Archive for Freethought Blogs

“vlog|11 19 13″ #LeeMoore w/ @WeAreAtheism, #EllenBethWachs’ apologia, @Dan_Aykroyd’s #woo, & #FtB!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

I’m just now getting to this because there have been a couple of delays. One is that I just moved and, though the physical move itself didn’t take long, the preparation and post-move unpacking etc. has taken a while. I’ve also in the last 24 hours experienced this really irritating thing where my iMac trackpad registers clicks when I haven’t pressed it. This has made even basic tasks really difficult and time-consuming to accomplish.

Pant, pant.

This entry, like the previous, is quite long at about 24 minutes. The difference is I cover more. And the good news is it’s the last long one, for now anyway.

First up, Lee Moore joins We Are Atheism, a site which I admittedly only just started paying attention to due to Moore’s involvement. This is absolutely nothing against WAA, just that I never found the time to get to it on my long list of atheist-related stuff to check out.
Next, and I feel I need to be really clear on this before I even get into it because some people have a tendency to completely (and perhaps intentionally?) get wrong what I mean… I don’t hate EllenBeth Wachs. I don’t even dislike her. So if anyone suspects either, including Wachs herself, they can rest assured it’s not true. I do, however, find some of her actions irritating, which I get into. But it’s not all umbrage. Lots of fun stuff in there too.

StarTalk Radio is a great podcast right up until the point where Neil DeGrasse Tyson doesn’t challenge Dan Aykroyd’s woo at all. Way to science, there, Neil. :|

And finally, I do a bit of a compare between Julian Assange’s behavior and some things I’ve noticed about FreeThought Blogs.

#hyperskepticism = a big, fat pile of bullshit!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

A few months ago, I encountered this ridiculous term. I don’t remember where or how. I think I was reading someone’s Twitter feed. I saw it pop up and thought, “Gee, what’s that?” I was unfortunately not soon to be satisfied with a straight-forward definition. It seemed, though, to mean the doubting of something beyond a reasonable amount.

Huh?

That sounds like bullshit! Why? Because that establishes an arbitrary, artificial threshold on what is “reasonable.” As has been pointed out in many of my discussions with the religious, something like miracle claims, to them, seems perfectly reasonable given a world created and controlled by an omnipotent god. Yes, I know, this then begs the questions on how we know about this god, etc., but the question alone of miracles does fit into this model as being perfectly reasonable.

I decided to google “hyperskepticism” just to see what came up. You know, shits and giggles. My hypothesis was that it’d been coined by any of the not-so scrupulous at Freethought Blogs or Skepchick or the like. Yes, yes, I even thought it might’ve been coined by PZ Myers. Not for any ad hominem reason, just I swore I saw some mention of him having said it.

I was wrong.

About Myers. Not about FtB and S’chick. In fact, I was the opposite of wrong regarding one of those two. What’s the opposite of wrong?

It’s right.

Yep. The first three results on google as of this writing were 1. Lousy Canuck of FtB (seems he coined it), 2. someone else of Atheism+, and 3. Justicar.

Huh?

To be fair, Justicar’s vid is entitled “skepticism vs. hyperskepticism” and I haven’t watched it so I don’t know what it says.

The usual suspects. (With S’chick not too far below the others.) Why is it whenever I hear something within the freethought community that sounds like absolute horseshit, the pantheon of (some) bullshitters inevitably comes up? I feel like I never see people like Secular Students or Black Non-Believers. It’s always fucking FtB, A+, and S’chick!

Anyway, A+ gives us a definition.

Hyperskepticism is a tactic of intellectually dishonest argument where unreasonably high standards of evidence are required for a claim to be accepted.”

–Atheism Plus Forums

Intellectually dishonest. How so? This supposes that it’s ever dishonest to question or doubt. But how could that be true? Isn’t it more dishonest to proclaim a priori that there is such a thing as too much doubt?

Unreasonably high standards. What, pray, then, is unreasonable? And who decides this? The moderators of A+? I fucking hope not because they haven’t had a great track record with being reasonable.

Scientists, then? I doubt it, they tend to tell us to doubt everything. Yes, everything.

Let’s end on my perfect example of this bullshit in action. A few days ago, I was having a conversation on Twitter with someone whose name I’ve since forgotten and screen caps of which I neglected to take. So yeah, you’ll have to take my word for it (or simply skim my timeline).

The subject of harassment came up. I suggested that such a thing, and the label of “victim,” should be qualified with “alleged” until the victim, crime, and perpetrator were all proved through due process of law. I was accused of being hyperskeptical.

What??

It’s hyperskeptical to expect presumed innocent until proven guilty to be applied in all cases? Isn’t that just how the American justice system works and should work to both protect the innocent and punish the guilty? You know, as in we don’t punish the innocent until we’re sure they’re guilty?

It got better.

I asked this Tweeter how he’d go about assessing the fact of a harassment situation. He said, basically, that he’d first believe the victim (alleged victim!), trust the more trustworthy of witnesses for either side (we’re measuring trustworthiness now??), and if the perpetrator were proven innocent… What?? If they’re •proven• innocent?? No, no, no. It’s presumed innocent until proven guilty! Did no one attend grade school but me??

I went on to point out that this was an identical argument Christians make of the Gospels. That they should be assumed to be eyewitness accounts until proven otherwise. He said they were unreliable. I pointed out that this was his opinion. And I wished him the best should he ever be accused of harassment and deemed less trustworthy than his alleged victim.

So now @ZJemptv hates me too, and other sad tales.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

Well, here we are! Only day two of my recent semi-committment to write about just, you know, whatever, and already I have a pingback from Zinnia Jones linked to a post she wrote entitled “I Don’t Want to Be One of the Good Ones” which was a bit of a reaction to the bit I wrote here, which had a long title, and went something like “Why (A Bunch of People, Including Jones) Are Better Than You Are.” My post, as I recall, was basically about how some people with whom I’ve interacted (like my Best Friend and Biggest Fan) were naughty, but how others (like Jones, among many others) were nice. It was largely congratulatory in that it spoke on how in the recent infighting times of atheism, there were still those who, even if they disagreed with me, were willing to deal with me with an ounce of courtesy, rather than slip-slide directly down to ad hominems and the like.

And to be clear, though it absolutely delineated between the naughty and nice, it was never intended to be a line-drawing in the sand, as if the naughties couldn’t be nice and vice versa. Maybe Jones didn’t get that.

What was her criticism? Well, okay, I didn’t read the whole thing. Sorry. Once I got the tone of “Anton’s a naughty boy,” I kind of failed to see the purpose of continuing. Jones doesn’t approve, that’s fine, totally her right, but I don’t feel the need to fill my morning with “Anton’s a naughty boy,” then, “Here are some quoted examples,” then, “Oh, and here are some caps of tweets,” then a bunch of commenters who say, “Yeah, he sure is naughty,” and, “I agree.”

From what I gleaned, her criticism seemed to be that she didn’t want to be used as a board in my argument about how people should behave. If I got that wrong, remember I didn’t read the whole thing.

Okay.

I guess I understand that. Sort of a “don’t use me”?

There also seemed to be a darker tone, though. And this I’ll find it harder to substantiate. She pointed out how I said that I’d called someone on her bullshit. I don’t remember who the someone was or what the bullshit was. I think it was some transgender thing. Wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve been ignorant of and critical of many claims made by many in the trans community.

Let’s just say it was really, really offensive. The tone definitely seemed to lean toward I did something wrong and fuck me. Remember what I said above? That’s right.

Okay.

I guess I just don’t see why I should care. I mean, rather than choose to have a dialogue about it with me, Jones has made an example of me on her site. No, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with that, I did the same, yet opposite, thing in the post she criticized, but it is kind of indicative, isn’t it? Rather than writing to me directly (or tweeting) and saying, “Hey, Anton, I had these thoughts about your post a while back. Mind if I share them with you? I had a bit of a bone to pick with some of it,” she lazily pointed fingers. I probably would’ve said, “Hey, Zinnia, nice to hear from you. What’s on your mind?” Oh, and Zinnia, if you’re reading this, that invitation still stands. :)

But boo-hoo, that didn’t happen. Oh, well. I’m on Jones’ shit list and I’m still gonna go to that barbecue in a couple of hours and have a nice holiday weekend. Toodles!

No, no, not toodles. This is a terrible trans-ition (har har!) into a thought I’ve had for a while and will now attempt to articulate. This transgender issue, I’ve noticed, seems, anecdotally, to be dominated by white women. Privileged white women. And if they’re trans white women, doesn’t that mean they used to be…

WHITE MEN!!!!???

Oh, fuck! Isn’t the trans issue, then, possibly just a socially acceptable way for used-to-be white men to have a cause? To be granted the right never to be questioned? Never to be criticized? To scream, “You’re just ignorant/bigoted/a trans hater” to people like me and then when people like me say, “Hey, I’m just trying to understand,” they can scream back, “It’s not my job to educate you!”? I’m not saying Jones has done that to me, but aren’t all those things socially justified? Just a teeny bit?

Okay, now toodles.

Why @nonstampNSC, @BridgetGaudette, @Zjemptv, @SecularWoman, & @MaionnaiseJane are better than you are

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

This all started a number of weeks ago and I’d intended to get a few screen grabs so I could show exactly how it all went down, but now that’d involve probably hours of skimming Twitter timelines which I’m not gonna fucking do.

Also, it may seem like a conflict of interest to mention Bridget Gaudette now that I write for her Freethoughtify.com, but the encounter I’ll mention happened long before that.

I’ve been a fan of NonStamp for a couple of years now. I’ve posted a number of his videos on here. One of my favorites is Context!! When I saw he was on Twitter, I was plenty excited as I figured I’d get first-look niftiness on his vids.

Then I saw it.

I happened to notice that NSC had started writing for Freethought Blogs. It’s no small secret that I’m not a giant fan of a few of their writers. I was disappointed. Even though I knew that NSC’s involvement was neither a reflection on him nor on them, I still kinda sank inside. I told him that my comment wasn’t an attack, but that I was (half kidding) sad to see him there.

At first, he got defensive. He said something to the effect of my jumping on the bandwagon of FtB hate, talking out of my ass, all that sort of stuff.

But!

In only a couple of exchanges, we clarified our positions and he apologized for his brash tone and kind words were shared.

No fuss. No muss. Just regular, ol’ cordial exchange. We started from a place of difficulty, but then were both willing to be reasonable and civil and it all worked out.

I first heard about Gaudette through A-News’ interview with her. Then I checked her out a bit on SecularWoman and Twitter. At some point, she made some comment about sexism in society. I wrote her on Facebook and asked her about that.

“Fuck off,” isn’t what she said. No, no. We also had a cordial back and forth in which she answered my questions.

I don’t remember how I discovered Zinnia Jones, Queen of Atheism. It was probably some randomly encountered YouTube video. I enjoyed her straight-forward, facts-only style. And, as with NonStamp, I found her on Twitter.

At some point, the discussion of the definition involved in transsexuality came up. While I know a thing or two about transsexuality, I’m no expert. i asked about definitions, what made one trans, what that meant, all kinds of stuff. Jones answered everything with patience and (literary) poise.

Through my acquaintance with Gaudette, I became aware of Secular Woman. I think she was working for/with them at the time. I generally find them more palatable than another oft blabbed-about female-driven skeptic site which shall remain nameless. Not always, but generally. Well, along with that above trans discussion, I bumped into Elsa Roberts of Secular Woman. We had some back and forth not so much about transsexuality, but of more general feminist topics.

Not only did Roberts answer my questions and respect my right to disagree with her, but she also invited me to continue the conversation with her directly. I’ve not done so as of yet only because of a lack of time to commit to it, but i will soon (likely in a couple of weeks).

Finally, Marisa Gallego appeared in that darn trans conversation and with her, not only did I not see eye-to-eye, but at times I downright called her on her shit, or at least what I considered her shit. I feel like I was respectful in doing so, but that doesn’t change the action taken. Despite that, we maintained politeness throughout and with her help, I’ve learned a thing or two about her positions.

I have to say that with each of the above-referenced conversations, not only did I not expect anything going into them, but based on my conversation with my Best Friend and Biggest Fan (BFaBF) Ophelia Benson, I actually assumed that all conversations would end up in some kind of vicious, name-calling flame war. I’m so glad, then, that my initial fears were completely debunked and that some mutual insight developed.

If only it could be this way every time.

#LeeMoore of @realanews chats with @TIME about the great schism & quotes @rickygervais!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

Preach it, brother Rick!

You can read Moore’s post here. While I absolutely support Moore’s efforts in the cessation of infighting, I commented on his post that I’m skeptical of its short-term success. My specific comment was about how Center for Inquiry would likely have to disavow itself of some actions and individuals, as well as some of its individuals possibly needing to make some apologies. I’m not even saying I want this; I don’t care what CfI does, but the public at large might.

And then there’s those wacky kids over at Freethought Blogs. You know the ones. My best friend and biggest fan Ophelia Benson, who called Moore’s and Brian Allen’s initial steps to this effort “cute,” but who otherwise expressed no interest. Greta Cristina, who seems to live for being outraged. PZ Myers who’s not only claimed that there’s no problem, but who’s called those who disagree with him assholes. People like these seem to have no interest in any resolution and seem to believe that not only is there nothing to be resolved, but also that they’re innocent of any kind of wrongdoing or ill-speaking.

But notice I said “short-term” success. I foresee no reconciliation of any kind on any issue whatsoever. For now. But, as Blockbuster Video was once the absolute dominant force in home-video rental only to be left licking the dust of on-line outfits like Netflix, so too, even the above Freethought Bloggers’ greatest pinnacles of oft-minion-driven popularity will perish in death knells of quiet, moaning, self-satisfied, histrionic, finger-pointing irrelevance.

What wil happen is this. As atheism continues to gain footholds in mainstream, popular culture, as currently anonymous atheists become more willing to be open and active in the movement, the currently perceived “importance” of FtB and their ilk will gently siphon off. Those who don’t work for the community’s greater good will all be unceremoniously brushed aside. It’s happened in every social movement. It’ll happen in this one.

So it’s with a grin that I watch Moore’s efforts, both in pride of him and bemusement of his detractors, for whether Moore magically manages to rally all together under his banner of peace or gives up, cries “fuck it,” and retreats, one thing remains absolutely 100% true: reason will always prevail.

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