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. 301

    Hello late-comers! The post you clicked on to get here, Greta’s post on unnamed sources, actually outlines the multiple accounts presented (and links to my timeline, where you can go to the originals). Therefore, you clicked through Greta’s post onto mine to post your load about it being a single account presented with no evidence.

    Protip: it’s not a single person, and it’s not hearsay. Hearsay is when I report that you read PZ’s post about it. The words you read were the alleged victim’s, and PZ knows her identity, so his post is not hearsay. Nor are the rest of the firsthand accounts that corroborate it.

  2. 303

    ericyoungstrom @291 (and others who have made similar claims about hearsay):

    Here say [sic] is not evidence.

    Actually, yes, it is. It is generally considered inadmissible evidence in court proceedings, unless it falls under under one of the many exceptions to the prohibition against hearsay. There are also legal proceedings, such as administrative hearings, in which any type of hearsay is admissible as evidence.

    However, the admissibility of hearsay evidence is not really relevant here, because, as has been repeated ad nauseam, this is not a legal proceeding.

  3. 304

    OK again, has any of these alleged victims of rape come forward and gone to the police? Don’t bother to answer because they have not, but they sure as $#!+ post about on blogs (or get other more prominent blogs to do so for them)… OR they complain to some people running a convention and when the alleged victim is turned away or brushed off (I highly doubt that IF it did go down as blogged about) why would you not immediately go to the police? WHY!?

    I can only speak for myself here but if I was sexually assaulted or raped by anyone, famous Atheists aside, I would swallow my pride and go to the police. I wouldn’t go to other bloggers or blog about it before hand.

    Seriously am I missing something here? Why has the FACT that none of these women have gone to the police? Is Shermer a scary guy with a goon squad of enforcers? Does he have the police and the mayor in his back pocket? I am not playing some game here, I am not a “rape apologist”. Rape is a horrible and violent act where it happens to men or women and should be treated as a serious accusation. That being said when you go other sources that are not the police 1st or in this case NOT go to the police at all. It smacks of being disingenuous.

  4. 307

    ericyoungstrom @295:

    I can only speak for myself here but if I was sexually assaulted or raped by anyone, famous Atheists aside, I would swallow my pride and go to the police.

    And that’s great. I would fully support you in going to the police. When I was assaulted, I went to the police. I wish that we lived in a world where all sexual assault victims felt empowered to go to the police.

    However, I, unlike you, have long aware of the many compelling reasons why sexual assault victims choose not to go to the police (a tiny sampling of which are provided in the previous comments). And, having that knowledge, I do not consider whether or not someone goes to the police to be a reliable indicator of their credibility on this issue.

    Also, it’s all well and good for you to declare that you would swallow your pride and go to the police if you were sexually assaulted. But it sounds from your posts like you have never been in that situation. You might well make a different decision if this were reality rather than hypothetical.

  5. 308

    @ 296, huh so fear of NOT being believed by the police? I guess we HAVE to believe them then by default, right?

    @ 297, So what is your solution then Jason, do we storm Shermers house? How about we just go castrate him? On WORDS ALONE! We have a legal system I highly encourage all of you to utilize it. It may not be perfect but it is better than this mob mentality I see all over the internet.

    @ 298, By my posts you can assess that I have never been sexually assaulted? So my uncle molesting me when I was 3 was all a lie by my family I guess. That you for clearing that up for me.

    And to the rest of you I leave with a quote….

    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

    ― Christopher Hitchens

  6. 309

    ericyoungstrom @299:

    @ 298, By my posts you can assess that I have never been sexually assaulted? So my uncle molesting me when I was 3 was all a lie by my family I guess. That you for clearing that up for me.

    I’m sorry that you went through that. Based on the phrasing in your previous post, it sounded to me like you were speaking purely hypothetically, but I apologize for my mistake.

  7. 310

    @ericyoungstrom:

    @ 296, huh so fear of NOT being believed by the police? I guess we HAVE to believe them then by default, right?

    You don’t have to do anything. But rape is distressingly common, while false rape accusations are vanishingly rare. So playing the odds, it’s more likely that the victim is telling the truth than not.

    @ 297, So what is your solution then Jason, do we storm Shermers house? How about we just go castrate him? On WORDS ALONE! We have a legal system I highly encourage all of you to utilize it. It may not be perfect but it is better than this mob mentality I see all over the internet.

    God, are you really this dumb, or are you play-acting? Here’s the solution, asshole: we get the word out. We warn people about the potential danger. This is not a courtroom. This is not a trial. This is not a mob. No one is advocating any action against Shermer right now beyond goddamn fucking words.

    That legal system? Broken and fucked-up and not the panacea that you and every other one of the people who’s blundered in over the last week to make the same asinine points you’re making here seem to think it is, allows for people to talk to each other without filing any charges or reaching a verdict.

    Or, to put it more analogously, let’s say I have a friend. We get a little too drunk, and he picks a fight with me over some stupid bullshit. We duke it out, and I get the worst of it. In the cold, sober light of morning, I decide not to file assault charges–which is, you know, perfectly within my rights under the legal system–but I warn my other friends “hey, you know that guy? He’s kind of a belligerent drunk. Just watch out, okay?”

    That’s what’s going on here. No one getting castrated, no one getting lynched, no one getting thrown in jail, just people warning each other about a guy that you don’t want to get drunk around.

    Why, why, why, is that so hard for people to understand?

    @ 298, By my posts you can assess that I have never been sexually assaulted? So my uncle molesting me when I was 3 was all a lie by my family I guess. That you for clearing that up for me.

    That’s pretty terrible, and I’m sorry to hear about it.

    Notice what I didn’t do there?

    And to the rest of you I leave with a quote….

    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

    ― Christopher Hitchens

    So a victim’s testimony isn’t evidence? Good to know. Would it be evidence if she had four male witnesses?

  8. 311

    ericyoungstrom –
    When did you go to the police about your rape? Obviously, you didn’t personally when you were 3. Did your family press charges on your behalf against the uncle when you were 3? Later? What consequences did they suffer for airing the family’s “dirty laundry” in public? What punishment did the uncle get? Jail? A slap on the wrist? None? Was the legal system perfect in your case? Was it better than nothing, or worse than nothing? Did your family wish they could simply warn other families to avoid the rapist uncle without having to bring your name into it? Did your family wish that they could just keep you safe in the future without reliving the trauma?

    What I really don’t understand is why someone who has already survived a sexual assault would be so horribly hostile to the survivor of a different sexual assault. Why didn’t your experience teach you any empathy? Why are you angry at the possible victims and not angry at the possible assailant Shermer? Why?

  9. 312

    Oh look, what a shock! The ravens lunge at the easy targets while ignoring the careful, thoughtful post of Milo Minderbinder.

    Thank you for your contribution, Milo Minderbinder.

  10. 313

    Oh look, what a shock! The ravens lunge at the easy targets while ignoring the careful, thoughtful post of Milo Minderbinder.

    Thank you for your contribution, Milo Minderbinder.

    Go fuck yourself sideways, slimey rapist-fellating fake-skeptic lying Pudendum.

  11. 314

    Oh look, people don’t want to read a wall of unbroken text that makes the same dumb arguments as every other asinine troll, throws out the same bullshit conspiracy theories as though they were more reasonable than believing something more common than left-handedness, and asks for citations for figures that have been cited up and down in every other post in this conversation.

    And surprise surprise, mental giant Pudendum thinks that constitutes “thoughtful”ness.

    Let’s see if I can fisk the big points in ten minutes:

    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.

    Rape, child molestation, and telekinesis. ♫ One of these things is not like the other. ♫

    Hint 1: One of these things has actually been claimed. A different one of these things is an extraordinary claim. This means there are two possible answers!

    This case has quickly become a benchmark for where feminism and skepticism diverge and become incompatible.

    Yeah, no.

    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.

    No, we’re working from the evidence and the statistical probabilities to come to a conclusion. I know that’s a shocking notion to you, with your oh-so-skeptical ad hominem there.

    Practicing this method is essential to wearing the label.

    Oh, bollocks. Even if provisionally accepting the claims of Shermer’s wrongdoing weren’t a skeptical position, there are a whole slew of global warming “skeptics” and 9/11 “skeptics” out there who wear the label without practicing the method. Shockingly enough, there’s no skeptical licensing bureau, which is probably why there’s so many “skeptics” who believe that corporations would just make businesses handicap-accessible without any prodding from the government.

    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).

    So the “skeptical” position is to assume that PZ concocted a conspiracy, bringing in (or inventing) several other people to make corroborating statements, possibly going so far as to spread rumors for several years in the speaker grapevine, all for this long-game that will result in Shermer…what, losing a little prestige? And they did this knowing full well that Shermer could successfully sue for libel if there was any evidence that they knew the allegation was false?

    Or is the skeptical position just to assume that that scenario has the same plausibility as “PZ relayed a story from someone he trusts and vetted”?

    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.

    Answered repeatedly, over and over, and simply false. No, if you are the victim of a crime, you do not have a “duty” to report it, and you certainly are under no obligation to file charges.

    Also, you seem to have missed where the victim reported it to the officials of the convention, and they brushed her off.

    If one chooses not to participate in society, one can’t really complain about the rampant criminality that results from one’s inaction.

    The criminality, as it turns out, exists at much the same rates regardless of action or inaction. a shockingly small minority of rapists will ever serve a day in prison. And given that thousands of rape kits are sitting on shelves, untested, sometimes for decades, I think it’s kind of crass to blame the victims for the rampant criminality.

    It’s also kind of hilarious, since the target of all this is a Randroid libertarian. Love that government as long as it’s working for you, right?

    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.

    Not sure where you’re getting that, since the victim never gave a reason for not reporting the assault to the police. But making up things is totes skeptical I guess!

    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…))

    It’s funny that you ask for citations when you’re citing a figure from someone and couldn’t bother to link. But since you can’t be bothered to follow the links that have been provided all over this conversation, here you go:
    RAINN: About 46% of rapes get reported to police.
    Yes Means Yes: Recent study shows false rape accusations make up 5.9% of rape accusations
    Wikipedia: references for a variety of studies on false rape accusations, with the most rigorous studies all falling in the 2-9% range (of particular note is the Crown Prosecution Service report that goes into more detail about the people making false claims, and the substance of them)
    Meet the Predators and Predator Redux, discussing studies that determine details about who rapes and how, independently corroborating the 1 in 6 figure for women’s likelihood of being raped at some point in their lives.

    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.

    Well, no, we have PZ’s word, and Carrie Poppy’s word, and the word of the independent witness that PZ quoted, and the word of delphi_ote on the JREF forums, and others corroborating Shermer’s methods and general creepitude. Skepticism apparently means ignoring relevant evidence, who knew?

    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.

    Yes, a statute of limitations is the only possible reason that it might be hard to bring charges against someone for raping you while you were too drunk immediately after the fact, let alone several years in the past. Skepticism apparently means considering only the laws and not the actual way things function in reality!

    I, like a good skeptic, suspended judgment,

    Yes, thinking that this person might be totally made up was totally suspending judgment!

    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.

    A victim’s testimony with independent corroboration is not acceptable evidence! Skepticism!

    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.

    Go fuck yourself! Skepticism!

  12. 317

    @ 301 “So a victim’s testimony isn’t evidence? Good to know. Would it be evidence if she had four male witnesses?”

    Uhhhh NEWS FLASH ASSHOLE!!!!!!!

    The quote unquote “victims” have not provided an actual testimony. THAT would require them going to the police! Seriously how clueless are you all of the legal system in place?

  13. 318

    Oh and TOM, does the “fact” that rape is distressingly common, while false rape accusations are vanishingly rare. Does this make the women’s accusations any more true on WORDS ALONE. This is STILL all on the internet and until one of them grows a backbone and DOES the right thing it will only be words.

  14. 319

    Ericyoungstrom, you’re a hypocrite. You’re going to rant on and on about how those women can’t be believed unless they go to the police. And yet, you expect us to believe you about the sexual assault you suffered when you never went to the police and the only evidence we have is your WORDS ALONE.

    Hypocrite. You’re filth.

    Oh, and yes, I do still believe you when you say you were raped. That’s because I’m not a filthy hypocrite like you.

  15. 320

    Ericyoungstrom:

    ANARCHY! Let’s just kill anyone that we think is guilty of crimes….. Why bother with evidence and due process!

    Blatantly obvious strawman that bears absolutely no resemblance to anything anyone has argued: SKEPTICISM!

    The quote unquote “victims” have not provided an actual testimony. THAT would require them going to the police!

    Irrelevant hair-splitting: SKEPTICISM!

    Let me lay it out for you really slow, brainiac:
    1. The legal system is no friend to rape victims.
    2. A rape victim is under no obligation under the law to press charges.
    3. Declining to press charges over a rape is not evidence that the rape did not occur.
    4. Declining to press charges over a rape does not obviate a victim’s ability to tell others about their experience.
    5. Due process is not a prerequisite to forming an opinion about whether or not a person committed crimes, and in fact, is not really relevant to the point. There are lots of people who think OJ Simpson and George Zimmerman are murderers, that Jenny McCarthy is recklessly endangering lives, and that Dick Cheney is a war criminal, despite the court verdicts (or lack thereof) with regard to those crimes.

    Oh and TOM, does the “fact” that rape is distressingly common, while false rape accusations are vanishingly rare. Does this make the women’s accusations any more true on WORDS ALONE. This is STILL all on the internet and until one of them grows a backbone and DOES the right thing it will only be words.

    So if a rapist doesn’t leave physical evidence, the rape didn’t happen? Or are you just arguing that date rape isn’t legitimate rape? Because “growing a backbone” (and fuck you very much for your condescenscion, jackass. Talk to a rape victim for ten minutes and see how much “backbone” they lack) wouldn’t make physical evidence magically fucking appear out of thin air. A statement to the police and testimony in court are also “WORDS ALONE,” and people do sometimes get convicted on those words. Not often, but sometimes. “WORDS ALONE” in a witness box don’t magically transmute into physical evidence either, dipshit.

    But here’s the thing: you’re acting as if “I was raped” is an extraordinary claim. It’s not. That’s why the point of mentioning the commonality of rape zoomed right over your head. We live every day of our lives believing ordinary claims on “WORDS ALONE.” Or do you feel the need to check every time you see a “wet floor” or “out of order” sign? If a friend says “man, I think I lost my pen,” do you respond with “IF YOU DON’T REPORT IT MISSING TO THE POLICE, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU, WUSS”? Do you demand physical evidence if someone tells you they’re left-handed?

    If so, congratulations on being totally consistent and also a massive douchenozzle. But I suspect the truth is that you don’t apply this Extreme “More than Words” approach to common everyday things. You just don’t see rape as one of those everyday things, which has more to do with your insulation from reality (judging by this recent post, a willful insulation) than any kind of skeptical analysis.

    About 10% of women are left-handed. About 17% are victims of attempted or completed rape in their lives. Which one do you require more evidence to believe?

    hotshoe:

    Ericyoungstrom, you’re a hypocrite. You’re going to rant on and on about how those women can’t be believed unless they go to the police. And yet, you expect us to believe you about the sexual assault you suffered when you never went to the police and the only evidence we have is your WORDS ALONE.

    Moreover, no one here has doubted his claim to being molested by his uncle as a child. No one has suggested that it didn’t happen, no one has demanded physical evidence. Everyone here, even you when you asked him to try to consider how his experience might be relevant to his asinine questions, has believed him on his word alone, with no knowledge of whether or not his uncle faced due process or was found guilty, and yet none of us have tried to go searching for his uncle to lynch/castrate/burn him at the stake. It’s almost as if his hyperbolic arguments about what terrible things would happen if we just took victims at their word have been summarily refuted by his own experience here in this thread.

    But I suspect that his head is buried too deeply in the ground to consider that.

  16. 321

    I am baffled as to why you put so much trust in PZ Myers. He hasn’t done much in the last year or so to justify that. He has repeatedly shown to be out to squelch any dissenting voice, even though he claims to support free speech. In other words: he’s a hypocryte, and quite an egregious and tyrannical one at that.

    I, for one, am very willing to believe that Myers simply made this all up so he can make life miserable for Shermers. Myers’ action of late in other aspects make that a very likely proposition.

  17. 322

    What is happening here?
    Have people just gone insane and left their sceptism behind?

    I can easily find you 10, 20, or 100 theists who will swear blind that they have personally witnessed or felt the presence of God. Their personal testamony does not mean shit. Unless you know the person well and have a wealth of past evidence as to their truthfulness then it does not really matter what they claim. It does not count as evidence.

    If PZ Myers knows the people that made these claims and judges them to be trust worthy then sure I guess he has some justification for believing their claims. If you are one of the people here that knows PZ Myers personally and judge him to be trust worthy then sure you may have, to a lesser degree, some justification in believing these claims.

    If you know neither PZ or the alledged victims personally then you believing these claims is just the same as believing a theist about their personal account of how God spoke to them. Actually that’s not quite fair as claims about God are fair more extraordinary than rape claims. We know rape exists and it is possible that shermer is a rapist. A closer analogy would be someone claiming that they have witnesses that have seen Barrack Obama visiting gay massage parlours and gay bars in the past and is thus secretly gay. I use this as an example because PPSimmons is making exactly such a claim in one of his videos. We know that “being gay” is a real phenommona and we know that it is possible that Obama is gay BUT we only have some guy on the internet’s word that he trusts these anonoymous witnesses accounts of Obama past activity in the Chicago gay scene.

    Unless you actually know the people involved and have experience of their trust worthiness then there is no evidence either way. As the person making the claim bares the burden of proof, the ONLY response a sceptic should have in both cases is “I will suspend judgement until the evidence is presented” if you claim either “No Shermer is innocent” OR “Shermer is guilty” then you are making an irrational claim based on emotion. No evidence has been presented yet therefore no opinion can, or should be ventured.

  18. 323

    Fascinating.

    So if we actually lean on balance of probability toward Shermer being guilty, on the weight of the multiple accounts describing the same behaviour and on the weight of the statistics of false rape cases, that means we’re not reserving judgment?

    I think someone here is guilty of binary thinking, but I don’t think it’s the people saying that on balance of probability, they believe the allegations. I think it might, MIGHT, be the people claiming that we’re saying that Shermer is definitely a rapist and should be vigilante-justiced.

  19. 324

    evilreligion @313:

    I can easily find you 10, 20, or 100 theists who will swear blind that they have personally witnessed or felt the presence of God.

    So you’re equating rape claims with god claims. Unfortunately, we have tons of evidence for the former.

    And the claim itself is evidence. You’re free to reject the conclusion based on the idea that there’s not enough evidence, but to state that the claim isn’t evidence at all (“No evidence has been presented…”) means we need to completely retool our police and court system.

  20. 325

    I, for one, am very willing to believe that Myers simply made this all up so he can make life miserable for Shermers. Myers’ action of late in other aspects make that a very likely proposition.

    And you, for one, are as irrational as any Bigfoot-believer. Why on Earth would PZ Myers put his whole financial future on the line just so he might “make life miserable for Shermer” ?? PZ Myers doesn’t hate Shermer; had only one tiny disagreement with him; previously had much much fiercer public disagreements with other men while NOT accusing those other men of rape – why would PZ start inventing rape accusations now, and especially why start with Shermer whom he actually got along with ??

    You’re an idiot if you’re actually willing to believe that, and you’re a pointless troll if you don’t actually believe it but are just spouting off to show how much little you think of PZ Myers.

    In either case, feel free to fuck off to the Slymepit to receive your medal.

  21. 327

    Hotshoe, there is a very simple reason why Myers would pull a stunt like that on Shermer on anybody else: Myers is a narcissistic nutcase, who wallows in his own self-righteousness. The man has shown time and time again to be beyond any reason. I, for one, am not prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt after all he’s pulled over the last year. If there is anybody deserving to receive “slymepit medals”, it’s Myers and his ilk.

  22. 328

    Patricia: does that mean that the numerous people establishing a pattern of behaviour in Michael Shermer are ALSO “narcissistic nutcases wallowing in their own self-righteousness”?

    Isn’t that assuming that many people are wrong just so you don’t have to assume one person is wrong?

    Isn’t that really, really poor skepticism? Just apply Occam’s Razor.

  23. 330

    Jason, I find one statement you made particularly troubling:

    “The entire concept of morality is based on trying to improve humanity’s lot without inflicting undue suffering on its members.”

    The reason your statement is so telling is that you seem to be defining morality like it was some sort of social program or social movement. Improving humanity’s lot is not the aim of morality, because morality is not a philosophy or a movement. Morality is a code of conduct that considers whether actions are considered “right”. Another way of looking at it is that morality is a system of determining whether particular acts are right or wrong based on whether those acts are harmful, neutral, or beneficial to others.

    That you consider morality to be some sort of social program may be part of the reason there is such a schism created by the revelations made by Mr. Myers recently. Having read blogs and watched videos and waded into the cesspool of blogs in the skeptic community, I have been struck by several very UN skeptical statements, attitudes and actions. One of the criticisms that I have seen levelled at “your side” is that you are making moral judgments about people based on their opinons regardless of how well-reasoned they are. I find that to be justified in many instances. I have found too many instances to count of people accusing detractors of being “pro-rape”, or just plain old misogynists. Its been pointed out by better than I that, “If you disagree with me you are a bad person,” type arguments are typical of religions and have no place in a skeptical movement.

    I do applaud you for recognizing the fact that there are naunces in human interaction. If this woman is telling the truth (assuming there is a woman, assuming she’s capable of knowing what the truth is, assuming…so much), then it might boil down to a he-said, she-said situation which would never be resolved. Even when deciding on a rape, a jury has to decide whether a person consented, and also whether they were reasonably able to consent depending on the context. She could be so drunk she’s out of her mind, but still consents verbally. Now we have to decided if “out of her mind” drunk is the same as “unable to consent” drunk, regardless of what her lips may have said. It is possible to verbally consent and not be legally able to consent (as in the case of statutory rape, for example).

    But I have to take you to task. You were falsely accused of rape, but you have no idea what a false accusation of rape can do to a grown man’s reputation–even if law enforcement didn’t get involved. As a 16 year old you had to worry about going to jail. Mr. Shermer has family and relationships that could be harmed. He has a career that will most certainly suffer–not to mention the fact that (I’m serious, here) he will most likely lose out on relationships and liasons which won’t take place because he’s been branded by “your side” as a predator.

    Is his reputation more important than the safety of women? No. But the fact remains that a responsible human being living in a civil society has a certain moral responsibilty to ask whether his/her actions will cause unnecessary harm to someone else. They, have, therefore a certain responsibility to report such claims carefully in the hopes of both warning women of a potential danger, and of protecting the reputation of the accused.

    Mr. Myers, by any rational judgment, was irresponsible–not because he posted the information–but because he didn’t vet it properly (or, at all), and also for making the obvious judgment that Mr. Shermer is guilty. He not only provides the information without question, he also vouches for the accuser with the clear intent of persuading the reader of Shermer’s guilt. This is, in my opinion, very irresponsible and–yes, I’ll say it–immoral behavior.

  24. 331

    I do applaud you for recognizing the fact that there are naunces in human interaction. If this woman is telling the truth (assuming there is a woman, assuming she’s capable of knowing what the truth is, assuming…so much), then it might boil down to a he-said, she-said situation which would never be resolved. Even when deciding on a rape, a jury has to decide whether a person consented, and also whether they were reasonably able to consent depending on the context. She could be so drunk she’s out of her mind, but still consents verbally. Now we have to decided if “out of her mind” drunk is the same as “unable to consent” drunk, regardless of what her lips may have said. It is possible to verbally consent and not be legally able to consent (as in the case of statutory rape, for example).

    Yet another dude who is too stupid to understand that this is not a trial and that we are not a jury who has to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that Shermer was guilty of a specific crime and therefore must be deprived of his liberty by the power of the state.

    Goddamn, don’t you guys ever read the crap your fellow dudes have already posted and which has already been refuted 2000 times? No, of course not, because you are just too too special for that.

    Is his reputation more important than the safety of women? No.

    No, then full stop.
    Good, you agree with the moral people who refuse to put Shermer’s reputation before actual harm to living beings.

    But the fact remains that a responsible human being living in a civil society has a certain moral responsibilty to ask whether his/her actions will cause unnecessary harm to someone else.

    Then why the fuck are you not over at Shermer’s place telling HIM to ask himself whether his actions (confirmed by multiple independent sources, by the way) of deliberately getting women drunk will cause unnecessary harm? Go tell him to fucking cut that shit out. Yes, it’s a fact that he has a moral responsibility, so go tell him that!
    Why the fuck are you here? What on gourd’s green Earth do you expect to gain by scolding us when you should be scolding Shermer?

    Mr. Myers, by any rational judgment, was irresponsible–not because he posted the information–but because he didn’t vet it properly (or, at all)

    And yet, here you are, irresponsibly making an allegation that PZ Myers did not vet the information at all – an irresponsibly-nasty allegation for which you cannot possibly have any evidence, an allegation which you yourself vetted not at all. You’re not so special, Mark. You’re just another filthy hypocrite who can’t behave morally yourself in your hurry to heap scorn on someone else.

    … also for making the obvious judgment that Mr. Shermer is guilty. He not only provides the information without question, he also vouches for the accuser with the clear intent of persuading the reader of Shermer’s guilt.

    And to top off your pile of immorality, you tell a lie about PZ Myers “judging Shermer guilty”. That is clearly contradicted by what PZ wrote. So at best you’re duped by what you read (or misread) from your dudebro sources, at worst you’re a deliberate liar for no reason.

  25. 332

    Hey, in wonderful news bound to make psuedoskeptics’ heads explode (hiya, Mark R and Patricia):
    San Diego’s Bob Filner has resigned. The news reports that he took his belongings out of his office Wed and submitted his letter of resignation.

    What I want to know is why aren’t the *call police*man’s reputation*justice* brigade frothing about the Filner case. None of the supposed assaults were reported to the police! None of the so-called victims did their duty to report! None of them have given sworn testimony in a courtroon! Why should we believe them without proof? How dare the media have publicized the unverified claims of those women! They should be shamed for not vetting those stories well enough! How do we know they vetted the stories at all? Why should we even believe those women exist? Or if they do exist, what if they’re just trying to get revenge on Filmer? Is it likely Filmer would be such an ass; isn’t it far more likely that the whole thing was made up by someone who was trying to “make life miserable for” Filner?

    Patricia, I’m looking at you … Mark R, I’m looking at you … All the rest of you pseudoskeptic assholes, I’m looking at you …

    Why the fuck aren’t you on the San Diego media screaming holy hell about how they hounded an innocent man out of office without trial, without even any evidence? Why the fuck aren’t you down there accusing them of being immoral for ruining a good man’s reputation?

    But in fact you aren’t screaming about injustice in San Diego because you do accept the word of those women. You do know that a trial is irrelevant, that their personal testimony is evidence, and that the most probable hypothesis is Filner did what they say he did.

    Why do you accept the unsupported word of those women who say Filner assaulted them, but not the word of the women who say Shermer assaulted them? Why?

    No, I don’t need to ask why. I already know the answer: because you’re irrational pseudoskeptics. You can easily believe that a creepy politician like Filner assaults women and gets away with it for years. But you can’t believe that about your handsome little hero Shermer. And that shows you to be irrational. You have no rationality, no logic, no likely probabilities; you have nothing but spite and hypocrisy.

  26. 334

    Patricia:
    You must be rich. That mind reading power you have is cool.
    Can you guess what I am thinking now?

    I will save you the trouble: you, like far too many commenters here are a rape culture apologist who denies a woman’s testimony and would rather side with a Skeevy Creep (at best) and/or rapist (no, I do not know for certain, but I believe Jane Doe). You are a blight on skepticism, atheism, humanism and, in fact–humanity. As are the slew of slime covered apologist douchecannons infesting this thread.

    Thanks to Jason, hotshoe, carlie, Tom Foss, Raging Bee and all the others refuting the bile here. I do not have the energy or time to do this again (heck, it runs almost concurrent with some of PZs posts which continue to act as Slymepit Krisis Klarion Kalls)

  27. 335

    Dave W @ 315
    So you’re equating rape claims with god claims. Unfortunately, we have tons of evidence for the former.”

    Please read my post. Particularly the bit where I address this exact point.

  28. 336

    Pudendom:
    Uh, excuse me?
    What thoughtful post by Milo?
    I saw nothing more than the same old same old bullshit: why victim not go to police (they are no.help most of the time, duh!), why you believe victim claim (bc it is highly likely given how often rape happens that she is telling the truth), you no do skepticism right (no, we are not doing your pseudoskepticism, which only ever goes to these extremes in cases of sexual harassment or assault claims), and the tired old cliche “I am going to talk about shit I know nothing about, and I refuse to do any research into the matter, which includes links all over this thread”. That passes for “thoughtful” on Earth 2 perhaps. Not here you Smugnoramus.

  29. 338

    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters @ 323
    What I want to know is why aren’t the *call police*man’s reputation*justice* brigade frothing about the Filner case

    Lets see:

    – Filner was not accused of rape so it was a lesser claim and one that is not a criminal rather a civil matter.
    – The women accused started legal action on the civil matter so presumably had their cases vetted by a lawyer. (not by any means cast iron verification but at least there was some vetting would have been done)
    – The women actually came forward rather than having some bloke on then internet make their claims for them.
    – Oh one more small minor point, Filner admited his guilt apologised.

    So basically the two cases are completely and utterly different.

  30. 339

    Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! 327
    This is not a court of law. Jane Doe does not have a burden of proof.
    errr no anyone who makes a claim has the burden of proof. This is simply the rules of rational discussion I’m afraid. It is irrelevant whether this is the court of law. Someone who claims God exists needs to prove that, they can’t say “oh well this isn’t a court of law therefore I have no burden of proof”

    But hey, your anti-woman bias is showing (you do not believe an unnamed woman who makes a rape claim).
    I have no opinion on the matter as no evidence has been presented. I don’t know the women, I don’t know PZ Myers and I don’t know Shermer. Neither was I there or know anyone who was there. Thus I have no opinion on the matter. The words posted on the interweb by PZ Myers reporting second has these serious allegations are simply not sufficient to cause me to have an opinion either way.

    As for being anti-woman. Really? Please provide your evidence to back up this claim. You can’t just accused people of “being a witch” because they happen to disagree with you on something. This thread is peppered with accusations of people being “rape appologists” “victim blamers” “anti-women” to anyone who dares disagree or call into question the “Orthodox” position. I suggest you reflect on that and on whether these are the actions of free thinkers and sceptics.

    We thank you for the uneducated input.
    hmmm

  31. 341

    Hotshoe, calm down. Its going to be okay. This is a blog. You’re in a safe place. Feel better now? The histrionics were starting to worry me. That’s right… breathe in…. deep breaths…that’s good.

    “Yet another dude who is too stupid to understand that this is not a trial and that we are not a jury who has to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that Shermer was guilty of a specific crime and therefore must be deprived of his liberty by the power of the state.”
    You’re right, Hotshoe. Unfortunately, I think you were so overwrought by my post that you don’t seem to get my point. That was an illustration to show that rape isn’t always a black or white thing. I complimented Jason on pointing out the nuances in human interaction and pointed out that even rape can sometimes be a difficult thing to determine. For example, at what point is a drunk woman too drunk to consent? And was this particular woman drunk to that level? If so, how do we know that to be true? These are objective questions that have to be asked. Apparently, when you suspend reason to make arguments at all costs, you lose sight of that fact.

    “Good, you agree with the moral people who refuse to put Shermer’s reputation before actual harm to living beings.”
    Yes I do. I think that if I were in Mr. Myers’ situation I would have had to raise an alert. However, I would have done it much differently. Mr. Myers issued a character assassination. I would have raised a warning.

    “…why the fuck are you not over at Shermer’s place telling HIM to ask himself whether his actions (confirmed by multiple independent sources, by the way) of deliberately getting women drunk will cause unnecessary harm? “
    As to the multiple independent sources, again you’re losing sight of pertinent information. So far I’ve seen two rape allegations against Mr. Shermer, one by an anonymous and therefore somewhat dubious woman, and the other from a man. I have reason to doubt both stories. The other stories seem to be that Mr. Shermer is a womanizer and that he tries to ply women with alcohol at social events. This isn’t indicative of anything other than a libido and/or a hungry ego. You’re taking a huge leap from trying to have sex with women to being a serial rapist.

    You’re making the assumption that Mr. Shermer has committed a crime based on two short paragraphs of strangely worded text by an alleged anonymous victim. I’m not telling Mr. Shermer to stop raping women because I have no reason to believe he ever raped anyone. However, if I heard a story like that from a person I knew and respected, I would share the information with the caveat that I would have to ask some pertinent questions and post the answers or lack thereof.

    • How did he coerce you?
    • How is it that you were “unable to consent”?
    • Do you have any witnesses?
    • Were you drugged?
    • Were you drunk?
    • Were you conscious at the time of the attack?
    • If not, how do you know it was Mr. Shermer that attacked you, or that you were attacked at all?
    • Do you remember the attack happening?
    • During the attack did you give verbal consent to have sex?
    • Why did you wait so long to report this if you’re concerned for other women?
    The lack of any of these questions being addressed at all tells me Mr. Myers probably didn’t ask them. It is called “conspicuous omission”. If you have pertinent facts that support your point, you will include them in your argument. You don’t ask a thousand questions and then not publish or refer to them at all. It just doesn’t happen.

    “And yet, here you are, irresponsibly making an allegation that PZ Myers did not vet the information at all – an irresponsibly-nasty allegation for which you cannot possibly have any evidence, an allegation which you yourself vetted not at all. You’re not so special, Mark. You’re just another filthy hypocrite who can’t behave morally yourself in your hurry to heap scorn on someone else.”

    But I have vetted it by reading Mr. Myers’ post. You see, if he had the information, he would have shared it. Isn’t that what bloggers do? They write? And as I said before, any additional information to bolster the claim would most definitely have been shared. It’s the only reasonable conclusion. By the way, if he did ask them, please join me in asking him to publish the answers. Or perhaps he can do a followup post and tell us that he did ask and that she declined to answer all of the questions. I mean, the victim has no way to tell her story. Shouldn’t he be putting out some details?
    And I’m not a filthy hypocrite. I shower twice a week.

    “And to top off your pile of immorality, you tell a lie about PZ Myers “judging Shermer guilty”. That is clearly contradicted by what PZ wrote. So at best you’re duped by what you read (or misread) from your dudebro sources, at worst you’re a deliberate liar for no reason.”
    If you can read Myers’ post and not see the obvious tools he is using to persuade the reader that Michael Shermer is a rapist, then you are either disingenuous or very susceptible to mind control. Mr. Myers refers to the alleged victim as the one who has “no recourse, no way out, no option to help others” in other words, she’s a victim. In the same sentence, he refers to Mr. Shermer as “the powerful big name guy”. He also says in that same sentence that not posting that entry in his blog would “shelter” Mr. Shermer from the accusation. And he further tips his hand when he seems to indicate the only reason not to make the accusation is because he “couldn’t vouch for it personally”. Put it all together and here’s the paraphrase: “Do I speak up and protect the downtrodden victim, or do I protect her bigshot rapist just because I didn’t personally witness the rape?”

    He also brings in an anonymous witness, tries to make her sound believable by telling us that she doesn’t really like him[Myers], so that gives what she says credibility. And then the final entrée: Wine Drinking Woman, again anonymous, who reports essentially that she spent the best part of an evening conversing with Mr. Shermer and getting shitfaced drunk. She doesn’t report Mr. Shermer making a pass at her, touching her inappropriately, following her or pestering her. She voluntarily spent quite some time with him, and voluntarily drank a lot of wine. Oh the humanity!

    Here’s the problem with assuming guilt in these situations. The next one to get accused of rape by an unnamed source with no details and strange syntax could be Mr. Myers. If so, will you apply your same, cool and rational logic to make a determination of his guilt, or will you suspend judgment until sufficient evidence comes in?

  32. 342

    Um Hotshoe, you realize that Filner admitted to inappropriate behavior and actually checked himself into a clinic to get help for it, right? You realize that his accusers actually came forward and gave their identities and details, right? Little details like those seem to matter to most reasonable people.

    You keep using the term “pseudo skeptic”. I think that what you meant to say was “objective”.

    If you were a skeptic, reason would be the cause of your ideology, not subservient to it.

    Jason, you’re confused about the definition of hearsay:

    1. Unverified information heard or received from another; rumor.

    Mr. Myers post was hearsay by definition.

  33. 343

    Mark:
    The claim came directly from the victim. Unless you are one who dismisses rape claims (which is an unreasonable position to take given how frequently rape happens).
    Do you people also demand evidence when a friend says their car is was broken into?
    What about when a friend tells you they had great sex last night?

    Why is it only claims of sexual harassment and assault have to meet courtroom level criteria in situations outside a court of law?
    The ‘right to face your accuser’ is in a court of law.
    ‘Innocent til proven guilty’ applies only to a court of law.

    ****
    Evilreligion:
    Nope, she has no burden of proof. Take it to the courtroom.
    Also, I note that you completely dismiss the corroborating stories from other unnamed individuals since PZ posted Jane Doe’s warning to other women.

    As for anti-woman, well you do not believe claims made by a woman. Cuz ‘bitches be lyin’.

  34. 344

    The lack of any of these questions being addressed at all tells me Mr. Myers probably didn’t ask them. It is called “conspicuous omission”. If you have pertinent facts that support your point, you will include them in your argument. You don’t ask a thousand questions and then not publish or refer to them at all. It just doesn’t happen.

    Well that’s disingenuous bullshit. Professor Myers isn’t publishing a scientific argument for peer review here. Jane Doe isn’t an “argument” or a “point” to be made; she’s a person who would be subject to harassment, threats, and potential loss of career or home if those “pertinent facts” were made public. She’s already being subjected to shaming and interrogation by proxy, as you’re plainly indulging yourself in with your list of questions.

    I’m sure PZ *has* asked sufficient questions, both specifically of Jane Doe and in generally educating himself, to be confident of going public with her assertions. He’s refusing to endanger his source by carelessly spreading that information for every harasser and hater to find. Not to mention that such details are irrelevant to supporting the assertions. (The corroborating accounts of other individuals, some of which ARE under real names, carry much more weight… which is why you’re being dishonest in framing this as all about *one* lying bitchez.)

    And tangentially, take your faux-sympathy, “histrionics” and “overwrought” and try and get those through academic peer-review. Even journal editors tend to look askance at sexist personal attacks as a way to support supposed arguments.

  35. 345

    Couple of corrections on the Filner matter:
    1. Some of his accusers have come forward publicly. This happened only after the accusations were reported by intermediaries to the media, while keeping the victims’ identities anonymous. There’s a notable press conference that has been shown in every news report I’ve seen about the Filner case, where the spokesperson for one of the victims explains what the previously-reported accusations were, and then introduces the person who made those accusations anonymously. Jane Doe may yet come forward at some point, and so might others; doing so will not magically make her story truer than it is now.

    2. Filner is accused of multiple instances of sexual assault, mostly in the form of groping, unwanted touching, and forcible kissing. Sexual assault is not some piddling civil matter.

  36. 346

    Mark R, you’re walking a very thin line between discourse and abuse here. Pull another stunt like you did with the “calm down” and “histrionics” and “overwrought” bullshit aimed at Hotshoe, and I’m tossing you in moderation.

    Which means, I only let out comments when I have time to deal with them directly, and I don’t think they’re being abusive to others in this conversation. And lately, my time is in short supply, so I can’t watch my moderation queue all that much. If you want to keep commenting freely here, keep that in mind, please.

  37. 347

    Jason, your selective moderation is almost hilarious. I didn’t realize there was a no mild sarcasm rule in place. Since you seem fine with not commenting on the posts before or after mine where the following was said of me:

    ” you’re irrational pseudoskeptics{…]And that shows you to be irrational. You have no rationality, no logic, no likely probabilities; you have nothing but spite and hypocrisy” @323

    “a filthy hypocrite” and “too stupid to understand” @322

    There are others, but I’m a big boy and, that kind of abuse is unwarranted in this discussion, I do not get offended easily.

    As you know, I’m new here, so forgive me for violating the strictly enforced “no mild sarcasm” rule. From now on I guess I’ll engage in the ridiculous hyperbole that you seem to prefer.

    …unless the rule I broke was actually the “don’t disagree with the party line” rule.

  38. 348

    Your “mild sarcasm” is misogynist abuse. You can throw out all the insults you want, as long as they aren’t insulting people for having characteristics you’d like to associate with being a woman.

    Meanwhile, the things you are trying to tu quoque us with are actually absolutely defensible. With one exception, “stupid” is rather ableist and I don’t much like it either.

    Take your damn blinders off.

    The only rule here, or anywhere else, is “don’t piss off the webmaster”. You’re trying to piss off the webmaster right now. Stop it or you get spammed permanently.

  39. 349

    Jason, its unfortunate that we don’t agree that accusing someone who is posting emotion-motivated drivel is adequately described by the term “histrionics”. Its equally unfortunate–and bewildering–that you would find that to be misogynistic.

    I won’t get into an argument with you about all the abuse you’ve allowed to be heaped upon those who disagree with you, because you know that already. Everyone that’s reading this thread knows that. And everyone that has read my prior comments would know that I was polite, avoided personal attacks, and actually sought out areas where I agreed with you and your…um….friends.

    If those facts “piss off the webmaster” then the webmaster may want to consider the maturity and appropriateness of his own actions. See you in Spamville, I guess.

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