Jun 25

My take on this latest trope

WilloNyx covered most of this in the last post but I need to add some of my own thoughts.

So last night didn’t quite work out as I expected. I was trying to finish catching up on Twitter. I said a few thank you’s on Facebook. I was minutes away from the comfort of a warm bed. I saw a link from Thunderfoot. I saw the title “MISOGYNIST!” and I just knew it had to be good. I began to watch the video. A sharp, critical mind that had taken the time to read up on all the sexual harassment arguments could bring a new perspective. I watched some more. Ahhh, smart move I thought. Act like one of the asshats on the other side to help bring things into focus. Show them a refection of themselves and the ridiculousness of their position. I knew this was going to be good. The turn around was going to come any minute. Suddenly I realized his time was running out. Then it did. Did I miss something? Below the video was a link to a post at his FTB page. “There it was” I said to myself. Only it wasn’t.

The blog post was worse yet I still expected a gotcha moment. These were the same lame strawmen that people had been schooled over time and again in blog after blog, comment section after comment section. At this point there was no doubt that he was laying out these weak misrepresentations so he could plow them all down in one fell swoop at the end. (I never said I couldn’t be naïve.) My heart sank just a little when I got to the comment section. I was never what you would call a Thunderfoot superfan but I had watched many of his videos. This was a guy who obviously spent countless hours examining the arguments of creationists, watching their videos, understanding their positions before tearing them down. Yet he couldn’t be bothered to read any of the many discussions that had been taking place over the past year on a subject that he now took a hard stance on. And to top it off the stance he took was that of an dismissive, tone trolling douchenozzle. I couldn’t even bring myself to tell WilloNyx for a while. She hadn’t ever heard of Thunderfoot prior to him joining FTB. I advocated for the guy, told her that from what I had seen he was a badass, a skeptical heavy weight. I eventually had to tell her though because she asked why I was sitting in the kitchen saying “fuck” a bunch.

I agree with Willo. Things like sasquatch and crop circles and homeopathy are easy for skeptics. Those of us who advocate for skepticism are constantly asking others to suspend their sincere, sometimes zealous beliefs and opinions long enough to consider how they might be deluding themselves. Sure, most of us have done this ourselves at some point. Most of us have believed in some version of god. Many of us have believed very strongly in obviously ridiculous things. Telling others to overcome the ridiculous notions they cling to is easy. Overcoming belief in something that is obviously factually absurd is only slightly more difficult. Unfortunately it seems that we skeptics very rarely do that which we ask of others. We don’t turn that deep, critical light inward, to the parts of ourselves that are vulnerable. The parts that maybe define things about us. We pride ourselves on what we have overcome and maybe some of that was difficult. Yet here was an icon of modern skepticism that couldn’t be bothered to fucking understand the subject he was attacking at even the most basic level. It was as if he had scoured the comment sections of all the relevant blog posts since elevatorgate, collected only the misrepresentations and misunderstandings, intentional or otherwise, and distilled it all into a potent tincture.

This is the rift as I see it. Some of us continue to question our beliefs and opinions and some of us reach comfortable plateaus. When I see someone accusing those advocating harassment policies of not listening or not understanding the other side it reminds me of all those times I have been accused of not really understanding the Christianity I have argued against for so long. No amount of explaining would make my opponents realize that I understood it because I lived it for years. I dug myself out of it step by step. I understood it from the inside but, unlike them, I also understood it from the outside too and it was that deeper understanding, having both perspectives that allowed me to be objective and sympathetic at the same time. That’s what these so-called skeptics fail to grasp. We have all lived inside the culture that promotes misogyny and harassment. Most of us came of age amidst the attitudes and opinions we now argue against. Some of us even held the same opinions that those we argue against now hold. We have seen from the inside. We took the steps to question ourselves and we found those positions and opinions lacking in merit. Some still struggle with with moments of conflicting thoughts but we are honest enough skeptics to expose those thoughts to criticism, however uncomfortable. It isn’t unfair to ask people who would claim the label of skeptic to go that far. That is the bare fucking minimum one can do to claim that label with any amount of pride. Anything short of that and you’re just part of a club where everyone is congratulating each other for not believing in the fucking Loch Ness monster.




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  1. 1

    Like you, I was initially a fan of Thunderf00t on the strength of his anti-creationism videos, but he’s since largely erased his good credit with his boneheadedness on social topics. Depressingly stupid, ignorant and myopic is what his current post is.

    I know what you mean by knowing religion inside and outside. I was raised in a church-going family, but I’ve never been able to believe. Ever. I tried to, but there was always this kernel of cognitive dissonance whirring away at the back of my mind telling me it was irrational to believe something as unbelievable as this – which is why the religious shills always praise the value of ‘having faith’, no matter that by definition it’s contrary to rationality. So anyway, I’ve been in and around churches most of my life. Having even gotten musical employment from churches, I know Christian liturgical music back-to-front, all the way back to Gregorian chant, and so Christian church culture and its deficiencies are totally plain to me. It’s not really such a big claim to predict similar patterns in wider society, that are equally clear if you can attempt to look at it without the preconceptions that you’ve been raised with. Churches and religions are just microcosms of the larger society, after all. They’re just as fallible and in equal need of justice being dispensed to all.

    Oh, and that line about the “club where everyone is congratulating each other for not believing in the fucking Loch Ness monster” — winner.

    1. 1.1

      I always had that kernel of dissonance as well. Early on it was strong and, being young and naive, I feared what it might mean. I took my concerns to the preacher of course. That’s when they began teaching me to push the dissonance far into the back of my mind. They told me that all doubt after receiving salvation was a direct assault by the devil. They let me know in no uncertain terms that giving in to doubt was weakness of the flesh. After all that, drilling this into the mind of a ten year old child, providing vivid, violent descriptions of the suffering and death of Jesus, telling me that my doubt and sin was the cause of his torture and death, even after all that the dissonance was still there. It was real dissonance though. The other part of me believed. I worried about the fates of those I loved who weren’t Christians. I imagined them burning in Hell.

      I try to strike a balance in how I relate to believers because I remember that time in my life. What that means is that I try and maintain as much respect as possible for the person involved but I refuse to give respect to their beliefs. Unfortunately most believers, whether Christian, Muslim, racist, homophobe or misogynist cannot make such a distinction. Sometimes people spend that currency of respect I offer them as a person pretty quickly. Several people in the skeptical community are doing it right now. I don’t plan on losing too much sleep over it though.

  2. 2

    I personally try to avoid that problem by not allowing specific beleifs to become a part of my identity/sense of self. i.e it’s important to my sense of self that I am a person who follows scientific evidence. I don’t, however, incorporate e.g. ‘I am a person who believes that there are 8 planets in the solar system’ into my sense of self, because that might yet turn out to be wrong (IIRC the evidence for another planet out beyond the orbit of Pluto is still inconclusive). Thus, when the evidence shows that I’m wrong, it’s not an attack on me personally, just a sign that I’m not up on the latest science.

  3. 3

    There is a distinction I never see you guys make and that is between Christianity and the organized church. The organized church in America today is a poor reflection of Christianity. Things like misogyny, homophobia, etc. are not Christian in any way though there are “church” cultures that possess both. But there are far worse failings of the American church in reflecting Jesus, and I would say your reaction to it is a prime manifestation. The thing is that these failings seem to be the justification for doing the same thing by creating and growing misandrous cultural groups who harass men or by forming bigotry against others who’s outward characteristics seem to align with what is hated. In this I would conclude you had a horrible church experience and in fact do not understand Christianity at all.

    1. 3.1

      You are a persistent little troll aren’t you.

      Don’t tell me you have the key to the True Christianity™ because I know it’s bullshit. Your bible is filled with and is the source of christian bigotry the world over. Even it you were not a bigot (psst. I a pretty sure you are) it doesn’t mean that the rest of Christianity isn’t following the same bible when they say things like “lets kill all the gays.” You interpretation may not condone horrible behavior but for it to be christianity, it has to ignore all that your god condones. You cannot be a christian and not be a bigot without cherry picking your source material.

      Your god hates women. Your god condoned slavery. Your god is a genocidal sycophantic. The fact that you make the choice to hold it to the pinnacle of morality makes me fear how shitty a person you may be.

    2. 3.2

      Cue No True Scotsman in 3…2…1

      There is a distinction I never see you guys make and that is between Christianity and the organized church. The organized church in America today is a poor reflection of Christianity

      You are a “True Christian” and those in the “Organized Church” are not. Brilliant. I know it’s my blog but you aren’t actually obligated to engage in the fallacies I tell you to engage in. FYI.

      Things like misogyny, homophobia, etc. are not Christian in any way though there are “church” cultures that possess both.

      I’d say a real Christian would be someone who tries to follow the instructions of the Christian god as laid out in the Christian bible. I am at work so I can’t go into great detail but I would certainly say that as a Christian who considers the bible the least bit reliable, one has to accept that Christianity is at least misogynistic(see Ephesians 5:22–23, Revelation 14:4, Job 25:4, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:7, 1 Corinthians 11:3, 11:9, 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11–12, 5:5–6, Numbers 5:20–22, Leviticus 12:2–5 and 15:17–33 for starters)

      I think Tertullian said it best:

      In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell.

      All of that is from your glorious word of god. By all means distance yourself ideologically from it but don’t then turn around and claim those that don’t are less Christian for it. The homophobia in the bible is less pronounced but by no means non-existent. Right wing pundits have made those few verses a matter of public record lately. I could list them all as well.

      But there are far worse failings of the American church in reflecting Jesus, and I would say your reaction to it is a prime manifestation.

      Back to No True Scotsman again. Let me know if your conservative libertarian philosophy matches up with that of your lord and savior.

      Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me…How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God…for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

      Feel free to pull your rebuttals directly from the bible. I know they’re there too.

      1. Dalillama

        @Jarreg I think you mean ‘cue no true scotsman’ /nitpick.
        My judgment of christianity is based on interactions with assholes like you, and comparison of christian claims to external reality. The fact claims made by christians are blatantly false, and the moral claims are horrific. I have never been a christian, nor a member of any other faith tradition. I am basing my judgment of your beleifs on what you have said, and you have proven yourself to be stunningly ignorant on every subject you have spoken about, up to an including the contents of your own holy book. You have further demonstrated that you do not understand or recognize intellectual honesty, and are incapable of displaying it. When you have corrected these failures, you might raise yourself to the level of a complete waste of time.

        1. Jarreg

          Fixed. Thank you for catching that.

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