Posted by mattusmaximus on July 31, 2013
I don’t often make posts about this particular topic, though I have definite feelings on the issue. If you call yourself a skeptic and/or atheist and you’re involved in the movement, you would have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of years to have missed how the issue of misogyny, sexual harassment, and assault has come to the front of much discussion in our community.
What follows is a video made by a very brave woman whom I know, named Ashley Paramore. I’ve known her for a few years through our mutual involvement in the skeptic/atheist movement. She is a smart, beautiful, and talented woman who is quite passionate about skepticism/atheism, much like many of the women (such as those ladies at Skepchick and the Women Thinking, Inc) whom I have had the honor of meeting and working with these last few years.
**Please note: what is described in this video may be disturbing to some**
It saddens me to say that I personally know of at least two other women (as well as one man) who were similarly harassed and/or assaulted at skeptic cons in recent years. In one situation, I actually had to get physically involved to stop the assault and eject the perpetrator from the venue.
Ashley is right: this sort of thing happens a LOT more often than many people might think. And while I applaud the efforts of various cons to set up methods of dealing with such situations as they arise (and yes, I also have my criticisms of other cons for not doing so), the best thing to do is to create an environment where such harassment and/or assault doesn’t occur at all. And for that, it takes all of us to be more aware of what is going on around us; it requires us to be willing to call out inappropriate behavior; it requires us to be willing to listen more and treat the experiences of women (and men, too) like Ashley seriously and in a non-judgmental manner; and it means that we need to provide support, either in public or private, for those who are willing to make a stand against such reprehensible behavior.
**On a personal note: I have found, as a man, that my experiences with women like Ashley over the years and their willingness to share their thoughts and experiences (as well as my willingness to listen to them) has served to deepen my love and respect for the women in my life who are closest to me. It has made me a better husband, brother, son, teacher, and colleague, and I want to say to all of those women something I should have said long ago: Thank you :)
Posted in skeptical community | Tagged: Ashley Paramore, assault, atheism, atheist, con, conference, convention, flirting, harassment, men, misogyny, rape, respect, sex, sexual, Skepchick, skeptic, skepticism, TAM, testimony, The Amazing Meeting, women, Women Thinking Inc | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 22, 2012
Unless you’ve been sitting under a rock for the last few days, you know about the brouhaha surrounding the comments by the Republican candidate for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat, Congressman Todd Akin. Just in case you haven’t heard/seen them, here are his comments on abortion and rape which (rightly so) have created a storm of controversy:
Wow… the words almost escape me… almost. At the very least, Congressman Akin displays an appalling lack of scientific knowledge regarding rape and pregnancy (this despite the fact that he is on the U.S. House Committee on Science *facepalm*). To understand just how scientifically ignorant he is with his “legitimate rape” and “women’s bodies can shut that [pregnancy due to rape] down” comments, take a look at this medical study on the issue (Hint: pregnancy due to rape isn’t “very rare”, as Congressman Akin asserts).
So how is it that a Congressman on the House Science Committee (did I *facepalm* already?) has such an out-of-touch and ignorant view of science? I think part of the answer is Akin’s religious ideology, which he shares with a number of social/religious conservatives in the United States. It ends up that this “legitimate rape” and related myths are not that uncommon among that demographic; take a look at these examples:
And my absolute favorite, religious right-wing groups such as the American Family Association and the Family Research Council are fervently defending Congressman Akin’s ignorance in favor of their twisted religious worldview:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in politics, religion | Tagged: 2012, abortion, AFA, Akin, American Family Association, baby, biology, child, congress, Congressman, conservative, election, extremism, Family Research Council, fetus, forcible, FRC, fundamentalist, GOP, legitimate, Missouri, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, personhood, politics, pregnancy, pregnant, pro-choice, pro-life, prochoice, prolife, rape, religion, religious right, Republican, right wing, rights, Romney, Ryan, science, Senate, Tea Party, Terri Schiavo, Todd Akin, United States, women | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 10, 2011
Every now and then there is a controversy which rips through the skeptical community, because – whether we like to admit it or not – skeptics are humans, too. As such, we are subject to the same limitations & failings as are all people, and this latest frackus has certainly put that on display.
Apparently, prominent skeptic and defender of science Prof. Lawrence Krauss – a man whom I have admired for many years – has, how shall I put this, rather stupidly inserted not only his foot but the majority of his leg pretty firmly into his mouth. He did this by coming out and at least giving the impression that he is publicly defending a known & convicted pedophile – oooh, ick.
I’m not going to spend a huge amount of time writing on this topic, and I’m certainly not going to get into the whole issue of underage sex, prostitution, pedophilia, and that related morass. I choose to leave it to the reader to check out the Skepchick link on the matter (as well as the rather colorful comment section in which Krauss defends his remarks and others respond) and come to their own conclusions. Suffice it to say, I think Krauss is on the losing side on this one, and rightly so.
What I’d like to speak to is something more general and, in my opinion, far more important that what I’ll call the Lawrence Krauss Fiasco has illustrated: even prominent skeptics & scientists are capable of making horrendously stupid mistakes, especially where emotions (such as one’s allegiance to a close friend) are involved. In this, they are every bit as human as you and me.
I like the way in which the question was put on this post to the JREF Forum:
One reason I find this so disturbing is because it seems so obvious to the rest of us that Krauss is relying on nothing more than gut feelings right now, yet he’s 100% sure that this is enough to support his personal opinion. In other words, a well-known and well-respected skeptic is acting like a complete woomeister, it’s been pointed out to him repeatedly, yet he’s refusing to acknowledge it. Does this mean that any one of us could be subject to the same embarrassing lapse in judgement?
My response… in a word: yes.
We are all subject to cognitive dissonance, in one form or another. I’m sure we can all relate to experiences in our lives where, upon looking back on them, our cognitive dissonance and lack of skepticism & critical thinking was obvious. Thankfully, though, I’m guessing that most of us don’t take it to the extreme or do so as publicly as Prof. Krauss has done in this case.
This is why having a community of critical & skeptical thinkers is so important – it gives us the capability to hold each other to a higher standard. By doing so we root out loose, sloppy, and – sometimes – downright repulsive argumentation & reasoning. By not putting all of our intellectual eggs in one basket and engaging in demagoguery via some kind of twisted hero worship, we as a community can sit back & objectively examine the reasoning & opinions of our leaders. And, as in the Lawrence Krauss Fiasco, we have seen that it can be a very useful method of calling out even our most prominent skeptics when they are dead, flat wrong.
And, for the record, the day the skeptical community ceases to engage in this necessary & vital form of self-reflection & criticism, then that’s the day I call it quits. But that day isn’t anywhere close, from what I can see :)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: abuse, billionaire, child, cognitive dissonance, critical thinking, girls, Jeffrey Epstein, Lawrence Krauss, morality, pedophile, pedophilia, prostitutes, prostitution, rape, sex, sexual, skepticism, slave girls, trafficking, under age | 10 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on March 31, 2010
In the last week, a storm of controversy has raged concerning the Roman Catholic Church and its ongoing sexual abuse scandal. For almost a decade this controversy has gone on, taking up space on newspaper pages here and there. But now the whole sordid affair has taken on a new dimension with the revelation that Vatican officials, including the current Pope Benedict XVI (whom I call, with good reason, the “Rat in the Hat”), not only knew about such systemic & widespread abuse but also actively worked to cover it up. According to a recent New York Times article…
Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys
Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.
The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.
What is almost as horrifying as these revelations of the systemic sexual abuse of children by pedophile priests and the effort on the part of Church officials to cover it up, apparently going all the way to the upper echelons of the Vatican, is the reaction from the Vatican in the last week. Specifically, I am referring to the absolutely staggering level of cognitive dissonance being displayed by the Vatican regarding any responsibility their institution has in this scandal.
Consider, if you will, the various reactions from the Vatican as it attempts to spin its way out of this mess, outlined by this NYTimes Op-Ed…
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in free inquiry, religion | Tagged: atheism, belief, Benedict, Benedict XVI, boys, Cardinal, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, CC, children, cognitive dissonance, conspiracy, cover up, crime, dogma, free inquiry, girls, God, homosexual, investigation, Jesus, New York Times, papal infallibility, pedophile, Pope, priest, rape, Ratzinger, RCC, religion, Roman Catholic Church, scandal, sex abuse, Vatican | 11 Comments »