Author Topic: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies  (Read 4389 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline heyalison

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 115
Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« on: October 18, 2018, 10:16:25 AM »
I was reading an article, recently, about the path various people took to pretty extremist, white national, and misogynist ideologies, and I was shocked how many mentioned atheism and skepticism as part of that process. It made me sad, not because I thought it was a pack of lies, but by how often I've seen this, personally. It's been disheartening to see it here, too, and in other skeptical places on-line and in the real world. There's a pretty wide swath of some very regressive and reactionary ideas about women, racialized people, queer people, and the primacy of the straight, white, cis male out there (and in here).

In retrospect, it seems inevitable, and there were definitely events and movements which for years allowed the widening of anti-minority ideas under the guise of free speech. It's hard to walk away, because I do actually believe in things like critical thinking, but in places like this there is always such a focused hatred of women by some. It's too exhausting.

I might be some SJW snowflake, but I was attracted to skepticism as a chance to question the structures which shape us, and which are demonstrably deleterious to some groups. But instead there has been an aggressive, angry pushback at women who ask for equality, even from men who call themselves feminists. Instead there has been an unquestioning repetition of talking points by those who exploit the status quo. Instead it's helped some people distill and isolate their hate into mathematical proofs. And we're probably worse off for it: Now we have angry republican uncles on-line yelling "straw man!" at any reasonable question of their president, who is clearly a criminal. 

You don't seem to have many women here, so I'll say this: Your moderation system doesn't work. It empowers people who already have power. Some of you are pretty cool, and I appreciate the words you've put in here.

Later, gaters...

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 10071
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2018, 10:32:19 AM »
Right around the time that I started my big break from here (Summer 2012 apparently), there was an issue of transphobia and what seemed like fairly decisive moderator action. I remember a couple of high profile political threads many years back where a mod (Beleth?) had to post a mod warning telling people to stop reporting posts that don't actually break the rules.

Offline mindme

  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 8579
    • http://www.yrad.com/cs
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2018, 11:19:33 AM »
Yeah, I've found this a disturbing trend. Previously if you wanted to hate, you had to sign on with some religious community. Now you can hate and still be an atheist. And use a bunch of "tools" (it's science!) to justify your hate, instead of religious prescriptions to justify your hate.
"Because the world needs more Mark Crislip."

Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast
Korean Podcast
Michael Goudeau, Vegas Comedy Entertainer Available for Trade Shows

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 10071
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2018, 11:50:17 AM »
Yeah, I've found this a disturbing trend. Previously if you wanted to hate, you had to sign on with some religious community. Now you can hate and still be an atheist. And use a bunch of "tools" (it's science!) to justify your hate, instead of religious prescriptions to justify your hate.

https://twitter.com/stands2reason/status/1017140577295577089

Offline heyalison

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 115
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2018, 12:04:03 PM »
One last, because 100 is a nice round number.

Another thing that makes it hardest to be around places like this is seeing how many (mostly younger, though it spans ages) men seem to see empathy and kindness as character flaws, and how easily they argue on behalf of ideologies that want to harm others. I'm so tired of hot takes from guys that are just reheated Ayn Rand and ultra-free-market capitalist talking points, or gumming up the discussions of the rights of others with bad faith hyper-skepticism. I don't know if it's for LOLs or if it's a genuine intellectual pursuit, but it makes me so bummed out. The positions are so reactionary, and so willing to dehumanize refugees, people of color, the poor, the religious, or any group that isn't their own.

Offline Shibboleth

  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 8482
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2018, 12:20:05 PM »
Every time I read something skeptical I buy a new gun.
common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 10071
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2018, 12:55:23 PM »
To the OP:

I'm a woman.

Please, no. While Incels are killing people, let's not normalize "Involuntary/In-" as a prefix for identities.

The irony of people trying to invent drama over identity politics when we're just text on screen (except in cases where I have met IRL).

So, you pretended to create a thread about a political topic, but it is a passive-aggressive goodbye?

Offline moj

  • beer snob
  • Reef Tank Owner
  • *********
  • Posts: 9815
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2018, 01:35:31 PM »
To the OP:

I'm a woman.

Please, no. While Incels are killing people, let's not normalize "Involuntary/In-" as a prefix for identities.

The irony of people trying to invent drama over identity politics when we're just text on screen (except in cases where I have met IRL).

So, you pretended to create a thread about a political topic, but it is a passive-aggressive goodbye?

Way to be the example maybe you can help explain, WTF happened to you? How did you end up so damaged?

Offline Zerowantuthri

  • Not Enough Spare Time
  • **
  • Posts: 137
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2018, 02:41:13 PM »
Can the OP (or anyone) point to some examples of this?  Maybe start with a link to the article mentioned in the OP?

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 10071
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2018, 03:09:21 PM »
Way to be the example maybe you can help explain, WTF happened to you? How did you end up so damaged?

I literally skimmed over most-all of this person's posts. Most of it does seem to be a Poe's Law of feminism. Or just someone that pretends to emotional as a substitute for having an argument. And to answer the question of what damaged me:

I've was basically the victim of extreme hate & corruption that I was basically not allowed to start my profession, even though I have plenty of evidence if my qualifications. Of course, some of it (working at defense contractors) was "Russian movie theater" of them acting out specific kind of bigoted personalities as they were being invented in the social news outrage ecosystem. So I was prevented from having a life based on transphobia, but only because the evidence actually showed that I was significantly above average. Hint: virtually every time I have seem a supposedly liberal person decrying gendered bigotry, it sounds like they are sarcastically wishing for the kind of stuff that I experienced.

You know there's some Orwellian stuff going on when Twitter selects specific news/outrage content that is specifically tailored to your situation (workplace corruption, gendered bigotry, "Red vs Blue" defense industry movie theater) literally as it is happening. After experiencing that for myself in 2014; I don't take anything I see on social media at face value—to the extent that I even still bother to consume it.

Offline John Albert

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4935
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2018, 03:27:07 PM »
This is one reason why I feel "skeptic" is kind of a useless word for self-identification. Thinking critically and logically, and predicating one's beliefs on valid evidence are all important disciplines for discerning the truth, but the mantle of "skeptic" is sufficiently vague that anyone could claim it to lend credence to any sort of beliefs. How many times have you heard somebody say "I'm very skeptical about these things, but..." before launching off into some woo-woo nonsense?

"Atheism" is just a lack of a belief in a god or gods. People disbelieve in gods for a great variety of reasons, some good and some bad. Most beliefs or credos to which an atheist might subscribe are totally unrelated to their atheism. For example, there's nothing inherent to atheism itself that would necessarily lead one to subscribe to white nationalism.

Perhaps there's a common psychological cause between the inclination toward skeptical atheism and a susceptibility to extremist ideologies. For example, maybe some people reject their belief in God out of an feeling of social detachment or discontent, or maybe rejecting religion leads to feelings of marginalization that also leads to the craziness.

Just the same, I don't think it's reasonable to assume that skepticism and atheism are a "gateway" to far right extremism, unless some mechanism or causality has been established.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 03:34:45 PM by John Albert »

Offline Quetzalcoatl

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4115
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2018, 03:49:41 PM »
This seems a little strange to me.

First, skepticism and atheism are not the same thing. Most skeptics are atheists, but the reverse is certainly not true. Are some al-rightists atheists? I'm not aware of any statistics, but it seems very likely to me. Any bum can be an atheist. At least among young people, atheism is not particularly rare. And I don't think atheism leads to alt-rightism in itself. I have met both libertarian atheists and socialist atheists. Atheism doesn't lead to any political belief, except maybe support for secularism, and even that isn't a given.

Skepticism is a different beast, and that alt-rightists would be skeptics seems very unlikely to me. Why? Because alt-rightists tend to believe in a lot of pseudoscientific and pseudohistorical things. That skepticism would be part of the process leading one to become an alt-rightist seems preposterous to me. Unless that person engages in a lot of special pleading to maintain those beliefs. But then that is a deviation from skeptical thinking, not an expression of it.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 4115
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2018, 03:53:47 PM »
This is one reason why I feel "skeptic" is kind of a useless word for self-identification. Thinking critically and logically, and predicating one's beliefs on valid evidence are all important disciplines for discerning the truth, but the mantle of "skeptic" is sufficiently vague that anyone could claim it to lend credence to any sort of beliefs. How many times have you heard somebody say "I'm very skeptical about these things, but..." before launching off into some woo-woo nonsense?

I think your example shows that the mantle of skepticism is sufficiently attractive for its opponents to want to claim it for themselves.

The term is not optimal, but it's very established, and has been at least for decades. There isn't any alternative term out there that also can't be abused.

Take a read at Steven Novella's blogpost from 2008 that discusses this a bit: Skeptic - The Name Thing Again

Offline amysrevenge

  • Baseball-Cap-Beard-Baby Guy
  • Stopped Going Outside
  • *******
  • Posts: 5709
  • The Warhammeriest
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2018, 04:13:36 PM »
I'm definitely reading this OP as meaning "participation in the wider community of atheists" when saying "atheism" and same for skepticism.  Not the mindset/worldview in isolation, but the community.

EG.  Given "I was shocked how many mentioned atheism and skepticism as part of that process."  I am not hearing "I was shocked how many mentioned believing in no gods and valuing critical thinking as part of that process."  I am hearing "I was shocked how many mentioned active participation in the atheist and skeptic communities as part of that process."
Big Mike
Grande Prairie AB Canada

Offline stands2reason

  • Empiricist, Positivist, Militant Agnostic
  • Poster of Extraordinary Magnitude
  • **********
  • Posts: 10071
Re: Atheism and skepticism as gateways to alt-right ideologies
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2018, 04:38:13 PM »
First, skepticism and atheism are not the same thing. Most skeptics are atheists, but the reverse is certainly not true.

I don't understand this. It is "certainly not true that most atheists are skeptics"? I mean, theism is a form of magical thinking, so there is some kind of skepticism going on. BTW, how do we measure the number [scientific] skeptics? I don't believe there is any survey that counts skpetics like the Pew Religion Poll we would use for atheists/agnostic. I am not convinced that the relative size of the two groups is that different.

However, this thread does highlight the popularity of "none" label. It seems skeptics are now endorsing the narrative that atheists are cynical/mean people (the bad kind of "skeptic")? So, the literal word for "no belief in a personal God" is a bad word again—and then there were "Nones".

 

personate-rain