#WrongSkin and the New TERFs

By now everyone will have heard of Rachel Dolezal, the caucasian woman who passed herself off as African-American and rose to lead a local NAACP group. The mocking began immediately after the story broke. Some of it is deliciously hilarious, exposing the absurdity of the SJW “logic”. That absurdity is what I want to explore a bit further in this post.

Some background is in order, I guess. Many of the Social Justice/Feminist camp have long claimed that “gender is a social construct” while some even go so far as to say biological sex is also socially constructed. That is: a biological difference between two human beings is actually merely a social concept. That there is no real difference other than what we humans choose to give it.

Trans-gendered (who we used to call transsexual) people feel as though they were born in the wrongly sexed body. They “identify” with being the opposite sex that they were born to. While this condition used to be considered a mental illness, it has become accepted by mainstream psychology.

Enter the folks now claiming to be transracial or wrongskin. It seems clear that this is an elegant ruse, but it’s getting national and international attention. Some are even saying it’s sparking a discussion about whether race is also a social construct.  Herein lies the beauty of WrongSkin. If an apparent biological difference (sex/gender) can be socially constructed, it follows that another apparent biological difference (race/skin color) must also be socially constructed.

The problem from the SJW’s position is that white skinned people are pretty much at the top of their “privilege pyramid” and at the bottom of the progressive stack. Transgendered people have less privilege and therefore get listened to before cis folk (people who identify as their birth sex/gender). If people can be transracial, the progressive stack is exposed as a Jenga tower.

Let’s say you’re a white man who identifies as a man. You’re also heterosexual, able bodied, and neuro-typical. This puts you right at the bottom of the progressive stack and basically means your opinions on social issues don’t have to be given any weight due to your “privilege lens”. Not so fast, SJWs! You can now claim to be transblack, a black person trapped in a honkey’s body. Where do you fit in the stack now?

The SjW cannot, in my opinion, use “biology” as a counter to the transracial people without resorting to “essentialism“, which would classify them as the racial equivalent of TERFs. This puts them in the position of having to accept someone’s subjective experience of being #WrongSkin or exposing their outright hypocrisy.

While WrongSkin is no problem for people (like me) who realize that biology isn’t a social construct, it sure does make the postmodern concept of “subjective reality is the only reality”, completely absurd. So to any SJWs reading this: either accept that I am a black man trapped in a white man’s body or admit biological differences are real.

Take your time.






Open Letter To Young Feminists


I get it. I really do. You’re young, idealistic and want to make the world a better place. You look around at a world where there is a lot of suffering, violence, and hate. So much hate. You want to change that, I get it. That is a noble goal and those are noble traits. Keep that stuff. That enthusiasm and idealism can be great motivators for you to become an instrument of change. I wouldn’t take that from you for anything.

What I do want you to do is examine your assumptions, biases, and things presented to you as fact with a critical eye. It’s called critical thinking.

…critical thinking consists of seeing both sides of an issue, being open to new evidence that disconfirms your ideas, reasoning dispassionately, demanding that claims be backed by evidence,deducing and inferring conclusions from available facts, solving problems, and so forth.

Critical thinking is our primary tool to arrive at good, well reasoned opinions and conclusions. It’s not easy. Challenging our own biases and beliefs can be difficult. It takes effort and a desire to have the most accurate information available before making a decision or forming an opinion. It also takes practice.

Having the most accurate information available, information as free from bias as possible, is crucial to achieving the outcome you desire from those noble goals. Let’s look at something relatively simple and draw an analogy.

Fire is basically a chemical reaction between some substance and oxygen. We can fight fire with water, right? Well, not in all cases. In a house fire or forest fire water is a great substance to combat the fire. In a grease or oil based fuel fire however, spraying it with water can actually spread the burning oil or grease to previously non-burning areas. Spraying water on an electrical fire can produce an arc flash or arc blast, again making the situation worse. In a combustible metal fire, water can either do nothing or actually accelerate the reaction.

Something as relatively simple as fire needs to be analyzed before taking action. Imagine now how much more complex a human society is than a fire. Taking one action may help in some circumstances and may actually make things worse in others. The simple binary solution of “fire bad-water good” may actually make things worse. In a similar manner the binary solutions proposed by some ideologies might work in some situations, but make things worse in others.

Let’s get a little bit specific. Let’s look at the college graduations in the US over the past 40-50 years. educationIn the 1950’s and 60s girls lagged behind boys in getting university degrees. Through a plethora of factors and influences, that trend has now reversed. In just this one report you can see how hugely complex this issue can be. I even disagree with the explanations in this report that boys are disengaging from education due to their “masculinity”. Masculinity was much more lauded as a virtue in the past, where boys outperformed girls! This point was raised as far back as 2000.  Watch this TEDx presentation on the “boys educational crisis”. For extra credit, pay attention to how deferential the speaker is toward feminist beliefs. If you feel really brave, watch this keynote presentation on the subject by Jonathan Taylor.

That’s just one issue that isn’t really that contentious (like rape or abortion are). Imagine the complexity of those issues! Simply spraying water on that fire may not be helpful. We really need to examine all of the evidence and to do that as objectively as possible if we wish to achieve our goal of “equality”. We don’t want to dogmatically spray water on every fire.

In summary, I want to tell you that I’m glad you want to make the world a better place, I really am. There is much improvement possible for our species and our society. Critically examining these complex and nuanced facets of our society can help prevent us from righting one wrong while creating another. It can help us come to real solutions based on objective data. Critical thinking can help us to not spread the fire we’re trying to extinguish.

It’s not easy and it’s sometimes even a bit scary to challenge our deeply held beliefs. It’s difficult to be objective when our emotions and even our sense of identity are tied into a specific set of ideas. It doesn’t get easier as you age, either. I have to do it often. Many times I don’t personally like where the evidence and data lead. It takes strength to accept evidence that contradicts one’s beliefs. Do you have the strength of character to do it?

Arguing Against the Dictionary

There have been quite a few rebuttals of the feminist propensity to point to the crafted dictionary definition of feminism as the one and only qualifier of what it entails. Most of them have to do with either arguing about the actions of feminists and feminist organizations which seem to contradict or at least entail something other than what is contained in the definition.

I thought I would attempt something that I’ve not seen, namely taking a swing at the benign definition. I hope to show that even under the benign and sterile dictionary definition of feminism that the ideology is at minimum, superfluous. I will use an amalgamation of dictionary definitions for this essay. I will also restrict my concerns here to the democratic west, as it’s sometimes called.

Feminism – the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

I would like to note that the word “legal” in the string of equalities sought for is not included in any definition I could find. (Feel free to leave such a definition in the comments if you can find one). In other words the fact that women seem to have preferred status in the legal system, whether criminal or family court, is not actually important enough to warrant inclusion in the definition.

While the definition I used above says “women’s rights” there are many others that leave those two words out so I’ll not include that glaringly obvious target in my dissection of the definition.

Political Equality– “Political” is defined as: “of or relating to the government or the public affairs of a country”; so political equality would be equality relating to government or public affairs. While I will certainly admit that the numbers of female politicians are not representative of the population, that fact alone does not mean females are not represented. Suppose in my congressional district a woman or a black man is elected. Can I now say that my interest aren’t represented in congress? No, I can’t. Here’s why: elected officials represent everyone in their district. Anyone within that district may voice their concerns to their representative.

Another way to look at it might be to examine who the elected officials work for rather than who they are. Our current president has declared himself a feminist and has challenged congress to pass another “equal pay” act. He has signed executive orders addressing that cause for women (despite economic studies that point to differing choices between men and women as the cause of the raw earnings gap). He has a program that addresses multiple issues women are concerned with. Most western countries have at least one ministerial level office dealing strictly with issues of women.

Additionally, women are permitted (even encouraged) to run for political office. In some western countries there are “short lists” for female candidate preference. Despite the public’s dislike of shortlists and gender quotas, the electorate does not seem to punish the female candidates for having used them. Even in countries without shortlists, there seems to be no bias against female candidates. In other words ladies…if you want more women in public office, run for office. The fact that fewer women choose to run for political office is merely the end result of having a free society where people can make choices about their own life paths.

Economic Equality – Economic is defined as “pertaining to the production, distribution, and use of income, wealth, and commodities“. One would expect economic equality to mean equal  production, distribution, and use of income, wealth, and commodities. If the totality of those factors show equity, there can be variance between individual components of the whole. For example if I earn 70% of my family’s income but my spouse  spends 70% of the income (makes purchasing decisions) there is economic equality in the household.

Certainly everyone has heard of the gender earnings gap, it’s difficult not to hear of it. The oft cited figure of women earning 77% of what men earn on average is incorrect. In the US in 2013 (the most recent full year information) the actual percentage is 82.1%.  This disparity narrows further when relevant variables and choices are accounted for, but the raw gap is sufficient for this essay.

What the statistics often conceal is the spending power wielded by women. Some 85% of purchases and purchase influences are made by women. Additionally, 60% of personal wealth in the US is held by women. On the macro scale, economic equity has been achieved.

Social Equality – “Social” is defined in a few ways. I’ll be using the most appropriate and beneficial to feminism- a) Of or relating to human society and its modes of organization b) Of or relating to rank and status in society. It’s far from clear how one would even compare the “status” or “rank” of men and women in a social context. Of the three major equalities feminism is concerned with (according to their definition) social equality is the most nebulous. Still, let’s examine some social “status” issues to see if we can find any meat in this sandwich.

Social standing is wildly variable and can be earned or granted. Fame, wealth, and achievement confer status upon the individual. It’s clear then that comparing individuals and trying to extrapolate to the general group is a flawed method. What we need to do is examine if there is any status granted to all members of the group. Many times it seems as if feminism compares the entire demographic of women to the top 1-5% of men to adjudge status differences. Let’s compare men and women without including the top 5% of either group.

Men make up over 93% of the prison population in the US. This is compounded by the sentencing gap where men receive over 60% longer sentences for similar crimes. Males make up about 2/3 of the homeless, but an interesting phenomenon occurs when trying to tease these numbers out of studies. Whenever women have an advantage in some specific area (homelessness, spending power, rates of overall violent victimization, etc) many studies  don’t include the gender breakdown directly.

Men have a higher rate of violent victimization in the US (including being almost 75% of homicide victims), but the US has a Violence Against Women Act and no such act for men. Women are not required to register with Selective Service.

Even when simple preference is studied, women are the preferred gender of both men and women. Women also have huge numbers of organizations, lobbies, and government offices dedicated strictly to their concerns. Women can police men’s apparel, speech and even public sitting position and be taken seriously. Imagine the reverse of each of these situations. Women can even publicly advocate to #KillAllMen.

Summary – I think it’s safe to say an argument can be made that western feminism has achieved its stated definitional goals and can shut down, disband, or move on to other pursuits. It certainly doesn’t help their case when the loudest voices in public are more concerned with men’s clothing, the knee to knee distance of men on public transportation, and the use of the word “bossy”, than any substantive issues like those faced by African or Middle Eastern women. 


Get some time.


Learn from History – A Cautionary Tale

It seems there an attempt to have a moderated discussion (or a debate depending on who you ask) between people supporting the #GamerGate consumer revolt against corrupt games journalism and the folks who…what? Support corruption in games journalism? Oh, that’s right…it’s the people claiming that GG is in fact only trying to harass and bully women out of the gaming industry.

The claim that GG is trying to evict women qua women from the gaming industry should be easily dis-proven by showing even one woman that GG has supported in the industry; women like Lizzy Finnegan , LLShannon, Vivian James, Jennifer D. , and projects like The Fine Young Capitalists. I could continue this list all day and the opposition would likely hold to the claim that GG is trying to purge women from gaming. It’s their only option… well, unless they want to try to argue the merits of corruption.

That’s not really the thrust of this post, however. The real point I want to make is this: Choose the anti-GG representatives wisely.

This discussion/debate reminds me of another such attempt at discourse with ideologues who had pretty much the same claim as the Anti Gamergate folks. The dialog was a moderated one between atheist/skeptics who opposed the infusion of atheism with a dogmatic version of radical feminism. The radical feminist side also made the claim that their opposition was only interested in driving women out of the atheist community. This claim too was made despite the fact that many women also opposed the dogmatists. You may remember the Atheism Plus debacle and the great rift it caused in the atheist community, but you may not know of the attempt to bridge the rift and its utter failure.

Atheist Ireland head Michael Nugent, a very open minded and patient man, proposed a structured textual discussion of the issues involved in the Great Rift. Over the course of several weeks, that dialog took place on a website dedicated for just that purpose. The dialog, such as it was, destabilized and broke apart for several reasons. One reason was the format was overly structured and many posts seemed to become an exercise in writing as pretentiously as possible. This is not the reason that concerns me.

Another reason the dialog collapsed was due to deliberate malfeasance of the “You menz just want to kick womynz out of atheism” side’s moderator and primary participant. Stephanie Zvan, famous for defending straw man tactics as valid (see link comments starting at #8) , defending the practice of internet doxing, and celebrating finding new people to block, ensured the dialog process would never amount to any real healing of the divide; dragging the dialog out by arguing over trivialities until many simply lost interest. The speculation that Zvan passed on personal information gained through the dialog process to a fellow blogger for release wasn’t substantiated, but the fallout from that doxing certainly chilled the proceedings.

I’m sure by now you can see the direction I’m going with this post in regard to the Airplay debate with Gamergate supporters and its detractors. Although I wrote about what a good opportunity the Airplay debate is for GG to get out from under the crippling weight of the media narrative that has been spun by its opponents, the debate can still be torpedoed by the opposition. The participants must be selected with care for this debate to have any serious repercussions in the industry. One aGG panelist who spends the entire allotted time arguing about the meaning of the word “is” or other nonsense can consign this debate to the dustbin of gaming history.

Get some time.

An Emissary for #Gamergate

Recently a member of the Society of Professional Journalists released an opinion piece about Gamergate. He then followed it up with a post requesting an emissary group to give voice to the Gamergate side. Sargon of Akkad then released a video linking to a straw poll to select emissaries for the proposed “debate”. Naturally this created something of a row among various factions within the group loosely unified under the Gamergate hashtag.

There are some voices that see these emissaries as de facto leaders of Gamergate. They seem to be of the opinion that having “leaders” is not a wise course of action for a grass roots consumer revolt. There is actually some merit to this point as learned from the Occupy movement a few years ago. Leaderless movements can’t be co-opted by its leaders for their own pet issues.

So, while I’m sympathetic to the opinions of those who say there shouldn’t be any defined leaders, elected or not, the problem is that amorphous blobs can’t speak in a debate. A debate (run fairly) could be the beginning of an end game for the gamergate goals. Gamergate has been compared in the media to ISIS, the KKK, and the Nazis. It’s very easy to turn an amorphous blob of internet denizens into a villain. You just pick out the worst things any of them say and proclaim that the whole blob supports that statement.

So when the Society of Professional Journalists (or at least some of their members) offer you an opportunity to have your concerns about ethics in journalism heard, you have to take it. It’s exactly what the Gamergate movement has been screaming about for the past 8 months. Finally, someone is offering to hear the Gamergate side of the issues. Not just any someone either, an actual journalistic ethics association is opening up a discourse for exactly what Gamergate has been trying to talk about for months.

So, will whoever gets selected to represent the GG side in this debate/discussion become its leaders? Sure, some people may see them that way. A possible way to offset that belief is to have a “Statement of Non-Leadership” which the emissaries can read or post, declaring that they are simply the messengers of the group and not its leadership structure. This is probably the way I’d go about it, but there are other possibilities.

Still other voices in GG are concerned that whoever represents the group in these discussions will bring with them all of their “political baggage”. I’m assuming that they mean that any representative’s personal politics, beliefs, or public statements will become part and parcel of the debate; that the “baggage” will be an avenue of attack by GG’s opponents. I hope I don’t need to remind anyone of what that type of attack is called. If that is the only attack GG’s opponents can muster, GG wins.

Conversely, it’s true that GG would not want to be represented by VoxDay just as the AGG side doesn’t want to be represented by Geordie Tait. That being said, the issues brought to the table should be adjudged on their own merit, not based on who it is that raises them. There is a group that functions this way, giving greater weight to who says a thing than the merit of what is said. I call them Social Justice Warriors.


TL;DR – Gamergate needs to take the opportunity to get its issues aired in front of a professional ethics organization. To do that GG needs a few emissaries. These emissaries aren’t necessarily GG’s leadership.


Age of Propaganda

There have been a lot of human “ages”, the bronze age, iron age, industrial age, the information age, and the digital age. I believe we have entered into the propaganda age.

Of course propaganda has been used in the past. The Nazi’s were very effective in their use of it. The US and the Allies used it as well. Most governments use some form of propaganda today. Modern advertising is a common form that we all accept knowingly as propaganda.

News media:

Fox News is a major news outlet in the US with a decidedly right wing bias. In fact they are so unashamedly biased that it gave rise to an urban legend (false) that the media outlet had won a lawsuit giving them the right to lie on air. This urban legend has become so widespread that many still believe it.

The big lie

A quote from Adolph Hitler used in a US Army anti-communist propaganda film reads:

The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one

The best propaganda is a lie so big that people doubt it can be a lie simply because of its magnitude. A recent example is the UVA Rolling Stone article on a brutal gang rape that it now seems clear was invented whole cloth as propaganda. Despite this many of the people who accepted the story without question, still think the reporter in that case had “good intentions”.

…I also know that she was trying to come from a point of advocacy…

Yes, exactly so. She was not being a reporter so much as being an advocate. An advocate who in the grand tradition of advocates on this particular topic, have never let the facts get in the way of a good l̶y̶n̶c̶h̶i̶n̶g̶  awareness raising. In fact, in the famous Duke Lacrosse scandal, the advocates even try to revise history when the lie becomes common knowledge. The oft heard refrain from incidents like these is ” Even if this case fell apart, it was still helpful in starting a discussion…”.

The facts are less important than “starting a discussion” or “raising awareness” of the advocate’s pet issue. I argue that the facts are not just less important to these propagandist advocates, they’re totally superfluous.

The oft told lie

A quote attributed to Lenin:

If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth

I am not alone in having written sourced articles covering the “gender pay gap”. I could literally include dozens if not hundreds of them. Most people who have looked at the studies have concluded that the oft cited median earnings gap is misleading at best and an outright lie at worst. While it’s true that the raw wage disparity does exist, when studies control for various factors (mostly due to personal choices), the wage gap shrinks to the point of vanishing.

Although additional research in this area is clearly needed, this study leads to the unambiguous conclusion that the differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and that the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of individual choices being made by both male and female workers.

Yet despite the cautions of economic advisors, the president of the United States still proclaims the raw wage gap as something that needs to be fixed.

This is the oft told lie. It exists in another form as well. The hyperbolic 1-in-5 college rape statistic that is currently being used to whittle away at due process on college and university campuses across the country. The US president has also repeated this statistic despite the Bureau of Justice’s report that found the rate to be 6.1 per 1000 which is lower than the rate for the general population.

Manufactured consensus

There was a terrific meme going around on Twitter regarding how to create a narrative.GGnar

The ideologically aligned media outlets, whether through back channel communications or just similar biases, each report on a story with the same opinion. Each new article cites the ones before it and adds to the number of sources telling the same lie. When Wikipedia or a main stream news outlet covers the story, there are numerous media sources all telling the same lie. The main stream outlet is then justified in re-telling the lie because of the numerous previous citations.

This is how media narratives can be started and perpetuated by a small group of ideologues hell bent on deflecting criticism of their unethical practices and collusion. This is a form of the oft repeated lie, but requires several media outlets working together to create. This form of propaganda (the manufactured lie) is the future of crafted narratives.

The apparent solution to these forms of propaganda is to read primary sources, read alternative media outlets, and to form your own conclusions. In other words: don’t just listen and believe.  Of course you could always just get all of your news and information from Fox News,

Get some time.

Of Pandagon’s and People

The recent kerfuffle at the Calgary Expo  where Honey Badger and Xenospora creator Alison Tieman and her band of misfits were ejected from the conference has been womansplained (archived link) to us at last. Whew, for a minute there I was afraid I might have to critically examine the reports,  audio, and the ever changing story from the con organizers.

The creationist-like spin of this story presented by click bait artist and feminist apologist Amanda Marcotte, could have been hosted by Answers In Genesis as it met their criteria for fact free articles. Well, nearly…the Marcotte article did have one fact: the Honey Badgers were ejected from the conference.

Marcotte, the Michael Behe of click bait feminism, (hence the title) starts off with a well poisoning bit of telepathy about the motives of the MRM claiming that the Honey Badgers were “pissed off about (the conference’s) anti-harassment policies”. This despite the HB’s own claims of their reasons for attending.

The rest of Marcotte’s opinion piece is little more than scaremongering. Using such terms as “hate speech”, “harassing”, and “false pretenses”, she uses her spin talents to say that white is black, the earth is fixed in space, and that ignorance is strength. Rumor has it that William Lane Craig uses Marcotte’s writings for inspiration and ideas for propaganda tactics.

Perhaps the only technical error the Honey Badgers may have made is in using the e-mail from Tieman’s comic site rather than a Honey Badger e-mail. This seems unrealistic as a reason for ejection since the passes and booth label, printed by the conference all said “Honey Badger”(18:20). If this is grounds to eject people from the conference without refund, and this is allowed to remain, then the world has truly gone ass over teakettle.

Marcotte’s post is also virtually source free. As a comparison, check the number of links and direct sources (including the audio from the panel where the “harassment” occurred) in this post vs the sources used by Marcotte. Hmm, it’s almost as if she doesn’t want her audience to hear or see the evidence, but expects them to simply “Listen and Believe“.


Freethought Blogs/Anti #Gamergate or Cult (Part 2)

This post is the conclusion of a two part examination of cultic behaviors exhibited by groups known as Freethought Blogs (et. al.) and anti-Gamergate, using a checklist provided by the ICSA.

Checklist Item 9

The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion

FTB – Falling in with the “progressive left” the FTB contingent certainly use “shaming tactics” both against ideological enemies and to keep the “faithful” from deviance. A decent description of the general way this works can be found here.

A brilliant description of the methods used by the commenters in Pharyngula (specifically) by a person once a part of the group there can be found here. (Rank=70%)

AGG – Brianna Wu’s meeting with Brad Wardell caused a reaction from both the rank and file and the higher ups for consorting with the enemy. Exhibit A from Katherine Cross. (rank=75%)

Items 10-15 

Of these last few items (which primarily seem to be concerned with physical cults using physical means, the only one I’ll address as applicable is item 14.

Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

While I don’t think FTBs follows this pattern, it’s ugly stepchild Atheism Plus meets this criteria 100%.

AGG – Very recently a group of people known as the Honey Badger Brigade were ejected from Calgary Expo (a celebration of geek and comics culture) for what appears to be ideological differences. A statement by the HBB can be found here. (rank=100%)


While it is improper to assert that the groups examined in these posts are in fact cults, I think I’ve shown some examples of cultic behavior patterns. Reinforcing groupthink is especially egregious under the banner of “freethought” ( a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, or other dogmas ).

As for the Anti-gamers, it is my estimation that these folks have become the status quo in gaming media and are simply using the full might and power of their positions to resist the groundswell of fed up gamers looking to end their reign.

In a sad bit of irony, they are the ones claiming to be fighting the status quo. The gaming and mainstream media coverage of Gamergate shows that claim to be ludicrous. The expulsion of dissenting women from a geek convention hammers home the point. The antis ARE the power structure. If they truly wanted to fight the status quo, they’d join their voices with Gamergate.

In addition, their tactics are simply abhorrent.

Special thanks and credit goes out to Aneris (@Aneris23) for their outstanding writing on this subject. If you want to see more of Aneris’ writing click here.

Freethought Blogs/Anti #Gamergate or Cult (Part 1)

The modern social justice warrior (SJW) movement acts in many way like a cult. This article will examine and provide examples of cultish behavior from two groups that exhibit cultish behaviors. Keep in mind that I’m not saying advocacy for social justice is inherently cultish or that everyone who advocates these issue behaves in a cultish manner. This article will primarily deal with two loose groups which fit some of the criteria. The two groups examined are the FTB/Skepchick affiliated SJWs and the anti-gamergate cabal.

I’m going to use information from the International Cultic Studies Association and their checklist of characteristics associated with cultic groups. As the list itself states, this list is not meant to determine if a specific group IS a cult, it’s just an analytic tool.

For each checklist item, I’m going to give my (subjective) rating for each group as to how closely the group seems to embody that particular item. I will provide links to supporting evidence for these rankings where applicable. Not all checklist items will apply, but at the end of this post we’ll see how many do and to what degree.

The first checklist item:

The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

FTB: The “leaders” of this group could be considered to be PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson. There are of course other people who lead the rank and file, but these two seem to be the ones who “move the needle” the most. While they aren’t deified in exactly the way the list item specifies, these people are unquestioningly defended from any and all allegations of bad behavior. (rank vs this checklist item=50%)

Example 1 – PZ Myers: A recent dissociation from PZ by the group Atheist Ireland (AI) has been defended by several people incluing a “frozen” version of one (that attempts a tu quoque defense) here.

Example 2 – Rebecca Watson: In her own tu quoque defense of PZ against AI, Ms Watson uses some rather defamatory language and assertions against Hemant Mehta following his reporting of the event on his own blog. Ron Lindsey then calls Ms Watson out on her defamatory and untrue claims about Hemant. Enter Stephanie Zvan in the comments section (comments #8 and #16 in particular but please read the entire comment section, it’s hilarious) arguing an obvious straw man by “inverting” Hement’s words  (using words he didn’t say as weaponized rhetoric.)

Anti-Gamergate (AGG): The “leaders of the AGG group are less of a tight knit cabal as FTB, but still manage to defend Anita Sarkesian and Randi Harper from any criticism. (rank= 60%)

Anita – This individual has had so many criticisms of her work and subsequent defenses of it by the group that it’s hard to pick one to demonstrate. You can start here.

Harper – She created and runs the GGautoblocker Twitter group blocking app. Some criticism of the app has been levied and true to form she’s been defended with a red herring.

Item 2 :

Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

FTBs – This is a common criticism by people who once frequented the site (or various authors at the site) who came to be shunned by the bloggers there for mere disagreement. (rank=100%)

Example: EllenBeth Wachs, a former attorney and former member of Secular Women, was an ally of the FTB/Skepchick cabal until she decided to disagree on a very minor point. One can find dozens of similar anecdotes from other former “allies”.

AGG – These folks will turn on allies in a heartbeat for deviation from the groupthink. (rank=100%)

Examples: Claire Schumann and their own Brianna Wu (harshly criticized for merely meeting with an “enemy”)

Item 3 (Not applicable)

Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

Item 4:

The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel…

FTBs & AGG – See above examples of punishment (ranking=80%)

Item 5

The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members…

FTB & AGG – Both groups follow a doctrine known as Standpoint Theory. The belief that only women ( or the “oppressed” group have the true vision of societal structure. This is a tenet of modern feminism which both groups align with. (ranking=70%)

Item 6:

The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

FTB – In the very beginnig of the FTB push for Atheism Plus, a “third wave of atheism” Richard Carrier published an article using those exact words “us vs them”. He later apologized for those words (after much criticism) but even later went on to fully support the sentiment behind them (rather nullifying his apology IMO) (rank=100%)

AGG – I can’t find any direct references to the phrase, but looking at the treatment of Brianna Wu for merely having coffee and a discussion with the enemy (above), looks like a match to the behavior if not the actual words. (rank=75%)

Item 7:(not applicable)

The leader is not accountable to any authorities

Item 8:

The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group

FTB & AGG – I’m going to (for simplicity sake) just look at one nearly universally reviled behavior – doxing. Whenever doxing is done to the in-group it’s a travesty and harassment. Whenever it’s done to the outgroup, well…

Example 1 – FTB: Stephanie Zvan pens a rather lengthy defense of doxing ( which she euphemistically calls “unmasking” – a Poe reference, ironically) using several logical fallacies (left for the reader as an exercise) (rank=95%)

Example 2 AGG: There have been members of each “side” that have reported doxing, so AGG’s score will be lower than FTB’s. Here is an article which you might find interesting on the topic, however.(rank=50%)

Since I’ve reached 1,000 words in this post, I’m going to split it into two parts with part 2 to be released sometime next week. So far we have some correlation in behaviors between cults and both FTBs and the AGGs.