Skepticism

(un)Becoming the Borg

In the debris of the last few days’ drama, I’ve been thinking a lot, and talking to friends with various points of view, and I think I have a better understanding of what’s happening here. The problem, as I see it, is popularity.

As the most prominent female-run skeptical site, and with our head honcho being part of a hugely popular podcast, we get a lot of attention. I think this makes some women in the skeptical community feel as though they are being lumped in with our particular brand and approach; that Skepchick has become the new stereotype for what a woman skeptic should be, and they fear that this somehow invalidates the good work they are doing in the eyes of Joe Skeptic.

This comes back to a problem I’ve addressed here before, about women being treated as the Borg Collective*, as though we all agree on how we want to present ourselves, and how we want to be perceived, and what it means to be taken seriously or to make a difference, what it means to be sexy and whether or not that’s even something we care about, or what magic words a man can say to us to get us into bed. The truth is, we’re all just people, and we’re out here, being ourselves and doing what we think is right in the service of furthering critical thinking.

It bothers me that, when faced with this perception, rather than fight the perception itself, people lash out at us. We aren’t perpetuating this idea. We wish as much as anyone that women didn’t have to worry about this kind of thing, but we’re not there yet. Here’s the thing, though. The answer is not in Skepchick unsexing itself, or in Skeptifem sexing herself up. Our real power to change things lies in our different approaches. To make us all the same is to feed the perception that all women are and should be the same.

I think some people are missing a key fact here. We here at Skepchick haven’t squeezed ourselves into any unnatural ideal in order to better sell ourselves. We’re being who we are. We came together because we saw what Rebecca was doing and we identified with it.

Intimately tangled in this web is the idea many of our critics seem to have that we are only popular because we push our sex appeal, that our audience consists mostly of drooling, horny men who couldn’t care less about what we actually have to say. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Skepchick community is very diverse, is nearly gender equal, and while many of our fans do appreciate our sex appeal, they also respect us as people.

I think the thing that bothers me most is that it is very rare for a critic to stick around and actually have a discussion about whatever attack or complaint they’ve just lodged against us. I have to hand it to Barbara Drescher
for the great conversation that ensued in the wake of my post-TAM7 wrap up. But she is a rarity. It’s very difficult to take a critical comment as anything more than inflammatory trolling if the author is unwilling to follow up with a discussion. I, for one, take these concerns very seriously, and I want to talk about them.

There is another facet to what’s happening. I think that because of our popularity, we are perceived as some sort of snobby, closed off clique. This strikes me as incredibly odd, considering my history as The Class Rejecttm, but because of my history, I do understand it, I think. For those of us with social issues, and histories involving exclusion, harassment, and abuse, it’s easy to see a group of confident people and automatically assume that you are not welcome. I still find “popular” people intimidating. Put me in a room with any of my skeptical heroes and I clam up. I think, “Why on earth would this awesome person want to have anything to do with me?” I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.

I know it might feel scary at first, but seriously, we don’t bite (well, not unless you want us to ;)). And we’re all pretty approachable. We want to be your friend. And we want you to be part of our little community. It’s fun here. Somebody asked me today who the word “skepchick” could apply to. I replied that while I think Skepchick should be reserved for those of us on this blog, and people who have modeled for the calendar (for language clarity purposes), anyone is free to call themself a skepchick.

But of course I realize that skepchick is not a moniker that every skeptical woman wants attached to her, and we’re cool with that. Create whatever name you want, and you’ll have our support, if you want it. The bottom line is this: Despite all our differences, we are all in this together, and I think we share at least a couple of goals. Can we at least treat each other with respect?

*Thanks to our very own Tracy King for that brilliant analogy.

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35 Comments

  1. I agree with Elyse; that something like this even needs to be said, but all the same, a wonderful post.
    Your “Class Reject” paragraph really struck a chord in me. That’s how I usually feel. Even though I could probably classify myself as a fairly ‘popular guy’ nowadays, it wasn’t always so. I still always assume that when I meet someone, they won’t remember me and when I see them again and they say ‘Hey Bri’, I am flabbergasted.
    It’s the same reason I was a lurker here for a long time: “No one wants to hear my opinion”.
    But the more I read the articles and comments here, the more I felt like I understood the people here. It’s a great community and I didn’t show up for the bewbs. I showed up because I listened to SGU and started looking around at all the blogs mentioned. Skepchick is the only blog/community where I feel comfortable expressing my opinions. You all know how to make someone feel welcome. And I really mean it. In real life I’ve met Rebecca and she was so approachable and easy to talk to, just shooting the shit. And I’ve bothered (see, I always assume I’m bothering) Surly Amy off-board about art related stuff and she’s been nothing but supportive.
    I love the approach of Skepchick. Is it the only approach? Of course not. But so what? It’s the approach that suits these wonderful women (& Sam) and I say, keep up the amazing work.

  2. Wow, people that don’t care to follow every word at Skepchick and donate $ for a “bitchin’ party” are insecure about your popularity?

    I personally just like more content-heavy articles and a focus on education, not recreation in fundraising from educational organizations. It’s not about popularity or fear of emulating some sort of Borg collective crap.

    I think that you’ve got a great set of marketing tools in place that are working very well for you. I think that most everyone involved seems to be “good people.” I enjoy looking at your calendars. I think that you’re all very dedicated to the Skepchick brand, and that’s great; good for you.

    Just because I don’t care to be a skepchick or follow your site does not mean that I’m threatened. It means that your site is not one of the ones that I prefer.

    Wow. Just reread Carrie’s post. That was amazing.

    I posted some comments at Greg Laden’s blog that clarify some of my points.

  3. the thing that is so great about this site, is that Rebecca chose women (and one man, who is secretly a woman….long story) that were like-minded in many ways and also challenged each other in different ways as well. Each and every skepchick is real and genuine (sure they will write a silly post involving a dick/pussy/boob/fart topic, but they always back it up with something interesting and worthwhile), and i love each and every one of them for being just who they are and being so connected to their readers via SITP events and so on.
    Reality looks so good when you have friends and peers like the skepchicks that are making said reality as good as it can be.
    <3

  4. @Jennascarlett: thanks for your comments, jenna. i do want to clarify something, though. the fact that part of our image is that we like to party and have a good time should not make illegitimate everything else we do. it might not be your thing, and that’s fine, but don’t assume that we’re doing nothing for skepticism.

    when i wrote that point campaign, i was focusing on the fun aspects of the con, assuming that the people it was aimed at would realize that there’s more to it than vodka. as i said in earlier comments on greg’s blog, that was a mistake. unfortunately, i can’t edit that portion of the site, so all i can do is hope people will read the full description to the right, and if they’re down with what we’re doing, maybe they’ll show up or even chip in.

    to continue to ignore everything about us but our party girl image is willfully ignorant. yes, it is part of our image, but it is not all of who we are.

  5. Waitasecond! You guys are WOMEN???

    I know that the impetus for Skeptic North has a similar genesis (ie: like minded skeptics with a common identity – Canadian), but I’ve been around this comment thread for so long that I kinda forget that this is a blog collaborative that is, at least ostensibly, told from a woman’s perspective.

    I mean this with no disrespect at all, but because I’ve met none of you in real life, I forget that you ARE women! To me, you’re skeptics first….it’s hard to internalize that that there is a human being on the other side of these intertoobs at times. Because you’re all, to a certain extent, just pretend virtual people, I couldn’t care less whether or not you have bewbies or a wang-dang-doodle. I’m happy just to talk with skeptics on the great equalizer: internetz.

  6. “Create whatever name you want, and you’ll have our support, if you want it. ”

    I’ve been calling myself an Honorable Skeptic since 2005. I took that title by combining the idea of “honor” from the Klingons of Star Trek: the Next Generation and the scientific skepticism of Carl Sagan. That’s what works for me. I don’t know if that is consistent with being a “Skepchick” though.

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/an-honorable-skeptic/

  7. I have to say I pretty much see things the same way as @Some Canadian Skeptic: . I find the skepchick sexy jokes entertaining, but I never really even attach a gender to them.

    But anyway, Skepchick is amazing for what it is. It’s the substance that I stay for, not the boob jokes. I totally agree with carr2d2’s post.

  8. Please forgive me as I fumble with the following words because I’m not entirely sure how to put in words what I’m thinking.

    I think that a lot of people (certainly not all though) in the skeptical community have some form of an inferiority complex. I’ve been in the community in one fashion or another for close to ten years now, but TAM7 was the first type of skeptical event like that I had ever attended. I was so nervous about meeting people that I had only known about electronically. Most of those people I was the most nervous about were the people associated with this blog.

    I had emailed/twittered/Facebooked with most of them in the previous years, but I had never actually met them, and it was scary to do so. I was overjoyed at the responses that I got when we realized who each other was. I think that many people who have not actually met members of this blog might feel the same way.

    Whenever anyone has a popular public platform (be it blog, website, podcast, etc.) the viewer of that person’s work tends to think that there is something special about that person that the viewer doesn’t think they are capable of achieving themselves. The viewer looks at the person as an authority figure and most of us are brought up to submit to authority figures. The thing is that most of the time the authority figure doesn’t view themselves as an authority figure and feels the same sense of trepidation when they meet someone that they look up to and admire.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that all of us are viewers of someone else and there is nothing that says that we need to follow unthinkingly anyone who we admire. We all need to just be who we want to be and let others be who they want to be.

    I’m really rambling, but I hope this kind of made sense.

    -Derek

  9. @carr2d2:
    It is late, but I don’t think that I accused Skepchick of doing nothing for skepticism. I actually commended all of Skepchick for a lot of what it does. Some people like the style of this site, and that’s great.

    I pointed out on Greg’s page that the marketing of Skepchick is very savvy — I mean that in the most positive way. I believe I called the organization “brilliant.” That wasn’t sarcastic or snarky. You should be proud of your success.

    However, calling me “willfully ignorant” seems a bit out of line.

    I never denied that you are not active in skepticism and certainly never said that you’re a bunch of party girls. What I did say was the outward image of the organization, including the tagline, the use of “chick” and the prominence placed on various recreational activities in marketing, puts attention on those things before anything else and that’s what leads to the image that you’re fighting against (again). From what I know, you’re all very intelligent, diverse people with interesting viewpoints. And I do truthfully believe that you are all wholeheartedly dedicated to advancing the cause of skepticism. My posts at Greg’s blog had to do with the way that the outward image can cloud the other things that you want to do. It doesn’t make what any of you write or say “illegitimate” by any stretch. I just think that it can overshadow other content. I, personally prefer a different kind of content.

    I’m just about the most sex-positive feminist a person can be (truly), so I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for showing sexuality. The sad fact is that in a culture that is ruled by images, that is what will be noticed first and it can be hard to overcome. I’ve learned this firsthand.

    I’m aware of what you’re trying to do with your own con as far as bringing more real science to a sci-fi con – it’s the same model that Derek and Swoopy have done a fantastic job with at Dragon*Con by bringing in amazing speakers, tirelessly organizing panels and everything else. I do hope that it’s just as successful for all of you.

    I’m very much aware of how active this site is, the level of enjoyment that many people get from it, etc. That’s great – I love it when people find places that they feel free to express themselves.

    I do think the absolute best part of Skepchick is Teen Skepchick. I look forward to Tween Skepchick and Prepubescent Skepchick. Really.

    Just because Skepchick isn’t my cup of tea for an information site doesn’t mean that I’m threatened by your popularity.

    Just because I prefer the outreach model of other organizations to yours doesn’t mean that I’m threatened by your popularity, either. It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m writing you off as a bunch of party girls. I don’t think that you are; I think that’s what your image is at times. Image and reality are often very different things.

    The hypothesis that somebody that diverges with your business model is somehow threatened by your popularity is willfully ridiculous, IMO. It means that I prefer a different type of site and activism format.

    Just because I don’t donate to your con fund doesn’t mean that I’m ridiculing what you decide to do with the money. More power to you. I really hope that you get every penny that you need to bring in great speakers and get students involved as well.

    What it does mean is that I prefer a different model of skeptical outreach, a different place to donate my money and I’m entitled to that.

    All best,
    Jenna

    (And all of my excess $ went to the Clinton Foundation Fund for Haiti this month. I encourage everyone to do the same.)

  10. For those of us with social issues, and histories involving exclusion, harassment, and abuse, it’s easy to see a group of confident people and automatically assume that you are not welcome.

    This is part of it, but I think there’s another related thing going on. I’m willing to bet that a large fraction of sceptics are used to being apart form the mainstream on a lot of issues. That makes one naturally suspicious of consensus, after all we know just how wrong large groups of people can be.

    When I see a group together, coming to a consensus my first gut reaction is to pick holes in it and I don’t think I’m unique in that regard. I suspect this is true of most groups with a contrarian outlook, I know its true of libertarians, the other major group I frequent on the internet. You can get 3 or 4 different libertarian takes on any given issue and about half the people involved in the argument will insist that their position is the only properly libertarian one. Compared to that sceptics are pretty cohesive.

    I think if we want to avoid divisive rows we need to agree on what scepticism is at its core, a belief that evidence is the best path to knowledge. However our tactics or priorities might vary we’re all on the same team.

  11. Nicely done, Carr2!

    The sad thing for me as the “Old Skepchick” (TM) is that this is exactly the same discussions that went on in the 70s. Whenever women do something, the issues of appropriateness and sexuality always come up. Always. About anything.

    sigh.

  12. @bug_girl:

    “Whenever women do something, the issues of appropriateness and sexuality always come up. Always. About anything.”

    Bug girl, to be fair – Skepchick is the one that comes to the party with the sexually charged atmosphere.

  13. Watching (cause I’m fail at interacting) both the feminism movement and the skeptical movement they could each use some of the other.

    If the feminist movement continues to go forward without putting forth critical thinking and a really important thing it will continue to be ok for men (and women) to say well women shouldn’t get paid as much as men because men are supposed to bring home the bacon and other bullshit. (And if you think no one believes that anymore you aren’t paying attention.)

    And skepticism can use not just more women (cause women are people too) but some feminism too. Recognition of male privilege in a lot of fields (especially scientific ones) would help skepticism and flex those critical thinking muscles some more.

    I wish that Skepchicks were just skeptics who happened to be women and could have any kind of attitude toward sex that they wanted and have it not be a Big Deal. But until we shift away from a male privilege it won’t happen. And yes raising the profile of women in skepticism is crucial (because most of the time if you never raise a question you’ll never examine it critically or not) and so cheers to Skepchicks for standing up and shouting about issues in a way that does manage to draw attention. And here’s hoping that other women manage to draw attention in other ways (because women are not all the same and I hope other female bloggers can show that).

  14. I’m going to say something that may be a bit… unpopular.

    You see, I am a dude. And not just that, but a dude that digs women. I’ve commented here for something like four years now. I’m a close personal friend of the head Skepchick, and have met or corresponded in person with most of the writers on this site.

    So what’s unpopular about any of that? Well, for one thing, I’m not here because anyone has bamboozled me with their sexuality. Believe it or not, but I’m not SO attracted to any of the contributors here that I’m ready to agree with or fawn over everything they say. Nor am I at all promiscuous or particularly impressed by people who are. I know that, to some of the people who seem to be angry at Skepchick, this may come as a shock.

    And, despite being a close personal friend of Skepchicks, I’m not a party person. I know, it’s a heavy thing to admit, but I don’t even drink! Given the choice between a crazy, all-out TAM Skepchick Party and a nice, full-group dinner… I’m picking the dinner.

    Do I sometimes feel like maybe I’m not as much of a heathen as the rest of you hard-partying, sexifying skeptics? Maybe, but it’s got nothing to do with Skepchick. That’s the image a good part of the world wants to sell. Just look at half of the commercials on TV! At least here people are genuine and honest about their lifestyles, even if it resembles “marketing” in a few ways. It still just strikes me as people being who they are.

    Just as it is false to assume traits belong to “women” as a Borg-esque whole, it’s equally false to make assumptions about the people (like me) who support Skepchick. I’ve got no preconceptions about what women in skepticism are supposed to be like, or at least none based on Skepchick. I’m not some mouthbreather being led by his Johnson out of some delusional hope of sleeping with any of the writers here (though SOME seem to think we commenters are motivated in that way). Nor do I think that, because the Skepchicks like crazy sexy parties, ALL skeptics (or skeptical women, at least) have to approach the issue the same way.

    Peeps, we’re still a very small movement, and one that (perhaps due to the rejection issues raised by commenters here) has a tendency to fracture into angry, angry shards. What I don’t get is why it always has to turn to vitriol and “no true skeptic” and what have you! I can understand, maybe, feeling excluded… but there are lots of perfectly-valid approaches to how to spread the skeptical message.

    Even though the Skepchicks are sort of the central females in the movement, it doesn’t make other approaches wrong. And just because you may have a different approach, don’t assume that the rest of the movement is going to reject you for not emulating Skepchick. If it seems as though your way is a little less popular, well, it’s for the same reasons that commercials selling things via boobies and sex are more popular: sex sells.

    But just because this group of women happen to have certain ideas about sexuality doesn’t mean that it’s some phony marketing front. And, again, don’t assume that the masses expect everyone to be “sexed up” or whatever. It’s fine to think of these things in broad, conceptual terms but it’s also pretty useful to talk to “the masses” before making assumptions about what we expect.

    I’m rambling, and not sure I made the point I wanted to make, but, well… bugger.

  15. @Jennascarlett: thanks. a well constructed, coherent argument, without snipes and backhanded compliments was all i was looking for.

    the problem i’m having is with people embedding legitimate complaints in so much vitriol that anything we might learn from it is obscured.

    i completely get what you’re saying. we might quibble over what our “brand” actually is, or where it comes from, or whether people are perceiving us collectively as more of a stereotype (which i know does happen).

    this post was not meant to be condescending, and i apologize that it came off that way to you. what i am addressing here is a problem for people; see heidi anderson’s post/comment. obviously it is not the problem for everyone, which is fine.

    i realize that not everyone will understand or believe me when i say this, but i really do respect you. if i make a mistake or an assumption about what is going on or what a critic is thinking, i appreciate being filled in on what i’m missing, when it’s done in a respectful way in which my humanity or womanhood or dedication to skepticism are not called into question (and i’m not saying that you specifically are guilty of this, but it happens. a lot. and is the biggest reason i wrote this post.)

  16. I am not worried – the bigger we get, the more people will know about us and therefore we’ll come across more people who just don’t like us. That is soooo much better than having a very small group of dedicated fans. I’d rather be reaching such a wide audience that we have to think about not constantly preaching to our own personal choir. Constructive feedback is a good thing.

    And let’s not forget, we only got this big because we’re doing something right (whatever that may be), so I’m also in no rush to change.

    I don’t even drink, but I like to have a good time. Like Expatria I’d take the dinner with friends over a wild and raucous party of hundreds, but actually the reputation of the Skepchick party is something that’s important to me because when I tell people I go to a science and critical thinking conference every year, they snicker at what massive nerds we all must be. I can snicker back knowing that they haven’t a clue what fun we have.

    Not that we’re NOT massive nerds. I certainly am, anyway, but I have social skills and that ranges from one-on-one conversation to hearty parties.

    I didn’t like the idea of Skepchick before I was involved. I thought it was ‘exclusive’ – I am quite opinionated about what constitutes sexism, and how it works both ways, and I felt that excluding people based on gender was the wrong way to go about furthering skepticism. I was wrong, as it happens, because firstly no-one IS excluded – anyone can come and read and participate here and I believe most feel welcome regardless of gender, and secondly I had underestimated how excluded some women already felt and how orgs like Skepchick were needed to help them realise “hey I’m not alone – look, more geek girls! Other gamer girls! Lots of science chicks!” etc. This is really important and I have absolutely no doubt whatsover that orgs like Skepchick have contributed hugely to the increasing numbers of women in skepticism, at events like TAMs and SitP. Diversity is very important if we’re to get beyond preaching to the converted – even amongst ourselves our opinions differ and the bigger we get, the more we should embrace that.

    I don’t think negative comments from one or two people, particularly those with previous vendettas and personal dislikes based on history should bother anyone. It just means we’re doing something right – we’re stimulating debate, we’re reaching further and we’re making people think.

    It also doesn’t hurt to occasionally look at ourselves with a critical eye. We could easily run the risk of being a self-affirming love-in, especially us writers who are a very close group of friends and very loyal to each other privately, so we need to make sure we step back sometimes and make sure we’re doing what we each want to be doing. I believe we are, but I’m glad this sort of debate arises to remind us not to rest on our laurels.

  17. PS it always amazes me that not everyone thinks that something I think is amazing, is amazing. Example: I recently asked a good friend and someone whose opinion I respect very much what he thought of the Storm movie. He replied “it’s not really my sort of thing”. I was so indignant! How can he not LOVE it?! Is he MAD?! But there is nothing that is universally adored or accepted.

  18. @bug_girl:

    “Whenever women do something, the issues of appropriateness and sexuality always come up. Always. About anything.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Does the ‘issue’ of whether Orac or PZ is acting too sexily ever come up? I don’t think so. This is something that is always directed at women. Often by other women.
    Each blog / blogger has their own personal ‘flavour’ of blogging. That’s entirely up to them. I wouldn’t walk into a room of 500 people and expect them all to like me, or for me to like each and all of them. I think whether people feel ‘excluded’ or not, in any type of life interaction, is more down to their own self esteem. If something isn’t ‘right’ for you, the onus is on that person to find a group that suits them better, not on the other people to change. We’ve all got different tastes and styles and we shouldn’t have to defend them to anyone, nor criticise those we don’t personally fit with.

  19. It’s The Community, Stupid. It wasn’t the bevy of bajingoes that drew me here in the first place, nor is it what keeps me around. I’m here because I learn some good shit and have a good laugh. Rebecca is cool, and found some other cool people to write stuff with her, and that attracted a bunch more cool people to hang out and shoot the shit.

    To be sure, this community would not be as compelling if it didn’t value skepticism and feminism, but Skepchick is still much more than just the sum of “skepticism” and “chicks”. For me, it’s not a brand, or a marketing campaign, or a cause. It’s a community.

  20. Disclaimer: I did not know of or participate in whatever set this whole thing off – and I don’t want to know. I have too much to deal with in my life already without getting involved in an argument here.

    @Dale Husband: I hadn’t thought of myself that way, but I’m similar re: Klingon honor and Saganist. Perhaps with some Spock thrown in.

    @Carr2D2: For the rest, I think many of us were class rejects when we were in school. I’ve found that being obviously and outspokenly intelligent can be a definite turn off to many “social” people for some reason.

    Maybe it’s because instead of being “OMG WTF” about this week’s episode of whatever, we watched it and saw the holes in the plot and science and winced. Does that make some people think that we’re putting ourselves ‘above’ them? I don’t know. I just know that I was considered a nerd when I was in school and have little social life even today.

    I’m here for the intelligent virtual company of whichever gender. Yeah, many of the Skepchicks are attractive, independent feminists. So there are occasional body part jokes and puns? So what? It’s not like we’re sitting in a singles bar somewhere. There are some truly magnificent minds here sharing their thoughts and I want to be part of it.

    I happen to prefer smart and sassy company* to what passes as pop culture these days. Besides, I have a hard time finding out what women today consider to be acceptable re: feminist thought. I’m a generation ahead of many here and male besides. I’m trying to keep up, and doing so helps me retain the vestiges of youthful thinking.

    I agree with Kimbo Jones that if a comment is on topic and furthers the discussion (and at least meets basic civility and grammar), then it’s fine to post.

    *For those that are curious, e-mail me offline and I’ll explain a bit why you’ll probably never see me in person at your events. It’s not the kind of thing I want to publicise.

  21. I’m here because I found a bunch of intelligent women [and men, of course, but there are mainly women on the masthead] who could clearly have fun and discuss serious topics. TBH, blogs like this one helped me keep my sanity these past months – I’ve gone bionic [too much tennis and fencing did in my knees, so I had them replaced last year] and being housebound for weeks at a time without some intellectual stimulation/interaction – well, what you don’t use, you lose, as it were. And then Maury Povich comes and takes your brain away to keep in a jar on his desk. [It’s the only explanation for daytime TV.]

  22. Great post but experience tells me that there really is no need to try and uncover the motives for unpleasant individuals to be unpleasant, particularly in teh interbutz.

    They may have a toothache, suffer some unspeakable digestive ailment, be under the influence of alcohol (or whatever) or (most frequently) simply seeking attention.

    Sadly those who are most adapt at popularizing their ideas also tend to be very sensitive persons who make an effort to be open to constructive criticism.

    Drama is kind of a loaded term for that phenomenon but it is one that we are stuck with for now.

    But the term “troll” already means something else.

    I liked the term HOWLERS named for the simian famous for its’ prolificity in hurling its’ own waste products at unsuspecting by-passers …..

  23. This is when not being part of the group comes in handy. There was some kind of brouhaha? Glad I missed it.

    The Skepchicks are a great, fun, sexy and energizing part of the Skeptical movement. Other parts of the Skeptical movement are good, too.

    Best not to nip at each other too much, there’s already plenty of crazy to go around.

  24. Huh, wha, there’s a thing going on? I’ve been distracted…

    Great, post carr2d2, and I’ll just reiterate my lament of “where were you ladies when I was in high school?!”

    I read a number of skeptical blogs, including this one, for the content. But this is the only one where I pay attention to the comments since there is an awesome, smart, diverse community here, and it rarely devolves into ridiculous trolling. Whatever you guys did right to foster this community, keep doing what you’re doing!

  25. people people people….clearly the problem is the very same thing that seems to have created a device that enables this culprit invisible to the naked eye (not naked in the sexy way, but naked in the metaphorical term. just clearing that up before on some other post i get my comment posted out of context that i only think naked eyes are sexy or something). anyways, where was i….oh yes, the real culprit must have created a device that renders himself invisible to the non-sexual-but-sorta hot-in-metaphor naked eyes of the skeptical community….this Sam fellow, now from what i know he is a skepchick, but is also THE skepdude on here. Sam is both skepchick and skepdude 100% each (sorta like how the god-person was both 100% beardy guy that wore robes and seemed cool and healed people, and also 100% omnipotent asshole deity that did acid-trip-inspired things to people).

    I am not making any illusions that this Sam (which has the same amount of letters as “God”, hmm), but maybe Sam was sent from the heaven-y place to teach his skeptical followers how to be kind to each other and see that being spiteful and mean-spirited is not HIS way.

    In Sam’s name we sneeze…..a-choo.
    bless you

  26. Jenna [13]: My posts at Greg’s blog had to do with the way that the outward image can cloud the other things that you want to do.

    Not referring specifically to your comments here, but I just want to throw this in: This whole conversation started when I posted an appeal to help the skepchicks with skepchicon this year, pointing to Car2D2’s post. Subsequent to my appeal in that post, a fight broke out about that validity of the Skephcicks including some serious (unfounded and obnoxious) accusation (again, not referring to your comments at all, Jenna). Meanwhile, the donation meter at Car2D2’s blog remained more or less unchanged.

    While I really do like the idea of standing next to the person with the bell and the bucket hawking for the Salvation Army in front of the grocery store and ranting about the evils of religion and urban missionaries, I don’t actually do it. I see the person with the bell and the bucket and if I feel so moved I do something else to advance secularism or whatever.

    A pile-on in a situation like this can only be seen as a specific act to deter people from making donations. There is a difference between that and lively commentary. Indeed, I wrote the other two posts on the topic to provide a place for lively commentary, and I appreciate (most of) the comments on those posts. (I hasten to add that your comments, lively and all, appeared on those subsequent discussion posts.)

    James K [14]: One thing to consider is this: For the most part, the topics that any skeptical groups seem to address are those for which there is no difficulty forming a consensus. Like the existence of ghosts or validity of ESP claims. It is interesting, though, to see what happens when we get into issues such as the existence of human races or the validity of group-level differences in IQ.

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