Dear Internet,

We here at Skepticon HQ love our movement. We love that we don’t always agree, are wicked smart and have a penchant for awesome hats. Skepticon has always worked hard to cultivate a conference that celebrates such diversity and awesomeness, doing our best to ensure that any and all know that they are welcome and safe at our event.

However, after witnessing the actions of one of our years long sponsors, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), it has come to our attention that, in order to uphold the values that we have come to embody and endorse, we will no longer accept their sponsorship.

So what does this mean for Skepticon? Well, losing a large sponsor is going to hurt a little bit (we’re probably going to have to sell some of those awesome hats were were talking about) but it has made even determined than ever to make a conference that we can be proud of.



P.S.-Want to help us keep our awesome hats? Donate today and help us make your conference even better.




Categories: FundraisingSK6


joel · June 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

I like it. Unaware misogyny is a hard nut to crack…so to speak…as it were. We will get through eventually.

The silver lining is this situation has alerted me to the need to financially support Skepticon.

The Nerd · June 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

It’s never easy to put your money where your mouth is, but I think you’re doing the right thing. I hope the skepticommunity recognizes what an important role Skepticon plays in the midwest, enough to invest in our people and continue to make Skepticon a success.

yoryor · June 19, 2013 at 11:58 am

This is unbelievable. Ron Lindsay’s speech was reasonable, skeptical, and very fair. He never denigrated anyone, he never said anything misogynistic, and he has done a lot to support many and varied organisations. He was attacked by Rebecca Watson for daring to talk about women during a women’s conference, and he called the situation out and called Rebecca Watson to be acting like North Korea. That is *nothing* compared to the hyperbole of FreeThoughtBlogs and Skepchick.

You are cutting off your nose for nothing here. CFI are a better ally than Rebecca Watson, who I have no respect for (and no, not because she is a woman, but because her actions are disgraceful). Good luck with that, but I am fairly certain that this empty activism will take you nowhere except to damage Skepticon. The jokes about hats are ridiculous; Rebecca Watson etc tried to get a man fired for doing nothing wrong (please, actually *read* the speech, and ask yourself, had a man spoken this speech, which does not denigrate women in any way whatsoever, would anybody be saying anything about the speech).

I believe around half of the attendees at WiS2 were very supportive of what Ron Lindsay had to say. Why let the rotten apples (Rebecca Watson) infect every debate with poison to further her own selfish agenda (and no, that’s not about women’s rights, her agenda is about promoting herself and becoming a celerbrity; peel back the curtain a tiny bit, though I’m sure if you are wicked smart, you already know this). Good luck, I think you’ve made a very bad move, but of course, it’s your right to do it.

    Lauren Lane · June 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    We are sorry that you do not like our jokes about hats, but we sure as heck enjoyed it. Do you like jokes about dinosaurs? Check out this one:What did dinosaurs use to make their hotdogs?

    …Jurassic Pork!

      yoryor · June 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      oh, I love jokes about hats, dinosaurs, and hotdogs, all fine by me, and I’m sure I could gladly joke with you about any of that, but in the context of Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers trying to get Ron Lindsay fired, that seems less funny (I’ve not seen mania of this level outside of Creationist or KKK antics). What Rebecca and PZ Myers tried to do, and failed, was a witch-hunt pure and simple. Skepticism is about asking questions. Remember that about 50% of the WiS2 conference agreed with what Ron Lindsay said so I honestly don’t know why sheep follow Rebecca Watson, PZ Myers, and their “revisionist” dishonesty, but I guess it’s the same reason that people follow religion.

      CFI *absolutely* share your interests and principles. They simply do not share the anti-skepticism of witch-hunts and censorship that is the norm on FTB / Skepchick. That’s all. i.e. they act in a correctly skeptical way in making the ability of *all* people to be able to ask questions in decent ways without being told to “shut up” or being made pariahs (as Rebecca Watson has attempted, and completely failed, to do to Ron Lindsay).

      Thankfully, CFI will continue to be a reasoned skeptical organisation, and they will reject FTB and Skepchick and other gossip-mongers with no real objective other than self-promotion. But maybe Rebecca Watson is a drinking buddy, so you have to follow her or it’ll affect your social circle. So on that basis, socialising definitely comes first, and rational skeptical enquiry comes a far off last! Booze and hotdogs first!

        Marcus Hill · June 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm

        You’re kind of right. There’s one side of this argument that is being made to feel oppressed and unwelcome, and one side that is completely misrepresenting the stance of their opponents. Unfortunately, you’ve got them complelely reversed. Your misrepresentation of people’s well founded anger at Ron Lindsay’s inappropriate speech is telling, focused as it is on the usual demonisation of Watson and Myers, who were neither the first nor the most vociferous in their opposition. You also throw out the canard that people were asking for Ron’s head on a stick, when the vast majority just wanted him to admit his error and apologise. Even though he hasn’t, one could still justify not disassociating from CFI just because its leader is severely lacking – until they refused to clarify that their stance as an organisation was not represented by Lindsay’s speech. But hey, maybe Ron’s your drinking buddy, so I’ll go ahead and insult you by implying that your ethical standards are subordinate to your social life.

          yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm

          He’s not my drinking buddy, never met him, but I did read his speech, and it was fine.

          Sofia Antonia Milone · June 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm

          “But hey, maybe Ron’s your drinking buddy, so I’ll go ahead and insult you by implying that your ethical standards are subordinate to your social life.”

          What a come-back – shame it fly over someone’s head.

        Sockatume · June 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm

        The opening remarks are important part of any meeting, which carry with them certain responsibilities vis a vis the tone and content of the event as a whole. When acting as the representative for a large organisation who may not share your ideas, even moreso.


        I’m all for a spirited debate on the value of human life, but if you make that the subject of the eulogy at my friend’s funeral, I’m going to take it personally.

        If, after having this pointed out to you, you start calling me names and then refuse to apologise “on principle”, I think I have every right to be even more offended.

        And if you’re doing all this in your position as the representative of the local council, and they remain silent on the issue, well that’s all the worse for the council.

        This is the biggest PR disaster in a year which has already seen two Microsoft press conferences and an M. Night movie.

          yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

          Terrible analogy, equating the pain of family over a loved ones death, with the vacuous tactics of Rebecca Watson’s self-serving demagoguery. Congratulations on the most lame analogy ever.

        Christophe · June 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

        “Remember that about 50% of the WiS2 conference agreed with what Ron Lindsay said.”

        (a) Data and methodology, please.

        (b) Even accepting that, a *full half* of the attendees of a conference had a problem with the *keynote speaker* of the *presenting organization*. That sounds pretty bad to me.

        Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 20, 2013 at 1:43 am

        Are you for real? I mean… the amount of, I assume, involuntary irony and hilarity is… actually pretty amazing. Your entire two tirades basically follows a principle somewhat like this.

        Marcus, Christophe and Sockatume have already dismantled your post in a way more formal way, so I’ll just add this: Really? I mean… Really?

          yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 10:23 am

          “Marcus, Christophe and Sockatume have already dismantled your post in a way more formal way”
          Yes, I’m for real (jeez, but that’s a weak comment Andreas “I’ve got 3 people who dismantled you, so there!”). Read the speech. The speech was reasonable and decent. It has been blown out of proportion by way of a witch-hunt. Nothing said in the speech was incorrect. For every raving blog saying that Ron Lindsay was out of order, I can show you another stating that he was absolutely right to say this. I’ve found a ton of people (actual attendees) who agreed completely with what he said, and his intent, and want to distance themselves from the irrational explosion from FTB, which proves my point completely (right or wrong can never be proven in a situation like this, but the FACT of opposing views, and that about half of attendees strongly supporting Ron Lindsay is fairly clear). So what if people disagreed with him? This is the point. If they disagreed, talk about it, but no, what FTB and the intellectually-dishonest did was say that everyone was against Lindsay and demanded a head on a plate. Which is disgusting, but it epitoimzed what FTB is about. Irrational, disjointed, dogmatic and ridiculous. Dropping CFI sponsorship will damage Skepticon with no benefit to Skepticon, but as I say, looks like some people at Skepticon want to be in the ‘Rebecca Watson Gang’ and be drinking buddies more than they probably seriously care about Skepticism. Again, every blog you can show, I can show an opposing view. And even if 50% of a conference disagree with a speaker, shouldn’t that inspire discussion and debate instead of yet another ludicrous FTB witch-hunts? (they never end. “Oh, somebody made a photoshopped image of PZ Myers, that’s harassment! call the police!”. alternatively, grow up.). Skepticism is about questioning and discussion. You are saying that questioning and discussion are unacceptable (i.e. you want Ron Lindsay to grovel an apology, or to be fired, immediately, or else, and that’s all). That’s not skepticism, because many people have alternative views, so your position is completely unsupported by reality. So, in summary, fairly ludicrous non-points you and the others gibbered there Andreas. Good luck with that.

          Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

          You do understand that by accusing the CFI’s critics of asking for a head on a platter, you’re engaging in a hyperbolic witch-hunt, right? Their objections were, albeit exasperated and frustrated, entirely reasonable. They engaged in a dialogue with the material.

          Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 20, 2013 at 10:48 am

          So… you can’t at all see the hilarity in you first accusing someone of starting a witch hunt, throwing around hyperbole and over dramatizing shit, and then doing the exact same thing yourself in the same post? <3 that's so adorable. And actually as far as I'm aware there have been no demands of heads on platters (can you link me these terrifying terrorist demands please?), nor any demands from any of the bloggers (rebecca and pz included) that firing Ron is THE ONLY WAY. Neither was there a demand of any groveling, there was a demand that he first of all actually acknowledged how deeply he misrepresented both feminism and women's issues, and perhaps some sort of answer to the criticism that doesn't involve calling people mao and stalin :) And, we've actually had none of that, he did just reply by calling rebecca (and pz afai remember) stalin-like stasi, and then ignored the actual criticism of his speech. And as usual people like you direct all your petty little MRA inspired rage at rebecca and PZ, even tho they aren't by a mile, the most ferocious critics of Ron Lindsay's speech. But I guess its easier to go on pretending that rebecca actually did anything besides say "hey, guys… don't do that, its creepy" and claim that her and her army of killer-robot feminazis are coming for our penises… right?

          I've Read ron's speech several times, and to be honest I find two things about it. The things he gets factually right are so insignificant and captain-obvious that it is basically akin to starting a conference on FGM with a long talk about how it is also sad that men gets their peni cut. And gosh jolly, it IS sad that baby boys are mutilated, but that isn't really what we're here to deal with. I mean, it is also horrible that people die of malaria, and yet, that isn't the focus of the conference. The conference was about women in skepticism, not about, as I understand it, how they're getting all uppity and demanding, but about how we can actually start including them and sort of dismantling this pathetic white-middle-class-man-club. Now, I whole heartedly agree that there are crazy feminists, just like there are crazy paramedics, crazy cops, crazy clerks and crazy liberals and crazy republicans and whatnot, but again, is that… really what we're going to start the conference with bitching about? And not the huge amount of rock-hard glass ceilings, implicit misogyny that is everywhere, and the ridiculous harassment that women are subjected to. And while I think I'd probably snicker if someone photoshopped a pic of me, I'm pretty sure I'd get worn the fuck down if I was threatened with rape and murder every day, and even if I could deal with it, that wouldn't in any way, shape or form make it acceptable.

          If you'd be so kind as to direct me to the massive amount of rape, murder, torture and rob threats that the poor poor ron lindsay have gotten? no? ah ok, so we can agree that the main aggressor here seems to be the all manly men waving their cocks around like there is no tomorrow, or?

          Also, if you intend on actually debating me, be as kind as to actually deal with the content of my post, which was mainly about how ridiculous it is to throw huge rocks from your tiny glasshouse and insist on still being on the high ground morally and integrity wise :) <3

          yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 11:40 am

          > So… you can’t at all see the hilarity in you first accusing someone of starting a witch hunt, throwing around hyperbole and over dramatizing shit, and then doing the exact same thing yourself in the same post?

          well, I would, but I didn’t do that. You just made that. Good way to twist things. Did I call for a witch-hunt on Rebecca Watson? nope. on PZ Myers? nope.
          you’ll see a pattern here: I say something, you lie about it. It’s ok, it’s the very NON-adorable nature of you people, that when you are typing, you are lying. Good for Ron Lindsay for telling Rebecca Watson sycophants like yourself to p*ss off. Good for Skepticon for supporting their drinking buddies and proving that skepticism is less important than boozing with RW. I don’t care. Idiotic, ridiculous, not very adorable, but go for it. You people are crazy.

          Just to reiterate: “and then doing the exact same thing (accusing someone of starting a witch hunt) yourself in the same post?” Did I call for a witch-hunt on Rebecca Watson? nope. on PZ Myers? nope.
          ok, so explain to me how blatant lying is a reasonable thing ?

          > <3 that's so adorable.
          Well, sure, I'm adorable, that's just natural, comes partly from my honesty and good humour.

    pzmyers · June 19, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    “I believe around half of the attendees at WiS2 were very supportive of what Ron Lindsay had to say”…I am skeptical. Evidence, please.

    I was there. The collective gasp and bewildered “WTF?” looks in that room were nearly universal. The organizer was shocked and stressed, and I was in the midst of swarms of attendees who were expressing dismay. This game of pretending it was just Rebecca and I inventing this story, that Lindsay did “nothing wrong”, is a dishonest myth, spread by propagandists and anti-feminists who were not there.

      Steve Vanden-Eykel · June 20, 2013 at 1:59 am

      I was there too, and the approving nods and occasional muttered “Amens” were nearly universal. Afterwards, while the rest of the room was high-fiving each other, I noticed PZ and about a dozen of his friends beating a hasty retreat while glowering about the room shaking their fists.

      Yay anecdotes!

      Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Supposing for a moment it were true, I’m supposed to believe that an opening speech that only offends half of the audience is supposed to be a good thing?

        yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

        Sockatume, yes, it’s a good thing, and please note that Steve also said that the support for Lindsay “nearly universal”. That’s what he witnessed.

        People need to stop being offended every 5 seconds, and instead start thinking. “Check your offence” should be a *thing*, instead of all that “check your privilege” bs (yes, it’s bs, everyone has “privilege” in this world, and every will at times a) use their privilege for personal gain, b) check their privilege for unselfish things. a) and b) are happening all the time inside everyone, so “check your privilege” is about as worthwhile as one of Rebbeca Watson’s blog posts i.e. totally worthless). Rebecca Watson is using her “privilege” everytime she posts another stupid blog/twitter to attempt to create more controversy. She gets away with it *because* of her privileged position that she’s worshipped by sycophants, but that’s ALL privilege. So, is the offence over this so-called scandal reasonable? Is it worthwhile? Calling for witch hunts to fire people because they said something completely non-misogynistic but which some ranters on FTB and Skepchick decided was beyond the pale, is not reasonable. It’s truly and utterly shameful and pathetic.

        So, yes, these people are offended if someone breathes the wrong way (in a different continent) to them. Their “offence” is what they do, but they were not offended, it’s simply a power-trip, a stupid game of fake-activism, by very stupid people (RW, PZ, etc). If they were serious people with something to say, they would be directing their energy to the influence of the church on American politics, or on it’s effect around the world in places like Palestine, but they don’t, because they are self-serving and selfish. It’s not about skepticism, it’s about Rebecca. She’s gained a little notoriety and she is milking it for all she is worth. It’s “Rebecca Watson Demagoguery 101”

        Here’s what Rebecca wrote *during* Lindsay’s speech (basic demagoguery):
        “‏@rebeccawatson 17 May
        Very strange to open #wiscfi w a white male CEO lecturing women about using the concept of privilege to silence men.”
        1. He wasn’t *lecturing* in the sense of talking down as RW’s clear implication in her silly deliberate attempt to create controversy. He was lecturing in EXACTLY the same way as EVERY other speaker was: he was talking, it was a speech, not a condescending “lecture”
        2. “white male”. Absolutely disgusting, using his skin colour as an slur. And people call this a “very reasonable and balanced” comment by RW. This is pathetic, and again, constructed controversy.
        3. “women … using the concept of privilege to silence men”, and that wasn’t what he was doing at all. Again, constructed controversy. He was talking about the very reasonable need for things not to become polarised into memes and pathetic concepts like “privilege” or “shut up and listen”, but Rebecca needs to create a controversy so she can fuel her own image at the centre of the storm!

        All these people do is be offended by imaginary nonsense. Vacuous and pathetic. Good for CFI for calling them out for it.

          Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm

          You don’t see the relevance of being white when it comes to an ironic lecture about majority priviledge? If the worst remark Watson made on the subject is that tweet, she’s certainly got the moral high ground over somebody who compared her to an communist propaganda outlet.

          There’s certainly somebody ranting about how offended and disgusted they are, but it doesn’t seem to be her!

          yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 2:41 pm

          “There’s certainly somebody ranting about how offended and disgusted they are, but it doesn’t seem to be her!”
          check her latest post. Massive rant, plus a call for people to boycott CFI !?!?. So, really ? That’s NOT a rant on her part? hmm … I know you people have phobias about dictionaries, but the meaning of the word “rant” seems to have sailed right over your head there.
          check PZ Myers many posts on this. Rant.
          check Ophelia Bensons posts. Paranoid rant.
          check Stephanie Zvan. Meandering confused rant.
          check Greta Chrisina. Rant, mega rant, chucks toys out of the pram and petulantly proclaims she’s not going to speaking venues in protest rant (good call though, one less ranty ranter at conferences is always a good thing).
          check most other FTB blogs. “Ranty rant rant rant. Rant some more”.

          See, that’s the point, I’m not offended. I am disgusted, you could say that about me. I’m always disgusted by the tactics of whining selfish people and ludicrous demagogues (PZ, OB, SZ, RW, etc) and I’m glad that you agree with me on that. But if you want to talk about “offence”, that’s all with them. Remember, they are calling for a person to be fired from a job for doing nothing wrong. People disagreed with him, fine, but it’s these people that want to get people fired (and they do, actually read their blogs, they are just hilariously bad writing mostly along the lines of “rant, fume, gibber, rant”, like a million Rant-monkey’s were given typewriters to bang away randomly on).

          KathyK · June 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm

          ^THIS. A thousand times THIS.

    Robby Bensinger · June 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Yoryor: “you want Ron Lindsay to grovel an apology, or to be fired, immediately, or else, and that’s all). That’s not skepticism, because many people have alternative views”

    Yes, that’s what I love about skepticism. It means never having to say you’re wrong, and not criticizing people if anyone disagrees with you.


      yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      yes Robby, I then said “You want Ron Lindsay to make a grovelling apology, recognise his “old white dude privilege” was overacting, and to promise to never question women again, because in front of women, he must “check his privilege” and “shut up and listen” to their experiences, OR, to have him forcibly fired for the crime of daring to question goatse-meme’s like “check your privilege” and “shut up and listen”. That is a very precise and perfect handle on this situation.”
      I then asked: “Any questions? Anything I got wrong there?”

      So, am I wrong Robby? If I’m wrong, that’s fine, but please tell me how I’m wrong? Just let me know, really keen to hear. Is there any situation whereby the witch-hunt will not continue short of the above 2 conditions being met? I mean, would you say that it’s *possible* that Rebecca Watson could accept that maybe, just maybe, she, PZ, OB, SZ could *possibly* be wrong, and that maybe say, *they* should apologise for their many thousands of lines of vicious slanderous attacks via blogs, for tweeting something only intended to create controversy *during* Lindsays speech, and the ongoing witch hunt to dictate to CFI how they should operate? So, am I wrong Robby, cos if not, if I’m right, then FTB and Skepchick are simply the worst kind of dogmatic scum, and only drooling idiots would go along with their nonsense, right?.


      Bottom line, “check your privilege” and “shut up and listen” are worse than the very worst goatse. i.e. they’re ugly and they don’t do anything except make people sick. They are just vacuous vomit’s that can be used in any situation to stifle debate. *Any* situation. Just say those to anyone in the middle of any discussion, and there you go, all discussion is killed, but this is what the creators of this nonsense intended, so it’s nonsense-by-design (oh, and if those fail, simply say that anyone that disagrees with Rebecca Watson is a “misogynist”, that works great; am I am misogynist Robby? I say bad things about Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers, so does that make me a misogynist, as I’ve seen people called “misogynist” on FTB for far less than that?). The rubbish these people spout is turning skepticism into a cul de sac, so I’m incredibly glad that people like Ron Lindsay and the CFI have ignored all their nonsense, and have done the right thing by calling out hate-mongers like Greta Christina, PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson etc for their self-promotion and egotism.

        Robby Bensinger · June 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

        Yoryor: It doesn’t sound like you’ve looked into this back-and-forth with enough care and precision yet. You have a certain cached mental model of broad groups of people and particular Villains in the narrative — FTB, Skepchick, PZ, Watson, etc. — and you’re fitting a broad sketch of the events into that ready frame. Here are a few of the things you’re missing:

        All the major critics of Lindsay have agreed with him that the actions he described are bad, and people should avoid them. The only concern they’ve expressed is that Lindsay exaggerated how common these problems are, and conflated more legitimate uses of the concepts of privilege and ‘listen to other perspectives first’ with these straw-men. See Rebecca Watson’s original (remarkably moderate, patient) response to Lindsay’s, which he (the civil, reasonable, decidedly-not-hysterical man…) compared to, of all things, North Korea…

        “To summarize, Lindsay spends a good deal of time arguing against the idea that feminism as a movement has no significant internal disagreements, an absurd idea I have never actually heard expressed by any feminists, but I suppose Lindsay and I travel in different circles. Lindsay doesn’t mention who exactly has argued this point so I can’t check to see why on Earth they’d think something so obviously contradictory to reality. It seems impossible to me that a person could be involved in modern day feminism in any way without noticing the lively and occasionally contentious debates among feminists about topics like intersectionality, particularly with regards to the fringe radical feminists who hold openly transphobic beliefs. […]

        “Lets be clear: there are, without a doubt, people who misuse the term ‘privilege’ and there are those who use the concept of privilege as their sole point of argumentation. [… T]o be very clear, I’m certain there have been transphobic feminists who have silenced transgender people, a group that is already marginalized and abused by society as a whole. In his talk, Lindsay didn’t give any examples of men who have been silenced, though he has promised to provide some. In the meanwhile, the audience is forced to examine the only example provided: Lindsay himself, a white male who is CEO of one of the largest skeptic organizations in the world and who delivered the 30-minute introductory lecture at a women’s conference. There doesn’t seem to be much danger of his voice being silenced, though of course I may not be aware of some behind-the-scenes campaign to drive him into obscurity. […]

        “When faced with my criticism of his tone deafness, Lindsay didn’t hesitate to include me in the list of feminists trying to shut him up. He seems to be confused, assuming any discussion about how race, gender, and other attributes influence our outlook and our biases is a call for people of privilege to have no say. This is quite obviously absurd – I myself am incredibly privileged as a white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, middle class educated American, but do I demand that I and anyone like me never engage in discussions of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or class? Of course not – I merely hope that we engage in these conversations with compassion and understanding, ultimately encouraging the people directly affected by those issues to have a voice and an audience.”

        Likewise Greta Christina’s response to Lindsay’s criticisms of ‘divisiveness for its own sake’, ‘feminism as a monolith’, and ‘privilege-talk as a way of silencing the privileged’:

        “I’m the one who wrote the piece titled ‘Atheism Plus, and Some Thoughts on Divisiveness’. And this representation of my ideas, and of the ideas of the other people who wrote about Atheism Plus and divisiveness, is a gross misrepresentation. The point of starting Atheism Plus was not to create divisiveness just for divisiveness’s sake. The point was that the atheist movement is already divided. The point was that the barrage of hatred, harassment, and abuse aimed at women in this movement — especially feminist women — has not been treated as ‘divisive,’ but somehow it was ‘divisive’ to start a distinct group where this behavior was prohibited. […]

        “Who, exactly, are these feminists who claim that there is no significant division among true feminists? Lindsay has already been asked elsewhere to provide three examples of feminist women telling men to ‘shut up’ — a challenge he has embarrassingly failed to meet. (I’ll get to that “shut up” business in a minute.) I would like to issue another request: Name three feminists — not some random person with a blog on Daily Kos, but serious and respected leaders or writers in the feminist movement — who claim that there are no significant divisions within the feminist movement.

        “Again: To lecture a roomful of diverse feminist activists on the history of feminism, and to lecture us on how absurd it is to think feminist opinion isn’t diverse, was wildly patronizing. […]

        “I do not know anyone — and I mean anyone — who is a serious and respected leader or writer advocating for feminism within the atheist movement, who is telling men that they have nothing to contribute to the conversation about feminism, simply because they are men, and that all men must shut up about feminism permanently.”

        I would add yet another easy concession, targeted at your worries: Calling people ‘misogynists’ rarely leads to enlightenment or consciousness-raising. Sexism is indeed universal, particularly at small(-but-accumulating) scales, and needs to be called out regularly. But usually the best way to do that isn’t to completely externalize the problem, as though only Big Bad Blatant Misogynists were capable of bias. Everyone is biased, and the goal is to become more aware of that so you can notice when you’re thereby causing harm. If Ron Lindsay had talked instead about that, and had fairly represented the actual positions of feminists, I think he’d have gotten a standing ovation. Instead, he screwed up, and he and CFI’s board should apologize for it so we can move on. More importantly, they should show that they understand what the problem was in the first place. They’re skeptics, scholars, humanists; those are roles you have to continuously work to refresh, not just coast on your past intellectual accomplishments. It’s time for Lindsay and the Board to crack open a couple of books. Or at least read blog responses more attentively.

        If you aren’t at all familiar with the feminist movement, then it’s understandable that you’d consider Lindsay’s criticisms, looked at in a vacuum, perfectly reasonable — because the things he’s criticizing, as described, are clearly bad. But if you also haven’t taken the time to read any of the detailed responses to the contents of that speech, then you won’t notice that the criticism is that the speech constructed straw-men and trivialized feminists’ actual concerns, not that the behaviors it described were Good Things.

        My advice is simply: Do some reading. Good skepticism requires good scholarship, because it requires representative data. Garbage in, garbage out.

      yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

      well, that was a huge waste of your time wasn’t it Robby, as I read all of those posts ages ago, and they are just as unconvincing now as they were then. Totally vapid in fact.
      So, I’m not *missing* any of that stuff. That stuff is WHY I’ve said what I’ve said. You quote a bunch of partisan demagogues. Well done.

      ok, so here is the problem in a nutshell (the play within the play):

      Person X says something about “stuff”. Person Y says “No! you are WRONG! Me and my friends KNOW you are wrong, and what you said is beyond the pale and has OFFENDED all of mankind, so now you must grovel forgiveness from us, the Keepers of Truth, or be destroyed!”. Person Z (a normal rational person) says “wait a minute, you Y people are completely nuts! So, a person has an opinion and now he must be fired? Even if Person X is wrong in YOUR eyes, his position and experiences are valid, and so what he said is fine; as skeptical human being we should be free to discuss things without fear of being made pariahs!”. However (enter stage left) Persons D (for “Dunce”) who just chime along with whatever Person Y says and quote verbatim huge chunks of Person Y’s blog posts (because Persons D are needy people that can’t think independently).

      Dramatis personæ:
      Ron Lindsay: Person X
      Rebecca Watson: Person Y
      Normal People: Person Z
      Weirdo’s: Person D

      And that’s it Robby, a bunch of really nasty people want to destroy another person (following the time honoured tradition of the FTB witch hunt to further their own self-promotion. The above is the exact process by which this happens. So, a man has a view on Feminism, so those “garbage in, garbage out” bloggers that you mention (I like your term for PZ, OB, RW, GC there, it’s a very accurate description of them) get together and spew a lot of garbage about person X.

      My god though, I cannot believe that you verbatim quoted all that garbage from those “garbage in, garbage out” bloggers like RW! wow. I’ve never understood the neediness of people that follow religions / cults like this; how can people be suckered in by this trash to destroy other people for the crime of having an opinion ? I am always amused (and disappointed) by this thing that you guys always do where you say “you are clearly ignorant! you clearly have not read THIS blog post! Once you do, you will educate yourself, you ignoramus!”, when of course I’ve already read those posts a number of times. So, what was his crime Robby … To air some views and experiences ? … at a woman’s conference that he sponsored (“how bloody dare he, thank you very much !!!”) ? wow, pretty pitiful really. The only thing that’s REALLY going on here, as we all know, is that he challenged “shut up and listen” and “check your privilege”, and as a number of demagogue bloggers base all of their self-promotion blogging trash around those trash concepts (“garbage in, garbage out” as you so rightly point out), they need to silence Ron Lindsay and will do everything that they can to achieve that.

        Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

        So… I’m so confused by this debate.

        It seems to me, Yoryor, that the things you’re accusing everyone else of, with a loooot of hyperbolic and really look-its-just-humor-he-he nasty ass phrasing, is basically still what you’re doing. You’re not at all willing to ask yourself any questions because you “have a perfect handle on this”. You’re even going as far as to basically dehumanize the evil “demagogue” bloggers turning them into sort of cardboard cutout characters who are which hunting screaming evil bullies. And if you’ve actually read the damn original posts, there is basically little to none of this aggressive crazy-talk, there is even througout an acknowledgement that he probably didn’t have bad intentions, but he really did fuck up. I realize that it takes some work to actually grasp the fucking huge and complex situation that is gender issues in society and in political/ideological movements. But you insist on viewing this as some sort of completely isolated incident and that the speech somehow shouldn’t at ALL be viewed in the context of feminism, womens issues etc. But that is what the entire fucking conference was about. So, as is obvious from the criticism of Ron, the main complaint, as I see it, isn’t that he did some terribad logic (strawmanning etc.) we all do that sometimes, but that he used THIS opportunity, to basically completely misrepresent feminism and womens issues implicitly, which is fucking hugely offensive when there is FINALLY a con dealing with the huge problem that is misogyny in the skeptical/atheist movement.

        And like… person.. please… go over your posts, they’re all many times as aggressive and inflammatory as any of the original criticism directed at ron lindsay. And you’re coming off more and more as basically just a troll repeating yourself.

        Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 21, 2013 at 9:35 am

        On a side note yoryor, I love your magic ability to know what the motivation behind rebecca’s actions are. please teach me your mind-reading ways

        Robby Bensinger · June 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

        Your main accusation seems to be that Lindsay’s critics are melodramatic, their concerns overblown. Yet, reading their posts, their tone is far more moderate and level-headed than your own, happily making concession to the other side and avoiding hyperbole. I just want to point out that dissonance.

        (Indeed, they do an immeasurably better job of this than Lindsay has, with his ‘by disagreeing with me you are basically torturing and oppressing and distorting me like a North Korean dictator, Rebecca Watson’ diatribe.)

        You should likewise be careful about deliberately misrepresenting my own statements (even if you intended it in jest) while attacking others for alleged caricaturing. It’s almost always helpful when accusing others of “ranting” to avoid ranting in the process. It at least proves that you’re consistent about what you like, as opposed to automatically liking overblown rhetoric when it comes from one side and automatically hating it when it comes from the other.

        To my knowledge, none of the people you’ve mentioned (Myers, Watson, Christina, the FTB or Skepchick communities) have called for Lindsay to be fired. But I could be wrong about that. Could you cite the source for this claim? All I’ve seen is them asking for him to apologize for misrepresenting mainstream feminists’ positions and to show that he understands the objections his one-sided remarks provoked. That doesn’t seem at all immoderate to me, and I’ve shown above that their criticisms are precise and accurate, focusing on Lindsay’s misrepresentation of their views and not on the truth or virtue of the straw-feminist positions he described.

          yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

          Stop ranting there Robby. Calm down and “check your offence” huh.

          “Yet, reading their posts, their tone is far more moderate and level-headed than your own”

          Well, I disagree, so where does that leave us? As I say, I think Rebecca Watson’s FIRST post was ok, but the post this week from her was off the scale of bat-shit craziness. That’s my opinion, you have yours, you can’t possibly say that my opinion is invalid can you?, because that’s like saying that Rebecca Watson’s opinion is invalid. Is that it Robby ?
          – Rebecca Watson speaks: VALID and TRUE !
          – Ron Lindsay speaks: BOO, HISS, INVALID !

          Cult. Followers. Sheep.

          So, as I’ve said before you have a bunch of bloggers who say that Lindsay was beyond the pale. A bunch of others say that what he said was fine. So which is it, and should a person be allowed to stand up and air completely non-misogynistic experiences and views, or should he be made a pariah … but more importantly, only one side is calling for people to be fired and boycotted … and that’s the BATSHIT CRAZY UNREASONABLE side. i.e. RW, PZ, etc.

          I don’t have much time for crazy unreasonable people.

          “I’ve shown above that their criticisms are precise and accurate”

          yeah, for your next magic trick, could you prove the existence of Thor please? Since you seem so convinced that you can show something unshowable, I reckon proving the existence of a God should be quite simple for you ;)

      yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Andreas: “So… I’m so confused by this debate.”
      oh, oh, someone is confused again! (the old “I’m baffled/confused/enraged” skit, here we go!).

      “You’re not at all willing to ask yourself any questions because you “have a perfect handle on this”.”
      See previously, I’ve asked 3 times for someone to EXPLAIN to me where I’m wrong. No one has yet taken me up on that.
      I’ve been open and asked where I’m wrong, I’ve been willing to ask myself questions. I’ve ASKED where this thesis could be wrong, but no one has (yet) replied. ok, so instead of acknowledging that I asked those questions, you pretend that I’m not asking any questions, even though it’s there, in my posts. So, are you being deliberately dishonest?

      “And if you’ve actually read the damn original posts, there is basically little to none of this aggressive crazy-talk, there is even throughout an acknowledgement that he probably didn’t have bad intentions, but he really did fuck up.”
      I’d say that Rebecca Watson’s first post “The Silencing of Men” was fine, I have no huge issues with it. However, this was at a point where she was not sure of her position. Note the difference in tone to THIS weeks post, when the manufactured controversy is in full swing. The tone is massively different, VERY aggressive. Nothing changed, and yet, 1st post, a bit reserved, this weeks post, massively confrontational. I wonder why …
      Throughout all of this, the usual suspects (PZ, OB, GC, Zvan) blog posts went beyond manic. MASSIVE amounts of crazy talk, indignation, affronted bla-bla, offended to unimaginable levels of hyperbole etc.

      “I realize that it takes some work to actually grasp the fucking huge and complex situation that is gender issues in society and in political/ideological movements.”
      wow, so you are going with you are an UBER-MENSCH with superior understanding and that I am INFERIOR bit ??? (seriously, that’s utterly fucked up what you just said. You just dictate to others what they know? That’s pretty full-on evil and shameful right there actually). So let’s go through that:
      – On the one hand, if I make comment on RW and PZ Myers based upon their posts then that is beyond the pale?
      – But on the other hand, it is perfectly ok for you to denigrate my understanding based upon what I post?
      So, if I do that thing, it’s unacceptable, but if you do that thing, it’s perfectly acceptable.
      I’m sure there’s a word for that … hmm …

      “which is fucking hugely offensive”
      yeah, and what you just said above is not hugely offensive at all … wow, can I have some maple syrup on that massive serving of hypocrisy please ?

      “please… go over your posts, they’re all many times as aggressive and inflammatory as any of the original criticism directed at ron lindsay”
      not even close, check Stephanie Zvan, check that silly Canadian person at FTB, these people manufacture massive controversies out of nothing all the time, and their posts on this issue (in fact most posts at FTB on this) have been a level of ranting that is like a war propaganda machine. I’m way way way below their level of those posts. Again, I’ll put it down again, but do some research on Pharwrongula. CHECK THE SOURCES, there is a vast amount of verifiable information in there , don’t trust the site itself, follow through and CHECK THE SOURCES on the endless manufactured controversies.

        Robby Bensinger · June 21, 2013 at 10:26 am

        “Nothing changed, and yet, 1st post, a bit reserved, this weeks post, massively confrontational.”

        Hypothesis 1: Delirious ‘it’s a giant evil conspiracy’ noises. Rebecca Watson was patient and moderate at first, then grew more hostile, because she’s an evil mastermind trying to destroy the world.

        Hypothesis 2: Rebecca Watson was patient and moderate at first, then grew more hostile, because she was giving Ron Lindsay the initial benefit of doubt so he had time to think things over and apologize. When he instead equated her with ‘North Korea’ and refused to acknowledge any legitimate concerns about his original speech, and the CFI board tried to sweep the problem under the rug, she ceased waiting for him to rethink his position (or be apologized for by CFI) and was more openly critical.

        This is a toughie. The latter might be more parsimonious… but c’mon, sinister conspiracies are way more fun.

          yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

          It’s not a conspiracy Robby. Man, I thought I made it clear? It’s just gibbering. they are “gibbering”, it’s what silly people do. If you think it’s a giant evil conspiracy, then I despair.

          Hypothesis 2: man, there was nothing PATIENT or MODERATE about firing off a massively loaded controversy manufacturing tweet like that during the man’s speech. JEEZ, a lot of things I’m willing to agree with you on, but fuck dude, patient and moderate ? Reality check please ! Seriously, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on on a “patience and moderate” front. sheesh ! your conspiracy theory is better than that one !!!

        Robby Bensinger · June 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm

        That’s not what “conspiracy” means. I wouldn’t bother to point this out, except this general pattern — any and all bad predicates apply to people I dislike, none to people I like, because halo effect yay — seems to run through your posts above. You’re not even particularly creative about it, projecting whatever pejorative is on the tip of your tongue without thinking about applicability.

        I don’t think you’ve done enough in this conversation to demonstrate your good faith. You’ve been very willing to criticize Watson and co. for heated rhetoric in this discussion, but not at all interested in criticizing Lindsay for much more heated and flamboyant rhetoric.Since most of your critique is based on subjective impressions (‘they just feeel angry and ranty to me, dammit!’), which most other readers don’t appear to share, it’s especially important for you to do more to build credibility and trust in the course of conversations like this. You need to show at least as much intellectual honesty as the people you’re attacking.

        You’ve repeatedly claimed that Watson, Christina, and Myers called for Lindsay’s termination. You’ve also repeatedly asked for specific factual errors in your own posts (then declared victory when you blanket-rejected proposed instances of these without argument). Well, in my last post I asked for evidence that those people had in fact called for Lindsay to resign / be fired. I notice this was the part of my response you opted to completely ignore, and I expect you’ll remedy this, citing a source, or just apologizing if you were in error.

      yoryor · June 22, 2013 at 6:48 am

      > That’s not what “conspiracy” means. I wouldn’t bother to point this out, except this general pattern

      oh god, now he’s questioning if I understand what a conspiracy means. wow. Another lie. You said:
      “That’s not what “conspiracy” means”
      It’s just ridiculous. I mean, your intellectual dishonesty is off the scale. Please define how I misapplied the word conspiracy, or else apologise. Oops, another lie from Robby.
      You really are warping reality Robby. This here is the main reason that it’s pointless to debate with dishonest people, so I just keep it light-hearted; no matter what I say, you will make things up. Earlier, you falsely accused me of a witch-hunt which was a completely unsupportable lie, but you don’t acknownledge or apologise, you just change tack and continue to lie. It’s always the same, you are not intellectually honest. You COULD reply to things honestly, but you don’t. Are you preperared to apologise for saying that I was involved in a witch hunt if you want to show your honesty?

      The bloggers, PZ, RW, OB, SZ, etc are not celebrities, so what they say doesn’t matter much. I read some, but as you say, it’s all “garbage in, garbage out” with people talking about “such and such didn’t understand the concept of ‘privilege’ as I wanted them to so fuck them”. They spit things out, then people rant in the comments about firing Ron Lindsay etc. It’s all pretty boring, and CFI are right to distance themselves from that muck.

      > You’re not even particularly creative about it, projecting whatever pejorative is on the tip of your tongue without thinking about applicability.

      some vaguely insulting stuff, flagellating as if you are superior. Good for you Robby, you go on banging your head trying to show the world that you are Uber-Mensch! boring.

      > I don’t think you’ve done enough in this conversation to demonstrate your good faith.

      oh, ok, so I REPLIED to your questions, and you have refused to reply to mine, AND you have lied about me on 3 points, BUT *I’ve* not demonstrated good faith. Right. Got it, Robby ;) That’s an insane statement but ok, sure ;). Maybe I’d take you seriously if you apologised for saying that I was involved in a witch hunt, a completely baseless and disgusting accusation considering that I never called for anyone to be fired?

      > You’ve been very willing to criticize Watson and co. for heated rhetoric in this discussion, but not at all interested in criticizing Lindsay for much more heated

      Actually, that’s another lie, I said above that he’s said bad things. All people do. I completely reject the nonsensical idea that he said anything bad in his speech, and thousands of people (including a large number of attendees at WiS2) also agree with that.

      Note: I say things, you lie about them. That’s dishonesty pure and simple. You say that I have not shown good faith, and yet, I’ve NOT LIED ON ANYTHING.

      > Since most of your critique is based on subjective impressions (‘they just feeel angry and ranty to me, dammit!’)

      Except I never said that. Another lie. Well done Robby, the lie count is quite pitiful.

      Well Robby, I think you’ve pinned your colours to the wall. Lie. Lie. Lie some more … but I guess “followers” never really care about honesty much ?

      Excellent post on how skepchick/FTB are simply not serious.

      Very good point that this is drama invented by melodramatic people that are not worth our time (again, good for CFI for rejecting Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers pathetic antics)
      A good example of the good character of Ron Lindsay (even though Melody Hensley acted disgustingly, he put up with that)

      It’s a tough life being a neophyte in a cult. I guess you gain points by lying, maybe Rebecca Watson will even buy you a drink at Skepticon? Anyway, you’ve lied about me repeatedly as shown above hence you are not a person to be taken seriously, and so it’s acceptable for me to mock you. I’ve spelled out 3 direct lies that you’ve made above. If you address/apologise for them, I could talk to you, otherwise you are what you are: your neediness to show yourself as a good puppet of the cult is reflected by your pitiful dishonesty.

      For people that want to know how the melodrama operates, see here

      Normal people are much more interested in getting on with serious issues, like the reach of religion in American politics, and how such things infect debate around the world. You are not interested in serious things, you are a liar and a fool.

Steve Vanden-Eykel · June 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Is this what’s called a ‘girlcott’?

    Lauren Lane · June 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I think I prefer the term ‘skepticott’, but then again we are known to slap ‘Skepti’ onto everything because it’s good, clean fun.

Aoife · June 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Dear skepticon, better not to get dragged into being a pawn in a political game? Noses are much better attached to the face

    Lauren Lane · June 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    This is something that affects everyone in the movement, so we’ve decided to take a stand. As CFI has been a sponsor of Skepticon for many years now, we thought it best to cut ties with those who do not share our interests or principles. Also, we like noses and faces.

      Aoife · June 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Lauren, what is the stand? Please tell me! Without empty rhetoric about values, exactly what cardinal sin did CFI commit that would cause a conference to reject funding!! Without this detail it really looks like you are siding in a petty political conflict.

        Robby Bensinger · June 19, 2013 at 4:18 pm

        Aoife, see:

        The concern is that Lindsay’s speech was patronizing, dramatically misrepresented mainstream feminists’ views, and failed to acknowledge the harassment, death threats, etc. that are the core problem. Neither he nor CFI have yet even gone so far as to apologize or acknowledge that any error occurred. That sort of disrespect, dishonesty, and marginalization of a central portion of the skeptic movement needs to see at least some repercussions, or it will persist.

          Aoife · June 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

          Hi Robby

          The links you provided are partisan commentary, from i add, a group of bloggers notorious for drama generation, you may agree with their perspective, i don’t.

          From my perspective Ron was calling for open, skeptical debate (a central tenet of the organising body) and for wariness of the abuse of the privilege concept to silence dissent. This should not, in my opinion be controversial for people who claim to be skeptics first and foremost.

          The lynch mob that formed thereafter is what should be opposed within skepticism. Because it is the antithesis to free inquiry.

          Skepticon have made a decision to make a dramatic statement about their position, which appears to be more about personalities than skepticism. That’s the organisers choice, but it is distancing itself from skepticism, the long term damage of that to the con is yet to be understood. The effect of the skeptic movement will be, i conject, like a ripple on a lake. Forgotten. In a gain/loss equation this was terrible planning.

        Robby Bensinger · June 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

        Aoife: I didn’t appeal to Greta’s authority, or to her ‘perspective’; I appealed to her specific factual arguments. I like Ron Lindsay and CFI, and I’m not affiliated with FTB. They just happen to have made clear and relevant points. If you disagree with those points, explain in detail why they’re wrong and I’ll change my mind. (Promise.) ‘Your argument can’t be right because the website you’re on is wrong sometimes’ doesn’t really qualify.

        Also, please don’t call things “lynch mobs” that aren’t actual mobs attempting to physically lynch people. Especially as banal rhetoric. There’s a reason we don’t say, ‘You were so mean to me just now, I’m basically a Jew in the Holocaust. Basically.’

Crommunist · June 19, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I find your lack of faith… refreshing. Well done.

Adam · June 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Skepticon was the worst transformer. He was fun enough in his robot form, but when he turned into doubt I just wasn’t sure.

Edward Gemmer · June 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I would have a hard time joining a conference with representatives from American Atheists given the current accusations against them. I hope we can agree that mistreating black women is an issue we need to face as a community, even if we do like noses, faces, hats, and dinosaurs.

Richard Sanderson (@RichSandersen) · June 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Skepticon have decided to be on the wrong side of history by “siding” with the bullying and intimidation of the Skepchick/FTB axis. Perhaps you are frightened of upsetting Rebecca Watson?

Most of the community has worked out what they are. A bunch of users who make people (mainly women) feel uncomfortable in our movement. EllenBeth Wachs currently has a good article up detailing the problem with FTB and Skepchick. It isn’t pretty.

But anyway, when push comes to shove, those people who want to defend and mitigate the behaviour of Skepchick/FTB are welcome to boycott all events. I (and many others) won’t miss them.

KathyK · June 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

And I’ll be boycotting Skepticon to protest this anti-CFI boycott…

unapologist · June 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm

“You are either with us or against us” is rarely a good method of attracting people. Is any dissent allowed in this community or is everyone that disagrees an enemy of the people?

Christopher James Stephens · June 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

A very hard thing to do, but a brave and principled decision.

Ron Lindsay’s talk was, at best, totally tone-deaf; at worst, deliberately antagonistic. His response to Rebecca Watson’s measured criticism was particularly out of line, and the CFI leadership not even offering a not-pology is just insulting.

I, for one, fully support Skepticon on this; I think it was the right call.

Johnny Vector · June 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Well shoot, my credit card is going to hate me this month. Because to answer a question from above, yes, I did read Lindsay’s speech, and the responses, and his responses to the responses, and the recent non-comment by the board. The initial speech was embarrassingly bad, even for a guy like me who generally sits obliviously humming to myself as obvious interpersonal interactions whiz past my head. Yeah, it was that bad. You should have linked to a summary of it so readers unfamiliar with the history could check it out. Maybe with link text of “witnessing the actions” or something.

Anyway, have 25 bucks. And thanks.

cicely · June 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

And in my own hometown!
*happy sniffle*

Bruce M · June 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm

So where is the link to buy Skepticon-themed hats as a Skepticon fundraiser? Or shirts, if you don’t want to stick with hats?

    Lauren Lane · June 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Oh, rest assured we are working on that! :D

Thomas J. Lawson (@tojolaw) · June 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Does this mean that Skepticon will not open with a long speech about how some people are unreasonable and bad at their own field of activism? I thought that ALL conferences would open like that from now on. No?

Kristjan Wager · June 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I applause your principled stand. If I have any way of making it happening, I will definitely go to Skepticon this year. There are conferences that are easier to get to from Denmark, but few (if any) who promotes value as close to mine.

Steve Caldwell · June 20, 2013 at 12:13 am

Given the lack of awareness regarding the inappropriateness of Ron Lindsay’s speech, his inappropriate online response to some of his critics, and the CFI board’s non-response to these issues, this is a tough call but the right thing to do. And I made a contribution this morning before going to work. Keep up the good work.

Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 20, 2013 at 1:38 am

So… first of all, damnit you people are awesome. It is so incredibly refreshing to finally see a big org / con take an actual stand on this, not just a wishy washy “we also prefer nice things for all, also we like smiling…” but an actual stand, with repercussions for that con and the gravitas that goes with actually putting your money where your mouth is. I shall not ever, I think, be attending an american con unless my job brings me there, but I’ll be damn sure to buy swag like there is no tomorrow once it gets out there, and as soon as the next paycheck arrives some of it is going straight to you people. Bravo is a really small word to express how damn happy this makes me, but bravo to you.

I’m going to send this in a mail too, but if you people ever have any need of photography or video work, whether it be the entire production or some AE post work or whatever, that can be done in little ole’ Denmark, you shoot me a mail at [email protected] and I’ll drag in every single favor owed to me by make uppers, actors, models, stylists and what not to help you out. Terribly cliched stock photos, awesome video presentations or artsy interpretations of physics formulae in high-res, you just let me know.

And on a side-note, bravo, bravo again and bravo some more. And props for having the guts. I recently did something incredibly minor compared to this, with regard to feminism, which was simply writing a blogpost about how fucking creepy a lot of my colleagues are, and how people can avoid using their authority as a photographer in a shoot, to like… force their sexuality and whatnot on models / subjects. And the amount of flak I’ve caught for that is, for me, daunting. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of shit you people, rebecca, pz et al. receive, so… my hat thrown into the air for you people.

Dave · June 20, 2013 at 6:47 am

But the real question is if you shills are still accepting funds from Big Pharma and Big Oil!

Seriously, well done. I am off to see if I can get some leave and attend.

Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

I find it remarkable that there are people who don’t see what’s wrong with opening a women-in-scepticism conference with a lecture on things women sceptics shouldn’t be doing.

I can understand disagreeing with the reaction. I would have a different opinion, but I could understand why someone could turn around and say “this isn’t how to handle this issue.” I can understand coming to the defense of the ideas in themselves. Again, we might disagree, but we could have a conversation about that.

But to actually be baffled by it, to be unable to understand why people might take offense, would surely take vast resources of obliviousness or naivety. We’re talking about the sceptical movement here.

I think people could, if they wish, actually see quite well what the problem is. However once you have that, it’s a quick inference that it was (at the very least, and free of all moral judgement) a colossal communication failure on the part of an ostensible spokesperson whose job is to communicate. And that’s uncomfortably close to having to say, “this person I don’t like is right about something”.

    yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 10:41 am

    It’s remarkable because, that’s NOT what happened. But you are not baffled, you know exactly what Lindsay was saying, anyone can read the speech, but you do like to misinterpret the words, which are clear for anyone to read. Some of you say you are “baffled”, and others of you say “I am shaking with rage” (it usually always comes down to baffled or rage, so which is it!). But it’s just more vacuous politicking. “shut up and listen” is the most ridiculous, embarrassing meme ever. It should be relegated to goatse, which is about the level it’s at “no, but you don’t get it! it’s not about shut up, it’s not aggressive, it’s about listening to the experiences of others!”. yeah, sure. The thing is, everyone gets what rubbish it is, and they see it for the rubbish it is.

    “I think people could, if they wish, actually see quite well what the problem is.” yes, and you do, but instead you say you are baffled or enraged and try to obfuscate the message presented. You know that Ron Lindsay is calling out how ridiculous FTB and Skepchick manipulation is; how tainted, how well-poisoning, and how a small group of vicious and nasty empty-bloggers are trying to dictate to everyone else how to act and when they are allowed to talk. RW, PZ, etc, it’s all about control and the suffocation of debate, and Ron Lindsay is calling that out for what it is (so of course, he *must* grovel apology, or lose his job; nothing else is acceptable to the hate-mongers. “Skeptical debate? nope, we want his head on a plate, so we’ll play this game of pretending that we are baffled or enraged until we get it”). generally you guys go with either of those 2 (baffled or enraged), then attach some completely misinterpreted, usually out of context non-points to the end of your “bafflement/rage” to ponder your bafflement and/or enragement. it’s a nice formula. Devoid of actual thinking, but a nice formula.

    The really funny thing is that, you are neither baffled, nor enraged. You don’t care, and you simply think it’s quite exciting, or feel that you are doing important activism if you can just get someone fired from a job. But you’re not. This, what you are doing, is empty and intellectually dishonest and the opposite of skeptical activism.

      Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 11:38 am

      I’m not quite sure that you actually made a point in there. Could you boil it down to a sentence?

        yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

        you are an idiot sycophant who sheepishly follows the Cult of Rebecca without a clue who says “I am baffled!” or “I am enraged!”, when you are obviously neither of those things, as a prelude to talking complete rubbish (as I said above).

          Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

          Well, you’re certainly a master of reason so I’m going to have to defer to your well-thought out evaluation of the situation.

          yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 11:50 am

          Your post suggests that you are being reasonable, but are you? I take it you agree with Skepticon’s position? What is it that you people want? It’s fairly clear that the vast majority of you want 1) Ron Lindsay to absolutely grovel an apology, or 2) for him to be fired. And his crime was? Some grave offence, saying that women should be chained to the kirchen sink? No, or was he simply putting out some talking points. So please answer me, do you think that the response to demand him to be fired is *reasonable*? Sorry, but anyone that thinks a person should be fired for this, and going to extreme lengths to try and make that happen is the opposite of reasonable and without question, is an idiot. Offended, fair enough, but what is “offence” anyway,
          Definitely, anyone that cannot talk about things without bringing their silly offence into *everything* is an idiot. So, people were offended, big deal. Some people were the *opposite* of offended (are their positions irrelevant ???). How people *react* is what’s important. PZ, RW, etc, reacted like idiots. And so they should be treated as such.

          Sockatume · June 20, 2013 at 11:57 am

          Maybe if you’d ask what people wanted, rather than telling them, you’d have a better handle on this.

        yoryor · June 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

        “Maybe if you’d ask what people wanted, rather than telling them, you’d have a better handle on this.”

        I have a perfect handle on this: You want Ron Lindsay to make a grovelling apology, recognise his “old white dude privilege” was overacting, and to promise to never question women again, because in front of women, he must “check his privilege” and “shut up and listen” to their experiences, OR, to have him forcibly fired for the crime of daring to question goatse-meme’s like “check your privilege” and “shut up and listen”. That is a very precise and perfect handle on this situation.

        For Rebecca Watson, this is Win-Win: If Lindsay makes an apology or is fired, she can claim that her campaign was worthwhile and necessary, and if he isn’t, she can say that this is a perfect example of “old white dudes clinging to their privilege” and the sycophants will jump up and down and say how heroic she’s been (but this was only ever about shameless self-promotion, so that’s fine).

        Any questions? Anything I got wrong there?

          Dana · June 20, 2013 at 8:58 pm

          I’m curious about one point: if someone other than Rebecca Watson had written the initial letter to Ron Lindsay after his speech, would you be taking this stance? Because what’s coming through loud and clear is that you have a major hate hard-on for her, at least to judge by the vituperative language used in conjunction with her name and the accusations leveled against her re: motives.

          Chris Willett · June 20, 2013 at 9:59 pm

          I’m with YORYOR.

          (1) When religious folks get offended by atheists mocking and dismantling their belief systems, we laugh at them. When Rebecca Watson’s crew gets offended, the whole world of online atheism seems to stop so that they can get payback through a plethora of increasingly alarming public denunciations.

          (2) Some people at Skepchick and FTB routinely respond to things in a childish manner. The rage-filled anti-Dawkins posts on Skepchick after ElevatorGate are a good example. Further, it seems that one cannot post an opposing view at those sites (no matter how politely) without facing a cadre of extremely nasty responses – just look at the way “Marilove” addresses people, for example. The crowd always takes the least charitable interpretation of a newcomer’s post and often replies with condescending insults. I thought we as a community were above that sort of stuff.

          (3) The online atheism community has no sense of perspective. Religious zealots are getting gays killed in Uganda. North Carolina Republicans think the First Amendment no longer applies to them. Climate change is going to fry our crops and disrupt some of our largest cities. And we’re arguing over what, exactly – who stands where on the latest dramatic scandal to hit online skepticism? What a waste of bandwidth!

          Michael Kingsford Gray · May 2, 2014 at 1:46 am

          The cretins at FtB & the ironically named SkepChick etc, are solely interested in IDENTITY.
          Identity covers all sins. It is primitive tribal emotions at its worst.
          It doesn’t matter what the quality of argument is, what trumps that is your group/cult identity.
          That is all.
          If in denying the quality of the argument over tribal allegiences requires outright lying, slander and fraud, then they will do it with gusto.
          These retarded folk are no more skeptics that the KKK are nurturing of global tolerance.

          They are a chancre on the thinking person’s world.

          Alvaro Ibañez · June 21, 2013 at 1:47 am

          “Any questions? Anything I got wrong there?”

          Yes and yes. You got wrong pretty much every single thing. And my question is, how on Earth do you beleive you’re going to convince a single person you have any kind of point by just throwing out unfounded and easily disproved assersions?

Axel Blaster · June 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm

In Kenya, they say:

“When elephants fight the grass gets hurt”

If we can’t have intellectual disagreements without provoking a NERDcott,we are heading to trouble and ineffectiveness. If this trend continues, this event will become more a -CON than anything Skepti-.

yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 9:51 am

Dana said (paraphrasing): “I’m curious about one point: you hate Rebecca Watson”

It had to come to that didn’t it. I don’t hate Rebecca Watson, I think she is a bad person just as I think that PZ Myers is a bad person. These people twist and skew reality, take everything out of context to manufacture controversy for self-promotion and are massively intellectually dishonest demagogues. That’s what they *DO*, in fact, it’s pretty much *ALL* they do. Again, browse around Pharwrongula a little, and CHECK THE SOURCES. While it’s written in a sarcastic style, EVERY SOURCE IS VERIFIABLE . There is much more than just the Witch of the Week there, check it out, and check the sources. (note though that PZ Myers site uses the fine Totalitarian tradition of “Censorship”, whereby PZ Myers regularly deletes and/or actually *rewrites* many many comments that he doesn’t like (verifiable fact), which is why a lot of the links have had to go to Freezepages as it’s important to document the clownish nature of tin-pot dictators like PZ. You object to me calling him a tin-pot dictator? THEN CHECK THE SOURCES!!! Rebecca Watson is really no different or special, and I don’t have a particular concern or hatred for her, but she was at the source of this manufactroversy, hence I talked about her more (I thought that was obvious, but clearly not to you Dana, so happy to explain that to you). Try and find a “misogyny” angle though (see above, I said it was only a matter of time before I’d be accused of being a misogynist).

Alvaro said: ““Any questions? Anything I got wrong there?” Yes and yes. You got wrong pretty much every single thing. And my question is, how on Earth do you beleive you’re going to convince a single person you have any kind of point by just throwing out unfounded and easily disproved assersions?”

wow. Alvaro just basically took my questions, threw out a completely unfounded and easily disproved assertion that I’m wrong, and then DID NOT EXPLAIN why or how I was wrong !?!? “you are wrong because stuff, so there!”. That is the best double-standard I’ve seen this month.

Check your offence!

tin-pot dictator (plural tin-pot dictators): An autocratic ruler with little political credibility, but with self-delusions of grandeur.

    Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 21, 2013 at 9:55 am

    pot, kettle, HI!

      yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

      nice try, I’ve never censored anyone, or rewritten people’s comments, or manufactured controversies, so should that be “fork, sandwich, not kettle, HI!” ! Incredible argumentation skill Andreas you have there:

      Say nothing -> Try to infer some wise conclusion.

      Brilliant. Now *THAT* is a magic skill ! :)

        Andreas Bergmann Steen · June 21, 2013 at 10:37 am

        I admit it, you have been right the entire time. I am in fact not only evil and horrifying, I am dr. horrifying, and my pet bald cat is called miss evil. Together we have been planning the censuring and abuse of poor white men for decades, alas my plot have been foiled by your ingenious deductive skills, CURSE YOU YORYOR, CURSE YOU AND YOUR REASONING!!! *dissapears in a puff of smoke*

          yoryor · June 21, 2013 at 11:03 am

          Damn, my arch-nemesis has been defeated. I think that calls for a victory cheese sandwich.

          Anyway, I know that you knows that demagogues like RW try to paint the world as “scary black and white” when it’s really not. RW say’s stuff wrong, big deal, and so does Ron Lindsay, big deal also, but all this calling for people to be fired and boycotted is all “Mrs. Magorium’s RadFem Manufactroversorium” stuff. Good rule of thumb: look at who’s gibbering the most to find the source of the Manufactroversy. FTB is off the “gibber-ohms” scale currently, so I think we’ve found our culprit Mr. Holmes!

Saganite · June 22, 2013 at 7:57 am

Let me introduce you to 169 Skeptic Women who embrace CFI, Ron Lindsey, and deplore FTB, and Rebecca and Co. …….I’m sure you’ll delete this comment as I’ve come to expect it. No matter, these women will go up on 180 websites tomorrow.

Jeff Neeley · July 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I have been reading about the Women In Secularism conference and CFI controversy. I do not like giving my opinion because I like to be liked and do not like being disliked for misunderstanding of what I say or for being wrong and not given a chance to reconsider and change my view, but I am going to try here. I am very unhappy with and even discouraged by so much I see in Skepticism. The way women are treated that was a topic at the Atheist Convention in Austin really put me off. I am embarrassed that people I identify with can be so disappointing. That this problem even exists is disheartening. All the sniping, name calling and being petty instead of rational and reasoned discussion is not what I hope to find in Skepticism.

Freedom and democratic behavior in which we respect everyone as a unique and valued individual is very difficult. It is very hard to listen to people express beliefs you disagree with or even know for certain to be wrong and even more difficult when you have heard it so many times before, but it is a part of giving everyone freedom of expression and respecting all individuals as unique and valuable.

I interpret Ron Lindsay’s statement to say that to shout down or dismiss any person for any reason and deny them their say is wrong. To dismiss a person as having nothing worthwhile to contribute because they are in a particular group is wrong. Even if what they say is wrong, you must hear and understand them clearly-each person has a unique experience and perspective on the world. Also, to have any hope of having someone listen to you with respect and be persuaded by your argument you must earn their respect by granting respect to them and allowing them to feel respected, listened to and heard as a person despite what you may think of their argument and position. To dismiss privileged males only because they are privileged males is doing in reverse what men have done to women throughout history–dismissing them and their opinion because of who they are. It is very hard to listen to the same tired and incorrect argument again and again, but each person has a right to express their selves and be heard. Each person should be respected as an individual with their own experience and view of the world. It is hard to do but once emotion becomes the force behind a discussion and not reason, the situation is lost.

That being said, I am disappointed that Ron Lindsay and CFI do not more clearly explain and discuss this statement which is clearly creating so much controversy without the name calling and sniping The controversy is good as long as it leads to productive dialogue and understanding, but when it only is creating emotional divisions it is not and it seems like they are allowing it to do that without either defending it in a reasoned and rational way or refuting and apologizing for the statement properly. Controversy should lead to reasoned discussion and to a resolution and understanding, not emotional division.

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