Hemant Mehta posted yesterday about how none of the bloggers who jumped to conclusions about Ben Radford when he was accused of sexual misbehavior has corrected their stance, even though his accuser, Karen Stollznow, signed a public statement that includes this excerpt:
[I]t would be wrong for anyone to believe that Ben Radford stalked, sexually harassed, or physically and sexually assaulted Karen Stollznow.
Jerry Coyne has seconded Hemant saying those bloggers should admit their error, after all, that’s what we skeptics do.
Thing is: we skeptics don’t trash anyone’s reputation with no evidence whatsoever in the first place, and I’m afraid that’s pretty much what said bloggers did when they posted about Stollznow’s account as if it was true.
I have said we skeptics ought to call out the motives and agendas of ideologically motivated people and I intend to deliver.
People who have replaced doubt, inquiry and presumption of innocence with an ideology don’t get to be skeptics — that’d be an oxymoron. So we should all be actively dissociating ourselves from them, because that’s what you do when someone stops living up to the same principles you do.
I doubt they will admit their error (for instance, Rebecca Watson issued a not-pology and insisted the false allegations “fit in with the horrible things I already know to be true about Radford“), because ideologically driven people don’t think they can make mistakes, for starters.
And, as it so happens, their ideology needs sex crimes, so Stollznow admiting to lying is just an unconfortable fact they will find a way to ignore or dismiss (her word was important when she lied, not now that she’s cleared her ex of any wrongdoing).
In other words, Hemant and Dr. Coyne are asking for the impossible: you can’t expect someone to say they’re sorry when they don’t even entertain the possibility of being wrong in the first place.
I just hope Coyne and Mehta take this perspective adjustment into account the next time they address these people (and, oh, there will be a next time, mark my words). There’s no need to keep labeling as ‘skeptics’ people who can’t behave as such.
*Update: Turns out PZ Myers did know about the statement.