Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Here's a fun new movement that's hit the atheosphere recently: A+: atheism plus social justice.

As you probably already know, the words "atheist" and "atheism" simply mean "lack of belief in a god or gods" -- thus, if someone identifies as atheist, that doesn't mean that the person necessarily agrees with me on any other point. Yet, it seems like most atheists I encounter actually do hold a lot of additional beliefs in common. I generally use the term "Humanist" to describe my positive philosophy, but I agree with Jen McCreight that there's room for an additional term because a movement that's not totally identical with Humanism has grown around atheism.

Now, I know this idea has been born of controversy, so I decided to take a closer look at the controversy before signing on. Specifically, VJack at Atheist Revolution has provided some thoughtful dissent. The most prominent spokespeople for feminism within the atheist movement have been accused of bullying and of engaging in group-think.

Is it true that there are people committed to seeing women and minorities as full-fledged members of the atheist movement, but who are getting bullied by the prominent feminist-atheists? If so, that's a problem, and would make me hesitate to join their new "A+" movement. Fortunately, VJack gathered up a list of such accusations (from various blogs) so we can asses the charges.

Here's my assessment of the posts on the list:

This post had some good constructive criticism. The others weren't too impressive. They failed to convince me that they're committed to stopping sexism within the atheist community (or even that they're opposed to sexism at all). Among them, I found a claim that sexism is a trivial issue, derisive remarks about feminism, and even a guy accusing a woman of getting published only through gender-based affirmative action. Nice.

So, I didn't find a conflict with two sides, both opposing sexism, but one side full of group-thinking bullies. It looks like is is a genuine philosophical conflict over whether it's good for the atheist movement to be a boys' club. Guys, don't be on the wrong side of this.


(see also: DJ, please fix this genuine problem. If women state that they were sexually harassed at a conference, that doesn't make me think that harassment is a widespread problem at the conference. However, when the organizers respond -- not by enforcing rules against harassment, but -- by telling the women they need to shut up about it, that makes me think there may well be a serious problem.

"a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in skepticism, actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe." Wrong. When women's legitimate concerns are dismissed and ignored, that helps create where women — who otherwise wouldn’t (like me!) — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back in Switzerland, and back to my usual fun!!

The fund-raiser for Camp Quest got off to a slow start, but seems to be picking up. Like last time, various bloggers are pledging to do silly stuff if our team wins. I agree with that on principle, but I'm not that good at it myself.

I should pledge that if we win, I'll dress up as a Vulcan/Romulan Federation Starship captain and battle my own Romulan evil twin!! And post it to YouTube!! But, of course, I already did that:

And, while I'm at it, I could also pledge to design the coolest Minecraft castle ever!!! And post to YouTube all about how I did it!! Of course, I already did that, too...

Anyway, Camp Quest is a good cause, regardless of whose team wins. :)