The web of trust: Why I believe Shermer's accusers

First: yes, the title is plural. I’ll get to that. Trigger warnings for discussion of sexual assault and rape.

I’m fairly certain I have a grasp now on why exactly there’s so much pushback against even the merest inkling that these allegations of serial sexual harassment might be true, most especially with regard to the allegations against Michael Shermer hosted presently at PZ Myers’ blog. It’s complicated, and nuanced, and will take a lot to unpack. Starting, of course, with human beings.

Humans are social animals. Every interaction requiring any level of trust therefore requires a commensurate history of social interactions one can rely upon that this trust will not be broken. Some small interactions like transactions at a marketplace use money as a proxy for that trust — exchanging money for goods and services suggests that you’re a contributing member of society by having obtained that money to begin with. It’s for that reason that so many people get hung up on the idea that if you’re poor, you’re morally failed somehow.

We are also political animals, and each of us wants our personal viewpoints on the world to spread and to fight for our respective causes. Every interaction we participate in is political in some way, even if not explicitly so. You participate in forums that involve topics you care about; you argue for or against viewpoints that are brought up. Even simple actions like buying media can be politically charged — you could buy games from indie developers in defiance of the big-budget ones which are often calculated to pander to the widest audience but that invariably ends up propagating societally-damaging memes, like that women are objects to be rescued and not autonomous entities. You could give money to movies that are otherwise terrible, just because they happen to star an actor you like; you could boycott movies by actors who do demonstrable harm to the world by espousing blinkered and antiscientific claptrap like Tom Cruise or Jenny McCarthy. Or even something as simple and seemingly apolitical as choosing one soft drink over another just because it tastes good, and you would be sad if it disappeared. Someone next to you might convince you to do otherwise, because of that soft drink manufacturer’s stance on gay marriage, for instance; overriding the one political message for another more important one in your mind. The politics of each interaction might be subtle but they’re there, always.

In computers, there’s a concept regarding privacy and encryption that uses a decentralized model for trusting one another’s private/public encryption pairs. Rather than having an authority storing all the keys that pair with a person’s personal encryption codes, each person you communicate with under the PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) method shares the keys that that person trusts, and eventually by being trusted by a lot of people, you can be reasonably secure in the knowledge that newcomers into the network will already have trust for your keys. The better connected you are, the more trusted your keys are. However, like in meatspace, that trust could be violated by any one person, and the more trusted that person, the greater the breach of the trust web.

The entire concept of morality is based on trying to improve humanity’s lot without inflicting undue suffering on its members (or any other entity, to a lesser extent). The reason that sexual assault and rape are morally repugnant is that it is an abrogation of a person’s self-direction, and it does violence to another person in exchange for the aggressor’s pleasure. Even if that violence happens in such a way that the person is not physically harmed, it’s still violence — it’s the overriding of one person’s will for another’s pleasure, and it often comes with a gross violation of trust.

Humans place a high priority on preventing breaches of trust in interactions — the script goes, if someone is a known scam artist, we take pains to inform people to watch out for their tricks (and thus the entire skeptic movement was born). If someone is a known thief, we take pains to inform people to stow their valuables in their presence. But for some reason, when we talk about rape and sexual assault, the desire to warn people to be wary around them is superceded by fears that any particular warning might be *wrong*, because then you’re doing damage to a person without good cause. And when that person is popular, there’s a lot of trust, no matter how small the interactions individually are.

Except, that person may have done grievous damage to someone else, abusing that high level of trust. The saying “power corrupts” springs to mind. They may even have violated people’s autonomy, and we put a very high priority on discouraging that sort of action.

Only, somewhere that script got flipped: it’s more grievously harmful to name the person on the off chance that they fall into the ~6% of false rape claims than it is to screw up that person’s chances at harassing or raping even more people. The cries of “innocent until proven guilty”, which are appropriate in a courtroom or when facing jailtime, are brought up — which are never brought up when someone tells you to watch out for that person who picked your pocket. The cries for physical evidence drown out the testimonial and corroborative evidence that are brought forward. The victim-blaming for putting themselves in the position they were in where they got raped flow freely, where in a parallel situation where someone’s car is hotwired nobody blames the person for choosing an inviting colour of car.

It seems there’s a drive to create a false dichotomy where, because of the grievousness of the crime of breach of trust and breach of someone’s autonomy that rape represents, either the person is completely innocent and free of all charges, or is thrown in jail. Most rape and most assault and most harassment — while criminal — never results in true justice where the perpetrators are put behind bars, even if the victims do go to the police and even if there is physical evidence and even if there is a known suspect. Therefore, most rape and assault and harassment is entirely unpunished, and grossly underreported because everyone knows how the system is skewed.

People forget that there are not merely two options here. There’s not just “jailtime” and “completely innocent”. There’s not just “guilty” and “witch-hunts”. Another possibility is for people to be made aware of these creepers and to know that they cannot trust them as much as they might other people — to warn them that the trust placed in them might not be warranted.

Our ability to trust one another is built on a series of interactions with one another. Over time, you build up a reservoir of trust and if you trust someone enough, when they are faced with a claim that they are untrustworthy, it might be hard to swallow. It might cause you to backlash against the accusations. And when others trust a person, it can amplify that trust. If enough people trust a person despite the alleged breach, no consequences might come of a claim about a person — it might be dismissed as “so much locker room banter” or people “regretting their sexual exploits”. Or it could even legitimately have been an attempt to tear down the trust a community has in a person for no other reason than simple spite.

I understand this dynamic well. When I was 16, my first girlfriend accused me of rape in order to preempt any acrimony over her sleeping with someone else, and the only things that saved me — unpopular kid as I was — were the facts that she’d repeatedly and demonstrably lied to a lot of people about a lot of things very often, eroding anyone’s trust in her, and because she happened to tell a lie integral to her accusation that I could disprove.

Her accusation ruined her own reputation amongst her then circle of friends, but she moved on, built new trusts, violated them as well, and generally made a wreck of her life as far as I cared to follow.

I vowed then to be as honest as humanly possible with people, to the point of it becoming a character flaw. I have a reputation for being blunt with people. I can be short with people. I have no patience for people intentionally abusing one another — and I’m not talking about namecalling, I’m talking about advocating for ideas I deem genuinely ruinous for society, like religion, bigotry, or unchecked greed. I walk away from people who are damaging, even at great personal cost.

This has earned me trust and it has cost me trust with a lot of people in a lot of ways.

In that respect, I am a good deal like PZ Myers to a far smaller degree (in that I am less popular, and therefore have less interactions with which to build my web of trust). I have never seen him flinch or skulk away from a fight over what he believes to be right, nor — more especially — over what he believes to be wrong. Even where I disagree with him, he is a man with the courage of his convictions in my experience. He has earned a good deal of my trust in him to deal with certain issues with ferocity and calm rationality in equal measure. And as far as I can see, he is slow to come to trust others, having likely been burned a number of times by a number of people over the years. My own personal web of trust includes him as a result of my own dealings with him over the years, as do many other folks’. He has built up a strong reputation amongst most of us for being unflinching and self-sacrificing when faced with difficult decisions.

Except, some of these convictions come in direct conflict with some other community members’ own convictions. Some of the actions he has taken — disagreeing publicly and loudly with people over seeming trivialities (which are nonetheless important to him, and evidently important to people who agree with him on the matter), or banning people from his blog for harming the (rather free-for-all) discourse he governs there — each earn him enmity, cost him trust for some folks, even where it earns him trust with others.

There are people who are doggedly determined to prove that he is the secular Antichrist for daring to disagree with certain secular Saints, for daring to (extraordinarily infrequently) ban people from his blog. And these people think that those of us who’ve dealt with him and found his dealings to be fair, well, they think he’s hoodwinked us and that we’re hero-worshipping him in the same way that they hero-worshipped some of the people of whom he’s been critical. They think there’s some kind of cult like hivemind groupthink at play, when what they’re really describing is the fact that we trust him to act in accordance with our own personal beliefs. That we trust him to vet and thoroughly corroborate any claims he makes in public, that he would not stake his hard-earned reputation without damn good cause.

So when someone whom PZ trusts, who also trusts PZ to do the right thing, comes forward and tells PZ her story of having been coerced into sex by the big-name and well-trusted Michael Shermer, and he realizes that to do anything at all about it he has to risk taking a hell of a lot of splash damage to his own reputation in bringing it to the world at large. He’s fully aware that even putting it forward to the degree that he has, stripped of any identifying details that might result in retaliatory harassment of the victim by Shermer’s fans, he’s not only risking his reputation but he’s giving ammunition to the people who want his reputation to evaporate entirely, who will not hesitate to use this event to destroy him and everything he stands for.

There’s a lot of people complaining that these anonymous claims are ruining people’s reputations without sufficient cause or evidence. The deck is actually stacked against people ever coming forward with rape claims, though, and lowering the bar too far can make an environment that’s easily gamed by people who like the system the way it is.

Things like the anonymous tumblr “More Will Be Named”, which was deleted and replaced with a parody by someone who snapped up the domain when it became available after the deletion, actually are damaging to the cause of preventing these big names from taking advantage of the trust they themselves have built. These tiny and untrusted-because-anonymous voices coming forward and being given a megaphone to say what they will about big names might serve as innoculation against anyone ever believing the claim against a well-trusted person. The trolls time and again try to make sure that it’s impossible to ever come forward with a rape case by providing the very false rape claims they decry as the reason we can’t trust people to be honest about their rape claims. They fulfill their own prophecies to throw up chaff and keep people from taking rape claims seriously.

But there’s always another option, as I suggested. There’s “trust implicitly”, there’s “distrust”, and there’s “trust but verify”. And in “trust but verify”, you can know to be wary of certain people without necessarily pointing at them in horror and shrieking “rapist” every time they’re nearby; or throwing them in jail on the least unsubstantiated word.

This is all I, or anyone else fighting for victims rights with regard to rape, have ever advocated. The repercussions in this case are not that Michael Shermer will end up in jail — seriously, even if all six victims were to provide ironclad evidence that he did what they said, at this point so distant from the crimes, it’s grossly unlikely he’ll ever face any jailtime for it. All he has to do is throw up doubt that sex with an inebriated-beyond-consent woman is not actually rape, or that they only decided it was rape after they decided he was skeezy after the fact. He’ll get off on the charge of getting off on someone without their permission.

So the best we can hope for as far as repercussions are that because his name is so popular, the accusations against him will give his potential future victims pause against trusting him enough to drink with or spend time alone with him. This might hurt his feelings, but it will not ruin is career or his life.

And the reason I’m willing to trust PZ to have vetted his claims before making the accusation public like he has, is exactly because I know he treats these accusations seriously and trusts the victims but verifies the stories before putting his own sizable bank of trust on the line.

That’s why anonymous trolls’ stories against people, unverified and unvetted and impossible to corroborate, don’t gain as much traction as the big ones like this. The problem is, the same effect happens with regard to any claim that any rape victim might bring forward — there’s massive public pressure against ever coming forward with your own name, because you will face all the consequences of that interaction. People who don’t trust you will be horrified that you’re impugning the motives of the good decent person they trust, and they’ll rake over your life history looking for any shred of misdeed by which to dismiss you and the entire story. So most rape victims never come forward.

When rape victims DO come forward, it’s because they’ve found someone they can trust. And sometimes the person they trust with the story trusts them back, and sometimes they’re willing to fight that fight on their behalf. Remember, this anonymous accuser is only anonymous TO US.

That’s why PZ can’t give more details than he has; and that’s why the people who don’t trust either PZ or the anonymous (TO US) rape victim are fighting back so hard against the very idea that maybe, just maybe, Michael Shermer actually did it.

And as for the strength of the evidence at hand, the fact that PZ received post-hoc corroboration of the events in question, from someone well-placed within the community enough to be trustable themselves and to have been in a position to know the truth of the statement, from someone, I note, who even admits that they don’t much like PZ and the strength of their belief in the events is strong enough to override that distrust, is excellent evidence that the events actually happened. That’s why there’s a plural. It further cements in my mind that I was right to trust PZ, and that I’m right to trust Jane Doe, at the expense of the reputation of yet another so-called pillar of our community.

Sure, it’s not photographic evidence, but you know how well even THAT works amongst those primed to deny any rape allegations ever brought forward.

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The web of trust: Why I believe Shermer's accusers
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382 thoughts on “The web of trust: Why I believe Shermer's accusers

  1. 251

    First kacyray says this:

    Because, as I’ve demonstrated, it never seems to be my actual argument that gets attacked.

    And then he says this:

    I haven’t presented a single argument in this entire dialogue. I haven’t argued a single point.

    What a fucking joke.

  2. 253

    Raging Bee. He meant me. You wouldn’t like it at Mindromp anyway. You certainly don’t seem interested in any argument. Now that we are gone, you can have the last word.

  3. 254

    Kacyray:
    Tbis is a blog, open to the public (limited pretty much to the people Jason approves as commenters). This is not a chat room. You post on a blog-anyone and everyone can see it. Why you feel unable to discuss what you want HERE is bizarre.
    But then I recall your endless whining of much the same thing over at Dispatches.

  4. 255

    From Mindromp forum’s Core Values:

    Mindromp was established with the guiding principle that everyone has a voice and everyone is entitled to have their voice heard. Everyone may speak and in speaking everyone takes responsibility for what they say. Mindromp will give you a place to speak but accepts no responsibility for what you say or what is said to you. Mindromp provides tools to help you manage your forum experience. […]

    Member Agreement:

    I am responsible for my posts, interactions and disclosures on this forum

    Any requests for admin action will be openly proposed, discussed and decided

    Admin action is limited to technical procedures, removing illegal content and spam, deleting spammers and protecting member privacy

    Admin action to protect member privacy is limited to the removal of personally identifying information

    I agree to these core values and responsibilities, and acknowledge that I may not post any messages that are in violation of the law

    So, members free to say anything at all, anything not explicitly illegal is fine, no rules about harassment or slurs, limited admin powers, and limited dedication to member privacy. Sounds like a [snark]GREAT[/snark] place to discuss harassment, rape, bullying, silencing, or any form of bigotry, compared to basically the rest of the internet.

  5. 257

    In the very near future the internet will have a reputation layer based on personal networks. I will be able to see people’s assesments of each other on professional counts. There will be averages… for instance if 10 people who worked with me say I am skilled in say perl… that will be highlighted. If 120 people say the same that will make me a very popular perl person.

    People will also hack ways to add another layer. That layer will contain subjective assessments – thinks like “creepy” “manipulative”. Etc. These networks will be trusted and implicit. Not eveyone here will be admitted to my trusted network. Only actual people I trust.

    Just sayin. Now is the time to straighten your bullshit out.

  6. 258

    away from the noise of misleading and loaded comments.

    What an odd way to describe comments you don’t like – “noise”. You do realize you don’t have to read them all, right? Words on a page do not assail your eyes and compel you to read them. You are allowed to skip over comments you don’t want to deal with. It’s pretty easy, really.

  7. 260

    ” I’m not going to just throw someone under the bus. The reason is because I wouldn’t want someone to do the same thing to me.”

    anon13- by taking the counter evidential position that the accuser is probably lying (i.e. ignoring everything we know about rape statistically speaking) (the assumption you start with) and applying your “assumption if innocence” only to Shermer – your DEFAULT position is that WOMEN LIE ABOUT RAPE. That is statistically unlikely in the EXTREME.

    Your default position should be the WOMAN is innocent until proven guilty – of lying about rape. This would be the position more closely related to reality…. The ONLY thing that would complicate this assumption would be if the man were Black…and then you have a very good reason to assume a more neutral position….given what we know about false rape accusations…which often occur when white people want to cover up their own crimes… (another can of worms)

  8. 261

    @darkwater ….I am so pained by the position all this “logic” puts you in, how resolutely your story is ignored, how much the usual suspects avoid your interrogations…

    and of course, my heart breaks that this happened to you at all.

    Thank you from my core for persisting with your trenchant interrogation of the terms of the “debate”….not that it’s even a debate…

    anyway….a giant hug to you and I hope your anger is a healing fire.

  9. 262

    Hotshoe, you said, in part:
    “Having sex with a person who is too drunk to consent ( don’t have to be passed out or too drunk to talk, they just have to be too drunk to consent – and if you don’t understand what that means, think of it as about the same level as too drunk to drive, or too drunk to sign a contract) is ILLEGAL and it’s defined in criminal statutes as RAPE. It’s NOT A GREY AREA.”
    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

  10. 263

    Raging Bee @ 249

    BTW, kacyray, why don’t you specify exactly which of us commenters you want to argue with in a more private place, and why?

    First off, I am not seeking a “private” place to argue. That’s a dishonest characterization that has been perpetuated about me for a long time now, and thanks to guys like you who understand that if you repeat a lie long enough it becomes canonized as truth, it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

    What I’ve asked for is a neutral, limited forum where I can address specific points back and forth to a specific person without distortions from OTHER people being interjected into the mix. Distortions, such as the way you’ve distorted the characterization of my offer.

    I don’t care where the forum is. What I want is for it to be isolated from incessant noise (“noise” in this context is defined as any chatter that does not contribute productively to the conversation or move it along in a forward manner).

    Secondly, I’ve already specified who I’m looking to talk to. In comment 226 I specifically extended the invitation to YOU PERSONALLY, but more broadly, I articulated that I have been wanting to get into an in-depth conversation with any one of you professional FTB commenters. The subject of the conversation would be some of the issues that I’ve personally taken with the inter-movement rift, particularly the tribal practice of assuming that everyone who does not accept everything you stand for must therefore support everything you stand against.

    I extended this invitation to YOU, and in return you’ve mischaracterized my intent, you’ve been dishonest about my motives, you’ve compared me to people I’ve never even heard of, you’ve done everything *except* demonstrate your desire to have an actual, honest conversation about these issues which you ostensibly find so important. You’ve done everything except step up to the plate.

    You do realize, don’t you, that had you accepted my invitation, you would have been free to leave at any time right? It’s not like I’m inviting you into a locked room. I invited you to a CONVERSATION, and your culture of fear has you so terrified that you won’t accept an invitation to have a conversation, with a guy whose identity is public, in a chatroom, unless ALL YOUR FRIENDS can be there too.

    Do you realize the degree of cowardice required to fit this description? That you are too damn scared to accept an invitation to a one-on-one conversation with a guy who is halfway around the world without all your virtual friends present? I mean, at this point “chickenshit” is too generous a description of your behavior.

    I’m in the Middle East, and you have the temerity to call me a coward while yourself being AFRAID TO HAVE A CONVERSATION. A real culture warrior you are. I wonder what you’re like in real life.

    You do not rate to have a conversation with me. It is clear you are not here to trade ideas, you are here to be part of the cheerleading section for your heroes. You are a disgrace to those whom you lather with adoration – at least they contribute their original content and aren’t afraid to engage people. You, on the other hand, are a mindless specter with nothing but canned snark and bingo cards. I rescind my invitation to you. You do not merit one more moment of my time.

    As for the “and why”… that was answered in comments 230, 234, and in all of the dialogue you read over at Dispatches, none of which you probably perceived accurately through your red lenses of seething rage.

    My intent and desire have always been to drill deeply into these topics, with focused, purposeful dialogue, with someone from an opposing viewpoint, in order to gain a better understanding of this issue and to maybe even gain a better understanding the opposing point of view. Oh, the shock! The horror! The inhumanity!

    I do not bear ill will against you. I have no capacity for anger or animosity towards people I don’t know (I barely have that capacity towards people I do know). I wish you well in your life. But you have demonstrated that you do not merit one more second of my attention. You really are the paragon example of everything that is wrong with the skeptic community thee days. Don’t expect me to read or respond to anything else you say. Goodbye.

  11. 264

    @258

    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

    According to the prevailing FTB/SC party line, I’ve been raped over and over.

    But this is a great question…. if both parties are technically unable to consent, then who is the victim and who is the aggressor? I think this belies a critical flaw in the premise.

  12. 265

    without distortions from OTHER people being interjected into the mix.

    Why would that matter, if you’re free to ignore anything anybody else says?

  13. 266

    Carlie @261

    Why would that matter, if you’re free to ignore anything anybody else says?

    It influences the nature of the conversation. It inevitably turns what could have been a fruitful, productive, purposeful conversation into nothing but contention.

    You might find this unimaginable, but I did not come here to pick a fight. I read JT’s blog post and it provoked some thoughts in my mind. I thought that if I could engage him in some dialogue it would be interesting, but I needed some clarity on where he stood on the wider principles involve.

    Comments section like this make focused dialogue impossible. Are you seriously unable to see the difference between trying to hold a purposeful conversation in the comments section of a blog post (which will fade away from people’s attention very quickly) and trying to have a serious conversation in an environment uncontaminated by vitriol and presumptions?

    It blows my mind that anyone could imagine that a quality conversation about such a nuanced topic is possible in this environment. But not only do you seem to think it is, you actually criticize me for suggesting it isn’t!

    Have you noticed that formal debates are not held in bars or nightclubs? They are held in a formal setting where people are free to listen but must allow the principles to speak.

    It boggles the might that you and other here would take issue with my suggestion that a serious topic, which merits serious depth of discussion, might be difficult in a forum such as this.

    This comment section is good for one thing and one thing only – COMMENTING ON THE POST.

    Serious discussions can’t be held here, as you must have noticed by this point. So it only makes sense that my request for a serious discussion was accompanied by an offer to hold it at a more appropriate venue. And I’ve never made demands on exactly what that venue should be – only that it is appropriate to accommodate focused conversation.

  14. 268

    Yeah, kacyray, you invited me personally — AFTER insulting me, lying about the character of this blog, and mindlessly labeling all other comments “noise” and worse, without ever specifying whose comments were “noise,” and whose were worth a response. Then you suddenly had a brain-fart or something, and couldn’t decide whether or not you had made any actual points here. Sorry I didn’t actually notice your “invitation” — it was lost in all your other noise.

    Take your “invitation” and shove it. I’m perfectly capable of making arguments here, and responding to others. There’s no need to waste my time going out of my way to a place where I only end up having a SMALLER audience, just to argue with a known lying idiot who can’t handle the big time. I made my name here, my public needs me here, they’re such a lovely audience, I’m here every day, twice on Sundays…I’ll never go back the boondocks again, not for nobody!

  15. 269

    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

    That might be an interesting question…if this was happening in any of the accounts being discussed here. But since none of those accounts involved mutual drunkenness, WHO CARES?!

    But this is a great question…. if both parties are technically unable to consent, then who is the victim and who is the aggressor?

    Well, generally speaking, the one who behaves most AGGRESSIVELY is considered the AGGRESSOR. Next “great question,” please…?

  16. 271

    Another thing that makes this place a superior forum for debate, kacyray, is the fact that other people come here with relevant information: people familiar with the events in question, people who know the people involved, and — perhaps most importatnly — people who have personal experience of sexual assault and harassment, and who know first-hand what happens when they try to do the right thing and come forward. This input is what makes debates here worthwhile — and arguing with you in a closed forum would deprive us of such necessary information. I see no reason to consider that even intresting, let alone beneficial to anyone. But I guess that’s just me — I’m used to dealing with shitloads of information, and you, apparently, are not.

    If you want to jam your head up your ass and shut out the “noise” of reality, you can do it without my help.

  17. 272

    It blows my mind that anyone could imagine that a quality conversation about such a nuanced topic is possible in this environment. But not only do you seem to think it is, you actually criticize me for suggesting it isn’t!

    Yeah, because I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of important, nuanced, productive conversations happen in exactly this environment. But you, barging in for the first time, just look at it and assume no one can operate like this.

  18. 273

    carlie: it’s not kacyray’s first time on FtB. Not even close. He’s been making the same stupid mistakes here for YEARS. His brain may be damaged, or he may just be a simpleminded tribalistic bigot; but he’s not new here. In fact, he’s getting very old and stale indeed.

  19. 274

    Thanks for the correction, Raging Bee. I’m notoriously bad at remembering and recognizing names. So he’s seen that those discussions do happen, then, and has less of an excuse to think they don’t.

  20. 275

    No problem, carlie, he may be new to this particular blog, but he’s been making an ass of himself at Dispatches for much longer. He’s basically just another ‘pitter parroting all their standard complaints about “FtBullies” no matter what anyone actually says here.

  21. 277

    So if BOTH parties are over .08 BAC, who is being raped? Both parties?

    That might be an interesting question…if this was happening in any of the accounts being discussed here. But since none of those accounts involved mutual drunkenness, WHO CARES?!

    Well, Raging, I asked Hotshoe. Since it was their statement, I venture to suppose that they care.

    You keep on raging though. I find it cute.

  22. 279

    Pudendum –

    That might be an interesting question…if this was happening in any of the accounts being discussed here. But since none of those accounts involved mutual drunkenness, WHO CARES?!

    Well, Raging, I asked Hotshoe. Since it was their statement, I venture to suppose that they care.

    You keep on raging though. I find it cute.

    Fuck you, Pudendum, and every single one of the dudebros among whose company you have earned such a dishonorable place for trying to find some possible line that will excuse you raping a drunk person. Is it rape yet? Oh, is it rape if it’s just on this side of the line? This side? Now? Is is really really rape? WHose fault is it? Is it my fault if I do this? What about if I do this other thing instead? What about if I only touch you with my elbow? Yeah, what about it?

    Fuck all of you sickening buckets of scum dressed in human skin.

  23. 280

    Fuck you, Pudendum, and every single one of the dudebros among whose company you have earned such a dishonorable place for trying to find some possible line that will excuse you raping a drunk person. Is it rape yet? Oh, is it rape if it’s just on this side of the line? This side? Now? Is is really really rape? WHose fault is it? Is it my fault if I do this? What about if I do this other thing instead? What about if I only touch you with my elbow? Yeah, what about it?

    Fuck all of you sickening buckets of scum dressed in human skin.

    Your affection is misplaced, I don’t really even like you. I mean, I don’t dislike you, but I don’t like you.
    You are a shining example of FtB rationalism. Once again though, I asked Hotshoe, not you. Why don’t you save your brilliance for someone who wants to talk to you?

  24. 281

    Hey, look at that. One of the pitty scumsuckers so blinded by xis prejudices that xe can’t even read. Literally cannot read who replied to xis question.

    Says a lot about the pitty scumsucker’s commitment to “rationality” or “dialog” or “logical argument” or whatever xis current stick that xe wishes xe could beat FtB with. Says it all, really.

    Hey, Pudendum, you dogdamned willful idiot. You deserve all outright hatred you get.

  25. 284

    Yah, let’s talk about trust. For the victim to give up autonomy and fail short of reporting it to the police (I don’t care what the statistics are and how much of a headache it would have been) and then give up his/her rights to have a trusted colleague post the accused name for all and sundry just threw any hope of handling it legally. Because, if you truly want to put a rapist; you report it to the proper authorities, create a paper trial a mile long and then you create a series of restraining orders from each victim of assault. However, any hope of justice in a court of law is flushed down the toilet, because the incident(s) is now on the internet for all and sundry to make a mockery out of. Rape or sexual assault is to be taken very seriously and that means you don’t post names on the internet! You encourage the victim to go to the police, because posting names on the internet becomes admissible in a court of law. I’m very disappointed in how poorly this was handled.

  26. 285

    Breathe, Laura. Breathe; you’ll pass out if you don’t.

    And in that whole mess you spit out, only one true thing:

    I don’t care what the statistics are and how much of a headache it would have been

    Yes, we know you don’t care. We know you don’t care a whit about the woman – who might be your sister, your cousin, your daughter, your mother, or even you sometime. All you care about is your opinion of “how this was handled”.

    Bless your heart.

  27. 287

    It’s evident how disconnected from being human nerds have become. The Internet bridging the socially awkward with ‘social media’ has gotten nerds from their parents basements.

    “Humans are social animals”, .. wow.. very astute qualification you make. Unfortunately nerds don’t seem to be.

    Rape is serious shit. People get killed over accusations of it. If you are raped and don’t go to the police, you don’t lose any sympathy from me.. I feel for you deeply. But in my view you do lose the right to accuse that person in the future of it! You chose to not confront the issue at the time it happened, .. so the ability to concretely prove the act has gone. .. then we cannot distinguish the truth in any meaningful way.

    .. and this notion that refilling someones wine glass is somehow wrong, is OBSCENE! Perhaps Shermer is socially awkward himself, and this is his technique in socializing. Maybe he even intends on getting a woman drunk so she may be more receptive to his sexual advances. But equating that with date rape, or some act of a sexual predator.. OMG !

    Men are dipshits. But I think the skeptic community is less representative of aggressive males than would be the average population. The impression feminist skeptics are giving about conferences is absolutely a fabrication. When I read accounts of rape / sexual assault that are given at these conferences, I’m astounded. Did these people not go through highschool? Did they never flirt, date .. or maybe even go to an adults-only establishment where alcohol is served?

    Rape happens, intimidation happens. But if we used the perspective of these skeptic women to define those 2 things.. 1/2 the male population would be imprisoned on the overdramatic recounts of women who are ultimately lying for some alternative purpose. (maybe attention?)

  28. 288

    I think I might want some evidence to back up these claims… Maybe because people are already trying to carry out sentencing on Shermer… Quick someone ban me!

  29. 293

    Latecomers who still fail to grok how “innocent til proven guilty” actually plays into this might like to read this post instead. Especially since I said right in the text of the post that it’s grossly unlikely he’ll see a courtroom over these allegations, despite the fact that he may see a courtroom over getting these allegations squelched.

  30. 294

    Rape is serious shit. People get killed over accusations of it. If you are raped and don’t go to the police, you don’t lose any sympathy from me.. I feel for you deeply. But in my view you do lose the right to accuse that person in the future of it! You chose to not confront the issue at the time it happened, .. so the ability to concretely prove the act has gone. .. then we cannot distinguish the truth in any meaningful way.

    Wait for it…

    Men are dipshits. But I think the skeptic community is less representative of aggressive males than would be the average population.

    Waaaiiiit for it….

    Rape happens, intimidation happens. But if we used the perspective of these skeptic women to define those 2 things.. 1/2 the male population would be imprisoned on the overdramatic recounts of women who are ultimately lying for some alternative purpose. (maybe attention?)

    Did you know making ridiculous rationalisations, being sexist against men, and being sexist against women are all corrolated?*

    1) No, at no time does a victim lose the right to take action about his or her victimization. That doesn’t even make sense.

    2) “Bitches be lyin’ (for attention!)” is hardly a convincing argument.

    * Sexism against either gender is actually shown to be corrolated with sexism against the other.

  31. 295

    There are two things I don’t like about this situation

    1. The repercussions for Shermer if innocent/witch hunt
    I think people should really do some research about exactly what that term means. The post mentions that people will be wary of him from now on. Well that is kind of the point of a witch hunt – to outcast people as undesirables. Why are people perfectly fine with this?

    2. You’re a rape apologist if you think this isn’t being handled right
    People like this do no favour to actual victims. In fact I’d say such people are in the way of people who have suffered this crime from getting justice. This image you’re presenting by accusing anyone who dares question the way in which you deal with this crime (and I’m talking about how Myers dealt with it here) is one of hysteria and people don’t take that seriously. What’d be better was if people actually made a focused effort to get in touch and make aware this issue to those who really have power to change things rather than this blogging which only serves to sensationalise the whole case.

  32. 296

    First the caveats: I have no skin in this game. I could just as easily believe M. Shermer is a rapist as I could believe P. Myers diddles little boys in men’s rooms as I could believe all feminists can bend spoons with the power of their minds. It doesn’t affect me personally.
    This case has quickly become a benchmark for where feminism and skepticism diverge and become incompatible. And this article and accompanying discussion is a fine example of that, with some skeptics rushing to toss out reason, the scientific method and principles of jurisprudence, presumably in order to show solidarity with feminist cohorts. From the language and tone of the discussion, this is certainly the impression that is given. As a skeptic, one is supposed to determine truth from evidence and, if possible, test hyphotheses based upon what we think we observe to be true. Practicing this method is essential to wearing the label. In this case, an accusation comes from an unnamed accuser in a text message posted on a website. I don’t know that this person actually exists, or if it is actually a fictitious character (-1). The accusation is that M. Shermer raped the person and this person didn’t report it to the police. This seems to be the point where many skeptics start to smell a rat, because if you witness a crime, or indeed, are a victim of a crime, there is a duty to report it to the police. That’s how society deals with crimes and criminals. If one chooses not to participate in society, one can’t really complain about the rampant criminality that results from one’s inaction. And I can’t help but feel some small piece of moral ground is lost here, if the story is true (-1). But let’s ignore the niggling skeptical demon on my shoulder and take the accuser at her word for the moment. The reason the accuser gives for not reporting the assault is that she was intimidated by legal process or M. Shermer or both. Some argue this is a reasonable explanation. I’ve never been in this situation, so can’t assign a likelihood here (+/-?). (Side note: I notice someone posted a statistic from the Toronto police which reports only 6% of sexual assaults are reported. This is, on its face, absolutely ridiculous since the actual number can’t, by definition, be known. They might as well have reported 0.00006%, or some other number fished out of an anus. Really, if 94% of people do not report sexual assaults to the authorities, then we might as well give up and legalize it, because the law isn’t doing anyone any good. The author, of course, throws in his anally-derived statistics as well: ~6% of false rape reports… Most rapes… most assaults… most harrassment… CITATIONS PLEASE. (And he wonders why people are using the term ‘witch-hunt’? Maybe it’s that witch-hunty aroma in the air from all the BS statistics and concealed accusers and witnesses…))
    So now we only have P. Myers’ word (and let’s not forget Jane Doe!) that this person’s word is good and true, the assault happened as described, and now it is past time to do anything about it legally. Why? Are we to assume a statute of limitations is in effect? Most states in the U.S. have statutes of limitations for Class B felonies as 7-15 years and Class A felonies (depending on the type of rape) as having 15+ to no statute of limitations. Again, we only have the claim by someone who is, presumably, not a lawyer or legal scholar (-1). How do I know that time has run out, and more importantly why does it matter? Why come forward now? Did these people not even consider the nature of the audience to which they were directing their accusation? Yes, this is serious business. We are willing to take you seriously, but we require proof. We believe in laws. Rape and sexual assault are legal terms and are adjudicated in courts of law. And no amount of additional hearsay from other mystery persons or other cases affects the facts of the one in question.
    And here is the crux of the biscuit:
    I, like a good skeptic, suspended judgment, seeking out more information. But I kept running into the same repeating theme on all the standard blogs and boards – you either believe the accuser or you don’t, but the latter makes you some sort of rapist sympathizer. I don’t yet have an opinion on whether or not Shermer is a skeevy pervert and rapist. But some of you do, and they appear to me to be clumsily devoid of evidence I would deem acceptable under the circumstances. And so, instead, I have formed an opinion about you.
    Call Michael Shermer a rapist if you like, absent of compelling evidence, but don’t call yourselves skeptics in the process, at least not while I’m in the room. Because, unlike the character in our story, I’ll call you on it.

  33. 299

    Milo Mind bender has summed up this situation perfectly.
    I have no idea whether Shermer is a rapist because I have yet to see any evidence that supports this claim. Present the evidence, make the case and then we can make up our minds or rather the courts can make up their minds.

    No sceptic should have an opinion either way on this matter because the evidence presented is simply not strong enough to reach a conclusion.

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