Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Who looks like shit now?

I’ve been writing nasty things about the sceptical movement for quite some time now, but even I am surprised at the depth of my current level of shock and disappointment in this often-arrogant section of society who endlessly advise us about what to believe and how to think, and exhort us to face facts, but who mostly lack the courage to face the very ugly facts of consistently unconscionable patterns of behaviour of at least two leaders of their movement. To hell with these pathetic hypocrites. Rational thinking deserves much better PR than this pack of tools.

I think I was dimly aware of the rape accusation in regard to Michael Shermer (prolific science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and editor-in-chief of its magazine) back when the matter blew up a foul stench among the blogs in 2013-2014, but even now I’m shocked at the stuff published back then that I’ve been reading recently. I never thought I’d stumble across one of these rape accusations embedded within a suicide notepublished in a blog. Words fail me.

I’ve never had much time for Shermer’s mate Lawrence Krauss, so I was not so much disappointed as shocked by the sudden recent deluge of accusations of sexual misconduct that has swept Krauss’s career away like a tsunami of filthy brown seawater.  Nothing that I’ve heard him say in the past has struck me as something that no one else could have come up with, and he seems to enjoy throwing in unnecessarily abrasive remarks. To most people I think the distinction would be lost, but I enjoy people who sometimes or even often can’t help but offend in their zeal for telling the truth as they see it, but I find it lame and offensive when some talking head tosses in an outrageous stab just for the sake of…being a bully?...attention-seeking?

There is one thing that I feel compelled to write about Krauss after reading his response to the BuzzFeed article that blew the whistle on his misconduct – what an absolute gutless turd Krauss is for baselessly claiming in the very first sentence of his response (and repeating it later) that the accusations levelled at him defame not only himself but also defame the wider atheist and skeptic community. In my mind Krauss seems so much like the creep who doesn’t look so tough when his gang aren’t around, and he’s calling out for help while the blood drains from his face and his knees go weak. It wasn’t the whole atheist community who groped and propositioned and worse. Grow a spine and face up to your accusers, on your own two feet!

There’s not much that I can add to the accusations swirling around Krauss and Shermer as I’ve never met either, but I can state that I have been very disappointed by lack of media coverage of 2013-2014 accusations about Shermer and the associated reactions within the atheist/skeptic community at the time, and the recent accusations and fall from grace of Krauss. If I hadn’t taken an interest in these matters and done my own poking around on the internet, not seeking information beyond my usual reading of science magazines and newspapers, listening to Australian public radio and viewing of Australian news and journalistic television, I could well have missed the news that two American popularizers of science and major figures in the international skeptic/atheist community have had many very dark accusations thrown their way. Where’s the story on the Krauss scandal on The Science Show? Nowhere that I can find, but Krauss has been a guest many times over on ABC’s Radio National shows and has also appeared many times on ABC television shows such as Q&A and Catalyst. Thanks for nothing, Robyn Williams and your cosy colleagues at the national broadcaster. It appears that the ABC only wants to be the bearer of nice news, and I can’t see any evidence of any other Australian TV or radio coverage of the Krauss affair or the Shermer controversy either. The Australian newspaper deserves the credit for covering Krauss’s fall, confirming my opinion that this much-maligned part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire cover negative stories about medicine, science and academia in Australia that no one else will touch.  A gold star to The Australian for journalism from Lili.

Did New Scientist give any coverage to the Shermer and Krauss train-smashes? I can’t find any. Two of the three journalists who broke the Krauss story have worked for New Scientist during their careers, but their story was published by Buzzfeed. I guess New Scientist is a science news magazine that collectively views its role as only a cheerleader and reporter of science. I guess I’ve been na├»ve to expect more of it. I should have noticed long ago that there’s virtually no overlap between the unsavoury matters covered by the website Retraction Watch and the stories reported by New Scientist. The great science mag apparently has no time for the grotty underbelly of science, science popularisation and academia. I guess if the magazine focused on the fallible people behind science rather than just looking at their work, the faith of the readers might be challenged or their ire provoked. Do we really believe that the status of science in society is such a fragile enterprise that science journalism can’t risk reporting a few serious cases of misconduct of a small minority of rogue researchers and sleazy science popularizers of the ilk of Shermer and Krauss? Is it possible that this one-eyed coverage of science by science media actually feeds into public distrust of science? I imagine that after a while I’d come to distrust any news source that only reports the sunny side.

So, much of the media are ignoring the ugly matters of Krauss and Shermer, even though some important questions about these men and their deeds need to be discussed or answered. I’m not an insider within the atheist/skeptic communities, so I am wondering how many major figures in these communities have a history of misconduct. Is the problem limited to Shermer and Krauss? As early as 2012 at a conference on Non-theism and Feminism Jennifer McCreight spoke of a group of male public speakers in the community who were notorious in the whisper network as unsafe company for women. It is high time that the wider public was told exactly how large this list is and who is on it.

What was the role of alcohol in their misconduct? Accounts involving Shermer and sexual misconduct include plying victims with alcohol so that they became easy prey. One could also ask whether Shermer himself has or had a drinking problem. How about Krauss? Is there a hazardous drinking culture associated with skeptics events? I have no wish to suggest excuses for misconduct, but one cannot deny that the addition of alcohol generally erodes character.
Another question needing an answer is whether these men are safe around children. I’m not sure what the youngest age among victims of Shermer might be, but many of the allegations about Krauss involve undergraduates at his university so I figure at least some are likely to have been aged 19 or younger, and of course, there is an imbalance in power between Krauss and victims. One alarming fact about Krauss is that he has invited criticism by speaking in support of his associate Jeremy Epstein, a convicted paedophile, in relation to allegations of paedophilia that resulted in Epstein’s spell in the clink. A disturbing fact about Epstein is that many of his famous associates, such as Woody Allen, Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey, Prince Andrew, Donald Trump and Dustin Hoffman have themselves been the subject of accusations of sexual misconduct with underage people. So how does that make Krauss look? Shermer and Krauss are public figures and science popularisers. Without doubt they would have fans who are children. Would they take advantage of the esteem in which they are held by young fans, given a chance?
Another question worth pondering if whether the nature of their misconduct is limited to sexual behaviour. Accusations about Krauss misbehaving sexually while working as an academic are numerous, so one might wonder whether this lack of character extended to other varieties of academic misconduct such as falsifying data or plagiarism. Both men are authors of books. Is their work all their own?

In my opinion, the clear-out in the skeptic community won’t be done until Michael Shermer is cast into the wilderness to the same degree as Krauss’s recent ride to the margins, and their mate the legendary atheist and science writer Richard Dawkins apologises for his long-time support of these arseholes in words and in deeds. Perhaps Monday’s article about disquiet at Santa Barbara City College about a scheduled appearance at the campus by Shermer is a sign that after all this time he is being reviled for his misconduct by the wider community beyond the skeptics.

Not so long ago secularist Australians such as Tim Minchin were demanding that Cardinal George Pell explain exactly what he knew and when he knew about child sexual abuse in the Catholic church to a royal commission (before this matter was overshadowed by the bombshell of allegations about Pell himself). One quite entertaining piece of Australian TV was an episode of Q&A in which Pell and Dawkins were “head-to-head” in debate. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and today Dawkins is the leader who must explain exactly what he knew and when about sexual abuse within his “church”. Perhaps I’m expecting too much from a man who was struck down by a stroke a couple of years ago. Maybe I’m unfair to expect any more from Dawkins beyond his books that changed the way so many people thought and lived in the 1970s and 1980s, myself included, but on the other hand, stroke or not, Dawkins always had more than enough smarts to understand the gravity of the misconduct of his associates. Is an atheist allowed to hope for a miracle?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tell me, why should I spend my time writing this blog?

If you'd like to support this blog and my writing and thinking and ranting etc, please buy my ebooks. You might even like to read them and recommend them to others....


Lili's invitation for the day

The "skeptic" movement has sustained serious wounds dealt by individual women, journalists and the Me Too movement, thanks to the appalling behaviour of that tedious entertainer, author and academic Lawrence Krauss. It shouldn't surprise anyone that a misogynist sleaze has fallen out of that tree a long time after the fact, as accusations of misogyny directed toward that movement are nothing new, but criticism is promptly suppressed by that movement. If you have ever tried to express criticism of this movement or individuals who lead it or have tried to question their approach or even just tried to discuss such matters on any of the media forums operated by this movement you will probably be aware that the skeptic movement don't pause a minute in censoring or shouting down people who question what these supposed champions of freedom in thought and open inquiry do or say or think. 

So today I smirk and cordially invite the skeptic movement to just go @#$% themselves, because the vast majority of them aren't effective champions of science and don't do a thing to push back the boundaries of scientific knowledge. It is people like anonymous me who do the heavy lifting of pushing science forward and arguing the case for science, because we are not blind to the many serious problems happening within science and academia and we acknowledge them and seek to address them, and we do not believe every single thing that has been written in a journal paper or spoken in a science lecture. We think for ourselves, read according to our own wide and varied interests and obsessions, and create our own completly novel studies and hypotheses. We are the true scientists, and you guys can go to hell. 


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Creative ideas for 2018

- start a GoFundMe page to raise funds for elocution lessons for Jamie Oliver

- take a production of the rock musical Hair touring from Egypt to Pakistan 

- reinvent an unusual form of graffiti while insulting a skyscraper full of snakes in suits and corporate corpses

- actually wear in public that skirt I made out of $1.35 worth of off-cuts, with those shoes I found at the tip

- sew a reusable shopping bag to go with it

- sew another one for hubby

- start a seed library

- do that decoupage idea and enter it in an art contest

- send Eric Abetz a monocle in the mail

- see if that idea for an auditory sculpture really is capable of sending people mad

- if it is, use against neighbours

- regardless, enter it in a sculpture competition

- try to keep my new list up to date

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Lili's question for the day

Will one of the men in my latest list be involved in the next sexual harassment accusation scandal to hit the headlines? 

Monday, December 04, 2017

Lili's redirection for the day

I have a new list in the works, and when I publish it I plan to post it at my political blog Blond Ambition, for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, my next list is negative in tone, and I don't want to confuse readers by mixing up a negative list with my long-standing and popular lists that focus of matters that are generally positive.

Secondly, the topic of my next list does not sit well with the title of my main blog "Incorrect Pleasures". When I publish it you will see what I mean. 

Thirdly, I figure my new list of famous people should fit well enough into a political blog, because it is full of politicians (distasteful, I know) and as they used to say in the 1970s, the personal is political. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Lili's amusement of the day

The "Wisdom of the Crowd" indeed! How ironic!


Lili's wish for the day

Sad to see that the respected Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, who is one of the interesting people in my famous synaesthetes list and was also recently an Australian of the Year is the subject of allegations of “inappropriate behaviour", a part of an international wave of disclosures of allegations of sexual misconduct among high-profile media identities. At present it appears that the person making the allegations and full details of the alleged behaviour are not publicly known, but two male actors who have thrown their support behind the allegations have been named. Rush has issued a denial. I hope there is nothing behind this accusation, but, like a waxwork figure in a bushfire, the situation is looking uglier by the minute. 



Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lili's dismissal of the day

So Mr Burke, past host and founder of the defunct but once highly popular Australian gardening TV show Burke's Backyard, it seems clear that you have been a workplace bully and sex pest for ages, and you claim this is because you're "an Asperger's person"? While I no longer think there's much validity or science behind the labels "autism" and "Asperger syndrome", I do know that workplace bullying and sexual misconduct have never been regarded as features of the conditions, in fact, regardless of level of intelligence, people with these labels are lucky to get anywhere near having a job, let alone being the boss who has the power to get away with such unethical or criminal behaviour.

Your unconvincing excuse gets you nowhere, especially in light of the fact that you've been busy denying as well as excusing yourself. You can't offer an excuse for behaviour that you haven't even owned up to!


If you have the chance to watch the ABC news interview with Katharine Annear, the chairperson of Autistic Advocacy Australia and New Zealand about Don Burke's recent claims, it is well worth a look. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lili's bewilderment of the day

So amusing when these celebrity sex pests vehemently deny all of the allegations, even when there's a clear pattern of offending among many accounts from numerous victims who share characteristics such as gender, body area groped and their age when the events happened. Who do they think they are kidding? 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Lili's tip for the day

Lili's making a list, she's checking it twice, gunna find out who's naughty or nice…

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Questions, questions....

We can't even trust Pub Peer?

If universities do what they are supposed to do (allow only real scholarship), then how do we get quackademics?

Are South African white farmers being murdered in racially-targeted attacks?

Could it possibly be true that in 2017 Parliament House in Canberra needs to be modified to accommodate a new MP who uses a wheelchair?

Is wind turbine syndrome a communicated disease?

Monday, October 09, 2017

Lili's disappointment for the day

I'm disappointed but not surprised to see that Derek Amato has been featured in a TV doco series that has just started on SBS, The world's most extraordinary people, which is apparently hosted by a real doctor, English surgeon Gabriel Weston, who is also a writer and BBC Two host. A doctor and two reputable TV channels look like fools.


Amato is one of an unending collection of supposed "acquired savants" in the fashion of the questionable Daniel Tammet (formerly Daniel Corney). In my ebook about Tammet you can find chapters about many interesting people who have, or who claim to have, extraordinary abilities or talents. Some of those people are genuinely astounding in their achievements, while there's ample evidence that many others have made up stories and taken scientists, publishers and journalists for a ride. Derek Amato one of the world's most extraordinary people? I think not.