Cracks in the “Wall of Silence”

Adam Lee has a post up at Patheos wherein he alleges that four prominent white cis male atheists (Richard Dawkins, James Randi, Michael Nugent, and Jerry Coyne) have been maintaining a “Wall of Silence” around Michael Shermer. Let us consider each of them each in turn.

Richard Dawkins’ supposed “wall of silence” consists primarily of provoking rambling discussions about drunk sex and/or rape on Twitter, like this:

and this

and this

I don’t expect anyone can seriously argue that these hypothetical tweets just happened to pop up immediately after Oppenheimer’s article on BuzzFeed, and while I am not generally in a position to agree with Stephanie Zvan on any particular issue in the ongoing atheist gender wars, I am just as “certain Dawkins’ tweets were an attempt to defend Michael Shermer” as she is. Not exactly what I’d call silence.

James Randi has not (to my knowledge) commented on the Oppenheimer article directly, although he is quoted therein. That quotation alone puts the lie to the idea that Randi is somehow erecting a wall of silence around this topic, but perhaps more telling is that the longest-running and best-attested discussion of what actually happened is currently hosted at his website ( and last I checked no one has tried to delete the thread or any of the various eyewitness statements or wild-eyed third-party speculation posted therein.

Michael Nugent has an eponymous website at; so let’s just tap the Google machine and see how well his own wall of silence is holding up. Oh, shit. Other than this post, this post, this post, and this post, it looks like Nugent’s wall is holding up just fine. Granted, hosting multiple lightly-moderated threads on topic doesn’t generally count as silence, but let’s not get too nitpicky about it.

Finally, we come to Jerry Coyne. Ok, you’ve got me there. So far as I can tell, he has not been interacting with these allegations at all. And that’s okay. So far as I can tell, nothing obliges him to do so, and one biologist does not a wall of silence make.


Adam Lee has lost it


Why Evolution Is True

One of the most despicable attacks on Richard Dawkins in recent years (and that’s saying a lot!) has been posted at the Guardian; it’s by Adam Lee, atheist blogger who writes at “Daylight Atheism”. I won’t bother to dissect it in detail because reading it makes me ill. Dissing Richard is a regular thing at the Guardian these days, and there’s no shortage of unbelievers willing to answer the call. Lee’s piece is called “Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name.” Read it and weep. If you cheer, you shouldn’t be reading this website.

It’s one-sided, quoting only the anti-Dawkins Usual Suspects, and accuses not only Dawkins but Sam Harris of “ignorant sexism.” To do so, Lee relies on quotes that have been cherry-picked by people determined to bring down Richard and Sam.  Rather than distress my lower mesentery by going through the piece, I’ll post the remarks…

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Another Pastafarian gets a driver’s license picture

woot, Shawna!

Why Evolution Is True

This is at least the third such incident I’ve heard of: a Pastafarian—an atheist with noodly tendencies—named Shawna Henderson in Oklahoma, got her driver’s license picture taken with the Sacred Headgear (a colander) atop her head. That, apparently, is legal. Here’s the story from KFOR News, and her driver’s license:

As PuffHo reports:

Hammond told KFOR that she is an atheist who believes that unbelievers should be able to express their views.

“I’m glad I was able to do it. It’s hard living as a non-religious person in Oklahoma. It felt good to be recognized that we can all coexist and have those equal rights,” she said.

A screenshot of her license:
Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 11.16.27 AM

Quite fetching, I’d say.

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