Saturday, July 2, 2011

"...Seriously?" part 2

Somebody purporting to be Richard Dawkins apparently made some rather idiotic comments on Pharyngula of the "people have it worse than you, so how dare you complain about your own situation" variety, and Jen McCreight rightly excoriates him (or his impersonator) for it.  For reference on these remarks, see this.

Whether that was actually Dawkins or not, I think there's a pretty obvious take-home lesson: nobody, however fiercely they might like to proclaim it, is on the side of rationality and immune to bigotry simply because they might be a loud proponent of skepticism on a subject where most people reject it. Their courage and eloquence on such matters does not make them infallible. They're as susceptible to bias as anyone else, only they come pre-packaged with an iron-clad resistance to any suggestion of non-objectivity and therefore become, ironically, decidedly anti-skeptical about their own skepticism. Humility should be skepticism's best friend, not its nemesis.


  1. The impression that I got from Dawkins posts, and I believe it was actually him, is that he might not have the whole story. He only mentions that a man asked a woman for coffee in an elevator, which sounds a lot more innocuous and less threatening than what actually happened. If he came by the story second or third hand, perhaps it was filtered of some of its creepier overtones by the time it reached him, thus explaining his "meh" reaction. If there is something to suggest that he understood the full context of her situation, then he is definitely being a douchebag. Regardless, your point stands.

  2. Hmm...Just read his later comment comparing the situation to someone chewing gum on the elevator, and I'm feeling a lot less charitable.

  3. There is some nuance from Jen's arguments that I'm just not getting, I feel. I understand how being propositioned in an elevator after the talk that was given is inappropriate. Furthermore, I understand how the situation (alone at 4am in an elevator with a possibly inebriated man) could make Rebecca feel uneasy.

    I think that the fact that I (and a lot of other guys) just aren't getting it is the problem. I've spent a fair amount of time trying to understand it better but I'm still kind of scratching my head.

    If I'm honest, I identify more with Richard Dawkins comments than I do with Jen McCreights. #FirstWorldProblems

  4. Okay Mike, thank you for being honest. Could you please explain why you identify more with Dawkins' comments than McCreights, if you acknowledge that following someone into an elevator at 4am to ask them to come back to your room is inappropriate?

    Because effectively, Dawkins' entire argument is that it's no big deal if there is something worse happening elsewhere in the world. And there is always something worse happening elsewhere in the world.

  5. I identify more with Dawkins because in the grand scheme of things, having some guy proposition you in the elevator doesn't seem like such a big deal, especially since the guy took the no as a no and that was the end of it. I'm going to review Rebecca's video again but I don't think Elevator Guy was using inappropriate language or being crude about it.

    Again, I understand that following a woman to the elevator at 4am to proposition by implication of coming to the guys room is pretty bad timing. I don't have a problem with Rebecca's response or comments on the situation either. McCreight just seems to be taking the relatively minor offense to the next level. I'm really not trying to excuse Elevator Guy and I do truly wonder if I'm missing something as a white male.

  6. I've been reading more of the comments and following the story. My main complaint is the mischaracterization of Elevator Guy. What is mildly inappropiate is [url=]being equated[/url] to [i]strange men approaching women in enclosed spaces isn't just uncomfortable, it's dangerous because of the threat of rape[/i]. This is in a post the McCreight endorses and links to from her Twitter account.

  7. Ooops, sorry about the bbcode. I thought it would process it.


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