Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Hello sailor

Jul 11th, 2012 5:11 pm | By

Brilliant. The Washington Monthly does a big ol’ serious thinky article on Y No Wimmin at policy events, forums, and conferences around DC, and before people can even get to the serious thinky words they get an eyefull of a pouty babe with big tits in a tank top.

The comments below the article are mostly pretty annoyed.

H/t Katha Pollitt

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

Farida broke all barriers

Jul 11th, 2012 3:52 pm | By

How miserably sad and depressing. Farida Afridi, an activist for tribal women in Pakistan, was murdered today. (You know how. You don’t even need to look. Leaving home for work. Guys on motorcycles. Guns. Died on the way to the hospital.)

Along with her sister Noor Zia, Farida was committed to social change and economic emancipation for women from the platform of a welfare organisation called the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA). Both women were among the founding members of the NGO and had a Masters degree in Gender Studies.

Due to tribal customs and traditions, women in the area remain mostly restricted and unable to achieve their true potential, but Farida broke all barriers and relentlessly worked for women’s development. “We have lost a great member of our team,” said Lal Jan, the technical advisor of the organisation.

The sisters faced tough resistance when they told their family about the path they had chosen for themselves. “We told our parents that we would work in accordance with our religious and cultural traditions, assuring them that we would never let the family honour suffer because of our line of work. Finally, they agreed,” Noor had said.

Syed Afzal Shinwari, project coordinator in Community Appraisal and Motivation Program (CAMP), said that SAWERA started small but is now an influential organisation. “Because of this brutal act, women in Fata will be discouraged to work and development will come to a halt,” he said.

You can go back and read an optimistic article about them from last September.

If it weren’t for the support of their father and the persistence of their mother, Farida Afridi and Noor Zia Afridi would not be able to read a single word of this article. But today, the two are not only final year students of MSc in Gender studies and holders of MBA degrees, but are also determined champions of women’s education and empowerment.

Farida and Noor’s long struggle against discriminatory tribal customs started when they were school children. “After we completed our primary education, our male family members wanted us to stop going to school,” says Farida. But the girls’ parents were adamant that they would continue their education.

Since then, equal status for women and children’s rights have been issues close to their hearts. It was to win these rights that the two established the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA) in the Jamrud subdivision of Khyber Agency in December 2008.

And this is their reward.


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

Practicing being more assertive

Jul 11th, 2012 11:01 am | By

I’ve been wondering what Richard Dawkins thinks of Paula Kirby’s salvo against the Sisterhood of the Oppressed and the Approved Male Chorus. I expect a lot of people have, seeing as how she’s the executive director of RDF-UK. I’m sure we’ll never know, in the sense of being told in so many words. But possibly there are hints…he did a tweet today quoting and endorsing praise of Paula’s Washington Post blog post from last year, Religion lies about women. I RTd it with a “Ditto.” I liked (and posted about, and wished I’d written) that article last year, and I still do.

But I don’t see any RTs of the salvo against the Sisterhood of the Oppressed. That’s possibly a hint. Or it’s possibly just discretion and a disinclination to spit in the faces of friends and allies, such as the people who run CFI and the people who were speakers at the conference and attended the conference. But then…if it’s that, it is in fact a tacit opinion of Paula’s salvo, because Paula’s salvo conspicuously spits in the faces of all those friends and allies. Consider some of them – Margaret Downey, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Wafa Sultan, Susan Jacoby, Jennifer Michael Hecht…You can see how Richard wouldn’t want to insult them by calling them the Sisterhood of the Oppressed, or his many friends and allies at CFI who organized and hosted the conference by jeering at the whole idea.

Anyway, that article. Take a passage from the article -

In the eyes of the Abrahamic religions, the archetypal woman is Eve: disobedient, unreliable, easily led astray, and a seductive temptress of man – man being more noble, yet easy prey to the wiles and seductions of his weaker mate. Woman is the source of danger, the one who corrupts him, the conduit for all that is evil in the world. She is dangerous … yet irresistible; and this very irresistibility makes her more dangerous still. But you will notice that the dangers of sexual temptation are not to be faced equally by men and women: no, religion demands that it is the woman who bears the burden. Solomon, we are told, had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and David had a more modest yet still energy-sapping five wives and 10 concubines, yet neither of these has become a by-word for male insatiability. Jezebel, on the other hand, has become synonymous with sexual excess, despite this not being among the vices attributed to her in the bible story.

Indeed. And? What about it? Why criticize it? Aren’t we supposed to ignore all that and just focus on being strong and determined ourselves? From the salvo:

I did a sociology module as part of my degree many years ago: I know the arguments about socialization and normative values, and structural discrimination and all that malarkey. All I can say in response is that, while all these things may be true to a greater or lesser extent, banging on about them does not even begin to help women achieve their goals. If we, as women, externalize the reasons why we are not being heard as much as we say we’d like to be, and seek to put the blame on other people, nothing is going to change or, at the very best, it is only going to change painfully slowly. It is a simple fact of life that it is always easier to change our own behaviour than to persuade other people to change theirs.

So why bang on about religion? Why bang on about the Abrahamic religions and their view of the archetypal woman? If it does not even begin to help women achieve their goals, as Paula claims, then why did she trouble to write that article?

So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.

You could re-write that last sentence to say “To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or Abrahamic religions or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.” Why would the added item to stop blaming it on be out of place? It seems to me to fit perfectly well. If Paula thought then that it was worth saying how religion described women and what it told them to do, why does she now think it’s a big mistake to say that? I would seriously like to know.

In truth I have a very hard time even understanding the thinking in that passage. The idea that social and cultural factors just don’t matter, or that even if they matter it’s much better to ignore them and simply push harder – I can’t think my way into it. It seems like thinking breathing doesn’t matter. We live in the world, we’re embedded in the world, everything we have and do and think about is part of the world. We can’t just detach from it and do everything in glorious isolation.

I’m practicing being more assertive when I say that.


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

The Louis CK of Indonesia

Jul 11th, 2012 9:59 am | By

Boy, the chief justice of the Indonesian Supreme Court has a weird sense of humor. He told Angela Merkel (who is in Indonesia on a visit) that the Indonesian constitution guarantees the rights of atheists. Orilly? How does he explain Alexander Aan then?

Supreme Court chief Mahfud MD is telling the vesting German chancellor that the Indonesian Constitution gives people the freedom to be atheist or communists.

Mahfud was answering Chancellor Angela Merkel’s question about the freedom of religion and democracy in Indonesia during a visit to the Supreme Court on Tuesday evening.

“Since its inception, the Supreme Court has guaranteed the freedom of atheists and communists in this country, as long as they do not disturb the freedom of people of other religions. Freedom is equality.” Mahfud said.

Something seems to have gone wrong then, because Alexander Aan is in prison, serving a two year sentence for saying God doesn’t exist on Facebook. 


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

This is not that

Jul 11th, 2012 8:57 am | By

On that Popehat post All This Talk of Harassment Is Harassing Me! - a comment that helps to explain the basic confusion. Author, Robert White.

Sounds to me like this “free Thought” movement is having what I call “the Libertarian problem”.

As a movement, I have found, Libertarianism is a thin rich chocolate shell of progressive idealists hiding a meaty, inconsistent nougat of biggoted ass-hats looking for a system of thought that can keep the faggots, darkies, spics and freeloading liberals out of their lives. Both outer shell and inner douchebag (again, talking libertarian here) unable or unwilling to take their propositions all the way to their logical conclusions…

Ohhhhhh – they* think “freethought”=libertarian. Nooooooo. No no no no no. All wrong. Freethought is a child of the Enlightenment. Libertarianism is a child of Ayn Rand and Hollywood. Freethought is liberal (in the classical sense), progressive, egalitarian. Libertarianism is liberal (in the classical sense) but not progressive or egalitarian.


*By “they” I mean the trolls who’ve been trolling Freethought blogs since the day of its birth.

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

Other way around

Jul 10th, 2012 5:00 pm | By

Revisiting an old grudge for a moment – you may remember that Orac jumped on me very hard for an analogy about [people complaining about oppression and thus making things worse by scaring people who are subject to the same oppression]. The analogy I used was Jews in Germany in 1936. Orac is a self-appointed cop of (apparently) any kind of Nazi analogy. He said so himself.

As you might (or might not) know, I very much detest the gratuitous use of argumentum ad Nazi-um. I even have a special category for it on my blog.

I was annoyed by the bossy tone and the timing*, but on consideration I decided he had a point, so I withdrew the analogy. There was a brief unproductive email exchange, in which he insisted on talking to me as if he were my boss and I were a janitor found asleep in his desk chair, so I abandoned it.

But then Paula Kirby called me and other women Feminazis (and other things) on Twitter and in her famous open letter. Lots of people wondered aloud when Orac would pounce on Paula Kirby as hard as he’d pounced on me.

I didn’t realize until just now that he’d specifically answered that question, and that the answer was never.


July 3, 7:03 am

OT but speaking of Hitler zombies, Paula Kirby has claimed that feminist bloggers are simultaneously Nazis and Stasi for denouncing sexism.

Baron Scarpia

July 3, 7:23 am

Actually Kirby didn’t. She called certain people Feminazis and at the same time made it very clear that she did not mean they were Nazis- she said this explicitly (She compares the term to ‘Grammar Nazis’). Given that intent is not magical, you may still think that it carries the connotation that such people are Nazis, which would indicate a failure of communication on her part. (Frankly I do not think she should have used the term at all, because I do not see how you can separate the two terms in the minds of the public)

What you can’t do is say that she called Myers, Watson, Benson et al Nazis, because she didn’t.

I won’t touch the ‘sexism’ part of the comment, there have been enough strawmen in the debate already…


July 3, 8:06 am

Please, people. I really don’t want that argument metastasizing to my comment threads. I’ve already been burned badly enough by it, and I admit my massive error for every having said anything in the first place. These days, I’d rather deal with a torrent of Thingy comments than for a comment thread on my blog to become dominated by this kerfuffle.

He’s been burned badly by it. I have the lying liars who used to hang out at ERV running around claiming that I believe there’s something called “parallel logic” when that’s their invention** pitching fits about it – and he’s been burned by it. No he hasn’t. I have, he hasn’t. And Paula Kirby actually made the real life gratuitous use of argumentum ad Nazi-um, when I didn’t – but he nailed me and left her alone.

He’s a jerk.

*Shortly before TAM and during the spreading fuss over DJ Grothe’s blame-the-women move.

**Corrected. I’d tried to find where I said anything about parallel logic and failed, but ever-attentive “Scented Nectar” rushed to point out exactly where I said it. She’s a scholar in the subject.

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

Knowing you can

Jul 10th, 2012 2:24 pm | By

I’ve just thought of something – well, a few minutes ago, while walking up the street.

Remember the opening of The God Delusion? “I didn’t know I could”? Remember the way the argument turns on that idea – not knowing you can get out, and consciousness raising as the first step to getting out?

Well that’s feminism, you know. Knowing you can. That’s where consciousness raising came from, remember?

The two rebellions have a great deal in common, you know. Both rebel against the principle of male authority and arbitrary hierarchy. Both are about humans standing up straight instead of squirming on the ground. Both are fundamentally about a break with monarchy.

So it’s odd that a segment of the atheist movement (though not the biggest segment) is so hostile to feminism. Big gods, little gods, it’s all the same shit. No kings, no priests. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

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

Suck up the pain of unjust suffering

Jul 10th, 2012 12:25 pm | By

You know how Dan Savage likes to say that conservative Christians should ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality just as they ignore what the Bible says about slavery? Peter Montgomery at Religion Dispatches points out that actually they don’t always ignore what the Bible says about slavery. Sometimes they use it to tell the workers to submit. Ralph Reed, in 1990:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

Does that remind you of anything? It reminds me of anything.


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

Here’s something for skeptics to debate

Jul 10th, 2012 9:53 am | By

What’s wrong with torturing animals for fun? Why not, after all?

Nothing should be off the table when skeptics get together for a chin-wag, right? So recreational animal torture should be on the table. It shouldn’t be a given that that’s not ok, just the way “treat people as equals” shouldn’t be a given, because skepticism. Right? We can’t just assume that torturing animals for shits&giggles is a crap idea; we have to demonstrate that it is, with evidence.

Why, for instance, is there anything wrong with the fact that someone encased a live kitten in concrete up to the front legs on the property of FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) patriarch Isaac Wyler? Why is it stomach-turning to read that a sheriff’s officer laughed about it?

I hate to do this, because it freaks me out and I know it will freak others out, but I’m going to include the picture. Be warned: it’s painful to look at.  I took the picture down, by request. It’s on the post linked just above. It’s worth having it on the record, because it conveys the horribleness required to carry out the act – but that certainly doesn’t mean everyone has to look at it.


The kitten died soon after being rescued.

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

The unapproved chorus

Jul 9th, 2012 4:58 pm | By

Jadehawk does a great fisking of Paula Kirby’s recent declaration of war. I’ve been half-wanting to address the substance but half not wanting to, because there is such a thing as boredom and too much of one subject and let’s move on already. But now Jadehawk has done a thorough one, so that’s that off my mind.

(What I would have said, if I’d said it, is that the whole idea that the answer to systemic injustice is to redouble one’s own efforts is just fatuous, and also strikingly illiberal. Why should anyone have to redouble her efforts in order to overcome systemic injustice? What the hell is wrong with trying to get rid of the systemic injustice? Why should people just put up with it and accept that they have to work four times as hard as luckier people just to get to the same place? Or as Jadehawk put it, “Where in the goddamn universe has being silent about systemic oppression and telling people to instead fix themselves ever worked?”)

One thing Paula said I will comment on now though.

So there is an alternative, and it is this alternative that I would urge women to seize with both hands – whether we’re talking about how we interact in our jobs, in our social lives or in the atheist movement. And that alternative is to take responsibility for ourselves and our own success. To view ourselves as mature, capable adults who can take things in our stride, and can speak up appropriately. To really start believing that we can do whatever men can do. To stop seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, stop blaming it on men or hierarchies or misogyny or, silliest of all, “privilege”, and start simply practising being more assertive.

Hey you know what? I’m not seizing on excuses for staying quiet and submissive, and I’m not staying quiet and submissive, either. Isn’t that why Paula is so furious at me? Because I didn’t stay quiet and submissive? Because I said DJ shouldn’t have blamed women who talk about harassment for the decline in women registering for TAM? The quiet and submissive thing to do would have been to say nothing, and decide to do my TAM talk on…I never could figure out what, frankly. That was one reason the whole thing was such a clusterfuck – what exactly did DJ want me to talk about? I had no clue. Clearly nothing related to women in secularism – and he was on record as not wanting atheism to be on the menu – so what, then? Why did he invite me in the first place? Again: no clue.

But anyway: quiet and submissive would have been to say nothing, but instead I said something. Rebecca hasn’t been very quiet and submissive either, and again, isn’t that why Paula is so furious with her? I’m already assertive. I assert all over the place every day. I don’t need practice. I don’t “seize on excuses” – I talk about sexist epithets and harassment and bullying because I think they’re bad harmful things, not because I’m looking for “excuses.”

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

We need educated feeling

Jul 9th, 2012 3:35 pm | By

My copies of Thinking towards humanity: themes from Norman Geras arrived a couple of hours ago. (It took me about half an hour to open the package – you’d think it was plumbing or a box of plutionium, the way it was wrapped up. It was soldered, welded, wrapped around with chains – it was hard to open.) I get copies because I’m a contributor, as are David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Michael Walzer, Damien Counsell, Shalom Lappin and other swell people.

My piece is about morality and caring, and blogging. It’s about blogging as a good and useful new genre, and how at its best (exemplified by Norm Geras, for one) it can help educate the feelings in a way that’s good for human rights. Because the piece is about morality and caring, it’s relevant to this point about basic commitments that I made earlier. I’ll share the first couple of paragraphs.

Hume famously observed that it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of his finger. He wasn’t expressing a whimsically inflated sense of his own importance, but pointing out that logic doesn’t determine how we weigh the world versus our finger. We have to love the world in order to be able to weigh it properly. Looking it up in a table of weights and measures won’t do the job – we could see the arithmetic and still shrug and say yes but it’s my finger, the world is none of mine and I don’t care. We have to care in order to make choices properly – to make them in such a way that we don’t place our own petty desires above everyone else’s deepest needs. (We have been learning lately, if we didn’t already know, that bankers and investment wizards could use some intensive training in this.) Morality is rooted in feeling, Hume told us, and researchers such as Antonio Damasio and Jonathan Haidt have been elaborating on the idea recently.

To be moral we need feeling, we need the right kind of feeling, we need educated feeling – we need to do what Martha Nussbaum called ‘cultivating humanity.’ It is arguable (and many people have argued) that the education of the feelings, and in particular sympathy, is one thing that literature and story-telling can do better than anything else. Numbers, by themselves, don’t tell us enough; ‘100,000 women raped and killed’ has less force than a pain in our own finger; but a story about one woman raped and killed can turn us inside out. In a world where ‘100,000 women raped and killed’ is no invented paradigm but a brute fact, along with row upon row of similar facts, clearly anything that can help to cultivate sympathy and empathy is of the highest value.

And skepticism is, frankly, not particularly relevant; not for this particular kind of work. Skepticism can often be the very opposite of relevant or helpful. Skepticism about someone else’s misery is often not helpful. Sometimes it is; sometimes it does help to say “you’re over-reacting” or “you misunderstood” or “let’s go out and get drunk and you’ll feel much better” or “the problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” But often it’s not, and approaching the whole thing as a matter of logic or facts or evidence is about as helpful as cutting someone’s hand off to distract her from a headache.

And saying that is not a rejection of skepticism, or a crime against it. You could chalk it up as skepticism about skepticism, if you like – skepticism that skepticism is the right tool or attitude for everything. Why would it be? If you find a small child alone and crying in a shopping mall, you don’t summon up your skepticism, you do whatever you can to help.

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

How something can be a given

Jul 9th, 2012 11:06 am | By

So Leeds Skeptics in the Pub has uninvited Steve Moxon. Now they’re discussing the matter. There’s one crux that I think is interesting, and I think more clarity on it would help a lot of people who are disputing about it. It’s a crux we’ve discussed here at FTB, too, especially in last week’s hangout.

This is the crux:

Amy: There are some things that should be a given in any skeptical society, and the equality of its members in terms of gender, sexuality, race etc should be one of those things. Having Moxon speak just gives credibility to the idea that his wacky, bigoted views on women are worthy of debate.

Norman: Not sure how anything can be a ‘given’ in a skeptical society? Surely the point of a skeptical society is that all view points are subjected to a rigorous process of critical analysis, regardless of whether it agrees with our world view or not. One could argue that it is the very ‘givens’ of our own world views that require even more in depth challenging.

Here’s one way something can be a ‘given’ in a skeptical society: you can make a distinction between a view point, or, better, a truth claim, on the one hand, and a moral or political commitment on the other.

It’s perfectly possible for a skeptical society to have a basic commitment to equality, in fact one would rather hope that any skeptical society would have such a commitment, if only so that skepticism won’t be some kind of preserve for the people on top. That’s what Amy was talking about, and it needn’t be or imply dogmatism. It’s an ethical commitment, not an empirical claim. Ethical skepticism isn’t identical to empirical skepticism. It’s helpful to keep those distinctions in mind.

There are some ethical commitments that you don’t really want people challenging except in a philosophy seminar. “When you come right down to  it, shouldn’t I just be grabbing whatever I can and the hell with everyone else?” “If you think about it, what’s the problem with beating people up whenever you get pissed off?” “All this bullshit about treating people as equals is just PC-Nazism and I say the hell with it.”

We’re allowed to have ethical commitments. We should have ethical commitments. Having ethical commitments is compatible with skepticism.

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

One way to think of the children

Jul 8th, 2012 5:00 pm | By

Taslima and I have been thinking along the same lines today.


Not only no thinking. Worse than that. No thinking because no challenging of beliefs. Thus no learning, no changing of mind, no change, no progress, no education.

The Texas Republican party has come out in favor of stagnation and ignorance and dogmatic, fixed beliefs.


If we want to make the world a better place, we have to stop the system that forces our children to read the books of barbarism and lies and believe everything without asking questions. If we do not inspire our children to study science and have a thinking mind, we will see the crowds of ignorant people everywhere. If we do not encourage our children to study secularism and humanism, we will not be able to stop fanaticism, caste-ism,racism, sectarianism.


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

Lone star state v thinking

Jul 8th, 2012 2:51 pm | By

No thinking please we’re Texas, says the Republican Party of Texas. It says it in its party platform.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

Not only no thinking. Worse than that. No thinking because no challenging of beliefs. Thus no learning, no changing of mind, no change, no progress, no education.

The Texas Republican party has come out in favor of stagnation and ignorance and dogmatic, fixed beliefs.

Boy, there’s a program. Less curiosity and progress and cumulative knowledge, more disease and crop failure and technological backwardness. Booya!

No worries, some farmer will find some kind of valuable grease or jewel or medicine under the pasture and Texas will have another boom like the oil boom. God will see to it…provided nobody ever thinks.

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

How can we trust any of the claims enough to debate them?

Jul 8th, 2012 9:37 am | By

Stephanie Zvan made a crucial point yesterday about inviting a certain kind of (contrarian or “controversial” or anti-consensus) speaker to give a talk. She started from something LeftSidePositive said in a previous comment.

(or indeed if the audience should be expected to have the tools to critique it thoroughly if it is not in their field)

QFT. If you have a speaker who is willing to misrepresent the conclusions of a paper, how does an audience who’ve never seen the paper properly question the speaker?

Charlotte and Amy amplified the point today on the Leeds SITP Facebook page. In response to a suggestion that

The only way SITP can come out on top is if the members take him to task; it’s recorded and publicised in order to counteracts any publicity claims he makes himself.  It needs to be clear that this is an exercise in critical analysis and the application of skepticism and not a sounding-off platform.

Charlotte objected

But when he’s so badly misinterpreted his references, how can we trust any of the claims he makes enough to debate them? We’d have to do extensive homework for this and read most of the things he references in his book, and I don’t honestly have the time to do more on this.

You know what that’s exactly like? David Irving. That’s what Irving did, except that he didn’t misinterpret, he outright falsified. A judge has ruled that, so I can say it without fear of being sued for libel. A judge ruled it because a historian did the hard work of checking Irving’s references – thousands of them – and finding systematic falsification. That happened only because Irving was stupid enough to sue Deborah Lipstadt for libel for saying he did the very thing he ended up being shown to have done. That happened only because Penguin defended the case and could afford to pay the historian Richard Evans and two grad students to do the time-consuming work.

All skeptics should read chapter 2 of Evans’s book on the trial and his investigation, Lying About Hitler. It’s all about this crucial epistemic issue of the difficulty of demonstrating misinterpretation and/or falsification.

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

Another illustration of how privileged women are

Jul 8th, 2012 8:48 am | By

And how they dominate and exploit men.

A man Afghan officials say is a member of the Taliban shot dead a woman accused of adultery in front of a crowd near Kabul, a video obtained by Reuters showed…

In the three-minute video, a turban-clad man approaches a woman kneeling in the dirt and shoots her five times at close range with an automatic rifle, to cheers of jubilation from the 150 or so men watching in a village in Parwan province.

“Allah warns us not to get close to adultery because it’s the wrong way,” another man says as the shooter gets closer to the woman. “It is the order of Allah that she be executed.”

Actually it turns out it wasn’t quite like that. Allah appears not to have ordered anything with this one.

 [Provincial Governor Basir] Salangi said two Taliban commanders were sexually involved with the woman in Parwan, either through rape or romantically, and decided to torture her and then kill her to settle a dispute between the two of them.

Because the bitch was dominating and exploiting both of them. The bitch.


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

When Steve met Tom

Jul 7th, 2012 5:24 pm | By

It was at a UCL debate on the question: Is Feminism Sexist and does the MRM even exist?

They went to dinner together. Isn’t that convivial? They totally know each other. More surprising, they’re not the same person. They sure sound like the same person.

The debate ran as I would have expected and there were no surprises. Tom Martin gave a good account of himself; Steve Moxon attempted the impossible and tried to explain the complexity of evolutionary psychology in under 1 minute (please read his book); there were a number of “can’t we all just get along?” types; a couple of male-feminists who were disappointed in the comments from men (hell, let’s be more honest; they were disappointed in being born male); lots of emotion from a couple of women about how discussing false rape meant that genuine rape was being trivialised; and the good, old fashioned man-hating types embodied by the substantial Estelle Hart.

The debate came and went and then it was off to a restaurant for further discussion for myself, Tom Martin, Steve Moxon, and a few other guys who shall remain nameless…

And then he goes into why he hated all the other guys, but that’s not relevant. (Deep rifts!)

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

Drilling down through all the layers

Jul 7th, 2012 4:42 pm | By

More Steve Moxon.

The Guardian’s Northern Blog on why even UKIP didn’t want him.

Moxon’s opinions have now cost him his place as UKIP’s candidate in Sheffield‘s local elections, where he is standing for the Dore and Totley ward, a Liberal Democrat stronghold in Nick Clegg’s constituency. The party has dropped him after attention was drawn to a post he wrote on his blog last August which endorsed the reasoning in the testament of the Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik.

He wrote, inter alia:

That pretty well everyone – myself not excluded – recoiled at his actions, does not belie the accuracy of Breivik’s research and analysis in his ‘manifesto’, which is in line with most scholarship in respect of both Political Correctness and Islam.

It is clear that the mass of ordinary people are considered with utter contempt by the government-media-education uber-class across the Western world; this as the result of ‘cultural Marxism’. So we are, in effect, ‘at war’ within our societies over PC, as Breivik claims.

It’s nice that he first stipulates that he doesn’t actually approve of machine-gunning teenagers to make a point.

Then there’s the Sheffield SITP Facebook page. There’s a long discussion on May 16 with many contributions by Moxon, and this observation by someone else -

I have been approached multiple times by people, particularly women who find Steve’s views so consistently repellant that they feel excluded from contributing to this group, or even from attending SITP. I’m all for free speech but that includes both sexes and not just people called Steve. We haven’t yet reached the point of blocking anyone but there is a ‘for the good of the group’ argument to consider…

Leeds SITP please note.


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

Unthinking capitulation to the hegemonic oppressive politics of PC-fascism

Jul 7th, 2012 10:13 am | By

Steve Moxon took part in a debate at the Cambridge Union in January. The motion is quite funny, because it would do nicely as a summary of The Paula Kirby Thesis:

This House Believes the Only Limit to Female Success is Female Ambition

So pull your socks up and get on with it! No whingeing, and by “wingeing” I mean “reporting on social factors that impede women.”

Moxon didn’t altogether wow the reviewer.

Steve Moxon, on the other hand gave an appalling performance, his odd choice of showing a powerpoint presentation giving him the air of an enthusiastic but often inaudible lecturer and his offensive thesis that women should aspire to the traditional female role of being young, beautiful and attracting a mate and leave men to the business of leadership and success was met with audible derision from the audience.

PC bastards.

Moxon wasn’t the only champion of unPC though.

Liz Jones, however, was perhaps the most controversial speaker, finishing a staggeringly sexist speech with “I’m not surprised women don’t get to the top: I am staggered we have jobs at all”, after suggesting that women “always put their personal lives first” and spend their time in the workplace chatting and crying. She also declared “I believe women prefer domesticity”, suggesting that “they prefer to be martyrs”, a ridiculous generalisation and display of regressive, misogynist ideas perhaps not unexpected, given the views she has expressed in her columns, but still disappointing.

Funny how that sounds like Paula too. Victims; whining; crying; martyrs. It’s all the same playbook.

But never mind that; imagine my joy to find a (very long) comment from Moxon himself right under the article!

Well what a scientifically illiterate (not to mention PC-fascist) view the reviewer here took of my presentation at the Cambridge Union debate.

Contrary to her unfounded claim, it was anything but prescriptive of how either women or men should behave: it was an explanation, drilling down through layer beneath layer, of the essential nature of the sexes; this explaining why it is that as ever we don’t see women in top positions to the same extent as we see men.

He likes that “drilling down” metaphor, doesn’t he. But what does he use to drill with? The power of his own mind? It’s not child’s play, drilling through the layers to discover the essential nature of the sexes. I suspect what he means is just home-made ev psych, applied to find what he wants to find.

It’s the unthinking capitulation to the hegemonic oppressive politics of PC-fascism that is the worse offence, though. That it’s business-as-usual elitist-separatism hiding behind a pretence to be about equality is not exactly hard to spot, and a fraud on such an unprecedented scale is unlikely to last for very much longer, despite the best efforts of journalists.

Mmm. That’s what the skeptics of Leeds have to look forward to, is it.

H/t Jim Lippard

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

Meet Steve Moxon

Jul 7th, 2012 7:57 am | By

I understated the awfulness of Steve Moxon. Google turns up more.

Like the fact that he was dropped by UKIP because he said nice things about Anders Breivik.

Steve Moxon, author of the classic anti-feminist book ‘The Woman Racket‘, was dropped as a candidate for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in this week’s local elections over comments he made on his blog previously regarding Anders Breivik. Whilst stressing how appalling and insupportable Breivik’s actions were, Moxon had noted that his manifesto presented an accurate account of the spread of political correctness in Europe. This was picked up by a local paper in the city that Moxon was standing in (Sheffield), forcing UKIP to drop him as a candidate – despite the vast majority of UKIP supporters no doubt sharing the same anti-PC views.

He’s too right-wing for UKIP. His special flavor of right-wingness is anti-feminism and belief that women get all the nice things.

He explains everythings on his blog, like for instance the fact that domestic violence is women beating up men.

Make that two pints, and a bottle of gin.

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