• Michael Shermer: I told you so

    Some time ago, you may remember that Michael Shermer was accused of rape.  I said at the time that this was bullshit, and I would happily nail my colours to the mast about that one.

    Well, lookie here: the story’s changed a little. The story is now that Allison Smith, the girl has finally come forward, was so drunk that she can’t remember what happened.  But years later, she’s decided it was rape.  Despite sending Shermer a nice email in between.

    Hmmm.  I think I can see why no one has wanted to go to the police with this thing.  Matters like ‘evidence’.  So much easier to spread rumors and destroy people’s reputation in the meantime.

    And, oh look, there’s this article being circulated on Buzzfeed.  What’s buzzfeed?  Well, it’s the site well known for circulating lies and falsehoods about rape.


    It is commonly said that a lie will get halfway across the world before the truth can get its boots on. And this is true. Except in the feminist blogosphere, where a lie will get to Alpha Centauri and back three times while the truth is locked up in a makeshift dungeon in the basement, screaming […]

    Suppose you are a woman who wants to destroy a guy’s reputation for some reason. Do you go to the police station, open up a legal case, get yourself tested with an invasive rape kit, hire an attorney, put yourself through a trial which may take years and involve your reputation being dragged through the mud, accept that you probably won’t get a conviction anyway given that you have no evidence – and take the risk of jail time if you’re caught lying?

    Or do you walk to the other side of the quad and bring it up to your school administrator, who has just declared to the national news that she thinks all men accused of rape should be automatically expelled from the college, without any investigation, regardless of whether there is any evidence?

    Or if even the school administrator isn’t guilty-until-proven-innocent enough for you, why not just go to a bunch of your friends, tell them your ex-boyfriend raped you, and trust them to spread the accusation all over your community? Then it doesn’t even matter whether anyone believes you or not, the rumor is still out there.

    To that stupid Buzzfeed article:

    Hitchens, the best-selling author of God Is Not Great, who died in 2011, wrote a notorious Vanity Fair article called “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Richard Dawkins, another author whose books have brought atheism to the masses, has alienated many women — and men — by belittling accusations of sexism in the movement; he seems to go out of his way to antagonize feminists generally, and just this past July 29 he tweeted, “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.” And Penn Jillette, the talking half of the Penn and Teller duo, famouslyrevels in using words like “cunt.”

    So Christopher Hitchens, the man who spent his life arguing that the only cure for poverty was the empowerment of women is a sexist because of one article.  Sam Harris, who defends gun ownerships principally as a way of letting women defend themselves from men, is a sexist, because of an impromptu comment.  Penn Jillette who did groundbreaking work exposing the exploitation and cruelty of the cheerleading industry, is a sexist.  And Richard Dawkins, who has been opposing the patriarchal elements of religion since forever, is a sexist because, well, he’s clever and accomplished and able, and we can’t have that.

    Back to Shermer.  You could argue that he’s not a rapist, he’s just a sleaze.  It’s not right to go in for one night stands and random hookups, right?

    Sorry!  I could agree to that, but you can’t.  It’s the age of ‘sex positive feminism’, remember?  I recall the following from Jezebel:

    “I’ve gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex  [..] I’ve slept next to guys on the first date, had sex on the first date, allowed no more than a cheek kiss, dispensed with the date-concept altogether after kissing the guy on the way to his car, fucked a couple of close friends and, more rarely, slept with a guy I didn’t care if I ever saw again.”

    Casual drunken sex is empowering and to be celebrated, remember?  To put it bluntly – would you call a girl who went in for one night stands a slut?  Then you can’t call a guy who goes in for them a sleaze.  To use the cliche a’right, what’s sauce for the goose is definitely sauce for the gander.



    Well worth the watch.  H/t my colleague.






    Category: SkepticismWomen's Rights

    Article by: The Prussian

    One Pingback/Trackback

    • You seem to assume here that Alison is lying and Michael is being truthful. Clearly they cannot both be correct, but it is unclear how you broke the tie between those two divergent accounts.

      • J. Russell.

        Maybe both believe they’re telling the truth, and the *real* truth lies somewhere between the two.

        • Maybe so. At this distance in time and space it’s hard to tell.

          • J. Russell.

            A very wise point.

            All we have to go on is the evidence given, and what appears to be someone recanting their testimony.

            Though frankly, you’re right in that this story is probably *far* from being completely unfolded.

            I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out.

            • ThePrussian

              I’d recommend the youtube video above.

            • Ann

              I don’t know, His story isn’t even supported by him. This is more of a “he said one self-justifying thing for no apparent reason and now says the opposite/she said and a witness supports her,

              So that video isn’t really on point.

            • bluharmony

              Yes, but consider that Smith’s witness was her employer/supervisor, her love-struck, on-again, off-again boyfriend, and her source of income at the time. He also knew exactly where both she and Shermer were staying. In fact, he was staying with her. Does that not give Smith multiple motives to misrepresent the situation? All of this would come out in a court of law, but is not so readily apparent on the internet, and that’s too bad. Such testimony would be impugned in two seconds flat. For that reason alone, a case like this probably wouldn’t be prosecuted in the first place, even if a rape kit was taken and intercourse was established.

              But trial by internet is much easier. Throw it all out there, and something dirty is bound to stick…

            • bluharmony

              I recommend this video. Meet the accuser: http://www.johnjoliver.com/john-on-tv/door-to-the-dead/.

      • 5ulman

        That’s doing some disservice to the previous blog entry on the subject, though. It isn’t an assumption – I think that on the evidence available The Prussian concludes Shermer is not guilty.If Shermer was guilty, how would you explain the rather strange nature of the events?I’m a believer in no smoke without fire as a rule of thumb. However Shermer is frequently spoken of (by his critics) of having a reputation. I’m concerned that the reputation itself is the work of those same critics.

    • jjramsey

      But years later, she’s decided it was rape. Despite sending Shermer a nice email in between.

      Actually, it turns out that there’s a reason for that, and it’s not what you or Shermer think: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=10228693#post10228693

      • ThePrussian

        If you believe that explanation, well…

        This is ludicrous. Under these rules of evidence there’s no rape charge that couldn’t be made. It’s defining innocence out of existence.

    • Edward Gemmer

      It isn’t bullshit. If you have se with someone and their response is to get very upset and claim you raped them, that’s a big problem. A witness says she was “very drunk” immediately afterwards. There is a difference between “what happened” and “what can be proven in a court of law.”

      • ThePrussian

        As I acknowledged in my previous post, where I contrasted the Shermer allegations with the very believable ones against Bill Clinton.

        But in this case – please think about the implications here. By this standard, any allegation of rape is completely unfalsifiable.

    • Anonymous Facts

      The only one with inconsistent stories is Shermer, who’s managed to tell three inconsistent stories about supposedly the same event.

      Smith and her *multiple witnesses* have been telling the same story all along. As have the other people who have accused Shermer of rape. He drugs women into a stupor with alcohol and rapes them. Occasionally he drugs men into a stupor with alcohol and rapes them.

      Shermer’s evidently a serial rapist. He wouldn’t be the subject of *multiple separate* rape allegations from independent people unless he’s a rapist. I suggest, if you are at all skeptical, that you pay particular attention to Dallas Haugh, the second named person to accuse Shermer of rape. The various witnesses to instances of sexual harassment by Shermer, and the witnesses to Shermer’s attempts to get people drunk, only add to the evidence.


      By the way, Shermer seems to be an absolutely typical serial rapist; if you read the Lisak-Miller study of *self-described* men who have committed sexual assault, you’ll find that the typical rapist rapes a lot of people, and does it by drugging them with alcohol.

      You do yourself no favors by defending Shermer. The evidence against him is mounting up to the ceiling.

      • ThePrussian

        Well, this is exactly why I don’t believe these allegations. ‘Serial rapist’? There is exactly one accusation of rape, and that has changed a fair bit. Even the link that you put in doesn’t provide any evidence of that. What evidence is provided is scanty, to say the least, and there is good counter evidence.

        Meanwhile, there is huge evidence of active malice and conspiracy – that is that this crowd wants to stitch Shermer up for political reasons.

        Your post makes my case for me. It’s too much to believe things from this poisoned well.

      • Andreas Meyer

        Shermer the squirmer was also an accomplice in an attempted murder.

      • Che Bob

        Just so we’re clear, does “drugging them with alcohol” actually mean “they let him get them drunk”? Cos it’s almost as if you’re suggesting that women have no self-control whatsoever.

      • TomBrooklyn

        Shermer “drugs” women, men, people with alcohol? He forces people to drink alcohol in public places? How does he do that with nobody, including the supposed victim, noticing?

        That’s even more incredible than this alleged rape of a girl in a hotel room where nobody heard any commotion. Was it a hotel where there were no other guests on the floor, or in the rooms above or below his, within earshot of a girl who would presumably scream for help if she was being raped?

    • ahermit

      We’ve heard all the excuses before, she was drunk, he was drunk, oh wait neither of them were that drunk so it’s just her having regrets, she didn’t go to the police within an hour therefore it’s not rape, false memory syndrome happened in some other case …all of which have been rebutted elsewhere more ably and at greater length than I could ever hope to do here.

      At the very least Shermer has a long history of being a sexist pig and a
      harasser of women…even James Randi acknowledges that in the Buzzfeed
      article (though sadly he takes a “boys will be boys whatchya gonna do
      aboudit” approach to the problem instead of dealing with it.) In the rape case his accuser’s story has been consistent from the beginning while his has been changing and shifting depending on the audience. At this point I think you have to be awfully naive or wilfully blind or a hopeless sycophant to still be defending the guy.

      • ThePrussian

        Wait – so her argument is now that she wasn’t drunk? Sorry, it is just so difficult to keep up with the latest version.

        • ahermit

          No, the latest version of the story Shermer has put out says that they were both sober. Which is at odds with the excuse he apparently gave James Randi for his “bad boy” behaviour…that he gets out of hand when he’s too drunk to remember, and his earlier story about her being able to “drink me under the table.”. Smith has been consistent all along saying that she was extremely intoxicated and her version is backed up by at least one witness.

          Now Shermer has admitted in this latest version to having a sexual encounter with Smith who was, according to that witness, so intoxicated and upset afterwards that she didn’t know where she was. If she was that intoxicated consent becomes pretty questionable, if not impossible. Given that Shermer’s story keeps changing (and is contradicted now by that witness) and Smith’s has been consistent and is confirmed by at least one witness I’m more inclined to believe her version.

          Throw in the accounts of Shermer’s obnoxious behaviour toward other women and Randi’s confirmation that Shermer had a reputation for “misbehaving with the women” I think we have enough ask that the welcome mat be pulled.

    • Irrelevant

      Hey, I had this link I would recommend you to look over and perhaps add to your anti-racialist FAQ: http://people.virginia.edu/~ent3c/papers2/Articles%20for%20Online%20CV/Nisbett%20(2012)%20Group.pdf

      I have quite a few that are relevant so please let me know if you are updating the FAQ.

      • ThePrussian

        If you can post them in the comments section, I’ll add them as and when I have the time (have a number of projects I am working on ATM, so it’ll get done when it gets done).

    • Wallabee

      Alison Smith -> Wow, I really regret having drunk sloppy sex that I can’t remember much about -> Carrie Popper and the crazy feminista crowd -> Alison Smith was raped

      • Psycho Gecko

        There’s a reason why casinos aren’t allowed to let drunk people gamble. It’s because people who are drunk are impaired and unable to consent.

    • Psycho Gecko

      There’s not a difference between being raped by someone and someone having sex with you while you were blackout drunk.

      • ThePrussian

        And the evidence we have that she didn’t consent…? The story seems awfully flexible.

        • Psycho Gecko

          A drunk person is incapable of consenting. Same reason why casinos risk losing gaming licenses if they allow drunk people to gamble. The person may say they’re fine to do it, but they also think they’re fine to drive because being drunk incapacitates them mentally.

          • ThePrussian

            So any sex while drunk = rape, even if consent is given. Wow. I just imagine how real rape victims feel about that.

            Of course, we only have, again, her word that she was so drunk as not to be able to consent.

            • Who else’s word could we possibly have? It’s a subjective mental state.

            • ThePrussian

              If it is subjective, it isn’t evidence, by definition.

            • Do you think it is possible to be too drunk to consent?

              If so, how does one go about proving it?

            • ThePrussian

              First of all, I thought the burden of proof was on the person making the assertion. I don’t think that you you should people of serious crimes without evidence.

              To the point then: If someone literally cannot consent because she is so drunk that she is not giving consent – and I have seen people falling down at that – then yes. Given the nature of this, you’d probably need reliable third person testimony.

              Starkly absent in this case. What has happened? Best as I can see, Allison had a few drinks, went to bed with Shermer. Felt fine about it for a long time thereafter. Then, when the wretched Myers and the rest started whipping up a frenzy against anyone who is ideologically impure – and Shermer’s a libertarian – and Allison goes along and thinks, “Hey, maybe, if I stretch it enough, I can accuse Shermer of rape – and won’t that just make me _so cool_ among this crowd”.

              Go and read her statement. That is exactly how it looks.

            • It seems like you’re discounting what Jeff Wagg wrote about what he saw that night, when you say there is no independent eyewitness corroboration.

            • ThePrussian

              I’m discounting it because it is written years later. Again, I simply do not trust this lot when it comes to these kinds of accusations. None of this squares with the fact that Allison and Shermer were on friendly terms for years afterwards.

            • All these years later it will be difficult indeed to say with any confidence what really happened. But you made the bold assertion in your previous post on this topic that either PZ or his source “fabricated the whole thing,” and as you say, the burden of proof lies with the person making the assertion. Can you possibly stand by that assertion now?

              The following events are almost certainly not fabricated:

              1) The Scotch, Wine, and Cigar party at Caesar’s Palace.

              2) Smith and Shermer attending said party

              3) Smith and Shermer leaving the party together

              4) Smith and Shermer having sex in his room

              I’m pretty sure that these are the major points of agreement between his account of events and hers. The only substantive question remaining is whether Smith was too drunk to consent when (4) happened.

              I’m not claiming that I can reasonably answer this question, at this distance in time and space, but it is no longer the case that we can reasonably claim that the story is fabricated from whole cloth.

            • Psycho Gecko

              So I suppose you wouldn’t mind it if someone got you drunk, then convinced you to sign a check to them for all your life savings. By your own admission, it wouldn’t be a “real” crime.

            • Cheeb

              Unless they do it by spiking your drink there is no such thing as “someone got you drunk”. The supposed victim is the one who is responsible for their own body and their own well being. Someone getting you drunk is the same as you agreeing to get drunk with that person. There is no such thing as involuntary getting drunk.

      • Cheeb

        Of course there’s a difference. In one example you didn’t want it to happen, in the other you probably didn’t have a clue.

        • Psycho Gecko

          In one example, you refused consent. In another, you were incapable of giving consent. Either way, consent was not given.

          • Cheeb

            Sure. But those are wildly different situations. You said wasn’t a difference. Not true at all. In the case where you were blackout drunk, the other person could’ve also been blackout drunk, in which case it’s very hard to see how they’re to ‘blame’. In the case where you were blackout drunk, it could’ve been with someone you were happy to have sex with anyway. These are very different cases.

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    • gurugeorge

      The point about non-falsifiability is the key to all this crap. If Shermer is guilty of rape, then he’s a nasty piece of work and he should be punished, but it must be at least possible to demonstrate that he is guilty of rape (even if it can’t actually be demonstrated) and it must also be possible to demonstrate that he’s not guilty of rape.

      But the accusations seem to switch between the defensible “Motte” that he’s “actually provably guilty of ‘rape’ in the concrete, at-least-in-principle-verifiable sense of forcing unwanted sex on a woman”, to the more difficult-to-defend “Bailey” that “he’s behaving like a typical member of the oppressor gender/colour by commiting ‘rape’, in an entirely unfalsifiable sense based ultimately on the criteria that a) someone claims to have had their feelings hurt, and that b) they are a member of the designated oppressed gender”.

      The subtly problematic thing about the Bailey definition of the term (which is obviously grounded in an abstract, oppressor/oppressed gender narrative about power relations in society) is that it devalues the seriousness of the concept of ‘rape’, while at the same time trading on the seriousness of that Motte meaning of the term. Does nobody see that if you water the term down to such an extent in the Bailey version, then you undermine the Motte reason for taking the concept seriously in the first place?

      This process of Bailification turns ‘rape’ into a word that has such a broad meaning that it’s almost no meaning at all, if it can include on the one hand a woman physically assaulted and terrorized like the women in Cologne were physically assaulted and terrorized, and on the other hand can include a woman being upset because man looked at her funny or offered her a cup of coffee, or because people said mean things about her on the internet, or because she had sex that she consented to but later regrets.

      “Rape” then becomes a pseudo-religious concept, fit only for things like excommunicating heretics (as seems to be the case with Myers and the FTB crew) and enabling “hell hath no fury” revenge scenarios, because it’s now become so broad a term, so applicable to such a vast number of scenarios, that it becomes unfalsifiable.

      On the other hand, if one really does mean “rape” in the Motte sense, then one has to stick to the narrow meaning of the term and prove that it happened. Naturally any woman should be heard and listened to seriously if she makes such an allegation, that goes without saying – but it must also be possible for her to be lying, mendacious or crazy, and it must be allowable to investigate whether she is lying, mendacious or crazy. With the serious, Motte version of the concept, those possibilities cannot be ruled out on principle merely on account of her gender.