The Shermer Allegations: Some Considerations for Those to Whom This Is a Nasty Shock

I have to admit, it’s something of a relief to have Mark Oppenheimer’s article on Michael Shermer published. Shame about Buzzfeed dumping it on a Friday, but I have a feeling it’s not going to generate a bit of quiet chatter and then fade away. No, I hear the crackling hiss of a fuse burning, and I don’t think we’ll see the explosion for a few days, at least. The skeptic, science journalism, and atheist communities are all going to get rocked pretty solidly. And I doubt Shermer will be the only big name facing named accusers. Things are going to get mighty uncomfortable. But they couldn’t go on the way they were.

unacceptable

Now. This is going to be quite the nasty shock to some people who didn’t have any idea one of their heroes was an alleged sexual predator. And it’s going to be a nasty shock to people who heard the initial accusations, but figured it was all some big mistake, or hysterical Michael Shermer haters, and would all blow over. It must be horrible for them to realize it’s not blowing over, but blowing up. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention, and don’t listen to the people telling you there’s a problem, for years.

You’re going to want to duck and hide from the blast. But you need to steel yourself and face this squarely. Michael Shermer has had not one, not two, but three named women accuse him of inappropriate sexual behavior. Three women willing to face a shitstorm of abuse and possible legal threats in order to tell a reporter that Shermer did not-right things to them is not a minor matter. If you’re having that knee-jerk “this can’t be happening and Michael would never” reaction, you need to bite your tongue as hard as is necessary to stop it, and read that article thoroughly. Read it multiple times. Let it sink in.*

Don’t say anything yet.

Read the timeline, wherein now-named people shared their stories, and still-anonymous people also have said Shermer victimized them, and named people not in the article have said Shermer harassed or assaulted them. Granted, these are not allegations that have been proved in a court of law. Shermer is still legally innocent, and will remain so unless he is convicted in a courtroom. But there comes a time when you need to take into account the fact that multiple people are saying similar things, and recognize that this is information you need to take into account before you spring to his defense. We do not need evidence beyond reasonable doubt when we’re considering whether to keep extending our respect to a person, and when we’re deciding whether to continue inviting him to speak, and whether he’s still welcome in our spaces.+

No, don’t say anything yet.

Next, read Stephanie Zvan’s excellent piece on this matter. Read it before you take your teeth from your tongue. Read it, and consider it, quite carefully. Here, I’ll helpfully point out a few bits:

If you’re one of the people or work for one of the organizations that has continued to employ Shermer, are you willing to be a party to future incidents like those reported? His name will continue to sell tickets. He will continue to bring donations for your organization, because enough people don’t care or still won’t have heard about this, so you have to make this decision for yourself. If now is not the point when you put your foot down and say you won’t put your staff or attendees at risk of being the next story, how many more people have to come forward?

If you’re a member or volunteer for one of these organizations or attendee at these events, are you ready to ask those leaders for change? These events are put on for you. These organizations are supposed to be doing work you think is important. At best, the behavior described is a distraction from that work. At worst, continuing to support people with “bad boy” reputations puts you and others with whom you work and socialize at risk. If this much attested history isn’t enough for you to identify this behavior as something you don’t want leaders to expose you to, what would be?

Think about this honestly. Yes, I know Shermer is someone you may respect. He may have been the one who turned you into a skeptic. He may be a friend. He may be the kind of person you’ve always wanted to be, and this is killing you now, because you thought you wanted to be like him, but you didn’t think that included being accused of serial sexual harassment and assault. You may want to believe him when he gives you his various stories and excuses and gaslights you by saying that only icky horrible people do things like that, so of course he hasn’t, because he isn’t icky and horrible.

You’ll have to do something very difficult, and set aside all of that, and inspect the evidence just as you would if it were, say, someone promising a miracle cure for cancer. Perhaps it is. Perhaps you want to believe it. But you must face the evidence with as unbiased an eye as you are able to manage.

There’s one more thing I want you to consider:

My rapist, who was in fact convicted and sentenced for sexually attacking me, told our friends much the same things as Shermer is telling you. And you know what? Even though I was the person he held and raped at knifepoint, I wanted to believe him. He was super-fun to be around, smart and funny and charming, and we were a pretty tight-knit group. Even with all of the evidence I had, including a confession from him, it was a horrific struggle to get him into court and get him convicted, because he was a clean-cut, intelligent guy who knew who to gaslight, and how. I loved his mom, and hated hurting her. I lost friends I didn’t feel I could stand to lose, because they sided with him, not me. It would have been far easier to let the subject quietly die. The only reason I pressed charges and testified and endured all that the criminal justice system puts a victim through in order to get a conviction was because I didn’t want him to ever do this to another woman.

And I was one of the lucky ones. If my rapist been famous, I doubt I would’ve gotten even as far as a police station with him. I would have faced far more victim-blaming, would have been turned on and threatened and dismissed, because everybody wants to side with the bigwig against the nobody. All I would have been able to do is tell my story publicly, and endured the shitstorm, and hoped that all the abuse I was taking meant that at least one potential victim would be forewarned and manage to prevent him from violating them.

So before you take your teeth from your tongue and speak, ask yourself: what do all of these women (and at least one man) gain by lying? Why do these people who admired Michael Shermer, who bought his books and enjoyed his talks, feel compelled to tell the community that this man did awful things to them? Why do you think they’re willing to face down the doubt and abuse and threats and legal repercussions and emotional anguish of accusing a Big Name of doing terrible things? What have they to gain by pulling one of their heroes down? Why would someone feel compelled to do that?

Then ask yourself why there are so damned many of them, for so long, if all these stories are false.

Consider that the statistics on false rape reports are between 2-8%, meaning there’s a greater than 90% chance at least most of these accusers are telling the truth.

Ask yourself why James Randi told Shermer “that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference,” if Shermer was doing nothing wrong and all of these victims are lying or mistaken.

Think these things through carefully before you speak.

You’re skeptics. Act accordingly.

 

Full disclosure: I am a freelance blogger for the Scientific American Blog Network, which means I have a rather attenuated connection to Michael Shermer, who writes a column for the print magazine. Be assured I am discussing Oppenheimer’s article with my editor on Monday, and will have a statement out after that discussion is finished.

ATTENTION FIRST-TIME COMMENTERS: Read the comment policy. Consider the fact that I have no patience for sexism, misogyny, or other bad behavior. Also consider I am out of patience with apologists for same. Should you wish to submit a comment that violates the policy, excuses sexism and sexual abuse, or otherwise runs afoul of my non-existent patience – remember that time is a finite commodity, and don’t waste yours. I certainly won’t be allowing you to waste mine.

I will be away from the computer for most of this weekend, but I will be intermittently monitoring the thread to prevent flame wars and other abuse. Victim-blaming and other rape apologia will be deleted. Don’t even think about posting it.

 

* I want you to pay particular attention to the bit where James Randi is saying that he knew Michael Shermer was victimizing people, but didn’t put a stop to it because he didn’t think Shermer had been violent enough. No, all he was doing was allegedly preying on women, and he said he was drunk (even though he later claimed he was totes sober), and isn’t that what drunk men do, prey on women? I will have plenty to say on this soon, but right now, I’m too close to exploding.

+. No, no, no. You do not get to play the “Everything’s okay until he’s in jail!” card. Not when you’ve built your reputations on taking down psychics and Bigfoot enthusiasts not by dragging them into court and having them convicted of fraud, but proving by a preponderance of evidence that they’re full of shit. We’re not a courtroom convicting and sentencing Michael Shermer to time behind bars, but a group of people deciding, based upon the evidence and patterns we have, whether he is a safe person to have around us, and whether he’s a person we wish to support. We do not need a legal verdict to make these decisions. Don’t pretend we do, it makes you look ignorant and foolish.

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The Shermer Allegations: Some Considerations for Those to Whom This Is a Nasty Shock
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42 thoughts on “The Shermer Allegations: Some Considerations for Those to Whom This Is a Nasty Shock

  1. 2

    I’m not sure yet. I’ll be talking to my editor there on Monday, and I’ll let you all know what comes of it. Hopefully, it will never get to the point of a petition.

  2. 3

    Fuck Michael shermer, fuck the skeptic community for protecting him. This guy is a predator. He is acting like a predator. He is being shielded by everyone who is jumping to his defense without seriously considering the allegations while accusing those who are actually considering the evidence of jumping to conclusions. The evidence is clear to me, this guy is a fucking predator and the skeptic community should not support him. He’s not even that great, he just rehashes real science into his pop science books. The way I’ve watched the skeptic community deal with shermer is disgraceful and shameful.

  3. 4

    I spea those words as someone who has been following the skeptic/atheist community for a long time and has experienced sexual violence in my life. Shermer is acting like someone who is trying way too hard to dismiss allegations that have come from several indepenant sources. I hate the victim blaming, the trivialization of date rape, the dismissal of those without power simply cause this guy wrote some pop science books… Sorry to say your idol shermer isn’t exactly all that cited by those doing real academic work. I’m probably going over board but this whole situation has come to a point for me where I think that the whole atheist/skeptic community is a toxic waste of space.

  4. 5

    I don’t have much of substance to add, but I wanted to thank you for an excellent article on the Shermer issue and applying skepticism when thinking about it.

    I hope the discussion generated by the Oppenheimer article will have a positive net-effect on the secular movement.

  5. 6

    Thank you for a very powerful and well-written article. It should be required reading all the way to the end for those who still stick to their unhealthy hero-view of yet another predatory sexist exploiter. It was painful for me to hear when the initial allegations against him surfaced at FTB, and I’m ashamed to admit that I would have been squarely in his apologist camp 20 years ago myself. One very important thing I have learned over the past few years. mostly from FTB, is that a person’s character is not defined by how intelligent,, or witty, or charming, or successful, or popular, or self-sacrificing, or heroic they might be in some areas of their lives.

  6. 7

    I follow this blog for the science and the photos and the UFDs and the clever writing. But mostly for the forthright unflinching courage of posts like this one.

    And yeah, those comments from Randi should remove any last lingering shred of doubt about Shermer’s behavior. People knew…people who could have done something and they chose to turn a blind eye.

  7. 8

    FWIW: Jerry Sandusky was a highly respected coach and mentor — until he wasn’t. And Joe Paterno and the rest of the Penn State administration that knew he had a problem went down in flames with him because they protected him far beyond the point at which any reasonable person would have.

    And yet, Sandusky and Paterno still have defenders. To this day. Even with Sandusky in prison.

    Same thing here. Those who protect Shermer from here on forward are on the wrong side of the facts and the wrong side of history. And the wrong side of skeptical inquiry, if it comes to that.

  8. 9

    Shermer’s Skeptic Society lectures are held at Caltech, once or twice a month. He introduces them. It might be worthwhile to contact the school and ask if they’ve taken any steps to protect students and attendees.

  9. 10

    And I just mentioned this at Lousy Canuck, it’s not just that the JREF protected a serial sexual predator. The JREF actively punished victims of the serial sexual predator. Dr. Pamela Gay was blacklisted from The Amazing Meeting after her TAM 2012 talk where she briefly alluded to the attempted sexual assault by Shermer that occurred years before. She didn’t hint at his identity or threaten to reveal his name. Just alluding to the incident was enough for the JREF to blacklist her. Then in May of this year, the JREF president threatened to try to ruin Dr. Gay’s career/life unless she lied to protect Shermer.

    So not only did the JREF revere and reward Shermer after it became known to them that he was a sexual predator, the JREF actively punished victims of the sexual predator. I nominate Randi as Skeptic Pope.

  10. 11

    Predation is easiest when no one believes it is happening. It’s hard as hell for a predator to be a pillar of the community, we know they’re a predator… it’s way easy for a pillar of the community to be a predator because nobody wants to believe they didn’t SEE it.

  11. 12

    the statistics on false rape reports are between 2-8%, meaning there’s a greater than 90% chance at least most of these accusers are telling the truth.

    Well, if the probability of any individial one of 3 accusers being a liar was 8% then you’d calculate the probability Shermer didn’t assault any of them based on all 3 being liars – which would be small indeed. (.05%?, 5 in a thousand) That’s not good statistics, though, since obviously the probabilities aren’t discrete if Shermer is in fact a rapist.

  12. 13

    And yeah, those comments from Randi should remove any last lingering shred of doubt about Shermer’s behavior.

    And Randi’s. Fuck them both.

    Hey, Randi – so much for your “legacy” — that’s what I’ll remember you for, you sad sad person.

  13. 14

    The changing stories really nail him, IMO. Adding details, or correcting little things like “Oh it was 2AM not 3AM”, that would be one thing. But the story completely changes each time he tells it it seems. He changes so much that even if you only consider his side of the story and reject all other evidence, hell, even ignore the allegations he’s responding to- so much changes he’s blatant in that he’s hiding something. Add in the allegations… he’s not some clueless dolt who just doesn’t understand consent*, he knows what he did was wrong and is desperately trying to find a story that will make him look good and be believable.

    *- This would of course not excuse his behavior, but I might view his potential for redemption a little more hopefully if he was clueless rather than malicious. He’d still have to work at it and demonstrate change. I’d just be more likely to believe change is possible. Sadly, his blatant deception kind of kills that idea. At least he made it obvious, though.

  14. 15

    Wonderful, Dana. Applause.

    You gave me a little hug at the Pumpkin Hurl today. You can have another tomorrow. Only if you want it, of course.

    Randi and Grothe are both gay men. It seems like they should know better, but I have to wonder if it somehow desensitizes them to womens’ issues. I’m willing to give Randi a bit of a break, due to his age and being insulated from what was really going on at JREF/TAM by Grothe. But D.J. can go to hell. If there was one.

    Must stop typing soon, new Doctor Who in seven minutes!

  15. 16

    Dana
    You not only cut to the quick of the matter, you do it with style. This was an excellent read, Thank you.

    Trebuchet @12
    I’ve seen people try to give Randi both of those outs before, and it just doesn’t work, IMO.
    Consent, power differentials, predation, harassment, and rape are not women’s issues only. Gay men have to deal with them as well. Even if they didn’t, declining numerous opportunities (which we know he’s had) to grapple with those issues would be pretty contemptible for a supposedly rational, supposedly moral person.
    As for his age, his statements and actions/inactions are no less harmful because he is old. If he shields or enables a rapist, it matters not if he’s doing so based on antiquated ideas which he does not share with the rest of us. Would anyone around here accept that excuse from bishops in the Catholic Church? Then why should we for Randi? And as for the idea that DJ shielded Randi from some of this stuff, consider that DJ wasn’t with the JREF in ’08 when evaluating Randi’s response to the allegation against Shermer from that year.

  16. 17

    I rarely comment on posts like this, because I generally feel that I don’t have much to add.

    Let me simply say thank you to those who have had the courage to stand up to these people, in spite of the risks and unpleasantness. And thanks to you, Dana, for keeping us informed, and for sharing your own experience – an experience I can’t even imagine, and that I’m sure you would rather just forget.

    I admire the courage of all of these people.

  17. 18

    You know, rightly or wrongly, I’m going to cut Randi a little slack. He’s eighty-freaking-six years old. I doubt if he has a whole lot to do with day-to-day operations and likely hasn’t for a long time. D.J. Grothe, on the other hand….that’s one jerk who’s hide I’d like to see nailed to a wall. He pooh-poohed allegations, denied anything ever happened at TAM (even when he was the one to toss a harasser out), he’s vilified anyone who’s come forward and done his best to ruin the careers of at least one woman who pointed out problems at TAM and the greater skeptical/atheist community at large.

    I’m glad to see him gone from JREF and hope it’s only the beginning of some serious, serious house-cleaning over there.

  18. rq
    19

    Give him a break due to his age? The fuck?
    The guy (Randi) openly admits – openly admits! – that he knows Shermer has been misbehaving. But he fucking dismisses it, because it was just Shermer having drunken fun-times, and the victims were women, and hey, that’s what men do!!! Even intelligent, civilized, famous men. Way to diminish the impact, guys. And yes, I feel safe to assume that all of you cutting him slack are guys.
    You think that makes it okay, that Randi is 86 and pooh-poohing sexually predatory behaviour? You think his age makes that okay? Like hell. Like fucking hell. Insulated from the rest of JREF? This would have worked if his response had been, “Oh my, I’m ever so surprised that such things were going on!!”
    He’s the namesake of JREF. He’s the fucking figurehead. If he’d have once said “Shermer is off the speakers list”, you think they’d have ignored him?
    No. He was not insulated enough, as he shows from his statement, and yes, he fucking had (and has) the power to say what is or is not acceptable in his figureheaded organization. It bears his name, after all.
    So no, I’m not going to cut Randi any fucking slack on this, and all of you guys so perfectly willing to do so, try and rethink your positions. From a woman’s point of view.
    Thanks ever so much for believing people like me have a right to feel secure, and a right to expect perfectly human support from people of all ages.
    (Also, for thinking that an 86-year-old can’t know that sexual harrassment (as a minimum) is wrong, or speak out against it, fuck your ageism.)

  19. rq
    20

    They are gay men who operate in circles that regularly and loudly speak about women’s issues. If they’re de-sensitized, then fuck them, because that just shows a lack of compassion and an excess of (white, male) privilege on their part. They have fucking resources at their disposal, no matter their age. They’re obviously internet- and PR-savvy. They have fucking failed to stand up for any kind of a standard of safe spaces for everyone, gay men included.

  20. rq
    21

    He admits he knew this stuff was going on. That’s enough not to cut him any slack. At all. Even at 86, he should fucking well know by now that sexual harrassment is not acceptable, by anyone. It’s not like he’s been living in the desert without any communication with the outside world since the 1940s, after all.

  21. rq
    22

    See? You learned, in 20 years only! If Randi hasn’t at his age, then he’s ignoring the evidence and not recognizing the harm done to women and others who suffer from sexual harrassment at the events his organization holds. And that means he just doesn’t care about women, and that just means he’s just as wrong as Shermer, since he enables the kind of behaviour that should get the both of them kicked out of public events forever.

  22. 24

    Bad ethics rarely manifest regarding just one issue.

    Consider Shermer’s pro-active support of confessed political-money-launderer Dinesh D’Souza – would a skeptic with integrity – a purported fraudbuster working to protect the public against scams – speak out to defend a known chronic liar and partisan of liars?

  23. rq
    25

    Also, on the topic of cutting Randi some slack: that is exactly what he did for Shermer. Awesome work, apologists. Thanks for enabling.

  24. 26

    I’d give him limited credit for his age- if the issue blindsides him at first, I’d be more willing to accept him as a good guy who just missed something if the circumstances he grew up in were sufficiently different from my own.

    But that only excuses initial cluelessness. It gets him a chance to make things right that I might not extend to a younger man who grew up in the current moral climate. He would still have to say “Ok, I screwed up there, let’s make it right” and take appropriate action once he was shown that things were going badly. And under no circumstances does his age make him any less wrong- just gets him a little more of a chance to fix things before I say “fuck it, I’m done with you”.

    He’s utterly failed at the followup. It’s clear this reached him, in enough detail he should be able to understand what was going on. Maybe his age excuses to some extent not noticing some problems on his own, but he’s without that excuse now. He was told, he understood what he was told- his own statements make this clear. He failed to follow it up with any signs he’d even try to do better in the future.

    I’m not quite as through with Randi as some here are(I’m holding out some hope that the JREF shakeup is a sign of some improvements on this), but I really don’t see his age as helping him. We’re well past that point.

  25. 28

    Randi characterized Shermer’s actions as “misbehavior”. Being a sexual predator who sexually assaults people is NOT misbehaving. That’s criminal activity. That’s a violation of the space and rights of other human beings. Randi allowed this to continue going on bc he didn’t take the concerns of women seriously enough.
    He most definitely gets a hearty FUCK YOU.

  26. 30

    rq @ #’s 17 & 19.

    Fucking STANDING OVATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m quoting all of it for truth!

    Give him a break due to his age? The fuck?
    The guy (Randi) openly admits – openly admits! – that he knows Shermer has been misbehaving. But he fucking dismisses it, because it was just Shermer having drunken fun-times, and the victims were women, and hey, that’s what men do!!! Even intelligent, civilized, famous men. Way to diminish the impact, guys. And yes, I feel safe to assume that all of you cutting him slack are guys.
    You think that makes it okay, that Randi is 86 and pooh-poohing sexually predatory behaviour? You think his age makes that okay? Like hell. Like fucking hell. Insulated from the rest of JREF? This would have worked if his response had been, “Oh my, I’m ever so surprised that such things were going on!!”
    He’s the namesake of JREF. He’s the fucking figurehead. If he’d have once said “Shermer is off the speakers list”, you think they’d have ignored him?
    No. He was not insulated enough, as he shows from his statement, and yes, he fucking had (and has) the power to say what is or is not acceptable in his figureheaded organization. It bears his name, after all.
    So no, I’m not going to cut Randi any fucking slack on this, and all of you guys so perfectly willing to do so, try and rethink your positions. From a woman’s point of view.
    Thanks ever so much for believing people like me have a right to feel secure, and a right to expect perfectly human support from people of all ages.
    (Also, for thinking that an 86-year-old can’t know that sexual harrassment (as a minimum) is wrong, or speak out against it, fuck your ageism.)

    Also, on the topic of cutting Randi some slack: that is exactly what he did for Shermer. Awesome work, apologists. Thanks for enabling.

  27. 35

    Update for those wondering about SciAm’s reaction: I’ve been in touch with my editor, and confirmed they’re aware of the Oppenheimer article. I’ll know more about the situation and what I can discuss publicly by next week.

  28. 36

    I paid attention to the JREF blogs for a while, then faded away from them. There was some incident where Randi had an encounter with a woman, and delivered some snappy repartee. Except she turned up and said that it hadn’t happened like that. Rand then said that it was another woman in a very similar incident.

    Regarding Shermer, I say that both are condemned by the excuse that he was black-out drunk. That is not social drinking, that is a serious problem. There are many other horrible problems, but that, offered as an explanation, is enough, even on its own, to shut them both down.

    Thanks for the article. Thanks for the stand.

  29. 38

    Given the evidence, I believe is is time to hang Shermer out to dry. One of the basic tenets of atheism and skepticism is that of individual responsibility, which makes him responsible and culpable for his actions. If we know we misbehave when drunk, it is our responsibility to not get in that state.

    Let’s reframe the issue with another crime, that of child abuse. If a father knows that he is a mean drunk and beats his kids when he gets home from the bar, what would a responsible male do? If he loved his family, he would make a serious effort to never touch alcohol again. If the assault went to trial, he would be charged with the assault regardless of his state of inebriation.

    Regarding James Randi’s comments, I cannot paint him with the same brush. In the context of the event, the statements made are infuriating, but on their own, and given the nature of the evidence Randi had at the time, I can only fault his word choice. What he does from this point forward determines my opinion of him.

    Richard Dawkins’ statement on twitter is a whole different kettle of fish. Tweeting “Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.” would seem to imply that the fault was on the driver, and this is true. The trouble is that the analogy simply does not hold up to scrutiny. A woman is responsible for her drinking, but so is a man. A woman is responsible for her actions, but so is a man. I am not sure if Dawkins is trying to defend his friend or highlight his flaws, though I suspect the former. The argument can be easily be applied to Shermer though, and just as the driver is at fault for the direction the car went, Shermer is responsible for what happens in his hotel room with a drunk partner. Probably not the direction he meant for this to go, but Dickie, you need to be a little more specific, even in a tweet.

  30. 40

    Yep, this evidence is overwhelming, and Randi’s offhand little comment just sealed the deal for both Shermer and himself. I’ve never had dealings with either one, but from this point on they are both personae non gratae.

  31. rq
    41

    Not really sure what your point, in relation to rape, is with this:

    A woman is responsible for her drinking, but so is a man. A woman is responsible for her actions, but so is a man.

    Please clarify, because it sounds like you’re suggesting that a woman should keep her drinking in check to avoid rape. Or that somehow she does actions that make her responsible in her rape.
    Because you know what is not like a car? A woman. Or just a vagina, for that matter.
    You know what is not like a car? A penis. Mostly because it comes attached to a person with a (hopefully) functioning brain.
    You know what is not like drunk driving? Getting raped.
    You know what is not like drunk driving? Owning a penis.
    You know what else is not like drunk driving? Rape. Because it is not an act of lowered inhibition or stupidity, it is a product of cold, calculated predation and grooming.

    And to put Dawkins’ tweet in context (the drunk driving one) – what matters is that that tweet, in relation to the other tweets, points to the fact that Dawkins doesn’t believe women should report rape if they can’t really remember if it happened, i.e. rape of a semi-conscious (and no doubt an unconscious) person cannot be proved, so hey, it never happened. You have to take the other tweets as context, and no, there’s no real way one can presume Dawkins was referring to Shermer in any of those, except in defense of his horrible actions. He was pretty darn specific enough.

    Shermer is responsible for what happens in his hotel room with a drunk partner victim.

    Fixed that.

  32. rq
    42

    Oooh, and your paragraph on Randi.

    Regarding James Randi’s comments, I cannot paint him with the same brush. In the context of the event, the statements made are infuriating, but on their own, and given the nature of the evidence Randi had at the time, I can only fault his word choice. What he does from this point forward determines my opinion of him.

    At least you’re not excusing his age.
    What you are excusing, though, is his supposed insularity. “Given the nature of the evidence Randi had at the time”, really? When, as figurehead of JREF, he could have had that evidence pretty much any time he asked? “Word choice”? You serious?
    Let me requote:

    In the context of the event, the statements made are infuriating, but on their own, and given the nature of the evidence Randi had at the time, I can only fault his word choice.

    Why are you even pointing out how these words could be taken on their own? These words of Randi’s were spoken in the context of ‘the event’. You cannot remove them simply because you think they sound better on their own. Also, Randi never actually says what evidence he had at the time, but it’s pretty clear that he had good information that Shermer was ‘misbehaving with the women while drunk’. Which pretty much amounts to ‘I know he’s been sexually harassing women, but *tee hee* those boys, eh?’ and there is no excuse for knowing that fact, and doing fuck all about it. Especially in context of his follow-up comment about violence: ‘Well, heck, it could have been worse – he could have been starting fights with men!’
    It’s not Randi’s word choice that is at fault, here. It’s his callous, ignorant, acknowledged and outright dismissal of women’s experiences.
    From this point forward, he can do what he likes – his past actions (or, rather, inaction) already speak loud and clear as to his stance on the matter.

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