…about something, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.
Although I like to believe I’m capable of admitting to my own mistakes, in truth I have the same built-in defences that everyone else has, and my mind would rather avoid those moments of embarrassment and shame that come with realizing that you’re in the wrong. So instead I may conveniently forget my mistake, or if that’s impossible I might then insist I have been misunderstood and therefore only appeared to be utterly wrong.
This is a problem with the rational/skeptical movement in general I think, specifically because “we” pride ourselves on being as objective and fact-based as possible, so it’s extra humiliating to realize that we’ve been arguing a subjective or even bigoted point of view. Too often we would rather explain our errors away, or even more pathetically double-down and declare that we’re being bullied by detractors. In the process we might even start to yell about strawmen, true Scotsmen and arguments from authority, and sooner or later we might even trip over Godwin’s law.
I’ve considered going to atheist/skeptic conferences a few times, but never really felt like it. Apparently a lot of women aren’t feeling like it either lately, as attendance is dropping, and there’s a minor shit-storm brewing on the interwebs about whose fault this is. There have been a few incidents of harrassment in recent years, and because of poor handling and bad messaging from organizers some women have written about their frustration that there aren’t better policies in place to report and deal with such incidents.
- Read DJ Grothe, president of JREF (pretty much the largest skeptical org), who says that attendance is down because women are spreading misinformation about the safety of the conferences (by blogging their own personal experiences and yes, even the occasional anecdote).
- Read Rebecca Watson, prominent Skepchick, calling out DJ for his victim-blaming and sidestepping of responsibilities.
- Read PZ Myers who sides with Rebecca and expresses disappointment in the mishandling of the issue by so many in the skeptical community.
- Read Thunderf00t, a creationist-mocking youtube hero who dedicates his new blog to whining about how everyone keeps talking about sexism when they should be mocking creationists. He also mocks the anti-harassment policies by wilfully misreading them; stupidly conflating “harassment” with “offense”.
- Read Rebecca again, calling out Thunderf00t and friends for their hysterical overreaction (which ironically is in response to what they perceive to be a hysterical overreaction)
In case it’s not clear I’m totally with Rebecca on this one, and am pleased to see that Thunderf00t is getting booted from his new home so quickly. He will no doubt see this as censorship and cry hypocrisy… Fuck him– his attitude repulses me and I’m not about to try and frame that as anything but my own personal response to the droning self-important twat.
Which brings me to why I don’t think I’ll ever attend any of these conferences– it’s not because I’m afraid of being harassed; it’s because I’m afraid that a sizeable percentage of the attendees are the kind of indignant wannabe intellectuals who will scream about being bullied by the PC police when their ham-fisted advances are rebuffed, or when their sexist jokes aren’t appreciated, and I really don’t want to be associated with those kinds of people.
PS In case you’re unaware of last year’s “Elevatorgate” fiasco, my previous post about it helps explain why I’m such a fan of Rebecca Watson.