Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Friday, August 24, 2012

#AtheismPlus - Three major campaigns

“I have reservations about A+ as well. But it hasn't done anything of substance yet.”
I’ve been seeing variations on this comment coming across both my Facebook and Twitter. If I bothered to check on Google+, I’d wager it’s over there as well. To those remarks, my initial reaction is always the same: Where in the ever-living hell have you been?
Wherever it was, it must not have had access to the Freethought Blogs. The leaders of A+ already have at least three relatively successful anti-sexist campaigns under their belts:
  1. Campaign to persuade atheist/humanist/skeptic conferences to implement AHP.
  2. Campaign to smear/replace Grothe and boycott (but mostly girlcott) TAM.
  3. Campaign to remove certain offensive threads from Science Blogs.

These are listed in most to least recent, from most to least beneficent, and from most to least well-known, at least among those I’ve unscientifically surveyed. Of these three campaigns, the Zvan/Laden campaign to drain the slime pits was by far the most authoritarian in its goals (and downright Scientologist in its methods) but also the most successful in the short term. At one point, Greg Laden actually received an ovation from A+ leaders and supporters for his outstanding achievement in the 21st century equivalent of book-burning. Of course, this being 2012 and all, you can't stop the signal, and the threads were quite recently reposted to another server.

The second campaign consisted primarily of an online tarring-and-feathering of DJ Grothe, the man who had previously palled around with leaders of A+ at events such as Skepticon III. I'm guessing he's persona non grata these days. If you didn't see it happening at the time, consider yourself profoundly blessed. As for DJ, I doubt he'll never forget what it was like to be accused of covering up voyeuristic sex crimes.

Finally, there was the campaign to implement anti-harassment policies at our conferences. This was actually a really good idea, even if the execution of the concept often lead to spurious accusations and mutual recrimination. 

Effectiveness and tactics aside, all three of these campaigns were clearly waged by the current leadership of the A+ movement for the sake of furthering the explicit goals of the movement. Let's not have any more utter nonsense about how they haven't done anything yet.


DW Adams said...

I want to buy you a beer next time I drive up towards the City. That was razor sharp.

J. J. Ramsey said...

I would switch #2 and #3 in your list of Atheism+ accomplishments. The goal of removing the "Slime Pit" thread from ScienceBlogs was certainly understandable since (1) it went against the NatGeo policies and should have already been taken down on that account regardless of complaints from FTers and (2) there really were a lot of haterade addicts on that thread. By contrast, D. J. Grothe was overall a decent guy who had done a lot work to make TAM more diverse. This is not to say that he hasn't made some screw-ups, but he's been far more unfairly maligned than most of those from the Pit. Of the accomplishments of the Atheism+ crowd, the trashing of his reputation was the least beneficial.

Damion said...

JJ - When you say "it went against the NatGeo policies" you seem to be ascribing the characteristics of just a few posts to an entire thread with thousands of posts. Is there a good reason to do that?

I'm not saying that none of the posts went over the line, but it strikes me a more than a bit overzealous to get the entire thread taken down instead of just the offending posts.

J. J. Ramsey said...

I had been under the impression that the bulk of the posts in that thread had gone over the line. Was I wrong?

Damion said...

I posted a link to the archives at you are welcome to judge the quality of the slimepits for yourself.