On Catholic Priests and Sketchy Skeptics…

UPDATE: After viewing and hearing whispered rumors (this is called irony) of the discussions following this post, I’ve decided to take down from The Finch and Pea for several reasons. A version will remain posted at She Thought.

First, The Finch and Pea is my intellectual playground. “On Catholic Priests and Sketchy Skeptics…” was written in response to a specific request from friends within the Skeptical Movement to share my thoughts on the negative communication strategies within their community. It was directed at that community and belongs in a venue directed at that community.

Second, sub-point in the article regarding the negative impact of falsely assuming that gossip widely shared within a group, but not outside the group can have on people new to the community. This point is important, but somewhat tangential to the main thesis, which is that gossip paired with public silence distorts the perception of problem behaviors in the community.

In addition, it included a reference to an individual’s widely acknowledged reputation within the community. Despite extensive disclaimers that this reference was specifically restricted to the most superficial level of widespread gossip, it has been misconstrued as a direct allegation of misconduct, which it was not (indeed the rest of the article suggest such a reputation can develop with no history of misconduct). Reviewers of the article agreed that the sub-point could not be made without such a reference, at least not without massive hypocrisy.

Nevertheless, this has completely distracted from the main thesis.

As I have said all along, I think it is up to the community to set its standards of behavior and I am, therefore, willing to acquiesce to them. I may believe that you need to rethink them, but I will still acquiesce to them.

Author: Josh Witten


2 thoughts on “On Catholic Priests and Sketchy Skeptics…”

  1. Hey Josh,

    I read the original post and thought it was very well-written and well-supported. I’m sorry to see you be a victim (of sorts) of the exact problem you were concerned about. It’s an important discussion to have, and I don’t think this will be the end of it.

    1. Thank you, Rebecca. I’m not (choosing) looking at it as victimization. Simply, the original article, while as honest and thorough as I could make it, was not successfully communicating the most important message and was generating unnecessary obstacles to productive discussion. Therefore, I adjusted, because I believe the main points are more important than pridefully refusing to adapt or worrying about being perceived as “giving in”. Sadly, I think the failure to communicate was a result of the very things discussed in the article. I, however, do feel that modified version at She Thought still conveys the central message.

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