July 25, 2011

Rebecca Watson says she had "a weird time on Bloggingheads" with me.

I enjoyed the conversation and tried to keep it interesting and enjoyable, and I had the impression that she was enjoying talking too. We went 10 minutes over an hour, and afterwards we talked, and she said she enjoyed it. So it's weird for me to read this.
Things didn’t go as I planned, though. While Althouse agreed with me that Dawkins was out of line and my sentiments were fair, she kept saying things that required me to unpack a lot of stuff before moving on. 
Wow! That sounds like good conversation to me. I would love it if someone would talk to me in a way that invited me to go places where I hadn't planned.
For instance, she agreed that Dawkins was smug, but aren’t all atheists smug and that’s kind of the problem? 
Actually, the discussion of the smugness of atheists came long before there was anything about Dawkins. And I never said Dawkins was smug. I was interested in talking about the way Dawkins turned something relatively minor and light into an viral internet event. It was, in fact, Rebecca who introduced the idea that atheists are smug. It was in response to my question why atheists congregate:



See? I just laughed when she said it. A little later, when she's talking about wanting to teach the convention atheists about their sexism, I asked a somewhat elaborate question that includes a reference to the smugness she had mentioned. That was in the context of saying that maybe atheists feel particularly advanced intellectually and might imagine that they can be a little edgy on the subject of gender without deserving (like lesser folk) to be thought of as sexist:



Her response, as you can hear in that clip is to switch to attacking religious people as more smug. As she says at her blog post:
So I had to back up and explain that no, atheists are not all smug just because they think they know the truth. Religious people, I tried to explain, think they know the truth and further many think that others who don’t know the truth are going to burn in Hell when they die. I would have gone on to explain how these same people believe this entire Universe was created especially for them, and what’s more smug than that, but Althouse kept interrupting me.
Okay, I do cut in, but I think I do it gently, trying to bring her back to the question, which wasn't who's smugger, atheists or religious folk, but whether possibly atheists feel less constrained in talking about gender matters. I could have been much more forceful in pointing out that she changed the subject and ran away from looking deeply into the minds of the atheists, instead preferring to drag in a convenient punching bag: those terrible religionists who think other people are going to hell. But I thought I was serving up pretty rich opportunities for her to show her stuff as an excellent spontaneous thinker and speaker (which is what I'm always trying to find for Bloggingheads).

This reminds me. I forgot to ask her a question I wanted to ask about the atheist in the elevator — the man who asked her if she'd like to come to his room for coffee. I wanted to know what she said to him at the time. We know that later, she slammed him in a blog post. And now, here I am, slammed in a blog post of hers days after the encounter. So I'm kind of empathizing with the elevator guy.

Email me, elevator guy!

137 comments:

pbAndj said...

At least you didn't ask her to have coffee.

Big Mike said...

Email me, elevator guy!

Oh, oh, Meade. This bodes ill, indeed.

Big Mike said...

Rebecca Watson says she had "a weird time on Bloggingheads" with me.

Have you considered the possibility that she has a weird time with normal people? Just askin'

kcom said...

Correction:

the man who asked her if he'd like to come to her room for coffee

Should be

the man who asked her if she'd like to come to his room for coffee

edutcher said...

You tried to inject the occasional salient point into the midst of her yammering.

Apparently, she doesn't like having people ask her why she does things the way she does.

And you'd think she'd be used to it by now.

PS You also looked a whole lot nicer.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

...trying to bring her back to the question, which wasn't who's smugger...

This is why most bloggingheads -- and op-ed columns -- are boring. The question, to most commenters, is always who's superlative.

Carol_Herman said...

You know, if a person got "converted" by a good conversation; you wouldn't need the music. The rigmarole. Nor would you need to be dipped in water.

Religion, at one time, was definitely passed on through the tribe. When people discovered sailing ships? Some of them grabbed onto their faith because of the roiling sea?

While I always preferred Mark Twain's arguments. I'd rather laugh than have to deal with arguments.

Let alone arguments you could lose a good friend over.

Or worse. In the days when girls grew up dreaming of church weddings ... to lose someone you loved because you picked a person from a non-approved faith list.

My grandma, not born in America. But having come here at 40 ... didn't quite grasp everything about English. So when she spoke, it was kinda' fractured.

It was said when my Uncle Martin, called on my Aunt Rebecca, to take her out on a date ... my grandma would say to her daughter "be a little faithless."

She probably just meant "don't get pregnant. But it's very hard to learn how to express yourself as an adult, whose language skills developed "in the old country."

Here? "Weird" may not mean what you think it means?

traditionalguy said...

Rebecca doesn't like intelligent women either. Men don't like them, but a feminist should not dislike another smart women

But they manage to find something to criticize about them.

"This town isn't big enough for both of us," says one powerful man to another powerful man.

Among smart women the town must be even smaller.

Now what was it about Palin that deserves criticism, again?

Ann Althouse said...

@kcom Thanks. Corrected.

rhhardin said...

Her comfort zone is that somebody else is at fault for something.

This isn't unusual, as any guy can tell you.

I don't know if there's a name for it in "Games People Play."

The advice for "Yes but" is to move on and look for a game of rape-o ("Come hither / get away from me you beast") elsewhere in the party.

Lem said...

Catfight!

AJ Lynch said...

I have a feeling Rebecca attracts weird.

MarkG said...

I think she's pissed because she got a lot of heat for being ugly in the Althouse comments. That would be hard for anyone, even a pink-haired nerdy girl. Althouse, your commenters are a bunch of animals.

Her commenters, however, are retards. They don't like you and they kiss her ass. That's just crazy.

bagoh20 said...

I hope I live long enough for my brain to shrink that much.

chickenlittle said...

Check out the comments on her blog--holy Anti-Althousia!!

Ann Althouse said...

"Now what was it about Palin that deserves criticism, again?"

You are misunderstanding my attitude toward Palin, perhaps because you are seeing me interacting, here on this blog, with Palin-lovers.

You should watch me in the context of talking to a Palin-hater: here

Robert said...

Oh, merciful God,

Please let this fucking topic DIE already.

Lucius said...

Oy! Ok, you know, even with all this-- clearly she tends to melodrama-- I'm past wanting to de-demonize the guy in the elevator.

Maybe he was John Malkovich in "Dangerous Liaisons." Maybe he was bold and staring her down with sociopathic eyes. All things considered, I think the 4am pass was rude. I'm sick of people acting like he was doing him a favor; or as if, somehow, none of us would be here if our gloriously lecherous fathers hadn't hit on our mommas at 4am in an elevator.

That's what I've been thnking all day. Poor Rebecca. She's been given a hard time here. And even when she's against homeopathy!!

--So now. Here it goes again. I watched the entire diavlog when it came out, and I thought it was delightful.

I was prepared for an Althouse/Goldberg contretemps. But they seemed to get along fine. It was a charming conversation; and I think if other Althouse commenters had watched it then, they'd be more kindly disposed towards Watson.

But her blogpost is a big Whatevs. She's embarassing herself. Maybe she's miffed at herself rather than AA, but she burdens AA with the responsibility of somehow keeping her from getting across some brilliant insight that somehow she didn't get to deliver?

She needs to have the maturity to reckon with the fact that she goes to conventions full of men who have been reading Nietzsche and Ayn Rand through their teen years. As did I.

So all these guys think they're John Malkovich in "Dangerous Liaisons". They don't think Rebecca's going to Hell; but they think she's coming to bed with them.

Two different kinds of smug. That's what she needs to distinguish. And then contemplate the kind of smug Ann questioned her about.

bagoh20 said...

"Oh, merciful God, "

Apparently, God is a feminist...and an athiest...and a nerd.

slatconsulting said...

As I remarked last night, she's just a very unpleasant human being. People like her never punch out; they wear their politics on their sleeves 24/7. She says things that you'd never expect to hear outside of a Women's Studies discussion group. Very exhausting for the rest of us.

Patrick said...

For the love of all that is beautiful and serene, would you please, please stop posting clips that include this woman's face?

traditionalguy said...

One of Rebecca's commenters said that Althouse is "a clueless flibbertigibbet".

They need a lesson in insulting methods that leave marks. What the heck is hurtful about being called a Flibbertigibbet?

Lem said...

Email me, elevator guy!

I found him.

chuck b. said...

This.--> "Here? 'Weird' may not mean what you think it means?"

And now this blog post makes it feel a whole lot weirder, I'm sure. Like Daniel Clowes, Harvey Pekar weird.


People who call other people smug often sound really smug. It's a label whose application inevitably invites close scrutiny.

MarkG said...

Sorry I forgot to post on this earlier...

Yeah, right. She "forgot." What's she really thinking is: "I want some revenge!"

But I felt that many times I was interrupted before I had even begun to flesh out my point...

And aren't we sad about it. It's not called "Boringheads" for nothing.

traditionalguy said...

My mistake Professor.

You are a neutral, like a cruel Switzerland.

I remember getting into a fist fight once for having answered a question on whether this guy was the best athlete at his position compared to another player. High school is an intense experience.

He wasn't the best, and I had given my neutral and honest opinion why not.

But in hindsight that really was a criticism.

Patrick said...

Good one Lem

Skippy said...

I thought you were amazingly sincere and nice to her when she was making some horny, insensitive guy look like an idiot. Actually, she looked like an idiot. And I still don't know why atheists have to have conventions. To meet other atheists to have sex with seems like the only reason.

Tubby Z said...

You are very good at this, Ann. Someday when this young woman stops dyeing her hair red, she will have a better appreciation for this conversation.

AJ Lynch said...

I do apologize though for judging Rebecca and saying she attracts weird since I almost never watch Boringheads [tm] [owned by Trooper York] when it includes an odd looking or smug-ass adversary which is almost all the time.

Luther said...

The conceit of this whole episode is smugness beyond compare. On all sides.

lunherse... yes, it is by now.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh, merciful God, Please let this fucking topic DIE already."

Haven't you heard? There is no God.

Ann Althouse said...

"Flibbertigibbet" tends to mark the speaker as somebody who was born around 1890.

Jana said...

"Flibbertigibbet" tends to mark the speaker as somebody who was born around 1890.

Or a fan of 1990's existentialist romp, "Joe Vs. the Volcano."

William said...

Smugness is not a function of religious or atheistic beliefs. It comes from a wish to be one up and morally superior to the people with whom you disagree. Smugness is thus more a function of insecurity than of certitude. There's something a little smug about claiming your group is less smug than some other group. The Socratically smug acknowledge their own smugness and search for humility....I'd also like to take issue with Ms. Watson's suggestion re sex dolls. I don't know if it even occurred to her but the expensive polyethelene models weigh quite a lot. They're just to much trouble to take on airplane trips. Also some of us find the thought of some officious TSA agent putting his hands all over our Sarah doll highly offensive. The blow up models are more practical for travel purposes, but who has the breath to blow them up after all the long winded conversations at atheist conventions. Ms. Watson's suggestion that lonely men bring sex dolls to atheist conventions is totally impractical.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

Email me, elevator guy!

If Christopher Hitchens had been the elevator atheist, we would have heard zip zero zilch from Watson.

Brian Hancock said...

I had a twitter exchange with Rebecca Watson a year or two ago and I disageed with her that Richard Dawkins shouldn't arrest the Pope, because it would hurt the skeptical movement and it was like I was attacking the whole movement by disagreeing with her on one point.

She takes molehills and makes mountains out of them it seems.

Bright lady, but seems to be looking for a fight at times.

AJ Lynch said...

Never heard of penance Trooper?Althouse views us with the same disdain oBama had for jet owners and you have for Jet players.

AJ Lynch said...

Trooper asked:

"Why do you keep inflicting these people on us? What did we ever do to you?"

Yeah you'd think Althouse could find some normal, non-skeevy people to have fully-clothed conservations with?

John Lynch said...

Atheists are mad that they don't get the last word.

The Crack Emcee said...

I am so proud - I'm talking, like, a gay PRIDE parade of proud - that I, one of Althouse's resident hillbilly/animals, atheists/skeptics, have not taken in one friggin' word of this. I never once hit the "play" button for red-haired Watson.

On the other hand, I was up for most of last night, screening one Amy Winehouse video after another, gladly wallowing in the "black" depression that consumed her, apparently, whenever she wasn't in love. Gawd, she was something.

I don't know what the rest of you live for, but dialogues with angry, buck-toothed little girl impostors to womanhood just won't ever do it for me.

Ann Althouse said...

"Or a fan of 1990's existentialist romp, "Joe Vs. the Volcano.""

Then it wouldn't be an insult, though, right?, which it was intended to be.

Bob Ellison said...

I'm not on-topic.

But let me crawl up to this ridiculous discussion. Professor, you and Rebecca Watson were fair with each other.

As a guy who thinks himself romantic, I must ask: is there room for the guy in the elevator who simply wanted to connect with Rebecca?

Modern feminism denies masculine romance, and that's a shame. Most of us nice guys love our women more than femininists can believe.

Fred4Pres said...

I think that hair dye will shrink your brain prematurely.

Okay, I guess I am being smug!

traditionalguy said...

In all seriousness, the best part of cruelly neutral mistress Althouse is he skill at expanding our thinking out to the edge of Theoretical Contrarian Land.

It helps sharpen us for debate with them.

But more importantly it gives us a wider set of views in the thought life around us. And that can free us up to learn something new.

Knowledge today is expanding faster and faster. Maintaining oneself in a stubborn and narrow view of reality is self handicapping.

I say the same to narrow minded Atheists who have no idea what they are depriving themselves of in the God breathed scripture that they so proudly avoid.

If knowledge is a good thing, why shouldn't you have it too?

That goes for the latest developments in science, in psychology, and in the free exchange of ideas.

MikeR said...

The comments over there are strange, too. A perfectly normal, friendly Bloggingheads, but they didn't see it that way. I'm with Big Mike.

Canuck said...

"As a guy who thinks himself romantic, I must ask: is there room for the guy in the elevator who simply wanted to connect with Rebecca?

Modern feminism denies masculine romance, and that's a shame. Most of us nice guys love our women more than femininists can believe."

ok - I'm a married woman so I'm out of the dating scene, but...

Please please please don't ask strange women for sex in elevators in the middle of the night.

Wait until the next day and ask her to coffee.

Asking for strangers for sex in elevators is not romantic. It's not a good idea. And it's not good dating tactics.

If she's the least bit cautious, she's going to be a bit worried about the sitution. If a strange man in the elevator of my hotel asked if he could come to my hotel room I'd be going to the front desk ASAP, just to be safe.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann,

The dumbshit who called you "a clueless flibbertigibbet" is P.Z. Myers. Here's the last post I did on him. He's a clown.

I mean, flibbertigibbet? Even worse:

Did you notice no one, over there, even flinched when he said it?

We're talking BIG TIME losers,...

Seven Machos said...

I stand corrected because of my description yesterday. This woman isn't just some prudish hag. She's a passive-aggressive prudish hag.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucius said...

Reading Rebecca's sycophants at the link, and her replies--

Ann Althouse has "weird baggage" about feminism?! What, is it "weird baggage" to-- hell, did Ann even question "feminism" as such in the diavlog?

I mean, Rebecca says she knew nothing of Althouse before the bhtv exchange.

Except that Ann was "on her side". Is that a prerequisite now for discussion? "Bah!"

The Crack Emcee said...

All feminists have weird baggage.

I thought you knew,...

BJM said...

The Vortex pulls another one under.

Watson obviously didn't do her DD as she was unfamiliar with Althouse's method of posing questions.

So accustomed is she to the echo chamber that she can't think outside it's parameters and when Althouse quickly pulled Watson off her talking points and smug assumptions, she floundered.

Obviously it smarted.

Watson's post-BH complaint is the mother of all progressive cliches; victimization as fallback position.

FAIL.

chickenlittle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

Atheism is a religion and most religious people are smug. It's agnostics who are humble.

chickenlittle said...

wv = "smugly" Portmanteau word derived from "smart" and "ugly." Perhaps related to earlier definitions link and used disparagingly on Internet blogs beginning around 2011.

BJM said...

@Lucius

Reading Rebecca's sycophants at the link, and her replies--

What is with the current crop of feminists? They are such fragile flowers.

Our female ancestors left family and everything they knew to board ships and/or walked though wilderness beside wagons, birthing and burying kin along the way to carve out a nation and a future where these weak sisters wilt when asked a few unexpected questions?

Jeebus.

fivewheels said...

Who could have possibly imagined that this woman would misinterpret and then misrepresent her interaction with another person after the fact? Shocker.

Lucius said...

Not to toot Bob Wright's horn here, but you'd think Watson would know bloggingheads from a whole in the ground.

In a very beat-around-the-bush (am I evincing 'feminist baggage'?) sort of way, she's shrugging off her 70mins of fame with AA as some weird social obligation she was vaguely schnookered into.

That's hard to buy.

I'm very hard pressed to imagine what she can feel regret about. I watched the whole damn thing. Seemed perfectly amiable. You'd think she'd be eager to do it again.

Plus, that was a fancy little headset she was wearing on bhtv, wasn't it? Shit, Glenn Loury and David Frum do bhtv all the time and often it's hard to hear them.

They're big in the bloggy world. They want to get their word out. But they haven't invested in a Space Age headphones/mic set like that.

What does she have all that hardware for, skype sex or something? . . .

Lucius said...

"whole"/hole

Weird feminist baggage, like she says.

Robert Cook said...

"Atheists are mad that they don't get the last word."

Oh...but we do.

jamboree said...

This whole exchange is creeping me out.

So she got a bit weirded out. Let her be weirded out already.

Text is so much faster that I rarely watch those blogging heads vids, but her explanation is perfectly clear especially if you don't cut off the few paragraphs preceding those you quoted.

It's like a guy (maybe on an elevator) trying to debate a woman that is creeped out by him into liking him....like if you just argue these minor points effectively, she realize she had no right to attend to the feeling that every cell in her body is sending her.

Robert Cook said...

Reading Ms. Watson's account of her experience of the Bloggingheads session, I think she's being perfectly fair and not inaccurate. The discussion did turn on the event more than on "sciency" things, and Prof. Althouse did tend to interrupt Ms. Watson and talk over her while Watson was speaking.

Some find this perfectly normal or even desirable conversational behavior, while others don't. I sometimes forget myself and have a similar tendency when in a lively conversation to interrupt in the same manner and speak over my conversational partners; I have been met, at times, with the response, "Let me finish, you're interrupting."

Ms. Watson was not really negative about the exchange, and even said she enjoyed it. I think the conversation just focused on the event much more than she had expected or preferred.

rhhardin said...

Smug as a bug in a rug.

DaveW said...

Every screencap you used in these posts shows her smiling. Notice that the screencap she chose shows her frowning and looking unhappy?

I didn't watch the whole thing, but what little I did watch gave me the idea she wasn't exactly suffering.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

@William @ 10:55

Hilarious.

I have to believe the drunken sop that made a pass at 'Ms. Watson' on the elevator was Robert Cook.

Or at least he wishes he was.

Revenant said...

Personally I thought Althouse's questioning on the whole "smugness" thing sounded clueless and condescending. But that's pretty common when believers are trying to get a handle on how atheists think, at least in an overwhelmingly theistic country like this one.

From Watson's post it sounds like she was hoping to spend more of the bloggingheads discussion talking about science instead of the "elevator incident". I'm sorry that didn't happen. I liked her description of the skeptic movement as comprising the intersection between science and consumer protection; that's a pretty good summary, in my opinion.

Robert Cook said...

"The comments over there are strange, too."

I'm sure they seem so, given their general restraint and lack of rancor, hysteria or assertive ignorance.

Revenant said...

And I still don't know why atheists have to have conventions.

Mostly we conspire against religious people and plot the downfall of all that is good an decent. Sometimes there's a raffle.

Lucius said...

If Watson feels there are points she'd like to clarify or add, why not simply use her bloggy-blog as a forum to politely add them on?

Even if she *does* think Althouse railroaded her a bit onto topics she didn't want to linger over?

So swallow back the chagrin, and just go on being a helpful public intellectual. Don't pick fights where they're not warranted.

This is just so middle school. It was "weird"; Ann didn't let me finish!!

It's blogingheads, not school cafeteria. Her whole comportment over this is off-kilter. Not finishing your points isn't "weird"; just finish them, then. Dissent from your feminism isn't freaky either. Just argue with it.

She could write a little essay to clarify her points, but she's just sulking. And basking in her commenters, who share her freakoutedness. Over what?!

Robert Cook said...

"...basking in her commenters, who share her freakoutedness."

Lucius, neither Ms. Watson nor her commenters seem in the least freaked-out, and Ms. Watson's couple of responses to comments can hardly be called "basking."

Do they really seem freaked out to you, or are you just engaging in rhetorical hyperbole?

If the former, then I suggest you study the general mood around here on any given day and you'll surely recalibrate your perception of what constitutes "freaked out."

Revenant said...

Her whole comportment over this is off-kilter. Not finishing your points isn't "weird"; just finish them, then.

Um, she already did? Her postings about the topic at the Skepchick blog are what got Bloggingheads' attention in the first place.

It is really just a clash of personalities. Althouse likes to stir things up and be provocative; Watson, like most people in the skeptic movement, is more interested in being analytical. From an analytical perspective, the whole "can't we help these men" thing is just... weird. From a "well I didn't expect to hear THAT" perspective it was clever.

Doubting Richard said...

With looks and personality like that, surely she should be pleased with any male attention.

{remove tongue from cheek}

Now yes, that is a really impolite, politically incorrect thing to say (not sexist, I would say it about a weird, not especially attractive man too) but it has a point. She herself is not one to put people at ease. She clearly is not good with social interaction, given her blog reaction to both the elevator conversation and your conversation with her. How come she is basically able to claim sympathy for suffering someone else's poor social skills if her own are so bad?

Peano said...

...but Althouse kept interrupting me.

That also annoyed me as a listener. It struck me as aggressive, and I stopped listening because of it.

Hucbald said...

Atheism is definitely associated with mediocre minds, just like leftism in general.

Doubting Richard said...

P.S. as a good atheist I am with Ms Althouse on the conference thing. I cannot think of any reason to meet other atheists in a conference. Yes, other people interested in science, or in particular philosphical questions, but just becase we are all atheists?

The only thing we would in common is not having a god, i.e. not having something in common!

raf said...

"Flibbertigibbet"

I dunno. Sounds like someone thinks you are a failed nun. you know, like a will-o'-the'wisp, a clown.

Doubting Richard said...

Hucbald

What makes you connect atheism with the left? I am a proudly libertarian, right-wing atheist.

Atheism is philosphically more closely connected with the right. Religion, like socialism, is base on the assumption that everything must come from a central authority. Atheism, like right-wing politics, generally requires a belief in the emergence of a coherent whole from many small intractions. Atheism and the right both look to evidence rather than belief or faith that the religious and the socialist rely upon.

What makes you think atheism is associated with mediocre minds?

I live in a country where atheism is far more normal than it is in the US (the UK), where most people would not consider setting up an organisation for atheists as they don't feel isolated (ironic, when we have an established religion) and most of the astonishing minds I have known were atheist. I say astonishing that not because I agree with them, as in many cases I do not agree with them in all things, for example politically.

I was priviged to study among some truly intelligent people. Not just academically brilliant, some of the brightest did not get especially good degrees. I mean people who could grasp concepts that have most glazing over, and flip them over to study them, twist them and make something new and better.

Most are atheists, just because most of the educated class of my age in this country are. Others are religious, mostly Christian because this is a Christian country. There intelligence did not corelate well with religious views.

Robert Cook said...

"Atheism is definitely associated with mediocre minds, just like leftism in general."

...he said assertively, with zero evidence demonstrating the "definite" association in either instance, (and with an equal bankruptcy of evidence supporting the implication that atheism is a subset of leftism).

Ken said...

Maybe you should rethink your sympathetic view of her elevator comments. It seemed to me you came close to but missed the key point. She objected to "vbeing sexualized in that way". That way being a pass. She didn't just object to him, or how he made the pass. She objected to the very idea he would or would WANT to make a pass. FOr wanting to is "sexualizing" her. That was why all the negative reaction.

Ben said...

Now I know hwy it was such a shock to her to be asked out in an elevator. Looking at her, it's probably a shock that any guy would ever ask her out in any location. And since she probably exudes an "I'm better than you" attitude.... She should consider herself lucky than any guy anywhere was interested.

Lucius said...

@Robert Cook: You seem unaware of the great middle school phenomenon where the One Aggrieved Girl flees to the woods to hold court with all her friends, telling her how bad she's had it, while the one chief delegate friend remains to scold you with, "You'd better go apologize!"

They're not using a lot of swear words, if that's what makes Althouse so intolerable for you.

But all they're doing is patting her on the back, as if she had a terrible hard time with that awful Althouse woman-- and they *are* considering AA awful.

And there is simply no intellectual substance to it. Nothing remotely analytical.

I strongly doubt Watson can hack it as an adult essayist or analyst. It's babyfied to complain about that 70mins. bloggingheads.

Obviously Bob Wright couldn't get the two regular gents in; it wasn't going to be "hard science" that sat.

Oh--and what exactly are Watson's scientific credentials anyway. Wasn't she an English major?

The Crack Emcee said...

Robert Cook,

"Atheism is definitely associated with mediocre minds, just like leftism in general."

...he said assertively, with zero evidence,...


I have rarely been embarrassed to be an atheist, but then Robert Cook showed up. Good Gawd, shut up, man. You are a walking advertisement for a belief in anything but the idea you exist. I swear, I will become a Christian, right now, if Jesus will strike you down. Anything. Anyone. HELP ME. Make this man stop talking. Send him to an island in Norway wearing shorts. Something. I don't care.

Rebecca Watson is an insufferable NewAge fool, and that's one thing, but Robert Cook - a man wrong so often he redefines the concept of "a man wrong" - attempting to come to the defense of atheism?

Well - while there may not be a God - Satan is most definitely making himself known on this planet today,...

G Joubert said...

What makes you connect atheism with the left?

Could it be the noisy ones are?

Ann Althouse said...

The *only* planned topic was the elevator incident.

As for interrupting, I think almost any good, spontaneous conversation has overtalking and cutting in. Watch/listen to any talk show. No one can expect to hold the floor too long, nor should they want to.

And Watson interrupts in this diavlog too. Why, in the first clip I put up in this post, she interrupts me in the first second. Just by chance.

It doesn't bother me. Most of the time, I do that lawyer-at-oral-argument thing of stopping the instant the other person talks, and sometimes I just keep speaking until I get to the end of my point. Maybe I deal with it so well that the viewer doesn't perceive that I am being interrupted. For me it's the norm. A desirable norm.

What I almost never do is get distracted by interruptions or complain after the fact about the way somebody interrupted me. I want there to be interruptions, and I talk about that with the diavlogger before we go live. I always encourage the other person to interrupt me and say that I want to be interrupted too, that it makes the discussion livelier. It was my impression that Watson accepted that. She didn't say, no, please don't interrupt me.

If a potential Bloggingheadser wanted to set the ground rule that interruptions were not acceptable, I would decline to go with that person.

By the way, I have some law school colleagues who, at a meeting, will get a sentence going and keep it going for 20 minutes. The same sentence! Because they want to prevent anyone from cutting in and ending their reign. It's horrible.

Ann Althouse said...

And in class, students would bore each other to tears if the lawprof didn't break in and manage and structure the comments.

Lucius said...

@Robert Cook: for the record, let's just snip a few sample comments from the skepchick piece:

"the whole time I’m thinking that you’re an absolute saint for sitting through that."

"She’s rather loopy — it was a poor match for you."

"Althouse lives on the frozen side of crazy. Her comprehension of feminism (among other things) is stunted"

"Rebecca you did a great job not rolling your eyes out of your head. Musta hurt."

--Now, compare this with how often Crack, Trooper, SevenMachos, etc. have affectionately cussed Ann out for even continuing to bring up Watson's existence. No "you did so good, you're a saint Ann" bullshit. No backpatting and ego-rubbing. Just: shut the f*** up and move on, that kinda thing.

No doesn't that feel oddly grown-up to you? Something clean about it.

Robert, if your conscience is cleaner hanging with the sycophants instead of slumming in the cesspool here, why not move over?

Ann Althouse said...

In the second clip as well, Watson interrupts me within a few seconds.

If you went back to the whole diavlog and counted the interrupts on each side, I bet you'd find them about even.

Peano said...

Okay, I do cut in, but I think I do it gently, ...

Gently or not, and regardless of motive, it’s still cutting in. Listen closely to the second clip you posted. In the space of a minute and 45 seconds, you interrupt her six times when she begins to reply to you.

Also notice your habit of saying "mm hmm" and "uh huh" while she is speaking. In one segment (second clip) you do it four times in less than 30 seconds. You may intend those as mere assents to what she's saying. But listeners are more likely to perceive them as impatience, because they interrupt the speaker.

You and Chris Matthews have the same problem. His problem is larger than yours, but it’s the same problem: poor listening skills. I once heard a consultant summarize it this way (his topic was interviewing skills): “After you’ve had your say or asked a question, shut up and listen. The urge to interrupt arises because you’re framing a reply rather than attending to what the other person is saying.”

[This is entirely aside from the substance of your conversation. I don't care one way or the other about the atheism and sexism issues.]

Peano said...

If you went back to the whole diavlog and counted the interrupts on each side, I bet you'd find them about even.

I would take that bet, except that it distracts from the point. It isn't a contest. Interrupting is a sign of poor listening skills, regardless of who does it.

Peano said...

And in class, students would bore each other to tears if the lawprof didn't break in and manage and structure the comments.

You're really rationalizing now. The relation between a teacher and a roomful of students isn't at all like the relation between two people having a conversation. It's part of your job as a teacher to control the exchanges in class. The same can't be said for a conversation or a discussion, or even a debate.

CJinPA said...

Imagine if all women had their conversations videotaped, and could later comment on them, rewind and analyze, and talk about their previous talk...

The country would grind to a halt. Or, leap forward in unprecedented efficiency.

George said...

Well, look, what did you expect? She's got the passive-aggressive thing down just perfectly. Had you been a guy, she would have talked about how "unpacking" all these discourses just showed you unable to understand your privilege or something.

She's a barely-educated little girl who retreats to the PC/gender-studies cant when she feels even a little bit challenged over anything. The notion this woman is a "skeptic" about anything is flat out absurd.

Lucius said...

@Peano: those might be valid considerations, but in the larger context of a conversational free-for-all they don't really matter.

Christopher Hitchens once invoked much the same point in a review of Bellow's Allan Bloom roman-a-clef "Ravelstein." He considered the "uhm"s and "ah"s in mid-speech as something like (did he actually use this word?) 'Fascist.'

Look, if people are enjoying themselves and both thinking vigorously, they'll both get their points out eventually. My brother and I jovially shout each other out all the time; but every point gets made, finally.

Ann and Rebecca can't be asked to be so cozy; but in the bhtv itself, they seem to be doing fine.

I think, reasonably considered, Rebecca *did* do fine. She could use her blog to follow-up and clarify if she felt it important; she could even use the internet to publicly 'converse' with Althouse for her public.

But instead she's passive-aggressively getting "weird"ed out. Don't you find this a bit boorish of her?

Robert Cook said...

"As for interrupting, I think almost any good, spontaneous conversation has overtalking and cutting in."

But this is your preference; that was the norm in my family growing up...but not everyone shares this preference or experience. Certainly, as a listener or observer rather than as a participant, I prefer fewer rather than more interruptions. Such spontaneity makes more sense in a private discussion than in a public one, which is a performance for others as much as a conversation between peers.

"Watch/listen to any talk show. No one can expect to hold the floor too long, nor should they want to."

What decent talk show is there today with conversation worth listening to? (I'm not being entirely rhetorical...there may be some good ones, but I don't watch the FOX, MSNBC or CNN political talk shows, so I don't know if any of them are worth watching.)

Applying this standard, William Buckley's FIRING LINE would not be aired today--actually, come to think of it, it wouldn't.

Bill Moyers' Journal was a peerless public affairs program, where guests engaged in far ranging discussions, and rarely did people interrupt or talk over each other. Yet rarely did one's interest lag, as the discussions were always of a high order.

In the end, this seemed primarily a mismatch between converational temperaments, rather than any sort of failure of the conversation itself.

CJinPA said...

Bill Moyers' Journal was a peerless public affairs program, where guests engaged in far ranging discussions, and rarely did people interrupt or talk over each other. Yet rarely did one's interest lag, as the discussions were always of a high order.

Of course, he eventually grew impatient with such an approach, and simply ditched opposing opinion altogether in his later programs, which was straight party line liberalism, no chaser.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert, if your conscience is cleaner hanging with the sycophants instead of slumming in the cesspool here, why not move over?"

My conscience has nothing to do with it, and it is hardly sycophancy for regular commenters or visitors at a blog to be in general sympathy with the prevailing point of view expressed by the presiding blogger. If Watson's commenters are being sycophantic, it is an exceedingly pale version of it--certainly exceeded in general by commenters here--but there were also a few dissenters--as there are here--but in keeping with the general tone there, the dissents were as mild as the assents.

As for why I visit here regularly...it is more stimulating to me to engage with those whose opinions are so wrong so often than to engage in the mutual affirmation of like-minded persons at blogs whose politics are more consonant with mine.

Lucius said...

@Robert Cook: Who are Ann's sycophants here? I'm genuinely curious.

I don't see much of that. The conservatives are far far to the right of her-- often goading her to join them in terms that some less hardy souls might consider patronizing.

And those to her left think she's maintaining a reactionary swamp.

So who here is going on, saying: "You did so good, Ann!! Gosh, you're so clever Ann. They're not good enough to talk to you, Ann!!"

Really, Robert. You're being tone deaf. Some of skepchick's commenters are being ridiculous.

E.M. Davis said...

We need some kind of an advanced Rebecca Watson warning system. Maybe a LOUD HORSE WHINNY would do the job.

Enough. With. Her.

The Audiovisualist said...

BJM said "Watson's post-BH complaint is the mother of all progressive cliches; victimization as fallback position. ""

Oh, please, this is also the fallback positions of the "job creators".

Writ Small said...

Ann is unfailingly polite, but her questions are sharp and often hold an implied criticism. Are atheists smug? Does their smugness lead them say things that are edgy but politically incorrect? Are some women who attend all male conventions asking for it? Is there nothing sympathetic about the elevator dude or men like him? Is the emotionalism of feminism incompatible with the scientific nature of skepticism? Are you betraying your skeptic ideology by your reaction to this elevator event? Are you exploiting this event for personal gain? Etcetera.

Ann was friendly and laughing throughout as she put these questions to Rebecca, while Rebecca’s voice only started that way. By the end, her words had a distinct edge (I listened only).

I suspect Ms. Watson knew she had performed poorly, but didn’t immediately know why. She correctly deduced Ann had a role, and chalked it up to Ann’s interrupting. In reality, it was her failure to respond to Ann’s tough questions in an unemotional, scientific manner that hurt her.

But who wants to admit to having a role a bad situation when there is someone else to blame?

Also, if she didn’t want to get interrupted, why in the world would she have agreed to go on with Ann? I thought skeptics did their research.

t-man said...

I'm on vacation, so late to the comment section, but this made me wonder what "My Dinner with Andre - The Post Discussion Blogs" would look like.

The Crack Emcee said...

George,

She's a barely-educated little girl who retreats to the PC/gender-studies cant when she feels even a little bit challenged over anything. The notion this woman is a "skeptic" about anything is flat out absurd.

Thank. You.

I'm here because Ann and The Hillbillies (it's a Rock group) are fearless. I tried the science/skeptic/atheist blogs first, and found them cowardly, silly, viciously close-minded, and yet porcelain-doll precious about their views. You have to be stereotypically "progressive," AGW is a given, and the so-called leaders must be sucked up to (as you can see on Watson's blog) which the regulars, here, will know never worked for me. (I have what I'll call "a working relationship" with Orac of Respectful Insolence, where I respect him but still call him a doofus, but it's hardly anything like what I have/what I feel with Ann.***) The science/skeptic/atheist blogs need to grow-the-fuck-up, if you ask me:

They're one of the stupidest, and most intolerant, parts of the web.

Althouse beats all of them, starting with it's host most of all - even if she is a NewAger.

*ducks*

***Though both share a regretful unwillingness to admit wrong.

Kirk Parker said...

Althouse: your way's not very sportsmanlike!

:-)

gutless said...

I'm begging you here. Please do not post her photo again.

JohnJ said...

There is no "elevator guy."

It's a parable.

Peano said...

@Peano: those might be valid considerations, but in the larger context of a conversational free-for-all they don't really matter.

If you equate conversation with a free-for-all, then no considerations are valid. It's just a verbal brawl a lá Jerry Springer.

The Crack Emcee said...

Peano,

If you equate conversation with a free-for-all, then no considerations are valid. It's just a verbal brawl a lá Jerry Springer.

Welcome to the Althouse!

Lucius said...

@Peano: But the point is the bhtv *didn't* become a free-for-all. If you've watched bhtv, you know that the Ann/Rebecca was cordial and fluid by many standards.

I'm accusing you of being a bit of a moralizer here (of the Parliamentary Procedure variety). Like Hitchens taking his elbows out on the late Allan Bloom, you sound preachy, and from an unwarranted angle.

Hitchens was dissing a fellow atheist whose positions Hitchens sometimes became a caricature of.

And Watson is caricaturing the quality of her diavlog so she can sulk gainfully among her own tribe.

JorgXMcKie said...

What did I tell you? There are only two kinds of people in the world [aside from the kind tho believe there are only two kinds of people in the world and the kind who don't believe that]: the kind who believe they Know The Truth and want to force you to accept it and those who ma or may not Know The Truth ut certainly don't want to force you to believe anything. Watson obviously belongs in the first camp as much as Althouse belongs in the second.

Peano said...

@Peano: But the point is the bhtv *didn't* become a free-for-all. If you've watched bhtv, you know that the Ann/Rebecca was cordial and fluid by many standards.

I didn't say it became a free-for-all. I said that Ann tends to interrupt a lot, probably because her mind is so quick and active. But it is still distracting for many listeners. You're evidently not one of them, which is fine.

OSweet said...

Weird: meaning it didn't go the way it was supposed to. I.e. Me, making devastatingly awesome and unassailable points. I.e. Me, demonstrating amazing insights and blowing away the audience with my otherworldly wit, wisdom and articulacy. Me, afterwards being worshipped as a divine figure of atheist knowledge and debate.

Oligonicella said...

Hucbald --

"Atheism is definitely associated with mediocre minds, just like leftism in general."

You mean mediocre as in, one which would pump out such a banal assertion as that?

Oligonicella said...

Ann Althouse --

"And in class, students would bore each other to tears if the lawprof didn't break in and manage and structure the comments."

Sounds fine for a law class. Who's the presumed unbiased arbiter in real life?

autothreads said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
autothreads said...

Things didn’t go as I planned, though. While Althouse agreed with me that Dawkins was out of line and my sentiments were fair, she kept saying things that required me to unpack a lot of stuff before moving on.

Did Ann really agree with her?

Does this woman (girl?) always expect everyone to just agree with what she says? She must spend so much time surrounded by people who think like she does that she's begin to think that's how everybody thinks.

Rebecca, sweetie, it's called having a conversation.

Why do I have the feeling that Ms. Watson probably likes the president's speech last night and thinks that Republicans are just bad meanies.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"Why do I have the feeling that Ms. Watson probably...thinks that Republicans are just bad meanies."

The Republicans are "bad meanies," but then again, to only a barely discernible degree less, so are the Democrats.

Everyone in Washington serves Wall Street, and while they play good cop/bad cop to satisfy their respective purported constituencies, (their voters), all the while they're working for the same people--the true constituencies, the financial elite--and toward the same goal: taking from the poor (you and me) and giving to the rich.

roesch-voltaire said...

In order to avoid mistakes like this, I always wait for the woman to ask me for coffee, and then if they are recent converts to some religion, or non=religion of any sorts, I say no as I am not interested in listening to the lasted precious insight on the meaning of life.

Revenant said...

She objected to "being sexualized in that way". That way being a pass. She didn't just object to him, or how he made the pass. She objected to the very idea he would or would WANT to make a pass.

Well, no. She objected to the very idea that he would make a pass immediately after hearing that she didn't like getting propositioned by strangers. Plus, he did so alone in an elevator after hearing that she was tired and was going to bed.

What she objected to was being sexualized in a way that knowingly ignored her thoughts and feelings.

Revenant said...

"What makes you connect atheism with the left?"

Could it be the noisy ones are?

Like Ayn Rand? :)

BJM said...

@Revenant

Well, no. She objected to the very idea that he would make a pass immediately after hearing that she didn't like getting propositioned by strangers. Plus, he did so alone in an elevator after hearing that she was tired and was going to bed.

Why would she engage a stranger in such detail? Hell, I wouldn't get into an elevator alone with a guy. Period. They get on, I step off.

It's placing ones self in a very vulnerable position and once you push your floor button they also know where you live or work.

Ms Watson needs to attend a few self-defense classes before she becomes a real victim.

Nate Whilk said...

Althouse said, "Flibbertigibbet" tends to mark the speaker as somebody who was born around 1890.

Another commenter says that's P.Z. Meyers. Or perhaps his favorite musical is "The Sound of Music"! Now THAT'S an insult! :)

It seems Watson's revealing things bit by bit. She mentions that she noticed the guy earlier in the evening watching her and not saying anything. Now it seems to me that that makes the incident less benign. However, I watched her original video about the incident and I don't remember her saying anything about that. Very cagily played by her.

Also, she said men should learn to behave "like human beings", implying that, until they do, they're not. That's creepy.

Revenant said, She objected to the very idea that he would make a pass immediately after hearing that she didn't like getting propositioned by strangers.

Can you point me to that quote? I didn't hear her say anything of the sort. She objected to anyone approaching her after she publicly said she was wiped out and going to bed.

Brian Hancock said, ...it was like I was attacking the whole movement by disagreeing with her on one point. She takes molehills and makes mountains out of them it seems.

In other words, a typical ideologue feminist, unfortunately.

Nate Whilk said...

Robert Cook said, As for why I visit here regularly...it is more stimulating to me to engage with those whose opinions are so wrong so often[...]

My conscience has nothing to do with it[...]

Your keen grasp of the glaringly obvious plays a part, surely.

wv: welso. Wel? So?

Revenant said...

Why would she engage a stranger in such detail? Hell, I wouldn't get into an elevator alone with a guy. Period. They get on, I step off.

She and a group of other conference attendees had been having an extended discussion on the topic for the previous ten hours. The guy had been one of the folks listening in. When she begged off to go back to her room, he followed her to the elevator.

As for not getting into the elevator with him -- she and Ann discuss that in the video.

Revenant said...

Can you point me to that quote? I didn't hear her say anything of the sort.

Watch the video.

Robert Cook said...

"'Robert Cook said, As for why I visit here regularly...it is more stimulating to me to engage with those whose opinions are so wrong so often[...]

"'My conscience has nothing to do with it[...]'

"Your keen grasp of the glaringly obvious plays a part, surely."


Umm...ah..what?

Nate Whilk said...

Revenant said, Watch the video.

I already did. YOU say she said that. YOU provide the reference.

Robert Cook said, Umm...ah..what?

I was being facetious. Take it from there.

dbp said...

Revenant said..

"Well, no. She objected to the very idea that he would make a pass immediately after hearing that she didn't like getting propositioned by strangers. Plus, he did so alone in an elevator after hearing that she was tired and was going to bed."

Well, if princess Rebecca has opined on some topic, then it is really closed from that point on, eh? What if the guy wasn't listening to her "hold forth" (I mean prattle on) and was spending the evening staring at her tits? Or maybe he thought she was joking, she does have a weirdly dry humor about her. Or maybe being a good disciple of Nietzsche, chose to disregard her view of what is proper.

None of these things make the guy out to be any kind of prize, but I think such conventions would attract more than a fair share of that type. I think Ms. Watson is more than a little self-absorbed to think that either her elevator complaint or the later Bloggingeadstv complaint would make her look good. We can't see the elevator incident but we can see from the diavlog that (other than commenters who always criticize Althouse)people think it was a fair and harmonious conversation.

Revenant said...

I already did. YOU say she said that. YOU provide the reference.

Your failure to pay attention isn't my problem.

Revenant said...

Well, if princess Rebecca has opined on some topic, then it is really closed from that point on, eh?

"Closed" in the sense that any man with a functioning brain would immediately realize "following her to the elevator so I can ask her for sex is going to guarantee she'll never, ever put out for me".

What if the guy wasn't listening to her "hold forth" (I mean prattle on) and was spending the evening staring at her tits?

Then she is accurate in her assessment that he was treating her as a sex object instead of a human being.

None of these things make the guy out to be any kind of prize, but I think such conventions would attract more than a fair share of that type

Which is exactly what people have been mocking her for complaining about -- the tiny minority of women who attend the conventions being constantly propositioned.

Well, yes, if you exclude the people who thought Ann behaved badly, the remainder thought everything was fine. No argument there.

traditionalguy said...

Well that about sums up the Althouse commenters: An eclectic group of sycophants with an occasional flibbertigibbet working on their Phd.

Writ Small said...

I found this quote from a blog post Rebecca Watson made about the incident, back closer to when it originally happened:

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

When I started this site, I didn’t call myself a feminist. I had a hazy idea that feminism was a good thing, but it was something that other people worried about, not me. I was living in a time and culture that had transcended the need for feminism, because in my world we were all rational atheists who had thrown off our religious indoctrination so that I could freely make rape jokes without fear of hurting someone who had been raped.

Isn't that shockingly consistent with Ann's question about how athiest smugness can lead to non-P.C. thinking?

And later in her blog entry, there was this little gem:

So many of you voiced what I had already been thinking: that this person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experiences as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don’t think my reading list will suffer.

Remember how Rebecca responded to Ann's question about whether she was advocating a boycott? Watson had an attitude of "I have no idea what you're talking about."

You really have to wonder about this woman's ability to see things objectively. Savor the irony! It is delicious.

I also found the video where she describes the elevator encounter before it blew into a big controversy. You can watch it here:

http://furiouspurpose.me/2011/06/21/rebecca-watson-has-a-new-video/

The elevator part starts around 4:18. Judge for yourself.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"Weird?"

Imagine the things she'd be saying about you if you were a guy ...

dbp said...

Revenant Said:

"Well, yes, if you exclude the people who thought Ann behaved badly, the remainder thought everything was fine. No argument there."

I notice you left out a critical "always". Most of Althouse's commenters disagree with her to some degree or another, some disagree about everything. The ones who disagree about everything don't have any credibility.

And the "staring at her tits" was just a colorful way of saying that they were not paying much attention to what she was saying. It has been my experience that even fairly introspective people wildly overestimate how closely other people pay to their words. To assume everyone took it all in and as a result of such powerful rhetoric changed their ways, is really asinine. Which is how Rebecca Watson comes off to me.