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Old 20th November 2010, 10:31 AM   #1
Abdul Alhazred
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Lightbulb PZ Myers had no idea he was stepping into a controversy

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2...stepping_i.php

Quote:
... I'm at Skepticon 3, and I just learned tonight that the convention has been a source of dissent…and when I read the argument, I was stunned at how stupid it was. Apparently, Skepticon has too many atheists in it, and is — wait for it — "harming the cause".

I'm not joking. Jeff Wagg, formerly of the JREF, has a long lament deploring that 3 of the 15 talks are explicitly atheistic, and that JT Eberhard, the organizer, emphasizes the problem of religion too much for it to be True SkepticTM conference. ...
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Old 20th November 2010, 11:12 AM   #2
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Wow, we athiests are pretty powerful if just by making 3 out of 15 talks "explicitly atheistic" we are placing too much focus on religion to be a "True Skeptic" event. I must have missed the fine print in the skeptic contract that stated the limits for how much we were allowed to discuss various issues without risking the loss of our "True Skeptic" status.
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Old 20th November 2010, 11:32 AM   #3
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Possibly the Pope was invited but was too busy elsewhere . . . doing other things?
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Old 20th November 2010, 11:58 AM   #4
John Jones
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Originally Posted by Abdul Alhazred View Post
I saw that.
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Old 20th November 2010, 12:26 PM   #5
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I love it when people fight about who gets to call themselves a "skeptic." It's a label that 99.99% of the population has either never heard of, or attaches a completely different meaning to from those of any of the "skeptic" factions.

And of course there's an additional irony to having Jeff Wagg, who during his tenure as JREF employee responsible for the Forum basically adopted the "if you don't like it here, screw you and go somewhere else" attitude, whining about how another organization choose to run its conference.
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Old 20th November 2010, 05:03 PM   #6
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PZ had every idea. Every move he makes is very calculated. The man isn't stupid. Also, a simple blog post, but someone that is not associated now with any national group... simply an opinion by someone about use of a term.. and PZ goes "SWEET!"

PZ is currently the poor mans Hitchens. His avowed goal is to step into Hitchens shoes. PZ has been nursing the DO BE A DICK angle for the past 6 months. He LOOKS for a way to define his persona even more.

Jeff Wagg makes a blog post. ho hum.

PZ makes it once again personal and a chance for publicity by exemplifying a one person blog post into a might crusade against HIM.

Sigh...PZ, there are so many REAL problems and causes to post about. But they wouldn't serve him as well as THIS problem he is imagining.
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Old 20th November 2010, 05:06 PM   #7
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I think the skeptical community has more important things to worry about than eating their own, folks.
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Old 20th November 2010, 05:35 PM   #8
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Skeptics attack athiests during meeting in Springfield Mo. the buckle to the bible belt. funny stuff
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Old 20th November 2010, 05:56 PM   #9
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It should be Three maybe four speakers are NOT dealing directly with religion and or Christians
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Old 20th November 2010, 06:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
I think the skeptical community has more important things to worry about than eating their own, folks.
I agree. Do you think Jeff and kittynh will apologize for their divisiveness?
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Old 20th November 2010, 07:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dunstan View Post
I agree. Do you think Jeff and kittynh will apologize for their divisiveness?
Seeing as how I don't know what either one of them said, I can't say one way or another while having an informed opinion (I really haven't dug into this much yet, but I plan to - got any links?). My comment above about "eating our own" was meant as a general one, for all those calling themselves skeptics, whether they are religious/non-religious, accommodationist/confrontationalist, PZ Myers/Eugenie Scott, etc.

I think the skeptical movement is a diverse one, and as such we had better get used to disagreeing on some topics with each other. If religion is one of those topics, so be it. What I'm more concerned about is focusing on the things we can agree on and working on those issues.

For example, on the topic of creationism: Eugenie Scott brings certain talents to the table when combating it, and PZ Myers brings a different (but no less important) set of talents to the table. I welcome both of them to the skeptical cause, and I can see scenarios where one's talents would be of more use than the other's. But at the end of the day, I think we need both of them - and they're just two examples, as there is an entire spectrum of thought when dealing with these issues.

ETA: Ah, I see what you mean about kittynh's comments. Hmmm, yup, that was a bit nasty. But it seems that PZ's post was somewhat nasty in spots as well. Ah, the drama - I think some people need to grow up and start acting like adults

I have met and spent time with both kittynh and PZ, and I can say that while they may not get along with each other, I see no reason for me to NOT keep interacting with each of them. As I said, everyone brings their own talents to the table.
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Old 20th November 2010, 07:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Seeing as how I don't know what either one of them said, I can't say one way or another while having an informed opinion (I really haven't dug into this much yet, but I plan to - got any links?).
Jeff Wagg's post is linked in PZ's blog post (which the OP linked to). Basically, he complains that the "Skepticon" conference shouldn't be called that because too many speakers are talking about atheism.

Kittynh's post is in this thread.

Quote:
My comment above about "eating our own" was meant as a general one, for all those calling themselves skeptics, whether they are religious/non-religious, accommodationist/confrontationalist, PZ Myers/Eugenie Scott, etc.

I think the skeptical movement is a diverse one, and as such we had better get used to disagreeing on some topics with each other. If religion is one of those topics, so be it. What I'm more concerned about is focusing on the things we can agree on and working on those issues.
Work together on issues where we agree, certainly. If you mean "focus" on them by ignoring issues on which we don't agree, no thanks.

Quote:
For example, on the topic of creationism: Eugenie Scott brings certain talents to the table when combating it, and PZ Myers brings a different (but no less important) set of talents to the table. I welcome both of them to the skeptical cause, and I can see scenarios where one's talents would be of more use than the other's. But at the end of the day, I think we need both of them - and they're just two examples, as there is an entire spectrum of thought when dealing with these issues.
Yes, that's my view, too. What frustrates me is that many of Scott's supporters (I don't recall her saying this) want people like PZ to shut up and go away, whereas PZ has disagreed with Scott and the NCSE but still encourages people to support them.
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Old 20th November 2010, 07:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
I think the skeptical community has more important things to worry about than eating their own, folks.
And yet this issue has been fodder for more than one thread and comes up again and again.

I'm in PZ's camp. It's fine if skeptics want to maintain their theist blind spot, and a blind spot doesn't make one 'not a critical thinker' otherwise. Letting go of god beliefs is no easy task for some. And no skeptic is perfectly without blind spots of some kind or another.

But when it comes to critical thinking it makes no sense whatsoever to give god beliefs a pass for the sake of not pissing off the theists skeptics among us. If they want to maintain their personal cognitive dissonance and god beliefs, so be it, but I for one can't in good conscience, pretend there is some dual evidence standard when I just don't buy it.

There is no faith based universe or some spiritual need humans have that science cannot address. Because I'm not asking 'science' to answer questions. My version of critical thinking is that valid evidence is the best way to describe the Universe. Science answering or not answering questions is one of the fabricated reasons we supposedly need some spiritual universe along with the real Universe.


I'm in no way saying a theist is incompatible with being a skeptic. But theist skeptics cannot expect me to pretend their god beliefs are outside the realm of critical thinking anymore than I expect them to give up their god beliefs because I think the evidence supports the conclusion gods are mythical beings humans invented. Critical thinkers come to different conclusions all the time. That's what skeptics need to get used to. If a critical thinker comes to a different conclusion, we should not use the conclusions we differ on to separate us.
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Old 20th November 2010, 09:00 PM   #14
MattusMaximus
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Originally Posted by Dunstan View Post
Jeff Wagg's post is linked in PZ's blog post (which the OP linked to). Basically, he complains that the "Skepticon" conference shouldn't be called that because too many speakers are talking about atheism.

Kittynh's post is in this thread.
Got it. Thanks.

Quote:
Work together on issues where we agree, certainly. If you mean "focus" on them by ignoring issues on which we don't agree, no thanks.
The former, I assure you. I have no desire to see religion (or anything, for that matter) as "off limits" from free inquiry.

Quote:
Yes, that's my view, too. What frustrates me is that many of Scott's supporters (I don't recall her saying this) want people like PZ to shut up and go away, whereas PZ has disagreed with Scott and the NCSE but still encourages people to support them.
I've heard people from both camps make stupid arguments. None of those bad arguments take away from the positive contributions that both PZ and Eugenie have made over the years. I think some people are a little too much into the hero-worship thing when it comes to this stuff.
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Old 20th November 2010, 09:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I'm in no way saying a theist is incompatible with being a skeptic. But theist skeptics cannot expect me to pretend their god beliefs are outside the realm of critical thinking anymore than I expect them to give up their god beliefs because I think the evidence supports the conclusion gods are mythical beings humans invented. Critical thinkers come to different conclusions all the time. That's what skeptics need to get used to. If a critical thinker comes to a different conclusion, we should not use the conclusions we differ on to separate us.
Well said. My concern is that some people are getting too hung up on these disagreements, as if there's nothing else to skepticism except this one issue.
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Old 20th November 2010, 10:18 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cassandrena View Post
Wow, we athiests are pretty powerful if just by making 3 out of 15 talks "explicitly atheistic" we are placing too much focus on religion to be a "True Skeptic" event. I must have missed the fine print in the skeptic contract that stated the limits for how much we were allowed to discuss various issues without risking the loss of our "True Skeptic" status.
Check old threads discussing whether a religious person can be a True SkepticTM or not. It's not the atheists who are a bit more accomodating that have the issue here.

Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Well said. My concern is that some people are getting too hung up on these disagreements, as if there's nothing else to skepticism except this one issue.
There does tend to be a myopia whenever someone "comes out", and it does lead to devisiveness.
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Old 21st November 2010, 05:00 AM   #17
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I sat through that and I thought "Okay, yeah, that's interesting." I think PZ made more of it that there was. My impression was:

"Skeptics" are people who question everything. "Atheists" are people who question one thing. Is that one thing more important than everything? Maybe it is.

The overlap between skeptics and atheists there had to be over 99% (based on hands raised when asked they were skeptics and then asked if they were atheists.)

This post is pre-coffee, so forgive me if it's terse.
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Old 21st November 2010, 05:02 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by MattusMaximus View Post
Well said. My concern is that some people are getting too hung up on these disagreements, as if there's nothing else to skepticism except this one issue.
Point! It's rather like:

I like Fords.
I like the 1970 Mustang Boss 409 even if you have to pull the engine to change the spark plus.
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Old 21st November 2010, 07:32 AM   #19
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PZ flames a bit about an issue that isn't too important. Nothing to see here folks. Even PZ said:
Quote:
It's such a petty and trivial one, though, I can't be too concerned.
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Old 21st November 2010, 07:36 AM   #20
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I'm with Mattus. And Paul. This isn't something that we should really be getting worked up over. But I'm sure it'll get a lot of traction at TAMOz...

#RubbingItIn
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Old 21st November 2010, 10:49 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
I sat through that and I thought "Okay, yeah, that's interesting." I think PZ made more of it that there was. My impression was:

"Skeptics" are people who question everything. "Atheists" are people who question absolutely deny one particular thing. Is that one thing more important than everything? Maybe it is.

The overlap between skeptics and atheists there had to be over 99% (based on hands raised when asked they were skeptics and then asked if they were atheists.)

This post is pre-coffee, so forgive me if it's terse.
I disagree. and IFTFY
Atheists are NOT skeptical about religion--they have made their minds up that no God or gods exist.
That's not skeptical--
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Old 21st November 2010, 11:14 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by rwguinn View Post
I disagree. and IFTFY
Atheists are NOT skeptical about religion--they have made their minds up that no God or gods exist.
That's not skeptical--
What's "IFTFY" mean here? It can't be "I fixed that for you", because you fixed nothing. And the other meaning of FTFY doesn't seem apropos.
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Old 21st November 2010, 12:03 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I'm with Mattus. And Paul. This isn't something that we should really be getting worked up over. But I'm sure it'll get a lot of traction at TAMOz...

#RubbingItIn
All well and good, but how do you stop people from taking offense when you challenge their beliefs?

As an atheist, the fact there are theist skeptics does not challenge my belief. Their god belief doesn't challenge the basis of my conclusion about gods. But were I a theist, and a skeptic atheist is supporting their conclusion with critical thinking based evidence, then my belief is challenged. As long as the skeptic maintains an agnostic position, or goes along with the separation of science and theism (like the apology of faith based beliefs being outside the realm of science) then the theist skeptic does not have their beliefs challenged.

But my conclusion there are no gods is based on looking at the evidence that overwhelmingly supports the conclusion all gods are mythical beings invented by humans. Now my conclusion challenges the theist's belief and many skeptic theists find that offensive. I don't want to sidestep how I see the evidence because it offends some theists in the skeptical community.

As Phil puts it, I don't want to be a dick. But there are some theist skeptics who are offended regardless of how politely an atheist says their position is based on a critical analysis of the evidence. We've seen it time and time again when another complaint is lodged that the JREF is an atheist organization and we see it here in the complaint that 'there is no god' themes were included in a few of the Skepticon talks.

The issue here is that some skeptic theists take offense at anything suggesting their god beliefs are subject to critical analysis. It's not good enough for them to accept their personal decision to separate their god beliefs from their skeptical analysis of everything else. Some theist skeptics insist that everyone else separate science and faith as well. And many atheists do not hold that position.


I suggest theist skeptics just agree to disagree, not just on one's conclusions about the existence of gods, but also on the underlying premise that there is separation of faith and science. Agnostic and atheist skeptics have this debate from time to time. And it is less problematic to agree to disagree because there is no cognitive dissonance to deal with. One can see the other's position has a basis in the scientific philosophy we each hold.

There's a scientific basis for not ruing out the possibility of anything, including gods and invisible unicorns, and there's a scientific basis for following the evidence to the conclusion, (gods are mythical beings), and not trying to fit the evidence to a preconceived conclusion, (gods might exist).

But when you change that to a theist skeptic vs an atheist skeptic debating the scientific philosophy of what is outside the realm of science, now you have not just a different view of what is and what is not within the scientific realm. It isn't simply a matter of leaving the door open to the possibility of gods, you have one side arguing not just that gods could exist, but that they do exist (whether or not the theist is trying to argue that point with the atheist or not). If you don't buy the separate 'faith based' universe parallel to the scientific evidence based universe, that has very serious consequences for the skeptic theist's world view. It's no longer a debate on a finer point of the scientific process, it is a debate with more significant consequences based on the outcome of the debate.
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Old 21st November 2010, 12:13 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by rwguinn View Post
I disagree. and IFTFY
Atheists are NOT skeptical about religion--they have made their minds up that no God or gods exist.
That's not skeptical--
Have you made up your ming that gravity exists? That the Earth is not flat? That you won't fall off the bottom of the planet if you wander round to the other side? Have you made up your mind the Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon orbits the Earth?

There are may things for which the level of certainty reaches the level one can call something a scientific fact. All scientific facts are subject to change, even the fact the Earth orbits the Sun, but that doesn't prevent a critical thinker from maintaining a level of certainty about any evidence based conclusion.

You don't need to come to the same conclusion I have come to that it is certain all god beliefs are human invented fiction. But you are very wrong to conclude that because we have a different opinion, I did not arrive at mine through critical analysis. I could say the same thing about your conclusion. I could say that ignoring all the evidence gods are mythical beings people invented isn't taking the skeptical approach of following the evidence where it goes, rather you are unskeptically trying to fit the evidence to your preconceived conclusion.
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Old 21st November 2010, 04:02 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by rwguinn View Post
I disagree. and IFTFY
Atheists are NOT skeptical about religion--they have made their minds up that no God or gods exist.
That's not skeptical--
Total crap. Whenever somebody says they have God, I say, "where's your proof?" That's either the end of it, or they trot out some tired ********. Sorry if that busts your bubble. Not really.
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Old 21st November 2010, 04:58 PM   #26
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I think you're all wrong and if you don't like it here, good riddance to the lot of you...

...sorry, I seem to have fallen asleep while reading the thread.
Did I miss anything?
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Old 21st November 2010, 05:00 PM   #27
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Just the usual Brights commenting on the darkness surrounding their brilliance.

Move along; nothing to see here.
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Old 21st November 2010, 05:16 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Just the usual Brights commenting on the darkness surrounding their brilliance.

Move along; nothing to see here.
Certainly an improvement over the 11th century, isn't it?
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Old 21st November 2010, 05:26 PM   #29
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Ha Ha. You made a funny.
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Old 21st November 2010, 05:26 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Ha Ha. You made a funny.
Bitter, angry people are always in need of being made fun of.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 10:17 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by kittynh View Post
PZ had every idea. Every move he makes is very calculated. The man isn't stupid. Also, a simple blog post, but someone that is not associated now with any national group... simply an opinion by someone about use of a term.. and PZ goes "SWEET!"

PZ is currently the poor mans Hitchens. His avowed goal is to step into Hitchens shoes. PZ has been nursing the DO BE A DICK angle for the past 6 months. He LOOKS for a way to define his persona even more.

Jeff Wagg makes a blog post. ho hum.

PZ makes it once again personal and a chance for publicity by exemplifying a one person blog post into a might crusade against HIM.

Sigh...PZ, there are so many REAL problems and causes to post about. But they wouldn't serve him as well as THIS problem he is imagining.
This is somewhere in the neighborhood of protesting too much.

Seriously, I don't see how you make Myers the bad guy here. If Wagg's blog post merits nothing but a "ho hum" then why does an equivalent blog post by Myers make him a "DICK?" And why is it on Myers to post about these "REAL problems and causes?" Doesn't Wagg have "REAL problems and causes" to post about as well?

Maybe I'm missing something, some behind-the-scenes insider perspective that would shed a different light on things, but here's what it looks like to an outsider:

1. In 2008, JT Eberhard arranges for PZ Myers and Richard Carrier to speak at Missouri State University on the subject of atheism. Retroactively, this event gains the name "Skepticon."

2. A year later, the officially named Skepticon II again features Myers and Carrier, along with other prominent skeptics and/or atheists. The focus is again on atheism, and the event includes debates on the existence of God.

3. This year, an even larger Skepticon 3 is held, and the focus is expanded to include more "traditional" targets of skepticism, such as the (non-religious) paranormal.

4. At this point, Jeff Wagg sticks his oar in and starts privately (via email) and publicly (via his blog) lecturing Eberhard about what skepticism is.

5. Myers, who's been part of every Skepticon so far, takes Wagg to task for trying to push his own agenda of what skepticism is about onto people who neither requested nor required his advice.

Now, again, I don't know anything about the personalities involved here. Maybe you've got some special JREF 3-D glasses that let you see Myers's evil machinations for what they are. But from where I'm sitting, Myers's position is completely understandable and it's Wagg who comes off as the unreasonable one. Even, you know, kind of dickish.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 11:18 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
But when it comes to critical thinking it makes no sense whatsoever to give god beliefs a pass
Would you mind actually reading Jeff's post before criticizing it? Because from this bit of straw, it's obvious you didn't bother.

It's not about "giving religion a pass," it's whether you're talking about skepticism or one particular very specific topic. Let's forget atheism - suppose someone set up a "SkepCon" in which every single topic seemed to have something to do with, say, dowsing.

Talks include:

"Dowsing - A History"
"What Neuroscience Tells Us About the Ideomotor Effect"
"Oil & Water Speculation - the Science"
Etc.

For several years the con keeps going, but the theme of the talks doesn't change much; everything is directly or tangentially related to dowsing.

At a certain point you have to ask, "is this a convention about skepticism, or just about dowsing? Maybe it would be better called 'DowseCon.'"


But because it's the God Question, any criticism of the Party Line ("There is No God and You Better Believe it!") is met with hostility and anger. Jeff went out of his way to praise JT, the Skepticon organizers, and phrase his comments in the most friendly and civil way possible.

And the response?

Originally Posted by PZ Myers
I was stunned at how stupid it [Jeff's article] was.
Originally Posted by PZ Myers
It's [Jeff's article] utterly batty.
Originally Posted by PZ Myers
I say good riddance to those people.

And that, Steven, is why Myers is "the bad guy here." Ideological purity and condemnation of those who don't follow the Party Line is apparently more important than simple, open discussion about an important topic.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 11:48 AM   #33
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What's ironic is that almost all of PZ Myer's talk at Skepticon (with the exception of his last slide) was focused on evolutionary biology and not on non-belief in God.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 12:10 PM   #34
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Setting aside Myers' "tone," Wagg's article was pretty silly. His complaint was that there were too many speakers criticizing Christianity at Skepticon:

Quote:
And I find this reply very, very disheartening. I don’t believe the schedule shows “a myriad of skeptical issues.” The e-mail is an admission that the organizers of Skepticon believe that Skepticism = Atheism and that the event is designed to combat religion, specifically Christianity. I believe that if you equate skepticism with anything other than science, you’ve missed the point. As for Christianity, skepticism has nothing to say except about testable claims associated therein. Bleeding statues? Yes, skepticism comes into play. Jesus rose and is in heaven? Seems unlikely, but there’s not a lot more to say.
http://indieskeptics.com/2010/11/16/...on-skepticon3/

Three of the Fifteen speeches were focused on religion. Without a doubt, religion is the PREDOMINANT non-skeptical belief system in the world. 20% of the conference seems like an under-representation.

What percentage of the American population believes in dowsing? Or knows what homeopathy is? Or has a strong opinion about Silvia Browne?

Now what percentage is Christian?

Wagg seems to be arguing that there's not much for skepticism to say about religion. That's absurdly wrong.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 12:20 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
Setting aside Myers' "tone," Wagg's article was pretty silly. His complaint was that there were too many speakers criticizing Christianity at Skepticon:


http://indieskeptics.com/2010/11/16/...on-skepticon3/

Three of the Fifteen speeches were focused on religion.
Oh, FFS. Even PZ admits "Skepticon does have a strong anti-religion emphasis," which is the core of Jeff's point here. Harping on the fact that Jeff pointed to three specific talks isn't particularly useful.

Quote:

What percentage of the American population believes in dowsing? Or knows what homeopathy is? Or has a strong opinion about Silvia Browne?

Now what percentage is Christian?
Fine. Nobody's saying there shouldn't be atheist conferences; nobody's even saying that atheist talks don't belong as Skeptics' conferences. But if your focus is on anti-religion, as PZ admits, it seems more appropriate to call it "AtheistCon" or some such.

Quote:
Wagg seems to be arguing that there's not much for skepticism to say about religion. That's absurdly wrong.
And that seems to be absurdly straw.
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Last edited by Cleon; 22nd November 2010 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 01:13 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
And that, Steven, is why Myers is "the bad guy here." Ideological purity and condemnation of those who don't follow the Party Line is apparently more important than simple, open discussion about an important topic.
You're saying Myers did that and Wagg didn't?

From here:
Quote:
But it's not skepticism.
That's a paragraph all by itself. There's your ideological purity. There's your Party Line. It's. Not. Skepticism.

I'm just not seeing how it's cool for Jeff Wagg to say to JT Eberhard and company, "You're not skeptics," but then when Eberhard and Myers defend themselves suddenly they're being exclusionary and promoting some kind of One-True-Way party line.


Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
And that seems to be absurdly straw.
From the same place:
Quote:
As for Christianity, skepticism has nothing to say except about testable claims associated therein. Bleeding statues? Yes, skepticism comes into play. Jesus rose and is in heaven? Seems unlikely, but there’s not a lot more to say.
That, to me, looks like an argument that skepticism doesn't have much to say on the topic of religion. Maybe it's that last phrase: "not a lot more to say."
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Old 22nd November 2010, 01:26 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
Oh, FFS. Even PZ admits "Skepticon does have a strong anti-religion emphasis," which is the core of Jeff's point here. Harping on the fact that Jeff pointed to three specific talks isn't particularly useful.

Fine. Nobody's saying there shouldn't be atheist conferences; nobody's even saying that atheist talks don't belong as Skeptics' conferences. But if your focus is on anti-religion, as PZ admits, it seems more appropriate to call it "AtheistCon" or some such.

And that seems to be absurdly straw.
Unless, of course, you read the part I quoted. Again:

Quote:
As for Christianity, skepticism has nothing to say except about testable claims associated therein. Bleeding statues? Yes, skepticism comes into play. Jesus rose and is in heaven? Seems unlikely, but there’s not a lot more to say.
"Not a lot more to say."

Silliness.

And, one more time, 20% of the talks were about skepticism and religion. He seems mostly upset about a flyer used for an advertisement that played on the "Bible Belt" location of the conference.

It was mostly vapid whining, to which Myers over-reacted.

A whole lot of nothing from both sides.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 01:27 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Steven Howard View Post
You're saying Myers did that and Wagg didn't?

From here:


That's a paragraph all by itself. There's your ideological purity. There's your Party Line. It's. Not. Skepticism.
His explanation, which you didn't bother with:

Quote:
The pro-atheist cause is an entirely different endeavor with a community that overlaps strongly with the skeptical community. Skepticism is about drawing conclusions that are proportioned to the available evidence. That’s it. And I think keeping the two things separate if vitally important.
It's not a question of "party line" at all. He's right: Atheism != Skepticism. They're two different things, which might explain why they have two different words for them.

Quote:
I'm just not seeing how it's cool for Jeff Wagg to say to JT Eberhard and company, "You're not skeptics,"
Now you're just lying. At no point did he say "you're not skeptics" to JT or anyone else.

Quote:
From the same place:


That, to me, looks like an argument that skepticism doesn't have much to say on the topic of religion.
Only if you're intent on reading that into it. It says, rather clearly, that skepticism has quite a bit to say about religious claims.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 01:38 PM   #39
Cleon
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Originally Posted by TraneWreck View Post
And, one more time, 20% of the talks were about skepticism and religion.
And, one more time:

Originally Posted by Cleon
Oh, FFS. Even PZ admits "Skepticon does have a strong anti-religion emphasis," which is the core of Jeff's point here. Harping on the fact that Jeff pointed to three specific talks isn't particularly useful.
Secondly: You're simply wrong, from looking at the schedule. 20%? Bull-pucky.
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Old 22nd November 2010, 01:49 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
And, one more time:

Secondly: You're simply wrong, from looking at the schedule. 20%? Bull-pucky.
I wasn't at the conference, I am running off of this:

Quote:
I'm not joking. Jeff Wagg, formerly of the JREF, has a long lament deploring that 3 of the 15 talks are explicitly atheistic, and that JT Eberhard, the organizer, emphasizes the problem of religion too much for it to be True Skeptic™ conference.
Myers' Post linked in OP.

But that's only one part of my complaint. Read Wagg's quote. That's what I disagree with.

Religion is and should be BY FAR the primary focus of anyone considering themselves a skeptic. There are other issues, to be certain, but religion supervenes over all.

Do you think Silvia Browne could gain traction in a population that was not brought up to believe in supernatural nonsense?

All of the other "skeptical" issues (bigfoot, homeopathy, UFO's, psychics, conspiracy theorists) are minor niggling pursuits compared to religion. They have little to no effect on public policy or actual lives (with the exception of the anti-vaxxers), and they're mostly just fun to argue about.

Religion, however, has ENORMOUS sway on what gets taught in our schools, the global warming denial movement, women's rights, homosexual rights, abortion, contraception...etc. Anyone complaining about the centrality of religion to a skeptical conference is either an apologist or someone content to allow the skeptical approach to be a frivolous past-time. It's not a comic conference.
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