-group, constituted a clear case of “atheist tribalism”, even if the tribes in question are two among that larger group. Although I will concede, as I have before, that he’s looking like a not particularly honest interlocutor. However, I kind of expect that that wouldn’t have weighed very heavily against providing that evidence – if he weren’t a member of the Pharyngula/FTB commentariat – i.e., the out-group.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.strugglesforexistence.com/?p=article_p&id=13”;
    2) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmi”;
    3) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribalism”;

  135. 159

    Steers said:

    Taking last things first, while the case you described might qualify as a specific case of tribalism, I think it’s more important to try to elucidate a general principle that covers most if not all of them.

    Sure. Fine, go for it.

    Which the anthropologist John Hartung has done in his Love Thy Neighbor: The evolution of in-group morality (1), a paper I’ve referenced before but which you apparently haven’t even bothered to look at.

    No, you’re quite right, I haven’t looked at it. I do have some other rather more important things that tend to occupy my attention a bit more these days than reading a probably dry technical paper — I rarely read technical papers anymore, especially since I finished my 5-year stint at Douglas College in the 90s, unless I really have a good state of mind, abundant time, and am really bored, and the weather is nice. I just do not have the interest or energy to focus on that kind of thing these days. I can’t.

    In which case, taking first things last, I was suggesting that your hostility to deepak, and your apparent refusal to grant him a right to have evidence for your claim – a right you would normally and presumably honour for any member of the in-group, constituted a clear case of “atheist tribalism”, even if the tribes in question are two among that larger group.

    OK. I see that.

    Although I will concede, as I have before, that he’s looking like a not particularly honest interlocutor. However, I kind of expect that that wouldn’t have weighed very heavily against providing that evidence – if he weren’t a member of the Pharyngula/FTB commentariat – i.e., the out-group.

    Well, perhaps. I can understand why you would think that, but no, I don’t think so; that’s really not the case. I guess perhaps I just have a lot more experience with deepak than you do, and so I know his ways very well. He is just a variation on Latsot, Aratinacage, John Morales, and a couple others whose names I forget at the moment, but who popped in and out a few times over at Nugent’s to argue N* different, opposing, and contradictory reasons why, for example, Myers did not say what he said and did not mean what he meant.

  136. 160

    @Steersman

    What the fuck does that have to do with anything?

    It is your argument that 1 person using an abusive term to 1 person doesnt make the term apply to everyone- To which Im merely pointing out that many people have used the same term and the origins of that term are sexist. Note that I am saying the abuse is sexist – the person who is doing the abuse may or may not realise that (though when it comes to the pitters I tend to think that they do realise it). Using a sexist abuse does not mean that you must use it against every single woman (as your tom dick and harry implies)
    Or lets say Im a tea party conservative – Im really really really angry with Obama – I have nothing against black people , I even let them use my bathroom and I even have them for friends (see Ben Carson) – Can I call Obama a nigger? – thats the only time I have used the word – Is nigger racist ? -or how does calling one black person a nigger reduce all black people to niggers, right?

    What the fuck does that have to do with anything?

    And I looked at it and told you why I dont see it as a decry – you my disagree but given that it is a subjective evaluation there is probably no way forward. If I look at our exchange I would probably say that you say upto #146 have disagreed with me whereas john greg has decried me.

    English wouldn’t be a second language for you, would it?

    It isnt. What’s your excuse?

  137. 163

    johngreg (October 16, 2015 at 3:35 am):

    No, you’re quite right, I haven’t looked at it. I do have some other rather more important things that tend to occupy my attention a bit more these days than reading a probably dry technical paper ….

    Yet you apparently tender a criticism of Ashley’s argument on tribalism despite having a not particularly accurate or relevant understanding and definition of the term. Ohh-kaay.

    Well, perhaps. I can understand why you would think that, but no, I don’t think so; that’s really not the case. I guess perhaps I just have a lot more experience with deepak than you do, and so I know his ways very well.

    Fine. But I still think that qualifies as judging him on past behaviour rather present behaviour – and denying that you have an obligation, of sorts, to accede to or respect his right to have evidence for your claim. Rather like tribalism in my opinion.

  138. 164

    Steers said:

    Yet you apparently tender a criticism of Ashley’s argument on tribalism despite having a not particularly accurate or relevant understanding and definition of the term.

    HAHAHA. Ya fucking OCD dildo — or are you an asparagus stem today? One paper does not the be-all and end-all, only ultimate nothing else will ever ever do perfect absolutee argumente and knowledgee basee. HAHA. What a fuckin clown you are sometimes, Steers. I bow down to your brilliant, inerrant, flawless Myersian perfection, oh mighty professor! I know nuszing! Nuszing!

    But I still think that qualifies as judging him on past behaviour rather present behaviour – and denying that you have an obligation, of sorts, to accede to or respect his right to have evidence for your claim. Rather like tribalism in my opinion.

    That’s one of the most perfect pieces of classic SJW circular reasoning idiocy I’ve ever seen. Bravo Lotsat!

  139. 165

    deepak shetty (October 16, 2015 at 10:47 am):

    Steersman: What the fuck does that have to do with anything?

    Deepak: It is your argument that 1 person using an abusive term to 1 person doesn’t make the term apply to everyone- To which I’m merely pointing out that many people have used the same term and the origins of that term are sexist. Note that I am saying the abuse is sexist ….

    What a pile of ignorant bullshit. For one thing, you obviously haven’t a fucking clue as to what constitutes sexism in the first place, despite me providing a definition of the term that clearly shows that, to qualify as such, one must be asserting that, for instance, all men are superior to all women. All you have is a self-serving article of faith with diddly-squat in the way of evidence – no logic or reasoned argument – to support your position. Just an ipse-dixit and papal encyclical from PZ and the rest of the FTB clowns.

    And I looked at it and told you why I don’t see it as a decry – you may disagree but given that it is a subjective evaluation there is probably no way forward.

    What a fucking idiot – and an intellectually dishonest one to boot. You threw in a red-herring about the “level of insults that get directed towards FTB bloggers” which was the reason for my “And what the fuck does that have to do with the point in question?” But even apart from that, I would say that some Pitters characterizing various comments there as “mean” and “nasty”, as I noted above in some detail, qualifies as “expressing disapproval”. Which is one of the salient definitions for “decry”. If you actually want a “way forward” then I would suggest getting your head out of the sand – or some other place where the sun don’t shine, as the case may be.

  140. 166

    johngreg (October 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm):

    One paper does not the be-all and end-all, only ultimate nothing else will ever ever do ….

    What an ignorant, narrow-minded, and dogmatic dickhead; just as certain of the rightness of his arguments as is deepak and company – and with as little evidence, reason, and logic to justify them.

    It wasn’t just one paper – there was a link to a Wikipedia article, with reams of links and references and evidence in support of the same set of perspectives.

  141. 167

    Well, jeez Steers, I did not say I was the authority on the definition of it all. I did not say my insufficient, incomplete description of tribalism was the be-all end-all, connotatives and denotatives included, definition. It just covered my sense of it for the purposes of this conversation. We’re not in a university exam, a senate hearing, or other such, you know.

    And in case you have forgot, I am not really in the emotional/mental state these days to dig deep into analytical papers, or intellectual wiki articles and their associated linkages, or anything like that, as my general state of focus and concentration is somewhat tested by other circumstances. That doesn’t mean I am not allowed to engage in conversation, though. I’ll try to get to some of the papers and articles. Sometime. Keep your shirt on.

    As for dickhead, well, not really. These days I’m just a twice-baked potato with chives defenestrated into the madding crowd some multiply storied narrative below the observation deck of my betters.

    But YMMV.

  142. 168

    johngreg (October 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm):

    I did not say my insufficient, incomplete description of tribalism was the be-all end-all, connotatives and denotatives included, definition. It just covered my sense of it for the purposes of this conversation. We’re not in a university exam, a senate hearing, or other such, you know.

    Yes, it is quite true that we aren’t in any type of a formal debate. However, I would say it is rather moot whether your limited “sense of [tribalism]” is adequate “for the purposes of this conversation” as I think, on some evidence, that that limited sense is likely to preclude you understanding Ashley’s arguments and points. Not to mention, how they might apply to you.

    But it seems to me that if you’re going to critique such then you might consider the value in at least exhibiting some due diligence and acquiring a basic understanding of the terms of reference, the concepts in play – particularly when they’re handed to you, virtually on a platter. For one thing, you’re much less likely to wind up with egg on your face.

  143. 169

    @Steersman
    Concluding remarks.

    despite me providing a definition of the term that clearly shows that, to qualify as such, one must be asserting that, for instance, all men are superior to all women.

    I told you my reasons – women have been reduced to their genitalia with the implication that thats what they are good for (childbirth and sex) – thereby demonstrating the superiority of men who do all the other hard thinky stuff – Are you denying this ?
    Your response which in truth I didnt really find worth responding to was “how is reducing one woman to her genitalia sexist?”. People of color are often called apes – And some football (soccer) fans call an opponent of color an ape – Your brilliant argument is that of course its not racist because only one person has been reduced to a primate.

    Which is one of the salient definitions for “decry”

    All right lets play your dictionary game
    Decry – “to say publicly and forcefully that you regard (something) as bad, wrong, etc.” and
    to express strong disapproval of
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decry
    Notice the strong and forcefully ? So “shrivelled old twat” is a cheap shot but “mean” is a strong and forceful disapproval ?
    Now if you actually post your “How is reducing one woman to her genitalia sexist?” question to say Pharyngula, you can probably get an accurate demonstration of a “contingent” of people who “decry” your actions.
    And the above is as also a reason why most of us would really like to have nothing to do with you. Call people rude, abusive stuff – no problem . Have a different standard of what constitutes strong disapproval / Object to a word thats generally used in a sexist way- well thats really an unforgivable sin. If you had just a little bit of self awareness this would have told you something about yourself. Instead your ego probably tells you how you favor a frank and open discussion of ideas. Keep deluding yourself.

  144. 170

    deepak said:

    … women have been reduced to their genitalia with the implication that thats what they are good for (childbirth and sex) – thereby demonstrating the superiority of men who do all the other hard thinky stuff….

    Do you really, sincerely believe that in current Western democracies there are more than just a really very small minority of social throwbacks who think/feel this way? Really?

  145. 171

    Just to expand a wee bit on my question, or rather, my reaction to deepak’s statement: I have never, ever, in my almost 60 years on this planet met another human being who sincerely believes in deepak’s descripition of women’s supposed place in society. Never.

    I’ve occasionaly read about tiny tiny pockets in the deep American South, and even tinier pockets in western-central Canada, where some men, and some women, feel this way. But virtually nothing in the real world, and absolutely and beyond question not a majority.

  146. 172

    deepak shetty (October 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm):

    Steersman: … despite me providing a definition of the term that clearly shows that, to qualify as such, one must be asserting that, for instance, all men are superior to all women.

    Deepak: I told you my reasons – women have been reduced to their genitalia with the implication that thats what they are good for (childbirth and sex) – thereby demonstrating the superiority of men who do all the other hard thinky stuff – Are you denying this?

    You’ve provided something that might pass for a rationalization or a stated inference, but that hardly qualifies as anything approaching a reason or a justification. In addition, it looks to be little more than a case of the “fallacy of hasty generalization, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn.” (1)

    But if you’re so certain of your rather idiosyncratic, if not bizzare and self-serving, view then I invite you – and PZ, Zvan, Carrier, and the rest of the FTB ideologues – to tender your argument to all the publishers of the world’s dictionaries. I’m sure that they, along with the world’s linguists and lexocographers, will appreciate having a justification for correcting their deficiency and oversight by adding another definition for the word “sexism” (2) – get your name(s) in lights to boot.

    And, while you’re at it, you might enlist the support of transgender activists to tender a new definition for “woman” (3):

    wom•an (woom′ən)
    n. pl. wom•en (wĭm′ĭn)
    1. A person who is weak in math, has an inordinate fondness for shoes, and turns on the waterworks at the drop of a hat (preferably with lace & feathers and a fetching yellow ribbon) ….

    Never met so many who are so clueless – and so dogmatic, if not tribalistic – about language, its fundamental elements, and how they actually work together.

    ——
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_composition”;
    2) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexism”;
    3) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/woman”;

  147. 173

    Steersman @156,

    For one thing, you obviously haven’t a fucking clue as to what constitutes sexism in the first place, despite me providing a definition of the term that clearly shows that, to qualify as such, one must be asserting that, for instance, all men are superior to all women.

    Whoa hold on there. The definition you posted above does not include the word “all.” You do realize that right? You’ve added the word “all” in your comment but that’s not what the definition actually says. So it’s not really accurate for you to claim that the definition you posted “clearly shows” what you claim it shows.

    Here are the definitions you posted:

    1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
    2. The belief that one gender is superior to the other, especially that men are superior to women.

    Can you explain why the word “all” is not actually included in the definition if indeed the definition depends on references to “all” men and “all” women as you claim? Or can you cite any definition of sexist or sexism that actually supports your view without having to quietly insert extra words?

    Ultimately you are saying that it’s only ever sexism if it refers to all men and all women right? In other words you think it’s not sexist to say something like “in general women tend to be far less intelligent than men?” You think that because it doesn’t refer to all men and all women that such would not be sexist right? That seems like a pretty bizarre criterion to use to decide if something is sexist or not and it’s certainly not supported by the definitions you posted which do not include the word “all.” What if it refers to all women except for one? Still not sexist in your view because it doesn’t refer to all of them? Otherwise what percentage of women must be included before it becomes sexist and on what basis did you determine this percentage?

    Here’s what Wikipedia says:

    According to Fred R. Shapiro, the term “sexism” was most likely coined on November 18, 1965, by Pauline M. Leet during a “Student-Faculty Forum” at Franklin and Marshall College. Specifically, the word sexism appears in Leet’s forum contribution “Women and the Undergraduate”, and she defines it by comparing it to racism, stating in part (on page 3): “When you argue … that since fewer women write good poetry this justifies their total exclusion, you are taking a position analogous to that of the racist—I might call you in this case a “sexist” … Both the racist and the sexist are acting as if all that has happened had never happened, and both of them are making decisions and coming to conclusions about someone’s value by referring to factors which are in both cases irrelevant.”

    Notice how the example provided by the person (who likely coined the term according to Shapiro) specifically says “fewer women” as opposed to “all women?”

  148. 175

    Plethora (October 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm):

    Steersman: For one thing, you obviously haven’t a fucking clue as to what constitutes sexism in the first place, despite me providing a definition of the term that clearly shows that, to qualify as such, one must be asserting that, for instance, all men are superior to all women.

    Plethora: Whoa hold on there. The definition you posted above does not include the word “all.” You do realize that right? You’ve added the word “all” in your comment but that’s not what the definition actually says. So it’s not really accurate for you to claim that the definition you posted “clearly shows” what you claim it shows. ….

    Can you explain why the word “all” is not actually included in the definition if indeed the definition depends on references to “all” men and “all” women as you claim? Or can you cite any definition of sexist or sexism that actually supports your view without having to quietly insert extra words?

    A reasonable argument and set of questions, although a bit of a stretch. However, I think it is “standard operating procedure” that if “you” make an assertion about a class or a set then, in general, you’re ascribing an attribute to every member of it. Otherwise you would qualify it in in some way: “some members of class X have attribute Y” versus “class X has attribute Y”. Although I’ll concede that one can ascribe attributes to a class itself without that necessarily applying to each member – for example, that one set or class has more members in it than does another one.

    But consider the analogous case with “racism” (1) which, as you noted, was the template used in creating the definition for “sexism”:

    rac•ism (rā′sĭz′əm)
    n.
    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

    How is that not saying that racism is the belief, the assertion, that all of one race is superior to all of another race? You don’t think that asserting that, for example, Neil deGrasse Tyson is “superior” – as being more knowledgeable about science – to Benny Hinn or Peter Popoff qualifies as being racist? Sure seems to me that both terms are used in a categorical and universal sense in applying to all members of those classes. Even if neither definition explicitly uses the term “all”.

    Ultimately you are saying that it’s only ever sexism if it refers to all men and all women right? In other words you think it’s not sexist to say something like “in general women tend to be far less intelligent than men?”

    First question: “Essentially, yes”; second question: “possibly or even probably, although the assertion may be based more on misunderstanding the statistics than on overt sexism”. But, relative to the second answer, you may wish to peruse my more lengthy response in the Pit to a similar question from Aneris (2). Complete with graphs and 8×12 photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one …. 🙂

    But, somewhat in passing or to kill two birds with one stone, I might ask whether you’re prepared to tender a definition for “woman” – something other than whatever anyone is “feeling” on any particular day (really scientific, that) – as I have yet to see anyone with the guts, balls, or hair – as the case may be – to address that question. A great many in the transgender activist crowd sure tend to get their knickers in a twist over the standard definition – “a female human” with “female” in turn being defined as having the ability to produce ova – yet aren’t prepared to put their money where their mouths are by offering any specific alternatives. As a point of reference, you might consider the one that I suggested to deepak shetty in my last comment above.

    —–
    1) “_http://www.thefreedictionary.com/racist”;
    2) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=313871#p313871”;

  149. 176

    Steersman @166,

    However, I think it is “standard operating procedure”…

    We disagree. For you that might be SOP but for us the opposite is true. By default we are generally speaking in or interpret such statements more as generalities but with the knowledge and understanding that exceptions always exist (or almost always) except perhaps in things like maths, physics, etc.

    Take for example a person who claims that “race X is inherently more intelligent than race Y.” Are you really saying you think it’s more likely that person is intending to say “literally every member of race X is more intelligent than literally every member of race Y without any exceptions whatsoever?” You genuinely think that’s the more reasonable interpretation and that’s most likely what the person meant? If so we don’t know what to say other than that is deeply incongruent with the way people tend to use language at least in our experience. Far more likely they did not mean “literally every member” in our opinion and experience.

    Rather we fully expect that even the most racist person who espoused such beliefs would still be capable of accepting and admitting that exceptions do exist. If we are talking about behavior or traits or characteristics or the like then we’d argue there are a vanishingly small number of such statements (if any) that can be made without any exceptions. And so it seems unreasonable to use “all” as the default interpretation.

    You don’t think that asserting that, for example, Neil deGrasse Tyson is “superior” – as being more knowledgeable about science – to Benny Hinn or Peter Popoff qualifies as being racist?

    No of course we don’t see that as being racist. Not following your point with this question though.

    Sure seems to me that both terms are used in a categorical and universal sense in applying to all members of those classes. Even if neither definition explicitly uses the term “all”.

    Yes well the opposite is true for us. For reasons explained above. Namely that there really are no such statements or almost no such statements that can be made without any exceptions whatsoever. In this context there are (practically) no universals.

    But as long as we are adding words to the definitions we could just as easily claim they really meant “some” or “most” instead of “all.” You convinced now?

    First question: “Essentially, yes”; second question: “possibly or even probably,

    Thanks but you skipped the toughest questions. What if it refers to all women except for one? Is it still not sexist in your view because it doesn’t refer to literally all of women? Otherwise what percentage of women must be included before it becomes sexist and on what basis did you determine this percentage?

    I might ask whether you’re prepared to tender a definition for “woman” – something other than whatever anyone is “feeling” on any particular day

    We’re not a gender studies expert or linguist by any stretch and would welcome corrections or improvements from those more knowledgeable (*paging HJ Hornbeck*) but here’s an attempt:

    Woman –
    1. human female (biological), usually referring to an adult
    2. gender identity that is typically, traditionally or historically associated with culturally constructed ideas of so called femininity

    Or something to that effect. In any case it has two connotations one biological and one gender based.

    As to your snide remark about “whatever anyone is ‘feeling’ on any particular day” why would you consider it a bad thing or unscientific to reference feelings when describing your gender identity? By comparison are you able to define your sexual orientation without reference to how you feel (romantically and sexually in this case) towards others? If not does that mean it’s unscientific in some way? Is it something to be dismissed and scoffed at and mocked because it depends on your feelings?

    Finally you seem to be in transmit mode all the time but it would do you good to switch over to receive for a spell. :Q

  150. 177

    Plethora (October 19, 2015 at 8:04 pm; #167):

    Steersman: However, I think it is “standard operating procedure” that if “you” make an assertion about a class or a set then, in general, you’re ascribing an attribute to every member of it. ….

    Plethora: We disagree. For you that might be SOP but for us the opposite is true. By default we are generally speaking in or interpret such statements more as generalities ….

    While I’m certainly not a linguist or lexocographer either, I think that your position there is rather idiosycratic – particular to your own point of view – and not particularly well supported by those disciplines or by common use. Consider this definition for racism from Wikipedia (1):

    Racism … the social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities.

    And “inherently” (my emphasis above) means: “existing as an essential constituent or characteristic; intrinsic”. Kind of hard to argue that, by those definitions and common uses, “superior” and “inferior” isn’t something that inheres to, is “an inseparable part of”, and is shared by, every last member of the races – or, analogously, the sexes – in question.

    But while I will readily concede that, as you suggested, it may well seem “unreasonable to use ‘all’ as the default interpretation”, the point is that rather too many people seem to be “guilty” of precisely that type of view on the relevant classes: maybe a large part of the reason why those sources define those terms in that way, in the categorical or universal sense? But while I haven’t done much research in or reading about race – although I think the entire issue of slavery in America and the support for it by many religious fundamentalists provides plenty of evidence in support of that argument in that case – my impression, based on some evidence, is that many people also think exactly that when it comes to the supposed superiority of men relative to women.

    For instance, I would strongly recommend that you actually take a look at that post of mine in the Pit (the link [2] should take you directly to the post so if you don’t stray outside that then you’re unlikely to have your delicate sensibilities offended ), along with the Breitbart post (The Smartest People In The World Are All Men) from Milo Yiannopoulos (3) that precipitated it, as they, I think, provide ample evidence of precisely that – even from the Pit person who asked me the question I responded to. In addition, you might also take a look at a couple of tweets (4, 5) I exchanged with Yiannopoulos and a few of his supposedly MRA-type followers, the last one in particular as the intended recipient seemed remarkably reluctant to concede that not all men were smarter than all women.

    Steersman: You don’t think that asserting that, for example, Neil deGrasse Tyson is “superior” … qualifies as being racist?

    Plethora: No of course we don’t see that as being racist. Not following your point with this question though.

    It was an attempt, somewhat overly hasty – mea culpa, to point out or argue that it should be manifestly obvious that at least one of each and every race or sex are “superior” – however you want to define the term – to one of each and every other race or sex. And that, by extension, it may well be, probably is, true for more than just a few individuals in each group. But to assert that of all is manifest rubbish and can be, quite readily, discounted as manifest sexism or racism. Which is one of the benefits of emphasizing the (implicit) “all” in those definitions.

    Steersman: First question: “Essentially, yes”; second question: “possibly or even probably ….

    Plethora: Thanks but you skipped the toughest questions. What if it refers to all women except for one?

    De nada – though I should acknowledge that I wasn’t as clear as I should have been in my second answer, and that the case you described might well have qualified as sexism. But, to begin with, I guess the answer to your “toughest question” would kind of have to depend on whether the assertion – for example, that all men were smarter than 99.99999% of the women – was factually true or not: the truth is a defense against libel, you know? As it should be against accusations of racism and sexism. But if it weren’t actually true then I think the most that could reasonably be said is that the assertion was a case of ignorance or egregious bias or bigotry but not, technically, one of sexism.

    … but here’s an attempt:
    Woman –
    1. human female (biological), usually referring to an adult
    2. gender identity that is typically, traditionally or historically associated with culturally constructed ideas of so called femininity

    Or something to that effect. In any case it has two connotations one biological and one gender based.

    Fine, a reasonable stab at it, if somewhat flawed. More particularly, this whole “Benson debacle” was predicated on her being confronted with a question – i.e., “do you believe trans women are women, yes or no?” – that was essentially trying to promote, if not ram down the throats of everyone else, the idea that a gender is a sex. Which you are, commendably, clearly differentiating between. Which is why I, and no few others (6, 7), have argued for a terminology – i.e., the compound word “transwoman” denoting only a gender which therefore can’t be the sex “woman” – that also clearly differentiates between the same two concepts that you’ve referenced in your definition. Failing to do so merely opens the door to, if not condones and promotes, the logical fallacy of equivocation (8) – which “is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense”.

    As to your snide remark about “whatever anyone is ‘feeling’ on any particular day” why would you consider it a bad thing or unscientific to reference feelings when describing your gender identity?

    I don’t at all “consider it a bad thing … to reference feelings when describing your gender identity”: go big, fill your boots. But I, and no few others, rather strenuously object to the attempt to link those feelings to a sex. For one thing, those feelings are rather difficult if not impossible to measure with any degree of accuracy; rather different from various physiological capabilities. And, for another thing, those feelings that you think are somehow uniquely associated with the biological sex “female” are also found, to a greater or lesser extent, associated with the biological sex “male”. Which kind of makes those attributes largely useless for differentiating between the classes “woman” and “man”: do you see any definitions for those terms that list all of the many other features that members of those classes have in common? You have any definitions at all that you can cite which indicate “woman: possessing arms, legs, teeth, eyes, etc., etc.”?

    You may wish to take a close look at the Wikipedia article on taxonomy (9), paying particular attention to its definition as “the science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups”. And then ask yourself whether or not your definition really qualifies as “scientific”.

    Finally, you seem to be in transmit mode all the time but it would do you good to switch over to receive for a spell. :Q

    🙂 Man on a mission; no soap-box to be left unspoken from. 🙂 But I’ll try to keep your suggestion in mind – but wouldn’t you agree that I’ve listened to and responded to you and others here? And in some depth and at some length? Not to mention all of the sources I’ve read (listened to), and quoted from and linked to.

    —–
    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism”;
    2) “_http://www.slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=313871#p313871”;
    3) “_http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/02/sorry-girls-but-the-smartest-people-in-the-world-are-all-men/”;
    4) “_https://twitter.com/SteersMann/status/650095208273571840”;
    5) “_https://twitter.com/SteersMann/status/650121756552753152”;
    6) “_https://twitter.com/SteersMann/status/655655242923556864”;
    7) “_http://aoifeschatology.com/2015/06/24/on-living-and-surviving-as-a-controversial-construction-full-text/#more-4864”;
    8) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation”;
    9) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_(biology)”;

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