On not being completely free to curate

I just attended Skepticon 6, and had a number of excellent and thought-provoking conversations with some people I’ve admired, some people I’ve long since befriended, and some people I’d never met before but am glad to have met now. It was a great experience, a few issues aside which I’ll, naturally, have to talk more about soon.

On Wednesday night, immediately after work, Stephanie, Brianne and I piled into the car and undertook a ten-hour car ride south. We arrived at 5 am, and promptly hit our beds and crashed. The first night we were in Springfield, Missouri, folks were still filtering into town, and as we skeptics are wont to do, we sought one another out for the first of what promised to be many of those thought-provoking conversations. This conversation became the genesis for this post, which will hopefully serve as a follow-up to my recent post about curating your internet experience.
Continue reading “On not being completely free to curate”

On not being completely free to curate

NDP leadership election marred by DDoS

So, something pretty big happened in Canadian politics yesterday.

For you Yankees, the short-form of Canadian politics is: we have multiple political parties, not just two. We have the right-wing Conservatives, who are like (in so many ways) your Republicans; we have the centrist Liberals, who are like your Democrats; and we have the NDP, who are a left-wing party unlike anything you’ve seen in America for forty years. We also have the Greens, and several far-left, far-right and far-loon parties, depending on where you are. Each of them elects a party leader, and if that party gets the most seats in the House of Commons, their party leader is made Prime Minister. The party leader of the next biggest party is the Leader of the Loyal Opposition.

Canada lost a great statesman in the long-time leader of the NDP, Jack Layton, when he succumbed to cancer. The NDP just held the election for the new leader, doing it for the very first time entirely online through Spanish company Scytl, who evidently have a sterling record for security in electronic elections.

It turns out, though, that distributing the load for the four tiers of the ballot… well, less so.
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NDP leadership election marred by DDoS

Jack Layton, 61, falls to cancer

Jack Layton abdicated leadership of the NDP less than a month ago to tend to the cancer that he once fought back. Today, that cancer has finally claimed him.

“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones,” the statement read.

Details about funeral arrangements will be forthcoming, it said. The family released a letter from Layton to Canadians just after noon.

Layton’s death comes less than a month after he announced to the country that he was fighting a new form of cancer and was taking time off for treatment. Layton had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2009 and underwent treatment for it. He continued working throughout that time and also battled a broken hip earlier this year. Layton used a cane for much of his time on the campaign trail this spring as he led the NDP to a historic victory on May 2.

The man brought the New Democratic Party from also-rans into the position of Official Opposition to the Harper government in one single historic election. And he did it just months before succumbing to his fate. I am gratified that Mr. Layton got to see such a great personal achievement come to fruition before he died, and am saddened that the political discourse will be the poorer for his passing.

Update: Mea culpa. He succumbed to a new form of cancer unrelated to his previous bout with prostate cancer. I can’t find any further details as to the specifics immediately, but the situation is no less tragic.

Update 2: Jack Layton wrote a final address knowing that his time was running out. Blockquoted in full below the fold.

Continue reading “Jack Layton, 61, falls to cancer”

Jack Layton, 61, falls to cancer

How do you truly “lead”, in a community so loosely organized and full of in-fighting?

Stephanie Zvan lives up to her nickname once again, this time by putting together an excellent and thorough discussion on leadership in context of the big ol’ privilege blowup (AKA, this month’s Great Rift In The Community (TM)). This is important stuff, if you want to understand exactly where people have gone wrong in arguing many of the points they’ve argued, and where people are completely misunderstanding their own leadership roles. There are many lessons we should learn from the events surrounding Elevatorgate, and Stephanie does a fantastic job of cataloguing them.

Debbie [Goddard, of CFI – ed] and I spoke about skeptical leadership, and it was a particularly interesting time to do so. Rebecca’s post on naming names in her talk at the CFI leadership conference had just come out. This was a conference that Debbie had organized and run. Also, earlier this year, I had expressed some criticism of CFI Michigan’s leadership for their promotion of an evolutionary psychology speaker and their reactions to my post and Bug Girl’s dissecting the speaker’s research.

Debbie and I had a good talk, and I’ve been meaning ever since to write up a few thoughts on leadership. Note that these are my thoughts, not Debbie’s, although I’m comfortable saying that Debbie and I agree on a few things:

  • Leadership is largely a set of skills that can be taught.
  • Due to the nature of skepticism and atheism, leaders in these movements may emerge from the ranks based on skills other than leadership. That’s natural and expected.
  • Skepticism and atheism, as broad movements, need to find a way to reliably instill these skills in their leaders to create stronger movements.
  • We need to provide support for leaders independent of the groups that they’re leading. That is to say both that pooling talent and knowledge is more effective and that it isn’t healthy for an activist organization’s leader to receive all their social support from within the organization.
  • We’re only in the beginning stages of treating leadership skills as important, but we’re already making good strides.
  • Moving this quickly, as with any kind of change, is going to produce some pain.

Now, speaking only for me, I think there are some lessons on leadership to take home from the events of the past few months. I will also be naming names here, but I should note that my intent is to provide concrete examples and to draw something good out of painful events, not to shame anyone. None of what I’m about to say is or should be transparently obvious to everyone. These are things we need to learn.

Emphasis mine. If any of this was self-evident, there’d have been no blowup.

Go read the rest of this post, post-haste.

Yes, that was an imperative. I’m being leader-y, see?

How do you truly “lead”, in a community so loosely organized and full of in-fighting?

The Problem with Privilege: some correct assertions, with caveats

I really want to get on with other things. Seriously, I do. Which is why I want to cede a bit of ground — or at least it might seem that way to the casual observer, given all the things I’m about to agree to. It would pay dividends in furthering the conversation if you do your best not to skim before replying.

There are a number of arguments in this whole privilege debacle surrounding the so-called Elevatorgate (a timeline, for you newbies) that, while not actually rebutting the issues in question, are in themselves valid and correct. Here’s a few of them, and why they don’t address the problem at hand.
Continue reading “The Problem with Privilege: some correct assertions, with caveats”

The Problem with Privilege: some correct assertions, with caveats

The Problem with Privilege (or: cheap shots, epithets and baseless accusations for everyone!)

This may be the last thing I have to say on the topic for a while, as I’m rapidly approaching my own STFU Station having already blogged far too much on this topic. But the imbroglio continues, and so must I. For a little while, anyway.

From blacklava.net. Buy one today! (If you're privileged.)

One of the major problems stemming directly from Rebecca Watson’s Elevatorgate (a.k.a. Rebeccapocalypse) has been the rapid descent into ad hominem attacks and the use of epithets solely intended to push people out of the discussion. This is, of course, no fault of Rebecca Watson’s. Nor is it Richard Dawkins’, who came down rather harshly on Rebecca’s complaint in claiming that she was complaining about “zero bad” as compared to, say, genital mutilation. (To which point I can’t help but think, complaining about creationists slipping their nonsense into science textbooks is zero bad as compared to religious genocide, so who’s to complain about that? But that’s an aside.)

The epithets have flown from both sides, fast and thick. People like ERV in calling Watson’s public rebuke of Stef McGraw “bad form” were called “gender traitors” by the likes of Skeptifem, with whom I’ve disagreed in the past — especially during one of those many “Greg Laden is misogynist!” blowups via Isis and her crew. ERV went on to refer to Rebecca as “Twatson” thereafter, as is her particular idiom — something I like about her is that she always swings for the fences, even when I disagree.

Meanwhile, Greg Laden has been supportive of Rebecca Watson, along with PZ Myers and other big names in the atheist/skeptic community, for daring to name names — an aspect I completely agree with, given that Stef McGraw was in a public leadership position and blogged her dissent on her organization’s blog in an official capacity. I can see not giving Stef a heads-up being slightly douchey, but anything beyond that — that Stef was a “mere student” who got “shanghai’d” — is pure hyperbole and well outside demonstrable truth (a.k.a., “a lie”). Greg has posted a piece about men crossing the road or waiting for the next elevator by default so as to avoid freaking out some poor woman who might have had a bad experience in the past, and has been accused of “[t]reating women like helpless, infantile victims” and also called misandrist for his trouble. Because apparently you can be both misogynist and misandrist while trying to actually constructively suggest ways to fix a problem.

And then there’s the billion and one instances of “bitch”, “cunt”, “liar”, or “sexist pig and traitor to feminism” that Rebecca herself has received. Or the accusations that she or her supporters are “man-hating feminazis”. Or that Rebecca totes woulda boned Elevator Guy if he was an alpha male instead of a dweeb. But we shan’t go into those, because by bias seeping into this post, you’ll likely miss my point.

That point being, a lot of people have their hackles raised by this issue of privilege in the greater atheist/skeptic/scientific communities. And make no mistake, there is an issue — the fact that there is an issue is very likely what’s causing so many people to dig in their heels. It is pervasive, and it is subtle, and it is not specifically misogyny so much as merely entrenched privilege. But people really dislike it when you point out that privilege actually exists as a sociological construct, just because its existence is disputed. Nobody mentions that it’s mostly disputed in the punditocracy by people like Phyllis Schafly or Ann Coulter, mind you, but it’s disputed as surely as Rush Limbaugh is responsible for the “feminazi” meme.

Some people have written some exceptionally eloquent calls to action on how to fix the pervasive privilege problem, and believe it or not, they do not involve quotas, nor do they involve shunning or even castrating men! There’s nothing misandrist in asking men to shoulder some of the burden in rape avoidance and in helping keep women who were once attacked from having a traumatic flashback every time they see someone walking toward them rapidly. There’s nothing misandrist in pointing out that the vast majority of rapes happen by men, of women. There’s nothing misandrist about suggesting that men are capable of better behaviour than this.

And there are a few words that don’t count as epithets at all, like “potential rapist” (in the context of a woman not knowing whether she’ll be attacked), or “privileged” (in the context of someone not having the experience to understand where someone else is coming from). They might hurt your feelings to be called them, but though they are descriptive, they do not actually reflect on your character, only your situation. And the psychic trauma you experience in being called those things is nothing compared to a rape survivor’s on the other side of that equation.

There’s likewise nothing misogynist in pointing out that most of these rapes happen by men that the women know. And there’s nothing misogynist in saying that because women experience fear where men are far less likely to in seeing someone more physically imposing than them, that they should be protected in general by some simple actions that keep them from experiencing the very real psychic trauma of a flashback experience. Yes, that’s saying that women are generally physically less imposing than men. It’s also saying that women are generally less physically able to fight off an attacker. It’s also acknowledging that, as with bear attacks, women are enculturated to simply allow an attack to occur so they don’t turn a “mere” traumatic rape into a brutal murder. It’s also acknowledging that there is a power disparity in every social interaction and that the greater the power disparity, the more uncomfortable the person on the short side of that disparity will feel when facing a situation that starts out innocently but could rapidly escalate to the worst possible scenario.

Acknowledging that men are often on the large side of this power disparity is not misandry, nor is it misogyny. It’s a fact, and a sad one. For all the tips for women to avoid rape (e.g.: “Avoid entry into elevators when they are occupied by a stranger. Stand by the control panel so you can sound the alarm button if necessary.”), the tips men should follow to keep from raping someone are far more likely to be effective.

And all the epithets — the ACTUAL epithets, not the perceived ones like “privileged” — that are flying back and forth are well beneath us. But, of course, we skeptics are a passionate bunch, and some of us even enjoy being dicks; myself included. I just would have thought we’d save some of the big guns for those threats to our society that we banded together to fight in the first place. And I was really hoping that we’d band together to combat another threat to our society rooted in a very similar sort of privilege to the ones that brought us together.

The Problem with Privilege (or: cheap shots, epithets and baseless accusations for everyone!)

The Problem with Privilege (or: no, you’re not a racist misogynist ass, calm down)

Part two of a series, evidently. Told you I had more to say.

From blacklava.net. Buy one today! (If you're privileged.)

So you’re white. So you’re a man. So you’re well-to-do. That surely doesn’t make you evil! … OR DOES IT!?!?

People honestly don’t seem to understand what it means to say that there’s a privilege problem in the skeptical community, it seems. Nor what it means if they’re one of the lucky few majority who have this privilege. Nor what to do when someone calls you out on it. Nor pretty well any aspect of actually understanding the situation and its implications that might allow for normal social interaction on a daily basis without blowing up half the damn blogosphere every time someone points out a behaviour that’s damaging the way Rebecca Watson just did. I’m assuming inadvertently, since she’s pretty damn good at building networks, and she’s well-respected in skeptical and atheist communities enough for this to matter.

I mean, hell, all it took to touch off this particular firestorm was Rebecca complaining that a guy ignored one, if not two direct statements of intent in order to flirt with her — in one of the most socially awkward ways imaginable, indicating he was wholly oblivious of the implications of his environment — to provide the powderkeg. It took someone like Stef McGraw, a public figure as a member of a leadership organization at her school, completely missing the point of Rebecca’s complaint and doing so in public on her organization’s blog, to provide the fuse. Rebecca daring to rebut in public at a conference in which Stef was attending lit the match. Everything that’s happened since has been people of all stripes sticking their noses into the conversation as though it merited more than the back-and-forth that Rebecca could have damn well handled on her own. The explosion happened through three incidents, and everything else has been people picking through the rubble either trying to score rhetorical points or trying to triage the injured parties. (I said parties. I don’t mean Rebecca specifically.)

People including me, a white male taking advantage of his privilege to be heard on this one.

You see, privilege is when you are a member of a non-marginalized group in a region — like, say, being white and male and Christian in North America. Not only do the marginalized people get explicitly marginalized, there are some creeping and insidious ways that the privileged group gets advantages that they themselves might not be aware of. For instance, a man might get the benefit of the doubt when he approaches someone somewhere at some time and invites them for coffee. When that someone is a woman, and that somewhere and somewhen is an elevator at 4 AM, and that invitation for coffee is a thinly veiled invitation for sexual congress, the woman might get a little freaked out. People everywhere and of both sexes scramble to excuse the man, especially since he did nothing wrong, and therefore the woman is freaked out for nothing.

Except one of the ways privilege works is that the people with the privilege often try to solve the problems inherent in the power dynamic by suggesting that the underprivileged protect themselves. You know, because the onus of responsibility is on them to keep from being abused. How many times have you, as a man, been told to avoid dark alleys or elevators or going out in the middle of the night because you might be raped? How much rape avoidance do you have to practice? Sure, you have some small amount of necessity to avoid these areas because you might be mugged, but not statistically more than a woman might, even though women are on average physically less capable or less willing or more acculturated to simply not fight back. Males don’t have to practice avoidance the way a woman does. And a woman does because we excuse behaviour that indicates predatory isolation techniques in men, whether they cause any actual offense or not afterward.

I’ve already written a post for a secret project in which I discuss how I (only slightly, she’ll say) hurt my dear friend inadvertently by using too many of my own words, rather than simply pushing traffic to her words instead. I’ll happily include the post in this series when said secret project is fully operational, but until then, suffice it to say that as a guy, I have the ability to post more inflammatory things with less flack from the audience, and I automatically get more hits whether my words merit them or not. I recognize and acknowledge this privilege, and I accept it, and I’m even willing to apply this privilege to noble ends, especially if it means eroding at the privilege in general to provide the less-privileged with an equal shot in this world.

I have privilege, in being white and in being male. This does not make me a racist, nor a sexist, especially where I recognize that my position does actually give me societal advantages that I don’t necessarily deserve. It doesn’t make you a racist or a sexist either. But lashing out at someone who simply wants to point out where someone is taking advantage of a privilege — in this case, the privilege to flirt despite clear signs of pre-rejection — that’s just wrong.

It’s wrong because you, as the forum troll that makes comments like these or these, sense that some “right” is being taken away from you, but you don’t even know what it is. You assume that Rebecca advocated that the man in the elevator was a rapist — never mind all the rape avoidance techniques these women have been taught to employ as members of the unprivileged that include this exact scenario, and that she never took it beyond a complaint of the behaviour being generally creepy. You assume that people who support Rebecca are man-haters who want men to never flirt again, but you ignore the fact that they simply want you to pay more attention to them before diving into the sexual come-ons, especially right after you got done talking about how uncool those cold-opens are. You assume that anyone who disagrees with you on any minor picayune point is from “another tribe”, a different in-group, and therefore worth derision and total lack of respect. And once you’ve made up your mind on anything, come hell or high water you’re sticking to your guns.

Those of us who appreciate a little bit of reality in our discourse might simply recognize that when a woman says “don’t do this specific thing”, you probably shouldn’t do that specific thing. If not simply with her, then at least let it give you pause and search for indicators that the behaviour is acceptable with your next target. Flirting with women in elevators is fine. If you’ve known them for longer than thirty seconds, and respect if they tell you to back off, anyway.

Like all things, interpersonal relations are nuanced. Stop trying to make this a binary issue, because it’s not.

By the way, Jen at Blag Hag says much the same thing specifically about Dawkins. Yeah, he’s not a misogynist either. He’s just misusing his privilege to tell someone that their complaint is useless, just because it’s a “first world problem” so to speak. This is, of course, misguided. But don’t dare tell him so while including the word “fuck”.

The Problem with Privilege (or: no, you’re not a racist misogynist ass, calm down)

Why am I anti-conservative, when many conservative financial ideals make sense?

untitled83 asked on my recent post about electoral projections:

I just have a quick question I’ve wanted to ask a strong liberal, or should i say a strong anti-conservative. I stumbled on your blog so here you go. Why is it so wrong to vote conservative. I work. I appreciate the effort of workers, of small businesses and of even large corporations. Even large corporations where small once. They worked hard and made there way to huge corporations which employ thousands of people. I don’t see anything wrong with them, or myself for that matter, wanting to keep the money we make as opposed to paying it in taxes.

If one believes its wrong to keep all that money and that it should be shared, then we should appeal to their morals and have them donate it. I prefer that than employing something like forced charity.

What are your thoughts on this? It doesn’t seem irrational to me. Why the strong anti-conservativeness?

As I said, these are excellent questions, and I find surprisingly little to disagree with in the assertions that untitled makes.

I do not see anything wrong with wanting to keep money earned. I do not see anything wrong with appealing to people’s better nature and asking that they donate what they have to spare to charity. I do not like the idea of forced charity. I do not like the idea of high taxes. I appreciate people who work hard, and in fact, I have such a work ethic that my blog (and home life) often suffers because of my inability to “switch off” and stop working for the company that pays my salary.

I understand a few things about the nature of a government “by the people”, and about the nature of corporations and big businesses, though, that colors what I’ve said. I’m not sure that everyone that votes big-C Conservative understands these things, in fact. I suspect many of these observations about both the government and corporations in general need to be pointed out, so I’ll try my best.
Continue reading “Why am I anti-conservative, when many conservative financial ideals make sense?”

Why am I anti-conservative, when many conservative financial ideals make sense?

Canadians complicit in Afghanistan torture

In 2007, Amir Attaran, law professor at University of Ottawa, famously wrote an opinion piece that stated his belief that the then-new Canada-Afghanistan detainee agreement left a loophole open that would allow for torture of prisoners. Turns out, he was practically prescient even without evidence of such, and yet nobody heeded his words.

The bombshell dropped last week — a former Canadian diplomat to Afghanistan stated as much, saying “[a]ccording to our information, the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured. For interrogators in Kandahar, it was a standard operating procedure.”

This coupled with the fact that Canadian operatives were “taking six times as many detainees as British troops and 20 times as many as the Dutch”, and “did not monitor their conditions; took days, weeks or months to notify the Red Cross; kept poor records; and to prevent scrutiny, the Canadian Forces leadership concealed this behind ‘walls of secrecy.'” This indicates not only were Canadians complicit, they were criminally negligent in handling detainees. They were, in essence, rounding up large masses of people, turning them over to Afghan authorities, and allowing widespread torture of probably innocent people. They relied on two oversight bodies that had no jurisdiction and no power to provide oversight, specifically the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and as neither body had any real power, major abuses including apparently electrocution, open flames and extreme temperatures happened as a direct result of our actions.

You can understand my outrage over this. Canada is known internationally as primarily peacekeeping specialists. I point the finger squarely at those unnamed government officials that set these precedents, discussed these actions openly, and covered these actions up. No matter which side of the political spectrum they are on, they MUST be held accountable.

That non-partisan outrage notwithstanding, there’s a familiar refrain being played from — and this should come as no surprise to those that have been paying attention for the last three years — the Tories.

Conservative members of the committee attacked his credibility and even suggested he was playing into the hands of the Taliban by undermining Canada’s military effort in Afghanistan.

“This entire exercise of attempting to draw a link between the Canadian Forces and prison treatment without a shred of evidence is playing right into the hands of the insurgents,” Tory MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) said.

Because weeding out the evil scumbags responsible for these abuses is obviously equivalent to “lending aid and comfort”.

I weep for my country, especially where we were once on higher ground with regard to our handling of the wars Bush dragged Harper into. Now our politicians are as blood-stained.

From this article at World Socialist Web Site:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other senior Conservative ministers have claimed that they knew nothing of Colvin’s reports—although he sent them to senior officials at the CAF, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Prime Minister’s Office—and had no reason, prior to Spring 2007, to believe that Afghan authorities were abusing detainees handed over to them by the CAF.

These claims have never been credible. The UN, the Afghan Human Rights Commission, an Afghan government body, and the US government had all said that they had evidence Afghan security forces routinely abused prisoners, including torturing them.

Regardless of this site’s political skew, I have no reason to doubt that the Conservatives in office presently and at the time of the wars would deny knowledge of these reports, despite this information being available pretty much everywhere.

Harper in March smeared his political opponents and pretty well everyone that dared to mention the brewing scandal over potential abuses:

I can understand the passion that the Leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.

Mr. Harper, you are directly responsible for war crimes as Prime Minister while these war crimes were being discussed and subsequently covered up. You and your cabinet, and anyone who was complicit in these actions, must resign immediately. Especially in light of your trying to question the patriotism of those who would prefer Canada not become torturers. People who would prefer our fundamentally good nation not descend into the rabbit hole that is sacrificing our higher moral ground in the pursuit of a theocrat’s religious crusades.

I only hope we Canadians are a better people than those that allowed George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney to walk away from the bloody mess they created in the Middle East with nary a repercussion. And people wonder why I call him Bush-Lite.

Canadians complicit in Afghanistan torture

Vaccine moronitude

I was shocked to learn that of our office leadership team, three out of seven have decided not to get flu shots, H1N1 or otherwise, because they feel they could just tough any flu out that happens to come along. Despite repeated and concerted efforts to explain to them that that’s not the reason getting the flu shot is important — rather, immunity to the flu will dampen and slow its spread, and prevent the thing from gaining a foothold, mutating, and wrecking herd immunity — all I get in response is, “if I get sick, I’ll stay home.” Never mind that you’re infectious to others well before you start showing symptoms (and how often have you had your first cough of an illness while in a public place? Probably most of the time!). Never mind that these people are the leadership team of the site — and complain about absenteeism regularly and loudly. And never mind that they’re engaged in a concerted “wash your hands, know the symptoms, get vaccinated” campaign presently.

The first local, free (provincially subsidized) H1N1 / regular flu clinic came this past Thursday to our neighbor town, and apparently lineups were three hours long and ended in people being turned away for lack of doses. Residents from a number of neighboring communities, some as far as two hours drive away, despite having clinics soon in their own hometowns, took it upon themselves to drive out to ours and make a run on the supply. I was planning on going to the clinic on Nov. 2, but Jodi and Opal are both still slightly sick (with a cough… hmm) so it might be worth waiting til they’re feeling better. Besides, hopefully after the first one was such a giant cluster, they’ll ramp up their dose supply and hours of operation (and staff to unclog the lineups), so the future ones will be less problematic. I understand the desire to get vaccinated, but these are obviously not the high-risk folks doing this and willing to stand in the cold for three hours — just the ones that are paranoid and willing to cut in line to save their skins out of fear that H1N1 is the new plague.

Meanwhile, in the States, a bunch of news has been happening on the vaccination front. Another study powerfully rebukes the long mythologized link between autism and the ethyl mercury that, despite the frequency, urgency and timeliness of the antivax crowd’s complaints, hasn’t been used in vaccines in over a decade. And the antivax community, headed by Generation Rescue and J. B. Handley, has begun fighting back against a Wired article about the fearmongering tactics they’ve adopted — via misogyny against its author. Also devastating to not only Orac, but myself, is the fact that respected sci-fi actor Brent Spiner has been expressing antivax sentiments. I don’t blur the line between Spiner and his character, Data, as Orac does in his article — but I guarantee you that amongst his millions of followers on Twitter are people who think Spiner is an extension of his logical, emotionless character. Given that antivax sentiment is just that — sentiment, in opposition to cold, amoral science that proves vaccinations safe — there’s got to be something expressly immoral about casting unreasonable doubt on life-saving scientific research.

I’d rant into the ether more about this, but I have to go to a Hallowe’en party now. My costume has gotten a blood upgrade, and through the night, depending on how drunk I get, the tie might double as a headband per the battle-damaged Shaun in the movie. More pics will be forthcoming.

Vaccine moronitude