Author Topic: SKEPTIC magazine continues skepticism's descent into a dark, sad, bigoted hole  (Read 11674 times)

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Offline nameofthewave

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The problem with cultural skepticism (in the US at least) comes down to what individual skeptics feel we should be willing to exclude and marginalize. Falsifiable claims like that of homeopathy are excluded, but there isn't much controversy there. The problem is with the non-falsifiable claims, which by definition can neither be proven or disproven.

The question of religion is a big one: should all skeptics be atheists? Personally I don't think so, so long as religious beliefs are of the non-falisifiable kind. If you think the Earth is 6000 years old that is a problem; if you think the universe as understood by science was created by God(s) in a way that does not contradict known facts it is not a problem IMO, even if it is an unnecessary hypothesis.

The truly thorny issues are ethical and cultural. Skepticism, like science, cannot tell us what is right. More than that, when deciding how to manage society and pass and enforce laws and social norms we don't have perfect laboratory conditions and have to make choices based on probabilities not certainties. As an example imagine if Bill Cosby were a prominent skeptic rather than a comedian. All of the accusations against him come down to eye-witness testimony, which as we know isn't reliable. Should Cosby continue to be invited to speak at conferences? The reality is that some would say yes, in spite of the low probability that all of these women are just making shit up; Cosby would, absolutely, be invited to speak at some cons, because a significant portion of the skeptical community is going to treat a rape accusation the same as a ghost sighting.

This is a problem, and it is killing skepticism for the simple reason that too many skeptics are trying to use skepticism to make decisions that skepticism isn't built to make. On the one hand we have skeptics refusing to make value judgements about things outside skepticism's scope, while on the other we have skeptics claiming to be able to make value judgements about things outside skepticism's scope and accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being bad skeptics.

Any sub-culture is going to have adherents that turn their central purpose into a cure-all ideology. Skepticism can't tell us that homophobia or racism or sexism is wrong, yet remaining "neutral" on issues such as this is a cowardly cop out, driving out decent people while allowing the most toxic ideas free to flourish because "it's outside skepticism's scope." Every sub-culture must make value judgements about where it stands; refusal to do so will result in the worst of the worst taking over.

TLDR; organized skepticism is crippled by the same moral relativism skeptics like to wag their fingers at post-modernists about. TBH, the very notion of organized skepticism as a monolithic culture is itself profoundly problematic. If skepticism is going to survive we need about a thousand schisms. It's the ideas that matter, not a cultish devotion to the label "skeptic."

Yes exactly, I guess it is the difference between skepticism as an abstract concept and organised skepticism. I don't necessarily have any objections to a Milo book review per se, but such a fawning, one sided and uncritical one is just crap journalism, let alone crap skepticism.

Offline materialist_girl

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Topical, as the overlap between new atheism and skepticism is essentially indistinguishable (underlining mine).

And, Redamare, pretend I'm "raging against skepticism" as much as you want, but this is what reasonable people see when they look at your community.

From the Enlightenment to the Dark Ages: How “new atheism” slid into the alt-right

"First of all, Dagach’s tweet was overtly defamatory. I wrote him asking for a public apology and heard nothing back, although he quietly deleted the tweet. But even that did not happen until I had received a hailstorm of disturbing responses to Dagach’s false statements, responses in the form of internet trolls aggressively defending Harris by asking me to kill myself and proposing new nicknames like “Phil Hitler Torres” (seriously!). This is the new atheist movement today, by and large. The great enemy of critical thinking and epistemological integrity, namely tribalism, has become the social glue of the community.

I should still be the new atheist movement’s greatest ally, yet today I want nothing whatsoever to do with it. From censoring people online while claiming to support free speech to endorsing scientifically unfounded claims about race and intelligence to asserting, as Harris once did, that the profoundly ignorant Ben Carson would make a better president than the profoundly knowledgeable Noam Chomsky, the movement has repeatedly shown itself to lack precisely the values it once avowed to uphold. Words that now come to mind when I think of new atheism are “un-nuanced,” “heavy-handed,” “unjustifiably confident” and “resistant to evidence” — not to mention, on the whole, “misogynist” and “racist.”"

http://www.salon.com/2017/07/29/from-the-enlightenment-to-the-dark-ages-how-new-atheism-slid-into-the-alt-right/

Offline Nosmas

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The solution to our bigotry and community perception problem is simple. We just need a new community to branch away from this one. I propose we call it Skepticism Plus! Who's with me!?
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Offline nameofthewave

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Topical, as the overlap between new atheism and skepticism is essentially indistinguishable (underlining mine).

And, Redamare, pretend I'm "raging against skepticism" as much as you want, but this is what reasonable people see when they look at your community.

From the Enlightenment to the Dark Ages: How “new atheism” slid into the alt-right

"First of all, Dagach’s tweet was overtly defamatory. I wrote him asking for a public apology and heard nothing back, although he quietly deleted the tweet. But even that did not happen until I had received a hailstorm of disturbing responses to Dagach’s false statements, responses in the form of internet trolls aggressively defending Harris by asking me to kill myself and proposing new nicknames like “Phil Hitler Torres” (seriously!). This is the new atheist movement today, by and large. The great enemy of critical thinking and epistemological integrity, namely tribalism, has become the social glue of the community.

I should still be the new atheist movement’s greatest ally, yet today I want nothing whatsoever to do with it. From censoring people online while claiming to support free speech to endorsing scientifically unfounded claims about race and intelligence to asserting, as Harris once did, that the profoundly ignorant Ben Carson would make a better president than the profoundly knowledgeable Noam Chomsky, the movement has repeatedly shown itself to lack precisely the values it once avowed to uphold. Words that now come to mind when I think of new atheism are “un-nuanced,” “heavy-handed,” “unjustifiably confident” and “resistant to evidence” — not to mention, on the whole, “misogynist” and “racist.”"

http://www.salon.com/2017/07/29/from-the-enlightenment-to-the-dark-ages-how-new-atheism-slid-into-the-alt-right/

Is there even such a thing as a 'New Atheism' movement any more, I haven't heard anyone refer to this for a while? I remember it being a bit of a trendy middle class thing in the noughties after those books came out, but it seemed to die out after that. Of the four originators, these days Harris is mostly known for ranting about Islam, Dawkins for Twitter and putting his foot into it, Hitchens for being dead and Dennett, I never really knew much about him. I dunno, it feels like their time has come and gone in some ways, there's not really that much you can do with pure atheism, I know that when they first came to prominence there was some resentment from the established skeptical community for the new atheists who the former viewed as superficial new kids on the block, so I'm not sure they have ever been indistinguishable as such.

Also, I don't deny that Harris/Dawkins/Hitchens have said some problematic things, but I can't lump them in with the alt right. Harris and Dawkins both hate Trump, and I'm sure Hitchens would have. Maybe Dennett loves Trump, but I've never heard his opinion on it.

Offline PANTS!

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Oh no.  An article that makes zero value judgements and explains the perspective of the subject!  As I've been saying in countless threads, the sjws forced this battle within skepticism and they lost because their ideas are retarded.  Get over it.

Haaaaave you read the Right Wing Propaganda thread.  You just described every other post.
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Offline D4M10N

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Oh no.  An article that makes zero value judgements and explains the perspective of the subject!  As I've been saying in countless threads, the sjws forced this battle within skepticism and they lost because their ideas are retarded.  Get over it.

I don't think we read the same article. Milo is a boring pseudo-intellectual, and seeing him fellated in Skeptic magazine makes me glad I don't have a subscription

People who denigrate fellatio deserve to never receive it.


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Offline PANTS!

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Oh no.  An article that makes zero value judgements and explains the perspective of the subject!  As I've been saying in countless threads, the sjws forced this battle within skepticism and they lost because their ideas are retarded.  Get over it.

I don't think we read the same article. Milo is a boring pseudo-intellectual, and seeing him fellated in Skeptic magazine makes me glad I don't have a subscription

People who denigrate fellatio deserve to never receive it.


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The idea that someone thinks that is a semblance of a comeback, let alone one of wit, or that it might be found insulting is weird to me.  And pretty telling.
Now where I come from
We don't let society tell us how it's supposed to be
-Uptown, Prince 👉

The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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The problem with cultural skepticism (in the US at least) comes down to what individual skeptics feel we should be willing to exclude and marginalize. Falsifiable claims like that of homeopathy are excluded, but there isn't much controversy there. The problem is with the non-falsifiable claims, which by definition can neither be proven or disproven.

The question of religion is a big one: should all skeptics be atheists? Personally I don't think so, so long as religious beliefs are of the non-falisifiable kind. If you think the Earth is 6000 years old that is a problem; if you think the universe as understood by science was created by God(s) in a way that does not contradict known facts it is not a problem IMO, even if it is an unnecessary hypothesis.

The truly thorny issues are ethical and cultural. Skepticism, like science, cannot tell us what is right. More than that, when deciding how to manage society and pass and enforce laws and social norms we don't have perfect laboratory conditions and have to make choices based on probabilities not certainties. As an example imagine if Bill Cosby were a prominent skeptic rather than a comedian. All of the accusations against him come down to eye-witness testimony, which as we know isn't reliable. Should Cosby continue to be invited to speak at conferences? The reality is that some would say yes, in spite of the low probability that all of these women are just making shit up; Cosby would, absolutely, be invited to speak at some cons, because a significant portion of the skeptical community is going to treat a rape accusation the same as a ghost sighting.

This is a problem, and it is killing skepticism for the simple reason that too many skeptics are trying to use skepticism to make decisions that skepticism isn't built to make. On the one hand we have skeptics refusing to make value judgements about things outside skepticism's scope, while on the other we have skeptics claiming to be able to make value judgements about things outside skepticism's scope and accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being bad skeptics.

Any sub-culture is going to have adherents that turn their central purpose into a cure-all ideology. Skepticism can't tell us that homophobia or racism or sexism is wrong, yet remaining "neutral" on issues such as this is a cowardly cop out, driving out decent people while allowing the most toxic ideas free to flourish because "it's outside skepticism's scope." Every sub-culture must make value judgements about where it stands; refusal to do so will result in the worst of the worst taking over.

TLDR; organized skepticism is crippled by the same moral relativism skeptics like to wag their fingers at post-modernists about. TBH, the very notion of organized skepticism as a monolithic culture is itself profoundly problematic. If skepticism is going to survive we need about a thousand schisms. It's the ideas that matter, not a cultish devotion to the label "skeptic."

I think what this boils down to is the distinction between skepticism as a concept or philosophy, and skepticism as a movement or subculture. Although obviously closely related, they are not synonymous. I think that while skepticism as such might not have much to say about values, I also think it is appropriate for the skeptical movement (organizations, conferences, etc) to have codes of conduct.

As usual, I think Steve has a sensible point of view:

Quote from: Steven Novella
The issue of whether or not activist skeptics should take on issues of feminism or racism recently comes up quite frequently in this discussion. There is the implication that scientific skeptics want to avoid these issues, do not see them as part of skeptical activism, and even want to give a “pass” to sexists or racists – charges that I do not think are fair or accurate.

First, as I wrote in a previous post, any movement or organisation needs to care about sexism and racism within their ranks, no matter what their focus. Sexism and racism are demonstrably morally wrong and should not be tolerated, period. Further, it is in the best interest of both moral justice and our movement to take specific steps to eliminate sexism or racism in our movement and at our venues.

Further, we should be specifically reaching out to women and minorities and trying to identify and eliminate barriers to their participation in the movement. We can discuss the relative merits of specific strategies, but there is general agreement on these principles.

Recently efforts to make organized secularism and skepticism more friendly to women have been hampered by what appears to be a cyberattack by sexists and misogynists against prominent feminists within the movement. This is a complex issue, which is difficult for me to summarize here, but I will give it a try.

First, I have to say (and I find general agreement on this point) that the misogynist attacks are completely unacceptable. They are poison, they make rational discussion about how best to promote feminism within our movement difficult, and they tend to radicalize all sides.

One example of how they poison discussion is this – whenever someone condemns this misogyny there are those who claim that legitimate criticisms of the claims and strategies of specific feminists are immediately dismissed as misogyny, and there are those who will probably try to do that to me here. This is a strawman, however.

What I am condemning as misogyny are e-mails and online posts that refer to feminists being raped, desires that they suffer from violence, attacking their physical attributes, and crude derogatory sexist language. As a community we absolutely need to be united in our condemnation of this behavior.

If we can get past the childish trolling, we can then move on to a mature discussion of the role of feminism within our movement, various types and strategies of feminism, and the relevant empirical evidence. The role of scientific skepticism is in addressing the empirical evidence. I will leave it to the humanists and feminists to discuss philosophy and strategies of modern feminism. As a movement, however (again, regardless of what our activism is) we need to pay attention to these issues.
"I’m a member of no party. I have no ideology. I’m a rationalist. I do what I can in the international struggle between science and reason and the barbarism, superstition and stupidity that’s all around us." - Christopher Hitchens

Offline PANTS!

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Skeptic mag just did the whole "presenting both sides and let you decide" on the bell curve.  I think this is where I get off the train.

Milo's book is by all measures a failure.  I think his sales in Europe were in the 100s.   So its not like it was having an impact that needed to be discussed, and it did not need a skeptical view.  What was Shermer's purpose other than to shill?  Did he get paid?
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 07:09:13 PM by PANTS! »
Now where I come from
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The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Offline D4M10N

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Milo is a boring pseudo-intellectual, and seeing him fellated in Skeptic magazine makes me glad I don't have a subscription


People who denigrate fellatio deserve to never receive it.

The idea that someone thinks that is a semblance of a comeback, let alone one of wit, or that it might be found insulting is weird to me.  And pretty telling.

But you're okay with using fellatio as an insult. Nothing homophobic to see here.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 07:07:25 PM by D4M10N »

Offline PANTS!

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I have no idea what you are talking about, but you seem really upset. 

Also, yoy seem to have messed up the quotes there.
 There are some instructions written in fairly plain language on how to use the quote function.  You should review them.  I think you would benefit from them.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 07:15:54 PM by PANTS! »
Now where I come from
We don't let society tell us how it's supposed to be
-Uptown, Prince 👉

The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Offline D4M10N

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Some people think it's cool to mock gay men for blowjobs. Some people don't.

Offline SkeptiQueer

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Milo is a boring pseudo-intellectual, and seeing him fellated in Skeptic magazine makes me glad I don't have a subscription


People who denigrate fellatio deserve to never receive it.

The idea that someone thinks that is a semblance of a comeback, let alone one of wit, or that it might be found insulting is weird to me.  And pretty telling.

But you're okay with using fellatio as an insult. Nothing homophobic to see here.
Why is describing a favorable, loving book review as fellatio homophobic?
HIISSSSSSSS

Offline D4M10N

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Milo is a boring pseudo-intellectual, and seeing him fellated in Skeptic magazine makes me glad I don't have a subscription


People who denigrate fellatio deserve to never receive it.

The idea that someone thinks that is a semblance of a comeback, let alone one of wit, or that it might be found insulting is weird to me.  And pretty telling.

But you're okay with using fellatio as an insult. Nothing homophobic to see here.
Why is describing a favorable, loving book review as fellatio homophobic?

It wouldn't be if the description wasn't intended as condemnation, obviously.


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Offline SkeptiQueer

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Milo is a boring pseudo-intellectual, and seeing him fellated in Skeptic magazine makes me glad I don't have a subscription


People who denigrate fellatio deserve to never receive it.

The idea that someone thinks that is a semblance of a comeback, let alone one of wit, or that it might be found insulting is weird to me.  And pretty telling.

But you're okay with using fellatio as an insult. Nothing homophobic to see here.
Why is describing a favorable, loving book review as fellatio homophobic?

It wouldn't be if the description wasn't intended as condemnation, obviously.


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It could only be taken that way if you think fellatio is A) only a thing me do to men and B) makes the giver lesser or denigrates then in some way. If you don't make either of those assumptions, it's a description of the loving, intimate way ""Skeptic" magazine treats a book that makes a series of wild claims about history and current events.

Sure seems like you're projecting a lot here.
HIISSSSSSSS