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It’s a trap

March 26, 2010

…or, Concern Trolling and the Skeptic. Or, How Strident Is Too Strident?

So I get my inspiration today from one of the forums the ex-RDF forumites migrated to, Rational Skepticism. And from the general phenomenon of concern trolling. One of the posters found this article on Huffington Post, which I find harbors a number of religious apologists and generally peaceable, go-along-to-get-along skeptics. I have a tendency to disagree with them.

The upshot of the article is a new push for humanism, or ‘neo-humanism’ as it’s called, with a new manifesto and such. Naturally, they open this new appeal to moderate skeptics and believers with a bash on the ‘new atheism’ types. I do not really consider myself a ‘new’ atheist, having been one for a couple decades. But a sympathizer perhaps.

I found this neo-article interesting in that it characterizes humanism as a ‘rejection of theism,’ yet seems to target religious, believing folk who ‘share common goals.’ Yet I can look at the roster of signers-on listed on Huffington Post and recognize names I wouldn’t necessarily want to pick a fight with, like Steven Pinker or Ann Druyan or Joe Nickell. I leave it to the confused, casual reader to Google any of these.

Just seems as if you can always find someone who will take offense at almost anything. I don’t find, say, Pharyngula to be that offensive, though I know he tries. I like it. Yet these neo-humanists seem to find the likes of PZ to be a narrow-minded bully. And I know my own milder efforts have offended my folks. It’s why I set up this ‘Skepticism’ category, so they can bypass this iconoclastic waste of bandwidth entirely and bookmark my Personal tab.

Don’t think I ever spelled that out to them, but my mom is a clever sort. She probably figured it out.

It is troubling to look upon the likes of Ann Druyan as a concern troll. But I can’t help but read this dismissive, contradictory article about their goals and see the flaws. More troubling is their apparent interest in similar goals as the ‘new’ atheists — criticism of religious fanaticism, opposition to the intrusion of religious doctrine in public policy. Troubling because it is so similar.

Why should these groups bash each other at all? They have goals in common, they have different emphases perhaps. Perhaps ‘new atheism’ and its unmitigated gall will free a few minds, and ‘neo-humanism’ will give them some ideas on how to live afterward. There doesn’t seem to be much cause for conflict…

…except that bashing ‘new atheism’ is a sport in certain circles, and evidently results in free publicity.

Well, that and the excessive ‘new’ and ‘neo’ branding. New Coke failed! Just saying.

whoa

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