Monday, February 20, 2012

Yeah, That'll Work

Anyone in favor of skeptocracy, government by skeptics?

That concept popped into my head the other day. After all, skeptics are supposed to stress rationality over emotion. Dealing with facts, not opinion, should lead to better government.

In the previous issue I talked about Elevatorgate, an incident from last year that proved how skeptics are all on the same page when it comes to The Truth. Rebecca Watson, of, was at a conference where she spoke about sexism and skepticism. She claimed a male conference attendee hit on her in an elevator when she was returning to her room. She hated being regarded as a sex object – even though she appeared semi-nude in a couple of Skepchick calendars.

Her take on the incident whipped up a storm of controversy among the skeptical community. Atheist Richard Dawkins wrote a satirical piece involving a letter to a fictional Muslim woman, a victim of severe oppression in another country, telling her that her problems were nothing compared to poor Rebecca’s.

Rebecca responded by saying that she would never again endorse any of Dawkins’ books. So there!

Another skeptical blogger thought Rebecca was blowing the elevator incident way out of proportion, adding the letter “T” to her last name when referring to her. How rational.

Skeptics are supposed to deal with facts, looking beyond ad hominem attacks and cheap shots. Rebecca in an YouTube video advised that instead of hitting on her, lonely men should invest in inflatable love dolls.

I wonder if Rebecca was in power if she would set up a Junior Anti-Sex League like in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

Anyone in favor of skeptocracy?


Doug said...

If only those alien gods had imbued rationalists with the ability to turn off the petty side of our nature. Or perhaps they inflicted it upon us to keep us down!

Or maybe we humans have a wide variety to ourselves that isn't always one way.

No, probably the alien thing.

X. Dell said...

As you have probably surmised by now, I'm not really a fan of ad hoc attacks. I don't really see Watson's posing as untoward, or even hypocrytical--there are numerous strains of feminism where the celebration of one's own body isn't tantamount to an endorsement of objectification.

I don't really know much about Watson--and right now, I'm too busy to find out--but if she's like many who have taken on the title of "Skeptic," then it's possible that she's engaged in a few ad hominem attacks herself. The declaration against Dawkins would be one example. So, it could be a case of either direct karma (if she's guilty of personal snipes against individuals), or indirect karma against the skeptic movement (if she's not guilty).

The real problem is that it's difficult for us to separate our emotions from our objective analyses. Consequently, our analyses are never objective. This is the ironic Catch-22 that many "skeptics" find themselves in. In general, many don't really seem to account for their own experience, leading them to declare certain things as empirical truths rather than beliefs, observations, convictions, and so on.

BTW, I've often read some of that movement whom I consider to be genuine, and worthwhile to consider. It's not so much what side they come down on, but rather the thought that compels them to see things a certain way.

X. Dell said...

Oops, I meant ad hominem attacks in that first sentence.