Category Archives: Atheism & Skepticism
I finally had to add this one. I’ve used both of the terms too much not to.
[I’ve been absent for the last few months, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve got at least 200 posts under my belt, I’d be worried that I’d achieved my second greatest fear: becoming this guy.
No apologies, though.]
Today – well, a few days ago – I got linked to this. For those of you who haven’t clicked through, it’s an article describing the opinions of many young people* at a rally to “protect traditional marriage”. Now, the ideas are obviously atrocious; this is plain for all to see. But why is it that none of them can spell or write? I mean, just look at this: Read the rest of this entry
Just putting this out here, with a brief comment.
Aaaaand a hat-tip to Ophelia Benson, of whom I’ve been reading a lot recently.
Taking a break from writing for NaNo to write this. I’ve just been checking out Pharyngula (hat tip goes here) and THIS. IS. AMAZING!
I literally couldn’t get more than a minute in without collapsing inwards into a tiny puddle of happy scorn. To quote, here is the line that did it. At 47 seconds, Eric Hovind says this:
“IF YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING, THEN YOU CAN’T KNOW ANYTHING TO BE ABSOLUTELY TRUE.”
Ignoring the fact he’s arguing with a 6th grader*, that is mental. Though a part of me wants to argue with it seriously – division of cognitive labour, talented idiots, “if God hasn’t told you, Eric, the whole truth about all of the universe then you, Eric, must be full of shit”, whatever – I’m going to ignore that little bit of me, and just say this:
You, Eric, are an idiot.
Now back to the actual writing, which is going pretty well. Only a week to go!
* I don’t know how old that is, but it can’t be that old, judging by his voice.
I don’t know how many of you know anything about Atheism+, but if you read this post you probably know why it exists. To know first hand, go to the site here. But the gist of it is captured in the manifesto below.
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.”
And so far, it’s generated massive support, built it’s own website, and already has a project combatting ablism in the community – A+ Scribe, where significant videos in the community are transcribed for the hard-of-hearing. First comment, by “miller”:
“Sweet! Transcriptions are one of those “universal design” things–they work for people with or without disabilities. Sort of like how those curb ramps at crosswalks are good for everyone. I’m not hard of hearing, but I would still use transcriptions.”
In short, it’s been successful and productive; two of the things that all movements should look to be. And yet the first reporting I see of it, in any kind of press, is in the UK, and it’s this:
Now, disclosure: some bits of the article are OK. Some bits – the “useful but unsavoury body parts” line – were quite funny. Some bits – the unfortunate fact that this may constitute a “schism” – are also true.* The rest of the article? Wrong.
I want to call this guy a few nasty names, but I won’t, because that would prove him right. And especially as the formation of Atheism+ is, in part, to remove the part of the equation that pours poisonous spam-based bile on everyone else from the equation, yelling at him doesn’t seem like a positive move.
But, to be clear, everything about the way he wrote this article is the wrong approach.
First off, the way he phrases it, he never makes it clear that the difference in opinion spreads from disagreement over political opinion – not over religious ones. We’re all still atheists! As such, a bunch of people get the wrong impression, and you get comments like these:
I’m not going to rise to that – beyond linking it to appropriate tropes – I’m going to instead say that some of this inanity could have been avoided with an article that spent more time portraying facts and less time making Monty Python jokes.
In fact, the author makes a lot of jokes at the movement’s expense. And frankly, I think that’s a bit cheap. It’s not good enough to stand on the sidelines and snipe about “how these atheists love each other” without discussing whether you have a stake in who is right or wrong. At no point does the writer say what they believe about religion, or women’s rights, or privilege, etc. So even if they have a fair point on any of those matters, the article just comes off as juvenile and snide.
When it comes to these issues, you have to actually do something, and couching your terms in ways to make it seem like civil rights are all subjective issues and someone else’s problem (“your progressive politics”, “Ameican Atheism”**) doesn’t change that fact. It’s completely detrimental to any progress at all, in fact.
Meanwhile, Atheism+, for all that I hate the factioning, is doing something, being proactive about issues. That’s what I’ve always seen atheism, plus or minus, to mean, and that’s what it always should mean – not just being, and remaining unchanged. Fix this world, this movement, this instant!
* * *
[For those who may or may not get my alignment in this… *sigh* schism: I agree with Atheism+. Wholeheartedly.]
[Honestly, I don’t even see that anything’s changed. I sure haven’t.]
*What does that change? Christianity’s had more schism’s than I’ve had hot dinners – that hasn’t changed how true it is (i.e. “not at all”).
* I think this is the first time I’ve thought it might actually be valid to refer to one’s nationality as “the internet”, because I have more in common with “american atheists” than with the feeble “everyone’s a little bit agnostic” feeling I get in the UK.
[Trigger warning for a lot of stuff. Not here, but on some of the links. Mostly slurs and some rape jokes.]
Whilst browsing the blogs, I came across this post by Feminist Fiction, and it raised some similarities with recent developments in the skeptical community which I felt like sharing. But first, some background.
I am a brony. You all should know that. In fact, I am pleased to say that I am one of the guys mentioned in FF’s post as buying and proudly wearing my Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash* badges. Because Twilight, Dash and the Mane Six all kick ass, and the brony/pegasister fandom is an awesome one – in my experience, it’s always been full of creativity, love, and care.
So I was horrified to find out about the sort of abuse that went on at Everfree convention a while back. You really would think that this fandom should be free of misogyny. Transphobic slurs, molestation jokes and country matters prove otherwise.
This just gets better and better! Well, insofar as illegal arrests can be better…
Pussy Riot aren’t just true punks and feminists sticking it to the man: they’re sacreligious atheists too!* Joy of joys! My estimation of them can’t help but raise higher and higher!
I’ve read through them, and impressively she’s even got the rhythm down in her english versions, so I am impressed. Set “hat” = “off”.
Lyrics beneath the fold.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I agree with her. With bombshells like this being dropped like it was 1942 – Jen, Natalie, the unflinching shit chucked at Rebecca Watson and the endless shitstorms over what should be common sense – I’m just surprised all of this isn’t having more of an impact.
So yeah, read the article.
I’m gonna highlight one paragraph, though.
“Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists.
It’s time for a wave that cares about how religion affects everyone and that applies skepticism to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, politics, poverty, and crime. We can criticize religion and irrational thinking just as unabashedly and just as publicly, but we need to stop exempting ourselves from that criticism.”
We need to do this. And though I don’t mean to be patrirachal, the best thing that we, the old guard of straight white cisgendered men can do is to think how we can play midwife to this sort of awakening.
Who knows? Maybe at some point this week, I might write an article detailing what (I think) the role of the ally such as myself is in this situation. Because seriously, this? That thing up there?
It has to happen.
* * *
Oh look – Skepchick’s hard at work on this already, with a series of straight old white guys talking about why they’re allies, including:
It seems sexist that such allies even need to be found. Shows you how screwed up this is, huh?
Quick post – read this as an intro, then dive into this.
The first is an explanation of the crap that Thunderf00t’s been up to by Jen at Blag Hag. The second is just one facet of the consequences of his actions, and a conversation about what his actions say about the atheist movement.
My response to the former:
My response to the latter:
Well, a cross between that and frustration.
Yeah – I have officially lost all respect for Thunderf00t at this point – he sounds like a cackling vaudeville villain by this point.
But it’s OK, because all that respect can now be put in Natalie Reed, who is, as of now, being added to the “blogs I read folder”. If a little over-long, her article on what his actions and the movement mean to her is inspiring.
Don’t know if this is legit, but it’s hilarious anyway. I don’t really want to be giving more publicity to an idiot/parody, but this just gave me some genuine laughs. And even if the author is an idiot, that doesn’t stop them from being witty.
This is “Checkmate, Pro Choicers” [not linking; find it yourselves!], an awful tumblr run by an awful person with awful ideas. They’ve taken the traditional “ask” format, and used it as a forum for their own stupidity.
That said, some of her responses are just damn funny! And not even in the “oh god, she actually believes that!” sense, but in the sense that sometimes I was actually laughing with her.
Thanks to Jen, aka Blaghag, I have been linked to some of the videos from the Women in Secularism talks a while back. More conventions in America I want to go to: add it to the list.
I say some videos, so far only the one. But it’s a good one! Susan Jacoby is not someone I’ve heard of before now, but I kinda want to now. She seems informed, intelligent, right-on and above all fun! That seems an odd ask for speakers about skepticism and misogyny, but it happens more often than you’d think.
Watch it – the video is long, but as I said, it’s very enjoyable!
TL;DR – Women have historically been hugely involved in the skeptical movement. Y U NO remember any names?