Posts Tagged ‘blog’

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…..here’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.”

and

“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!)

and

“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.”

and

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.

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Freethoughtblogs and PC Lyers

July 13, 2012

So PZ Myers is the man who gave me his personal assurances that Freethougthblogs really didn’t have any interest in controlling the content.

This was evidently a verbal assurance made in bad faith.

The rough time-line is one week before I was banned, PZ sent this to some mailing list Freethoughtblogs has:

Pretty much speak for itself!

Well that’s basically what I did, and what’s more I even told them on their mailing list.  Then ~1 week later, PZ kicks me.  Maybe he wasn’t joking about that ‘Except me. I’m perfect, don’t you dare say otherwise‘ bit, or maybe this was one of those ‘many a true word spoken in jest’ type things.  Indeed how quickly opinions can change when it’s him who is getting ‘ripped into’

There was no open consultation in this group about what anyone else thought of my ideas prior to my expulsion, giving this a very totalitarian ‘execution by fiat’ type feel.  Everyone else on the groups was told of my ‘expulsion’ AFTER it happened, I mean hell, they wouldn’t have wanted an actual discussion or to give anyone the possibility to dissent about what is permissible ‘freethought’ on ‘freethoughtblogs’ now would they!

Now I really didn’t care about offending these people at this point as on their mailing list I had already been accused of being a ‘rape culture apologist’ (FFS, I don’t think I’ve even touched on the subject), guilty of ablism, devaluing addicts, an not being careful between challenging islam and outright racism.  All of this based on NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER (well that’s unless you are happy to count rumors as evidence).

Heard a rumor? Not a problem on FTB where rumor are fact until proven otherwise. Napoleonic Justice reigns, Guilty till proven innocent!

To be honest, I was hoping that there would be a higher standard of conduct than that, but the chatter made it clear that FTB really was somewhere between a bitching slimepit, and StrawmanCentral.  It was also plain to me from just watching the chatter on this mailing list that there was a significant amount of bullying of weaker members/ opposing viewpoint.  If this was an academic environment I would have called bullshit on them in an instant, however by this time it was clear the standard of people that I was dealing and that as a group they were essentially a lost cause.  I was happy to write a blog there, but I certainly wasn’t going to waste my time ingratiating myself with such people.

Incidentally FTB claims that it can deliver ~150 k ad impressions per day, which could mean as little as ~15k hits per day (~10 ads per page).  I was pulling in ~ 10-15k hits per day on my blog until I was blocked. FTB never paid me a penny **EDIT Ed Brayton contests this point, see comment below** (again something that PZ said they would), but to be honest I have little interest in such things.  Integrity is MUCH more important than money on such issues.

So I blogged about something which, I thought they were way off base on, namely the disproportionate amount of time they gave sexism compared to other subjects, and the way they attacked, strawmanned and demonized people who bought up sensible concerns.

I had expected that PZ Myers (an university lecturer) would at least keep his word on the academic integrity thing, but to be honest, after about the 3rd day after posting my second article, it was clear that wasn’t worth spit.  When a man is willing to jettison the value of his word so readily, I was under no illusions ‘ If you see something you don’t like, rip into it. ‘ in reality meant that you should only rip into it as long as PZ thought it was okay.

However, I was not going to be bullied into submission by a bunch of second raters, and so despite a series of threats, and Ed Brayton making it clear that if I felt PZ hadn’t kept his word I was free to leave ‘and not let the door hit your ass on the way out’, and that ‘no one would miss me’.  That’s right, the fact that PZ was lying to people faces to get people into the blog really didn’t phase anyone at freethoughtblogs at all!  Nor did such explicit threats on the mailing list seem to phase anyone else (no one stepped forward to question such action), which I think shows that bullying is just so widespread on FTB that it is just the socially accepted norm (that’s unless like me, any of the competent people there simply regarded FTB as a lost cause, or at least a cause not worth fighting for, and just got on with their own thing).

Y’see this is the slippery slope of becoming intolerant to criticism, eventually it will consume you to the point where you cannot take any criticism…. where you become intellectually soft and are happy to strawman people en mass for simplicity, then ban them when they call you on your bulk strawmanning!

Strawmanning: it’s easier than addressing the actual arguments.
Banhammering: a great way of getting rid of those who call you on your strawmanning!

Anyways, it turns out the ‘cover story‘ for PC Myers banning me was that I made an argument that existed nowhere outside of his head.

Look, I wanted to present a ‘first inspection’ case with some real data, that FTB really wasn’t representative of the wider community that I had experienced.  To me it was obvious that the community I was aware of at conferences, and on youtube was widely different from FTB on the issue of feminism.  People like Rebecca ‘Rape Threat’ Watson were widely regarded at conferences as a toxic asset (no matter if she had been an asset previously) who left a bad taste in the mouths of most people.  This is certainly true on youtube, where ZOMGitscriss can put up a video with her in, and her ratings go from something along the lines of 95 % positive to something along the lines of Venomfangx.

Association with the likes of Freethoughblogs or Skepchick is about as toxic to a videos reception as some of VFXs less savory opinions.

Unremarkable claims require unremarkable evidence, and so I did what was sensible, I simply put up a spoken word version of my blog, and PZs reply (who views really are seen as vanilla on freethoughtblogs) and asked people who watched to the end who they thought was nearer the mark, my views or the views that could pass as the plurality on freethoughtblogs.  Sure there will be some bias in the data, but not enough to nullify the point that FTB are widely seen as off base on this point.  I mean it could be easily examined.  PZ could read both my post, and his reply on his YT channel and see what the voting would be like, I would guess that he might make 60:40 in his favor (not far off his post-hoc justification for banning me video).  But of course, PZ was mostly interested in challenging the methods, rather than the conclusion.  Personally I think this is an unremarkable claim, and as such requires unremarkable data, which it has is scads!

Anyways, that’s pretty much my experience of the slimepit of ‘Freethoughblogs’ the PC Lyars.  It’s not the whole story yet though.  It turns out that freethoughtblogs are not only happy to ban people as a typical creationist would (for something that they never actually said), but are perfectly happy to actively support the abuse of copyright specifically used to stifle active debate.   More on that later.