Posts Tagged ‘internet’
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 24, 2012
Many times we self-described skeptics and critical thinkers do not live up to our own rhetoric. Case in point: How many skeptics/atheists/freethinkers/etc do you know who have shared the following quote, or perhaps you have shared it yourself?
Well, here’s the rub… this quote attributed to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is…
Ouch. I have to admit that I probably would have fallen for it, too; maybe I did, I cannot remember seeing this on my Facebook wall, but who knows? It’s a good lesson for those of us who call ourselves skeptics to make sure that we’re taking care to walk the skeptical/critical thinking walk and not just talk the talk. Here’s a good YouTube video expanding upon this lesson:
Posted in internet, skeptical community | Tagged: astronomer, astrophysicist, atheism, atheist, critical thinker, fake, freethinkers, Hayden Planetarium, image, imgur, internet, made up, Neil deGrasse Tyson, pic, picture, quotation, quote, Reddit, skeptic, skepticism, spoof | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 11, 2012
While at Convergence/SkepchickCon 2012 this past weekend, I did a lot of things, but one of the most fruitful and important was to attend the “Don’t Feed the Trolls” panel on the second day of the Con. The panel consisted of a number of prominent female skeptics (Rebecca Watson, Christina Rad, Stephanie Zvan, and Heina Dadabhoy) along with a couple of male colleagues (Greg Laden and Jason Thibeault) discussing the issues of gender attitudes, sexism, and misogyny in the skeptical movement. I think having these discussions in an open, public format is important, because there are a number of trolls out there who are not interested in reasoned, calm discussion on these issues; instead they are interested in intimidating those with whom they disagree and are attempting to silence them.
So, in an effort to light candles rather than curse the darkness, I wanted to share with you the discussion I was able to (very roughly – I was not able to get every word down) transcribe. The talk was extremely well-attended (about 300-400 people were present) and the audience Q&A was very useful. If you are at all concerned with these issues, please read my transcription and pass it along…
Don’t Feed the Trolls
with Greg Laden, Rebecca Watson, Jason Thibeault, Christina Rad, Stephanie Zvan, and Heina Dadabhoy
Rebecca: Rebecca is told that she should be raped, that she’s a prude, that she’s a whore, and so on.
Some emails from men have included how they would like to service her regularly. These kinds of comments have come through email, YouTube, Facebook, her Wikipedia page.
In short, the Internet is no longer a safe, fun place for Rebecca. It is where she works.
Greg Laden: one of the things that bothers him about Elevatorgate is that a friend of his was recently sexually assaulted on an elevator. So it happens. His main experience with trolls started in dealing with the evolution-creation debate online. Even more serious troll issues began two years ago in June when he and other bloggers were blogging about “rape month” (in the Congo). There were a lot of guys who were upset with him, because some of these men didn’t like the fact that he was pointing out that a lot of men do bad shit.
There are also trolls regarding the climate change discussion. There were people threatening to sue in England due to the libel laws. Greg points out that much of the stuff that goes to these blog comments is filtered and most of us never see the truly nasty stuff.
Definition of trolling (Stephanie): it started out years ago as goofy silliness, but in many ways it has now morphed into behavior towards trying to silence discussion. It is no surprise that many of the panelists are atheists and feminists, because those are groups a lot of people want to shut down.
Christina: there is a difference between trolls and haters. Eventually, I tried to go about ignoring the haters with their death and rape threats, but it gets very hard to continue. And sometimes you want to quit just to make it stop.
Stephanie: there is an idea that these trolls are just people in the Internet who are not dangerous. However, some of these people actually do try to find you in the real world. I put up a “do not talk to this person” post and this person ended up having restraining orders put on them.
Rebecca: in the past several years, there have been many high profile examples of men murdering women. In many cases, the offending males have a history of online misogynistic ranting. When she sees men doing this online, including very dehumanizing language, it makes her think of the potential danger.
Jason: one potentially probable death threat can be enough to stop you from going to a conference, for example.
Heina: I used to be Muslim, and once people figured out how I was blogging online, I was receiving threats about it. And I ended up taking down my blog due to the threats.
Least helpful advice in dealing with trolls…
Rebecca: “Don’t feed the trolls”
I now refer people who give this advice to a link on which why this is not helpful. It’s kind of like saying that a woman who doesn’t want to get raped shouldn’t wear a mini-skirt. Many people think that the trolls want attention, but what they really want is to silence me and other women like me. And it worked for awhile, because all the emails and comments started to pile up and it was wearing me down. Once I shared this stuff with my friends, it helped lift a weight off me.
Now, with haters on Twitter, I now simply RT and block. And now the haters have to spend their time blocking people who are pushing back against them. And if we can make this an issue for our community, we can increase the social cost of trolling. Now there are going to be consequences, and they will be put on a stage and be made to go on the defense.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in internet, skeptical community | Tagged: 2012, attitudes, Christina Rad, con, Convergence, discussion, Elevatorgate, feminism, feminist, gender, Greg Laden, harassment, Heina Dadabhoy, internet, Jason Thibeault, men, misandry, misogyny, Rebecca Watson, sex, sexism, Skepchick, SkepchickCon, skeptic, skepticism, Stephanie Zvan, troll, women | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 16, 2012
In recent weeks, it seems the controversy within the skeptical movement over misogyny and women’s issues appears to have heated up somewhat (that’s putting it mildly, I think). While I do welcome this discussion and the debate it has kick-started, I wanted to comment on the one thing which really, REALLY chaps my ass about the whole thing: misogynistic Internet trolls.
Whether we’re talking about so-called Elevatorgate or the creation of sexual harassment policies by various skeptical conferences (which I fully support, because I think it is needed), it seems to me that these sort of discussions bring out the worst in some people. And by “some people” I mean some men. And by “some men”, I mean, specifically, the misogynistic Internet trolls who are basically bullies who want to slap a woman (or women) down for having the gall to publicly disagree with what they think women should accept.
Some of these men think that women speaking up about issues that concern them is somehow a threat to them, or a threat to what they perceive as their manhood, or a threat to their “freedom” and society in general; and some of these men decide to express their disagreement with these women through the worst kind of insults, ranting, and trolling I’ve ever seen. It is a bully tactic intended to shut these “uppity” women up for having the audacity to hold an opinion contrary to their own.
And it makes me sick. In fact, it makes me so sick that rather than continue in my own words, which would doubtless be laced with rage and profanity at these sorry excuses for men, I would like to reference an excellent source on the issue (many thanks to Jason Thibeault for posting this video on his blog):
While this video isn’t explicitly about the skeptical movement, it is about the broader issue of misogynistic Internet trolls. My favorite part is right at the end of the video (at the 3:21 mark) where Jay Smooth says:
“No matter what scene on the Internet is your scene, if you are a dude on the Internet and you see other dudes in your scene harassing women or transgender people or anyone else who’s outside of our little privileged corner of the gender spectrum, we need speak up, we need to treat this like it matters, we need to add some extra humanity into our scene to counteract their detachment from their humanity.”
You said it, brother. Gentlemen, let’s not allow these trolls, these pathetic excuses for men, these losers speak for our gender and represent us to the wider community. Let them speak for themselves in their sad little corner of the Internet, and let us follow Jay Smooth’s excellent example and call them out for their lack of humanity. Only by enough of us doing that can we hope to bring a more respectful tone to these important discussions.
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: abuse, bully, conferences, cons, Elevatorgate, feminism, feminist, harassment, internet, intimidation, Jason Thibeault, Jay Smooth, meetings, men, misogyny, sex, sexism, sexist, sexual, skeptical community, skeptical movement, skeptics, trolls, video, women | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 15, 2012
I wanted to take a few moments to update you all about a really worthwhile endeavor regarding how to more effectively spread the skeptical message: editing Wikipedia. As you probably know, Wikipedia – the world’s largest and most extensive encyclopedia – is edited pretty much solely by volunteers. This means that the people who express the most interest in a topic typically end up editing it.
Now, sometimes this is a good thing, as when those who are experts in a particular field take the time to reasonably and thoughtfully edit a Wikipedia entry on a particular topic. However, sometimes this is a bad thing, as when those with an agenda edit various Wikipedia entries in an effort to distort the facts.
Enter the brainchild of my skeptical colleague Susan Gerbic: Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia. As Susan once told me, why shouldn’t skeptics start getting more involved in the editing of Wikipedia? After all, it is the largest and most easily and readily accessed source on just about any subject, and when people go search for something related to skepticism or pseudoscience, why wouldn’t we want as much factual information available to them as possible? If skeptics don’t step up and take on the task of getting more involved in this editing process, then are we not simply ceding this fertile ground to the peddlers of woo and nonsense?
The Wikipedia Logo
For more information or to get involved, take a look at Susan’s blog: Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia.
And I have to say, I agree with Susan. Fortunately, a lot of other people have agreed with her as well, and it appears to be having a positive impact. For instance, take a look at techophile and skeptic Tim Farley’s post on how a Google search tool, the Google Knowledge Graph, is benefitting from this form of guerrilla skepticism…
Last week Google introduced a new feature to their flagship search product, which is called Google Knowledge Graph. I believe it has only rolled out for users in the United States so far, so you may not see it if you live elsewhere, yet.
There are several interesting aspects of Knowledge Graph, and I encourage you to read more about it. The technology behind modern search engines is surprisingly complex, and this is the latest advancement.
But one of the main user-visible features of this product is a panel that you will see on the right side of many search results. This panel shows a summary of what Google believes you are looking for. The aim is that many times the answer you seek will be right there on the results page.
Because this new feature draws a great deal of information from Wikipedia, all the great effort by Susan Gerbic and the other skeptics who work on her skeptic Wikipedia project is now paying off in yet another big way. …
Posted in internet, skeptical community | Tagged: edit, editing, encyclopedia, entries, entry, facts, Google, Google Knowledge Graph, guerrilla skepticism, information, internet, knowledge, nonsense, online, psuedoscience, skepticism, skeptics, Susan Gerbic, Wikipedia, woo | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 16, 2012
From my skeptical colleague and fellow blogger Steve over at TreeLobsters.com…
Posted in humor, scientific method | Tagged: astrology, blog, comic, cryptozoologists, cryptozoology, faith healers, humor, internet, prayer, pseudoscience, science, scientific method, Treelobsters, UFO, ufoologists, ufoology, Web, webcomic | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 11, 2012
Okay, I was just browsing online a bit, and I came across this funny little gem. Yeah, I had to share it, because it makes a really good point about the difference between science and pseudoscience/religion…
by Nadir on March 9, 2012 at 8:14 am
A lifetime ago by internet reckoning and two weeks ago via calendar, news came of the faulty cable/GPS-sync connection as a possible reason for the Faster-Than-Light Neutrino scandal of late 2011. This is not yet completely confirmed but I won’t say I’m not going to be disappointed if this is verified as the cause, though it seems likely. It’s anticlimactic. Not that anyone actually expected FTL travel here, I was at least hoping for a more interesting explanation for the error. The 60 nanosecond fast data is apparently explicable as a result of a bad connection between the GPS receiver and an electronic card in the computer.Yawn.
Now, in fairness, no one involved ever claimed FTL travel, only that they got that result. And they kept trying to disprove it. So what I’m saying is if you got overexcited and invested in fraudulent companies such as ‘the Neutrino-Warp-Drive Enterprise” you only have yourself to blame.*
One thing however, did come out of all this that shined a recent if not really new, light on a fundamental difference between science and religion. Many scientists were sought for comment and every one I saw or read, despite being pretty skeptical and awaiting further data, never completely rejected the idea out of hand. Solid, time tested ideas exist in science, and dagnabbit the universal-speed-limit is one of ‘em; but there are still no sacred cows or prophets. Knocking down or modifying a theory (or just trying to) only serves to strengthen the endeavor for truth, and never weakens it. This is the opposite of how religions operate, and anyone trying to make science and religion comparable, as seen in arguments time and again, has to deal with this massive cleavage.
Posted in humor, physics denial/woo, religion, scientific method | Tagged: blog, CERN, comic, Einstein, faster than light, FTL, funny, humor, internet, neutrinos, NewTrinos, pseudoscience, relativity, religion, Sci-ence, science, Web | 1 Comment »