Weekly Update: to

by | July 15, 2017

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

Well, honestly, God, a demon wouldn’t be nearly as big of an asshole.

  • [] Populism ascending

    The word “populism” has been thrown about a lot recently, but how well do you really understand it? Turns out there’s an important difference between right-wing populism and left-wing populism.

  • [] How Canada is fighting Daesh with friendship

    No expert on counter-terrorism believes that it can by bombed out of existence; to stop terrorism you have to remove the tensions in a society that enable radicalization. Well, Canada is trying to do just that in Lebanon. Unfortunately, while the idea is sound, the problem may be too big where it the application is actually being attempted – so long as Syrian refugees keep flooding into Lebanon, the friction may be increasing faster than efforts to smooth it out can keep up.

  • [] Morality isn’t a compass — it’s a calculator

    We don’t usually think of our moral judgments as calculating, strategic, or self-serving, but recognizing those biases is important.

  • [] Catholic bishops say Trudeau playing politics with abortion in foreign aid

    This has so much irony in it, it’s like being hit by an anvil.

  • [] “Quality control” by Andrés Diplotti (Flea Snobbery)

    The Catholic overlords decreed this week that Jesus Christ can’t turn into gluten-free crackers. He can, however, in his Almighty Grace, transform into low-gluten crackers.

  • [] “Dear God 2” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    Not even the meanest thing God’s done today.

  • [] New atheism’s move from Islamophobia to white nationalism

    This is a damning condemnation by Dan Arel of the direction some of atheism’s biggest names have taken recently. We have Sam Harris flirting with long-discredited purveyors of scientific racism and saying the numbers of Muslims in a society should be “kept down”, Bill Maher gushing over the empty-headed troll Milo Yiannopoulos and calling him the next Christopher Hitchens, and so on. The rampant islamophobia of atheism’s big names has long been recognized and documented, but now, Arel points out, they are swinging ever further into crazy land and embracing outright racists, transphobes, and other nasty bigots. I thought we were supposed to be above all that shit.

  • [] Niagara school closures show need for a single school system

    The pressure keeps building and building against public funding of religious schools; here we have a case where three schools in the three towns are forced to shut down and amalgamate – thus requiring the busing in of students from three different towns – even though each town could easily support its own school… except the Catholic schools are siphoning away students, and they refuse to share facilities.

  • [] Singh complicates the NDP’s Quebec quandary

    This is a frustrating article to read, not because if its thesis or arguments, but because of its sloppy use of terminology. For example: The Quebec left is uncompromisingly secularist. No they’re not. They’re uncompromisingly anti-religious. But okay, if you want to define “secular” as “anti-religious”, fine – it’s wrong, but a lot of people use it that way, so you can be excused (even the Supreme Court played it that way). But Yakabuski actually defines “secular” in the article as Secularism requires religious neutrality on the part of the state. That is the correct definition of “secularism”… but it’s not the definition he’s actually using in the article! Aside from his bizarrely confused terminology, what Yakabuski is talking about is a real problem… but the correct name for it is not “secularism”, it is religious intolerance. Jagmeet Singh faces religious intolerance in Québec as a roadblock to NDP leadership. Not secularism.

  • [] Outrage over Omar Khadr defies reason: Kanji

    Azeezah Kanji doesn’t use the word “reason” in the title lightly. She presents piles of evidence and data in her piece, highlighting just how irrational most people are when it comes to Muslims. We’re supposed to be the rational ones; we’re supposed to be the ones who use reason to justify our conclusions. Well, if you’re one of those people who thinks Khadr didn’t “deserve” his settlement, or that M-103 presented a threat to free speech, or that Islam or Muslims are really a problem at all for Canada, the reality – as shown by the evidence Kanji presents – is that you are not on the side of reason at all.

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14 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Derek Gray

    “New atheism’s move from Islamophobia to white nationalism”

    This article is very diappointing. Sounds more like ignorant plagerism, some right and lots wrong.

    Some sloppy cherry picking of Harris, and provably inaccurate claims. I can only assume this author has neglected to actually listen to those podcasts in full. I’ve listened to the podcasts he quoted from in their entirety and his selective out of context quotes have already been abused elsewhere and responded to as such. It is an outright lie to claim that Harris only brings on guests with whom he agrees. It’s hilarious – he probably doesn’t even realise he quoted from a “challenge” question setup, while at the same time claiming Harris doesn’t challenge his guests! The Friendly Atheist describes the context in full here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/06/26/sam-harris-critics-are-misrepresenting-his-words-in-an-effort-to-discredit-him/
    (You’ll have a pretty difficult time convincing me Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta is aligned with white nationalism.)

    On Rubin, he happens to be much more correct – Rubin doesn’t challenge his guests and it’s astonishing some of the people he brings on. There are far better criticisms of Rubin than this article. This one is scathing: https://youtu.be/Y3OAg2CSS5A

    So there’s Rubin, and a shoddy argument against Harris. Not nearly enough to support the thesis of the article attacking all ‘new atheists’.

    There might even be an argument to be made, but this article doesn’t make it convincingly given it breaks the reader’s trust from the outset.

    1. Indi Post author

      I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say that a single assertion in an article renders the entire article as “disappointing” – and it’s not even a *primary* assertion; whether or not Harris *only* interviews people he agrees with is irrelevant to the point that he *has* interviewed some notorious racists and agreed with (and made) incredibly racist statements, and has *not* interviewed equivalent anti-racist activists.

      (Incidentally, I had an alt-right asshole on social media make the same play: He wrote the entire article off as “dishonest” because, and I quote, “Milo Yiannopoulos is **not** part of the #AltRight.” Seriously.)

      But in any case, I don’t see that claim in the article. It doesn’t say that Harris only brings on guests with whom he agrees; it says he hasn’t brought on guests who disagree with him *ON >THOSE< ISSUES*. Doesn't that seem to be true? It's certainly hard to deny that to discuss the issue on his "Racism and Violence in America", he picked a suspiciously peculiar choice of guest to do so.

      As for the whole “it was a challenge” dismissal… yes, it is true that several people have deliberately misrepresented what Sam Harris did on that episode. But that doesn’t mean that what he did was all perfectly harmless and innocent. After Harris threw out his “challenge” (which, I point out, he prefaced by saying that Islam presented “special challenges” to liberalism), Maajid Nawaz *agreed* with it. Not *entirely*, yes – but he *did* agree that the “pace” of immigration should be “slowed down”, “paced”, and “controlled” to prevent Muslims from taking over. That is literally the usual “creeping sharia” argument that you hear from the most virulent racists… just toned a bit and presented in a more palatable way. And Harris was entirely in agreement with Nawaz’s answer. So this whole “it was a challenge” dismissal reeks of disingenuousness. Basically, what he did was play a “bad guy” just to present more extreme versions of the things he ended up showing he actually believes. It’s a classic Harris ploy to “just ask questions”, also known as “JAQ-ing off”, to actually present your views without being accountable for them. That’s why his actual positions are so damn impossible to actually pin down.

      Which, ultimately, means the “it was a challenge” hand-wave does not negate the point Arel is making. Arel does *NOT* accuse Harris of being a racist or a white supremacist. What he does is point out that Harris routinely promotes racist and white supremacist talking points… without offering equivalent *anti*-racist or anti-white-supremacist views. *THAT* is Arel’s point: that Harris (and others) are only pushing one side of the debate. That’s kinda hard to dispute: I haven’t crunched the numbers, but I challenge you to count the number of times Harris talks dismissively of “the left” or “liberals”, versus the number of times he dumps on the “the right” or “conservatives”… or racists or fascists or anything else.

      And finally, it’s a bit of a stretch to say the article is “attacking all ‘new atheists’”. All the article says is that New Atheists seem to be leaning farther and father right, and promoting some very far-right positions, without providing balance or clarification that those positions are untenable. In fact, the article is written as a *warning* to New Atheists that *IF* they “wish to prove” they don’t believe these far-right positions, they need to be more careful about making it damn clear that they do *not* agree with them.

      In fact, what it looks like is happening here is what unfortunately all-too-often happens when someone is – completely out of ignorance – doing something bigoted, and someone else tries to inform and correct them:

      Person A: *says something racist, apparently not realizing how racist it is*
      Person B: “Hey, just letting you know, what you just said is racist.”
      Person A: “What?! I’m not a racist!”
      Person B: “I didn’t call you a racist. I said what you just said was racist.”
      Person A: “Never! I’m not a racist! I would never say anything racist! What I just said was a joke/quote/challenge/whatever! Totally not racist!”
      Person B: “Again, didn’t call you a racist, just said you said something racist. And it totally *was* racist; saying something racist doesn’t get less racist just by you prefacing it with a disclaimer like ‘I am just saying what some people think…’ or ‘I am not a racist, but…’. Especially when there is no clarification in context that it’s something you don’t agree with.”
      Person A: “Why are you attacking me?”
      Person B: “To repeat it yet again, I’m not *attacking* you, I’m trying to…. Alright, you know what? Fuck it. You a racist. Happy now?”
      Person A: “*tearfully* This is all because I have the courage to say things that most people don’t dare say.”
      Person B: “*muttering* Yeah, racist things, asshole.”
      Person A: “Clearly Person B is totally irrational, and just attacking me for attention.”

      The bottom line of Arel’s post is that New Atheists in general are generally promoting more and more far-right positions and not providing any sort of balance or disclaimer to make it crystal clear that they do *not* endorse those positions. And that’s hard to deny. Pick any of the most prominent atheist voices at random, and more likely than not you’ll get someone ranting about the “regressive left”, dumping on feminism, Black Lives Matter, Islam, misgendering, safe spaces, and trigger warnings… if not all the time, then at least *far* more than they dump on racism, fascism, islamophobia, misogyny, transphobia, and any sort of systemic social injustice. And because I probably have to repeat this: this… does… not… make… them… racists. (Or fascists. Or islamophobes. Or misogynists. Etc..) All it means is that they have a responsibility, as a public voice, to make it ABSOLUTELY, CRYSTAL CLEAR* that they do *NOT* support those ignorant, bigoted, and non-humanist/freethinker positions. And *that* is the thesis of Arel’s essay.

      (* And as an aside to deal with Harris in particular: for all the words I might think to use to describe Harris, “clear” is not one of them. The reason why Harris is such a polarizing figure is because he’s so fucking unclear with everything he says that supporters and opponents alike can each interpret him as they please depending on their own preconceptions.)

      1. Derek Gray

        Gonna reply further on the flaws in the article. No way I can address everything about Harris compactly in one comment 😉

        It’s not a stretch to be disappointed because disappointment is a personal feeling; it’s disappointing to me as someone who knows that there are glaring unfair inaccuracies. And yes, even if it is a single problem (I don’t think it’s a single problem, but let’s say so) that’s enough to disappoint because a less knowledgeable reader is going to assume the whole thing is accurate when, as I think you’ve agreed, it is not. If he can’t be accurate/100%-truthful about someone who amounts to 50% of his argument (1 of 2 people), ya, that’s a pretty damn big problem with the thesis.

        You’re having to be too technical with the language to defend this article. The thesis is that new atheists (not “Sam Harris is” or “Rubin is”). no, the *thesis* is “New Atheists are”. He’s got two examples and inviting us to extrapolate to all. He has, in my opinion, 1 bad example, and 1 good example. I think if he’d spent the time he could have found 3 good examples.

        No way, it’s absolutely NOT irrelevant to me to point out Harris does regularly invite guests on he disagrees with, when the article specifically makes the case that he doesn’t. I understand you’re just looking at these race issues alone, but it’s unfair to ask Harris to be “more clear” while letting this guy off the hook by hoping readers assume “on other subjects, Harris will invite people he disagrees with.” It’s not a balanced argument on his part.

        He is disgustingly dishonest or ill informed about the podcast talk with Glenn Loury. Quotes an outright LIE by omission implying that Loury is not qualified to speak on this social issue because he’s a Professor of Economics. Holy fuck that is such an irritating lie -the guy has is ALSO a Social Science professor with a Guggenheim Fellowship for Social Sciences!! And has written several books on racial inequality topics as any simple google of his name will tell you. He’s EXACTLY the kind of person to interview on this topic. Would it have been nice to also hear a podcast with a BLM leader? Sure! but that’s no excuse to lie (or avoid a basic minimum of research) for the slander.

        It’s a crap article because of that. Being right about Rubin isn’t enough to redeem it. You didn’t write the article, so providing additional ammunition against Harris is irrelevant, because it wasn’t in the article.

        Cracked me up with the Person A/B dialog there, thanks for that 😉

        Not going to get into the points on Harris, too many tangents to address. I disagree with you mostly on those, but that’s ok.

        1. Derek Gray

          Missed a point I meant to add: it doesn’t save him to claim he’s only criticizing Harris’s lack of counterpoint guests ON THESE TOPICS either, because that’s not true either. He specifically had Maryam Namazie on the podcast because she disagreed with his immigration stance – which is exactly on topic.

        2. Indi Post author

          Naturally you can’t cover everything that could could be said about Harris in a single comment. But what I can’t understand is why you’re commenting about Harris at all. I don’t understand how you can throw out an entire thesis because *one* of the examples used to illustrate it isn’t a great example. (And that’s assuming that it’s not a good example.)

          Just put Harris aside for a moment. Is there anything *really* wrong with what Arel is saying? You agree Rubin is a good example of what’s being said; I would suggest that you could throw a rock and you’ll hit a well-known atheist popularizer who pushes similar nonsense. Forget about Harris for a moment, because that seems to be the sticking point for you. Do you really believe there aren’t *buttloads* of outspoken atheist popularizers who have platformed or repeated racist, misogynist, or otherwise bigoted ideas? Off the top of my head, there’s Bill Maher, Thunderf00t, The Amazing Atheist, Justin Trottier, Stefan Molyneux, Armoured Skeptic, Atheism is Unstoppable, Sargon of Akkad, Pat Condell, the other Canadian Atheist and I could go on and on and on. I could even mention Richard “discrimination against women doesn’t matter so long as there is more serious discrimination happening somewhere in the world” Dawkins, but he at least had the decency to apologize for some of his asshole statements (years later). And you’ve seen the kinds of comments we get on social media. Do you really have a hard time believing that racist, misogynist, transphobic, and other bigoted voices are a thing among outspoken atheists? I mean, *really*?

          You have to know this. Yet you’re going to throw the *entire* thesis out… just because Arel is “unfair” to Harris? Never mind whether he was *really* unfair or just critical. Never mind whether Harris deserves it or not. Do you really think throwing the whole thing out is justifiable?

          You say that if Arel isn’t 100% accurate with all of his illustrations, that justifies throwing his entire argument aside. Really? So if he’d written an article saying Catholicism has a homophobia problem using the Pope and Thomas Collins to illustrate, but the quotes he used for the Pope weren’t *clearly* and indisputably homophobic in context (as is the case with many of Francis’s quotes – he’s very good at *sounding* nice) or he was just “unfair” in how he represented the Pope’s position (and atheist writers frequently are), you’d throw out the entire argument? *Really*?

          I’m not going to defend or trash Sam Harris, because the truth is I just don’t fucking care about Sam Harris. He’s never inspired me as particularly bright or insightful (I’ll never forget when he tried to pick a fight with Noam Chomsky, and Chomsky blew him away with little more than an indignant snort), but at the same time I don’t really buy the characterization of him as a frothing islamophobe who is pushing for a genocide on Muslims. I’ve heard and read plenty of his stuff, and own a couple of his books, and from where I’m sitting the truth seems to be somewhere in the middle: Harris is routinely *very* unclear, and he says things that could easily be interpreted either way. If you want to see him as a bigot, it’s easy to do. If you want to see him as a saint, also easy. It’s just a matter of projecting what you *want* Harris to be onto what he says. (And of course, that’s Arel’s whole point: Harris is not being clear enough that he’s *not* a racist. Whether or not Harris himself is a white supremacist is irrelevant; the problem is that white supremacists love to quote Harris – Breitbart likes him, for example – and it “works” because Harris isn’t clear enough that he doesn’t agree with them. (Or maybe he *does* agree with them? Who knows with Harris!) But that’s just an aside.)

          What bothers me is that people are *so* enamoured of Harris that they just shut off all other aspects of their rational minds whenever he gets mentioned. I don’t talk about Harris nearly as often as I could, because I know that merely mentioning him will generate a flood of fanboys screeching at me about how I wrongly interpreted this or that thing Harris said, or how there was this other instance where Harris said or did something contradictory (and there always is). The freaking Bible is less complicated to interpret than Harris, and you get a much less vitriolic response when you try.

          Frankly, it seems the only real mistake Arel made in his piece was mentioning Harris. If he’d just picked any other prominent New Atheist as an example, he’d probably have gotten away without comment or criticism.

          So I ask again. Even if it is true that Arel was “unfair” to Harris, and even if everything he said about Harris was *completely* and indisputably wrong (and not simply a matter of interpretation and which things Harris did/said you choose to focus on and which you choose to ignore), does that *really* invalidate Arel’s *entire* thesis? Is it really true that if you make a claim about a group – particularly one that seems hard to dispute if you spend any time looking at what members of that group routinely say and do; Arel is not even close to the first to have noticed this trend (and that’s just the racism, never mind the sexism, transphobia, etc.) – then unless you get *every detail* about *every* example you use to illustrate the claim 100% correct, that means your entire claim is not worth listening to at all?

          1. Derek Gray

            > “So I ask again. Even if it is true that Arel was “unfair” to Harris, and even if everything he said about Harris was *completely* and indisputably wrong (and not simply a matter of interpretation and which things Harris did/said you choose to focus on and which you choose to ignore), does that *really* invalidate Arel’s *entire* thesis?”

            I see what you’re saying, but it’s not what I’m arguing about. I’m talking about the quality of the article and you’re asking me about the thesis statement – the answer is ‘no’ – lying and shoddy background research does not mean the conclusion is false. I’m saying this *article* is poor, not that the *thesis* is false or that the problems raised aren’t worth listening to.

            I’m not focusing on Harris. I’m focusing on the parts of the article I know to be false or demonstrably dishonest and those happen to be about Harris. The other Harris points, while I disagree on the interpretation, I don’t feel are lies or easily demonstrated as false, which is why I didn’t talk about them. If I were arguing against the thesis, I might. But I’m not.

            With a few obvious errors at the beginning, I am going to be turned off of the article. And that’s a bad thing because his thesis is likely very true! So ya, if you are focusing on the *thesis* rather than the quality of the article, one might methodically tally up the truths and errors and decide the conclusion is sound. But don’t ask me about the thesis – I’m talking about the quality of the article/author’s work. So the number of errors isn’t as important as the severity of the errors. Lie in an article and you’re a shitty writer and have a shitty article. 90% correctness after that is wasted breath at that point. I would have enjoyed a good writer making good arguments using some of the same examples. I ask you in return – why do the lies not bother you more than they seem to? It’s not OK for me.

            I said: he could have picked 3 good examples. I said he was right about Rubin, I said he could have a point, but lost my trust. I *didn’t* say the thesis was hogwash. (But I could forgive anyone thinking I was equating ‘article’ with ‘thesis’ since I guess I didn’t make that crystal clear.)

            You actually spent more time talking about Harris and Harris supporters than I did. That needs to be done case-by-case, I can’t reply to the ‘fanboy’ hand-wave. 😛 For another day over a beer perhaps.

  2. Indi Post author

    > I ask you in return – why do the lies not bother you more than they seem to?

    Because, as I’ve said several times, I don’t believe they are lies. I think you are *WAY* overstating the case to call them “lies”. That implies there is an objective truth out there that is plain and obvious to see for anyone who goes looking for it, so anyone who says anything otherwise either hasn’t bothered to look or they’re knowingly misrepresenting the facts. Frankly, that’s ridiculous in this context. Sam Harris is *NOTORIOUSLY* unclear. Harris is *famous* for saying one thing on Monday, and something different on Tuesday, a “clarification” on Wednesday, and a completely contradictory piece on Thursday, then whining on Friday about how he’s so widely misunderstood. He spends more time on any given day “clarifying” things he’s said that have confused different readers than most writers spend in a lifetime. To imply that there’s a clear and undeniable truth about *anything* Sam Harris has said or believes is frankly straight-up bullshit.

    No, you may *disagree* with Arel’s opinions about Harris. But that does *not* make them *lies*.

    You’ve noted that I’ve had to say a lot more about Harris than you have, and that’s true. It always takes more effort to debunk than it does to make claims. I *could* just say “Sam Harris promotes racist ideas”, drop the mic and walk away. And there is really nothing you could say to deny that: the man literally had the poster boy for scientific racism on his show, and agreed with most of what he had to say. You can spend a lifetime digging through Sam Harris’s words, trying to nitpick apart all the ways context or interpretation could possibly lead you to conclude that he actually doesn’t hold racist beliefs… but you can never dispute the fact of what he actually did. Arel’s claim is that Harris promotes racist viewpoints without counterpoints – the undeniable fact is that Harris *DID* do that, and nothing you can say about Harris or whatever else he’s done in other situations changes that fact. Arel was right, and that’s that.

    But instead, I prefer to spend time actually looking at the actual claims you make against the case, and see how they stand up.

    So let’s start with the Glenn Loury thing.

    You called this “disgustingly dishonest or ill informed”. You called it “an outright LIE by omission”. You called it “slander”. You said a simple Google search would clear it all up.

    Well I don’t use Google. I use DuckDuckGo. Let’s see what that turns up.

    First of all, before even hitting the search engine, I have to point out that this “irritating lie” you’re accusing Arel of… isn’t even something Arel said. Yeah. Seriously. Go check the article. Arel is *QUOTING* someone else. And presumably, the reason he quoted it was because of the list of names Harris *didn’t* interview, not because of Loury.

    But okay, the fact that Arel was just quoting doesn’t make the problem go away. He could still be *quoting* a “disgustingly dishonest” lie, and that would be just as bad. So, to the search engine.

    You have noted that Loury was appointed to a professorship of social science, and that *is* true. But do you know what that actually *means*? Is it possible that you’ve confused “social science” with “*sociology*”? Do you think that because Loury is a social scientist, that makes him a sociologist?

    Turns out that Loury has absolutely no training in sociology at all. No, seriously, check his CV. He has a BA in Math and a PhD in Economics. He is *NOT* a qualified sociologist. He has absolutely no credentials in any field related to Black Lives Matter. BLM is *not* about how it sucks that black people are poorer that white people. BLM is about systemic racism and how that manifests in violence. It’s Black *Lives* Matter, not Black Wallets Matter.

    Glenn Loury is an economist. Economics is a social science. But it is completely distinct from sociology, which would be the relevant social science in this case. (Or at least *one of* the relevant social sciences.) I have to admit I’m reminded of the climate deniers who offer up lists of “scientists” who support their claims… when those lists only contain people in fields completely unrelated, and completely irrelevant, to climatology. “Scientist” does not equal “climatologist” in the same way that “social scientist” does not equal “sociologist”.

    Okay, but maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe his credentials don’t really matter because, as you say, he’s written “several books on racial inequality topics”. And he has! But… are they *sociology* books?

    Well, let’s check. Let’s ignore the obviously unrelated books like “An Analysis of the Efficiency and Inflationary Consequences of the Decontrol of Natural Gas Prices”. Let’s go right to the most “obvious” example: “The Anatomy of Racial Inequality”.

    From the second paragraph of the Harvard University Press site (the publisher): “Using an economist’s approach, Loury describes…”. Oh. Okay.

    From the Amazon page: “Speaking wisely and provocatively about the political economy of race, Glenn Loury has become…”. Oh. It’s the economy again.

    Bottom line is, in line with his actual credentials, Glenn Loury is not a sociologist. He’s an economist with opinions about race.

    Oh, but there’s that one final thing – you claim he was awarded the “Guggenheim Fellowship for Social Sciences”. Yeah? Well, a quick scan of his CV tells me he won the fellowship in 1985. So I check the Wikipedia page for the fellowships awarded in 1985, and sure enough, Loury really was awarded a fellowship for…

    … Economics.

    Well, technically, that *is* a Guggenhiem fellowship for a social science. Just… yanno… not the *right* social science.

    So, let’s recap. Dan Arel is a “disgustingly dishonest” liar who “slanders” Glenn Loury by not calling him a social scientist. Well….

    1) Dan Arel wasn’t calling Glenn Loury *anything*. He was quoting someone else.
    2) Loury is called an economist. An economist *is* a social scientist. So Loury *was* acknowledged as a social scientist, albeit indirectly.
    3) You seem to have confused “social science” with “sociology”.
    4) All of Loury’s credentials and experience are in economics (yes, he is a “professor of social sciences”, but in the Department of Economics). I am baffled as to how it could be considered a “lie” to call the man an economist, whether by omission or not. I certainly wouldn’t call someone a disgusting liar if they described a physics professor as a “physics professor”, and neglected to also call them a “science professor”.
    5) While it’s true Loury is chock full of *opinions* on race, having opinions on a sociological topic – even opinions that lots of people find interesting – does not make one a sociologist.
    6) There is nothing in any of Loury’s credentials or experience that would seem to make him an expert on BLM. So Arel’s (or rather *Kirabo’s*) objection that he hardly seems like the right person to choose to discuss seems quite sound.
    7) Both Arel and Kirabo take pains to point out that Loury *is* well-known and popular for his opinions on race. So I don’t see where the “lie by omission” charge is valid. They both just point out that while Loury has opinions and that his opinions are popular, he has no actual qualifications in the field, and he doesn’t really represent opposition to Harris’s own views. Which, if you’ll recall, was the entire point Arel was making: Harris does not invite any real challenges to his positions that might undermine their attractiveness to white supremacists. Loury, as a right-wing economist who says the cops are not the problem in the widespread murders of black people by cops, is hardly a real counterpoint to Harris’s own right-wing leanings.
    7b) But you know who might have made a good interviewee on BLM? Pretty much every other name on that list Arel quotes. Patton has a history PhD and professorship of journalism and communication – both good fields to for getting an expertise on the sociology of race in America. Dyson is a straight-up sociology professor who specializes in race. Alexander, Hill, and Crenshaw are all professors of racial studies – Crenshaw literally founded an entire fucking field of race studies. Hutchinson has taught in *several* related fields (urban studies, cultural studies) and is a top name skeptic and rationalist. Instead Harris picked an *economist*. And you think Arel is being *dishonest* with his claim that Loury was a weird choice?

    Now, that took a lot of words, but debunking always does. And I think I’ve done a good job of thoroughly debunking every objection you raised to the mention of Glenn Loury.

    So let’s move on to your other main objection: that Harris actually does invite people who disagree with him.

    Well, as I’ve already pointed out, you have misrepresented Arel’s actual claim. Arel does *not* claim that that Harris never speaks with people who disagree with him. Arel claims that Harris doesn’t speak with people who will challenge the ideas he promotes that are attractive to white supremacists.

    The only name you offer as evidence against Arel’s claim is Maryam Namazie which you argue is on topic because “she disagreed with his immigration stance”. Except… no, not really. I mean, obviously no. The topic is white supremacy, not immigration. You’re really reaching there. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Here’s the thing with Sam Harris. Harris just *loves* to get bogged down in the details, while completely ignoring the big picture. He loves to drag the discussion down into hoary little intricacies, throwing up hypothetical scenario after contrived hypothetical scenario. Meanwhile, he refuses to engage on the overall, broad strokes picture. That’s his schtick.

    For example, the last time I wrote about Harris was about his position on torture. Now, Harris makes his argument for torture by using stupid little scenarios – specifically, “ticking time bomb”-type scenarios – that are carefully engineered to *force* you to “agree” with his position. Meanwhile, he *completely ignores* the fact that *ALL* scientific evidence ever collected – no matter how indirect – on the efficacy of torture has proven it doesn’t work, and that virtually all experts in the field agree and have agreed for centuries that it doesn’t work, and that his contrived hypotheticals *never* happen in reality, and they’re certainly not the normal case. If you try to engage with him on that issue, he will make it all about the nitpicky details in little hypotheticals – just listen to his podcast and you’ll see what I mean! he does it all the time! – and he will just pooh-pooh away all the broad evidence you bring.

    That’s how he does his thing. Remember I mentioned Chomsky? When he tried to engage Chomsky, he tried to do just that – he tried to bog Chomsky down in stupid hypotheticals to justify what was in reality a completely illegal mass murder. Chomsky was too smart to be dragged into it, and he essentially said: “I don’t care about your fucking hypotheticals; the reality is that you are demonstrably and provably wrong, and if you can’t see that, or won’t admit it, you’re too fucking stupid to argue with”. (Harris complained later that Chomsky was mean to him.) Harris famously did the same thing with Bruce Schneier. Bruce Schneier, one of the world’s foremost experts on security, called out Harris’s misguided beliefs about racially targeting people who “look Muslim”, and Harris tried to argue his case by trolling out contrived scenario after contrived scenario. All Schneier had to do was roll his eyes and brush off Harris for wasting his time, because the evidence and all the experts universally agree that Harris was wrong.

    Back to Namazie.

    Now, I haven’t listened to that particular episode, but I’d bet money on how it went down. I’d bet they spent the entire episode going into the weeds about mechanics of immigration – how many brown-skinned people to let in, how to decide whether they’re “good” brown people or not – but never once even came *close* to talking about the actual broad stroke issues. And the particular reason I’m so confident that’s true is because the idea of Namazie being someone who *really* “disagrees” with Harris is laughable! Recall that what Arel is saying is *NOT* that Harris never brings on guests he disagrees with… it’s that Harris never brings on guests that will challenge the views and ideas he promotes that are attractive to white supremacists. And you offer *Maryam Namazie* as a counter example? Maryam “there are no moderate Muslims” Namazie? Maryam “the hijab should be banned” Namazie? *She* is your idea of the voice of reason to counter the racist-sounding stuff Harris says? Are you kidding me?

    No, Namazie is definitely *not* a counterexample to Arel’s (or Kirabo’s) claim. She and Harris are two peas in a pod. *Both* of them routinely promote ideas that the far right just *loves* to hear. Both never put much effort into making sure they present their ideas in a way that would be unpalatable to racists. I mean, come the fuck on – if you’re being accused of promoting islamophobic ideas, the *LEAST* you can fucking do when choosing someone to act as a counterpoint is to *not* pick someone else who is *also* being accused of the same! (Not to say that the accusations are accurate in either case. But the fact that they’re so routinely made about *both* authors is a pretty big warning sign that there’s not really a big difference in opinion here.) The fact that they “disagreed” on the low-level details of some specific thing (like immigration) does not make her an ideological counter-voice to Harris. And, I have to keep repeating this to be clear, this does *NOT* mean that Harris or Namazie are islamophobes. It just means that they say things that islamophobes like to hear, and don’t make any effort to present those things in a way that makes them unpalatable to islamophobes.

    So I don’t see “lies” in what Arel wrote. I see things that one can have a difference of opinion on, because a lot of what writers in general do and say is open to interpretation. And when you’re making claims about broad trends, as Arel is, they can be notoriously hard to see without hard numbers. But how do you get hard numbers on the implications writers are giving?

    No, I think your claim that these are lies is simply absurd. There just isn’t enough objective truth here to pigeonhole any of this that clearly. And in every case that you *have* pointed to a specific concrete thing that *could* be a lie, I find the truth there isn’t what you think it is. I have found far more “dishonesty” in your claims that Arel has lied than in anything Arel wrote.

    As I said, if I were Arel, I would have chosen a different example than Sam Harris. *NOT* because Harris is a bad example, but because any mention of Harris turns people’s rational faculties off. You even agree that Arel’s article has a sound point, and that one of his two illustrations is quite legitimate. So if Arel had chosen a few other big name atheist popularizers – let’s say, thunderf00t and The Amazing Atheist – this article would have gone from being “disgustingly dishonest” “crap” to a good article? Even though not a single argument he makes changes, just his choice of examples? I will certainly agree that poorly chosen examples can make an otherwise good article weak… but I think it’s a stretch to say that takes it all the way from good to “disgustingly dishonest” “crap”.

    So I don’t see “lies” in Arel’s piece, and I’m disturbed that you are seeing things that are clearly just differences of opinion as lies. The inability to accept that different people may have different opinions, and that those opinions might be just as rational as your own, is troubling. Surely you don’t believe that your own worldview is the only truth. Whether Sam Harris is a boon to racists or their enemy is not a simple black-or-white question – and neither are any of the other details you’ve chosen to focus on, like how willing Harris is to allow himself to be confronted by opposing ideas. That doesn’t mean that anything and everything can be true. It just means that that for some things, there are a range of ways they can be interpreted that are all rational. A lot of the world is grey, and the fact that someone sees a different shade of it than you do does not make them a liar.

    1. Derek Gray


      I was just joking about the volume of Harris stuff. I actually enjoy your long winded answers because I nearly always learn something.

      You’re a bit unfair about what I said – I did in fact say he was quoting someone else about Loury. “Quotes an outright …” is how my sentence began. I said he seemed to be copying what others have said (e.g. the thing Mehta addressed.) I agree, doesn’t mean he deliberately lied himself.

      I am willing to concede Loury should not have been the only guest on this topic, I never heard of him prior to the podcast. (Pretty sure I acknowledged that, if indirectly). Sounds like you are more accurate/fair here in not referring to this as an outright ‘lie’. I think it still doesn’t sit well to make it sound like he just punches numbers all day and say that Harris must have really had to search around for him when he is acknowledged as someone who has written on race. It’s still taking advantage of people who don’t know Loury.

      And the cherry picking – don’t think I can say much else there as I already gave Mehta’s take. I said that was sloppy, not so much a lie either. That’s cool if you don’t think that’s enough to spoil it.

      I don’t think I’m following you on the immigration/Namazie topic. I would have thought his immigration stance was one of those things that right-wingers are picking up on? That why I gave that example. (I don’t read/see much right wing stuff so I was guessing)
      They had pretty much a blow-out actually. They were not aligned at all on it. Irrelevant that Namazie is accused of whatever else, in my mind. She essentially called him a bigot and so he invited her on!

      Also check out podcast #83 – Harris makes a point of taking time to discuss the guest’s criticisms of Harris’s focus on Islamic doctrine and how it can be considered counter productive to acheiving reform…

      There is also a US security person he has on sometimes and they disagreed somewhat on his airport profiling comments I believe.
      Also, a while back, NiceMangos had similar criticism on Twitter and, lo, he invited her on the podcast.

      I’m sure I could find more, but those podcasts are 2hrs long .. no time! ?

      So, I dunno, I’d have to count them all up, but my experience so far is that he frequently (enough) speaks with people who differ with him on this/similar topics and that is one thing I really like about the podcasts. You get to hear smart arguments from his critics. It’s challenging to listen to, which is good, otherwise I’d be more inclined to just always agree with him (the lazier/easier option.)

      I think he wasn’t necessarily wrong to use Harris as an example (as you say he can be honestly misinterpreted) but could have easily been more fair and clear and not perpetuated something already addressed. I hate when atheists attack eachother, but I guess that’s just reality I have to live with.

  3. Randy

    “equity, in which people who contribute more are rewarded more, and equality, in which everyone is rewarded the same”

    No. Equity is where equal outcomes are assured, and equality is where people who contribute more are rewarded more.

    When everyone is rewarded the same, you basically have the participation trophy world, and that’s more aligned with equity than equality.

    You can tell my the names.

    Equality treats people equally, giving everyone an equal chance.

    Equity, just as it does in accounting, fudges the numbers to make an artificial equality so the numbers balance.

  4. Randy

    No time to debunk Arel’s unprovoked and unhinged defamatory attack on atheism. In lieu of that, I’ll just call him a liar, and a nut.

  5. Randy

    “if you want to define secular as anti-religious, fine – it’s wrong, but a lot of people use it that way,”

    It’s not a matter of “want”, dear. That’s how language works. Do you think I wanted us to lose “literally”? And yet there it is. This isn’t even in the same realm.

    Just remember you said it was OK to use secular to mean anti-religious.

  6. Randy

    “religious intolerance”

    There’s no such thing, so long as religious is privileged in Canada’s laws. Treating a bad idea like any other bad idea is not “intolerance”. It’s the point of existence.

    To the extent a religion is being treated worse than a bad idea (such as via the terrorism we’ve seen against Muslims) then, yes, you can say there is intolerance and more. But in general, we live in a country where religion is inexplicably privileged above all other ideas. It’s a disgrace.

  7. Randy

    “or that Islam or Muslims are really a problem at all for Canada”

    Sorry, but the ideology that worldwide has been the banner under which almost ALL terrorist attacks have occurred is absolutely a problem for Canada.

    We do not need to import that problem here. We have enough problems with the other religions.

    And we’ve already had the terror attack on our parliament, AND the Toronto 18. You like to overlook the latter because we foiled the attacks. That’s stupid.


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