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Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 | 170 comments

About the Shermer allegations – updatex7

PZ Myers has accused Michael Shermer of rape.  I’ll make this simple: these allegations are utter balls.

Wait, I hear you cry, should I not be more careful?  Is it not the case that this is a he said, she said thing?  Are there not cases where accusations of rape should be considered accurate even without forensic evidence?  To the last, yes indeed.  Let me instance the case of the rape allegations against former US President Bill Clinton.

Why do I believe these?  To summarize the relevant chapter of No one left to lie to, there were at least three distinct accusations by women who could not possibly have known each other, there was a meticulous investigation of the most famous one, the one of Juanita Broaddrick, and every single detail checked out, we know that the accused had a long habit of sexual predation, we know that the accused had maintained para-legal squad to intimidate inconvenient women, we knew that the accused was a habitual liar, and we know that the charges have never even been addressed and further, that the vice president could not bring himself to say that he did not believe them on the record.  We also know that the accusers had very good reason to keep quiet (given what the Hitch calls the power relations of the banana republic of Arkansas – along with other reasons) and that there was no motive on their part to lie.  This is what a good standard of circumstantial evidence looks like.

Now let us look at the allegations against Shermer.  Has he had a long history of this kind of thing?  No.  Is Shermer someone with a long history of dishonesty?  No.  Has there been a meticulous investigation of the accusations? No.  Is such an investigation even theoretically possible?  No – look at what is being said.  Dates, places, times, anything?  No.  Is Shermer even being allowed to know the name of his accuser?  No.

Now, let us look at the other side.  Does Myers have a long history of dishonesty and malice?  Well, yes he does.  Does his entire set have such a history likewise?  Yes, they do.  Is it actually very easy to make such allegations without fear of reprisal?  Yes it is: a simple offer of coffee turned into a year long pity fest (bear this one in mind, I will be coming back to it).  Is there a strong motive on the FTB crowd to hate Shermer?  Well, yes there is.  Does Myers go along with the bullying and hammering of inconvenient women – Abbie Smith for example – when they wander off his reservation?  Yes he does.  Does that entire crowd gleefully throw any muck at those they dislike politically?  Yes they do.

Hmmm.

To make my point direct, speaking of dishonesty: anyone here remember when Rebecca Watson suddenly announced that she had been routinely sexually assaulted for years at skeptic conferences.  So, we are expected to believe that someone reduced to a pity-fest that lasted a year by a clumsy offer of a cup of coffee kept quiet about sexual assault for years.  And continued to pose in the buff and in all sorts of sexualised poses during that time.

Hmmm.

Yes, I make the accusation, and I will say it to their faces if I ever have the misfortune to meet them, that they are willing to manufacture the grossest libels and falsehoods to support their own self-image and standing in the community.

Returning to Myers who is, note well, the only named accuser here: there are three possibilities.  a) he has fabricated the whole thing, b) he has been gulled by someone else that fabricated the whole thing – in other words, he has another Amina Arraf on his hands, or, c) he has another Amina on his hands, but, for all his more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger schtick, he really really wants to believe her.  If it even is a her.

When I first lacerated Myers and Watson and their ilk, people were surprised at my vehemence and wondered whether I was not going too far.  Well, now you see why.  I knew the sort of people they were, and are, and I knew that no compromise was possible.

Al Stefanelli weighs in here. Atheist revolution here.

EDIT: I should say that I think option c is the most likely.  Also: It has been brought to my attention that Myers has long since quit the skeptic movement.  Myers, you never were a skeptic. You were never anything but a political hack.

EDITx2: Update the second, why am I not surprised to see that Ms TAM-Is-Like-Nazi-Germany weighing in?  Back when she and Zvan and the rest were saying they needed a system where all accusations could be made in secret, and must be automatically believed, and the accused had no right to defence or to face the accuser – I knew what they were up to and what they wanted to use it for.

EDITx3: Guess who is enjoying all this?

EDITx4: Sorry for the reasons but – the first 100 comment post here!

EDITx5:  Whenever I point out that Myers and his set have been smearing far better people than they, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I get a lot of So what?.  Well, Ali does more for women’s rights in a day than Myers does in his life, and does that not put things into a little perspective?

EDITx6:  Quoth PZ ,

Oh, I’m already getting tons of rape accusations and all kinds of stories told about me right now.The thing is, and why I have zero concerns about them, is that none of them are plausible.

Don’t his set always bang on that all accusations must be believed?

EDITx7:  Myers is saying it’s time to choose sides.  Some of us have long since known that.  On this side there is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Richard Dawkins, and Michael Shermer, and Lawrence Krauss, and D.J. Grothe and – well, you get the idea.  And on the other side there is, who, exactly? And what grand contribution?

  • Chas Stewart

    So you’re not leaving any opportunity for the allegations to be correct?

    • ThePrussian

      In the sense that all must be doubted and all must be open to question, I suppose one might. On the other hand, when a habitual liar and defamation monger spreads such stuff, I think, given that there is zero evidence for his claims and much against it, to conclude that no opportunity of such a kind exists.

      • Steven Schwartz

        given that there is zero evidence for his claims

        I presume you mean to say “No evidence you choose to find credible”, because there are now multiple testimonies regarding things associated with it, as well as multiple people across multiple blogs coming out and saying ‘Yes, I was warned about him in the past’

        and much against it

        Actually, let’s look at the “evidence” you cite:

        Has he had a long history of this kind of thing? No.

        See above; there’s a long history of people warning others about the possibility, which is all one can do in the absence of something provable “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a court of law.

        Is Shermer someone with a long history of dishonesty? No.

        this isn’t evidence against the claims; this is a lack of evidence *for* them,

        Has there been a meticulous investigation of the accusations? No.

        See previous statement.

        Is such an investigation even theoretically possible? No – look at what is being said. Dates, places, times, anything? No. Is Shermer even being allowed to know the name of his accuser? No

        And again — “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

        You’ve elected to presume that PZ Myers is not telling the truth, presume that Shermer is innocent, and then evaluated that evidence based on your presumptions.

        So, in reaching your conclusion, all you’ve done is gone ‘I don’t trust this source, therefore its allegations are untrue.” Hardly useful skepticism.

        • ThePrussian

          “Elected to presume [...] that Shermer is innocent”? That is a bad thing? Ever heard of presumption of innocence?

          So we are, once again, supposed to take rape allegations on nothing but Myers say-so. And Myers is, as I have documented before, a liar and a dupe of liars. And, as you say, there is no evidence than anonymous crap on the interwebs. You know, just the other day someone was telling me how many comments there were from people who had gone to Kenya, y’know, and had found Obama’s real birth certificate…

          Sorry, you might think its clever to support rape allegations based on that sort of thing, but I don’t.

          • Steven Schwartz

            So we are, once again, supposed to take rape allegations on nothing but Myers say-so.

            Nompe. We’re supposed to consider that this has been said in light of what else we already know. If you read the original post, you’ll see the source of the allegations said her purpose was to warn people. Not to prosecute, but to warn.

            So you’re free to go “Hey, PZ Myers’ word is meaningless, I don’t care.” But people are also allowed to go “Hey, I am here in a bar and Michael Shermer’s here, maybe I’ll be more careful.”

            And Myers is, as I have documented before, a liar and a dupe of liars

            This is another case where you have to decide which side to believe — I have seen far less credible behavior emerging from the “Anti-FTB” side than from FtB, so far, but YMMV.

            Sorry, you might think its clever to support rape allegations based on that sort of thing, but I don’t.

            No — you think it’s clever to *dismiss* warnings of unethical/potentially dangerous behavior because you don’t trust the person doing the warnings, and expect other people to do the same.

          • ThePrussian

            Myers lied to my face, and he has a record of spreading this stuff. Read my article on the man.

            And he has made a criminal allegation, and spread defamatory muck. How would you like it if people did that to you? How would you like it if from now on everyone was “Hey I am here in a bar and Stephen Schwarz is also here, so I’d better be careful”.

            Sorry, no sale. And I really hope that Shermer sues. It’d be nice seeing Myers learn what happens when you lie under oath. I’d enjoy that.

          • Steven Schwartz

            “Hey I am here in a bar and Stephen Schwarz is also here, so I’d better be careful”.

            Ironically, I’ve faced that situation; I have a name-doppleganger with a dubious reputation, who’s caused me exactly that. And I’ve struggled through convincing people that I’m not him, and that I’m who I am.

            So I know how it is.

            Myers lied to my face,

            I have less reason to believe this than I do to believe Myers’ anonymous source — your bias against Myers is incredibly obvious, so, applying your own standards, there’s no evidence that this is true.

            And I really hope that Shermer sues. It’d be nice seeing Myers learn what happens when you lie under oath. I’d enjoy that.

            And if he’s found not to be lying? What then? Will you accept that your judgment of him is wrong, or will you decide that he somehow “duped” the court, or it’s a conspiracy?

            Because unless your answer is that it would change your opinion of Myers, you’re not being a skeptic; you’ve made your decision, and you’re sticking to your dogma.

          • ThePrussian

            “And if he’s found not to be lying? What then? Will you accept that your judgment of him is wrong, or will you decide that he somehow “duped” the court, or it’s a conspiracy?”

            I will always adjust to new evidence. I simply do not believe any will be forthcoming from Myers. Will you issue an apology to Shermer when the verdict falls against Myers?

            “I have less reason to believe this than I do to believe Myers’ anonymous source”

            Well, it’s all on record – his actions on his blog and his lying about it at the time are all there. Go look. But if you think I am making it all up…

            In which case, please feel free to head back to Pharyngula. If you think I’m a liar, why are you bothering to debate with me? One only debates based on the assumption that the other person is honest and will respect evidence and reason; it’s why I don’t bother trying to debate Myers, and if you think I am a liar, you shouldn’t want to debate me. If you think I am a liar, you don’t want to stay here. There’s the door, don’t let it catch you on the ass on the way out.

          • Steven Schwartz

            I will always adjust to new evidence. I simply do not believe any will be forthcoming from Myers. Will you issue an apology to Shermer when the verdict falls against Myers?

            If and when it does, yes. Similarly, I trust you will do the same if it’s found the other way.

            Now, if Shermer doesn’t press matters, then where are we? By the logic you’re using (insufficient evidence, unprovable allegations, etc.) your allegations against Myers in this case are libellous as well; shall we judge you as we judge him, and argue that you have no credibility?

            If you think I’m a liar, why are you bothering to debate with me?

            I don’t know if you’re a liar. You may be misguided. You may have a point. But you are *definitely* making a mockery of being a “skeptic” by your one-sided skepticism here, and, quite frankly, the chilling effect you would, I think, like to have on anything regarding sexual assault/etc. reportage is something I find invidious. Hence, I’m here.

          • ThePrussian

            Very well: what do you claim that I say is false? And have you actually read my piece on the man? And if it comes to pass as I am certain it will, will you join me in damning Myers?

          • Steven Schwartz

            what do you claim that I say is false?

            Actually, you’ll note that you’re the one who thinks I called you a liar. What I said was:

            I have less reason to believe this than I do to believe Myers’ anonymous source

            Using the same kind of standards you use about Myers — a claim of animus against Shermer, etc. — it’s clear that your demonstrated animus against Myers should make anything you say (such as claiming he lied to your face) untrustworthy to an outside observer with no reason to a priori believe either one of you, let alone someone with evidence (they feel) to weight it to the other side.

            I followed the whole “Guys, don’t do that” mess from that very post — I saw the behavior on either side, and I do not feel that “a year-long pity party” is an accurate description; this also weighs in to my judgment on your accuracy of reporting, and my likelihood of trusting what you say.

            If I apply your own standards to your own argument, it tells me “Don’t trust this person” — and I think you would see that if you were operating with a skeptical eye, rather than one that was operating on what, as far as I can tell, is a “Person X said it, therefore I believe the opposite” mentality.

          • ThePrussian

            What of my allegations of fact? That Myers spread defamatory muck about men like Dawkins, and Harris, and about women like Abbie Smith and Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Or what of the fact that he claimed to take a position of solidarity while running away from it? Or that he threw accusations of scientific dishonesty around with no basis?

            And, I repeat, when it happens as I say it will, will you join me in damning him?

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            What specific things did he accuse Abbie and Ayaan of doing which you consider so heinous as to warrant filing a defamation suit to seek damages?

          • ThePrussian

            Is it too much to ask – seriously – that people read my linked post on the man?

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            I read it. Didn’t see anything that rises to the level of defamation of those two women therein. Perhaps you and I have very different ideas about what defamation entails.

          • ThePrussian

            Do you say anything I say is false?

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            The part where you say he spreads defamatory muck is certainly lacking an evidential basis.

          • ThePrussian

            Recycling the lies about Harris and Ali does not count?

            Edit: Defame. Verb. to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel; calumniate: The newspaper editorial defamed the politician.
            2. Archaic. to disgrace; bring dishonor upon.”

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            The opinion piece which called five public figures awful and made no concrete claims about them? Far from defamatory by U.S. standards.

            Defamation is a legal term of art in most English usage. If you are not using it as such, I’d like to know what meaning you are using.

          • ThePrussian

            Hmm – I think you and I are talking past each other. I don’t care whether they are defamation by the legal standards; if I gave that impression I should correct it. I say that it is fantastically unjust and a smear job.

          • ThePrussian

            But this time he has reached the level of defamation. Mark my words, Shermer will take legal action, and then we will see. And those of us who had his number way back when will have the last laugh.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            Bet you a foot-long sandwich Shermer never files suit.

          • ThePrussian

            You’re on.

            EDIT: If Myers is so spooked that he gives a full retraction, a la Henry Kissinger, that still counts to my side – sound fair?

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            If PZ fully retracts, I’ll buy you a 3-foot-long sandwich.

          • ThePrussian

            Done :-)

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt
          • ThePrussian

            My word, I think you may have just added a term to the internet vocab. “sandwich deadline”. I like!

          • bluharmony

            I think he might. It would stop the witch hunts almost instantly. And it would be a strategically clever move, I think, since he’s one of the few of us in a financial position to sue. Anyway, I wish he would, just so we can have discovery and so Myers learns there are consequences to his actions. Then again, the other option is ignoring all this as unimportant, which is also tempting given the source. Streisand effect is never good; real news outlets are unlikely to touch this in its present form (please don’t interpret this as my legal conclusion, but republishing libel is libel) –it’s far less dangerous to talk about anonymous coffee invites.

            Shermer has posted a witch hunt joke on Twitter after Myers’ blog post, BTW.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            If only I knew a legal blogger who could whip up an insightful post on just how high an evidential bar a plaintiff accused of a crime of moral turpitude would have to clear, if he was a public figure here in the U.S. Now that would be some timely reading.

            ;)

          • bluharmony

            I can think of a solid case for libel, and a solid case against it, if that helps. I don’t think that Shermer’s status as a public figure is the main problem here; what I see as the main problem is the inability to establish the truth or falsity of the main claim made, and I’m not sure how a court would handle this. Based on what we know, the claim is completely unfounded, but what’s more relevant is what Myers knows.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            A few questions for a fine legal mind:
            1) Is “actual malice” the relevant standard here?
            2) Is this “defamation per se” if PZ’s claims prove false?
            3) What is the quantum of evidence for a libel defendant to affirm truth as a defense in cases like this?

            I’m sure there are more good ones, but I’ve seen so much bad armchair lawyering around this that it would be really cool to clear up at least what the rules would be should I find myself buying you guys sandwiches.

          • bluharmony

            1. Depends on the jurisdiction (reckless disregard for the truth is enough and Myers admits that he doesn’t know what the truth is, yet republishes the potentially libelous claim anyway, and vouches for the person writing it; republishing libel is libel, but Myers goes even further).
            2. Depends on the jurisdiction (yes, if defamation per se is the standard).
            3. This is the part that worries me most: Can an underlying alleged rape case be revisited within a libel suit? Is the fact that there’s no rape conviction enough to establish Shermer’s innocence for the purpose of a libel suit? Does Myers have a reasonable belief that what he’s saying is true? In my opinion, it’s hard to tell what a court would do here, as defamation cases end up all over the place. I think there’s enough for discovery, though, because without that, we really don’t know anything. If anyone can find a case that speaks to this, bring it on…

            For purposes of the above, I’m making the following limited assumption: Shermer has had sex with at least one woman (or more) at a conference while she was drunk, and she complained about being raped afterwards — to her friends, and eventually, to Myers.

            Obviously if no such woman exists, then it’s libel. But my guess is that Myers isn’t this stupid.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            “Can an underlying alleged rape case be revisited within a libel suit?”

            This must have come up somewhere before. I’ll keep digging.

            Your question, if answered in the affirmative, brings up another weird possibility. If the underlying events narrated by PZ actually happened on a cruise, what jurisdictional definition of rape is in play as to truth as a defense to libel? Would the flag of the ship matter, if the events in question transpired in international waters?

          • bluharmony

            In sum, jurisdiction would be in the state where the defendant resides or in a state that the defendant has contact with (the plaintiff will look for what’s most advantageous legally & this will include examining the case law). It’s easier to explain personal jurisdiction with a link: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/personal-jurisdiction-where-sue-defendant-29560.html>.

            I’m not sure that truth (lack of consent, coercion to drink, other victims) can be established at this point. Falsity can’t be established either, however. Here is a good article outlining the problems that Shermer would face: http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2220&context=wmlr.

            It’s interesting to note that Myers thought he was protecting himself by republishing a claim and stating that he doesn’t know whether it’s true or false, although he finds the accuser trustworthy. He also avoided the use of the word “rape.” All of this seems disingenuous, as: 1) republishing libel is libel, 2) stating that you don’t know whether something is true or false, but you believe it, looks like reckless disregard for the truth — see reaction of the commentariat, and 3) lack of consent is a legal conclusion.

            It also worth considering that plaintiff wins only 10% of all libel cases (though most civil cases are settled, anyway — last I checked the number was at 94% — likelihood of winning bears on your bargaining position).

            Shermer would probably be able to afford a better attorney than Myers, although I’m not sure about this. In any case, the attorneys’ skills matter.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            Perfect! Thanks for all that.

            Looks like the plaintiff prefers California: http://t.co/07bKUeXY2f

          • ThePrussian

            Thanks for this. It is a very neat analysis; good complement to my rather heated stuff. Please drop by more often. :-)

          • Guest

            *This space intentionally left blank*

          • Steven Schwartz

            See, this is what I mean about “facts”, above; you call them lies. They are opinions, based on their statements. You can choose to call them “wrong”, but if they are “lies” then one can argue your statements about PZ Myers are “lies” because we do not evaluate the statements the same way.

          • Mykeru

            Mmm…epistemic Jell-O. It’s so bouncy and refreshing.

          • Steven Schwartz

            I was making a narrow response to a specific point; that you choose to then broaden it is not my problem.

            Similarly, f I took all allegations of “spread defamatory muck” and the like seriously, I would, by now, have presumed almost everyone in the atheo-blogo-sphere was untrustworthy in the extreme.

            And, having read the original source material (the Reason interview on Ayaan Hirsi Ali), I do not see the Alternet article as being defamatory; hence, in at least one of your cases, your article and credibility fail. I could keep going and come up with some percentage I agree with vs. disagree with, and weigh your current claims on that basis, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile.

            Indeed, by your own standards, I shouldn’t — you’ve already engaged in defamatory accusation with clear animus, so any of your other claims should be dismissed barring strong evidence for them. And, having failed to see that several times, I see no reason to suspect they’ll be there again — by your own reasoning.

          • ThePrussian

            So you do not say I have gotten any facts wrong, you just don’t like my evaluation. I can live with that.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Well, that depends on what you consider “facts”. PZ Myers posted a link to an article: Fact. PZ Myers spread defamatory muck: evaluation.

            Of course, since what’s going on above is entirely a matter of evaluation (you evaluating Myers’ evidence and, somehow, Shermer’s innocence), the credibility and value of your evaluations is part of the discussion.

          • ThePrussian

            Myers lied to my face. Fact. Myers ran like the coward he is when a matter of principle was at stake. Fact. Myers dumped the scientific process for political reasons. Fact.

            All those are facts.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Myers lied to my face.

            Unevidenced allegation.

            Myers ran like the coward he is when a matter of principle was at stake. Fact. Myers dumped the scientific process for political reasons. Fact.

            Are these “facts” the way “Myers spread defamatory muck” was a “fact”? Because that pretty quickly turned into an evaluation when you were called on it.

            Indeed, looking at your first one, I see someone going “Hey, it’s more complicated than that”, which is not the same thing as “running”.

            So, no, I don’t buy your “facts” — and if you are resting your reputation as a not-liar on those as “facts”, then you rest it on sand.

          • ThePrussian

            “Unevidenced allegation.” – So, again, you call me a liar?

            Did Myers scuttle from taking the stance he claimed at TAM when it actually happened, or did he not? Did he rely on a popular press article to make accusations of scientific dishonesty, or did he not?

            EDIT: So my documented facts are just evaluations and Myers undocumented assertions are facts. Fascinating.

          • Steven Schwartz

            “Unevidenced allegation.” – So, again, you call me a liar?

            No; I simply say that I have no reason to believe you. And, indeed, having seen your willingness to interpret things for Myers in as bad a light as possible, I have reason to *not* believe it in *precisely* the same way that you claim to have evidence not to believe Myers’ source (or even their existence) in this recent incident in re: Shermer.

            I also notice that, once called on something, it drops away from your list; even if your one statement in re: scientific dishonesty were true, that puts you at 1 out of 3 — a great batting average, but still not a reason to trust anything in particular you say as a “fact”.

          • ThePrussian

            Such as? I simply am getting fed up trying to get a straight answer out of you.

            You still have not said whether or not you will damn Myers when (“if” to you) the chips fall that way?

          • Steven Schwartz

            I don’t recall you asking that: I recall you asking:

            “Will you issue an apology to Shermer when the verdict falls against Myers?”

            And I replied:

            “If and when it does, yes.”

            Depending on how the chips fall, I will think less of Myers’ judgment, and possibly dismiss him as a slanderer (if the accusations of “making his source up” are correct.

            But if all we get is the current state of play, no, I won’t be damning Myers.

          • ThePrussian

            Thank you. Finally. EDIT: but that is still slippery. If it is proven that Myers is making false rape accusations, you will “possibly” dismiss him as a slanderer?

          • Steven Schwartz

            And I presume the same is true in reverse? That at some point enough evidence could accumulate to damn Shermer in your eyes, and validate Myers’ action?

          • ThePrussian

            If Shermer truly is a rapist, I would certainly call for his utter damnation, yes. However, I have very good reason to think that all this is utter balls.

          • Steven Schwartz

            And I have good reason to think otherwise; we disagree on the validity of each other’s reasons, but that’s to be expected, given our very different starting points.

            And would you also condemn Shermer if it’s shown that he’s merely sloppy with consent, a skeeve rather than a deliberate rapist? You seem intent on drawing a “Shermer is a rapist or PZ Myers is a fabricator” position, when the reality is far more nuanced than that.

          • Emanuel Goldstein

            Wasn’t John Loftus accused of rape?

          • ThePrussian

            No idea. Incidentally, it’s “Emmanuel” with two ms.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Good grief.

            Possibility 1: A court finds that Myers was duped; I will lose respect for his judgment, but not for his honesty.
            Possibility 2: A court finds Myers made the whole thing up: I will dismiss him as a liar and slanderer.

            See the distinction there?

            Similarly, it’s possible that Michael Shermer is

            1: Innocent.
            2: A sleazebag, but not a rapist
            3: a rapist

            The reactions to each one are different.

          • ThePrussian

            Okay – in case 1, you think that recycling ‘unevidenced claims’ as you would put it, about rape, isn’t grounds to damn him?

          • Steven Schwartz

            Define “Damn him.” ;)

            Seriously — it would cause me to no longer trust his judgment on this sort of subject, and damage my opinion of him significantly. That’s the damage it would do.

            What do you want it to do?

          • ThePrussian

            Simply condemn him as the sort of man happy to circulate that sort of a charge without evidence. As an unjust and wicked person.

          • ThePrussian

            This is really slippery: “even if your one statement in re: scientific dishonesty were true” – it is clearly documented. Now do you or do you not accept this? I am getting really tired of your slippery responses. I have not “dropped” anything. I will pick them right back up and make you face them when I get a straight answer on this.

          • Steven Schwartz

            - it is clearly documented.

            Is it as clearly documented as your “spreading defamatory muck” was?

            I’m not trying to be slippery, I’m trying to be precise. What I see from my end (and this is where we get again a question of fact vs. evaluation) is that you presented “Here are three reasons why PZ Myers isn’t to be trusted.” I investigated one, and did not find it suitable. I said this lowered my opinion of your gauge of his trustworthiness.

            Now it seems like “If he gets one thing wrong, he’s utterly untrustworthy, while if ThePrussian gets one thing wrong, it doesn’t matter so long as somethign else is right”, which, I presume you realize is *not* a particularly persuasive or useful arguing position.

          • ThePrussian

            The links are directly to his blog. You claim to have read the piece. Each allegation is still on his blog. Did you somehow miss that? As I said, I am fed to the teeth with this slippery method. Do those links or do they not say what I say they say? Straight answer for once. And now.

            Now, I was working from the dictionary definition of defamation – to blacken someone’s character – and by the dictionary definition, it is what Myers did.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Now, I was working from the dictionary definition of defamation – to blacken someone’s character – and by the dictionary definition, it is what mters did.

            You can’t defame someone by representing them accurately; and I feel the Alternet article did represent at the very least Ali accurately.

            As to the rest; I do not owe you a point-by-point analysis rebutting all of your claims at the drop of a hat. I somehow doubt you *wrote* that article in a matter of a few minutes, so expecting someone to read, analyze, and rebut in a matter of a few minutes is ridiculous.

            I went and read Myers’ link on Lomborg. Tell me — before you post a link to any article, do you go back and check all the way back (as far as possible) to the original sources? Myers posted a link; that’s what bloggers *do*. The reviewer, as far as I can see, did his own work checking Friel’s book.

            Myers reports “it seems”. Tell me — how much research do you do before you present an opinion? Is there no source you trust? I followed the links as best I could, and found no evidence to support the accusation that Friel, or the reviewer, were lying.

            Similarly on the cartoon case — I saw someone who thought, and changed his mind. Calling it “cowardly” — evaluation.

            (And, BTW, if that’s where you claim PZ “lied to your face”, then I further my claim that you’re not a trustworthy reporter. People change their minds, and think about things, and view evidence. If that’s “lying”, then we have nothing further to discuss, as you’re not using English the way the rest of us are.

          • ThePrussian

            Okay, so you say that I’m lying – sorry that I’m making “unevidenced assertions” – but you do not owe me a “point-by-point analysis”. Right.

            “Myers reports “it seems”. Tell me — how much research do you do before you present an opinion? Is there no source you trust? I followed the links as best I could, and found no evidence to support the accusation that Friel, or the reviewer, were lying.”

            Well, lucky you, I have them:

            http://www.skepticink.com/prussian/2012/12/01/why-i-defend-bjorn-lomborg/

            Of course there are sources that I trust on science. They are called “scientific journals”. But I guess you are going to say that those are just bald assertions, and opinions, rather than facts.

            To the last – I am using dictionary english. I say that Myers tries to blacken the name of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and so he did. That’s a “fact”. Simple as that.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Okay, so you say that I’m lying – sorry that I’m making “unevidenced assertions” – but you do not owe me a “point-by-point analysis”. Right.

            See, here’s your problem. Right here.

            You make an assertion: “Person X lied to me.”

            I have no evidence to judge that assertion. The only things I have to go on are my assessment of your honesty, and of Person X’s honesty, if they’re known to me.

            That’s an unevidenced assertion.

            You say: “I met you in New York in 2011.”

            I know you’re either a) mistaken or b) a liar, because I wasn’t in New York in 2011 — to me, that’s not an unevidenced assertion.

            Got it?

            Unlike you, I am trying to be careful with my truth-assessments, and not either a) throw the baby out with the bathwater or b) leap to conclusions.

            I can’t assess your accuracy on the Lomborg book to the standards you want because I don’t have Lomborg’s book handy. So, I don’t know that you’re reporting Lomborg’s book accurately, or interpreting it correctly.

            To the last – I am using dictionary english. I say that Myers tries to blacken the name of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and so he did. That’s a “fact”. Simple as that.

            So, by that standard, you’re defaming PZ, correct?

          • ThePrussian

            Defaming implies falsity or injustice. What I say about Myers is accurate. As to the idea that that article is accurate – look up “totalitarian”. Article says Ayaan advocates totalitarianism. Ayaan does no such thing. Ergo, defamation. Also, as to justice – one might think given the range of what Ayaan has achieved and what she has fought against, that might be taken into consideration. Of course it is not, not by Myers.

            So you are deciding to shelve judgement on Lomborg. Now: did Myers, or did he not, accuse Lomborg of scientific dishonesty based on a popular press article? You have already granted that he did. Is this acceptable scientific conduct? Not according to any scientist I know. That is what I charge him with and I stand by it.

            But by all means, get the book and take a look for yourself.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Also, as to justice – one might think given the range of what Ayaan has achieved and what she has fought against, that might be taken into consideration.

            First sentence of the Alternet article’s section about her: “While she’s to be commended for her staunch defense of women suffering under Sharia law,”

            If you’re a hero, and do one bad thing, pointing out that bad thing and calling it what it is not “defamation.”

            So you are deciding to shelve judgement on Lomborg.

            I hope that is not meant as a criticism. I’m trying to be as forthright and honest as possible in this discussion, and no, at this point, I’m not going to take what you ahve to say about Lomborg on any more faith than I would his critics.

            Now: did Myers, or did he not, accuse Lomborg of scientific dishonesty based on a popular press article?

            He said that the evidence he saw made it look like Lomborg had been dishonest.

            He passes on another person’s judgment. Again, I compliment you if you go back to every original source for every statement you publish, weigh them, and the like; that’s a standard few people (if any) meet.

            Is this acceptable scientific conduct? Not according to any scientist I know. That is what I charge him with and I stand by it.

            He did not make the charge in a formal environment, nor would anyone *save* someone who was looking for a thing to bludgeon him with consider that a formal charge of academic malpractice.

            You choose to judge him by standards you set up; that’s fine, but other people do not need to ascribe to your standards.

            But by all means, get the book and take a look for yourself.

            No thanks; my judgment on your reasoning isn’t worth that much time and effort to me.

          • ThePrussian

            “Now it seems like “If he gets one thing wrong, he’s utterly untrustworthy, while if ThePrussian gets one thing wrong, it doesn’t matter so long as somethign else is right”

            This is just great. If I point to what Myers does on his blog, that’s just “evaluation”, if I have bothered to do the personal investigation, that’s “unevidenced”, if I cite point-by-point the scientific literature, well, that’s also “unevidenced” until you have the actual book in your hands.

            But Myers anonymous, factless assertion that Shermer is a rapist? That’s, like, totally evidenced man! Double standards, much?

          • Eucliwood Hellscythe

            Right, the “Abbie is threatening to kill her!” stuff… ugh.

          • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

            “I have seen far less credible behavior emerging from the “Anti-FTB” side than from FtB, so far, but YMMV.”

            Then you haven’t been paying attention. Or you’ve cherry-picked it!

          • Steven Schwartz

            Then you haven’t been paying attention. Or you’ve cherry-picked it!

            Or I reached a different conclusion than you did. Do you even know what YMMV means?

          • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S
          • Steven Schwartz

            Yup. Much of what I expected.

            Just to pick a single example: I followed the whole Thunderf00t saga from beginning to end; and I was glad when it ended with him going away from Freethought Blogs, and I have seen nothing from him since to render him any credit whatsoever.

            My mileage varies, and my mileage when it comes to people like Thunderf00t and Justin Vacula is that they went down the wrong road quite a long ways.

            I suspect there’s no point in my throwing links back at you — please correct me if I’m wrong, and I certainly will.

          • ThePrussian

            Care to follow my links?

          • Steven Schwartz

            I did, several, with the results as described below.

          • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

            I followed it too, but you can gimme some links! I was glad Thunderf00t went away from FtB too – he shouldn’t taint his name the way Maryam Namazie is doing it by blogging there.

            I still haven’t seen what Justin did that was so awfully wrong, but I may be lacking some data, so please, feel free.

            Much of what you were expecting? What do you mean?

          • Steven Schwartz

            Much of what I was expecting in that I’ve heard all this before, when it first came up, and I didn’t credit it then, and don’t credit it now.

            Unethical behavior on Tf00t’s part: http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/08/10/what-thunderf00t-did-and-how/
            http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/3364

            On Justin Vacula:
            http://manboobz.com/2012/10/02/why-is-the-secular-coalition-for-america-giving-justin-vacula-online-bully-a-voice-for-men-contributor-a-leadership-position/#more-6451

            And if you go “But look at those sources!”, I’ll observe the same could be said of your links; there are no “impartial” sources here.

          • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Ðavid A. Osorio S

            So Thunderf00t doc dropped. The other things are only ad hominems and name calling (and no proof whatsoever). So I guess Justin is bad just because loonies hate him (what a great argument!).

            Yes, the sources can’t be impartial, but mines are evidence of actual unethical and maybe unlawful, when not hypocritical, behaviour. Yours are just claims which don’t hold water and don’t comply with the burden of proof!

            So *that’s* different! You really should check your mileage!

          • Steven Schwartz

            And this is why I figured it wasn’t worth posting links; we’re just going to talk past each other. You feel your evidence is convincing, while I saw a bunch of name-calling and assertions, unevidenced, of bad behavior. I feel my evidence is convincing, but you found it name-calling, bald assertions, and ad hominem.

            I am reminded of Bertrand Russell’s irregular conjugation of the adjective: “I am determined. You are stubborn. He is a pig-headed fool.”

            Neither of us is going to convince the other of anything.

          • Mykeru

            Most of the far less credible behavior I have seen on this thread comes from Steven Schwartz

        • bluharmony

          In the court of Myers’ Blog, we’ve seen nothing but hearsay (and an unauthenticated document from an anonymous source.) Inadmissible as evidence for very good reasons. There may be evidence, but I’m still waiting to see it.

        • ThePrussian

          Okay, let me see if I can distil this to its essence: you think that Myers allegations are believable and you think my first hand accounts of dealing with the guy are not. And you think that the links you put are not just ‘unevidence assertions’.

          I think this distills the difference between us, yes?

          • Steven Schwartz

            I think that Myers’ stake in his believability here is higher than yours. (As in, there’s no real risk in him suing you for libel for saying he lied to you — by posting this, he has taken a real risk with his reputation.)

            I have no more evidence for your first-hand accounts of his lying than I do his passed-on accounts vouched for first by someone he trusts, then by several other people.

            I have reason from past evidence to trust him more — you may disagree, but that gets us into the same discussion as I had with Osorio, below.

            By *your own test* I have no evidence of your claims of first-hand dealing with the guy, and clear evidence of animus against him — much stronger evidence, in fact, than that Myers has an animus against Shermer. You may feel your reasons valid, and his invalid — but the animus is clearly present.

            So, by your standards, I should doubt your assertions, at the very least.

        • Mykeru

          “I presume you mean to say “No evidence you choose to find credible”, because there are now multiple testimonies…”

          Really, where can I see these “testimonies”?

          • Steven Schwartz

            Go look at the original blog post that started all of this, and attend to the edits.

        • Jim

          You appear to be mistaking claims about testimonies for actual testimonies. Can you name a person who has actually come out and said “he raped/assaulted” me? I haven’t seen a person do that yet. Until that happens, we don’t have any actual testimonies, we simply have the word of third parties that those testimonies exist.

          • Psychotic Atheist

            Dallas Haugh – Creative Pooping:

            “Of course, if you’ve been following the skeptic blogosphere, you are probably aware that Michael Shermer is a rapist.
            Note the lack of elaborate conditionals there. This is because 1) the
            prior probabilities are not in his favor, and 2) I am fairly certain
            that Michael Shermer had nonconsensual sex with me.”

          • Steven Schwartz

            Given the rest of that post, I don’t think citing it is useful.

          • Psychotic Atheist

            It is nevertheless, exactly what was requested.

          • Steven Schwartz

            We have quoted email. If you choose to define “testimony” as requiring a person’s real name attached, rather than someone vouching for a statement, then you get to use that definition, but don’t expect me to do so.

            (This is also excluding the many people in comment threads who have come forward, some under (what appear to be) real names, saying ‘Yes, I’ve received that warning about him, many times/a while ago/etc.”, which speaks to the likelihood that this is a fabrication/that Shermer already has a reputation that this would fit into/etc.)

          • Psychotic Atheist

            Also – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/05/23/its-almost-time-to-start-naming-names/#comment-536627555 is probably worth a look, as it was made completely independently of the current storm, I believe.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

          & just who EXACTLY are these “Victims” It’s been said we should just “Believe”™

          • Steven Schwartz

            The people who spoke to PZ Myers. At least one of whom feels she has good reason to fear retaliation. Were this to be a court of law, she would have to come forward to make her allegations — at least, far enough forward for Shermer to see her. Even in a court of law, while proceedings are going on, many places have rape shield laws that would prevent the media from telling you who EXACTLY she was.

            The fact that you demand to know EXACTLY who they are means that *you* are now setting yourself up as judge and jury, just as so many people have claimed that Myers has.

            You’re free to render whatever verdict you wish, associate or not with Shermer as you wish.

            And no, we shouldn’t “just believe them”. But, believe it or not ;), there’s a middle ground between “Believe them completely” and “dismiss them utterly.”

        • Paul Coddington

          It could prove difficult to demonstrate that all the people coming out saying they were warned in the past were not simply hearing rumour from the same source. Multiple statements from the same source are not multiple sources, they are a single source.

          You need to check the fine details of each statement, not count the numbers of “witnesses”.

          I still remember my shock when the daughter of a prominent Baptist Minister in Sydney told me about how she had provided false testimony on behalf of a false accuser: “it isn’t a sin to lie on behalf of a friend – it is only a white lie.”

          She went on to state that the guy had sounded “creepy” so action had
          to be taken to deal with him (she had never met him).

          Just as irrational are the comments on FTB claiming that Bayesian Probability justifies assuming Shermer’s guilt (educated beyond their intelligence, as Asimov would put it).

          Assuming the accusations are true, there is nothing PZ could have added to this situation but harm. Rumours were allegedly already in wide circulation, so his “warning” adds nothing to the cause of protecting women.

          He had nothing to offer the victim in any practical or legal sense: it was not his jurisdiction. He has poisoned the well of possible witnesses, hindering formal investigation into the matter.

          He has given a lot of ammunition to people who might be inclined to dismiss victims complaints without due process in the future. He threw both parties under a bus. This stinks from all angles.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Assuming the accusations are true, there is nothing PZ could have added to this situation but harm. Rumours were allegedly already in wide circulation, so his “warning” adds nothing to the cause of protecting women.

            Except warning more women. Wide circulation “everyone knows”.

            Indeed, I’ve dealt with exactly this situation in parts of the SF community — and the people who were most often targeted? Newbies to cons, who weren’t yet part of the networks that would let them *be* warned.

            He had nothing to offer the victim in any practical or legal sense: it was not his jurisdiction.

            Did you miss the part where the victim contacted *him*? She apparently felt he had something to offer.

            He has poisoned the well of possible witnesses, hindering formal investigation into the matter.

            Again — the original source went to the convention staff, and was rebuffed. This is what happens after hope has been lost that a “formal investigation” will produce useful results.

            He has given a lot of ammunition to people who might be inclined to dismiss victims complaints without due process in the future.

            As has been amply demonstrated on places such as this very blog, no ammunition was required; people were amply ready to do that *before* he spoke up.

      • Chas Stewart

        It’s not at all beyond the realm of possibility that Shermer has had sex with a person at a conference where there was ample booze and she later felt like she was unable to give consent the next day or the next year or whatever. Memories are faulty but emotions ring true so I can’t see why you would deem it fit to leave this off your list of possibilities. Not saying that PZ was right. That would be a ludicrous position. But, your response makes you sound less charitable and thereby less persuasive. Maybe you shouldn’t have remarked on it at all, in fact.

        • Mykeru

          “It’s not at all beyond the realm of possibility that Shermer has had sex with a person at a conference where there was ample booze and she later felt like she was unable to give consent the next day or the next year or whatever.”

          So drinking by one’s own volition and having sex and then rethinking the whole thing as much as a year later might just be rape.

          Does someone have a pencil? I have to take notes.

          • Psychotic Atheist

            Yeah it’s confusing. I never could get my head around the fact that drugging someone and having sex with them while they are unable to give informed consent is rape. It’s really tricky business.

            After all, its perfectly moral to obfuscate the quantities people are drinking and then doing whatever you want to them in normal circumstances, it’s just when the subject is sex do these strange exceptions and alternative rules to normal moral behaviour apply. It’s not fair is it?

            Next you’ll be telling me that having sex with children is wrong too, even if they say yes…

    • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

      I don’t think you’ll find any solid examples of PZ getting caught out making up defamatory claims from whole cloth. Even the allegations of criminal sexual photography at TAM were rooted in actual (widely misunderstood) events and firsthand testimony.

      • ThePrussian

        It is why I think that option c is the most likely

        • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

          You think it is most likely that someone completely made up an online persona for the purposes of publishing defamatory claims via a duped third party? That is very close to theorizing a conspiracy.

          • ThePrussian

            Right, that’d never happen. Just ask ol’ Amina Arraf. Or maybe Paula Brooks.

            What, exactly, is the alternative here? Buy rape allegations from an untrustworthy source, on the flimsiest of stories, with a massive motive to falsify?

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            The obvious alternative is that people really do drink and have sex at conferences and people also have widely varying ideas about how drunk is too drunk to say yes and really mean it.

            Or it could be a conspiracy to make up false personas for the sake of propagating false charges.

            One of these seems totally plausible to me.

          • ThePrussian

            You are perfectly free to take Myers’ word over Shermer’s, if you wish. I would have thought that natural justice demands some proof for a damning accusation, but apparently that is an old fashioned view.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            If Shermer has had any words to say on this matter I’ve yet to see them, but at any rate I’m not taking anyone’s word until more details emerge.

          • bluharmony

            Exactly.

          • ThePrussian

            Give it a bit; we will hear shortly, I am certain of it. Taking legal action against the guy probably gets in the way.

          • bluharmony

            All I can say is that I hope he does. Can I have half your sandwich if you win?

          • ThePrussian

            Sure thing. Even I can’t manage a 3 foot one. :-)

          • Eucliwood Hellscythe

            Agreed… no one’s word should be taken.

          • Eucliwood Hellscythe

            As for the stories thing… remember that PZ changed his own account to make it look more credible, even though one of the accounts has to be false – in addition to the whole ‘people who believe it happened coming forward to make sure it’s credible’ thing.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            He changed his account because Carrie asked him to change it – http://twitter.com/carriepoppyyes/status/367135278558740480

          • Mykeru

            Why does Shermer have to say any words, especially since they would amount to proving a negative?

            He is not asserting. He has NO burden of proof.

            Besides, to use an analogy I’ve grown fond of, imagine you are walking past a convenience store when some piss-stinking crack-head points you out as a child molester. Would you immediately draw everyone in earshot to convene a hearing where you give your account of exactly why you are not a child molester?

            Or would you walk on or, should action need to be taken, involve law enforcement?

            Just to help you understand the analogy, in this hypothetical you would be Shermer, the people around would be the internet and P.Z. Myers is a piss-stinking crack head.

          • Steven Schwartz

            Would you immediately draw everyone in earshot to convene a hearing where you give your account of exactly why you are not a child molester?

            No, because I offer the complainant no credibility. Similarly to nitwits on the internet who make accusations in comment threads where they complain about people making accusations.

            Shermer was free to ignore it, if he wished. He chose not to. That happens.

          • ThePrussian

            Gee, he responded to a defamatory and damaging accusation made in public by a figure with a soapbox. Goodness me.

          • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

            Why does Shermer have to say any words, especially since they would amount to proving a negative?

            He doesn’t have to do anything, so far as I am concerned. Clearly, though, he has been taking legal action and privately but emphatically denying the allegations.

            …in this hypothetical you would be Shermer, the people around would be the internet and P.Z. Myers is a piss-stinking crack head.

            I’ve met some relatively honest piss-stinking crack-heads in my day, but never one with an audience ranging into six figures. Many people, rightly or wrongly, trust Myers to keep them abreast of events. Shermer knows this, which is presumably why he demanded a published retraction that would be seen by those people.

          • http://www.skepticink.com/incredulous Edward Clint

            You suggest a false dilemma. PZ’s only claim is that he believes someone else’s story. That may be 100% true that he does. At the same time, the story could be false, making both Shermer and PZ sincere in their positions (though the ethnical and legal status of his choice to publish the story are a different matter from whether or not he is lying).

          • Christian R. Conrad

            Sure, justice does demand some proof — if you are a court of law.

            I must have missed where Myers claimed to be that. Got a URL?

          • bluharmony

            The first. Not everyone is completely clueless about the underlying circumstances, I might add. Best not to speculate and then realize you were flat out wrong. Better to let this matter resolve itself.

          • Eucliwood Hellscythe

            Ok, so there are -multiple- names and stories and the stories are of the same nature? There is no need for false dichotomy… it doesn’t need to be that someone made up multiple stories (although I don’t see how that would be hard or crazy), and the intent doesn’t need to be to simply hurt Shermer.

            I was wondering if they came up at the same time because they believed the woman about being raped and wanted to make sure the accusations were believed, so they came up too for her, whether true or not.. but I need to catch up on the actual stories anyway. Just a thought.

          • Eucliwood Hellscythe

            For the record I also think its poss it’s a disagreement on what rape is with possible exaggeration on how much to drink

          • Eucliwood Hellscythe

            An online persona? What do you mean? Just made up a nickname and story? People I know have before, but not for -naming- someone in the story, just shits and giggles..

            So yes if that’s all you mean it’s not anything close to a conspiracy theory. You act as if that’s an elaborate, pain staking thing to do.

          • Mykeru

            You are right, it’s absurd to think someone would use an online persona to make a false accusation against someone.

            By the way, you raped me.

      • Mykeru

        “rooted in actual (widely misunderstood) events and firsthand testimony”

        What does that even mean? I could make up a story and claim it was “rooted” in the life of Gandhi (“based on a true story” if you will) except Gandhi is a 500 foot tall reptile that dances on Tokyo.

        The entire “Monopod Guy” incident was based on one guy having a camera on a stick so he could take pictures of himself with his celebrity conference goers and some neurotic woman, seeing the device, deduced that the only purpose for it was to take pictures up women’s dresses. And that after the fact. No claim of impropriety was ever made at the time against the guy, no “firsthand testimony” but he was so shaken by the accusation that he gave the next TAM a miss.

        You know, when people make false accusations, in the McMartin Preschool case, The Duke Lacrosse case, Jewish Blood libel, what have you, that’s not a “misunderstanding” and the mere fact that there was a McMartin, Duke and Jews isn’t evidence any more than the Bible names actual people and places that may have existed.

        Really, “Monopod Guy” is a case study in false accusation made from whole cloth based on the subjective crazy of a single person.

        • http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/ Damion Reinhardt

          Both Halley Delay and Steve Packard both provided firsthand accounts of what happened at the time. The accounts did not vary much regarding the XShot or the camera, but they certainly do differ as to whether he was persistently sexually harassing her and her friends. Both peopel agree that Steve was questioned by security respecting to his use of the camera extender. It’s all in the old JREF threads, if you want to relive these events or make new comments in a place where everyone is familiar with the events in question. The really nasty and totally false accusations happened when the meme jumped from Facebook to FreethoughtBlogs, where Greta made a number of arguably defamatory claims about Steve and DJ. She later walked some of these back, just a bit, in the face of Halley’s firsthand account.

  • NoCrossNoCrescent

    Oh boy, this is just sad. A once promising figure in the secular movement reduced to hearsay-mongering.

  • http://skepticink.com/humanisticas/ Peter Ferguson

    It is entirely possible to believe the accusations are true but still disagree with how Myers handled the situation. I don’t for a second believe the accusations are false (that does not mean Shermer is guilty).

    The problem with what Myers did is he released a very scant description of events which could have multiple interpretations. The wording is also very suspect and unclear. What does “could not consent” mean, was the victim unconscious or simply too drunk to give consent? For all we know consent was given, it doesn’t say it wasn’t. The victim may simply feel that her level of intoxication negates her consent as the alcohol had impaired her judgement.

    Also, what kind of coercion are we talking about? Is buying drinks coercion, did he use physical force? We don’t know. Myers will claim that the victim does not want to release specifics because she does not want to be identified. However, being more specific about what sort of coercion was used, and was consent given or not is not going to make it any easier to identify the victim.

    If Myers was being honest with his intentions, he would have tried to gather some more specifics without revealing anything about the identity of the victim: he didn’t. He simply released an incredibly vague accusation with could be interpreted in many ways and makes it impossible for Shermer to defend himself.

    PZ has nominated himself judge and jury here. He feels that just because he trusts the victim then that makes it acceptable to release such vague information. What if he didn’t trust her? Would he still have published the email? Does he not realise trust is subjective and maybe some other people wouldn’t trust the victim whatsoever?

    We live in a society where we judge people innocent until proven guilty, where we give people a fair hearing, where we allow people to defend themselves against accusations, where we need evidence to prove somebody’s guilt, we do these things for a reason. However, the sense of moral superiority that certain social justice bloggers seem to possess makes them think they can forget all of this when it suits them.

    So even if the victim is speaking the truth, the way PZ handled it is totally and utterly wrong.

    • bluharmony

      Yep, what he did is exactly why defamation laws exist, although they don’t always work very well.

  • GrzeTor

    Also the problem is that what Myers and Co are doing is trying to shift the whole area of interest of atheist/skeptic commnunity from the merits that previously occupied the center stage, were the focus of peoples attention etc. – to their feminist topics. That’s damaging, as the merits are still unifinished business, and the war against forces of evil hasn’t been won yet.

    Besides many people in skeptic/atheist communities are simply not interested in the topics that PZ/McCreight push as the main points on the agenda, thus there’s a lot of negative feedback against them.

    Out of FTB Aronra hasn’t lost focus and stays on topic, so it’s not a rule, but just bad PZ/McCreight & co obsessive distractions rather than general left-wing trend.

    • Steven Schwartz

      Also the problem is that what Myers and Co are doing is trying to shift the whole area of interest of atheist/skeptic commnunity from the merits that previously occupied the center stage, were the focus of peoples attention etc. – to their feminist topics. That’s damaging, as the merits are still unifinished business, and the war against forces of evil hasn’t been won yet.

      a) People can work on more than one thing at a time.
      b) Many people in minority movements have the experience of the following:

      Closest-to-top-of-power-structure people: “Hey, let’s not get distracted by side issues! We need to work on this core issue!”
      Everyone else: “OK.”

      Then, core issue sufficiently resolved:

      Cttops: “Well, we got what we needed, so bye!”
      Everyone else: “Hey, wait, we fought with you to get this far….”
      Cttops: “Yeah, but the issues left aren’t my issues, so I’m out of here.”

      *You* don’t get to set everyone’s agenda. No one does. It’s actually one of the reasons I heartily approved of the Atheism+ moniker; implying that there was more to it than the one category.

      • ThePrussian

        Yes, that little Cttops dialogue is a perfect characterisation of the A+/FtB crowd. Spend a year whining about a cup of coffee. Spend two years moaning because Surly Amy can’t hack it when people make fun of her necklaces.

        Meanwhile hundreds of millions of minds remain enslaved, and hundreds of millions of lives still remain under the yoke of true religious oppression. Sorry, I just do not have any time for middle-class first worlders whinging about how oppressed they are in the face of that.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Yes, that little Cttops dialogue is a perfect characterisation of the A+/FtB crowd.

          And just who, in your mind, are the FtBers?

          Spend a year whining about a cup of coffee.

          And here’s why I don’t trust your analysis.

          You seem to think RW *wanted* all that harassment, all the negative feedback she got, etc.

          When that’s not what the evidence shows.

          It’s “Spend a year digging out from under the mountain of garbage tossed my way when I made what should be an innocuous remark”.

          Sorry, I just do not have any time for middle-class first worlders whinging about how oppressed they are in the face of that.

          So why are you whining on about how oppressed Michael Shermer is? Again, we’ve got the irregular conjugation of the adjective going on here: “I am fighting the good fight; you are arguing on the internet; they are whining about first-world problems.”

      • GrzeTor

        Typically for an ogranization you can recognize Mission vs. Back Office. For example for a car manufacturer the mission would be prodcing, selling, marketing cars, making a pro-car lobbying etc. while the back office would be things like dealing with retirment accounts of employees, paying taxes etc.

        In case of Atheist or Skeptic organizations the Mission is clearly atheism or skepticism, while dealing with sex-related issues, race issues, rich-vs-poor issues etc. is more like Back Office. What FTB/A+ is trying to do is to include it in the Mission – that’s their openly stated goal. There’s some twisted propaganda involved – accusations are made that Back Office is inefficient in dealing with its responsbilities, then a false conclusion is provided that the part of organizations that deals with Mission should make this responsibilities their burden and priority.

        • Steven Schwartz

          while dealing with sex-related issues, race issues, rich-vs-poor issues etc. is more like Back Office.

          What FTB/A+ is trying to do is to include it in the Mission – that’s their openly stated goal.

          And there’s nothing wrong with that; people are allowed to have different goals.

          And people are allowed to go “Hey, look — your Mission may be good, but your Back Office sucks!” and go looking for somewhere more in line with their views on life as a whole.

          - accusations are made that Back Office is inefficient in dealing with its responsbilities, then a false conclusion is provided that the part of organizations that deals with Mission should make this responsibilities their burden and priority.

          When an organization is acting *against* the interests of some of its members, what do you expect? “Oh, no, we have to put all that Back Office stuff behind us because what matters is the Mission!” is a refrain you hear from people who don’t have to worry about the Back Office stuff affecting *them*, just those other people.

          Indeed, your “mission” vs “back office” division makes it clear I was right — if I spend my energies helping you with your view of the Mission, when that Mission reaches a conclusion you like, you’re going to walk away. Why should I bother, when I can work in a different way with people whose Mission more closely aligns with mine?

          (I will also note that some of this whole discussion is about, quite literally, what happens in the Back Office — the Stollznow matter, for example — and there, ignoring Back Office issues in favor of the Mission is actively *damaging* to the Mission, as it drives people away who might otherwise have been able to help.)

          I suppose my point is there can be Objectivist Atheist organizations, Socialist (or Anarcho-socialist) ones, etc., etc,and so forth, none of whom can really claim that they are The Atheist Movement — and likely as not, any ones who do are simply failing to acknowledge their own built-in assumptions.

          And, given the choice between spending my efforts helping atheist groups that do not treat sexual harassment as a big deal, and helping those that do, I’ll pick the latter — because on the other issues that matter to me, they’ve shown their on my side.

        • Steven Schwartz

          GrzeTor, if you wish to continue this discussion, post a comment with an email address, since I appear to be getting deleted without comment now (unless this blog is just having issues with its software.)

  • wet fart

    Imagine the reaction if someone made a similar accusation toward PZ. I bet the response would be along the lines of:

    “Oh, come on. It’s pretty obvious somebody has an agenda here. They have it in for Myers. The Slymepit is behind this, I just know it! Besides, there’s no evidence to support this claim!”

    • Eucliwood Hellscythe

      Exactly… and those fuckers took down that name and shame Tumblr blog as soon as Silverman was accused and said it was clearly bullocks, people are abusing the Tumblr, bla bla bla.

    • ThePrussian

      You are eerily prescient, you know that? See above

    • http://marconidarwin.myopenid.com/ Marconi

      You mean such has not been the case of Shermer?

  • GlenBowman

    Myers has now been given a cease, desist, and retraction letter by Shermer’s attorneys.

    • Emanuel Goldstein

      I love the smell of atheists bashing each other in the morning! Bahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

      I am going to enjoy seeing them drag each other through the mud.

      Who says Gawd does not have a sense of humor! LOL!

      • http://marconidarwin.myopenid.com/ Marconi

        Me, for one. Non-existent beings have nothing

        • Sikes Pico

          Your bigoted projection and inability to put up an actual argument for anything save your own insecurities are noted. Enjoy the little echo chamber of empty, faux superiority you’ve built up inside your own “non-existent” head.

    • Sikes Pico

      LMFAO @ the morally inferior atheists pontificating about rape. Ask any atheist if it is wrong to have sex with a goat, then sit back in amazement at their answers.

      • eirik

        Then ask Christians if it’s OK to toss 900 babies that die your care in the septic. And not baptizing them, which by your own beliefs condemns them all to eternal suffering.

  • Atheist Loki

    How the not so mighty have fallen. This should destroy any good reputation Myers had left, and, hopefully, the supermarket tabloid know as FTB.

  • Eucliwood Hellscythe

    I had no idea Bill Clinton was accused of rape. Did these people all “come forward” at the same time or was it recently after he had contact with them? If the former, them not knowing each other doesn’t matter as long as they heard that someone was accusing Clinton of something.

    • ThePrussian

      I’m in enough hot water as it is here, so would you mind if I be openly evasive and transparently discrete and suggest both the linked articles by the Hitch as well as his long investigation in No One Left To Lie To? A fascinating book, and to the best of my knowledge, nothing in it has been ever challenged by the Clintons.

      • Eucliwood Hellscythe

        Ah… how would that help you with hot water to give it to me specifically? I am not really interested in reading about more rapes.

        Wait, do you think I’m threatening you? I just asked is all, I swear. That wasn’t written in an “Bill Clinton didn’t do it” tone.

        • ThePrussian

          Oh, no, I didn’t mean you! It’s just I spent a long time debating here last night and I have a great deal to do today, so I really don’t want to get sucked into another argument (not with you, but with any other commentators). Plus, I cannot possibly make the case as well as the Hitch did. :-)

  • Jeff Cleveland

    You barely had me allowing you to have assumed credibility with your opinion until it went completely away when I saw how you think, when you added the irrelevant to the charge ” And continued to pose in the buff and in all sorts of sexualised poses during that time”. I’m not saying your incorrect in your opinion, I’m just saying if you are, you’re accidentally so.

  • Me

    You do know at least one of Clinton’s accusers was paid six figures for brining up a years old allegation, right? Not the most credible source. One was a long term mistress and one was an affair with an intern that would have resulted in a CEO being fired in the private sector. Clearly a womanizer/adulterer/unethical boss, but rapist is a seriously unsupported claim.

    • ThePrussian

      Mind if I leave that one alone and just suggest you read the Hitch’s articles on the guy? I was just using them as a standard of comparison, why I think one was right and the other not right.

  • onefuriousllama

    Excellent post.

    • ThePrussian

      Thank’ee. Please feel free to stick around :)

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    I hope Shermer takes Myers for everything he’s got. IMO a retraction &/or an apology is not nearly enough, this man should be made to bear IN FULL the consequences of what he has done. Apparently Women were informally warning new speakers & attendees about certain Male speakers who are/were prominent in the community, yet here we have a male blogger taking it upon himself to make these unsubstantiated claims public knowledge. The guy’s a fool but dangerous & needs to be shut down once & for all.

  • Christian R. Conrad

    You make me, to some (fortunately small) extent, feel ashamed that I am actually by birth half Prussian.

    • ThePrussian

      It’s an honour to be despised by the likes of you.

      • Christian R. Conrad

        How come; what do you know about me to make you feel that way?

        I doubt you’ve read anything by me to form your alleged opinion on. Have you?

  • jh

    The bottom line is that PZ crossed the line by making an allegation of a
    serious crime in a blog post, no matter how good his intentions may be.
    It may be true that our justice system is messed up for rape victims,
    but we don’t make things better by developing an alternative system
    based on vigilante justice. If we do, we go down the road of social
    chaos. We must work within the justice system to improve it, no matter
    how difficult that may be.

  • Laura Cordova-James

    Great post. Bravo… F-ing bravo… !!!

  • Ingenjören

    Thanks for this. I now understand much better how the discussions must have gone in the vatican whenever there were allegations of a pedophile scandal.

  • malia

    I would say how much it reflects on the skeptic community, in a good way, that while the name of the young woman is well known (indeed she’s been pretty open about who she is) and many people remember the incident, her name has not been outed. shermer’s name was put out there, without his consent, but even the most anti PZ person has respected this woman, despite a few people going ‘oh gosh yes she told me that story a Long time ago.” so, which side is doing the better job here? The side where people could easily out this woman, and choose not to do so (and trust me not because she is Mother Theresa) but because it is always the wrong thing to do (as it was the wrong thing to do with shermer). even Carrie Poppy has to be going “oh geez” when people come up to her and say “You know, do you REALLY know?” Nope people that are supposedly horrible rotten terrible women hating rape apologists, are Not coming out with her name. Not even shermer is bringing out her name. Which side (if there are ever sides) is taking the high road?

    • http://www.libertariancomment.com/ Glenn

      You reek of bias. First off, this is not idle gossip, this is an accusation of a crime. You claim she’s well known and respected – by whom? This is basically hyperbole passing for assessment as it’s a highly subjective assessment. And as long as she chooses to no speak out on her own behalf, yet, according to you let’s it be well known to insiders, wow, I call that deeply suspicious and manipulative.

      What’s even worse are the premises you accept before even getting there, though. The accusation itself is highly unlikely to rise to the legal definition of rape. And again, in this situation, legal definitions matter, not the highly politicized, ideological semantic games feminists play with the word rape. In the real world. consent is not obviated by the consumption of alcohol. Funnily, I just saw a video of Rebecca Watson on YouTube doing some ‘funny story’ time standup thing at a conference where she openly admits to consenting to wanting to have sex with a guy she thought was hot after drinking “one of everything” at a bar just beforehand. She didn’t even get the hypocrisy – she was drunk, it was automatically rape as she can’t consent, right? No, I guess it isn’t rape if she says so?

      The standard offered by feminists on this is non-existent. What they seem to do is conflate actually raping a women who is semi-conscious but unaware and unable to speak or walk with having sex with a drunk woman. The other ridiculous aspect of the claim is another slight of hand. She claims that Michael Shermer somehow got her drunk by refilling her wine glass. She doesn’t claim he drugged her or forced her to drink however much she did. This view of female agency is absurd. She’s responsible for how much she drank – no matter what Shermer did.

      So the entire charge of rape itself is highly questionable – before we get to any aspect of who this women is. What seems clear is this.She got drunk and slept with Shermer, and at the time did not object. She concluded afterwards – a long time afterwards – that it was rape because due to being drunk, she couldn’t consent. This is absurd. Until the following is established, fyi, no serious person should take these kind of charges seriously.

      1. What BAC level obviates consent?
      2. Does the inability to be responsible for one’s actions due to alcohol consumption fall equally to men as it does women? I mean, what if Shermer was just as drunk as this woman, they are then both unable to consent to anything, so how could it be rape? Under these conditions it’s just as logical to claim she raped him because he was drunk too.

      What’s saddest to me about all this is the utter lack of critical thinking on this topic by supposed skeptics. And I haven’t even gotten to the part where one looks at the motivations and agenda of the accuser. Is she a feminist activist in the skeptical community? We’ve had several ginned up, false accusations of sexual harassment by such people already – the non-incident in the elevator with Ms. Watson in Dublin comes to mind. They level of hysteria coming from feminists on this issue makes very claim they make suspect. That’s if you are fairly evaluating them, that is…

  • Goldstein’s Nephew

    So whatever happened?

    Why didn’t Shermer sue?

    Is it because he is afraid something IS out there?

  • Quiet Desperation

    All this type of stuff is why my involvement with organized skepticism and atheism lasted about six months. It was like a Pageant Of The Masters, but with the DSM-5 instead of great paintings, and no one was faking. Oh, and the rigid ideologies acting as proxy religions. Yeah, no thanks.

  • Dave Infinger

    I believe he probably raped that girl but do I know it for sure? No, but after the lies he told about David Cole it makes it hard for me to believe anything he says. Now before any of you bone head nuts attack me for not believing in the Holocaust, let me state categorically that yes there was a Holocaust. My problem with Shermer is the fact that he admits to Cole that he lied about him when he wrote his book. He should have said to Cole that he was crazier than Bat Shit and all he had to do is look at what happened to Germany during World War 2. Shermer is a fraud and I for one do not trust a word the man says.

  • Brad Keyes

    No offense, but why would anyone rape PZ Myers?

  • Pingback: Michael Shermer: I told you so | The Prussian

  • Che Bob

    This is a ridiculous situation. I’m kinda curious what actually happened. All I can say for sure is that if you read the explanation of all this on Myers’ site, it makes you want to be sick. They have a style of thinking and dealing with people that is frankly horrible. Collecting a variety of unrelated anecdotes, along with random rape statistics, to just point to the fact that he’s guilty.

    As an ignorant observer, it really really looks like Shermer did something to piss Myers off so in return he chose to try and ruin his life.

    • ThePrussian

      That’s pretty much it. Myers has always hates Shermer because Shermer’s a libertarian (by way of contrast, Myers has no problem with Communists).

      • Che Bob

        Well as I say, I think it’s important to maintain the position that without all of the facts, you shouldn’t really have an opinion on the matter.
        But if that’s true, he’s a colossal prick and I hope someone accuses him of rape at some point in the future.