Posts Tagged ‘atheism plus’

On the Failure of Atheist Organizations and Choosing Life!

September 1, 2012

Y’know I kinda knew it all along that feminism was the third rails here.  You can even see it in the very first video I put up on this subject, that I knew this was going to end ugly (“tactically dumb” I think were the words I used).  I really didn’t have a ‘dog in this fight’ beyond the fact that having all these professional victims trying to pass off the most mild transgressions as systematic and pervasive misogyny in the secular community, really did make the group that took this seriously looks like a bunch of jokers, and then to have ‘leaders’ of the community take an accommodationist stance to such professional victim-hood really doesn’t inspire one with much faith that these are dynamic organization capable of prioritizing and focusing on important goals to achieve results.

Having said that, I don’t really feel too badly about how this all came out.  I certainly learned a lot on the journey about the nature of this community, and why so much (although notably not all) of it is operationally ineffective.

In the current case the problem seems to be quite simple, that a group, notable centered around Freethoughtblogs and Skepchick have mistaken (initially arguably accidentally, but later apparently willfully) the odd troll as ‘evidence’ that the community is ridden with misogynists etc.  Indeed now it seems that folks from these forums almost relish the trolling, as they can then use it to ‘score some online pity’.  This path of ‘embracing victim-hood’ is not healthy for them or the community and ends in this hypersentivity to criticism that really doesn’t do anyone any good (‘use the block and ban functions’ urges Rebecca Watson in 100% VFX terms, and we all know how well that worked out for him!).  For instance they see the word “bitch is a gendered insult that demeans ALL women” (a point which Rebecca Watson of Skepchick assures us is so uncontroversial that almost everyone ‘gets’ it), but will have no problem in using the words “don’t be a dick” in their guidelines for their new ‘Atheism Plus’ forum (whose rules prohibit degrading people using sexual slurs).

Yes, ‘Bitch is a gendered insult to all women’ but in the utterly consistent Utopian world of AtheismPlus, ‘dick’ (mentioned only one line earlier in the forum rules!) does not count as the hate speech of a gender slur.

When such casual and common use of language becomes a matter of heated debate, arguably you have already been rendered operationally impotent by your political correctness.  Take another example.  The founder of atheism plus is quite candid about being ‘banned’ from the internet by her boyfriend, while doubtless if I had similarly imposed such restrictions on my girlfriend I would have been labeled a misogynist intent on subjugating women (“WHY NOT JUST TELL HER TO GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN!” etc) and she a propagator of destructive submissive female stereotypes, a gender traitor and therefore a rape culture enabler etc etc.  This is the disproportionate destination you arrive at when you are so sensitive to criticism: seeing the most banal activities that you engage in everyday as fine and healthy but as evidence of horrible sexism endemic in society when anyone else does it.  It also seems to have enabled a formidable cognitive dissonance in these folks.  For example many of these people consider “you’re only a feminist because you are old fat and ugly” as some great evil that should get you pilloried, but have no problem in thinking that saying “you’re only a misogynist because your privilege as a member of the patriarchy means you don’t ‘get it’ ” is some great argument winner.  In both cases the statement may well be perfectly accurate, but even if they were, the arguments constitute little more than personal mudslinging, while the more virtuous path would have been to actually address the argument, not the person.  Yet the latter example here is typically considered by such folks to be an argument winner, but the former beyond the pale as an ad hominem.  The cognitive dissonance is formidable.

However, going back to the original problem though, personally I wouldn’t give such trolls the time of day.  Example in question, coughlan616 in a recent exchange (over a month ago at the time of writing) ended up suggesting that he had performed needless sexual exchanges with my mother.

Inject yourself into the free speech arena? Better be ready for the slings and arrows! However that does not mean those who have not injected themselves into that arena are ‘fair game’.  For those with an interest, this was the full exchange.

Did I go ballistic at this and get a load of ‘secular leaders’ to write letters of support saying that this sort of hate should not be tolerated?

Did I campaign for a code of conduct for the atheist community etc?

Did I demand that anyone who opposed my proposed changes be driven out as C.H.U.D.s, as rejecting my proposals clearly meant that they endorsed Coughlan’s views?

Did I sit there crying at how unsafe this made me feel until someone paid attention?

No! I just ignored him.  If he wants to use his freedom of speech in the open arena to be a dick, that’s his affair. However there are of course some limits, and arguably coughlan crossed those in this case. Not by insulting me, as I’ve CHOSEN to inject myself into the public domain, and in such a free speech arena you have to suffer the slings and arrows of that arena.  This is not true however of my mother (see ‘YOUR MOTHERS A WHORE.. and other stuff‘.  She did not inject herself into the public arena, and is not therefore fair game.  Nor is impersonation, and various other elements such as slander and liable etc, but outside that, everything else, within a VERY broad remit is pretty much fair game.

This is in stark contrast to the way in which the ‘atheism plus’ people apparently think things should go, where one of them says that saying something that hurts someones feelings should be regarded in the same fashion as physical assault.

This is simply bullshit, and it is a damning indictment of everyone in that room that not one of them, not PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson or Jen McCreight actually stood up or questioned this proposition that would involve no less than the abolishment of the first amendment.

AtheismPlus, as defended by PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Jen McCreight and other is about as popular with their own base (freethinkers?) as venomfangxs arguments are with his audience!  A religious man would say ‘God is trying to tell you something there!’

Indeed the mere fact that even with their ‘home audience’ (secularists and rationalist?) they can only get a video rating comparable to that of venomfangx should be giving them a warning that a lot of people actually have issues with what they are saying.  I mean did they not think this through merely on personal-gain-logistical-grounds?  That if just one person finds their comments hurtful, then they will be prohibited from talking about it on freethoughtblogs and skepchick or get prosecuted for ‘assault’.

However, I’ve become increasingly of the opinion that these people are functionally incompetent, to the point where ‘being drummed out of such a community’ is not actually a punishment but a welcome and valuable gift.

My opinions of this were further backed up by checking out the google ‘web interest’ stats on this which show that I actually have a sizably bigger footprint that freethoughtblogs (both comfortably unique search terms).  Not bad seeing as I’m only one guy and pretty much only work on this half time!

So according to Google Insight, ‘Thunderf00t’ has about twice the web interest of Freethoughtblogs. I’m not a big player in the grand scheme of things.  -Freethoughtblogs CLEARLY make a disproportionate amount of noise for their size.

So yup, I figure I’m pretty much done with these hapless noise makers.

Done with those folks who think patronizing ad hominem/ ’emperors new clothes’ style arguments like “you just don’t ‘get it’ ” is some great cerebral, thoughtful and persuasive argument.

-I’m looking ahead and choosing life!! (que upbeat music)

I’m getting back to making videos that can appeal to everyone, not just some petty drama of just how incompetent certain fractions of the secular community are.

There are bigger fish to fry!

A+ (atheism plus), For A Third Glorious Age of Total Agreement

August 26, 2012

New Atheism” was built on the backs of heavyweights who had all written hard hitting best sellers. The social fabric was shaken by the approach of Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins and Dennet, appropriately dubbed no less than ‘the four horsemen’.

Now a series of bloggers, with conspicuously few achievements between all of them have decided that the community needs to be cleansed of subversive thought by expelling everyone who disagrees with them, and they are the ones to do it with a new movement called ‘Atheism Plus‘. The properties they most associate with folk like the horsemen are ‘old’ ‘white’ ‘male’ and ‘privileged’ (see below). Indeed a New Statesman article frequently quoted by the Freethoughtbloggers who started this, states quite clearly that:

“Atheism+ is a reaction against the “New Atheism” of Richard Dawkins”.

However they somehow manage to completely overlook the fact that the horsemen achieved their level of notoriety and recognition through ability and hard work, culminating in a series of best selling, ground shifting books: The God Delusion, God is NOT Great, Letter to a Christian Nation and Darwins Dangerous Idea to name but a FEW. The results of this can be seen when looking through the adword statistics where it actually turns out that Richard Dawkins alone is bigger than Atheism!

The Beatles may have been more popular than Jesus, but looks like Dawkins is now more popular than Atheism!

Dawkins, just so we are clear, has the prestigious academic title of Fellow of the Royal Society. That might not mean much to many, but it’s one of the higher awards given out by the Royal Society to people who made ‘ a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science”.
Seriously is there anything in the entirety of the ‘Atheism Plus’ movement that can even approach this level of accomplishment?

So the founders of ‘Atheism plus’ have decided that, despite their lack of any real achievement, that the real thing atheism needs right now is to throw the likes of the horsemen under the bus and to form a splinter movement (click, its sooo appropriate).  That’s right the ‘Atheism plus’ will be gloriously free of older white men, irrespective of their actual contributions or achievements.

Jennifer McCreight, the founder of ‘Atheism Plus’ says what she thinks about old white men. Oddly enough ability and achievement don’t seem to factor into this equation at all!

So what are the founding principals of ‘Atheism plus’?

We are…
Atheists plus we care about social justice,
Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
Atheists plus we protest racism,
Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

So ‘Atheism Plus’ gets off to this incredibly bad start where of their guiding principals, 2-4 are subsets of 1. Why that is becomes obvious when you see what’s bottom of the list of the ‘Atheism Plus’ manifesto. Bottom of the heap, no. 5 of 5 is ‘the use of critical thinking’. Yup critical thinking is bottom of the pile for ‘Atheism Plus’. I find it even more amusing as I am an atheist because of critical thinking (1. methodology, then 2. conclusion, y’know the logical way of doing it), whereas they start with the assertion that they are ‘Atheists Plus’, then later decide that critical thinking is a good thing. Conclusion before the methodology? very ass backwards!

Now enter the fray another Freethoughtblogger, held to be one of the more sane and rational FTBers (apparently), one ‘Richard Carrier’. Richard sets the standards high by asserting:

” And Greta Christina and others have taken up the banner: Atheism Plus: The New Wave of Atheism. I am fully on board. I will provide any intellectual artillery they need to expand this cause and make it successful.”

..and that would be all very fine and well if the rest of Carriers blog wasn’t so ridden with wildly over the top polarizing rhetoric of eradicating and purging dark evil impurities that threaten our purity of essence (as someone has noted, it sounds more like Mccarthyism and Ayn Rands hate child). Indeed, I can say without a hint of hyperbole or exaggeration that is more Third Reich like than ‘Third Wave of atheism’ like. Whats that? Godwins law I hear you say? Well judge for yourself! You really have see it to believe it…’s some highlights!

“Don’t assume that because someone else did that, that it’s covered and you can give it a miss. No, we need to show numbers. So speak out wherever you see these two sides at loggerheads, and voice your affiliation, so it’s clear how many of us there are, against them. And this very much is an us vs. them situation. The compassionate vs. the vile. You can’t sit on the fence on this one. In a free society, apathy is an endorsement of villainy.”


“Those who don’t, those who aren’t shamed by being exposed as liars or hypocrits, those who persist in being dishonest or inconsistent even when their dishonesty or inconsistency has been soundly proven, is not one of us, and is to be marginalized and kicked out, as not part of our movement, and not anyone we any longer wish to deal with.”

(yeah thats the way to win hearts and minds with your intellectual artillery!)


“I call everyone now to pick sides (not in comments here, but publicly, via Facebook or other social media): are you with us, or with them; are you now a part of the Atheism+ movement, or are you going to stick with Atheism Less? Then at least we’ll know who to work with. And who to avoid.”


Yes, it does. Atheism+ is our movement. We will not consider you a part of it, we will not work with you, we will not befriend you. We will heretofore denounce you as the irrational or immoral scum you are (if such you are). If you reject these values, then you are no longer one of us. And we will now say so, publicly and repeatedly. You are hereby disowned.

Yup, it’s real unashamedly divisive, brazenly polarizing totalitarian ‘you’re either with us or against us’ type stuff. But the really disturbing thing here is that if you do not entirely back ‘Atheism Plus’s dogmatically stated priorities, you are to be marginalized, excluded and attacked. To many of those who have escaped cults such as Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism this is the sort of viciously vindictive talk of retributional tactics that would likely give you flashbacks! It is this stated desire that people rather than ideas should be targeted that I find most disconcerting. OBEY OUR DOGMA OR BE DECRLARED A SUPRESSIVE PERSON! (you really should read this article, it is frighteningly similar to Carrier vision for ‘Atheism plus’).

But Carrier with his ‘intellectual artillery’ really doesn’t seemed to have thought this one through. So lets see, if American Atheists do not rename themselves ‘American Atheists Plus’, and identify themselves as ‘Atheists Plus’, Carrier will ‘know who to avoid’?
Well that’s an interesting proposition because it turns out that Richard Carrier and Greta Cristina are both scheduled to speak at the 2013 American Atheist convention in Houston.

Oh yes, it’s time for very red faces to take their list of world class achievements (/sarcasm) and ‘intellectual artillery’ and eat a very very VERY juicy slice of humble pie.

Given that American Atheists are NOT going to rename themselves as ‘American Atheist Plus’, or identify with this splinter group, this puts Richard Carrier and Greta Christian in a very difficult situation. Personally I think Carrier should write to David Silverman (a good guy!), the head of American Atheists in exactly the same terms he wrote to someone on his blog who said that they would remain, ‘just an atheist’

‘Atheism Plus’  should really stick with his guns here and tell these inferior ‘American Atheists’ what they think about them.

If they had any dignity or commitment to their ‘third glorious age’ of ‘Atheism Plus’, they would lead by example and write to David Silverman telling him that he, and his organization, is to be marginalized and excluded as there is no room for fence sitter in their new empire of pure ‘Atheism Plus’ and they will no longer be attending any conferences run by these mere inferior ‘atheists’. Indeed, personally I would encourage them to hold with their beliefs and splinter off with their pious, self-righteous, holier-than-thou ‘witch hunting’ sect.

But I’ll wager their commitment to ‘Atheism plus’, despite all their pompous rhetoric, is paper thin, and that we will not rid ourselves of these Mccarthyism type atheists so easily. I’ll wager the parasites will realize that without ‘New Atheism’, which let us not forget was born from the achievements of people with actual ability, y’know hard hitting heavyweights types, they cannot survive.  I expect that they will now start trying to weasel their way out of this by any and all means necessary as long as the conclusion is ‘no, it’s okay for ME to attend mere atheist conferences, its just everyone else who should shun and marginalize these mere inferior atheists’

I guess we will have our answer soon enough about Richard Carrier and Greta Christinas commitment to ‘Atheism Plus’ by whether they pull out of the American Atheist convention or not.