All entries by this author

Now the Royal Astronomical Society

Nov 22nd, 2014 9:53 am | By

The Royal Astronomical Society has also issued a statement on shirtstorm / shirtgate. (That’s what they call it, just as the AAS did.)

It’s not nearly as well worded as the AAS statement, but it’s still good to have. I doubt that Dawkins will be calling the RAS “pompous idiots” the way he called feminists he considers wrong “pompous idiots,” so the statement is good to have. It might conceivably cause Dawkins to reflect on the fact that some people he respects actually agree with the feminists he considers wrong (and pompous idiots).

Last week saw the successful landing of the Philae space probe on the surface of Comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This is a huge achievement for the European

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Yes, there should be rivalry in victimhood

Nov 21st, 2014 6:03 pm | By

Andreas Rekdal at NonProphet Status considers Dawkins’s revelation the other day that he is a passionate feminist.

Dawkins has been criticized by many, including fellow atheists, for trivializing Western women’s experiences of sexual harassment. According to Dawkins, his apparent insensitivity is really borne out of his deep commitment to feminism. And as a feminist, he believes we need to focus more on the threat of Islam to women everywhere:

I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial.

This statement casts doubt on the sincerity of

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

One million people sign up

Nov 21st, 2014 3:31 pm | By

Julia Burke at Skepchick considers the Silencing of Richard Dawkins.

From his twitter account alone, Dawkins has drawn fire over comments widely believed to be sexist, racist, Islamophobic, ableist, rape apologia, and downright douchey. This account had 1,060,435 followers as I wrote this. One million people sign up for his daily musings––and that’s after what he’s said so far.

So, not very silenced. Not very muzzled. He gets hostile responses, but with more than a million followers on Twitter it’s probably pretty easy to think of those as the ravings of a warped minority.

Dawkins has his own site and foundation, giving him a pedestal for longer-form discussion whenever he wants and

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

“Pompous idiots” is it?

Nov 21st, 2014 2:15 pm | By

Well all right then. Perfect. The American Astronomical Society issued a statement Wednesday (but dated it yesterday Thursday) on the matter of The Shirt.

I hope Richard Dawkins reads it attentively.

I hope Ayaan Hirsi Ali reads it.

I hope Christina Hoff Sommers reads it.

I hope Steven Pinker reads it. [link goes to Michael Shermer quoting Pinker at a talk]

I hope Russell Blackford reads it.

I hope all the sneerers and minimizers and harassers and attackers read it.

I don’t think anybody considers the American Astronomical Society an organization of “pompous idiots” (Dawkins) or “idiot women” (Hirsi Ali).

The following statement was issued on 19 November 2014 by the Executive Committee of the American Astronomical Society on

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Minimum allegation threshold

Nov 21st, 2014 12:22 pm | By

Where the Cosby discussion was just two months ago, in mid-September: the New Yorker did a long profile of him, and gave the allegations of rape this amount of attention at the end of the piece:

In the past decade, the tales of infidelity have been joined by much more serious allegations. At least four women, using their own names and telling similar stories, have accused Cosby of sexual assault. The accounts, made public in outlets that include the “Today” show and People, depict Cosby luring each woman to a private place, drugging her, and assaulting her. Cosby settled a lawsuit filed by one of the women, but he has never spoken of the allegations in public. (Earlier this

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

As more women come forward

Nov 21st, 2014 11:53 am | By

Bill Cosby is losing gigs now.

Additional Bill Cosby shows have been canceled as more women come forward alleging he sexually assaulted them many years ago.

Officials at the Treasure Island hotel-casino on the Las Vegas strip said they’ve mutually agreed with the comedian to pull the plug on his Nov. 28 performance.

Jenny Carpenter, the manager at Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois, confirmed that Cosby’s April appearances are canceled.

The moves come after the Diamond Desert casino in Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday scrapped his Feb. 15 gig. No reason was given.

He’s 77. That’s a lot of decades of getting away with it. His tv sitcom ran from from September 20, 1984 to April 30, 1992, eight full … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

If only you’d said it more sweetly

Nov 21st, 2014 10:53 am | By

Huh. Surprised again. Always being surprised. I saw a post by Hemant titled Why is Richard Dawkins Doubling Down on His Previous Statements? I thought it was a post about Dawkins’s previous statements and his new statements in which he says even worse things. I thought it was Hemant finally seeing the problem.

Silly me. Of course not. It turns out to be Hemant saying it’s our fault.

That wasn’t immediately apparent. It wasn’t apparent from this:

In an interview with reporter Kimberly Winston, Dawkins stood by the really frustrating and tone-deaf remarks he’s made over the past year on Twitter (and even before that, in other venues). It was pretty obvious from his remarks that none of the

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Created to defend Clarence Thomas against allegations of sexual harassment

Nov 20th, 2014 6:26 pm | By

So what’s this Independent Women’s Forum that Ayaan Hirsi Ali was talking to when she called us idiots? Let’s ask Wikipedia.

The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) is a politically conservative American non-profit organization focused on policy issues of concern to women.[6][7] The IWF was founded by activist Rosalie Silberman to promote a “conservative alternative to feminist tenets” following the controversial Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas in 1992.[8]

The group advocates “equity feminism,” a term first used by IWF author Christina Hoff Sommers to distinguish “traditional, classically liberal, humanistic feminism” from “gender feminism”, which she claims opposes gender roles as well as patriarchy.[9] According to Sommers, the gender feminist view is “the prevailing ideology among contemporary feminist philosophers and

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

“We must retake feminism from our fellow idiotic women”

Nov 20th, 2014 2:03 pm | By

They must have a Facebook group or a Google+ group or a mailing list or similar. They must be coordinating their moves. Now it’s Ayaan Hirsi Ali echoing Dawkins echoing Sommers echoing #GamerGate and on and on until they disappear into an infinite regress.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a harsh critic of Islam’s treatment of women, said Wednesday that modern American feminism is focused on “trivial bullshit” and needs to be reclaimed.

Speaking at the Independent Women’s Forum Women of Valor dinner, where she received an award for courage, Hirsi Ali reminded her audience of how far feminism has strayed from its original purpose.

“I want you to remember that once upon a time, feminists fought for the access — basic

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The public shaming is going a long way

Nov 20th, 2014 12:22 pm | By

Anderson Cooper did an excellent segment last night on the snowballing allegations of rape against Bill Cosby, and why he hasn’t been prosecuted, and why prosecution was difficult, and what that means for everyone else.

One of the women who has accused Bill Cosby of rape is Andrea Constand. Back in 2005, she came forward alleging the comedian drugged and groped her at his house.

Bill Cosby has not been charged in connection with any of the rape allegations made against him. Constand settled a lawsuit against Cosby.

Former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Prosecutor Bruce Castor made the decision not to charge Bill Cosby in that case.In a discussion that also included CNN Legal Analyst Sunny Hostin, Mr. Castor told Anderson

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

More women complaining

Nov 20th, 2014 10:45 am | By

I wonder how Richard Dawkins would see this – as an example of something he cares passionately about, or as an example of something women should just put up with because there are worse things?

From the Yemen Times:

“May God protect you and your family,” it begins. Perhaps not considered harassment to some, but to the women who experience it daily, the intent is obvious. “I want to know you.” “Good Morning.” “What nice eyes. “Nice body.” “Let’s have lunch together.” Yemeni women are used to hearing phrases like these the second they step away from their homes.

Some women have become accustomed to such harassment and see it as an inevitable but minor daily annoyance. For others,

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How to distribute holy saliva

Nov 20th, 2014 9:15 am | By

An extraordinary court ruling from Karnataka, India.

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday allowed continuation of “Made Snana” ritual in its traditional form at Kukke Subramanyaswami temple at Subramanya till the court decided constitutional validity of the ritual.

The court passed the interim order on a review petition filed by some of the employees of the temple questioning the modification of the ritual by the government.

The court also stayed its 2012 order in which it had given its consent to the modified form of the ritual as proposed by the government then and accepted by those who had questioned the ritual terming it as unconstitutional.

What is Made Snana? Wikipedia has a brief but still helpful explanation:… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

But it ain’t his movement

Nov 19th, 2014 5:56 pm | By

Damn, there are such good comments on PZ’s post on Dawkins on American women complaining about being groped at work that I have to share a few extracts.

CaitieCat @ 7

How can we make the Deep Rifts wide enough so we don’t have to constantly hear his whining drone note about how muzzled he is, carried in every major media source? He’s like a bagpipe made of living cats at this point – the last thing you want to do is squeeze him or poke him, because then he’ll start playing his only tune, the MRA anthem “Restrainin’ Men”, to the tune of “It’s Rainin’ Men”.

drewvogel @ 16

I don’t understand why feminism has to be this major

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

To use an external fear to silence criticism and efforts to correct inequities at home

Nov 19th, 2014 5:03 pm | By

Oh look, PZ got to the Dawkins interview before I did. I didn’t see it until now, so it didn’t influence what I wrote. Funny, we said the exact same thing about Dawkins’s claimed “passionate feminism.”

Richard Dawkins is a feminist like Christina Hoff Sommers, who he praises, is a feminist … that is not a feminist at all, scarcely understanding what feminism is, and detesting every feminist cause they encounter. Anti-feminists love Sommers and Dawkins because they create a lovely gray zone in which even misogynists get to claim nominal status as being all for equality, when they aren’t.

Dawkins and Sommers should form a partnership. Peter Boghossian could be their intern.

Also this, which I didn’t say:… Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How to rank?

Nov 19th, 2014 4:35 pm | By

So we’ve been remiss around here. We need to get organized. We need to have a good chart of all the things that are worse than other things, so that we can talk only about the worse things and never about the less worse things.

This might turn out to be a fairly tall order, but never mind, I’m sure if we pull our chairs all the way up to the desk, and comb our hair, and wipe the grease from our chins, we will be able to do it.

Let’s see. Labor. Labor issues. Here in the US there are jobs that are badly paid, and jobs that are hazardous, and jobs that are both. Jobs that are both … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Guest post: Nothing in the report makes sense

Nov 19th, 2014 3:18 pm | By

Originally a comment by A Masked Avenger on He was backing out of the driveway.

That has got to be the shittiest piece of journalism ever: nothing in the report makes sense, and apparently the reporter had not the slightest interest in asking questions, and passing the answers on to us.

First, why were the charges reduced, especially to the point that no jail time was involved? In Georgia, like the rest of the United States, lethal force is not justifiable in self-defense unless you have reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm, and a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent same. People pulling into your driveway, or knocking on your door, do not represent … Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Dawkins stands by everything he has said

Nov 19th, 2014 11:33 am | By

Kimberly Winston had a conversation with Richard Dawkins the other day. She notes that he declined to be interviewed about his Down syndrome and comparative rape remarks last summer, but now on a Bay Area tour to promote his memoir he agreed to talk to her.

Bottom line: He stands by everything he has said — including comments that one form of rape or pedophilia is “worse” than another, and that a drunken woman who is raped might be responsible for her fate.

Of course he does.

“I don’t take back anything that I’ve said,” Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. “I would not say it again, however, because

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

He was backing out of the driveway

Nov 19th, 2014 10:34 am | By

Another occasion for feeling ashamed of the United States. Such occasions are all too abundant.

In Georgia in January 2013 a guy called Rodrigo Diaz, age 23, went to pick up a friend to go rollerskating. He was using his car’s GPS and he accidentally turned into the driveway across the street from his friend’s house. The guy who lived in that house, the wrong house, came outside and shot him through the head.

The shooter plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh was in the courtroom as Philip Sailors plead to the misdemeanor charge for the January 2013 shooting in Lilburn.

Channel 2 Action News broke the news Friday about the plea deal which reduced a

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Is it 1900 yet?

Nov 18th, 2014 5:55 pm | By

Gosh, who turned on the time machine and threw us all back to 2008? Some genius came up with a poll on “the most influential non-believer” with a long long list to choose from, including some dead guys, and guess how many women.


Christopher Hitchens
Richard Dawkins
Sam Harris
Daniel Dennett
Steven Pinker
Victor Stenger
Richard Carrier
Lawrence Krauss
Michael Shermer
Peter Singer
Paul Kurtz
Steven Weinberg
Susan Blackmore
William Provine
Jennifer Hecht
EO Wilson
David Sloan Wilson
Barbara Forrest
Peter Atkins
Philip Pullman
PZ Myers
Ray Kurzweil
Stephen Hawking
Kai Nielsen
Penn Jillette
James Randi
Bill Maher
Ricky Gervais
Matt Dillahunty
Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist)
Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist)
Thunderf00t (YouTube Icon)
Aron Ra (YouTube Icon)

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Garden bench for sale

Nov 18th, 2014 3:26 pm | By

I went to see David Sedaris on stage last night. (Tonight he’s in Missoula, Montana.)

I laughed more than I expected to. I expected to laugh, but not as much (or as raucously) as I did.

There were a few minutes for questions at the end, and someone asked about his “Fitbit” – which now I understand because he wrote about it in the New Yorker last June. It’s like a pedometer but more so.

A few weeks later, I bought a Fitbit of my own, and discovered what she was talking about. Ten thousand steps, I learned, amounts to a little more than four miles for someone my size—five feet five inches. It sounds like a lot, but

Read the rest

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)