The Course of Reason

A Fifth Grader’s Response to the CFI Board’s Statement

June 17, 2013

Olivia, 5th graderThe first thing you notice is that there are words. The words are strung together according to grammatical rules of English, and they form sentences. These sentences express complete thoughts. The thoughts are what you see in your head when you read and understand the sentences.

“The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us. Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.” Source.

The first sentence is about CFI. It is its own paragraph. There are 23 words in the first sentence. Twenty-three is a number. “Twenty-three” means the same thing as “23.”

The second and third sentences make up the second paragraph. The second paragraph uses the word “women” four times. The word has a capital W twice. It is an important word in the second paragraph.

In the second paragraph, we learn that the CFI Board has a wish. A wish is a want, or a desire. Some people believe wishes come true under certain circumstances. For instance, some people believe a genie can make a wish come true. Other people believe wishing upon a star makes your wishes come true. I don’t believe in those things, but maybe the Board does.

The CFI Board’s wish is to express unhappiness. Unhappiness is a lot like sadness. This is a very sad wish. Why is the Board sad? Because of a controversy about their women’s conference. I wonder who did this to them? Whoever did controversy to them must be pretty mean, because it makes the Board wish to express unhappiness. The people who made this controversy must have a problem with women. I hope the Board’s wish comes true, so that they can express this unhappiness, and the people behind this controversy can feel ashamed! Maybe I will wish upon a star that their wish will come true.

In the third paragraph the Board says that CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. This is when you don’t yell at each other and call each other names, even if you disagree with someone about something. Sometimes people disagree about very important things, and they get mad. Sometimes only one person gets mad, and the other person is really calm. The calm person will remind the mad person that they should be respectful, and the mad person should apologize. If the mad person believes in respectful debate, he will say “sorry about that.”

People get mad for different reasons, though. Some people get mad because they think someone is being mean or bad. They will get mad at this person and say, “you should not be doing that, because that is wrong!”

Sometimes the person being mean or bad is really smart, and will pretend that what he is doing is no big deal. He will say, “hey, let’s be respectful about our disagreement.” This can make the mad person look like the unreasonable one. This will make the mad person even more mad, because they are not the ones being disrespectful, it is the bad or mean person! It is a mean trick that bad smart people play sometimes. You should be careful about this if you ever disagree with someone about something. If you are the bad or mean person, you should try to not be so bad and mean, and you should also apologize for being bad and mean.

Sometimes it is really hard for a person to admit that he was disrespectful. The best thing to do is to do the right thing and apologize for being disrespectful. The worst thing to do is to pretend you weren’t disrespectful, or to ignore the other person’s feelings. This will never make things better. You should keep this in mind if you ever accidentally disrespect someone and make them mad.

My friend Dave Muscato works for a group that got a billboard wrong once. Everyone yelled at them for getting it wrong. Dave and his group apologized for getting it wrong, and changed the billboard, even though it was expensive and a little bit embarrassing. Everyone was really happy that they did that. It is a good example of someone admitting that they were wrong, even though it was hard to do.

The Board says that they appreciate the varied opinions and insights communicated to them. “Appreciate” means to like something that someone does. This really confuses me, because I think a lot of the opinions and insights communicated to them were from people who were very upset. I think this was part of the controversy they talked about in paragraph two. This confuses me because the controversy makes them sad, but they also appreciate it.

In conclusion, the Board said a number of words. Some of these words were “women,” and “unhappiness,” and “controversy.” They also said, “respectful.” The statement is made of words, some short, some longer.

 

 

About the Author: Seth Kurtenbach

Seth Kurtenbach's photo
Seth Kurtenbach is pursuing his PhD in computer science at the University of Missouri. His current research focuses on the application of formal logic to questions about knowledge and rationality. He has his Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Missouri, and is growing an epic beard in order to maintain his philosophical powers. You can email Seth at Seth.Kurtenbach@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @SJKur.

Comments:

#1 Weeblo on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 8:25am

The CFI is in the middle of an extremely tense, heated situation between those who will fervently fight for the right to have open dialog (even when it's offensive to some), and those who bully others into conforming to a specific worldview, censoring all dissent.

It's hard not to cut them some slack; I don't expect them to come out and say anything that might fuel the fire inside irrational ideologues any more.

#2 oolon on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 8:41am

Brilliantly funny post, made me LOL. Captures the essence of how the statement says nothing in many many words...

#3 oolon on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 8:59am

@Weeblo, you think CFI should seriously discuss the merits of the anti-vaccination lobby? They need to seriously discuss how weak the evidence is for AGW and how scientists cover up the truth? Why suppress this "open dialogue"?

Or more relevant would be the "open dialogue" we need with racists who want to discuss "racial IQ gaps" and justify racism based on it. Or how homosexuality is a mental disorder and the "gays" shouldn't be allowed to marry? More suppression of "free speech" ...

No, you don't give them legitimacy by seriously debating their views. They have been thoroughly debunked and in the case of the racist and homophobic views it would be damaging to those marginalised groups to entertain a serious "open dialog". Very few in those communities would support an organisation that did just that.

Justin Vacula and his pals at AVfM have been not just debunked, as they have little in the way of coherent argument, but monitored as a hate group by the SPLC. There are disagreements in feminism, you'll see very few in the secular community entertain Cathy Brennans transphobic feminism for example. Ally Fogg at Freethoughtblogs.com has real criticism of some aspects of feminism. AVfM has hate and little else.

Entertain AVfM and welcome someone doing interviews for them at a secular feminist conference then wonder why the majority of secular women say fuck you is to be totally oblivious. To allow your CEO to explain to a bunch of experts in feminism that they are doing it wrong then shit all over one of the speakers who criticises you was a major error. They will lose support of a lot of secular women and feminist supporters such as me. Rightly so and that is not censorship.

Framing this as "open dialogue" vs censorship is total bullshit as they don't foster open dialogue with bigots in any other instance.

#4 Weeblo on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 9:12am

"you think CFI should seriously discuss the merits of the anti-vaccination lobby? They need to seriously discuss how weak the evidence is for AGW and how scientists cover up the truth?"

Yeah; and skeptic organizations like the CFI discuss these topics at length. What they *don't* do is censor anyone who brings up these topics, ban them, pretend they don't exist, etc. What they *do* is refute these claims with evidence and rational arguments. That's how open discussion works. The feminist side could be completely right in every aspect, but I'd never know it because the only side which allows me to hear their arguments is the other (not to simplify this as merely 2-sided, but you know what I mean). When AVfM and the like present arguments that sound rational, and the other side only responds with mockery and dismissal, that sends a strong signal (whether valid or not) that the other side has nothing to stand on other than said mockery/dismissal. Again, let me be abundantly clear: This is not implying that there is no response, but it certainly doesn't serve a side well if they're unwilling to present one.

#5 oolon on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 9:23am

@weeblo, haha see you ignored my self described "more relevant" examples to cherry pick the ones I said were not that good. Bit different debating the merits of anti-vax positions to debating the merits of dehumanising Poc/gay people/women... Which was sort of the point. Let me fix one of your sentences for you.

"When Answers in Genesis and the like present arguments that sound rational, and the other side only responds with mockery and dismissal, that sends a strong signal (whether valid or not) that the other side has nothing to stand on other than said mockery/dismissal."
--> Still works for you? Before you respond yes some people do rebut lies from Creationists but the majority by far is laughing. Some do rebut AVfM, see Avicenna on FTBs, but the majority is by far laughing.

#6 Weeblo on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 10:08am

"haha see you ignored my self described "more relevant" examples to cherry pick the ones I said were not that good."

You're making quite the hefty assumption. More accurately, I quoted the first few examples you gave without taking up space by quoting all the rest of them. But, as a person who strives to have open, rational discussion, I'll gladly address your concern:

"the "open dialogue" we need with racists who want to discuss "racial IQ gaps" and justify racism based on it."

I'd argue this is even *more* important, since the consequences of letting these people have their say unchallenged would be even more dire. Though I didn't blockquote the gay marriage examples, etc., I hope you'll understand how these apply equally to what I just said.

"Still works for you?"

It absolutely works, of course it does. Surely you've come across talkorigins.org and their index of Creationist claims (with rebuttals)? This is a perfect example. And surely Eugenie Scott what not have been so incredibly successful if she merely crossed her arms and snorted with laughter every time an Intelligent Design proponent spoke in court, then rebutted with "That's so stupid that I don't even need to address it"--despite the fact that many of us may feel this way about their claims.

Intelligent Design, as obviously irrational as it is to us, "makes sense" to a lot of people. It seems justified to people who are quick to leap to arguments from ignorance. And the arguments against human-influenced climate change, if they're the only arguments presented, will have an artificially inflated prominence. Many of them seem reasonably in the absence of any other information to weigh against. And again, since the consequences of ignoring this issue is potentially disastrous, it's even more important that these types of arguments be addressed and responded to--especially if they start to gain a foothold.

You'll note that "men's rights" groups and their arguments have gained quite a louder voice since all of the controversy raised by these groups which are notorious for censoring, shunning, etc. Bloggers and YouTubers who normally focused on science and general skepticism are creating entire series of articles/videos critical of feminism, sympathetic to men's rights issues, etc. That's part of the irony of this whole situation. And when left unchallenged other than to have them written off as "hate groups" or censored/ignored, it only makes these opponents appear to be unable to back up their arguments, (rightly or wrongly) giving more credibility to those they're attacking.

#7 Eshto (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:01am

Well this is appropriate considering the people raging out over Lindsay's speech are behaving like petulant children.

#8 oolon on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 1:02pm

"You'll note that "men's rights" groups and their arguments have gained quite a louder voice"
--> Will I? They seem to be shouting as much as ever and getting little done. Certainly little to no credibility. Unless you can point me to academics in the social sciences field of "mens rights"... LOL

"And when left unchallenged other than to have them written off as "hate groups" or censored/ignored, it only makes these opponents appear to be unable to back up their arguments, (rightly or wrongly) giving more credibility to those they're attacking."

I pointed out that they are easily refuted and have been many many times. Most whine about feminist ideology then go on a conspiracy theory laden rant about their understanding of straw-feminism. So bad are they that not even wrong is a good descriptor. Creationism was probably a bad example as while the arguments are about as credible Creationists have real power. So they need to be taken seriously. MRAs, not so much. I'm personally happy to point any potential MRAs to manboobz.com, it does the job very nicely while mocking and ridiculing.

#9 Cory Brunson on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 1:26pm

Eshto, what, precisely, about the criticisms of Lindsay's speech and the expectations of the board, for instance leveled <a href="http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2013/06/03/women-in-secularism-speakers-letter-to-cfi-board/">here</a>, is unreasonable, ill-informed, or juvenile?

#10 Stacy (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 2:21pm

Seth, thanks for the hilarious (and spot-on) analysis of the CFI Board's weaselly non-response.

Those of us who attended WiS2 were gobsmacked to be treated with such patronizing condescension.

You'd think an organization dedicated to reason would consider the arguments presented and take a stand. But no. All we got was corporate bafflegab.

For shame, CFI.

P.S. I'm a member, and I've been a volunteer for 8 years.

#11 Lukas (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 6:45pm

"What they *don't* do is ... pretend they don't exist"

You mean, sorta like what the CFI statement does to all the people who have expressed their disagreement with the actions of their CEO?

"What they *do* is refute these claims with evidence and rational arguments."

Please point to the evidence and rational arguments in the statement by the CFI board of directors.

I look forward to your enlightening response.

#12 Lukas (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 7:12pm

@Weeblo
In your opinion, when you've tried to explain your opinion to the opposition and they've responded by completely ignoring everything you say, what is the appropriate response?

#13 Iamcuriousblue on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 7:51pm

Is there a point hiding under there somewhere? I'm sure it's some kind of attempt at snark vis-a-vis CFI's statement from yesterday, but it's pretty obtuse.

Also, some kind of allusion to the "23 enigma"?

#14 Aneris on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 8:31pm

Ron Lindsay's head is a political agenda point placed on the menu by FTB/SkepChick/SecWomen. They often think they have prerogative of interpretation and naturally expect that their tricks go through unchallenged. In this instance, the gambit is about demanding that people have to take sides for or against Ron Lindsay. It's not important what people choose, as each works out for them. Demagogues like Stephanie Zvan or Rebecca Watson will exploit the result in any way. PZ Myers perhaps more hamfisted after the plot points are placed.

It's always the same trick: Some actual problem or real world issue is used to set the stage, typically in terms of stark Good/Evil terms (Aussie General vs. Aussie Army Rapists, see Watson's piece). Then they slowly slide over and associate people in the movement with the created sides (with them on the Good Team of course). You can't disagree with them, because when you do, you are in the camp of the evil side. The trick seems to be about a type of loaded question or situation ("do you still beat your wife").

This is how it plays out:

<b>If people vote "for Lindsay"</b>, it strenghtens their influence and they continue with narrative one: They are the go-to experts in these matters, more gigs, more influence, more money. Rumour has it, that their ingroup also hoped that one of theirs would inherit the position.

<b>If people voted "against Lindsay" instead</b>, they just continue narrative two. That people allegedly support harassment. That sexism is rampant and so forth. Bingo, the movement needs those Knights in Shiny armour to save us all from the evils. They would again establish themselves as the go-to experts in these matters.

It is striking that they now refuse to support the organisation, even called for boycotts (Watson, as usual) of it, despite that organized the Women in Secularism conference in the first place. They stated and acted on that idea — <i>even if</i> the opening talk by Lindsay was completely botched.

CFI did well in ignoring the agenda point and had no real option as FTB/SkepChick/SecWomen escalated the issue rapidly. It was the best decision to just undercut it.

Meanwhile, Greta Christina who also withdrew all her support, has created yet another social warrior argumentation template, where any inclusive message like "hey all, let's work together toward X" can be criticised viciously as it (allegedly) also including harassers and the like. Watch out for it, they'll use it whenever convenient.

#15 Hunt (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 10:35pm

It's less about the specifics of Lindsay's talk, which was pretty banal and unnoteworthy, as Chris Hallquist pointed out, and more about who has power and controls the movement. You don't invade Poland by losing a town here and there (just to Godwin this before anyone else does). That's why they're trying to run Lindsay over with a Panzer. If they let Lindsay go, who the hell might question them next?

#16 Ichthyic (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:06pm

<blockquote>Yeah; and skeptic organizations like the CFI discuss these topics at length. What they *don't* do is censor anyone who brings up these topics, ban them, pretend they don't exist, etc. What they *do* is refute these claims with evidence and rational arguments.</blockquote>

bullshit. CFI has had a history of having problems incorporating even atheism intself into its worldview.

in fact, you can even ask Ron Lindsay, since he used to battle with the very founder, Ray Kurtz about that very thing. Kurtz called him a nazi for it. really really.

what's really clear, Weeblo, is that folks like you know NOTHING about CFI, or any of the actual issues involved, you just like trolling the internet for ur FREEZE PEACH!

bloody idiot.

#17 Stacy (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:13pm

<blockquote>Is there a point hiding under there somewhere? I'm sure it's some kind of attempt at snark vis-a-vis CFI's statement from yesterday, but it's pretty obtuse</blockquote>

Satire is hard, huh, iacb? Yet I have a sneaking suspicion that even you got the point. :D

<blockquote>It's less about the specifics of Lindsay's talk, which was pretty banal and unnoteworthy...</blockquote>

No. It was neither banal nor unnoteworthy, and asserting that it was does not make it so. It was actually quite remarkably condescending. Welcoming speeches meant to open conferences do not typically begin by dispensing with the "welcome" part. Welcoming speeches meant to open conferences do not typically begin with condescension directed at the people who have paid good money to be there. Conferences are not typically opened by people who are ignorant of the topic under discussion lecturing the attendees and arguing with strawmen.

#18 Weeblo on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:17pm

"You mean, sorta like what the CFI statement does to all the people who have expressed their disagreement with the actions of their CEO?"

No, not at all. The mere fact that the CFI is repeatedly needing to blog about this subject is ample evidence that those who expressed disagreement are far from being ignored.

"Please point to the evidence and rational arguments in the statement by the CFI board of directors."

I will gladly do this if you first point me to anywhere I said or implied that this statement contained any of these things.

"I look forward to your enlightening response."

I'm glad. I hope my response was as much satisfying to you as it was trivially easy for me.

#19 Weeblo on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:22pm

@Lukas
"In your opinion, when you've tried to explain your opinion to the opposition and they've responded by completely ignoring everything you say, what is the appropriate response?"

In this case, I'd say the appropriate response is to continue putting forth your arguments, getting your message out there, and letting your voice be heard to the greater population. Just because some people are unwilling to have their views challenged, it doesn't mean there aren't those who are willing to listen to reasoned arguments.

This strategy will have the side effect of marginalizing the mocking/ignoring opposition, relegating them to their own secluded fortresses, while those willing to engage in free and open dialog, as is almost always the case, will win out.

#20 Weeblo on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:34pm

@Ichthyic
"what's really clear, Weeblo, is that folks like you know NOTHING about CFI"

What's even more clear is that I stated I'm referring to the collective group of skeptic organizations (like the JREF--another "shunned" organization, by the way). It's true that I don't know have the complete history book of the CFI and all of its drama, but from what you imply it seems like a page-turner.

"you just like trolling the internet for ur FREEZE PEACH!"

Thank you for providing an example of the extremely liberal use of the word "trolling" which dilutes any meaningful identification, and allows you to arbitrarily include any dissenters into that category. You may as well label me a suspected terrorist while you're at it.

As a bonus, you repeated one of the most damning signs that perhaps you're on the wrong ideological side: namely, that you mock the desire for free and open discussion. While this doesn't make a side necessarily wrong, it's a giant red flag when your camp is the one that's openly critical of those who value free speech. The fact that you even have mocking slang for the term should sound some serious alarms.

#21 David Jones (Guest) on Tuesday June 18, 2013 at 11:53pm

@ool0n - many women attended that conference; a few objected to Lindsay's speech; still fewer have been involved in the ongoing Internet pile-on; and yet fewer have issued calls for his resignation.

Which group of women are you claiming are 'experts in feminism'. What sort of feminism? After all, feminism's not a monolith. Why are the opinions of those particular women - whether they're experts or not - unassailable on this or presumably any other occasion? Do they have some sort of infallibility when they pronounce on their special subject, in the same way the pope is infallible? What about other 'experts in feminism' who disagree with them? Are they allowed to disagree? Is Lindsay allowed to disagree? When are they allowed to disagree? Does disagreement merit calls for resignation?

And what of the history of these 'experts in feminism'? Do we take every instance of a blow-up like this on its own without remembering the previous blow-ups? TAM and Groethe and the JREF, Stef McGraw, Ellenbeth Wachs, Dawkins...the list is, as I'm sure you know, much, much longer. Is this all just incidental or can we perhaps see a pattern? Is that pattern evidence of the Patriarchy, or some such thing, resisting the brave efforts of 'experts in feminism' or is it telling you something else about those 'experts in feminism'.

#22 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 12:26am

@David Jones/Metaburbia: "many women attended that conference; a few objected to Lindsay's speech; still fewer have been involved in the ongoing Internet pile-on; and yet fewer have issued calls for his resignation."

Orly? Well over half the speakers signed Greta Christina's letter alone. Stephanie Zvan at least wrote her own letter so likely more than that wrote in anger. I've personally found one old white bloke who was there and wrote in support of Ron... That's it. Plus Vac and presumably Karla makes three! Maybe hanging out at the pit gives you the impression "everyone" supports Ron, the evidence says otherwise.

The rest of your bafflegab can be nicely dismissed because if you are right then you'd better join the masses calling for an apology from CFI. Sounds like you think they invited a bunch of no-nothings to the premier secular women conference. Sounds incompetent to me.

#23 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 1:21am

@ool0n, I don't 'hang out at the pit' and this is absolutely typical of you, Watson, Svan and the rest.

So over half the speakers signed the letter. That doesn't address my points at all. And thanks terribly for making an observation that the one bloke you've found was white. You embarrass yourself.

'The rest of your bafflegab can be nicely dismissed'

I suppose you mean it's convenient for you to ignore it. That's unsurprising.

'Sounds like you think they invited a bunch of no-nothings to the premier secular women conference.'

No. I'm pointing out that feminism isn't monolithic and that anyone saying they're a feminist isn't telling you much about their precise ideology; and that nobody's infallible; and that many women who also say they're feminists disagree with Svan, Watson, et al.

#24 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 2:47am

@David Jones/Metaburbia You are full of it. I've seen plenty of Slyme-memes in your usual list of "crimes" by FTBs/Skepchick etc, otherwise known as the Slimy tu quoque shuffle. You get your information from the Slymepit so you "hang out" there is completely accurate unless you want to admit to getting your lies from secondary or tertiary sources.

Particularly I remember your bringing up the Rebecca Watson Galileo "mistake"... Created by Franc Hoggle and one of the rare lies from the pit that was so bad even some on there called it out. She corrected it! But apparently not fast enough for Franc "speedy" Hoggle... Thus proving she is no sceptic and repeated as if gospel by one Metaburbia/David Jones. https://twitter.com/metaburbia/status/339430523858481152
Also not even mentioning that she acknowledged the mistake and corrected very quickly. One of many pieces of bullshit repeated ad-nauseam by you.

So yeah you are as Slimey as they come Dave.

Your poisoning the well about the speakers at WIS not being experts on "feminism" or rather "which feminism" is MRA propaganda 101. The "blow up" was led by various attendees live tweeting plus PZ, Adam Lee and Miri criticising Ron on Twitter first. Rebecca was picked out by Ron but she was far from the first or only one criticising, she responded calmly in her post, he responded with ridiculous ad-homs breaking the civility pledge he signed up to. So who is responsible for the "blow up"? Rebecca Watson of course! Because David Jones/Metaburbia has a massive chip on his shoulder over her. Cannot think why...

#25 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 3:59am

Christ almighty, Ool0n, which is it? I spend time in the Pit? I have retweeted a tweet by someone you happen to know frequents the pit? I agree with someone you believe to be a Pitter?

>'She corrected it'

I heard her make the mistake on the SGU. It was corrected on the SGU the following week. She made the mistake.

Ok?

It demonstrated an ignorance of the history - if you'd ever read anything about it you couldn't have made the mistake - and still she was blithely telling us all about Galileo.

A bit like her foray into evolutionary psychology, which she seemed to think was ripe for picking. There might well be some fine opportunities in Evo Psych for a careful sceptic but not for a dilettante like Watson.


>'So who is responsible for the "blow up"? Rebecca Watson of course!'

And she wasn't responsible for the blow-up with Dawkins or the blow-up with McGraw or the blow-up with Shermer or the blow-up with Groethe or the blow-up with Vacula or the blow-up with Harriet Hall or the blow-up with Paula Kirby, or the many, many others in this ever-expanding list of men and women who have offended Watson. Nope. Not Watson.

What I don't understand really is why you want to ally yourself with someone as divisive as Watson or as disgraceful or Marcotte. Feminism doesn't begin and end with them. What is it that you're worried about?

#26 casus fortuitus (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 4:37am

@Weeblo

"Thank you for providing an example of the extremely liberal use of the word "trolling" which dilutes any meaningful identification, and allows you to arbitrarily include any dissenters into that category. You may as well label me a suspected terrorist while you're at it."

Mmhmm, yeah, because having your idiotic derailing dismissed out of hand is exactly like being detained indefinitely without charge. You may as well appeal to concentration camps and gulags while you're at it.

"As a bonus, you repeated one of the most damning signs that perhaps you're on the wrong ideological side: namely, that you mock the desire for free and open discussion."

In your ideological rush to defend free speech at all costs, did you stop to consider that some forms of [removed]such as harassment, abuse and threats) serve to silence their targets, thereby limiting the opportunity for free and open discussion to those prepared to engage in such expression? Or is gratuitous, contentless abuse so valuable to free and open discussion that it's worth losing the voices of those who are silenced by it?

I think you're only interested in free speech insofar as it benefits those on your "ideological side". I think you're fine with tactics that tend to restrict the free speech of those you disagree with.

#27 casus fortuitus (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 4:54am

@David Jones

"And she wasn't responsible for the blow-up with Dawkins or the blow-up with McGraw or the blow-up with Shermer or the blow-up with Groethe or the blow-up with Vacula or the blow-up with Harriet Hall or the blow-up with Paula Kirby,"

Err... no. Those blow-ups did not each occur in a vacuum, totally unrelated from each other.

Do you know what's it called when a person (usually a woman) speaks up, gets piled on, and then is held responsible for the fallout? It's called victim-blaming.

"What I don't understand really is why you want to ally yourself with someone as divisive as Watson"

Because Watson is great at bringing out the misogynists, so I can be sure that I don't associate with them by accident. In this case, divisive is good.

#28 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 4:54am

@David Jones/Metaburbia ... You don't even bother with trying to be accurate do you?
-> Shermer was arguing with Ophelia Benson, but its all Rebecca Watson's fault.
-> Harriet Hall was arguing with Surly Amy and they made up, but its all Rebecca Watson's fault.
-> Stephanie Zvan created a petition to have Justin Vacula removed and RW wrote one post about him, but its all Rebecca Watsons fault.

"Watson Derangement Syndrome" is meant to be a joke, but you seriously seem to be suffering from some psychological issue with her. Get help.

"What I don't understand really is why you want to ally yourself with someone as divisive as Watson or as disgraceful or Marcotte. Feminism doesn't begin and end with them. What is it that you're worried about?"

--> I don't ally with them unconditionally. Unlike you who seems to have interest in them regardless of what they say the instant they stop supporting sex-positive inclusive feminism I stop reading them. I don't however obsess over their every utterance for eternity if they "offend" me. Have fun documenting every misstep you think Rebecca makes, I'm sure she appreciates your concern.

#29 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 5:46am

Ok, Ool0n. Watson didn't start every argument. She just went along for the ride.And coincidentally found herself on the same side of all those arguments.

>'I don't ally with them unconditionally'

Oh but you certainly do. As the author of the block bot you most certainly do.

>' I'm sure she appreciates your concern.'

Yes....well, Watson's regard isn't really of significance to me. Whereas it seems to be very important for you she thinks highly of you.

>' the instant they stop supporting ... inclusive feminism I stop reading them.'

EllenBeth Wachs, Harriet Hall, Paula Kirby, Stef McGraw...but hold on! You haven't stopped!

#30 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 6:15am

@David Jones/ Metaburbia, Oh I also looked up the Paula Kirby one as I missed it at the time. I remember she godwinned a few feminists and that's about it. The "blow up" from from a doc *she* wrote, it mentioned Ophelia a few times but no Watson. Rebecca wrote a post on it pointing out the ridiculousness of calling people "feminazi" ... Doesn't seem very civil to me, but of course its all her fault so she deserves it.

Can't be arsed to look up the etymology of the others as I see evidence is of no interest to you.
"Ok, Ool0n. Watson didn't start every argument. She just went along for the ride"
--> Nice way to admit you are totally wrong.

I ally unconditionally with RW because of the block bot? O_o .. Wut? Its an A+ project now and on github so if I go off the rails and turn full-on MRA or something it can carry on without me. Try again.

"Yes....well, Watson's regard isn't really of significance to me. Whereas it seems to be very important for you she thinks highly of you."
LOL, top notch projection there. If you said "oolon" to her the reply would be "who?". I've never contacted her, I only read her blog, sometimes. Actually probably read Heina more and unlike RW I've had some minor direct interaction with her on Twitter. Does that make me her unconditional ally too, I'll let her know she has a minion! :-D

You know Stef McGraw was at WIS2? She gets on fine with PZ and RW according to them. What a terrible blow up! (Hint: I don't think she'd agree with you on much _www.centerforinquiry.net/oncampus/blog/entry/mcgraw_the_chilly_climate/)

Wow adding EllenBeth into your list as well, I think you'll find that was Pharyngula commenters and PZ, but its all Rebecca Watson's fault.

Keep on digging! You can probably pick up some new things that are her fault here -> http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/07/14/convergence-rebecca-watson-ruins-everything/

#31 A Hermit on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 6:26am

Weeblo says </blockquote>Yeah; and skeptic organizations like the CFI discuss these topics at length. What they *don't* do is censor anyone who brings up these topics, ban them, pretend they don't exist, etc.</blockquote>

And that's exactly why this non-statement of theirs should be so offensive to skeptics everywhere; they aren't discussing the issue, they are pretending it doesn't exist. Instead of examining the issue, talking about it and dealing with it they are running away from it and hoping it goes away.

Sticking one's head in the sand to hide from controversy is not how skeptics should behave. This was a cowardly, disrespectful move on the part of the part of the board and all they've done is taken a bad situation and made it worse. people are genuinely and rightly pissed off...http://skepticon.org/skepticon-says-goodbye-to-a-sponsor/?fb_source=pubv1

#32 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 6:34am

Dammit that Rebecca Watson is determined to make a liar out of me too. So I have contacted her and got a reply now. Scratch my assertion above..
https://twitter.com/rebeccawatson/status/347344932652068864

Interesting though given it rather makes a liar of David Jones/Metaburbia when he said this ->
"I heard her make the mistake on the SGU. It was corrected on the SGU the following week. She made the mistake."

I'm sure he wouldn't lie about Rebecca Watson? He has no regard or interest in her so where would the motivation come from? I is confused.

One thing I will say though, she really needs better opponents.

#33 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 6:58am

Ah...not SGU? I'll take your word for it then, though I could have sworn it was.

Because the location she said something so stupid matters so much...

You might want to go and look up the meaning of 'liar' too.

#34 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 7:06am

@David Jones/Metaburbia, yeah it was a YT vid as I thought and a few minutes between her having a rant and putting the correction box in... As was discussed on the Slymepit, Franc felt this was irrefutable proof of her lack of scepticism (Another one with some serious RW derangement syndrome) and Steersman was nothing less than a FTB Baboon for suggesting otherwise. (I'm cursed with a good memory for unimportant crap like this, not actually read the pit for months).. I remember weighing in at the time as I was directly arguing with them there then.

"You might want to go and look up the meaning of 'liar' too."

Indeed there was a time when I'd wince when I saw SpokesGay, Sally Strange etc call people like you liars on FTBs. I'm not even sure you do it consciously but given the complete and total lack of accuracy allied with an agenda aimed squarely at Rebecca Watson... What do I call it? A "mistake", how many mistakes with no acknowledgement are needed to make a liar?

#35 casus fortuitus (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 7:07am

@David Jones

"Because the location she said something so stupid matters so much..."

Maybe not on its own. But don't forget you also accused Watson of being slow to correct her error.

What matters more, though, is your manifest disregard for the truth. Not only do you consistently say things that are not true (whether maliciously or through honest mistake), but when you're corrected, you behave as if your inaccuracies are as good as the truth. Are these the qualities of an honest skeptical thinker?

#36 SallyStrange (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 7:08am

So, a discussion about CFI and outreach and inclusiveness in the community has devolved into a spitting match about how Rebecca Watson once said something that was wrong.

I'm glad we all have our priorities straight.

#37 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 7:10am

[Morales meta] Interesting that when David Jones/Metaburbia makes a "mistake" I have to be all charitable. But when Rebecca Watson makes one.... Fuck no!

#38 A Hermit on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 7:32am

Rebecca Watson stole my ice cream!!1!!!

#39 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 10:40am

You don't have to be charitable or anything like that, Oolon. I'm simply saying that my mistake wasn't a lie and Watson's mistake was born of ignorance.

Back to Watson's contribution to all of this. My singling her out was really only to use her name as a stand-in for Myers, Svan, the usual suspects, you know the names - they're so in lockstep you can't slip a fag paper between them. Think of Watson as a metonym, once you look up the meaning of the word. She's as culpable as all of them and probably a bit more.

Does anyone really think that the level of vitriol, calls for resignation and boycotting - TAM, the JRef, the CFI , Dawkins, etc, etc - is actually a sane, level-headed, sensible, constructive way to behave? Really?

I would, though, single out one other person. Marcotte - who seems to have attached herself to the skeptic movement somehow, I guess because she's finding it difficult getting gigs elsewhere - should be shunned by anyone with a sense of fairness and justice following her unapologised-for remarks about the Duke Lacrosse case. I see Skepticon is advertising her as a forthcoming speaker.

#40 Sili (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 10:47am

"
Watson's mistake was born of ignorance.
"

Then how could she fix it?

#41 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 10:55am

Do you mean, how was it that she came to fix it? I guess someone pointed it out to her. It's not the sort of mistake you could make if you'd ever actually read anything about it.

So my point isn't that she made a mistake: but that the mistake demonstrates how little she actually knew *yet how ready to expound*. Just like her recent foray into evolutionary psychology which, as I've suggested, certainly is open to some, measured, informed criticism. We won't get that from Watson though.

#42 SallyStrange (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 11:28am

Yes, by all means. Rebecca Watson is wrong, and she's in lockstep with all these other people, therefore showing how wrong she was is SUPER important to the movement. They're culpable for vitriol! That's important! And not at all content-free!

What an enlightening discussion.

#43 David Jones (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 12:04pm

Sally - I think you're a FtB frequenter aren't you - they are culpable for vitriol, yes. I assume it's deliberate and following Ellenbeth Wachs's remarks, that assumption looks reasonable


'Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.' Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions'

Shermer, Groethe, Lindsay, Dawkins, Hall....

#44 Sili (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 12:41pm

"
It's not the sort of mistake you could make if you'd ever actually read anything about it.
"

Really? You have a remarkable head if you never make brainfarts like this. I don't know if I've ever conflated Gallileo and Bruno like this, myself, but I have certainly done so with other things. I used to attribute the famous Rabi quote to Feynmann. It's not difficult to misremember.

"
I guess someone pointed it out to her.
"

So she lied?

#45 Sili (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 12:44pm

"
Shermer, Groethe, Lindsay, Dawkins, Hall....
"

Who're you quoting?

I haven't seen any of those people cut off from a support network or wanting for sympathy, by the way.

#46 Weeblo on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 12:57pm

@casus fortuitus

<blockquote>Mmhmm, yeah, because having your idiotic derailing dismissed out of hand is exactly like being detained indefinitely without charge.</blockquote>
You know what an "analogy" is, right? I just want to make sure, so they don't throw you off next time I use them.

<blockquote>In your ideological rush to defend free speech at all costs, did you stop to consider that some forms of [removed]such as harassment, abuse and threats) serve to silence their targets, thereby limiting the opportunity for free and open discussion</blockquote>
Sure, you'll appeal to the most harmful forms of speech to straw man my position, just as a legislator might claim that those arguing for a free and open internet are just seeking child pornography or piracy. It's convenient to assume the worst in your ideological opponent, isn't it?

<blockquote>I think you're only interested in free speech insofar as it benefits those on your "ideological side". I think you're fine with tactics that tend to restrict the free speech of those you disagree with.</blockquote>
Another case in point. Tell me, from what do you base this assumption? Is this something that terrorists often do? Do I sound like "the type"? Am I "just like on a' them"? Or do you have anything of substance from which to base this?

#47 Weeblo on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 1:00pm

@A Hermit

"And that's exactly why this non-statement of theirs should be so offensive to skeptics everywhere; they aren't discussing the issue, they are pretending it doesn't exist."

While I completely agree that they shouldn't just hide their head in the sand and let themselves be bullied, I disagree with your assumption that they're making the situation worse than it would otherwise be. If they instead came out against the irrational, divisive, bullying ideological movement that is opposing them and countless other figures in skepticism, that would be likely to cause much more controversy.

So, as I said in my original comment, as much as I'd like to see them stand up against a bully, I understand if they're avoiding rustling any more feathers.

#48 A Hermit on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 1:35pm

Weeblo, I guess we disagree on who is being the bully here...don't mistake anger for bullying, or bland empty passive-aggressive rhetoric like that press release for civility.

Look, if you host a conference and most of the people who were invited speakers at that conference are angry about the speech you gave, and the audience is angry, while people who oppose that audience and those speakers are applauding you...you might think you've failed to communicate somehow. And you might want to let your audience know that you are listening to them and considering their objections instead of insulting them and hiding from them.

Skepticism requires a certain amount of self examination, and I don't see any of that coming from Lindsey or the board here. I see people protecting their egos and treating their audience and their customers and their supporters with contempt.

It's disappointing, to say the least.

#49 MosesZD (Guest) on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 1:57pm

Ah, oolon and 'the pit.'

If you go the member section, you will see as of this moment there 684 registered members. Of which 200+ have never made a single post. Of which barely over 100 have made 100 posts.

Yet according to oolon and the other FtB bullies, 'the pit' is legion. It is everywhere. Under every rock. Behind every tree. Sneaking up in every shadow.

Their obsession with 'the pit' makes McCarthyism look down-right banal.

I think anyone who rambles on about the 'pit' should be ignored. It's just that stupid.

#50 oolon on Wednesday June 19, 2013 at 2:13pm

This says pretty much everything you need to know about Metaburbia/David Jones -
"Think of Watson as a metonym, once you look up the meaning of the word"

Because if you are not sufficiently "well read" then Dave will dismiss you out of hand. Despite his own incompetence on this thread and being pretty much factually incorrect at every turn. Dunning Kruger anyone?

BTW I would have thought synecdoche would be a better word given you consider Rebecca to be but a key part of the whole "problem" in your view. That of uppity women daring to call themselves "sceptics" or talk on intellectual subjects when master metaburbia is around to tell those little ladies how it should be. What horrible twist of fate led to this genius among us not being invited to speak at conferences when a bunch of stupid <strike>bitches</strike>skepchicks get to hog that stage that should be Daves!

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