• On owing Ben Radford an apology

    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.

    (image: Wikipedia)

    Category: Skepticism and Science


    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

    2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • Outwest

      What is really incredible to me, and I stated this on Twitter yesterday, was the complete denial of even knowing the joint statement had been issued. These are people whose entire existence is online and yet, with the hundreds of tweets about it that I saw, they’re claiming to never having known?

      Of course, it’s possible, but unlikely. I mean, Watson’s comment about hey, you want us to know something, hit the contact button on the site is just ludicrous.

    • For every retraction of a public accusation, from those particular bloggers, I’ll donate $10 to the next legal defense fund they backchannel coordinate. Public apologies $20.

      • Save your money. Watson just raised thousands of dollars claiming a non-existent suit was coming her way.

        Why would you waste your money on such people?

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    • Thing is: we skeptics don’t trash anyone’s reputation with no evidence whatsoever in the first place

      That’s completely news to me. How I learned about the atheist-skeptics movement: smears, allegations, dogpiling, extremely uncharitable interpretations and when you sort of run away and join the “other side” you get demonisation, scarlet letters, shunning and shaming and worst motives and beliefs attested. So the thing is: this is the US secular movement as it really is like. Sorry.

      • ronmurp

        “with no evidence whatsoever”? Well, unless by ‘evidence’ they include hearsay. It’s like listening to Christian ‘evidence’ for the resurrection.

        Here’s the type of evidence they use:


        And no apology there either. Odd how the stories spread like wildfire, but nobody is listening when the retractions come out. Would they have been listening had Radford confessed to the charges?

        And still, not that they do know, where their astonished discoveries of this news accompanied by apologies?

        • I find it odd no longer. I just assume this people will take it to a new low every day… haven’t dissapointed so far.

      • I’ve seen all that. I keep saying those ain’t skeptics. Those are bullies and thugs

    • Opyt

      Nothing major but:
      “unconfortable” should be “uncomfortable”
      Though, “unconfrontable”/”irreconcilable” (though first is a made-up word) is closer to the truth.

      • Hehehe, thanks. I’ll leave it like that, exactly because of what you say: closer to the truth.

    • Naomi Baker

      Rebecca’s comment “all the horrible things” is exactly the drive-by slandering she likes to do. I’ve seen comment threads where she stomps on someone, and then says ‘don’t bother answering because I’m not coming back to read it’. There’s a big turnover in the Skepchick contributors for a reason.

    • Franklin Bacon

      I would be best served by never hearing this woman’s name again.

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