If words were water, I would be paddling hard up to my ears being nibbled by piranha as an alligator came for me. So I haven’t said much here for a while. There’s this paper, this book, this contract, this report and this tendency for me to post comments elsewhere. So I recommend you all read these posts:
and this post
on sexism in the skeptical and atheist movements. I reproduce my comment to the latter post below, but note the extensive expressions of support at the first post. Also, they asked for a new term for an inclusive atheist movement. I suggested Affirmative Atheism as I have before, but now I think the right term is
This is a movement that affirms rights, equality, humanistic values, liberty, and general good taste. I hereby declare it started.
Here’s what I said at the latter post, edited slightly:
This is why one should not try to make a movement out of negative views, views that are contrary to some other views. Inevitably the movement becomes about position and status, and defending those positions and statuses against perceived threats. Skeptical movements around the world, and most certainly here in Australia, tend to have a small circle of those who run them who are concerned that newcomers don’t get too
Since most such movements were set up either in societies that are male dominated (including, I am afraid to say, many scientifically oriented subcultures) they tend towards the standard male chauvinism of the eras and contexts in which they began individually. It’s not surprising that they treat skeptical women like this: they treat all women like this.
There are other sidelined and marginalised groups too; ethnic, social, and personality types are also treated like this. The result is that the movements will start well in a cultural context but then slowly denature like
moleculesDNA left in a test tube over time.
For a movement to be both a positive force and adapt to changing cultural values such as egalitarianism for different or new groups than the ones that started it, the movement must have a positive set of values. Humanisms of various stripes do, but basically we demonstrate in this the fact about religion that we cannot emulate and which explains its successes: to be really successful, you have to exploit some primate cognitive biases, and set up arbitrary totems around which to dance to establish loyalties. If you can’t do that (and from principle skeptical and atheist movements cannot consistently do that), then your target audience (the human primates) will not stay true to the aims of the movement.
Now back to wrestling with Microsoft Word, which insists on writing my papers differently to me and then losing an hour’s work.
“Oh editors don’t let your authors use Microsoft
Don’t let ’em peck keyboards and drive them PCs…
Let ’em use Pages, or LaTeX for free”…