[First posted on the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/1e3b424aa5c3528f).]
FreethoughtBlogs has been knocking them out of the park lately.
We have to start on the SWIFT website, though, with an interesting article by Steve Cuno (http://www NULL.randi NULL.org/site/index NULL.php/swift-blog/1591-how-to-sabotage-skepticism-from-the-inside-entwine-the-claim-with-the-cause NULL.html). He argues that a claim is independent of any cause, and points out a debate strategy that takes advantage of this:
(1) Make a claim and apply it to a worthy cause.
(2) Should people challenge assumptions underlying the claim, accuse
them of opposing the cause.
(3). Call them names and encourage others to jump on your bandwagon.
It seemed a useful observation to me, and PZ Myers was suckered in by it (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/pharyngula/2012/01/22/the-brine-shrimp-gambit/) too. His commenters, though, pointed to a response by Stephanie Zvan. Having read her take-down, I’m embarrassed I gave Cuno the time of day. The problem, I now realize, is his assertion that claims and causes are independent. Feminism promotes the equality of the sexes, so if sexism did not exist then feminists have nothing to do. Conversely, if we claim sexism exists within the skeptic/atheist movement and back that up with evidence, then the cause of feminism is worthy. Stephanie goes into much more detail than I (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/almostdiamonds/2012/01/22/someone-is-vague-on-the-internet/).
She then followed that up with a detailed example (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/almostdiamonds/2012/01/23/another-sea-monkey-theorist/) of her argument in action.
Coincidentally, Jason Thibeault whipped up an sprawling post about feminism that involves ninjas, Venn diagrams, and (in my opinion) successfully argues that skeptics should be feminist (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/lousycanuck/2012/01/24/is-feminism-skeptical-or-are-ninjas-awesome/).
Enjoy the reading! Hopefully you still have time to do work afterwards…