Wednesday, June 27, 2012

There goes my hero. He's ordinary.

One of things I've learnt in life is that everybody's is just a normal human being. It's true some do extraordinary things, but everyone messes up once in a while. I wanted to write a post about it a while back, initially it was about Anthony Grayling and his New College of the Humanities; Johan Hari's plagarism and Richard Dawkins on Elevator gatePZ Myers now joins the list of people I admire who've left me feeling disappointed, also related to ElevatorGate.

I've mostly steered cleared (well, almost entirely to be honest) of the whole drama, but here's how I've seen it:

Rebecca Watson got propositioned in a hotel elevator at four in the morning by a guy asking her to come back to his for coffee, after expressing that she was done for the night. Rebecca Watson, quite rightly, said "Guys, don't do that". Then the internet blew up (or at least, the Atheist/Skeptic bit of the blogosphere), and the fires from it haven't yet died down.

Alas, there are plenty out there who don't seem to get that it's pretty creepy to corner somebody you don't know in an enclosed space and ask them back to your room in the early hours of the morning.

Rebecca Watson appears to be one of life's marmites - people love her, or hate her. Given the massive amounts of abuse she receives, I'm unsurprised that she quite ready with the block button on twitter. Who can blame her? Even if she didn't get all the abuse, who cares? Twitter's for opting in, and if you don't want to follow someone, or simply just don't like something (for whatever reason), why not block people?

However, last night Rebecca Watson falsely accused someone (CoffeeLovingSkeptic on Twitter @TPRyan007) of calling her a cunt:

You can read his account here.

PZ's response was off par - not because he went and blocked a bunch of people, or wants nothing to do with CLS, it's because he's retweeted Rebecca's accusation, knowing it's not truthful (as he has commented on the blog post linked above). It doesn't take much to remove. Whatever the disagreements are, it's best to remain truthful. PZ went on to tweet:

Given CLS blog post, it seems the burden of proof really does sit with Rebecca? Or, an admission of confusion? It's hardly a fall from grace, but it's a useful reminder that, no matter how much you admire someone, everyone's human and fallible.

As PZ himself has said, nothing is to be held sacred.


Rebecca Watson has corrected the accusation that was made:

And PZ has also responded to CLS on Pharyngula.

If I had more time, and wasn't so tired, I'd comment further, but I tried, and couldn't get the thoughts in my head written down into a blog post.


  1. The whole "blocking" argument being used by PZ and RW, saying that we're upset at being blocked, is a total red herring and only adds to their bad judgment on this matter.

    It's simple. RW said something untrue, and after that was shown up, didn't remove her allegation. That's all that needed to happen.

    The way PZ carried on afterwards with his abusive comments, blocking rampage, and misdirection beggars belief.

  2. Awaiting a response:

  3. The internet "blew up" not because Rebecca Watson felt threatened in that elevator -- in fact the idea that she had a narrow escape from harm wasn't in her initial take on the incident, that came later; initially she just said guys shouldn't "do that" because it annoyed her -- The internet "blew up" because she bullied a young student who disagreed with her about whether guys should, in fact "do that." Rebecca Watson has few credentials and no real accomplishments. Unfortunately, Steve Novella was deluded enough to include her on his podcast. She was always the weak link, in my opinion. I think she has become understandably worried about the fact that the skeptical movement has other women who are much more accomplished than she is, and she is no longer the belle of the ball. This is why she flounced from TAM. PZ Myers, likewise, is rather unaccomplished for an academic. I have heard he is quite mild mannered when he is not hiding behind his computer and his band of flying monkey commentators. This isn't surprising. It's a common trait of bullies.

    1. "The internet "blew up" because she bullied a young student who disagreed with her about whether guys should, in fact "do that.""

      A flat lie. The hubbub stared the instant Rebecca dared to open her mouth about the behaviour of men. It's always been about that.

    2. Not a lie. The truth. But no matter, Watson loves the attention and has been fanning the flames ever since. She has little else going for her. Had she been around in the sixties (as I was) and had she been a woman in a "man's job" (as I was) she would have been eaten alive. I have nothing but contempt for weakling women who give the real feminists a bad name. I didn't need anyone like Myers (or you) to whiteknight for me. I got respect the old fashioned way. I earned it. More and more people are seeing through Myers and Watson. They will be irrelevant soon.

  4. My objection to her initial video was her stating that the guy was sexualizing her. I agree, it wasn't the right time or place to ask a girl out, but to claim his asking was purely sexual is pushing it a bit far.

    I also started doubting her claims after she issued a second video, this time changing a couple of details.

  5. For want it's worth your thoughts about PZM and fallen heroes echo my thoughts exactly. He's wrong here, and he's playing move the goalposts by pretending it's about the coffeelovingskeptic's attitude to women/feminisim/elevatorgate. It's not. It's about Rebecca Watson making libellous accusations to 25000 people on twitter, and then refusing to remove them.

    Seeing PZ squirm and sidestep like this reminds me of nothing more than ID defenders in comment threads jumping to new positions whenever they realise they cant defend the original one.

    Sad. It's not that difficult to admit a mistake.


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