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Posted by: Tal Bachman ( )
Date: September 18, 2014 11:06PM

I'm a musician, but I hate most musicians and most music industry executives. Most of them are douchebag pigs.

And whenever I see the same patterns of douchebag pig behaviour in other realms - big, powerful egomaniacs colluding to prey on women - I feel the same intense nausea and hatred, and I want to beat them with a cricket bat.

I have read many of "Skeptic" magazine editor Michael Shermer's books over the years. I thought they were fair, well-documented, and well-reasoned. I also have regularly picked up "Skeptic" magazine. But now, I hate the guy.

Michael Shermer, it turns out, is a complete douchebag. I can't say I have seen evidence he's a genuine rapist - but he's pushing it. And his pals James Randi and Richard Dawkins are still defending him. In fact, I am quite sure they have kept his secrets over the years (about which more below).

What I am referring to is report after credible report now surfacing of Shermer's habit of tanking up at public events and then groping/assaulting unwilling women, or else, refraining from drinking much himself, while encouraging his targets to (over?)consume alcohol only for the purpose of bedding them. And all that, while he was married (evidently, his wife did not consent to that sort of behaviour, and was unaware of it).

James Randi, by his own admission, was aware of this behaviour, but did nothing. Richard Dawkins is still defending his pal Shermer. So the picture I see is similar to the one I see in the early days of Mormonism, in show biz, and in politics: a bunch of douchebag alpha males protect each other's rotten behaviour.

Now, a bit more about Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins has made a career out of crudely slagging off religion, describing it as a force for immorality. Morality, for Dawkins, is most perfect when it emerges from a purely rationalist and scientific view of the world. So what then is the content of Dawkins's enlightened moral worldview? Amongst other things, he has claimed that being raised to believe in Roman Catholicism is worse than being raped by a Catholic priest (see, and also that it is "immoral" for women to have a Down's Syndrome child, if they can abort it (see ).

As noted, Dawkins's latest foray into teaching the world about morality was a series of tweets in defense of his sex predator pal, Michael Shermer, in which he sternly admonished women not to make claims of sexual assault if they can't remember what occurred (see )

I realize that in one way, this makes perfect sense: if you can't remember what happened, how can you make a credible claim about what happened? But entirely missing from Dawkins's thought process here is the fact that NO ONE, including his pal Shermer, should ever have sex with someone (not least a stranger) *that blotto*. In other words, in the act of defending his pal Shermer, he's painting him as a douchebag, because *only a douchebag* would bed a perfect stranger who was near blackout (and therefore unable to give consent). In many states, such an act meets the legal definition of rape.

Why is Richard Dawkins defending a douchebag sex predator? I suggest there is only plausible reason: Dawkins is also a douchebag (after all, only a douchebag would defend a douchebag). And certainly, anyone who believes that morality *requires* the abortion of Down's Syndrome children, or who thinks that Roman Catholic belief is worse than rape, *is a douchebag*.

Last week, I went to rent a DVD at the last remaining rental place here (it carries all the rare movies not available on Netflix), and a Down's Syndrome guy in an electricity-powered mobile chair was there looking at the Japanese samurai movies. I kneeled down to pull out a Kurosawa movie, and the guy looked at me, broke into a big, guileless smile and said loudly, "YOU'RE CUTE!". Truth is, I felt flattered :). Then he held out his hand and said, "I'm Bill!". I shook his hand and said, "Thank you, Bill. Nice to meet you"; and there was something about the whole exchange that was so innocent and touching and sincere, that I thought about it fondly the whole night.

Innocent souls like Bill, according to Richard Dawkins, should have been killed before birth, while douchebags like Michael Shermer deserve not only to be born, but to be actively defended after years of crude, lecherous, and probably illegal, behaviour. That is one strange kind of morality - and certainly not better than the early Mormon morality of sexual cover-up.

For those interested in reading about this emerging story, see:

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2014 07:08AM by Tal Bachman.

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Posted by: Shummy ( )
Date: September 18, 2014 11:26PM

Well well well

whaddaya know?

douchebags on both sides of the god damned god fence

Anyway, thanx Tal, I shall look forward to reading this all again in the am.............. hopefully after a night of rest and contemplation to assemble the thought required to absorb what you have just laid out ............for the ears of those that can still hear, here.


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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: September 18, 2014 11:29PM

The hubris of these guys pontificating about morality... or is it chutzpah? I dunno, but their ex cathedra pronouncements just get wackier by the year. Harris is the most egregious in my mind. His arguments for torture and genocide *while* arguing about morality is about as brazen as it can possibly get.

I thought of Chris Sutter when I read Dawkins declaiming on Twitter about the moral necessity of aborting Downs Syndrome infants. Chris Sutter, for those who don't know, is Darryl Sutter's son, coach of the Stanley Cup winning L.A. Kings.

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: September 18, 2014 11:32PM

Part of the problem with sexual assault is too many people don't seem to know what constitutes consent- The recent Cee Lo Green incident is an example of this.

You see this all over, where a wasted or passed out person becomes fair game for predators (and I do think that Shermer is predatorial. Maybe not a rapist, but an untrustworthy sleazebag nonetheless) to abuse and assault. Then when these people are charged and convicted with a sexual assault, too many lash out at the victim and cry about ruining the promising lives of the abusers.

I was disturbed by Dawkins minimizing the sexual abuse he and his classmates endured at school, dismissing it as something that happened to everyone. It sounded like my TBM mother, who admitted to my first therapist "Sexual abuse happened to most girls my age and we didn't talk about it, we just dealt with it." She then told me a couple of years ago during a visit, "I don't know why everyone else has such a hard time getting over their abuse. I was abused and there's nothing wrong with me."

Yes, Mom, you're fine and none of your abuse had any effect on you or anyone else. The fact that five out of your six children have had serious psychological issues and three have attempted suicide multiple times has nothing to do with you never dealing your own severe abuse.

I went off a bit on a rant here.

I suppose my point is sexual abuse and assault are minimized and dismissed so often, that people don't even know what the hell it is or the harm it causes. Those who take advantage of incapacitated people see no harm in their actions and even feel justified for whatever A-Z reason. Unfortunately, society still seems to excuse their actions.

Misogyny is so ingrained into society, that those who defend it can't see why it's so destructive to both men and women.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/18/2014 11:38PM by Itzpapalotl.

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Posted by: bona dea unregistered ( )
Date: September 18, 2014 11:33PM

These guys really need to just shut up. They are becoming bad jokes.

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Posted by: BYUboner ( )
Date: September 18, 2014 11:33PM

Tal, I always enjoy reading your posts. Although you're primarily a musician, your writing talents are also very impressive.

With regard to the neo-atheists, I've found their diatribes against people of faith to be disturbing. I have no problem with rationalists expressing disbelief and providing rationale for their views; but Dawkins, Hitchins, and Harris take glee in blaming everything bad or tragic on peoples' religious faiths. Frequently, theists are dismissed as stupid bigots. There's never a mention that remarkable figures like Dr. Martin Luther King found strength and purpose to confront American racism through religious faith.

The sad truth is that left unchecked by laws, governments or moral teachings, humans display a propensity to destroy others. Yes, too many terrible things have been done in the name of religious faith; but the atrocities of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ammin were done in the name of the State. None of these leaders were murdering because of religion.

I don't know the individual whom you wrote about, but, have enough trust in your common sense to know that you don't usually call someone a douchbag unless warranted. Unlike myself, you seldom cuss on this board.

I'm not aware of the Canadian statistics on female sexual abuse, but I've read that one out of four American women will experience abuse in their lifetimes. For any man, husband, brother, or father this is a tragic statistic and must be changed for the better.

Thanks again for a thoughtful post! Boner.

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Posted by: spanner ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 12:16AM

This is an awful situation. At least it is getting discussed now. Shermer is by all accounts, overtly, a nice guy; I can see how people would stand by him in the absence of concrete evidence.

Now a number of credible reports are establishing a pattern of predatory behavior. Hopefully Randi and others will accept this and take action. Randi recently had a shake-up in JREF, with the rumor mill suggesting that a high-profile sacking was for misogynistic bad behavior; the Skeptics have also had to take action and boot a predator off one of my favorite podcasts, MonsterTalk.

Lets see if some of our leading skeptics can demonstrate a change of opinion/behavior based on new evidence.

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Posted by: Itzpapalotl ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 12:27AM

Nice guys don't think they abuse women because they believe they are nice. They probably are nice in many ways except when it comes to women.

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Posted by: raiku ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:23AM

Thanks for the information. Guys like that should be publicly condemned for their criminal, immoral behavior, and cruel statements.

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Posted by: Tal Bachman ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:26AM

BYU Boner

You are right on the money with your comments about atrocities, AND your comments about the grating inaccuracy of popular atheist arguments against religion.

Human beings do not require religious beliefs to commit evil. A child knows that. Why don't more adults?

As for the common cry that "every war is caused by religion", that is simply not so. Religion might very well be cynically used as cover in promoting war, and religious beliefs might weave into what is usually a tapestry of different motivations; but simply as a matter of historical fact, religion itself rarely motivates war.

One interesting, albeit brief, discussion of the supposed connection between religion and evil occurs in "Atrocitology", by Matthew White (a work praised by atheist Steven Pinker). After his exhaustive review of history's greatest atrocities, White estimates (if I remember correctly) that no more than ten percent were motivated by religion. From what I can tell, that is pretty close to correct.

Just for the record, I'm not a theist or an atheist: I have zero idea of what is happening up there, if anything.

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Posted by: BYUboner ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:40AM

Tal, you're being honest about your ontological view. As I get older I'm constantly reminded of how much I don't know. I can say this--for the most part, I believe people are good, and I have faith in the younger generations to be more fair and equitable. Boner

PS haven't heard much from Dr. love lately...just saying

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:35AM

Of sexual abuse and how therapists use techniques to create them in patients? Who spent a good deal of time using Internet media forums to attack them?

That guy?

Man, I've got some old stuff on some hard drives about that subject, but seriously, that was two or three computers ago...

Okay, folks, here's your destination. No charge for the cab fare this time...

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Posted by: Here24 ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 02:04AM

Good post, Tal. I completely agree.

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Posted by: Tal Bachman ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 02:57AM

SL Cabbie - Shermer's writings on recovered memories came directly from the pioneering psychological research of Elizabeth Loftus. My understanding is that her research is as unassailable and replicable as it has been groundbreaking. If that is not true, I'd like to know about it, because last time I checked, Loftus seemed like a very admirable and talented scholar.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2014 02:58AM by Tal Bachman.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 06:58AM

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 07:36AM

So let's see if I have this right: Richard Dawkins defends Michael Shermer who sexually assaulted Margaret Sanger while she was trying to kill Neil DeGrasse Tyson's fabricated child.

So who's next on the "must be taken down a notch" carousel? MLK Jr, or Bill Clinton?

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Posted by: Wisdom ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 07:55AM

There are instances in the book of Proverbs where Wisdom is personified as a female. ... She says "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight".

Proverbs 16:

…16 How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.
17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who watches his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.…

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Posted by: MJ ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 08:25AM

Thankfully these guys are only individuals speaking and acting for themselves.

It is not like they are heads of a religion that is systematically hiding child molesters.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2014 08:26AM by MJ.

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Posted by: pseudonymous ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 08:47AM

...all the while claiming God speaks to them and they are doing His will. At least these other (godless) guys aren't claiming to have special authority when spouting personal opinion or abusing someone of the opposite sex or defending such a person. At the very least, no one is paying them 10% of their gross income for the privilege.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2014 08:48AM by pseudonymous.

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Posted by: Richard Foxe ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 09:03AM

No, they're not heads of a religion, but...they are hypocritically in the business of supposedly speaking the truth about life and exposing falsehoods.

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Posted by: quinlansolo ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 09:15AM

">I'm a musician, but I hate most musicians and most music industry executives. Most of them are douchebag pigs."

Nice to meet your caliber of a High Moral standard man, Tal...
The truth is I am probably as bad (in thought) as those musicians, actors, execs you think of...
The only difference is I don't act on those impulses
Because; I have neither financial means of popularity to live a life of Hugh Heffner or Tom Cruise...
But if I had the money, I guarantee you, I'd outdo them....

As for your slamming Dawkins, Shermer...Especially James Randi....
No Human ever came close to expose charlatans like Uri Geller..
Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens were pioneers to open up a
New, Godless chapter in human history...
We cannot adequately comprehend yet their services...
But it would be a good start for anyone starting from "Mother Theresa" expose of Hitchens.....

As for allegations about Shermer...I am not surprised if it is true..We are Humans, we are prone doing immoral things...

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Posted by: Exdrymo ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 10:00AM

quinlansolo Wrote:
> As for your slamming Dawkins, Shermer...Especially
> James Randi....
> No Human ever came close to expose charlatans like
> Uri Geller..
How about Houdini?

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Posted by: White Cliffs ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 09:36AM

"Dawkins has made a career of..."

He actually has a career as a biologist and evolutionary theorist. This business of attacking and debating various religious beliefs is just a zestful hobby of his.

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Posted by: generationofvipers ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 09:53AM

Good post about Shermer and his behavior.

Trying to use Shermer's behavior and a phony straw man about "we 'should' kill Down's syndrome babies" to grind a personal axe against Dawkins in political propaganda style? Pretty disappointing.

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Posted by: quinlansolo ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 09:55AM

I love Dawkins for that....

The real creeps are Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Baptist, Mullah patriarchs who had a free ride...
Now it is time for them to regurgitate past sins & pay_back their debts (if it is possible).
Everywhere you go you see their sadistic foot_prints, even in Brooklyn...You can watch them under their keepas how they abuse their women...And this asshole Hassidic fuck will not grant divorce to his wife....Like a Mullah....

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Posted by: quinlansolo ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 10:22AM

I read another blog from P.Z Myers....
He seems to confirm the allegations against Shermer...
"Now there are tweets and blogs about his sexually inappropriate behavior as well as his fondness for getting chicks drunk, so I feel quite less alone. I don’t think he realizes he is doing anything wrong. Men who behave inappropriately sexually never think they are doing anything wrong."

I am quite disappointed about this, knowing Shermer for years I could not think of attributing such behavior to him....

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Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 11:25AM

Wattsssuuuuppp nailed it.

So many of you also seem to be assuming the woman's story in the Shermer incident is "all true." I don't know if it is or isn't, and neither do any of you.
The rational thing to do would, perhaps, be to not "pick a side" for arbitrary reasons and run with it, but to withold judgment until there's evidence to show one way or the other. And since this may largely be a case where evidence *can't* show one side or the other "true," to simply withold judgment -- and keep an eye on Shermer.
I don't think it's "evil" or "predatory" to want to have sex with a woman if you're a man. If a woman is passed-out drunk, I would not do so. I don't know if that's the case here or not.

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Posted by: AnotherPoint ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:08PM

You can review all there is and draw your own conclusion. This is only my own judgment. But the preponderance of evidence (a civil court burden, whereby a claim need only have a better than 50% chance of being true, so even just a 50.1% chance of being true would win a case) is enough for me to conclude that the general picture is probably true: Shermer pursues sex with women a lot, both one-night stands and ongoing affairs, and he has often enough done so without telling his wife or his various girlfriends. His recent attempt to compel PZ Myers to retract his report of what a witness told him appeared to deny even this (that Shermer has lots of consensual trysts and affairs), which I think is disingenuous at this point.

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Posted by: rt ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 11:42AM

Makes you wonder why atheist-bashers don't take on a Dennett or a Boghossian. Hysterical ad hominems are easy, rationally debating the issues, not so much.

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Posted by: blerch ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 11:53AM

You don't know what you're talking about.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 12:52PM

I hope it was clear in the previous thread that I was speaking in the abstract, in response to another poster, about whether the printed word is slander or libel (it's libel). I wasn't giving an opinion about the content of Tal's post. Instead, I was nitpicking over a word.

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Posted by: Major Bidamon ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:01PM

Thanks Tal -- I'm an atheist with a down syndrome kid -- I love her just like my other "typical" kids. She is AWESOME! Thanks for voicing my feelings. I like much of what Dawkins has written in the past, but with his recent digital diarrhea I can only exclaim, "screw that guy". I know, it's emotional and not rational, but seriously Dawkins -- Please STFU.

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Posted by: rgg ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:10PM is a MUCH BETTER site than the one you reference. Its run by Alex Tsakiris and he has over 250 pod casts on his site. Very informative. He interviews all sides and has no skin in the game. VERY informative.

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Posted by: janeeliot ( )
Date: September 19, 2014 01:12PM

Hmmm -- as a longtime feminist, I am glad there is some attempt in a (one) dominantly atheist community to deal with the sexism found there. I have long thought Dawkins, Hitchens, PZ Myers (with his poor 'Trophy Wife') sexists -- or as we used to call them in my day, pigs. There are great books to come in about the deep irony of the emergence of an Angry Atheist community at the turn of the century that was quite vociferous in their condemnation of the sexism OF RELIGIONS, but rather more silent about their own. And mere silence doesn't even cover it. There were the cover-ups. It is one of the great stories hidden in Angry Atheism. There are many great anecdotes such as Hitchens calling the Dixie Chicks "f***ing fat slags" for daring to disagree with him about foreign policy. (It is so too bad that history supports the DCs, but really only a sidelight on an ugly picture.) Or the atheist woman who had to stop speaking out in public because atheist men couldn't stop talking about her boobs. A different style of failure than say the Mormons, but still an equally enormous failure of humanity and fairness.

And judging by the responses, which are notably less fawning than usual, it was rather brave -- in a way -- for Tal to bring this up. I think he is at least trying to push an envelope, just as he did when he started to leave the Mormon Church. And yeah, Tal, I completely agree -- this passionately Pro-Choice woman thinks that Dawkins saying ANY pregnancy should be forced-aborted is not your ordinary moral lapse but one that stinks unto the orbiting distance from earth -- and is very bit as hateful of women as though who want to force women to bear children conceived by rape. "Force" and "pregnancy" have no business being in the same sentence any more than "force" and "sex" do.

My only warning would be sexism is one of those things most clearly seen the Other -- and only rarely perceived in oneself. Yes, AAs catch my eye as having Issues around women, but they are by no means the only ones. It may surprise some who operate only on stereotypes of feminists, but an important component in any consciousness raising group worth its salt was examining OUR own sexism. So far, we have seen sexism projected on to religions -- where it does not belong as religious folk vary in their attitudes toward women, and now I don't think it is good idea to project it strictly on Angry Atheists either. Many atheist guys, like men of faith, are decent human beings trying hard to treat others, including women and people of color, fairly. Many frontline atheists are Great Guys, and nothing should obscure that, no matter how colorful the stories of the guys at the top. (Of course so are many rank-and-file Mormons, Catholics, and yes, Muslim guys.) If you are a guy who is a little crazy about finding ALL sexism centered in religions, I would take it as a sign you need some mirror time.

There are other places we need to examine just as carefully look for sexism. Talk radio has even more explosive, virulent examples, just to name one troubled arena.

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