Lawrence Krauss: Sexual Harassment Allegations — When Reason Fails Us
Krauss is a best-seller, notorious atheist, and cosmologist. He was recently (22nd February 2018) accused of sexual misbehavior and denied all allegations against them.
Let’s assess this situation together.
EDIT: Recently, Krauss responded to the allegations. If you want to read more about that, I wrote an article clarifying on what he said and other sources that responded to his response as well. Read it here.
Allegations against Krauss include “inappropriate behavior, groping women, ogling and making sexist jokes to undergrads, and telling an employee at Arizona State University, where he is a tenured professor, that he was going to buy her birth control so she didn’t inconvenience him with maternity leave.”
Before we come to conclusions, we first need to weigh the evidence, whether the conclusion follows from what is given.
The evidence, in this case, seems sufficient, but still, there may be room for error. BuzzFeed says that their reporting is based on “official university documents, emails, and interviews with more than 50 people.”
I believe that the details of these allegations are disclosed to the individuals that are involved in these allegations, mainly Krauss, his family, and the victims.
Many fear “professional or legal retaliation” from Krauss, due to his wide popularity, and prestige. This is one of the reasons why this is a serious matter.
Krauss came out against these accusations, saying that they were “false and misleading.” He further says that the reason for these accusations is that “celebrity attracts all forms of negative attention from many different angles” (from an email sent in December 2017).
When asked why multiple women, over more than a decade, have separately accused him of misconduct, he said the answer was “obvious”: It’s because his provocative ideas have made him famous. “There is no pattern of discontent revealed here that suggests any other explanation.”
Is There, Then, a Problem With the Atheist (‘Free-Thinker’) Movement?
This is where BuzzFeed gets all BuzzFeed on us.
They say that this movement is predominantly “male,” stating that it includes philosophers and libertarians, and (possibly more importantly to their case) “geeky subcultures like gamers and sci-fi enthusiasts.”
Their evidence for this stems from the popularity of Krauss’ book on Star Trek’s physics, I suppose? Should we then discredit Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s popularity?
They forgot to include cognitive psychologists (Steven Pinker), Human rights activists (Ayaan Hirsi Ali), prestigious writers & historians (Niall Ferguson), podcast hosts (Dave Rubin, Joe Rogan, Gad Saad — also evolutionary behavioral scientist), neuroscientists (Sam Harris), biologists (Richard Dawkins, Bret Weinstein, Heather E. Haying), and others including Michael Shermer, and Douglas Murray.”
All of which are very reasonable men & women that are truly searching for better means of living in this world. BuzzFeed needs to realize that these men and women are what the definition of “progressive” really is.
They are making serious advancements in areas of civil debate, they are impacting some of the most wealthy and influential people on the globe (aka Bill Gates), and they are making commendable advancements in science, free will, and discussions on consciousness. Not to mention all the important discussions on Religion, Spirituality, Meditation, and proper living.
You see, the problem is when someone starts criticizing a movement due to it being predominantly “male.” A movement that is predominantly male, is not necessarily bad.
The allegations against Krauss can be true, but he is innocent until the police find him to be guilty. If we trust that BuzzFeed truly gathered 50 cases of various different sexual harassment cases against him, then all us “free-thinkers” should be glad that this man will be sent to prison, lose his position at the University, his prestige, and freedom, for the grievous things he has done.
Why would we not be?
We can’t have people like this walking around freely without serious repercussions.
BuzzFeed Overdid It
Because of them finding Krauss to be guilty, BuzzFeed came out trying to demoralize the movement of Atheist “free-thinkers.” Let me embolden the parts I agree with, the rest is going to be left as it is, italicized.
But today the movement is fracturing, with some of its most prominent members now attacking identity politics and “social justice warriors” in the name of free speech. Famous freethinkers have been criticized for anti-Muslim sentiment, for cheering the alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos, and for lampooning feminism and gender theory. Several women, after sharing personal accounts of misogyny and harassment by men in the skeptic community, have been subjected to Gamergate-style online attacks, including rape and death threats. As a result, some commentators have accused parts of the movement of sliding into the alt-right.
Let me deal with all of these premises separately. There are a lot of problems here.
The Movement is Fracturing
The movement is not fracturing. Whatever that movement is. I really don’t want to defend a “movement.” Who cares about a movement? For the sake of discussion, let’s say that there is such a movement. The movement is speaking out against nonsense.
Now, is it fracturing? What is the evidence for that? None. Quite the contrary, Dave Rubin’s show has grown in February like never before, Sam Harris’ podcast has tens of millions of views, Steven Pinker’s book is the New York Times Bestseller (also Bill Grates’ favorite book).
The Movement and Anti-Muslim Sentiment
The “anti-Muslim sentiment” is often times misinterpreted, & misunderstood. Watch this (Sarah Haider), this (Sam Harris), and this (Richard Dawkins). Islam is not a race. Read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s defense on why Islam is not defensible in the state it is now, and Why It Needs a Reformation. Similarly, Harris argues for the same case.
Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and raised a devout muslim. She is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The Caged Virgin (2006), Infidel (2007) and Nomad (2010). She is also the founder of the AHA Foundation, whose aim is to fight for the the rights of women in the West against militant Islam and anti-feminist Islamic customs.
Is that a bad sentiment?
If anything, Hirsi Ali is arguing for the protection of muslim women, not against them.
If you do click on what BuzzFeed classifies as “cheering,” it is Michael Shermer, saying that “ Banned in Boston is a real thing. Milo plays the Alt-Left like a virtuoso & his book is #40 on Amazon-June pub date!” (Shermer then provides this link). Shermer is not known for providing very clear tweets, it is hard to sometimes discern what exactly he is trying to say.
The article was simply suggesting the hypocrisy of the Alt-left. Barbara Kay, the writer of the article, says “Criticizing Christianity is A-OK for progressives. Islam, not so much.”
Political correctness chilled real comedians’ interest in playing campuses. Nature abhors a vacuum. Students are tired of having their thoughts censored. Enter Milo Yiannopoulos, the fascinating, outrageous and irrepressible enfant terrible, progressivism’s spawn and history’s pendulum in action.
On the contrary, I believe Sam Harris’ take on Feminism is well articulated and very helpful. The current political climate in the West tends to be very heated and polarized. I think that Harris’ words now are needed as much as when he was being more outspoken on Religion.
What Good Has Krauss Done?
The article does go on to say that Krauss has done some important things. It says:
But Krauss says his movement is getting more diverse, not less. He is politically liberal, decrying sexism, racism, and “the fear of people who are different,” and is a vocal critic of Donald Trump.
But once again, BuzzFeed confirms its bias. They say that “he’s not always politically correct” — whatever that means. They use it in relation to things that are seemingly in accordance with data and science (is that what being politically incorrect is nowadays?) like the reality that “religion drives xenophobia,.”
They then demonize him, misinterpreting what he says, stating that he “dismisses burka-clad Muslims as women in bags.” As if he is truly “dismissing” the individuals.
Straw-man arguments at its best (and worst, since their so easy to refute).
The article would have done well if it simply dealt with the accusations and response, not meaning to demonize an entire movement due to some trolls on the internet and one person’s perversions (that are still being denied by the accused).
Skeptics “believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But these weren’t extraordinary claims,” Hensley said. “These things happen to women all the time.”
This is the fallacy of Equivocation when you use two terms in different meanings. The person is using the word “extraordinary” in the first case differently from the second case.
In the first case, extraordinary is used to describe the nature of the individual being accused. In the second case, “extraordinary evidence,” it is used to imply that a vast quantity of evidence is needed.
Until we have the results of the investigation, we will approach this case as Krauss being an innocent man, as it should be with everyone and all cases.
If the details of the case change, then we will have to proceed to condemn Krauss and his behavior, not for the betterment of the “movement” (as BuzzFeed would think that we desire)— that is identity politics, something we are fighting against — but for the betterment of the world and our mutual goal for equality.
If anything, this proves that even those among us that search to condemn immoral behavior, are capable of wrongdoings. If you want to read more about this, I will post a blog post on some research that has been conducted about this.
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