#GamerGate: The Players and the Played

Good thought piece reframing GamerGate in terms of the ideological struggle for feminism

Paula Wright

The #GamerGate controversy reached a new high (or low depending on your perspective) recently when one of its main protagonists, the radical feminist and cultural critic, Anita Sarkeesian, was featured on the front page of the New York Times. Ironically, in view of the focus of her criticism about passive female characterization in video games, she herself was cast as the “damsel in distress”, under threat from active male protagonists.

Ostensibly, headlines like this are a direct validation of her work. Sarkeesian asserts that video games directly contribute to a culture of gendered violence in real life and – hey presto – there it is!  

But are radical feminist claims about games promoting violent norms really correct?  Studies of violence in video games say no. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court evaluated the evidence and came to a disappointing conclusion for people, like Sarkeesian, who are fond…

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A closer look at the latest numbers of Ebola cases in W Africa – Pray, Give & Act

Via an Anglican Prayer Blog, we have an alarming exponential growth curve . . .

Lent & Beyond

Note: the graph below is my own work, based on the data in the WHO Ebola situation reports.  It shows cumulative reported cases of Ebola in each West African country, and in total, since the outbreak began in March 2014.


I’ve been looking tonight at the latest WHO report on Ebola in West Africa (October 10, 2014), and I took the time to update my spreadsheet where I’ve been tracking the cumulative number of cases each week.  The data is just scary.

  • In Liberia:  2000 new cases in the past 4 weeks
  • In Sierra Leone:  2000 new cases in 6 weeks, (but they’re now on pace for 2000 cases in the next 27 days if current case rates continue.)
  • It took 4 1/2 months (from beginning of March to mid-July) to reach 1000 total cases.
  • It then took only a month for the number of cases to…

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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 (www.randi.org) 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 www.michaelnugent.com; 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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Blue Ball Skeptics – Episodes 6 & 7

James brandishes the now-infamous thumb

James brandishes the now-infamous thumb

For the next two episodes, Chas and Damion talk with James Garrison, the founder of the Oklahoma Skeptics Society. We discussed all manner of profoundly skeptical things, such as how to form a local skeptics group and how to quickly convince a Sasquatch to release his grip on your valuables.

Part One (Episode 6)

Part Two (Episode 7)