How CFI’s Office of Public Policy is Kicking Ass and Coming for You Next.

How CFI’s Office of Public Policy is Kicking Ass and Coming for You Next.

I recently had a chance to sit down and ask Michael De Dora some questions about the work he does with CFI. You might remember Michael from my series on Speaking out Against Hate Directed at Women.

Michael is the Director of Public Policy and the UN Representative for the Center for Inquiry. Many people in the secular community seem unaware of the extremely important work that Michael De Dora and CFI are doing. They are literally on the front lines battling to protect women’s reproductive rights. They are working to ensure the separation of church and state here at home. They tirelessly rage against the oppressors of the world so that all people may eventually have freedom of religion, non religion and freedom of expression. They fight to keep religion out of the classroom and they fight to keep government funding from being funneled from public schools into religious schools. Care about freedom of speech? Then you should care about CFI’s newly launched Campaign for Free Expression.

What?

Not enough?

Too much social justice and not enough traditional skepticism for ya?

Well, guess what?

They even educate local government on the dangers of alternative medicine and fight to stop tax funding and insurance coverage of risky or unfounded treatments. Oh, and yeah, climate science is on their list too.

In fact, after finishing Michael’s interview, I am pretty convinced this guy never sleeps and is a superhero. So you better read what he has to say or he might be coming for you next.

My interview with Michael after the jump.

Could you please explain the mission of CFI’s Office of Public Policy and your active role in that policy?

The broad mission of CFI’s Office of Public Policy is to push governing bodies to enact public policies based on secular values, humanist ethical principles, and, where possible, scientific evidence. Essentially, we combine the secular and humanist worldviews, and the scientific worldview, and apply the combined perspective to policy debates. I think that this multi-faceted approach results in some very compelling arguments.

But let me be more specific. Domestically speaking, we work with both Congressional lawmakers on legislative efforts, and the administration and its agencies on federal rules and regulations, to ensure separation of church and state and a respect for science. Internationally speaking, we work at the United Nations to pressure foreign leaders and diplomats to respect basic human rights such as freedom of belief and expression.

We also sometimes lobby elected officials in states were CFI has branches – Indiana, New York, California, and Michigan – and in states where outrageous attempts are being undertaken, such as personhood amendments, fetal pain legislation, mandatory ultrasounds, and baseless restrictions on abortion providers. However, given our small pool of resources, we have to be careful about how thin we spread ourselves.

I’d say these efforts are evenly split between working alone and working with coalitions to enact change. Sometimes working alone is necessary or wise, but for the most part, the broader the coalition you can put together, the greater the chance of success. For example, we work with the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination to reform faith-based initiatives by the federal government; the National Coalition for Public Education to prevent taxpayer funding from being diverted from the public education system to private and religious schools; and the Coalition for Liberty and Justice to prevent public policy from imposing religious viewpoints on citizens. These coalitions include dozens of labor, civil rights, religious, secular, LGBT, and women’s organizations. And they’ve had a good deal of success in coordinating advocacy efforts and achieving common goals.

What is the focus of the work you have been doing recently?

Most recently our focus has been on protecting and defending the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression. Historically, these rights have been fragile, and they have come under widespread attack the last couple months – especially after the release of the Internet video Innocence of Muslims, which caused protests in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

One of our main focuses on this issue has been to shed light on the growing number of cases of people being punished simply for practicing a different, or no religion, or speaking their mind. Perhaps the most prominent case, at least for the secular community, is that of Alexander Aan, the Indonesian fellow who is in jail for posting on Facebook that he is an atheist.

In order bring attention to Aan and others like his, we just launched the Campaign for Free Expression, which seeks to rally broad support for the right to freedom of speech. In concert with that, we have been working at the United Nations to fight attempts by the leaders of several countries to implement resolutions and agreements that would in effect restrict freedom of expression. And we have been working with the State Department to put diplomatic pressure on countries that do not respect freedom of expression. The idea is that the more social support you build for a position, the more feasible political action becomes.

What are some issues that are currently a focus for your organization domestically?

Domestically, we have worked most intensely on three issues. One is reproductive rights. I don’t think I need to remind anyone that there have been record attacks on reproductive rights over the last 12 to 18 months, with lawmakers working to restrict access to both abortion and contraception. Most prominently, CFI has been lobbying the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Obama Administration since last August to keep in place the rule requiring health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services, such as birth control and contraception, without charging a co-payment – and to reject lobbying efforts by the Catholic Bishops and other organized religious groups. We have also worked at the Congressional and state level to fight against any bill that would restrict a woman’s access to reproductive health care. In particular, we were active in opposing a bill that would have banned abortions in Washington, D.C. after 20 weeks, a violation of Roe v. Wade.

Another of our core issues is reforming the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which was originally launched by President George W. Bush to provide religious groups taxpayer funding to perform social services. While President Obama has been better on this issue, instituting important reforms, religious organizations that receive taxpayer dollars are still allowed to discriminate in their hiring practices, and sometimes even in offering benefits to recipients. We think this is wrong, and have worked with the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination and its member groups to meet with policy makers in order to reform the program. We have also lobbied on specific pieces of legislation, such as the Workforce Investment Act and the Violence Against Women Act, that deal with federal grants and include or do not include language protecting taxpayers from supporting religious activities and discrimination.

A third issue of recent focus is school vouchers, in which the government diverts money from the public school system to parents for the purpose of sending their kids to schools operated by a religious organization. In fact, we just released a position paper on this very issue, authored by Ed Doerr. Doerr argues convincingly that implementation and expansion of voucher programs threatens the idea of religiously neutral, democratic public education, and could have profound, perhaps irreversible effects on our future. It would make that the public education system, which serves all citizens, would suffer while the government funnels money toward unregulated private religious schools that have shown to perform no better, and often worse than public schools. The position paper is more a product of our ongoing work on this issue than a signal that it has started. We have lobbied Congress to stop funding the D.C. voucher program, and worked at the state level, for instance in Indiana, to try to prevent voucher legislation from passing statehouses.

How do you go about informing the public and the government on issues that are important to the secular population?

Michael De Dora

As I’ve mentioned, CFI issues position papers, and shorter policy briefs, authored by experts in order to clarify our views on political questions. We publish these papers and briefs for two reasons. On one hand, we want policy makers to become more informed on issues before they take action and put policies in place. On the other hand, we want the public to become more informed on these issues as well – not just for the sake of knowledge, but because the more people who know about the severity and truth of an issue, the more they are willing to contact their elected officials and voice their concerns, and the more accurate they will be when they do so.

Another way in which we inform the public about political ongoings is through action alerts. When relevant votes are coming up in Congress or in a statehouse, we email our members with information on the vote and our position, and with a formatted message that, after filling out some personal details, can be sent quickly and directly to their elected officials.

Last but not least, we inform the public through media and public relations efforts. There are a lot of people who aren’t tuned into the world of policy and action alerts and, though I think more people should be, we realize that and try to reach them in other means. This includes everything from billboard advertisements to interviews with smaller and alternative news outlets to appearances on the big news channels like FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC.

How do you decide what issues are important?

We decide which issues are important largely based on our mission. We will jump on an issue if it threatens the separation between church and state, is unethical from a secular humanist perspective, or is either unaligned or even opposed to current science. Once an issue passes those tests, we only take into account practical concerns such as “are any organizations doing sufficient work on this?” or “do we have the time and resources to do quality work on this?”

Quite honestly, I think it’s harder work to find the issues than to decide which ones to take up. We have all kinds of ways in which we track stories relevant to our issues. We have legislative tracking programs, read certain blogs and news websites on a daily basis, and work with likeminded groups to stay updated on the latest news. Then, a couple of us will talk internally about whether we should get active, and what that would mean. But because there are only a couple sets of ears and eyes, we’re limited. So I would absolutely suggest that readers email us ([email protected]) if they feel they have an interesting and important issue worth our consideration.

What are some traditional skeptic issues that CFI’s Office of Public Policy has tackled?

I was hoping you would ask that! You might have noticed the issues I mentioned above are not typical skeptic issues. Though they have a strong scientific component, they’re mostly secular or humanist issues. However, we have tackled at least three subjects of traditional skeptic interest.

One is alternative medicine. We have released two reports, in 2009 and 2011, in the last couple years by Eugenie Mielczarek, an Emeritus Professor of Physics at George Mason University, calling on Congress to not spend any taxpayer dollars on alternative medicine. In specific, we have called for the end of the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an office within the National Institutes of Health that studies and promotes alternative medicine. NCCAM has spent $2 billion since 1992 to study alternative medicine, without any positive results. Its current annual budget is $134 million. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s $134 million that could be invested on real scientific and medical research.

In addition to this, we have written the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking them to reject lobbying efforts to require health insurance providers and organizations to cover acupuncture. The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and other alternative medicine groups were trying to persuade HHS to categorize acupuncture in the same way that contraception was categorized in the issue I mentioned above, as an Essential Health Benefit under the 2012 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or, “Obamacare”). We wrote HHS a letter including our position paper on acupuncture, which shows why the procedure has no clinical value. We haven’t heard anything, but that’s usually good – it means they likely will ignore the acupuncture lobby and move on.

The other issue I would mention is climate change, which has been off the political radar but hopefully gets back on it after Hurricane Sandy – or at least we’re going to try to put it back on the radar working alongside with the many good people involved with the issue. In 2006, we published a position paper by Stuart Jordan, a Senior Staff Scientist (Emeritus) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, that laid out compelling evidence drawn from a large body of research that climate change was underway and required our immediate attention. Years later, in 2009, we authored a study on the U.S. Senate Minority Report, a document which was signed by 700 “dissenting scientists” and which Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) used to claim there was not a scientific consensus on climate change. Our study exposed the lack of credibility of this report, finding that 80 percent of Inhofe’s dissenting scientists had never published peer-reviewed climate research. We even found four percent who said they agreed with the scientific community’s consensus on climate change and shouldn’t have been on the list!

We are now again working with Mr. Jordan to issue an updated paper on advances in climate science since 2006, and the need for immediate political action to address the issue. The potential consequences of inaction are simply too great for us to sit back and let climate change continue to sit on the back-burner of political issues.

How do you respond to people when they say that women’s issues, such as reproductive rights and equal pay, are not typical of what is considered ‘classic or traditional skepticism’ and should not be an organization’s focus?

Obviously a lot of this debate hinges on how people define “classic” or “traditional skepticism.” I think it’s safe to say that these models of skepticism are mainly focused on topics like psychics, ghosts, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, astrology, and alternative medicine.

That’s fine, but I think asking “what counts as classic or traditional skepticism?” is less important than asking, “what counts as skepticism?” In other words, what is skepticism, broadly speaking?

I define skepticism expansively, to include both critical thinking and a healthy respect for science. To me, skepticism is bringing the best of both philosophy (logic, reason) and science (empirical evidence) to bear on any and all claims. And I think this conception leaves skepticism open to application to many non-typical issues, such as reproductive rights and equal pay. This is the way it should be – the way it needs to be. Skepticism is a process, not an end, and it needs to be continually applied to modern issues of relevance not just to the skeptic community, but all persons interested in figuring out what is true and what is not true.

Now, there are some people who define skepticism more narrowly, to include only the empirical aspect. By consequence, they argue, skepticism is limited in scope. However, I think they will find that this type of skepticism still applies to a wide range of issues. Consider the two issues that you mentioned, reproductive rights and equal pay. Both of these involve philosophical questions regarding human rights and fairness, respectively. But both also have empirical angles, in which real world data and statistics can be brought to bear.

For example, science helps us to know about the safety of abortion and contraception, the cognitive development of embryos or fetuses, the reasons why women receive abortions when they do, the most effective ways to reduce abortion rates, and more. Science also helps us to know about what kind of system or rules would help us correct the equal pay gap, so that we’re not just guessing or leaving it to the free market (which science has shown does not work!). People – lawmakers – make all kinds of scientifically uninformed or incorrect claims about these subjects. Scientific skepticism is a tool by which we can help to correct these views.

To be clear, I’m not arguing that skeptic organizations and leaders who adhere to the “classic” or “traditional” models of skepticism should take up reproductive rights and equal pay as two of their core issues. Every organization has a focus and limits in terms of available resources. But skeptic organizations and leaders also should not dismiss these issues as irrelevant to skepticism. I can’t think of a single serious issue irrelevant to skepticism, from traditional issues such as alternative medicine and climate change to newer issues such as reproductive rights to perhaps even news and media coverage.

How can people help you with these causes? How can we get involved?

Great question. I’ve noticed that many people seem to think, “well, we have some lobbyists fighting for our cause, we’ll be all right.” That’s not at all true. First, secular and skeptic lobbyists are way outnumbered by their opponents. Second, lobbyists who don’t have tons of money – and we don’t – are only effective when the elected officials they meet with know that the lobbyist represents not just him or herself, but thousands of Americans.

Which means secularist and skeptics should write and call lawmakers. The easiest way to go about doing this regularly is to sign up to receive action alerts from organizations such as CFI, the Secular Coalition, the American Humanist Association, the National Center for Science Education, the Union of Concerned Scientists. Once you do that, you’ll soon start receiving emails that will allow you to easily message your representatives on issues relating to secularism and skepticism. It takes only a couple of minutes to fill out an action alert and send it along to a lawmaker. When you’re done, share the action alert and other links to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and whatever other social networks you use. If you don’t like email, you can also pick up a phone and let your representative know you care about a certain issue and are paying attention to his or her actions. I would tell you write a hand-written letter to your representative, but due to restrictive security measures, there’s a good chance your letter will be delayed several months, or might never even reach its intended audience.

But the bottom line is, believe me, they are listening. They might not take into account the unique content in each message, so don’t write a thesis. But they are almost certainly paying attention to the number of messages they receive in support or opposition of a certain bill or policy.

Aside from directly contacting lawmakers, there are plenty of other ways people can get involved and help. Attend local school board meetings, community hearings, and public forums and voice your opinion. Write letters to the editor. Comment on blog posts and online news articles. Do whatever you can to spread the message. Otherwise we resign ourselves to live under religious rules, and unscientific policy – and that’s unacceptable.

Thank you so much for the work you are doing and for taking the time to talk with us, Michael. Now everyone else, get out there and help too or Michael might be coming for YOU next!

 

*Editor’s note: Michael will not be coming for you. He is too busy kicking ass.

 

;)

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and kicks ass on a daily basis. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

82 Comments

  1. Thanks for working to get climate change on the table. Along with that hopefully is the importance of habitat preservation (oyster beds, peat bogs, rainforests etc) as part of the mitigation AND a strong push against geoengineering, a stunningly bad idea.

    I’m a bit puzzled by the sweeping generalization of alternative medicine as some sort of widespread demon. AM can include everything from good bacteria to honey for allergies to exercise routines, all which have evidence to show they’re useful.

    I hope atheists don’t become blindly beholden to traditional medicine the way new agers have become beholden to homeopathy.

    • I always think of chiropractic. It’s a good form of physical therapy and pain management, but practitioners sell it like snake oil.
      The simpler messages ‘it’s all crap’ or ‘it’s miraculous’ seem to be what sticks, unfortunately.

      • Some alternative remedies that work have actual evidence that they do work, and it’s distorted and ignored by western medicine for who knows what reason. Like the UCONN study that the media said honey doesn’t work for allergies; actually every group (placebo, non placebo etc) had reduction in allergy symptoms. A study in Finland also showed people have improvement in allergy symptoms when they take honey.

        But the anti-alternative crowd spread the rumor that the hypothesis was based on an “immunity” to allergies, when in reality it was the compound quercitin that reduced their symptoms.

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21196761

        • Point is, why stop studying remedies that clearly may work? Extracts from the natural world are not that different from birch bark which is used to make aspirin.

          • I don’t think anyone is actually saying that.

        • Alternative medicine: if it is proved to work then it is no longer alternative. Have you understood that bit yet?

          • @Our Sally try to read my comments more carefully, Sally. My question is, by whose definition? Prove your point that that’s the prevailing definition.

    • It seems that your premise is faulty in that “traditional” medicine is generally based on the notion in science that when the available date shows you are wrong you are then required to change your mind. If the data is weak it is reasonable to withhold your opinion, or when the research is weak then the results can reasonably be called into question. Also when research is based on data that is derived from the subjective reports of persons with minor and often self resolving problems the results are rightly called into question and challenged. Alternative medicine has a long standing tradition of rejecting science and holding to beliefs and notions that are either scientifically impossible, have been proven wrong, or are downright dangerous. You may find this interisting.
      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-plausibility-problem/

      • @JacobV I assume your reply was to me, sorry I wasn’t 100 percent sure.

        Alternative medicine has a long standing tradition of rejecting science and holding to beliefs and notions that are either scientifically impossible, have been proven wrong, or are downright dangerous.

        Who are you speaking for? I don’t quite get it. The point of my comment was that the label of Alternative Medicine can mean anything.

        Maybe I should have pointed out that high quality doctors practicing traditional medicine often “prescribe” a change in diet based on the compounds found in certain foods. Honey, yogurt, etc. Therefore I would like a definition of Alternative Medicine before we proceed, and evidence that it’s one group of wackadoodles who dominate the field.

        Has no one read Ben Goldacre’s new book about pharmaceutical industries hiding results? Skepchick often cites Goldacre’s work so I assume they have respect for his medical opinion.

  2. The American Humanist Association link connects to the Union of Concerned Scientists site.

  3. Excellent post Amy, and. I especially appreciate the information about the issue notifications from CFI.

  4. “Most prominently, CFI has been lobbying the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Obama Administration since last August to keep in place the rule requiring health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services, such as birth control and contraception, without charging a co-payment”

    Not requiring insurers to subsidize contraception is not “restricting women’s reproductive rights”, no more than not requiring women to participate in a fertility draft is restricting men’s reproductive rights.

    “Science also helps us to know about what kind of system or rules would help us correct the equal pay gap,”

    Should the gap be corrected? Are all methods for correcting the gap morally justified?

    “so that we’re not just guessing or leaving it to the free market (which science has shown does not work!).”

    Science does not make prescriptive judgments. The question that should be asked is, works for whom? What kind of utilitarian calculus underlies these statements by the CFI?

    • Reproductive rights includes women’s reproductive health issues, such as those that could prevent reproductive cancers and chronic illnesses through the use of birth control pills, Diogenes.

      • So then you’re really just using “reproductive rights” to mean a right to healthcare, among other things?

        • @Diogenesis that’s what it is, a matter of health. Females have reproductive systems. They can develop illnesses specific to that system. Birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to protect women from illness, not men. Do you understand?

          • If the birth control pills should be free because they prevent illnesses in women, why not make all healthcare free?

        • Reproductive rights and health care are one and the same. You cannot seperate the two.

        • I never said it should be free, Diogenesis. Don’t put words in my mouth. It should be affordable, available to all women and covered by insurance.

    • Not requiring insurers to subsidize contraception is not “restricting women’s reproductive rights”, no more than not requiring women to participate in a fertility draft is restricting men’s reproductive rights.

      Have you ever considered WHY insurers wouldn’t want to subsidize contraception? Think about it.

      Providing legal and affordable birth control helps to reduce health care costs, which includes costs from unwanted pregnancies and abortions — this is a FACT.

      And yet, many companies and people still want to restrict access to birth control, while not restricting access to other things.

      Perhaps, just perhaps, you should consider WHY THAT MIGHT BE. It’s important.

    • Should the gap be corrected?

      You’re joking, right? I really hope you’re joking. THE ANSWER IS YES. HELL FUCKING YES. NO QUESTION: YES YES YES YES.

      Are all methods for correcting the gap morally justified?

      You need to be way more specific. What methods are you referring to? You shouldn’t ask this questino without some specifics in mind.

      • >What methods are you referring to?

        Requiring all employees with nominally the same job title to be paid the same wage.

        • Are all methods for correcting the gap morally justified?

          THIS

          IS NOT the same as this:

          Requiring all employees with nominally the same job title to be paid the same wage.

          That’s not a method. That’s a result of method(s).

          • Is it a desirable result?

          • Yes. Yes, it is a desirable result. Why would it not be? Can you answer that?

          • Because I don’t believe people are interchangeable cogs.

          • Er, that’s not what we’re saying at ALL. Do you have any understanding of the pay gap? Perhaps you should do some research. And, no, it’s not our job to educate you.

          • >Er, that’s not what we’re saying at ALL.

            It’s implicit. “Equal pay for equal work” implies some objective way to measure “equal” work. It leaves no room for craftsmanship, for sentimentality, for creativity, or for aesthetic sensibilities. It’s a Procrustean metric that assumes that whomever defines “equal” has a monopoly on the definition of “value”.

          • So, when a man gets paid more than a woman — which is nearly always what happens, except for some very rare outliers — does that mean it’s acceptable?

            It leaves no room for craftsmanship, for sentimentality, for creativity, or for aesthetic sensibilities.

            Except the pay gap is generally because of SEXISM.

            I am too tired and busy to argue with you the BASICS. Here, do some research:

            http://www.seattlewomanmagazine.com/articles/march05-1.htm

            If you take some time, you can find more info. Just use Google. Novel, I know!

          • You’re ascribing motives to people that can’t be proven.

        • Sexism isn’t a “motive”.

  5. >Have you ever considered WHY insurers wouldn’t want to subsidize contraception? Think about it.

    >Perhaps, just perhaps, you should consider WHY THAT MIGHT BE. It’s important.

    Unless you bring teleology into this, it doesn’t change the morality of the situation, nor does it have anything to do with science.

    • Wait, what? Of course it has to do with science — the denial or out-right fear of science.

      And what does MORALITY have to do with anything?

      • >Wait, what? Of course it has to do with science — the denial or out-right fear of science.

        Which has nothing to do with science itself.

        >And what does MORALITY have to do with anything?

        It has to do with any sentence where you employ the word “should”.

        • Science does not exist in a vacuum. The fear of science will and does affect scientific research. It affects the interpretation of the data, and what research will be done in the first place.

          • >Science does not exist in a vacuum.

            Taken as an ideal, it does.

            >It affects the interpretation of the data, and what research will be done in the first place.

            Those are political problems.

          • You’re being overly pedantic and circular. Scientific research does not exist in a vacuum.

            Stop JAQ’ing off.

          • An this isn’t just about an “ideal”. This is about real life. MY LIFE.

            This isn’t just a hypothetical discussion for me, a woman. You do realize that, right?

          • Regardless, my original point still stands. Your problem is how people act on information provided by scientific methods, not what the information is.

          • What the hell does this have to do with the article in question? What is your POINT?

          • That this is abuse of the term “science” to justify political agendas.

          • What do you mean by “political agenda”? That’s one hell of a general term. Anything can be considered a “political agenda”. What, exactly, do you expect people to do with the results of scientific research?

  6. @Diogenes Just for clarification equal pay for equal work means the same job. Not all jobs require finesse or ‘craftsmanship’ to determine worth. Many jobs just require showing up and pressing a button, or filling an envelope or answering a phone. Throughout history, men have been payed more for the same job. Are you insinuating that this is appropriate and that women are by default of less worth?

    • >the same job.

      Why should people with the same nominal job titles be paid the same?

      >Are you insinuating that this is appropriate and that women are by default of less worth?

      I am only asserting that it has cannot be proven that the gender pay gap is due to genderism: discrimination against woman qua woman, and not because of any material effects that may be connected to her gender but not her gender by itself.

      • Why should people with the same nominal job titles be paid the same?

        Why *shouldn’t* they be paid the same? And why is it that the default is that men are generally paid more than woman? Why are you okay with men continuing to be paid more than woman for “nominal job titles”? Why is this okay to you?

        and not because of any material effects that may be connected to her gender but not her gender by itself.

        Wait, what? Explain.

        • Because people who have the same title may be differently productive.

          • Are you trying to imply that the gender gap exists because women are differently (“less”) productive than men?!

      • I am only asserting that it has cannot be proven that the gender pay gap is due to genderism: discrimination against woman qua woman, and not because of any material effects that may be connected to her gender but not her gender by itself.

        Okay, that’s just one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. Hands down. Congratulations.

        Women are systematically discriminated against. It is not as if the pay gap is happening on a case-by-case basis and there are some magical “material effects” that cause women to be of less worth when performing a job. I can only assume by “material effects” you mean reproduction? What of women who do not reproduce who are paid less for the same job, or who work in a higher position and are paid the same as men in a lower position?

        • >I can only assume by “material effects” you mean reproduction?

          My position is simple and should be easly comprehensible by any true feminist.

          Gender roles make women less productive workers, and this is the biggest cause of the pay gap. This is a bigger contributor than bosses discriminating against women just because they have vaginae and not because of all of the societal baggage that come with them.

          True egalitarians would understand that this means gender roles need to be abolished entirely, and that demanding equal pay without doing so is a half-measure which will ultimately fail.

          • What the hell is a “true” feminist or a “true” egalitarian?

            Do you know what the “No True Scotsman Fallacy” is?

            Woooow.

  7. @Diogenes

    Your pseudo-intellectual JAQing off is tired and boring.

    You clearly have no understanding of the contraception controversy, the wage gap, ethics, or science. Frankly, you’re coming across as a troll.

    But, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Just this once!

    You said:

    Not requiring insurers to subsidize contraception is not “restricting women’s reproductive rights”, no more than not requiring women to participate in a fertility draft is restricting men’s reproductive rights.

    (A) This doesn’t even make any sense. (B) When insurance companies cover the cost of ED meds, childbirth, and other forms of sexual health care but do not cover contraception, yes that is restricting women’s reproductive rights because it’s selectively covering certain reproductive issues (mainly those that benefit men) while not covering others (mainly those that allow for more sexual autonomy for women). Plus, many of the medications used as contraception have other medical benefits that women would have to pay out of pocket for. There’s an inherent inequality in not covering contraception for women while covering ED meds for men.

    Should the gap be corrected? Are all methods for correcting the gap morally justified?

    Clearly JAQing off here. Of course it should be corrected. No one said “all methods are morally justified” though I cannot think of a realistic method of correcting it that would be morally unjustified–care to elaborate??

    “so that we’re not just guessing or leaving it to the free market (which science has shown does not work!).”

    Science does not make prescriptive judgments. The question that should be asked is, works for whom? What kind of utilitarian calculus underlies these statements by the CFI?

    How disingenuous of you! Perhaps you should quote her whole sentence and not just the parts that you can twist out of context to make a point. She originally said:

    ” Science also helps us to know about what kind of system or rules would help us correct the equal pay gap, so that we’re not just guessing or leaving it to the free market (which science has shown does not work!).”

    Amy never said science makes prescriptive judgments, she said that there is evidence that the free market will not correct the wage gap and that scientific studies can help inform us of the best ways to erase the gap. If she was making a prescriptive judgment, it would have read more like “Science says the only way to fix the wage gap is X.”

    If the birth control pills should be free because they prevent illnesses in women, why not make all healthcare free?

    As Luna already pointed out, no one in this thread has said they should be free. Until now.

    Health care is a basic human right that should be extended to all people. The US should move to a universal health care system that is covered by taxes (we can afford it, especially if we get our asses out of the Middle East and start being more progressive in our tax structure). It should be “free” in the sense that when you visit the doctor or go to a pharmacy it is covered by the government. A small co-pay on a sliding scale might be fine, especially since that sort of thing keeps incentives for people to maintain their appointments. But other than that, I think we should move towards taking the burden off of people to pay for their health care and spread the burden around to everyone. But to do this, we’d have to move away from a for-profit system and towards a system that privileges preventative care.

    Now, under our current system, if contraception is covered by health insurance plans, it is not “free” because people pay for it when they pay for their plan. No one is asking for it to be FREE as in you can just walk into a drug store and take it off the shelf and walk out no questions asked no money exchanged.

    It’s implicit. “Equal pay for equal work” implies some objective way to measure “equal” work. It leaves no room for craftsmanship, for sentimentality, for creativity, or for aesthetic sensibilities. It’s a Procrustean metric that assumes that whomever defines “equal” has a monopoly on the definition of “value”.

    If a job is not based in merit pay, then none of that fucking matters. If two people have the same job title and their job descriptions are the same, then they should be paid the same. You don’t get to claim that jobs are based on merit pay when they clearly are not. It is a systemic and institutionalized pay gap–it’s not as if men are magically doing better jobs all across the nation.

    Are you seriously sitting there arguing that, around the country, men are being paid more because they’re making better products and are more creative????

    >Science does not exist in a vacuum.

    Taken as an ideal, it does.

    No. Go read some fucking philosophy of science and science studies. Science is a social practice that is always colored by our existence as limited beings. Taken as an ideal, science has minimal biases–but it will always have biases because of the way science is practiced. Bias is inherent to the process. It will never exist in a vacuum, and it cannot ever exist in a vacuum because it is a human activity and will always have the context of being a human activity, therefore always being a situated typed of knowledge production.

    >It affects the interpretation of the data, and what research will be done in the first place.

    Those are political problems.

    Sure, political problems within the realm of scientific practice, and ignoring these “political problems” makes for really shitty science.

    • Man, thank you. Glad you popped in. I’m *exhausted* and all I could really do is roll my freakin’ eyes at this dude. Ugh!

      • Yeah, clearly a troll, though I’m not sure yet if he is a concern troll or an MRA troll.

        I figured I’d swat it around as a housecat plays with a rodent. ;D

      • MRA troll. I’m certain of it.

        He’s just asking questions, man!! I mean WHAT IF?! What if men were wroth more? What if, man?

        These are Important Questions.

        And shame on us! We’re not True Feminists! If we were, we’d totally agree with him!!

    • >How disingenuous of you!

      Apparently I misunderstood what she said. However, this just raises the issue of economics not being a science.

      >selectively covering certain reproductive issues (mainly those that benefit men) while not covering others (mainly those that allow for more sexual autonomy for women).

      >Health care is a basic human right that should be extended to all people.

      >I think we should move towards taking the burden off of people to pay for their health care and spread the burden around to everyone.

      On what basis are these rights constructed that allow their holders to demand price fixing for their benefit?

      Is female sexual autonomy even desirable?

      >If a job is not based in merit pay, then none of that fucking matters.

      The question is how one measures “merit”.

      >You don’t get to claim that jobs are based on merit pay when they clearly are not.

      I am only proposing the null hypothesis. It is impossible to prove that jobs are not based on merit pay because one does not have a suitable definition of merit.

      >Are you seriously sitting there arguing that, around the country, men are being paid more because they’re making better products and are more creative????

      It is a possibility which cannot be dismissed.

      >Science is a social practice that is always colored by our existence as limited beings.

      That’s science as an institution, not science is an ideal.

      Besides, if you really believed that it was not possible for science not to have biases, why would you base your arguments on it?

      • It is a possibility which cannot be dismissed.

        As easily as you are I’m afraid.

      • Is female sexual autonomy even desirable?

        Are you KIDDING ME?

        Why WOULDN’T it be desirable? Answer me that question.

        • As an egalitarian I don’t, but if I did support social engineering, control over costs associated with sex would be a potent tool.

        • So you’re just JAQing off then, huh?

          Oh, and “if”. I see. “if”.

          I bet you’re a TRUE egalitarian, right?

          Stop playing Devil’s advocate, jack ass.

    • I guess the potential politics within social research statistics makes them too suspect for a scientific discussion.

  8. He doesn’t know if female sexual autonomy is desirable, and he thinks it’s possible that men are worth more than women.

    Not harmless questions. Bald misogynistic bigotry trying to disguise itself.

    • >and he thinks it’s possible that men are worth more than women.

      I guess my comments could be construed that way if you think the measure of a man is his paycheck.

      • No one said the (only) worth of a person was their paycheck (how telling that you said “man” and “his” when we are talking about men AND woman).

        That said, yes, your pay is often based on the assumptions and perceptions of ones’ worth at his or her career/job.

        • grammar iz hard

        • >at his or her career/job.

          punchdrunk unfortunately did not use that qualifier.

          • Oh, you sure got me there.

            Isn’t my face red!

          • Also, if you found out someone was getting paid less for the same job, wouldn’t that affect your perception of their worth?

            Stop playing Devil’s Advocate. Go somewhere else and troll.

        • What the fuck, man? We are talking about equal pay. PAY. What the hell else did you think we’re talking about?

          That said, do you actually think that someone’s worth (or rather, their perception of their worth) in society doesn’t have something to do with their career/job, and their pay?

          Do you actually think that someone’s worth (or rather, their perception of their worth) in society doesn’t also involve their salary/pay?

          What one is paid directly affects their quality of life and STATUS in society. Which then affects that person’s worth (or rather, society’s perception of their worth).

          What the fuck, man.

          Why are you hear JAQing off? Don’t you have something better to do?

          Go away, troll.

          • >What one is paid directly affects their quality of life and STATUS in society. Which then affects that person’s worth (or rather, society’s perception of their worth).

            Which are two completely seperate things. Do you think that because society perceives women are worth less that they actually are worth less?

            “Status” and “worth”, defined in the eyes others, are like power: totally illusory. Self-described “feminists” are unable to affect revolutionary change because they think in the same terms their sparring partners do. Note that I don’t describe them as opponents becase they aren’t really: just two halves of the same oppressive dialectic.

          • What the fuck does this have to do with anything? Nice derail, jack ass.

            I honestly give NO FUCKS what you think on this subject. None.

            You’re lousy at this.

            Boooring.

    • Oh dontcha KNOW! He’s totally a true egalitarian. He’s only asking ‘cuz what if he DID support social engineering blah blah blah?

      I MEAN WHAT IF, man? WHAT IF?

      • And for the record, if I toss in a sarcastic “dontcha KNOW!”, just assume I’ve put on a North Dakota accent — my aunt was the QUEEN of sarcasm and her accent just worked so well for it haha.

  9. Diogenes is the most obvious troll ever, holy shit.

    • Not to mention the tacky pedant on a chain he likes to wear.

  10. Alternative Medicine (AM) means therapy used instead of traditional medicine.

    Complimentary Medicine (CM) means therapy used that compliments traditional medicine.

    Supplementary Medicine (SM) means therapy that supplements traditional medicine.

    The first therapy (AM), is ridiculous. The second and third therapies (CM) and (SM), are reasonable and in some cases are perfectly acceptable by medical science.

    • To complicate matters, I believe that these terms have different meanings in the US, as opposed to Europe and Australia.

      • Also, I am being a horrible pedant :)

        Complimentary :1. Expressing, using, or resembling a compliment
        2. Given free to repay a favor or as an act of courtesy

        Complementary:1. Forming or serving as a complement; completing.
        2. Supplying mutual needs or offsetting mutual lacks.

        • lol :D

          • Never before in the field of Skepchick conflict, have so many goalposts been moved so quickly to so many different positions.

            Well played, once again!

    • THIS. Thank you.

  11. That man is made of pure AWESOME.

    Have to admit, this is the first I’ve heard of these efforts, so thanks for putting this up.

  12. Thanks for highlighting these activities, Amy. This pushed me over the edge to become a member of CFI. I want to contribute my money and time to organizations that cover all the bases, and CFI seems to be doing a great job of this.

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