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.
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.
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.
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?