Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Our Skeptic Forums
 General Skepticism
 Kurtz ousted from CFI
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 8

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2009 :  17:48:09  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From Jason Rosenhouse I learned that Paul Kurtz says that he's been ousted from the Center for Inquiry in a "palace coup."

This blog seems to have some information, including links I haven't followed up on, yet.

Anyone know any of the details? Neither Kurtz nor Ron Lindsay seem to be offering any motivations, publicly, for the ouster. Obviously, there's a lot of bitterness, but what really went on leading up to June 1st?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2009 :  18:39:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

From Jason Rosenhouse I learned that Paul Kurtz says that he's been ousted from the Center for Inquiry in a "palace coup."

This blog seems to have some information, including links I haven't followed up on, yet.

Anyone know any of the details? Neither Kurtz nor Ron Lindsay seem to be offering any motivations, publicly, for the ouster. Obviously, there's a lot of bitterness, but what really went on leading up to June 1st?
I've known about it for months. But I read about it on the same blog you just linked to. Whatever is going on, everyone involved seems to be keeping their cards close to their chests.

Kurtz is pissed off. I know that.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2009 :  20:33:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In a comment at the Friendly Atheist, Lindsay makes it sound like everything was above-board and open (at least within the board of directors meetings), which makes Kurtz' complaints seem like nothing more than the protestations of a guy who has been out-voted by "his" organization.

(I'm sure that sort of thing happens all the time, where a person starts a small company which becomes successful enough that he incorporates and so needs a board of directors overseeing the operations, but then he wants to take the company in some weird direction so that the board has to say, "that's not going to work for the shareholders," and put a stop to it, possibly requiring the founder's removal. Probably happened hundreds of times during the "dot-com" boom, with naive start-up executives not realizing that their initial investors, who would become the directors, actually wanted a return on their investments, instead of being seen as a fountain of money with which to indulge the founder's whims.)

As an outsider, not privy to the directors' meetings or thoughts, it's hard to say who's right and who's wrong in this situation. But it really is their business, and not ours, despite my obvious curiosity. A similar sort of thing happened with American Atheists, if I remember David Mabus' (Dennis Markuze) rantings correctly. AA's president resigned, and there were hard feelings all around, and tons of AA's members were complaining about the lack of transparency in the board meetings on AA's blog. But membership dues don't buy a person a ticket to the internal proceedings of a corporation.

On the other hand, this Kurtz thing was big news (that I'm only hearing now, months later), and it's frustrating to not to be able to get the whole scoop.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2009 :  20:44:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would guess he was ousted because of his accomodationism. Just speculation, but I listened to an NPR story the other day where he complains about the "new" atheists and hopes that they fail.

NPR link, audio and a part of it transcribed.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/20/2009 :  23:40:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

I would guess he was ousted because of his accomodationism. Just speculation, but I listened to an NPR story the other day where he complains about the "new" atheists and hopes that they fail.

NPR link, audio and a part of it transcribed.
I agree. Kurtz is the worst sort of deluded accomodationist (or "faitheist"). Here's a quote from the article:
Kurtz says he was ousted in a "palace coup" last year and he worries the new atheists will set the movement back.

"I consider them atheist fundamentalists," he says. "They're anti-religious, and they're mean-spirited, unfortunately. Now, they're very good atheists and very dedicated people who do not believe in God. But you have this aggressive and militant phase of atheism, and that does more damage than good."

He hopes this new approach will fizzle.

"Merely to critically attack religious beliefs is not sufficient. It leaves a vacuum. What are you for? We know what you're against, but what do you want to defend?"
The term, "atheist fundamentalists" may apply to some individuals (though, since the demise of Pol Pot, I know of none), but it's utterly slanderous to refer to "New Atheists" like Coyne, Myers, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris by such a term.

The leading New Atheists are completely willing to ally themselves with the progressive or pro-science religious on issues such as the teaching of evolution or the separation of church and state. They support strong secularism in society, but they strongly object to denying the faithful their right to practice or express their beliefs. They are forthright in calling religion itself bullshit, but defend the right of free expression, including that of the religious. The New Atheists, not faitheists like Kurtz, are the people who are the motive force driving the entire revitalized secular movement.

Kurtz, IMO, had it coming. He needed to be moved out of the way.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/20/2009 23:50:04
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  08:27:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sheesh Mooner. Yeah, like the guy who started the humanist movement in this country and provided a home for the advancement of scientific skepticism deserves your contempt. The guy who brought us CSICOP, Skeptical Inquirer, and on the humanist side, Free Inquiry, plus Prometheus Books that covers a wide range of rationally based subjects, as well as building the most visible organization for the promotion of skepticism and humanism, The Center for Inquiry deserves to be described as "the worst sort of deluded accomodationist (or "faitheist")," because he has another viewpoint. Obviously, you can't have another viewpoint anymore.

Pat yourself on the back and hope that someday you will have a resume that compares with Paul Kurtz, and all he has done to put skepticism and atheism on the map. I have never agreed with all of his views, which is why I have never joined his humanist organization accept tangentially because I am a CFI member. But I know what he has done and I know he deserves my respect for pushing rationalism and critical thinking at a time when almost no one else was even thinking about it.

Sheesh!

For fuck sake, even the "New [And Improved!] Atheists" owe a huge debt to Paul Kurtz for setting the table. And my guess is that those famous ones that you so revere, know it...



Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

TG
Skeptic Friend

USA
121 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  10:08:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send TG a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think there's room enough for both the strident skeptic and the and kinder, gentler iteration. With regard to religion, true believers who immediately go on the defensive when confronted by a Dawkins or Myers can often be approached by someone more sympathetic, while those who are ambivalent can become more skeptical when the absurdities of religious belief are pointed out with the gloves off.

I have no insight into the politics of the CSI but in this interview between DJ Grothe and Kurtz you can hear the frustration and some animosity.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/paul_kurtz_a_kinder_gentler_secularism/

edited for failing to use the spellchecker
Edited by - TG on 10/21/2009 10:10:16
Go to Top of Page

H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  12:27:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
Kurtz, IMO, had it coming. He needed to be moved out of the way.
I think that's a premature conclusion, Mooner. The quote from the article you mentioned also caught my eye, but if you read the comments under the blog post in Dave's second link, the suspicion is that this probably has more to do with money and power than any ideological conflict. I really had no idea who Kurtz was, but when it became apparent that he founded The Center for Inquiry, I found it difficult not to side with him. This situation resembles a hostile corporate takeover more than anything else. It wouldn't be the first time a greedy company board decided to force out the company's founder.

And Kil's right. I'm vociferously non-accommodationist and do not agree with everything Kurtz believes, but disagreements need to be handled better than this. You don't cast aside an 84 year old man who dedicated his life to the cause of skepticism because he thinks skeptics should be more polite. So even if this were the real reason for Kurtz's ouster (which I doubt), it wouldn't be justified.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  14:08:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Sheesh Mooner. Yeah, like the guy who started the humanist movement in this country and provided a home for the advancement of scientific skepticism deserves your contempt. The guy who brought us CSICOP, Skeptical Inquirer, and on the humanist side, Free Inquiry, plus Prometheus Books that covers a wide range of rationally based subjects, as well as building the most visible organization for the promotion of skepticism and humanism, The Center for Inquiry deserves to be described as "the worst sort of deluded accomodationist (or "faitheist")," because he has another viewpoint. Obviously, you can't have another viewpoint anymore.

Pat yourself on the back and hope that someday you will have a resume that compares with Paul Kurtz, and all he has done to put skepticism and atheism on the map. I have never agreed with all of his views, which is why I have never joined his humanist organization accept tangentially because I am a CFI member. But I know what he has done and I know he deserves my respect for pushing rationalism and critical thinking at a time when almost no one else was even thinking about it.

Sheesh!

For fuck sake, even the "New [And Improved!] Atheists" owe a huge debt to Paul Kurtz for setting the table. And my guess is that those famous ones that you so revere, know it...



Jeeze, Kil!

Paul Kurtz has done great things, and should be honored for his past achievements. But to say or imply that anyone is exempt from severe criticism (even from a nonentity like myself) is not a skeptical statement. That's an argument from authority. It's essentially like saying Andrew Flew should not be criticized because he used to be such a fine atheist.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  14:18:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert

Originally posted by HalfMooner
Kurtz, IMO, had it coming. He needed to be moved out of the way.
I think that's a premature conclusion, Mooner. The quote from the article you mentioned also caught my eye, but if you read the comments under the blog post in Dave's second link, the suspicion is that this probably has more to do with money and power than any ideological conflict. I really had no idea who Kurtz was, but when it became apparent that he founded The Center for Inquiry, I found it difficult not to side with him. This situation resembles a hostile corporate takeover more than anything else. It wouldn't be the first time a greedy company board decided to force out the company's founder.

And Kil's right. I'm vociferously non-accommodationist and do not agree with everything Kurtz believes, but disagreements need to be handled better than this. You don't cast aside an 84 year old man who dedicated his life to the cause of skepticism because he thinks skeptics should be more polite. So even if this were the real reason for Kurtz's ouster (which I doubt), it wouldn't be justified.


I'm expressing my (perhaps wrong-headed) opinion based upon two things: 1) Kurtz was head of CSI, and 2) He's attacked the New Atheists as though they were enemies.

Anyone in the sort of position that Kurtz held needs not to be attacking the primary motivators of the atheist movement. If he's doing that (and it seems he is), he needed to be out of his office. I'm not advocating dishonoring Kurtz, or throwing old men out on the street. Nor, I suspect, are the "coup" leaders who ousted him, since they seem to be trying to handle this more quietly than Kurtz is. Me, I have no good reputation at all, so I feel free to express myself, even at the risk of being proved wrong.

I acknowledge that my understanding is superficial, and I'm willing to stand corrected when I see evidence to persuade me.

Edited to add: I'm now reading all those links, and their links, carefully.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/21/2009 14:54:52
Go to Top of Page

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  14:55:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil
...deserves to be described as "the worst sort of deluded accomodationist (or "faitheist")," because he has another viewpoint. Obviously, you can't have another viewpoint anymore.


Another viewpoint? I would say that calling the New Atheists "Fundamentalist atheists" is a viewpoint much like the statement, "Vaccines don't work" is a viewpoint. Sure, it's your take on things, but it is flat out wrong.

Perhaps what he meant is that the New Atheists were mean spirited like fundamentalists, and they go over the line in various ways. But this is not the central defining characteristic of fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are dogmatic in their views, ignoring reason and logic. To say that this describes the New Atheists is just wrong.

Maybe this is not what he meant, I don't know. But it is what he said, and this is what I believe Mooner was criticizing.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Edited by - Ricky on 10/21/2009 14:57:15
Go to Top of Page

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  15:35:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kurtz has done a lot to be respected for. His position on the "new" atheists is ridiculous though. Only the CISCOP board can say what the real motivations for removing him are, but it seems likely that his accomodationism was a factor.

And really, "fundamentalist atheist" is just a fucking insult. Hypocritical from the mouth of anyone criticizing us for lack of civility.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  17:12:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Originally posted by Kil

Sheesh Mooner. Yeah, like the guy who started the humanist movement in this country and provided a home for the advancement of scientific skepticism deserves your contempt. The guy who brought us CSICOP, Skeptical Inquirer, and on the humanist side, Free Inquiry, plus Prometheus Books that covers a wide range of rationally based subjects, as well as building the most visible organization for the promotion of skepticism and humanism, The Center for Inquiry deserves to be described as "the worst sort of deluded accomodationist (or "faitheist")," because he has another viewpoint. Obviously, you can't have another viewpoint anymore.

Pat yourself on the back and hope that someday you will have a resume that compares with Paul Kurtz, and all he has done to put skepticism and atheism on the map. I have never agreed with all of his views, which is why I have never joined his humanist organization accept tangentially because I am a CFI member. But I know what he has done and I know he deserves my respect for pushing rationalism and critical thinking at a time when almost no one else was even thinking about it.

Sheesh!

For fuck sake, even the "New [And Improved!] Atheists" owe a huge debt to Paul Kurtz for setting the table. And my guess is that those famous ones that you so revere, know it...



Jeeze, Kil!

Paul Kurtz has done great things, and should be honored for his past achievements. But to say or imply that anyone is exempt from severe criticism (even from a nonentity like myself) is not a skeptical statement. That's an argument from authority. It's essentially like saying Andrew Flew should not be criticized because he used to be such a fine atheist.

If you'll notice, I didn't jump on Dude for speculating that it might have been Kurtz "accommodationism." You do have the right to criticize anyone you want. But to call Kurtz "the worst kind" when there are people like Chris Mooney running around, is just wrong. Kurtz may not like the "New Atheist" position, but hey, so what?

"Deluded"? "Faitheist?" Come on. What the hell is a ""faitheist" anyway? Oh yeah. The contest winner... Sigh.

I just happen to think Kurtz deserved better than what he got. And I think it's possible that the board is so quiet about it because they know what they did, sucked.

Do you realize that Kurtz published God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist by Victor Stenger? Some accomidationist...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  17:22:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I didn't realize that Kurtz was out when I read this by D.J. Grothe. I haven't listened to the podcasts mentioned yet, either.

Paul Kurtz is very worried that the "new atheists" will set the movement back. While I disagree with Kurtz here, he does genuinely feel that the New Atheists are not much different than the old atheists, such as the abrasive Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and that the way to really advance the secular agenda is to soft-peddle it somewhat, by working to try to avoid offending believers, unlike O'Hair did. Kurtz emphasizes secular ethics much more than religious skepticism these days. To hear him make these arguments himself, check out his appearances on Point of Inquiry: "A Kinder, Gentler Secularism," and "The New Atheism and Secular Humanism."

In my view, some of his appall at the New Atheism may be stemming from an understandable sense of hurt pride that after laboring in the vineyards after many years, he never had a best-seller like the "New Atheists" have had. (I feel like I noticed this same kind of envious or resentful posture in others, especially some secularist Biblical scholars who have been associated with CFI, who would often privately decry Dawkins' and Hitchens' and Harris' supposed lack of expertise in theology and Biblical criticism.) To be clear, I believe Paul Kurtz has done more than any other person in the last 50 years to create the secular and humanist movement as it has been until recently. I just think that it must be hard for him to see others come along and be so successful at reaching out to new people with a very similar message.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  18:11:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I had the pleasure to meet D.J. Grothe at TAM this year. We talked a bit. He's a good guy...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2009 :  18:29:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

If you'll notice, I didn't jump on Dude for speculating that it might have been Kurtz "accommodationism." You do have the right to criticize anyone you want. But to call Kurtz "the worst kind" when there are people like Chris Mooney running around, is just wrong. Kurtz may not like the "New Atheist" position, but hey, so what?
Okay "worst kind of" was hyperbole. Might "typical" be better?
"Deluded"? "Faitheist?" Come on. What the hell is a ""faitheist" anyway? Oh yeah. The contest winner... Sigh.
Your point?
I just happen to think Kurtz deserved better than what he got. And I think it's possible that the board is so quiet about it because they know what they did, sucked.
Or maybe they really respect his past accomplishments, and so think it's a damned shame that they are now forced to remove him for being an obstacle to the very movement he founded? What if James Randi had stuck to his flirtation with MMGW denial, instead of getting more informatiion and changing his mind? What if he'd then used JREF as a denier's forum? Wouldn't people be justified in attacking him for that, depsite his great history?

Let's all try to answer these questions about just what happened with Kurtz.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 8 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.28 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000