Friday, September 12, 2014

Some "movement" this is

Some days I wonder if I was too hasty in detaching myself from "movement" skepticism. I still think skepticism is important, after all, and it's introduced me to so many wonderful people. Maybe if I go back slightly less wide-eyed but just as eager to help promote science and critical thinking, things will work out this time.

Then along comes Mark Oppenheimer to write an article that reminds me of all the reasons I walked away in the first place. That reminds me of how blinkered and oafish otherwise intelligent people can be. That reminds me that some privileged white men so enjoy the feeling of intellectual superiority that they would rather revel in mocking those who believe in Bigfoot and reiki than use their critical thinking skills to affect some meaningful change in the world.

The article's headline and subhed -- "Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? The continuing debate over a murky sexual encounter at a 2008 convention for cheekily anti-establishment skeptics underscores a broader dilemma: How can a progressive, important intellectual community behave so poorly towards its female peers?" -- say it all, really, but it's worth reading the whole thing, if only to see that being a "freethinker" does not make one immune to really stupid behavior.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If this movement is so terrified of "mission creep" that it cannot or will not acknowledge, let alone do something about, the rampant sexism and misogyny in its ranks, then I want no part of it. If True Skeptics (TM) would rather run off bright, talented women such as Rebecca Watson, Sarah Moglia, Greta Christina, Melody Hensley, Ashley Paramore, Pamela Gay, Jen McCreight, Ophelia Benson, Karen Stollznow, Carrie Poppy and others than face up to the fact that their behavior is holding back their cause, then their movement has no place for me. As far as I'm concerned, unless he's speaking about evolutionary biology, Richard Dawkins is dead to me.

Staying empathetic and engaged with the outside world can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. I can see why so many people choose to switch off and choose to focus on something more enjoyable -- like, say, sports.

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