Accommodation VS Confrontation: A Debate: Round 2


In Round One Rob and I touched on some basic ideas of accommodation and confrontation in regards to our approaches to skepticism. In Round Two we will get a little more in-depth.

We’ll be looking at the issue of the cost of accommodationism and what we might actually buy with it.  We will also look at the effectiveness of approaches  between a rag-tag community with a diverse approach and a movement employing common tactics to achieve shared goals.  Both approaches have merit, but they’re not equally suited to every situation.

Here is Rob’s first volley. My reply will be delayed as I am currently floating around in the middle of the Caribbean on the way to the Cayman Islands and internet time is REALLY expensive. I will post my reply this weekend after we get back.

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It’s widely suggested that skeptics should take a tactical rather than an ideological stance. I’m all for practicality and the idea sounds superficially reasonable. It’s only when it comes to practice that my spider-sense starts tingling. This approach has been called ‘accommodationism’ because it involves accommodating views antithetical to a movement or community in order to achieve some perceived greater good.

There are two troubling issues.  First, it’s unclear whether any such greater good exists; whether the majority of skeptics agree that it’s a greater good; or that accommodation is the best way (or even *a* way) to achieve it.  Second, we must consider the costs of accommodation: compromise is fine in many cases, but compromising one’s *values* or the shared values of a community seems a large price to pay, especially for a dubious goal.

Let’s illustrate by example: the teaching of creationism in schools. It’s for the most part (sadly influential) Christian extremists who want to do this; moderates tend to take Genesis less seriously. Accommodationists hold that if we get moderates on our side, they’ll be our allies in the battle against creationists. It’s important to consider what kind of evidence we’d need to support this assertion. I think we’d need evidence that moderate religious groups tend to be as concerned about the teaching of creationism as are atheist skeptics. If that’s not already part of their agenda, I see little hope that collaboration will be fruitful.  To date I’ve seen no evidence that it is and much evidence that religious types with even cavernous ideological differences prefer to stick together against the onslaught of evidence and reason.

But suppose we do manage to present a united front against creationism, what would it cost us?  Well, there might be various ways to achieve it, but the *accommodationist* stance holds that we should court the religious; that we should suspend our critical faculties in this particular case; and thereby become hypocrites.  Religion – like other irrational beliefs – is fundamentally incompatible with skepticism and while we might welcome the deluded as skeptics in other areas, we shouldn’t consider their beliefs immune to criticism, and neither should they.  By all means let’s engage with non-skeptics in a friendly and hopefully productive manner, but by regarding their delusions as off-limits to skeptical enquiry, we’re doing several unpalatable things:

• We compromise our core values.
• We risk lending a spurious air of skeptical or scientific credibility to nonsense. In particular, we might imply that certain forms of woo are compatible with skeptical enquiry when they most assuredly are not.
• We necessarily draw lines concerning what we should and shouldn’t accommodate in more or less entirely arbitrary places.
• We dilute the core message of skepticism, which is that everything can and must be questioned.
• We open ourselves to (justified) accusations of hypocrisy.
• We risk alienating hardcore skeptics in favour of short-term goals.
• Other stuff it would be fun to discuss in the comments.

This seems a high cost indeed and I’m not prepared to pay it.

This doesn’t mean I’m not prepared to work with woo practitioners against such evils as teaching creationism in schools.  I’ve done exactly that in the past.  I’m just more inclined to recognise that we’re all adults and can work together on the things both groups care about, while also recognising our differences

This is not the same as accomodationism: the accomodationist approach is to attract believers to a cause by strategically pretending their woo ain’t woo.  The approach I’m suggesting is that we fight them tooth and nail on all fronts we don’t share.  We use all the tools at our disposal: logic, reason, evidence, ridicule… but we still, if we want to, form brief alliances when they’re useful, without either side ever needing to compromise its values.

Wait, isn’t this how we were doing things anyway before accommodationists started telling us how to be nice?

I don’t know whether my approach is the most effective given any particular goals and metrics, let alone in the general case.  But neither does anyone else, including accomodationists.

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You may have noticed that for the last few weeks there has been zero activity not only on this blog but also in the Accommodation vs Confrontation debate. I have to take the blame here though there ARE extenuating circumstances. I’m here to explain that.

Right after we got back from the JOCO Cruise Crazy cruise on Jan. 8, I came down with the flu. This is the kind of stuff than hangs on for weeks. I STILL have the flu. I wanted to give the A v C debate my full attention but that’s been next to impossible since I find it very difficult to concentrate. The fever comes and goes. My head is full of mucous and when i DO take cold pills or antihistamines, I end up dopey…and can’t concentrate.

Add to that, my Mom was in the hospital for several days. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Since she also has two dogs, flu or not, we had to drive to the other side of the state to care for them. I HAD been recovering. The trips made things worse.

Right after that, once Mom was home, we were forced to take a brief vacation. I know. that doesn’t sound right. let me explain. Disney has a time share kind of thing called Disney Vacation Club. We bought into it late last year. You buy points and then use them at different resorts on any Disney property in the world. Well, we had points that had to be used before February 1 or we would lose them. So we spent four days at the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. I spent most of it in the room in bed or watching the African plains animals outside our balcony. I felt better on the last day and went to Animal Kingdom. Big mistake. By the end of the day I was back to feeling like death in a can.

Then, because of Mom’s diagnosis and her other health-related issues, we needed to find her a new place to live. We drove over to the other side of the state. Again. To look at houses her realtor found. It never fails. I start feeling better, have to deal with an obligation and end up right back in bed.

Unfortunately, two days after that, we had to help out another friend because we had promised that we would several months ago. And here I am. Right back in bed.

In between all of the family and personal obligations, I have also had the enjoyable experience of my volunteer duties as the new Managing Editor for the blog on Randi.org. I’ve been working with the new Communications Director, Sadie Crabtree, to schedule articles and keep the blog as spam-free as possible.

I DO take total responsibility for letting the A v C debate critically lapse. I don’t blame my worthy opponent for getting frustrated and ending his part of the debate. So, because it is my fault, I am declaring him the winner.

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While I agree that accommodation had no place in the science classroom, there are less confrontational ways of talking about it. The gang on Skeptics Guide to the Universe Specifically, Steve) were just talking about that in the January 31st episode.  It was suggested that teachers can use firm but diplomatic language to explain to students that they are taking part in a science class Religion is a separate subject that will not be discussed there. Of course teachers are under different constraints than you or I. If they want to retain their job, they can’t use ridicule. It is, in this case, far better to educate students. Teach them the real, unvarnished science and give them resources to do their own investigation outside of the classroom.

Unfortunately, according to a recent US study, 60% of them aren’t that firm on the subject. On top of that, another 13% actually teach creationism. If you haven’t read the study yet, or for the other 3 people living under a rock, it’s here: http://www.livescience.com/11656-13-biology-teachers-advocate-creationism-class.html I am personally appalled and dismayed by these findings. If this is part of the cost you mentioned, then I concur. The price IS to high. I do think that there is a way to be diplomatic without compromising on this specific subject. As I said, Steve on SGU made a statement that, while polite, did not allow for compromises.

The more time we spend discussing this issue, I’m finding that the more I agree with most of your points. I’ve even come to accept that there actually IS a time to be rude and obnoxious. The gap is narrowing, my friend.

For example, if I were to debate someone high profile in the Woo business such as Andrew Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy or Oprah Winfrey, I believe that, without engaging in ad hominem, ridicule would be acceptable. I might not *survive* the attack on any of the three as their followers would probably have me publicly lynched. But I agree that in the case of public figures that are willingly engaging in deception, they deserve to be knocked down a few pegs.

As I see it, where we keep butting heads is how we treat individuals. Again, I’m with you on not tolerating so called “creation science” in the classroom. And the reason I agree is because it causes lasting harm. Some of these young people may not get any other science in high school other than what they get from that badly taught biology class.

Let me tackle your bullet points:

1) I would suggest that ignoring a believer’s religion if they are investigating skepticism, could, in the long run, be potentially harmful to the new skeptic. The “coming out” process for want to a better term, is difficult and painful. But maintaining a delusion in the long term is even more damaging. HOWEVER, I would offer up that confronting the big questions first before critical thinking skills have been learned and are firmly in place can be nearly as harmful and could potentially shove the fledgeling skeptic firmly back into Woo. This is of course, anecdotal and I only speak from my own experience. For people like that, I tend t remember the following story:
There was once a bird who wanted to defy the norm. It was winter he had refused to fly south with the other birds in the Fall. After a few days in the cold blizzards, the little bird couldn’t take it anymore and started off to the south. Halfway there his wings frosted over and he plummeted to the ground below. He knew he had made a phenomenal mistake. But through sheer coincidence the little bird landed in a fresh pile of cow shit and he was buried in it up to his neck. The heat of the shit warmed him and defrosted his wings. Finally, after just a little while he was able to free himself. The bird was ecstatic and chirping in joy. A cat in a nearby bush heard the bird and pounced on the bird, swallowing him in one gulp.

Moral of the Story: Sometimes the shit you know is better than the shit you don’t.

In the beginning stages of skepticism, it’s extremely tempting to run back to the shit you know. It’s warm and cozy there even though it has a distinct aroma, metaphorically speaking. Thus, I think that it is more beneficial to coddle the young skeptic until they get their feet under them. I really cannot agree that this level of accommodation compromises our core values. It’s more like tolerating a temporary annoyance.

2 )I agree that it can be interpreted that temporary tolerance of woo *could* be perceived as acceptance. But it really depends on specific circumstances. Yes, had skeptics not taken a hardline approach to dangerous things like homeopathy, that could definitely have been taken as acceptance. I think though if we hold to our core principles and just give gentle nudges in the right direction, we can accomplish our goals. Albeit a bit more slowly than i would like.

3) I’m guessing you mean not discussing religion at a Skeptics In The Pub for fear of driving off newbies. That was the first example that sprang to mind anyway. It goes back to treating new skeptics with kid gloves on a temporary and case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. Just time and patience a far as i can see.

4) I see no reason to dilute our message. Couch it in diplomatic but firm terms, yes. But I don’t think any belief should be off limits for questioning. People *should* be able to argue their position. But again, this is where teaching critical thinking comes into play. It’s mind-boggling how many people don’t understand that they are committing logical fallacies left and right when they argue. In this way I think it’s similar to a young newlywed couple. They have to learn how to argue. So do people who don’t know anything about critical thinking.

5) Accusations of (justified) hypocrisy from who? Please give an example.

6) I think I’ve already addressed this to some extent above. Keep the accommodation temporary. Keep the dialog diplomatic but don’t compromise what the evidence shows us to be correct. I think with those tactics we might be able to avoid alienating the hard line skeptics in the community.

There IS a place for fighting tooth and nail. There is also a place for diplomacy. This has to be a muti-headed approach. As i said before, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I’m all for being an iron fist in a velvet glove.

I’m looking forward to seeing the comments on this. I really don’t think we’re too far apart though.
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1. I completely accept that some people might be better – for a given definition of better – guided toward skepticism by being nursed rather than having a short sharp shock. Would you agree that some other people might be better served by witnessing ridicule? Or disrespect? The point is that YOU DON’T KNOW (and neither do I) whether the accomodationist approach is better than any other. And that’s what I’ve been saying all along. You play your games, I’ll play mine. Other people will play theirs. Sooner or later, someone will do the counting and we’ll know more about what’s effective, but EVEN THEN that wouldn’t tell us how we should or shouldn’t do our skepticism. Perhaps my goal is to tackle the three people on the planet that are swayed by logical argument. Perhaps it’s my goal to sway the two people persuaded by being insulted. Are these people not worth reaching?

2. I’m not sure how we, as skeptics, can hold to core principles at the same time as accommodating things that aren’t true. I really don’t know what else to say about this or what examples to give. If a thing’s not true, it’s not true and wishful thinking doesn’t count. By being accomodating, all we’re doing is pretending that wishful thinking is true, isn’t it? But it isn’t and the hopes people pin on made up things won’t ever come true. Personally I think it is horribly immoral to pretend that lies are true, but I don’t consider it a condition of skepticism.

3. Your guess is quite wrong. I’d always and enthusiastically discuss religion at those events and if people were driven off, I’d lament and blame myself but I’d also consider that they were probably idiots. Is there much hope for someone who won’t be part of a group because they can’t argue their position? I’m not sure I care about such people. You do, Myra, and I’m glad but I can’t do yje same, I don’t want to and I don’t care whether anyone in particular does or doesn’t.

4. What message are we diluting? You say “our” but who is the we? And what is the message? That’s pretty much my point and I don’t think you answered it.

5. I never said I’d had any such accusations, I said that an accommodationist stance would leave one open to such accusations, not that any had been made. It was a logical position rather than a practical one.
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1) Considering, as you said, there are no numbers, I can’t be sure whether a specific person would be better served by a confrontational approach or an accommodationist approach. There are far to may variables involved to make a specific determination. For instance, just HOW confrontational is TOO confrontational? How much accommodation is TOO much accommodation? We just don’t know. For me it comes down to my upbringing. I was raised, as I’d like to think many of us were, to be nice. This is my default setting.Yes, there is a point with extremist ideologies when “nice” just gets you beat up or worse. But as far as dealing with the average individual, it was (metaphorically) pounded into my head to be polite and considerate of other people’s views. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that you can’t play nice with everyone. Which is where the confrontation approach comes in.
The problem is in determining who would benefit from which approach. How do we know the person screaming obscenities and claiming that the christian god is condemning us to Hell, isn’t doing that out of fear? Is it right to yell back? Do we know? No, because we know nothing about the obscenity-screaming-person.
This is where one-on-one discussions come into play. When having a one-on-one discussion, we can get a better feel for the approach that will serve the recipient best. Usually you can’t change the person’s mind with one chat, but you can give them little nudges or something to think about.

2) I’m not talking about lying or pretending. I’m talking about tolerating a temporary state. I have never met anyone who has gone from believer to skeptic in one day. It takes time to shed all the woo and brainwashing. During that time, instead of metaphorically beating them up when they make a mistake, take the time to gently and patiently correct that error. There is absolutely no reason that I am aware of to make someone feel bad who is trying to overcome their past woo.

3) And that’s one of our differences. Yes, I care that someone might have left an atheistic discussion feeling bad. Unfortunately the process of becoming skeptical is painful. There isn’t any real way around it that I’m aware of. Uncomfortable things have to be dealt with and it will hurt and there may be tears or anger. I don’t really care if they were offended. If they were, then they simply weren’t ready to tackle the big questions. Hopefully they at least learned something before they left though.

4) Our message: Be skeptical. Learn how to apply logic and critical thinking to your daily life. And “We” being the skeptical community at large.

5) I see your point now. How great is the risk, really, of losing some of the hard core skeptics? I think that might depend on just how accommodating we are to the newbies and how much we put up with from the biblical literalists.

Addendum: When I consider my approach to someone’s argument, I base it on people i know. Are they like my Mom, who has never had any kind of exposure to critical thinking before a couple months ago, but she’s learning? Do I base it on my Dad, who gets defensive at the idea of “being told what to think”? Do I base it on my half-sisters, who are fundies and whose feelings i really don’t care that much about? Those three levels cover a pretty wide base to work from. As I said above, there’s no easy answer.

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11 Comments

  1. latsot said,

    January 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Awesome, since there’s no reply or comment, I claim victory!

  2. January 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Not so fast.

    As you know, I was out of the country for a week. Right after I got back, I came down with a REALLY nasty cold/flu/plague-like thing that has had me unable to do much beyond lay in bed and be stoned on NyQuil.

    I WILL reply. When I’m not dead.

    • latsot said,

      January 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      I’ve had the same mank, which I’m told was swine flu. So I forgive you. All I could do was sweat and palpitate. I mean even more than usual.

    • latsot said,

      January 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      OK, it’s pretty clear that it isn’t going to happen, so I’ll stop bothering to check back.

      Signing off.

  3. latsot said,

    January 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I’m still surprised nobody has commented on this. Am I so bland? Perhaps I spent so long explaining why some people find some people like me offensive that I forgot to actually be offensive.

    It’s a terrible admission, so let me be offensive. Or rather. say some things that some awful people have for some reason found offensive.

    1. People can fuck who and whatever they want: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-12214368

    You know what, I’m going to leave it at that for the time being.

  4. latsot said,

    February 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    > While I agree that accommodation had no place in the science classroom,
    > there are less confrontational ways of talking about it.

    Sure there are. But I still don’t see an argument that says why that’s an advantage.

    > Teach them the real, unvarnished science and give them resources to do
    > their own investigation outside of the classroom.

    Which would certainly not include creationist nonsense. Isn’t that what I’ve been arguing for?

    > I do think that there is a way to be diplomatic without compromising on
    > this specific subject. As I said, Steve on SGU made a statement that, while
    > polite, did not allow for compromises.

    I’ve certainly never disputed this, obviously it is true. But I don’t see the accomodationist/dick point. All I’ve ever said is that there might be value in being what some people consider to be a dick. I’ve certainly never said that there’s no value in not being a dick.

    > The more time we spend discussing this issue, I’m finding that the more I
    > agree with most of your points. I’ve even come to accept that there
    > actually IS a time to be rude and obnoxious. The gap is narrowing, my
    > friend.

    I doubt this has much to do with my arguments though and that’s good news. Better if we all find our own route to being dicks, I guess 🙂

    > For example, if I were to debate someone high profile in the Woo business
    > such as Andrew Wakefield, Jenny McCarthy or Oprah Winfrey, I believe
    > that, without engaging in ad hominem, ridicule would be acceptable.

    Hm. Calling idiots idiots was never ad hom in the first place. Saying someone’s arguments are wrong because of a personal reason is an ad hom, but not saying they’re wrong because they’re actually wrong. And ridicule of someone who is wrong because they’re wrong isn’t ad hom. It’s fun.

    And I’ve no doubt you’d win against the people you mention, by the way. You are by far the stronger person.

    > 1) I would suggest that ignoring a believer’s religion if they are i
    > nvestigating skepticism, could, in the long run, be potentially harmful to
    > the new skeptic. The “coming out” process for want to a better term, is
    > difficult and painful. But maintaining a delusion in the long term is even
    > more damaging

    Perhaps. My position has always been that if you or anyone else want sto be more sympathetic than I am about someone’s idiotic beliefs or think they know better than I do how to nurse someone toward skeptical behaviour then by all means go ahead. But if I can be arsed to disagree then you’re probably going to need a fucking good argument.

    > I think though if we hold to our core principles and just give gentle nudges
    > in the right direction, we can accomplish our goals. Albeit a bit more
    > slowly than i would like.

    Very good providing you don’t pretend that there’s one way to do or think about things, which is rather the point.

    We are still ultimately arguing about ill-advised notions of politeness, aren’t we? I can and will not be polite about people insisting on stupid ideas. I think they are idiots. I can demonstrate that they are idiots. Which is why I think and insist that they are idiots.

    I’ll compromise on this at the exact moment I find there’s a good reason to believe in any god crap.

  5. latsot said,

    February 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I know this isn’t really in the rules, but I hope you don’t mind if I answer some of your bullets now I have the time. It’s your blog, so you can delete it or reply as much as you like 🙂

    1. I completely accept that some people might be better – for a given definition of better – guided toward skepticism by being nursed rather than having a short sharp shock. Would you agree that some other people might be better served by witnessing ridicule? Or disrespect? The point is that YOU DON’T KNOW (and neither do I) whether the accomodationist approach is better than any other. And that’s what I’ve been saying all along. You play your games, I’ll play mine. Other people will play theirs. Sooner or later, someone will do the counting and we’ll know more about what’s effective, but EVEN THEN that wouldn’t tell us how we should or shouldn’t do our skepticism. Perhaps my goal is to tackle the three people on the planet that are swayed by logical argument. Perhaps it’s my goal to sway the two people persuaded by being insulted. Are these people not worth reaching?

    2. I’m not sure how we, as skeptics, can hold to core principles at the same time as accommodating things that aren’t true. I really don’t know what else to say about this or what examples to give. If a thing’s not true, it’s not true and wishful thinking doesn’t count. By being accomodating, all we’re doing is pretending that wishful thinking is true, isn’t it? But it isn’t and the hopes people pin on made up things won’t ever come true. Personally I think it is horribly immoral to pretend that lies are true, but I don’t consider it a condition of skepticism.

    3. Your guess is quite wrong. I’d always and enthusiastically discuss religion at those events and if people were driven off, I’d lament and blame myself but I’d also consider that they were probably idiots. Is there much hope for someone who won’t be part of a group because they can’t argue their position? I’m not sure I care about such people. You do, Myra, and I’m glad but I can’t do yje same, I don’t want to and I don’t care whether anyone in particular does or doesn’t.

    4. What message are we diluting? You say “our” but who is the we? And what is the message? That’s pretty much my point and I don’t think you answered it.

    5. I never said I’d had any such accusations, I said that an accommodationist stance would leave one open to such accusations, not that any had been made. It was a logical position rather than a practical one.

  6. Robert Hagedorn said,

    February 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    A skeptic am I also. But intelligent Bible thinking is not oxymoronic. Do a search: The First Scandal.

    • February 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      Define “Intelligent Bible thinking”. The google search leads to your own blog.

    • latsot said,

      February 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      Robert, are you making a point? If so, wouldn’t it be more helpful and polite to make it here rather than cryptically referring people to your narcissistic and frankly blithering site?

  7. latsot said,

    February 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    It’s starting to become difficult to answer the bullet points one by one because so much needs to be dragged in from earlier points made. So I hope I’m not too confusing.

    1. The point I’ve been making throughout is that accomodationists tell us how to do skepticism and if we’re rude, they tell us we’re doing it wrong. My position has always been that nobody gets to set themselves up as the arbiters of what’s right or wrong in skepticism. But this is exactly what accomodationists do. It is *this* I am opposed to. Sometimes I’m nice, sometimes I’m nasty. Sometimes I go over the top and hurt people, although I never intend to. But I will *not* have people telling me that my approach is wrong as a matter of a principle they themselves have invented without my consent, especially if they have no evidence to back up their view. And yet that is what the accomodationist stance demands. Everyone should be nice to religion because….welll…because they say so.

    Maria, that is quite different from what you’re saying and I think you’ve departed from the point. Be as nice as you wish. Spend as much time and effort deciding whether to be nice or nasty on a particular point as you like. I do the same. What I don’t do (and I don’t think you do either) is tell other people whether they should be nice or nasty in either a specific situation or in general. Neither of us are accomodationists. You’re just nicer than I am.

    2. Again, I think we might be talking about different things. I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand. I will not tolerate people talking nonsense. That doesn’t mean I won’t enter into a dialogue with them. I do it every day, in fact. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily don’t understand where people with silly beliefs are coming from or how they came about their beliefs or how annoyed they get when I challenge those beliefs. I do, at least sometimes. It doesn’t mean that I won’t try to speak to them using their own concepts and own ideas and points of view, I do. All I’m saying is that I personally won’t give anyone a free ride just because they happen to really believe their particular brand of nonsense. I’m an academic. We spend our days finding fault in each others’ work. We don’t get to say “oh, but I really believe it” and get let off, we’re held to a particular standard at all times. And that standard is about striving to achieve what is true. People who don’t adhere to any such standard aren’t interested in what’s true, just in propagating what they personally believe. Otherwise they would just go ahead and agree to have it tested. You of all people understand that since you work for the JREF.. I have no time for such self-indulgent idiots. If those people protest that they shouldn’t be held to that same standard, then fine: they can ignore my criticism. But I still get to make the criticism and nobody gets to criticise me for making it! And that’s all I’m saying.

    3. I don’t want anyone to feel bad, ever. And I certainly don’t want anyone to feel bad because of something I’ve said or done. I do care about that. And I do want people to see reason. But I don’t care very much if people decide to reject criticial thinking because an idiot like me is rude to them. If their sensibilities are so fragile then I doubt very much that they have any critical thinking skills at all. If they can get past my rudeness and argue with me, then I’ll spend enormous amounts of time discussing things with them. But if their reason for not thinking properly is that some people are rude, then fuck them. I understand the need to nurture critical thinking skills and there’s a big and important role for people who can do that. I’m probably not one of those people and reserve my right to piss people off by refusing to respect stupid ideas.

    4. If the message is to be skeptical, then I have no problem at all with it. If it tries to tell people how to do it, I will part company with the skeptical community. Or, more likely, it will part company with me. I don’t want to be part of a world that has no place for people like me, after all. That’s exactly why I left the religious community.

    5. I think you still don’t get my point. It doesn’t matter what the risk is because it’s a matter of principle. If a few individuals go around – as they wish to – deciding what is acceptable skeptical behaviour and what isn’t, then I just can’t imagine what we’ll achieve other than stroking the egos of those few individuals. You don’t get people like Randi or Dawkins or PZ or Benson going around telling people how to behave, you get people like fucking Mooney doing it. The examples speak for themselves. All the people I’ve mentioned disgree all the time on even major points, but they are all still skeptics and all do great work. The one who tries to tell the others what they should and shouldn’t say….. does very little other than tell the others what they should and shouldn’t say.


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