All entries by this author

What does “explicitly stated” mean?

Sep 19th, 2014 10:51 am | By

Today Dawkins is angry about an article in the New Statesman titled I was raped when I was drunk. I was 14. Do you believe me, Richard Dawkins?

He’s angry that the New Statesman didn’t call him. But after all, he did tweet last week, hours after Mark Oppenheimer’s article appeared,

“Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.”

And a later one:

Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

But as I pointed out, jailing wasn’t the issue.

But the odd thing here is that in his tweets about the New Statesman article … Read the rest

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United

Sep 19th, 2014 9:54 am | By

Scotland voted No on independence.

The prime minister wants to move fast to show that the three main UK party leaders will live up to their commitments made during the referendum campaign to deliver what the former prime minister Gordon Brown called home rule within the UK.

Ministers believe it is important to move quickly to avoid a repeat of the 1980 referendum in Québec. The triumphalist behaviour of Ontario fuelled the separatist cause that nearly succeeded in a second referendum in 1995.

So don’t rub it in their noses. Lots of affectionate hugs, no faces rubbed in the No vote. And no mean photoshops!… Read the rest

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Guest post: Quite a backlash

Sep 18th, 2014 5:35 pm | By

Guest post by Mary Ellen Foley. 

A threat to bomb the Game Developers’ Conference if Anita Sarkeesian gets an award there…threats to murder her and make it look like suicide because she’s a worse threat than terrorists to the country…and for what? For pointing out that it’s not good that video games exploit images of women’s bodies and of violence against women as scene dressing in the backgrounds of games? Really? A veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq says she’s worse than terrorists because she suggests that it might not be a good idea for game developers to show an animation of a man slitting the throat of an anonymous woman just to get the pulses of game players racing?… Read the rest

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Guest post: Everybody Is. Even You, Sam Harris

Sep 18th, 2014 5:15 pm | By

Guest post by Lady Mondegreen (aka Stacy).

It’s happened again. Feminists of the atheoskeptisphere have pointed out that one of our Famous Men said something sexist; the assertion has been met with intense defensiveness and downright rage. The defensiveness is understandable, but the rage baffled me until I realized that it comes, at least in part, from a profound misconception about what sexism is and how it works.

To start with, here’s a statement from a comment by Folie Deuce, on Ophelia’s post #EstrogenVibe

If everyone is sexist than nobody is sexist.

No. Category error.

The wrongness there can be understood by substituting a few other words for the word “sexism”:

If everyone is affected by cognitive biases, then nobody

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All those links

Sep 18th, 2014 4:52 pm | By

In another turn of the screw, Dawkins called Adam Lee a liar. So now I have to read Adam’s piece again to see if I can find anything that can possibly justify that announcement.

The atheist movement – a loosely-knit community of conference-goers, advocacy organizations, writers and activists – has been wracked by infighting the last few years over its persistent gender imbalance and the causes of it. Many female atheists have explained that they don’t get more involved because of the casual sexism endemic to the movement: parts of it see nothing problematic about hosting conferences with all-male speakers or having all-male leadership – and that’s before you get to the vitriolic and dangerous sexual harassment, online and

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The approach taken

Sep 18th, 2014 12:32 pm | By

Michael wants me to respond to his post without the sarcastic paraphrasing. Fair enough. I can at least try, although it’s a very long and winding post, which does make it difficult. This won’t be complete, therefore, but it will be something.

Item.

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and harmful in itself, because it routinely demonises decent people who support equality but who have a different approach to it.

That’s not a good shorthand. There are a lot of bloggers on this network, and many of them don’t write … Read the rest

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Not unlike thought police witch-hunter lynch mobs

Sep 18th, 2014 10:53 am | By

Adam Lee sums up the most recent outbreaks at Comment is Free.

He was, like me, a big fan of Dawkins. Now? Not so much.

Neither of us just plunged into this not so much state randomly or on a whim, nor did we do so as an exciting new way to draw attention to ourselves. It had to do with reasons, with things he said and did.

But over the last few months, Dawkins showed signs of détente with his feminist critics – even progress. He signed a joint letter with the writer Ophelia Benson, denouncing and rejecting harassment; he even apologized for the “Dear Muslima” letter. On stage at a conference in Oxford in August, Dawkins

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Guest post: A more complicated pissing on fire hydrants

Sep 17th, 2014 5:56 pm | By

Originally a comment by Brony on Thou shalt respect The Leaders.

Am I correct in remembering that Nugent was the one that tried to host the debate to heal the deep rifts earlier on? If so that matters.

On describing decency and demonization

So how does this,

I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas.

…relate to this,

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and

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Guest post: On Dawkins, hero worship, and doubling down

Sep 17th, 2014 4:55 pm | By

Guest post by Josh the SpokesGay

I’m pondering this and haven’t come to any firm conclusions, but I want to float it for conversation.

We’re seeing an enormous number of people (who we thought would know and do better) ignore the most awful behavior from Dawkins. Obviously, not just with him, mind. It’s sometimes staggering; it’s so surprising to see people one knows to be capable of independent thought and analysis turn so completely nasty and dishonest in their attempts to stop any suggestion that Dawkins might be wrong.

We know that people have heroes. We know that we, too, are subject to the same instinct to circle the wagons. But the degree to which Dawkins supporters are doing this … Read the rest

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We’re the thought police again

Sep 17th, 2014 12:34 pm | By

More managing disagreement ethically from Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins
The “Big Sister is Watching You” Thought Police hate @CHSommers’ Factual Feminism, and you can see why.

That’s ethical disagreement all right – calling feminists who don’t respect Christina Hoff Sommers ‘The “Big Sister is Watching You” Thought Police.’

What would the other kind look like?… Read the rest

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Thou shalt respect The Leaders

Sep 17th, 2014 9:07 am | By

Michael Nugent has decided to defend Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer from the violence and abuse of those evil Freethought bloggers. It’s not a very even-handed account of the situation, in my view.

Let me preface this post by saying that I accept that I might be mistaken in anything that I write, and that I am open to changing my mind on the basis of reasonable civil discussion. Also, I assume that I have done variations of at least some of the things I am complaining about others doing here.

I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with

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Got a brioche?

Sep 16th, 2014 6:36 pm | By

PZ has a terrific guest post by Marcus Ranum on the nasty undertones of the bullshit about “click bait.” I was going to quote from it when it was a comment, but when I got around to it it had graduated to being a post.

I automatically despise people who use the “clickbait” “to make money” argument. And here is why: it never seems to come from someone who is enduring economic hardship, and it implies that the person supposedly doing it is so desperate that they need the extra fractions of a cent they might get. If you’re a bestselling author and lecturer with an international stature with an estimated net worth of over $100 million, claiming that your

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Representing the totality

Sep 16th, 2014 4:32 pm | By

My friend Muhammad Syed, co-founder and ED of EXMNA, has an open letter to Yale Humanists and Muslim Students Association at Hemant’s blog.

As an activist and an ex-Muslim, I have witnessed many attempts to prevent direly-needed conversations by those threatened by the voices of others. I am saddened to see this trend continue — namely, the letter signed by several student organizations at Yale in order to prevent Ayaan Hirsi Ali from speaking at their university.

I believe the Yale Muslim Students Association should be ashamed of their attempt to silence Hirsi Ali, and the Yale Humanists should be ashamed for being complicit in the effort.

There is no doubt that Hirsi Ali has made comments that are often

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Guest post: And now they’re stuck

Sep 16th, 2014 3:43 pm | By

Originally a comment by =8)-DX on The cavalry has arrived.

I’m just going to try to give a really accommodating interpretation of the events:

James Randi, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins: all agree women are human beings and should be treated as such. But in their specific, biased, tribal, personal, ordinary, everyday, exploitative, non-sexist!, clearheaded, logical, rational, fun-loving, emotional situations a crack has appeared. This is the crack through which feminist thought, language, experience, evaluations seeps through.

And they don’t know what the fuck to do. They’re not equipped for it. Because in the past three years they decided to ignore the rising tide of feminist voices. That wasn’t important, that couldn’t happen, they didn’t do it. And … Read the rest

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Provoking outrage

Sep 16th, 2014 12:44 pm | By

I made another attempt to talk reason. I’m absurdly optimistic, aren’t I.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 13h
Can it be true, some bloggers are paid by the click, and consequently fake outrage, or play the bully, in order to attract clicks? Hope not.

2h
Answer to my question seems to be yes, and on-line newspapers may be worst offenders – deliberately touting for clicks by provoking outrage.

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson
.@RichardDawkins What about you, Richard? 2 million TGD sold, yes? Outrages many, yes? So…what is your point? You good we bad? That’s it?

@RichardDawkins Haven’t you been – often laudably – provoking outrage for years now? Why rebuke other provokers? Are you being consistent?

@RichardDawkins I heard you provoking outrage on

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Can it be true?

Sep 16th, 2014 11:01 am | By

So now Dawkins is going full-on sleaze, by talking like any random troll about bloggers “faking outrage” or “playing the bully” in order to make thousands of dollars per post.

Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins 11h
Can it be true, some bloggers are paid by the click, and consequently fake outrage, or play the bully, in order to attract clicks? Hope not.

I pointed out (in a tweet that I now can’t find, don’t ask me why) that he is paid per book, so should we assume he “fakes outrage” in his books in order to sell copies?

Updating, because I figured out why. (Forgot to hit “tweets & replies,” like a chump.)

Ophelia Benson @OpheliaBenson · 4h
@RichardDawkins Did you “fake

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The cavalry has arrived

Sep 15th, 2014 4:35 pm | By

Shoulder to shoulder the Thought Leaders stand, resisting the barbarian hordes of witch-hunting thought-police feministas.

Richard Dawkins @RichardDawkins · 17m
I wonder, is it best, @SamHarrisOrg, to just ignore the Outrage Junkies & Offence Junkies? Don’t feed their craving?
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/im-not-the-sexist-pig-youre-looking-for …

Sam Harris, witch of the week, talks sense as ever. Probably won’t satisfy the Thought Police. http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/im-not-the-sexist-pig-youre-looking-for …

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Steve Zara @sjzara · 14m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg I agree Richard, that it’s best to ignore. Engagement is seen by them as a victory.

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Daniel Sidnell @DanielSidnell · 14m
@RichardDawkins @SamHarrisOrg Indeed. Being “offended” makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. Loved Sam’s blog though.

Retweeted by Richard Dawkins
Jeremy Stangroom @PhilosophyExp ·

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More than one factor

Sep 15th, 2014 2:24 pm | By

A couple of more notes on Harris’s pig piece, for thoroughness, just because they’re nagging at me. I was short on time when I did the first post so I rushed it.

I am well aware that sexism and misogyny are problems in our society. However, they are not the only factors that explain differences in social status between men and women.

Nobody said they were. It was Harris who tried to answer the question about why so few women in your audiences as if innate differences were the only factors. It was Harris who gave the simplistic one-factor explanation, not the pesky PC feminists.

For instance, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. How much

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Not the sexist pig

Sep 15th, 2014 10:57 am | By

Sam Harris has posted his response to objections to his claims about women in atheism.

He doesn’t start well. The title is not propitious.

I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For

Not good. Why assume we’re “looking for” sexism? Why dismiss our objections from the outset by assuming that we wanted to find them, for some evil purpose? And then the pig part is outdated, and dismissive. He’ll be complaining about political correctness next.

Also? He illustrated it.

Sigh.

But onward. What did he say? He recaps what he said and then comments.

“I think it may have to do with my person[al] slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to

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Sowing strife

Sep 15th, 2014 10:11 am | By

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti doesn’t like Islamic State and al Qaeda. He thinks they’re just big ol’ heretic factional cultist splitter types.

But Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly a paradise of liberal tolerance itself, as you may have noticed.

The arch conservatives Abdulrahman al-Barrak and Nasser al-Omar, who has more than a million followers on Twitter, have accused Shi’ites of sowing “strife, corruption and destruction among Muslims”.

Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan was sacked as judiciary head in 2008 for saying owners of media that broadcast depravity have forsaken their faith, a crime punishable in Sharia law by death, but he remains a member of the kingdom’s top Muslim council.

Abdulaziz al-Fawzan, a professor of Islamic law and frequent guest on the popular

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