Tag Archives: skeptic

Talking Things Out



Trigger warning- If you are one of those people that likes to whine about things in life that are unfair or you are paranoid that something is out to get you then this post may not be for you. If you have mental issues that hinder your ability to read things that may be totally random and you can not tell the difference between the threat posed by the written word and a direct threat posed by a real life situation….this post may not  be for you. If you fit one of the previous descriptions you are advised to seek the assistance of a mental health professional and above all DO NOT PROJECT YOUR INABILITY TO DEAL WITH LIFE ISSUES ON OTHER PEOPLE WHILE USING THE INTERNET.

Thank You

A guy named Michael Nugent is in the middle of an exchange of questions with Justin Vacula. Michael has written a blog post where he gives some examples of “nasty pushback”.

Michael asked Justin-

Which of the following specific examples of “nasty pushback” against some feminists on the Internet do you consider to be morally unjustified?

This question is followed by the mandatory trigger warning. Does it bother anyone else that this has become an accepted practice? I can understand a warning for adult content but where do we draw the line when it comes to warning people because they may be offended by foul words?  If a person wants to refrain from offending or disturbing anyone who may for whatever reason be too sensitive to handle certain words (these words could be related to just about anything so it’s impossible to give a good example) then there should be a trigger warning on everything they post.

Michael not only gives the initial warning but then warns everyone again. He acts like everyone reading has a man with a chainsaw standing behind them ready to start choppin’ as soon as anyone lets out  a sound. I wonder what kind of world it is that Michael lives in when you coddle people to this extreme. It’s almost as if he is  codependent.

He then gives 50 examples of quotes he picked from the slymepit. I assume he picked the examples to try and show volume rather than to give specific examples of differing types of comments that could be considered abusive. 50 seems like an unreasonable number of examples to me and could be interpreted as an attempt to single out the slymepit as a den of misogynist, sexist atheists.

There are a couple main reasons why Michael’s examples fail him. First one is that there is no context, no back-story, no explanation as to why his examples were posted. I know for a fact that some were in jest. Others were echoes of things said by members of A+ or FTB and were posted in the slymepit as mocking hypocrisy shown by those people. Several of his examples were exchanges between people who were known to not be offended by such words. Without context it would be difficult if not impossible to give an opinion that was any better than if Michael had just made up all of his examples. Of course some people would say that simply the use of certain words is misogyny or offends people no matter what the context.  Those people are just being silly. Context makes all the difference many times. Michael almost seems to assume Justin has psychic abilities and can get into the minds of the authors and explain what they were thinking and why. To have such expectations would be completely unreasonable. Even if Justin did go through every single example, by the time he was finished much time would have been wasted when it could have been spent on more important matters.

After reading Michael’s question and examples a person would probably get the impression that he was serious about all this gender slur and harmful language stuff. I know that was the impression I got from him….Then Michael posted this.

It is about the Atheist Ireland Forum Moderating Policy. It seems that there were several…actually make that numerous posts in that forum which didn’t meet the social justice standards Michael had set for others. A reader by the name Skepsheik had taken the time to point this out along with many examples.  Those examples were as bad if not worse than what Michael had presented to Justin.


I wondered how all these instances had gone unnoticed for such a long period of time in Michael Nugent’s own forum.  Justin wasn’t responsible for moderating the slymepit forum.  If he were to try and moderate he wouldn’t get anywhere because there is not an ‘edit button’ available to members of the slymepit.  Everything is public and forever unless it goes to unacceptable extreme, child porn would be an example of an unacceptable post.  Justin, while a regular contributor to the forum, was not it’s spokesperson either.  The diverse make-up of the slymepit forum made it difficult if not impossible for there to be consensus on almost anything.  Each individual is responsible for themselves. This was not the case with Michael Nugent  and his forum. From what I can tell Michael is an active member and moderator in the Atheist Ireland forum. He was, after all, the one who authored the post explaining the removal of improper content on the forum.

Shortly after the announcement about the removal of unacceptable content on the Atheist Ireland forum Skepsheik again contributes some information. It seems there is much, much more- Pharyngula-style rape torture and murder wishes, sexist language, racism, homophobia, animal rape to name a few. Michael has explained this as a way to protest a law involving blasphemy. He explains it like this-

There is, as you know, a distinction between something being illegal and something being immoral or unethical.

we have left them published on our website to make the point that we do not want blasphemy criminalised, even if we ourselves would not personally agree with all of the blasphemous comments that other people make.


While I don’t think it is nessecary to remove any of the content found on the Atheist Ireland forum, I do see an example of hypocrisy poking up from Michael Nugent’s position and his tone towards Justin Vacula when giving the slymepit quotes without any explanation about the circumstances of those posts.

I left the following comments on Michael Nugent’s post

First comment-

     I’m glad to hear this news and the timing is perfect considering the way you are drawing attention to posts on other forums that you consider abusive, shaming and very disturbing. I’ve always thought it better to clean up your own yard before bringing attention to the condition of your neighbors lawn. Good thing Skepsheik brought the issue to your attention or who knows how long those offensive postings would have stayed up considering no one brought them up prior to now. It’s only human to have biases, it’s been brought to your attention and you are addressing it, so everything turns out well.

Follow-up comment

Nevertheless, in the slymepit we make the point that we do not want blasphemy offensive language criminalized, even if we ourselves would not personally agree with all of the blasphemous offensive language comments that other people make.

See how that works Michael? You say blasphemy, we say offensive.
You really do need to figure out where you stand on all this cause after the latest list Skepsheik provided you really don’t have any right to be critical of anyone else. In other words- Your house is still dirty.


I don’t want to give the impression that Michael Nugent has no credibility due to his oversight. I do think he should be more aware of what is going on in his forum. I am looking forward to the discussion as a result of this debate. As I have said previously, very few of the FTB bloggers involved in this dispute or A+ members are willing to have an adult discussion about the expectations they have or the tactics they have employed to encourage others to do as they request without question. Michael has been the exception to this. Now if others would stop making childish demands be met or claim that their critics are not able to have a rational exchange and instead follow Michael Nugent’s example then maybe we could see a return to skepticism rather than McCarthyism.

You can find Justin Vacula’s blog here

Michael Nugent’s blog is here




Minnesota Farmers: Blogger PZ Myers Puts Livestock at Risk With Straw Use

The following is a guest blog and has been posted with the full permission of the author.

February 22, 2013
Staff reports


Blogger PZ Myers visits a Minnesota farm to select straw for use in his arguments

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — A spokesman for the Minnesota Farmers Union is concerned about a shortage of straw and
hay available for agricultural purposes around the state—and he is blaming PZ
Myers for the problem.

Myers, a prolific blogger and professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, has been accused of hoarding hay and straw for use in constructing his straw man arguments and logical fallacies. While some of the larger organizations such as the Minnesota Farm Network have been reluctant to criticize Myers out of fear of being targeted on his often-vitriolic blog, others are speaking out.

“Every time he writes something outside of his field [of biology], Myers uses all of the available straw for miles around” to craft his arguments, said Farmer’s Union representative Mike Helms. “I’m not saying he doesn’t have a right to buy straw and hay—it’s a free country and all that. But the fact is our farmers and horses need it. He can’t use that much straw [an estimated 3,000 bales per month last year] and not expect it to affect our local ecology and economy. We use straw for feeding our livestock and horses, bedding, and fuel. He’s just using it to make faulty arguments. Where’s the justice in that?”

Helms added that other quasi-famous pundits have been drawn to the area in search of straw for their own arguments (conservative writer Ann Coulter and creationist William Dembksi are
frequent customers), but that Myers is by far the most active.

Hardest hit are the farming communities southwest of Minneapolis and those north of St. Cloud. The regional shortage has caused the price of hay to triple, and additional straw is being brought in from as far away as Nebraska. One area man said he was making $500 per week hauling hay from Omaha and reselling it. But many farming families can’t afford to pay a premium for straw, and grouse that Myers is unfairly cornering the market for his personal projects while their horses and cows go hungry.

Myers, once known for his work as a biologist, has in recent years become most prominent for his strident criticism of religion, skepticism, and almost anything else he disagrees with. In a famous incident in 2009, Myers overheard a young woman mention that she was a staunch vegetarian, to which he immediately responded: “You know, Hitler was a vegetarian… What other Nazi policies do you agree with?” Myers’s blatant logical fallacies have been cataloged by dozens of people including scientist-and-best-selling authors Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins—and most recently by a bored fifth-grader in Duluth who happened to be skimming Myers’s “Pharyngula” blog for a school project.

Despite his dismissive tone and having yet to publish a single book, PZ Myers has attracted legions of fans. In an article in the September 2008 print issue of Movieline magazine, screenwriter Ed Naha acknowledged Myers as an important inspiration for his film Troll and its later sequels. “The special effects may have been kind of cheesy, but the script was so strong because it came from real life,” Naha said. “I’d read PZ’s stuff, and the script wrote itself, it was pure gold. He was one of the biggest trolls, even back then.” Indeed, Myers earned the distinction of being named the “shepherd of Internet trolls” by Sam Harris earlier this year.

Republican political strategists—themselves well versed in straw man fallacies—have long expressed admiration for Myers’s uncanny ability to fabricate controversy from thin air and grossly mischaracterize his opponents. Wilson Moot, a protégé of Karl Rove and the chief writer of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign ads, is a particular fan. One of Moot’s best-known ads took President Obama’s statement “You didn’t build that” out of context (he was clearly referring to national infrastructure including roads and bridges) and claimed that it was instead
an attack on small business owners. “Myers’s ability to twist and spin the facts and misinterpret otherwise clear arguments by others is unparalleled,” Moot said in a recent Washington Weekly interview. “I’m good, but let’s be honest: Myers is in his own class. Up is down, black is white, night is day—if he says it is. If we’d had him on our campaign I really think we could have nailed Obama on that Muslim thing and won the White House.”

Myers could not be reached for comment; a spokesman said he was in Chicago, negotiating the purchase of industrial cranes to assist with assembling even larger straw man arguments later this year. “His goal,” the spokesman said, “is to make a straw man so big and glorious that it blots out the sun.”

Artists rendering of what would occur if PZ Myers ever makes it to the "big city"

Artists rendering of what would occur if PZ Myers ever makes it to the “big city”

Publicly Relevant Reality


Definition of RELEVANT

a : having significant and demonstrable bearing on the matter at hand

b : affording evidence tending to prove or disprove the matter at issue or under discussion <relevant testimony>

c : having social relevance

  There are some people who think misleading information is okay as long as it brings attention to a subject or furthers the cause they are championing. That is dangerous thinking IMO. When you give incorrect data you risk putting us into a harmful situation.  The modern anti vaccination movement is a good example.  The claim autism was linked to vaccinations started from incorrect information provided by Andrew Wakefield, and was then promoted by Jenny McCarthy.  This incorrect data and the reaction to it has caused many children to become ill or even die when they could have avoided being sick with vaccination shots.  It is better to always be a honest as possible when presenting data for people to consider.
 Having said that I will provide a link to a survey on Intimate Partner
and Sexual Violence done by the CDC.
  We have a problem with violence on other humans, no matter the gender. That’s a fact. A person only needs to pay attention to the news and the world around them to see this is true. These numbers support those observations.
 Now what? Well to the dismay of those who want to claim women are the only victims of violence due to the patriarchy, or the people who think that men are the only ones who are demonstrating violent tendencies, there is much more to it than that. Yes, women are victims and men are victims too. I think we would be better off acknowledging the fact that many people are too comfortable with violence, or it comes up as a acceptable option far too often.
  I’m not going to blame it all on the media, bad parenting, or music. I am going to make people aware of the problem in a reasonable responsible manner. I am going to present accurate data that come from credible sources. I am not going to present whatever study matches my vision of what should be rather than what is. If your cause isn’t important enough that you can’t be honest in supporting/defending it it isn’t that important to you in the first place.
 Anyone who writes a blog, makes videos, or records podcasts that give an impression of providing facts need to make sure they are doing just that. Disinformation helps no one in the long run. When you are listening to someone provide statistics find out where those statistics came from and who was involved in the survey, study, poll, or census.  Are there any conflicts of interest?  Do the people collecting the data have anything to gain from the results? How big is the sample? A poll of ten people is not going to be as accurate as a thousand people being asked. pay attention to the way the results are presented. If I ask one person if they like the color blue and they say no. Then I can say 100% of the people surveyed don’t like the color blue. Numbers alone are not proof of anything but they can be very helpful.
 I know some of you are going to be thinking “duh” as you read this and there was a time when I assumed a large percentage of those involved in skepticism would already know too. As it turns out, that data was wrong.


re·per·cus·sion(s)  (rpr-kshn, rpr-)

Definition of REPERCUSSION

2a : an action or effect given or exerted in return : a reciprocal action or effect


b : a widespread, indirect, or unforeseen effect of an act, action, or event —usually used in plural

3. A reflection, especially of sound.
 First I need to say thanks to Skeeve for offering to host this blog at AtheistsToday.
It seems like a good idea to introduce myself so any readers will be aware of who it is pecking away at the keys.
 Most people online call me Reap and some people in real life do too. I’m not going to tell you the story behind the name this time but I may do that in a future blog. It’s a long story so I will just say that I am resourceful enough so that few people victimize me and get away without some sort of repercussions.
 I feel strongly that people should be held accountable for their actions and it is difficult for me to sit and watch while others are treated badly, made to feel unhappy, unfairly discriminated against, or taken advantage of by others. I also have no love for liars and hypocrites.
I’ve raised a daughter as a single father ( I have had some help at times) My daughter is an intelligent, self-confident woman with a great sense of humor and I am very proud of her. I also have a son who is disabled with severe cerebral palsy. He has taught me much about myself, and life. I have also learned that the reason many people like to complain about petty things because they have had a life uninterrupted by any type of crisis or real need. They don’t realize how lucky they have it and I’m happy about  that while at the same time being disgusted by  it. I hope those people never learn the hard way how shallow and stupid they are but I also wish they would shut up and quit acting like spoiled punks.I’m talking to you Jason Thibeault. They only thing worse than that type are the types that should know better but still lack empathy.
 You may have noticed by now I’m not exactly an English major but I manage to get my point across most times. I do know the difference between there, their, and they’re as well as your and you’re. As long as the occasional run-on sentence doesn’t make your head explode you will be okay I think.
 I work in a unique business that allows me to be an IT geek as well as a tech in management.
 I started writing purely to speak out against internet bullies. When I say bullies I don’t mean people who follow others on twitter, those who make photoshop images mocking their foes, or trolls in any form. I mean real bullies who will try to ruin your real life because they can’t manage to laugh at themselves or aren’t witty enough to keep up.
 The paranormal community was where I started writing and calling out cons who were out to dupe people. A guy who said he could talk to the dead on a broken radio git pissed cause I called him out about his $200 charges for a ‘session’ with his telephone that talks to the dead. I’ve talked to Tom Biscardy about bigfoot. I co-hosted a podcast with a guy who thought aliens were dropping cows in trees for a while. I produced a show called The Ghost Divas and winced as they annoyed Michael Shermer with so much BS I felt I needed to apologize for not warning him ahead of time. I’ve written articles about skepticism for a website called “Haunted America Tours” and  “Eye on the Paranormal
 I’ve called out psychics who victimize children on TV named Chip Coffey and ones like Robbie Tomas who made threats about my children when he couldn’t get to me.
 Peter Popoff  has been known to send me gifts at least before I started posting videos and blogging about him. I loathe Kevin Trudeau and anyone else who victimizes people for a living.
 Ive worked to get the ten commandments off the land at the local zoo and helped organize local atheists.
 My podcast ReapSowRadio has been heard weekly since 2008 and I’ve talked one on one with 117 atheists for the Angry Atheist podcast.
 People have described me as “the nicest guy” and “the biggest foul mouthed asshole” they have ever met. I probably fit both descriptions.
  I would love to tell  you more and there is plenty more to tell but I think you should have an idea who is pecking away here.
  What you will find here is my opinion on whatever it is that I am inclined to write about, there are no limitations on the topics, moods, or attitude you will find here. If I am wrong please let me know I hate to spread disinformation and if you disagree you are welcome to say so but please do it in a respectful manner you get what you give with me.
 I’m still getting the place unpacked so don’t mind the mess while I get it organized. It’s nice to meet you we will talk more later, trust me.