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.

In which I agree with PZ. . .

This doesn’t happen much on non-biological issues, but I think I can say, without reservation, that I agree entirely and wholeheartedly with PZ Myers’ take on the events that inspired my post “Community”.


I regularly have a problem when trying to fix problems with physical objects that do mechanically things[1]. In attempting to solve the problem, I learn that the problem I thought was the problem is not the problem and discover what the actual the problem is. Not that I then necessarily have any idea how to solve the new the problem, but at least I know what the problem is now.

Its like an episode of House, without the erroneous suggestion that it might be lupus[2].

Or, maybe its like Atheism[3].

One of Atheism’s major problems is that not enough girls are showing up to their parties. Recently, there was a great deal of attention focused on the issue of sexism in Atheism after a dust-up erupted around the reporting of events during a predominantly male “women in atheism” panel. Briefly, a female audience member took vocal issue with some of the panel’s statements and left in some distress feeling that the panel’s responses to her concerns were condescending and mocking.

I’m not sure there is much to learn from this event. There is a lot to learn from the response.

Continue reading “Community”