Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all - blog by Gurdur

 




A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.

Rate this Entry
Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all
Submit "Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all" to Digg Submit "Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all" to del.icio.us Submit "Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all" to StumbleUpon Submit "Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all" to Google
Posted 26-Nov-2010 at 05:33 PM (17:33) by Gurdur
Updated 27-Nov-2010 at 09:21 AM (09:21) by Gurdur

Please go look at my previous blog post, "Atheism versus skepticism, part 1: the program, judge for yourself", if you have not read it yet, before reading this one. It's important to one point to be made here.

Now, having read the program shown in that post, it really does look like an atheist convention, doesn't it? With a few off-topica talks here and there. And while they do give proper importance to the pub, there are all those odd little spaces where they still don't give any clue as to what a speaker actually spoke upon. No easy links to any records of the talks given either, not on that page of their schedule.

But in actual fact it was supposed to be a skepticism convention. It was the Skepticon 3 convention, 19 to 21 November inclusive, 2010. Not an atheism convention. Well, at least not termed as such. Fine, if you know of James Randi well, you would have guessed the last thing he would be doing would be speaking on atheism as such, since while he is an atheist, he largely sticks only to skepticism topics, and steers usually clear of talking about mainstream religions. But you would have to know of Randi well to know that. And sure, at least his talk would definitely be worthwhile, whatever it was on, and Greta Christina's talk would be worthwhile (she's a pretty interesting speaker, even if she sends fellow Hub member Grumpy up the wall by saying "um" a lot), and her talk would be most likely very worthwhile. Whether on atheism, skepticism or what-have-you. The talk from D.J. Grothe would likely be pretty good too, knowing of D.J. Grothe. Rebecca Watson is usually a good speaker too.

But the talk from Richard Carrier on "Are Christians Delusional?" Seriously, now. Then David Fitzgerald on "The Ten Thousand Christs and the Evaporating Jesus", a panel on "Does skepticism lead to atheism?", Greta Christina on "Atheism and sexuality", J.T. Eberhard on "Dear Christian". Well now, I know what I think how such a program defines what the convention is actually about.

So before the convention actually happens, on 16 November Jeff Wagg, a leading figure in the skepticism movement, makes a critical blog post, calling to attention some of the planned talks at the convention, and asking just what the convention is supposed to be about. He then makes the rather important criticism that by and large skepticism and atheism are not equivalent and should not be treated as equivalent.

So: atheism is not equivalent to skepticism.

(Ayn Rand is one famous atheist who wasn't much of a skeptic at all. Then of course there's Mao Tse-Tung, and so on).

Jeff Wagg also calls attention to a blog post by Reed Esau which is also critical of the planned schedule in relation to the name "Skepticon".

Separately, on November 22 Jim Lippard makes the very important observation, "If skepticism becomes identified with atheism, then so much for teaching skepticism in U.S. public schools". Then Jim Lippard makes some more good, grounded criticisms in depth in his blog post on 20th November.

Meanwhile, JT Eberhard responds to Jeff Wagg, complaining that Wagg never asked him any other questions after the first one expressing dismay at the schedule, and then complaining that Wagg extrapolated from 3 talks only (never mind that that was all the information available to Wagg at the time, and never mind that as you can see from the schedule long after the event, Wagg seems quite justifed). Finally JT Eberhard basically wraps it all up by saying "So what?" He shows some regrettable lack of logic in his post, but hey. The main point is, he is happy to identify skepticism as being the same as atheism.

PZ Myers weighs in on 19th November, first off making it all about him! him! him!, as kittynh so acutely observes, then bitching "So what?", and expressing happiness if anyone leaves because they happen to be a skeptic but religious ("And I say good riddance to those people"). Then he makes one more blog post on it all which is so vacuous we don't need to look at it. Then on 22nd November Ophelia Benson does her own spiteful but wholly .... silly best by claiming Jeff Wagg is trying to "turn lots more 'good people' against atheism", which is the usual level of Benson's wannabe-Spanish-Atheist-Inquisition bullshit; Jeff Wagg is an atheist and not hostile to atheism, he simply wants skepticism and atheism kept identifiably mostly separate, though he grants there is a lot of over-lap in theory and practice.

Get that? All the critics of the conflating of atheism and skepticism that I have named here so far (Jeff Wagg, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard, and you can add myself) are all atheists and skeptics, but critical of the conflation of skepticism with atheism.

Russell Blackford, not to be outdone and with his usual me-too! me-too!, weighs in on 24th November and again on 25th November, claiming some very silly things, like "people who are attacking their own allies in public", which raises some interesting questions about just who is a real ally? Then he displays his attitude to skepticism, diversity and free speech by saying, "And good riddance to Wagg, as well, if he leaves with them, as he's welcome to do. Hopefully he'll never again be seen in the skeptic movement". Bring on ideological rectitude! Bring on the Correct Party Line! Bring on the Spanish-Atheist-Inquisition enforcing punishment of deviant thinkers!

(By the way, Jeff Wagg has actually worked a million times harder for skepticism, for example through the JREF organization, than Russell Blackford ever has, but who cares, when it comes to ideological rectitude!) Russell Blackford also makes some other silly claims, including a real howler, but that one gets a whole new blog post all of its own.

Now: is this whole issue important to you? You bet your gonads it is. Regardless of what you are, you will need a certain amount of skepticism to have a healthy life. If you are a Christian, the skepticism movement as a whole is important to you, because apart from tackling issues such as homeopathy, spoon-bending crap, von Däniken and so on, you need well-grounded skepticism to tackle such issues as alleged faith-healing.

And of course for atheists such as myself, skepticism is needed to make sure of not turning into yet another Ayn Rand.

More on all this later.



Comments are welcome! Please keep in mind if you are not registered that comments posted here to this blog post may take a while to appear, since they go onto a moderation queue, owing to a recent flood of spammers. The answer to the so-called "Random Question" is always "human", no quote marks.
Posted in Uncategorized
Views 3597 Comments 4
Total Comments 4

Comments

                   Post a Comment   Post a Comment
  1. Old Comment
    I quite despair at some of the so-called "rational" arguments displayed in some of the blogs you link to here. I look forward to the delights to come ;-)
    Posted 26-Nov-2010 at 08:07 PM (20:07) by Revsimmy
  2. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Revsimmy View Comment
    I look forward to the delights to come ;-)
    Many thanks! Blog post #3 now up!
    Posted 26-Nov-2010 at 08:13 PM (20:13) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
    Updated 27-Nov-2010 at 09:24 AM (09:24) by Gurdur
  3. Old Comment
    iamwombat's Avatar
    When I read the 1st Blog, I wondered, does pub time mean hosted or open. That would be importent here, lol.
    Posted 28-Nov-2010 at 07:26 AM (07:26) by iamwombat iamwombat is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Thanks for these two posts. Very thought-provoking. I didn't know about this dispute in the US over whether or not skepticism=atheism and I've spent hours following link after link. It's all made quite depressing reading.
    Posted 30-Nov-2010 at 02:58 AM (02:58) by MollyMac MollyMac is offline
Post a Comment Post a Comment
Total Trackbacks 1

Trackbacks

Twitter Trackbacks for Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all - blog by Gurdur - Blogs on the Heathen Hub [heathen-hub.

26-Nov-2010, 06:11 PM (18:11)
Atheism versus skepticism, part 2: the Skepticon 3 controversy, Jeff Wagg, JT Eberhard, PZ Myers, Russell Blackford, Reed Esau, Jim Lippard and all

All times are GMT +2. The time now is 07:42 PM (19:42).

       

Credits and thanks:
Basic Style design: Design By: Miner Skinz.com
(much altered by Gurdur)

For smilies:

Koloboks, including Aiwan, ViShenk, Just Cuz, Laie, Connie, snoozer, Viannen,
and especially Mother Goose too.
KitKatty. and PederDingo, and phantompanther.

For help, coding, and/or modifications:

Different people at vBulletin.com, and a whole lot of people -- too many to be individually named, sorry -- at vBulletin.org

For artwork, avatars, backgrounds and so on:

KitKatty, and verte, and britpoplass


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright is asserted for the Heathen Hub itself and for its owner by its owner, from 2008 onwards. Copyright of individual posts remains the property of the original poster, however by posting on the Hub the poster grants the Hub the rights to host and present the posted messages for perpetuity. The Hub is in no way responsible for opinions or messages posted in any way on the Hub by its members. Please also see this here. Copyright of individual icons and other graphics, as for individual vBulletin styles, remains the property of the original owner/creator. Copyright for the vBulletin software itself, and the vBulletin Blogs software, remains with Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd, as in the copyright notice above.
Welcome to a place to talk about atheism, religion, science, humanism, evolution, politics, Creationism, literature, reason, rational inquiry, logic, cooking, reading, and travel - the Hub: a community for everyone.