Diversity in the atheist/skeptic communities: An evidence-based approach

The mainstream media has picked up that within the atheist community, there’s been a growing discussion about a perceived lack of diversity among the people viewed as leaders of this movement. I’m not going to rehash the entire discussion (Ashley Miller’s 2013 article "The Non-Religious Patriarchy: Why Losing Religion HAS NOT Meant Losing White Male Dominance" provides a good starting basis) but much of it has focussed on (the important) discussions of why and how the movement should build diversity, with not as much being said about whether things are actually changing.

In the spirit of Sense About Science’s Ask For Evidence campaign (though unaffiliated in any way), Chris Hassall asked me while I was living in Leeds if I could help him research trends in diversity among the leadership of the skeptic/atheist community. It’s a question he’s been thinking about for a couple years (at least) and one I was eager to help answer (particularly being unemployed at the time).

Continue reading Diversity in the atheist/skeptic communities: An evidence-based approach

Scientific Misogynist

While I usually ignore and skip YouTube ads as quickly as possible, the one I just saw was too ridiculous(ly offensive) to not skip.

Well, at least until “Ben” complained about how frequently he gets “friend-zoned”.

What hooked me on this video was the absurd claim that “Ben” was going to use science to oppress pick up women.

Going to the website (which I won’t link to, Google Pandora’s Box) we find the following disclaimer:

I agree to use the techniques in Pandora’s Box ethically and responsibly. Altare Publishing cannot be held liable if I use Pandora’s Box to manipulate, or otherwise psychologically harm any person(s). I understand that Vin is not a Psychologist, and that his advice is not a substitute for psychological advice.

I fully assume all possible risks from Pandora’s Box and release Altare Publishing from all liability. I understand that talking to women by nature carries a risk of rejection. I understand that using the Pandora’s Box System will greatly reduce the risk of rejection, but with any dating educational program, the risk of rejection can never totally be eliminated.

What annoys me even more is that this ad was in front of a legitimate science video, which means other science-curious people (likely only those listed as male by their Google profile) will be exposed to this shit.

The site lists a page of references to papers and textbooks on psychology to support its “science” but to me this is no more scientific than other immoral and unethical abuses of science like eugenics.

BC Secularists who aren’t white men

Inspired by similar lists of diverse secular thinkers, I thought I’d put out there a compilation of some rising secularists – both thinkers and activists – who break the mould in British Columbia.

My criteria:

  • Alive
  • Does not identify as white (i.e. Caucasian/European) and male
  • Is either an active atheist/skeptic/humanist or their work demonstrates a commitment to human rights and secular values
  • Was born in, lived in, or presently lives in British Columbia

Feel free to add your own in the comments. Names are alphabetical by last name. Not all of the below are officially atheist/humanist but they do show a commitment to secular values.

If you see your name below and would rather not be on this list, please email me.

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Canada doesn’t have a sexism/racism problem

International Women’s Day is a good reminder of how far we still have to go toward gender equality.

Women represent just 11 per cent of board members on companies listed on the S&P/TSX composite index, which represents large publicly traded Canadian companies.

Among the TSX-composite-listed companies, 42 per cent have no women on the boards of directors, while 28 per cent had just one female board member.

While we’re doing marginally better than the United States, even the Nordic countries still lack gender parity on their corporate boards. Norway leads with 36%, Finland and Sweden each have 26%.

Meanwhile, the past decade has been increasingly harsh toward aboriginals, who make up an increasing proportion of our prison population.

The correctional investigator pointed to what he called "alarming" statistics.

"There are just over 3,400 aboriginal men and women making up 23 per cent of the country’s federal prison inmate population," Sapers said.

"In other words, while aboriginal people in Canada comprise just four per cent of the population, in federal prisons nearly one in four is Métis, Inuit, or First Nations."

Sapers found almost 40 per cent increase in the aboriginal incarcerated population between 2001-02 and 2010-11.

I guess I don’t really have any good news here. Also, this weekend is an hour shorter.

New Abortion Caravan Counter-Protest in photos

On May 29, 2012, anti-choicers led by the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform launched their “New Abortion Caravan” in Vancouver. Their goal is to drive their graphic anti-abortion trucks across the country, descending on Ottawa for Canada Day.

After word of this was picked up by the pro-choice community, a counter-protest was hastily thrown together, but managed to attract a similar sized crowd to the pro-lifers. We ended up out-lasting the pro-lifers, both in terms of energy and time on the Art Gallery steps.

Cars were generally supportive of us, with a number honking in support of women’s rights.

Take a look through the photos below for more.

Continue reading New Abortion Caravan Counter-Protest in photos

Elders speak up for women

While it’s unfortunate that all of the “elders” are male (likely more to do with the few women who are making it into positions of power), it is phenomenal to see them explicitly call out the extreme sexism in many of the world’s leading religions (read the whole article).

So the Elders have spoken. Carter, Mandela, Tutu, Robinson and the others present a formidable counterweight to blind tradition. They are immensely respected for their achievements and their integrity. They say that they are fully committed to the realization of equality and empowerment for all women and girls. They call upon all leaders, religious and secular, to promote and protect those inalienable rights. Theirs is a powerful message.

Catholics, Baptists, Muslims and more are explicitly named by the group which includes Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and more.

The United Church allowed women pastors in 1936 but Stephen Harper’s Christian and Missionary Alliance had been debating the issue for over 20 years.

Is there really still a debate as to whether women are equal to men in society?