Re: [atheists-27] Trouble with American Skepticism

From: Martin
Sent on: Sunday, August 11, 2013 3:32 PM
Mathew,

No, of course there is no legal evidence here at all, just anonymous allegations and hearsay. I don't think anyone is claiming anything different, simply commenting that there are such allegations. And no one can assume anything else. I have a good friend, an atheist and a great person, who was accused of very bad sexual behaviour. It took him a long time to prove his innocence in court, which he did. Curiously it was a fundamentalist preacher who was behind it all. The preacher and the accusers had no punishment after the case, and no money spent, while my friend had to spend a fortune to defend himself, and suffered a good deal of mental trauma. I am not suggesting anything like that in this instance, just making clear that until, and if, any of this is decided in a court, it is just pointless gossip to make inferences either way.

And I so no reason to ban alcohol at conferences. These are grown men and women who may decide for themselves how much alcohol, if any, they wish to consume. Neither is it an effective precaution, as often the most drinking takes place at the hotel bar. And a rapist may simply drop a date-rape drug in a victim's soda, something which has happened many times, and happened to another friend of mine also.

Martin.

On 08/11/[masked]:43 PM, Mathew Goldstein wrote:
This is too little, it is one anonymous woman so far and the wording is confused/ambiguous regarding who and what ("him doing things" versus "they did the same to them").  That wording allows multiple different "things" for Shermer to have done and multiple different "they" as rapists.  PZ Myers may have more information than what he wrote.  However, what he actually wrote qualifies as not only thin evidence, but also as being too vague to qualify as a clear accusation of serial rape against Shermer. I would advise dropping that "serial" accusation altogether until we have more information to support it, or at least until we hear PZ Myers himself characterize the accusations as being for serial rape against Shermer.  I think the organizers of these conferences should reconsider allowing alcohol to be served.

On Aug 11, 2013, at 12:41 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

Note that the first woman says " (5 different people have directly told me they did the same to them)."
 
PZ notes that "Women are still writing into me with their personal stories."  implying that he has additional coorborating stories.  He only shared the one about Shermer's tactics.  About half of all rapists make use of this approach.  I fully agree that this evidence is a bit thin for the seriousness of the charge.  That is what I said in my original post.  We do not want to over resopond to any of this.
 
Don

From: Mathew Goldstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Sunday, August 11,[masked]:53 AM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Trouble with American Skepticism

I read lots of harsh criticism of PZ Myers for his accusation against Shermer, some of whom sound to me like they could qualify as being from the "MRA contingent".  You provided a link to PZ Myers claiming that one anonymous women says she was raped one time by Shermer at a conference several years ago, plus another anonymous women saying that Shermer once plied her with alcohol at a conference.  Assuming he is guilty in these two incidents as accused, you said "several allegations ... [he] ... is a serial rapist", which goes beyond what is asserted by PZ Myers.  Can you support that additional allegation with more links?

On Aug 11, 2013, at 1:38 AM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

There are three leaders of the skeptic community that have had astonishing allegations thrown at them in the last few days. It started when Karen Stollznow posted a piece reporting on four years of sexual harassment including sexual assaults.
She declines to name who it was or the organization(s) within which it happened. However, there were a number of people who knew the story and it came out that the person was Ben Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and a Research Fellow at CFI.
 
The next day Carrie Poppy confesses that she had a similar experience at the JREF with D.J. Grothe. Given that D.J is gay the misogyny is likely to be of a much different character. This report confirms aspects of the case with Radford and Stollsnow at a couple of TAM meetings. Carrie's email included copies of a number of emails documenting the history of the complaints.
To top off this there are several allegation that Michael Shermer is a serial rapist.
 
We have only modest confirmation of any of these allegations and we have not heard from those who are accused. However, the quality of these claims suggest strongly that something is very wrong.
 
For those who do not know there has been a very stupid culture war in secularism ever since an event called Elevatorgate. There was a strong feminist component and the other side that can be loosely associated with MRA, men's right activists. At its worst many women who are secular bloggers or leaders are subjected to rape threats, death threats and grotesque twisted insults. DC's own Melody Hensley is only one of many that have been the recipient of this mistreatment. I have been ignoring this culture war as much as possible under the theory that if I am not personally tripping over this junk we can have our local sense of community uninfected with this nonsense. Just as the Westboro Baptist Church should not be used to define all of Christianity, this ugliness should not be used to define American skepticism or secularism.  My guess is that there are relatively few people responsible for the ugliness of this war.
 
With that as a background, my reading of MRA contingent is that they are being remarkably silent with the current revelations. There seems to be too much substance and credibility behind these allegations. This might be a major historical transition point. I may be wrong but I think organized skepticism will need to see some major changes.
 
Don




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