Donnerstag, 5. Januar 2012

The rational debate

Well, people engaging in the ongoing debate about sexism in atheist/skeptic communities have been throughly chastized by D.J. Grothe from the JREF:
I think as skeptics, it behooves us to be a bit more generous with others in disagreement, to be slower to vilify, and to engage in less scorched-earthing. I know it may be good for blog hits, but it is bad for skepticism and in my view, is antithetical to our values.
He also thinks that we are too much engaging in groupthink:
And I do believe that much atheist and skeptic blogging engages in far too much in-group/out-group categorizing, us vs. them thinking.
Basically, both sides are equally bad and should just stop. We also have to be nice to people who threaten women with violence that women calling them out are unfair.

So, let's see how actually both sides are equally bad and what the people engaged on the other side are actually making as arguments:

Note: This is intended to be an ongoing collection for handy reference. Please post your examples as comments with attribution.

Tube Worm on the CFI blog #166
It’s nice to see Watson, Myers, and their legions upon legions of  fem-zombies continuing their project to hijack the skeptical movement to push their radical leftist political agenda. Over the last year I’ve seen this movement devolve into a PC-whitewash fest in which dissenters are tarred and feathered as “sexists” and “mysoginists, vitriole has come to replace reasoned debate, and fuzzy PoMo critical-theory reasoning has become a stand-in for science and evidence. If this keeps on, the skeptical movement will have to abandon science altogether, lest we offend anyone with “sexed” equations like E=mc^2, which clearly “privileges” (*vomit*) light over energy.
And that's not the end of it.
Here's his characterization of the whole  debate (#175):

Hi David,
Welcome to the Skeptical Movement’s version of the Cultural Revolution!
I’m not sure what happened, but at some point over the  previous year, skepticism suddenly lost interest in science and critical thinking and suddenly began to resemble a freshman sociology class at a third-tier liberal arts college.  Skeptical discussion became less of a reasoned debate about facts and evidence and more about upholding a far-left PC worldview and purging and ostracizing those who don’t toe the line. As in certain religious movements and cults, those who poke the new Sacred Cows (I.e deviating from the party line on issues of gender, sexuality, and leftist politics in general) become victims of online lynch mobs and character assassination—not unlike the way the Athiest Movement attempted to silence atheists who were opposed to a militant approach to discussion with people of faith.
 At the heart of the shitstorm are certain personalities of questionable motives who are jockeying for leadership, control of the agenda and discourse, and who are attempting to purge the “old guard.” As usual, politics ruins everything and like you, I have lost all interest in participating or contributing to this movement. 
If he could just do as he says...

Liam is very disappointed with us:

Wow, reading the reactions have left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve always considered myself pro-feminist. But looking at the hysterical reactions in these blogs, the attempted character assassination, the extremely disappointing personal attacks in the blog post. And the extremely low level of discourse on a subject that really needs a rational consideration rather than succumbing to the heat of emotion that such subjects as these make it easy to fall into.
But it does seem that such a touchy and important subject like this in this self proclaimed skeptical community are not immune to these horrible non arguments and character attacks by community spokespeople and rank and file alike.
If these are the sort of tools we use in womens advocacy, then count me out.
 Wilt informs us that it's all Rebecca's fault:
Professional victim and blaming 50% of the population is not fair. Plus, it’s now “not my opinion, STFU”.
Rebecca has hurt more people. And turned off more women, that don’t want to associated or represented by the skepchicks, mainly Rebecca Watson. The quality of the posts and posters at Skepchick reflects this change. Yes, women need to be represented more and respected more. But not lectured and nagged… instead included and brought into the discussion.
 He also informs us that (comment #4):

Rebecca lives for the imagined sexist slant from anyone on her “hit list”.  She can’t NOT keep looking for it.  She can’t deal with it in a creative responsible way.  She deals with the slights to women the way the CHURCH deals with slights to their theology.  With GUILT and finger pointing.  Ben, has crossed the Rebeca line, and must pay.  I don’t know where she went to church but she learned her lessons well. 
 And Ben Radford explicitly demands a rational and respectful discussion like this:

...and it's clear Rebecca enjoys being outraged at various things. It's often the case that outrage and insults substitute for truth and accuracy; it's easier to call someone stupid than it is to engage them respectfully.
 Collection ongoing...

Misronen, outraged that somebody could like Rebecca Watson better than Rick Gervais beats the straw rapist:
After being asked by janine: whether
“Is it because I do not have a problem with a rad-fem like Rebecca Watson. (Does that make me a rad-fem?)”
the badly prosecuted misronen asnwers:
I honestly don’t know. Does the fact that I do make me a potential rapist / a rape apologist / full-fledged rapist (apparently on the loose)? I don’t know that either. Maybe I’m just confused.
 Huskvarna gets all upset because the readers of Blaghag gave Rebecca Watson an award. How could they, she did something stupid on the internet 3 years ago!

Here’s a critique for you:
Rebecca accidentally got moderator privileges on JREF following the rescindment of a suspension. She then immediately abused those privileges by banning a bunch of people she didn’t like, then got permabanned by the JREF staff who understandably didn’t want Comrade Commissar Watson running around deciding what opinions people are allowed to have:
 I'm not sure if Emil Karlson isn't a Poe:
It is sad to see that Heina has sunken to the level of pseudoskepticism by primarily using anecdotes in the justification that sexism is a significant problem in the skeptic community.
Just as we reject anecdotes when it comes to claimed “alternative” cures of cancer or the efficacy of psychics, so too must we reject anecdotes when it comes to this subject.
Your initial attitude may be one of disbelief, objecting to this “dismissal of women’s experiences”, but you must understand that we do this without any problems whatsoever in other areas. To be consistent skeptics, we must apply the same rational criticisms to our favorite positions. We cannot shield them from criticism just because they are dear to us.
Anecdotes are not scientific evidence as there is no independent confirmation of the truth of these anecdotes (some are labeled as “anonymous” so they could, hypothetically, have been made up on the spot), and it is not necessarily the case that these anecdotes are representative of the experience of women in the skeptic community overall.
Another shameful entry from people who know better.
A recommendation for the future is to discuss the actual scientific literature on the topic of sexism (using it to support and strengthen your positions), while making sure not to draw conclusions not warranted by the evidence and _only then_ talk about future prospects and directions (e. g. suggesting partial, evidence-based solutions).
That will be a much more persuasive strategy and will leave critics with no where to go.
SkepticAtheist is also very, very disappointed with us:
Freefromthoughts’ blogs never ceases to amaze me. This baboon board has hit a new low. Now there’s even more blogging about problems which Greta created, which her and her minions fueled, with no mention of their attacks on Ryan, how they goaded him, misquoted him, used him as their scapegoat to vent their hostility, and with no mention that Ryan sarcastically posted on his own wall [in his screenshots] about the attacks made against him.
 And then there's Ryan himself.
He became part of the debate when he posted this on Facebook (link goes to Greta Christina):
Fuck you Greta. You’re the troll. You posted for the sole reason of trying to bait a sexist into writing something threatening. You didn’t find one, but I dared to disagree with you, so you and your brainless followers thought ‘eh, fuck it, close enough. We’ll attack him instead.’ You’ve been capitalizing on this for months and perpetuating vicious stereotypes about both men and women, under the guise of ‘feminism’. I used to think you had something to contribute. Now I see you’re just a pathetic attention seeker who isn’t interested in anything other than stirring up shit.
 His excuse? Women made him do so!
I encountered the same hostile insults on Greta’s wall, and you’re actually wondering why I lost my temper? Figure it out


julian hat gesagt…

At least Ben Radford isn't pulling a Grothe and keeping such observations to himself. He's still very much wrong and unwilling to admit hes glaringly wrong but, unlike DJ Grothe, he's willing to be upfront with his views.

SallyStrange hat gesagt…

I will keep an eye out. I have this post bookmarked.

Greg hat gesagt…

Misunderstanding that a discussion can be about more than one thing:

"Personally I think Watson is in the wrong for going up in front of a bunch of people and showing comments such as
"rape her" and then plastering Mcgraw's blog right with those comments.
Its as if someone went up in a speech and talked about pedophiles and flashed a bunch of their online comments and then posted my blog along with my name on a post that I did. Who knows, maybe my post was something about young girls with old guys, such as 18 year old girls with guys in their mid fifties, but then the speaker lumped me in with a bunch of priest child rapists. There is no way for the audience to know and the speaker with unlimited talking platform and a sense of authority can just flow with it."

courtesy of libo209boi at