There is a Predator in the Skeptic Community.
The entertainment community has Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, and Woody Allen. The music community has Dr. Luke, Heathcliff Berru, and Chris Brown. Predators are nothing new in any community, but how they’re treated and what is done about their power and influence over their victims is the same. Allegations are ignored or fade into the background and they continue on, sometimes on wider platforms, with their indecency. That being said, credit must be given to the music community for not backing down and speaking out against these predators whenever possible. Kesha Seibert, who took Dr. Luke to court, and all the women victimized by Berru who took him to task on Twitter, have not backed down.
So why has the skeptic community not spoken up? Don’t we, too, have an obligation to call out abusers when victims speak? Don’t we, too, have an obligation to warn other people about the actions and attitudes of predators in our midst?
Three weeks ago, in an explosive post that galvanized the skeptic and science communities on Facebook, a fellow skeptic outed a predator in our midst. While the predator was given a pseudonym, the predator himself called for the author of the piece to “delete his account” publicly on his facebook page, outing himself as the target. “Ken”, it seemed, who has threatened litigation in the past, had no qualms in opening himself up to the statement and accepting the label, even as he vocally rejected it.
The issue here is that Ken likes to throw around threats of legal strong-arming when any lawyer worth their salt would have told him to shut up. It’s been shown before that he is a bully and has harassed other pages for stealing memes with his watermark, further illustrating his dishonesty as well as a lack of understanding of the purpose of memes. Memes are meant to be shared, without credit, because that’s how they were created. Beyond that, anyone who speaks out against him, in defense of the people he has harmed, is threatened with libel suits. Even though he claims he’s never threatened them before.
Ken also has a loyal following that chooses to side with him and even assists him in helping him harass his victims into silence. In April 2017, while his victims were creating a space to talk to each other and gather evidence in order to take him to court, someone close to Ken managed to infiltrate their group. The evidence they had against him was compiled in a Microsoft Cloud (Microsoft One Drive) account and shared to the group with the intent that evidence from others be added. Ken’s mole sent the link to him, and he reported it to Microsoft as “revenge porn,” effectively getting the cloud shut down, the owner locked out, and scaring the victims back into silence. The group they had created was effectively nuked, fear of the mole sending him more information caused everyone to go silent.
Forget, for a moment, that you dislike the one page owner who has been extremely vocal about what Ken has done. Just because she is polarizing to some people does not mean that her story should be brushed off. “Perpetual victim” or not, you’re doing the other victims a disservice by using that description of her to undermine her testimony and shame on you for doing so. If you must, keep what she has said in the back of your mind and look at other facts, other voices. Study Ken’s behavior on other topics. Even if in some universe he wasn’t predatory, he still proves himself to be toxic in several regards.
A self-proclaimed atheist, Ken uses his platform of 800,000+ followers to post memes and articles with anti-religious sentiments, slamming anyone who doesn’t agree with his atheist viewpoints. While atheism in and of itself isn’t toxic, interjecting oneself into another’s personal beliefs in order to shame them is. Although it is true that some religions do harbor problematic and dangerous beliefs and teachings, many people choose not to adhere to those dangerous portions of their faith and actively serve others to achieve the common goal of a better future. It’s unsurprising that he continuously goes after those of Islamic faith, but he also attacks Christians, Catholics, and those of Jewish faith, often without regard to those who are already targets of suspicion and prejudicial treatment.
In February, when Jewish communities were being inundated with swastikas and bomb threats, Ken posted an article that had the potential to spark antisemites into another tizzy and get innocent people hurt. When confronted about this, Ken seemed pretty flippant and proceeded to block the person airing their concerns to him as if that would absolve him of wrongdoing.
That seems to be the pattern with Ken. Instead of opening himself to actual reason and engaging in honest conversation, he blocks anyone with a dissenting opinion, as well as those who ask him to explain his viewpoints. He uses the block button liberally and without taking into account that some concerns being brought to his attention are concerns that, with his wide reach, he should address. He does not seem to care that some of his viewpoints might cause actual harm and seems to believe that people voicing their concerns about this aren’t worth his time. In Ken’s world, everyone except his victims has the right to speak up — including Nazis.
He’s been quite vocal on the topic of Nazis and whether or not we should give them a platform to speak, going as far as to say they should not be punched and they have the right to free speech. Free speech ends when it endangers lives. The entire goal of the Nazi “party” and the alt-right is to keep white people “pure.” Nazis don’t care if people of color are injured or killed. They don’t care about LGBT folk. They murdered a young woman at a peaceful counter protest to their beliefs just because they could. But Nazis shouldn’t be punched. It doesn’t matter if we already had a war about this, Ken believes these people deserve free speech, the fact that it actively seeks to harm people be damned.
With the news of Hugh Hefner’s passing, Ken shared a meme and applauded Hefner for being an atheist and advocate for the rights of those in the LGBT community as well as for the advancement of women’s rights. However, Ken did not reply nor acknowledge those who called out Hugh’s misogyny and problematic nature, instead, making an off-the-cuff “no thanks” comment to someone who said “fuck this page” and continuing to post other things while refusing to address those calling out and explaining Hefner’s use of quaaludes and his treatment of women.
For all of Ken’s claims of being a feminist, he allows others to make disgusting comments on his page with no repercussions. “Oh god, wasn’t long before a feminist had to come and shit on everything,” said one commenter. “What’s wrong sweetheart? Got sand in that ol’ dried up clit of yours? With that attitude I can see why you’re alone,” cried another, both in reply to someone mentioning that Hef wasn’t exactly a great guy. Neither of these comments have been addressed nor removed by Ken, though with their misogynistic intent and anti-feminist sentiment, one would think that a feminist like Ken would have brought down the hammer.
He has also posted an image of a possibly college-age woman on his instagram page, captioning it “I initially thought she wasn’t wearing pants.” The woman in question appears to be wearing a shirt and shorts of the same color. She never knew he photographed her, let alone posted it on social media. As a self-proclaimed feminist, one would think that Ken would know better than to do this as his intention was clearly to shame her. And while women aren’t guilt free from this — we should recognize the toxicity among our own — it’s not surprising to see it from a man. It is only surprising because he claims to be a feminist.
Unless his brand of ‘feminism’ is only used or bragged about when he’s ‘seducing’ women on the internet. Then it becomes insidious, a tool for grooming, for gaining trust. Something in the further reaches of The Woke Misogynist, he uses his “feminism” as a ploy, a screen, preaching about how sexual assault survivors must be heard but crying foul when someone calls him on his own misogyny, ignoring assault survivors when they speak, and manipulating women in vulnerable positions — seemingly for the fun of it.
Ken has gone out of his way to message people who have unfriended him after hearing the victims speak, crying foul when they say “sexual harassment is not something to be taken lightly,” telling them that “when dealing with harassment, this is how you make it stop — block,” and then blocking the person he went out of his way to message.
In the same group of screenshots, Ken also had the gall to call one of his victims “opportunistic,” saying that what happened was all consensual but the victim felt “delayed regret” and “turned opportunistic,” as if this would absolve him of guilt. In the same breath, he mentioned that he was filing a protective order against one of his victims because “that’s what actual victims do,” attempting to make it appear as if he was the wronged party.
In another set of screenshots from another person Ken messaged for unfriending him, he shamed them for stepping away from their friendship by attempting to use the fact that he donated money to her. “It’s much easier to believe a juicy rumor than to actually talk to someone who has supported your work… and even financially supported $100 to your GoFundMe.” Why in the world would anyone use the fact that they donated money to a person in need against them if they were unfriended? Any reasonable person wouldn’t bring it up. Particularly when kindness in someone’s time of need isn’t expected or demanded from anyone. What he did is a form of manipulation meant to guilt her into changing her mind. Decent people don’t do that.
And in regards to blocking people, some of the people Ken has blocked have been sent threats of legal action by proxy. Ken messaged a friend of his and told her to message two separate people he got confused for the same person. Ken then told her to demand they to file a police report against him and that after that, he’d be filing a defamation suit. Why go through all of that when he could simply unblock the people he wants to confront?
When one is privy to the conversations shared among the victims, there are revelations that are uncovered in the tone of their posts and replies; harsh truths that make it hard to swallow. They all say the same things. He speaks ill of other people and talks about his exes, mentions conversations that multiple victims felt should not have been told about. This is a tactic of abusers known as “devaluation,” where they devalue their exes to their new partners until their new partners are subjected to the same treatment. He talked badly about his ex-wife, his ex-girlfriends, and others in the skeptic community (notably, only females).
So why is the skeptic community so eager to stroke his ego and ignore the women who are coming forward? Is it because we don’t want to cannibalize our own? Is it just because some of us don’t like one or several of the women who have been vocal about it? Did he use your crowdfunding against you in some way? What is it? And don’t say it’s lack of evidence. At this point, the total number of victims counted is twelve. Twelve women. Were the victims of Bill Cosby lying too? What about the women Donald Trump molested? How many more need to step forward? How many voices do you need to hear speak out before you condemn him?
Rape culture has cultivated a society where victims are shamed into silence. When young women began to come forward to out Dahvie Vanity of Blood on the Dance Floor as a pedophile, Dahvie’s fans bullied them into silence claiming the girls were only doing it for attention. The same was said about Cosby’s victims. About Trump’s. About the girl in Steubenville. None of what Ken is doing is new. He’s a wannabe celebrity with too much time on his hands and a moral compass that points due south.
And if you want to talk about the victims, let me ask you this: what do you think any of them have to gain by speaking out against him? Statistically, the odds are stacked against them ever being able to get him on charges of anything. Different states and different countries have different laws. In some, an unsolicited dick would be considered public flashing, but different places have different standards of the law. Remember — the victims had been compiling evidence to make an actual case against him before one of Ken’s friends sent him the link to the cloud file and he reported it to Microsoft as revenge porn.
If one knows where to look, one can find the victims speaking out. He found them in different places, but the outcome is always the same. None of them knew he was messaging or harassing others until one brave woman, we’ll call her “Morgan,” spoke up on her personal Facebook in April. Suddenly, mutual friends who had been hanging out in the same groups were speaking up and saying “oh shit, you too?” They realized it was bigger than just themselves. And they wanted to stop him. But the few who have come forward, even privately, have admitted they’re afraid of him and that simply blocking him does not make that fear go away. They fear retaliation. They fear retribution.
We as a society have fostered a culture that makes it wrong for victims to speak out. We shout them down and defend their abusers because we think too highly of the person they’re trying to expose. We don’t trust them and we don’t believe them when they speak out, even as we tell them, “if you just come forward, we’ll listen.” And when they do come forward, we ask them for an unreasonable amount of evidence to prove it while allowing their abusers to get away with it, to say “I didn’t do it,” and take them at their word instead of their victims’.
And if you cry, “let’s be skeptical about this;” any other time, you might be right. Except there are twelve separate women who have said something about him. Twelve women. Unless you buy into conspiracy theories and chalk it up to that, there must be something of substance here. A mathematician ran the numbers for a different study, but it’s certain the same idea can be used here. If a person is accused of assault or harassment more than once, the likelihood they didn’t do it drops dramatically. At twelve people, the likelihood that he did not do it sits very, very close to zero. If there is any skepticism to be had, perhaps that chart will change your mind, as logic follows that the more people who come forward, the less likely it is that he did nothing wrong.
This article itself only serves to paint a profile of the type of person Ken is. He’s shown several hallmark traits associated with abusers including grooming, threats, and devaluation, none of which we, as a community, should find acceptable. The truth of the matter is that we need to do better by the victims. They shouldn’t be afraid to speak out against someone who has done harm. He should be afraid to do harm.
And to those of you he has harmed that haven’t come forward, I can promise you an ear and a space where you will be listened to and you can find a community where your voice will be heard. Please don’t be afraid to shoot me an email. My contact info is in my profile.