Even After ‘Apology,’ Pro-Truth Pledge Still Shrouded in Deceit

pledge_cautionTwo weeks ago, I published a piece about the Pro-Truth Pledge and its creator, Gleb Tsipursky. In the original article, I referenced Tsipursky’s history of less-than-honest practices in regard to self-promotion and other related areas. The article was shared on social media and discussed in numerous Facebook threads among other bloggers, podcasters, and leaders in the secular community. Overwhelmingly, those who chimed in agreed that Tsipursky’s behavior was unethical and downright shady.

But unethical self-promotion tactics were apparently just the tip of the iceberg. Once all of that came to light, it was discovered that Tsipursky was posting links to other people’s radio shows and podcasts on his Patreon page and charging his patrons for it, as if it were content he was creating. Let me explain. Gleb Tsipursky has his Patreon page set up so that his patrons are charged every time he posts something and designates it as a patron-supported post. Patreon doesn’t verify that it’s actually content he created. So when he does an interview, he posts a link to the recording (which is otherwise available to the public for free) on his Patreon page, automatically charging his patrons for the content that belonged to someone else. This is not only seriously unethical, but it may be a violation of copyright laws as well as Patreon’s terms of service. Pretty awesome for a guy going around asking people to sign a pledge of honesty.

Podcast hosts have since been made aware of this and some have asked Tsipursky to take down his links to their recordings. He has obliged when asked, but the damage has been done. He’s already profited from the post at that point.  At the time this was discovered, Tsipursky was earning over $125 per posted link, possibly grabbing nearly $2,000 from his supporters in July alone (unless his patrons set a limit). Not a bad rake for posting content he didn’t create and that’s otherwise free to the public. Is he giving that money to the rightful owners of the intellectual property he’s charging for when they complain? Is he refunding his patrons? Doubtful.

As the discussions online heated up, Tsipursky was finally confronted by a number of podcasters in at least one private Facebook thread. I didn’t get to see all of it though, since Tsipursky blocked me on Facebook after my original story was released… because transparency is scary and stuff. Not to mention he also tried to force me to remove the Pro-Truth Pledge logo from my article, citing that it’s copyrighted. Nice try. Interesting how he suddenly developed respect for copyright laws. Who knew?

As a result of the online conversations as well as an offline conversation I was made aware of, Tsipursky decided to make things right. Sort of.

He issued an apology on his Patreon page, in which he Gleb-splains his rationale for posting the links:

My previous perspective was that since since the content I posted was always free to access, and simply there for people who specifically wanted to support my activism by doing media interviews, I did not want to waste the time of hosts by talking to them about posting the content on Patreon.

Wait, you didn’t want to “waste the time of hosts” by asking them permission to charge people for their content? Or was it because any rational person would know they’d say no? My 6-year-old comes up with better lines of bullshit than that.

I will in the future check with show hosts to see if they will be ok with me posting a link to their show on my Patreon to get more listeners and to give me financial support for my activism. I apologize to any podcast or radio show hosts I have offended, and will of course take down their show if they wish, and again, I acknowledge I was wrong on this one.

He later edited the post to add a link to the email he’s going to send to podcast and radio hosts. Based on his description above, I would expect that Tsipursky’s email to hosts would include verbiage asking for permission to post the interview on his Patreon page, noting that he’d be charging his patrons for the content.  Here’s what the email says:

After the interview is over and you post it publicly, please send me a link. What I usually do with these links is give it to my social media manager to share it via my personal social media, and the nonprofit where I serve as the volunteer President, Intentional Insights, will share it through its social media and email lists, which altogether have over 50K followers. My social media manager will also put it in my Patreon account, enabling my fans to support my activism, with a link back to your original show; the Intentional Insights team will also put it in our Spreaker (podcast) and Youtube (videocast), for our audience there to learn about the interview and follow the link back to your show to check it out. If you want me to include any additional links to your show, such as your bio, a donate page, or an “About Us” page, I’d be glad to ask my social media manager to do so as well.

Let me know if you would prefer me to do something different than I usually do. Thank you and looking forward to the interview!

Social media manager? Come on. If Tsipursky really does have an SMM, that person should be fired, considering the numerous methods he/she has implemented that cross ethical lines. I’m guessing he doesn’t. But here’s the real problem with this email. Nowhere does it say that he’ll be charging people for the content on his Patreon. The email appears to be intentionally vague, leaving out the important piece that he’s been confronted about — making money from someone else’s product. Sure he says he’s going to post it on Patreon, but that doesn’t mean he’s charging for it. To quote a very prominent atheist blogger I discussed this with, “That’s shady as shit.”

I brought this concern to one of Tsipursky’s defenders who helped him craft the email. This was my attempt to help him rectify the situation privately, but my plea was ignored:

I appreciate the effort, but that email doesn’t specify whether or not he’s charging people for that content. I’d hate to believe it’s intentionally misleading. Simply posting to Patreon does not mean soemone is charging. The letter should say that he’s posting to Patreon and that his subscribers will be paying for that post. For a guy who is oblivious of copyright and intellectual property issues, it took him no time to try to force me to edit my story to remove his logo. [Tsipursky’s defender previously told me this whole thing was a misunderstanding based on his ignorance of copyright and intellectual property issues.] So I hope you can see how I take everything that comes out of his mouth with a grain of salt.

This was his only response: “We all have our specialties and our failings. We should help each other.” Huh? Way to address my concern. I went on:

Great. Help him get his letter right then so it doesn’t appear intentionally misleading. Or maybe advise him not to charge for those posts since it’s downright unethical. Poof… problem solved moving forward.

Message marked as read, no response. And no edit to the email on Tsipursky’s Patreon.

In looking at Gleb Tsipursky’s Patreon page, I see that some of his supporters either heard about the controversy or may have seen a rash of charges on their credit cards last month and decided to no longer support him. His per-post earnings are down to just over $100 from the >$125 a couple weeks ago — still way too high a price to pay for someone else’s free content. Let’s hope more of them discover how they’re being played and un-pledge their financial support… that’s if they’re even real patrons and not fake accounts.

 

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Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

View all posts by Kevin Davis →

59 thoughts on “Even After ‘Apology,’ Pro-Truth Pledge Still Shrouded in Deceit

  1. Almost as believable an excuse as when his pal, Dick Carrier, claimed somebody hacked his FB page to post that he’d been hired by his FWB, Amanda Metskas’ Camp Quest.

    Birds of a feather fabricate together.

  2. This is appalling.

    One of the easiest ways of determining how honest someone is being is their willingness to embrace clarity. When someone starts dithering about whether clear, informed consent is required, that person is defending *not* allowing someone to withhold consent.

    Tsipursky is being dishonest, and attempting to profit from not being clear about the whole truth. He is deliberately obscuring part of the truth, in order to make money from those who misunderstand purely due to Tsipursky’s obfuscation and half-truths.

    1. And your point is what? I shouldn’t cover this because it makes someone in the secular community look bad? That I’m somehow violating the agreement in the link you shared? No, that’s not what’s happening here. Take responsibility for your unethical behavior, Gleb, and fix it. You’re doing your organization and your reputation a disservice.

  3. I appreciate that we share a desire for integrity. You claim that “not bringing these things to light after learning them would feel like a lapse in my own integrity. And if I lose that, I might as well shut down SecularVoices altogether.” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularvoices/2017/07/21/is-the-pro-truth-pledge-creator-ignoring-his-own-advice-you-decide/

    Based on your claims of having integrity and otherwise shutting down SecularVoices altogether, I presume you have thoroughly evaluated everything you say, and are completely confident about all the facts: otherwise, you would not have integrity and would shut down SecularVoices. After all, it’s a pretty terrible lapse of integrity to engage in baseless character assassination of someone who is dedicating his time, money, and reputation to promote truth in public discourse.

    I thus propose a challenge. If I find any aspects of this article that are factually wrong or clearly misleading – say as determined by an external neutral observer, for instance a fellow Patheos blogger – you would take down this post, issue apologies in any Facebook groups you have shared this post, and shut down SecularVoices, because obviously you would have violated your own integrity. Otherwise, you are no better than Liars for Jesus, Breitbart, or Occupy Democrats, a lying hack engaging in character assassination for your own goals, and no one should trust anything you have to say. If you do agree and I find a misleading or false statement, you are not permitted to wave it away as irrelevant (let’s not fall into true Scotsman fallacy), and will acknowledge your wrongdoing, and proceed to take the steps described above. I am issuing a similar challenge on your previous post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularvoices/2017/07/21/is-the-pro-truth-pledge-creator-ignoring-his-own-advice-you-decide/

    Do you agree? I welcome you to discuss the terms, but any evasive statements will be clear indication that you are a lying hack. So will any attempts to edit your article if I find false or misleading information. Thanks!

    1. “If I find any aspects of this article that are factually wrong or clearly misleading”

      That’s only going to be relevant if those aspects are material to the case against you. Otherwise it’s a denialism tactic: nitpick over a single fact or rhetorical flourish in a stack of evidence and claim the whole thing is therefore invalid.

      1. I am not talking about any rhetorical flourishes, such as the click-baity title of the article, just the facts and misleading statements. For example, clearly the author knows how to make caveats and avoid going too far, for example in his statement “possibly grabbing nearly $2,000 from his supporters in July alone (unless his patrons set a limit)” which sets a clear caveat. With his proclaimed desire to show integrity, he clearly must have thoroughly checked any other claims as well, and anything that he has not caveated is salient. We’re not going to play the true Scotsman fallacy game about what is material, as presumably he would not have included anything that is not material.

          1. It’s your job to fact-check, not mine. I will not do your job for you, unless you wish to take up my challenge. Clearly, you understand you have failed on multiple fronts, and simply wish to avoid the consequences by asking other people to fact-check you. Imagine if another blogger attacked you with a whole set of specious claims, and then asked you to disprove any claims that were false, while deleting your comments. Sorry, unless there is an external arbiter and unless there is something on the line, I’m not wasting my time anymore.

          2. How about the “external arbiter” is everyone watching this exchange and the “something on the line” is your reputation, Gleb? Because you are being immensely evasive, something you said you wouldn’t tolerate from Kevin in his response (and which he has not been).

            This is not how you argue in good faith. If someone made a false claim against me, I would simply rebut it. If someone made up an entire post of falsehoods about me and I didn’t want to take the time to fisk the whole thing, I would ignore it. You are doing neither and you look terrible for it.

          3. You are probably right, I should just ignore it. I sometimes get sucked into things when I shouldn’t allow myself to do so. I keep hoping against hope that conversation can help settle things. I need to remember I tend to be too optimistic about it. Thanks Galen!

          4. Ignoring it at this point only makes you look cowardly and frankly guilty as hell. You’ve already shown your face. The only honorable thing to do would be to specify what exactly is untrue, actually address the initial concerns instead of shooting the messenger or to make a full confession and apologize. If you skip out now, the most obvious conclusion that any unbiased observer could make is that you have absolutely no defense and lack the integrity to do the very things you’ve asked others to pledge, meaning that on top of everything else, you are a hypocrite too.

            It would be quite easy to dispel such notions, but that won’t happen by conveniently slinking away now.

          5. Hi Gleb. Thanks again for stopping by. I appreciate your readership.

            You’ve come by to make a claim that I’ve been dishonest in some way, yet have not shown any evidence to back that up. Instead, you’ve played the victim (poorly), challenged me to some juvenile pissing contest for blogging “pink slips,” and now have tried to put the onus on me to prove you right.

            I have not failed, Gleb. I’ve presented all of the facts I’ve encountered along with the evidence and corroboration, and surely couldn’t consult with your prior to publishing since you blocked me on social media (boo hoo) and said you wouldn’t talk to me anymore.

            I don’t believe my claims to be specious. I’ve presented them in an honest and straightforward way. Should you have a factual rebuttal instead of a misdirect, I’m all ears. When people make claims out here in the real world, they’re expected to back up those claims. I’ve made claims about you and provided that backup via screen shots, links to related reporting, and your own email draft. You made claims about me and provided nothing. As a wise man once said, “You get nothing. You lose. Good day sir.”

            Play the victim all you want, Gleb. The real victims are your Patreon patrons who (if they’re real people) are being ripped off by you charging them for access to other people’s content.

            Perhaps if you decide to respond any further, you should consult your “social media manager” first, since you’re doing a horrible job of representing yourself in this arena. If you listen real closely, you might be able to hear me laughing at you.

    2. Gleb, if there’s something I’ve reported here that’s factually untrue, I’ll be sure to edit the piece to correct any errors. Go ahead and bring it to my attention. That’s how integrity works. Not some stupid pissing contest “challenge” coming from a guy whose recent claim to fame is how he’s pushing a truth pledge for others to sign while behaving unethically at the same time. I said if I lost my integrity I might as well shut the blog down. Having an error (that has yet to be brought to my attention) in an article is not by default a loss of integrity. It could be a mistake, which if I made one, I’d be willing to correct.

      Based on your shitty defense of all of your misleading and unethical practices in terms of self-promotion, charging people for content that isn’t yours, and other things that have been brought up by me and others, I don’t think you understand what integrity is in the first place, I don’t believe you “share a desire” for it, and I sure as hell wouldn’t put any stock in your assessment of mine. As we see here, your first reaction to my article exposing your dishonest dealings is to attempt to force me to shut down my blog… not to defend yourself, clear up any incorrect statements, apologize… none of that. Your reaction is to go on the offensive and try to formulate some method to shut me down. Sorry, but no. These are YOUR sins to atone for, not mine.

      If there is something I’ve said that is untrue, let me know and I’ll correct it. If there’s something I’ve said that you feel is misleading, let me know and I’ll address it appropriately. You know, kind of like I did with the person who helped you compose your email to podcasters. But what happened there? Oh right, even though I tried to help you do things the right way, I was ignored and you continued your campaign of deceit.

      So no, I’m not accepting your silly little transparent challenge. And no, I couldn’t care less if you think I’m a “lying hack.” Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Everything in my articles are reported accurately to the best of my ability. You can attempt to attack my character if you like, but you are the wrong person to attack anyone’s. I have more integrity than you can ever hope to. Your sophomoric challenge isn’t helping improve anyone else’s opinion of you.

      Take your god complex and shove it up your ass, Gleb. Also, fuck you.

      (I’ve deleted your duplicate comment on my other post. I don’t intend to have identical conversations in 2 threads.)

      1. Your ad hominem attacks clearly reveal your true nature. Your article is full of outright lies and falsehoods. Your deletions of my comments indicate to me you will not be willing to make any changes to your behavior, and will only make surface edits without any retractions, as would anyone who has true integrity. I am not interested in dealing with you or anyone who behaves in your manner. Your behavior is a disgrace to the secular community and anyone oriented toward reason and science. Goodbye.

        1. As stated previously, I only deleted the comment from the other story because it was a duplicate. Also, I don’t think you know what ad hominem is. You might want to look that up, since I didn’t attack you personally to distract from the point being made. Oh look, now you don’t have to look it up.

          You still haven’t told me what is wrong with the article. For a guy who gives talks about how dishonest and misdirecting Donald Trump is, it seems you’re not much different. You’re employing many of his tactics.

          1. Ad hominem attack: “a logical fallacy in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.”
            https://aphilosopher.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/42-fallacies.pdf

            If you do not recognize these as ad hominem attacks, I can’t help you:
            – “Take your god complex and shove it up your ass, Gleb. Also, fuck you.”
            – “I have more integrity than you can ever hope to.”

          2. Those are not arguments, Gleb. They’re insults and unpleasant characterizations of you and your defenses, but they are not ad hominem arguments. This is just absurd.

          3. The point of calling out ad hominems is when they are an irrelevant distraction from the arguments themselves. In this case, your character is the conclusion of arguments being made, arguments that you have not addressed. Ironically, the person who is distracting from talking about the substance here is you, not Kevin.

          4. You have told people that wasting your time was wasting lives. As in, any time you spend explaining your behavior leads to people dying.

            Yes. You have a god complex.

    3. Gleb, you may not realize but your posts here are not doing you any favors. To an outside observer these posts are just reinforcing Kevin’s point. Quite frankly, the post above is Trump-worthy in its level of defensiveness and deflection. You would do much better to openly admit any mistakes, correct them, and then move on.

    4. “Any evasive statements will be a clear indication that you are a lying hack”? Wow. Are you sure you want to go down that road? As yet another unbiased observer (I’m pretty certain this is the first time I have ever stumbled upon this particular blog), I agree that this post is just throwing fuel on the fire. The level of unintentional, oblivious irony in that phrase alone is striking.

      You have repeatedly skirted and dodged simple inquiries, treating them as slanderous accusations and have been seemingly shocked and appalled that anyone dare to question you. The effort you put into evasive obfuscation is far more than what it would have taken to just reply with honesty and transparency in the first place.

      Furthermore, rather than quashing the subject, you have instead inflamed it. You would have been far better served had you just addressed the initial concerns in that Facebook thread. Your refusal to do so has resulted in you being disinvited from an interview, apparently cost you patronage, spread the negative information you tried to ignore and ultimately marred the credibility of not only yourself but of the Pro-Truth Pledge you were promoting (something which, in itself, is actually an awesome idea… It’s rather unfortunate it might be a casualty of your lack of transparency).

      I sincerely hope you are able to take a step back and recognize that any damaging blowback is a direct result of your behavior. You bear total responsibility to any loss of credibility. It would be a good time to start abiding by the terms of that pledge. Otherwise you are no better than that against which you’ve railed.

    5. Hey Gleb! You still advertising to primarily third-world countries and claiming that getting your message to them is morally equivalent to saving a drowning child? Still responding only to the hyper-patriots exact criticisms people give you and not generalizing to basic ethical principles? Yeah? Stop pretending you have the high ground, please.

  4. That revised email is the real giveaway. As you say, it skates around mentioning that he intends to charge his Patreon subscribers for posting a link to someone else’s podcast.

    To my mind, the purpose of this is to maintain plausible deniability. If he explicitly asked other people’s permission to charge his patrons for their content, and they said no, he wouldn’t be able to do it and claim it was an innocent misunderstanding. This way he can post the link, make money from it, and if someone objects, claim he “didn’t know” anyone might mind.

    If this was the only time he’d done anything like this, it would be excusable. But this seems to be a pattern with Gleb, judging by what I’ve read about his behavior on this site and elsewhere.

  5. I make links to Miracle Girl posts public on my Patreon, but reserve other exclusive content for my patrons. My Patreon is set to monthly support, but an atheist artist I support at a capped level (because I can’t afford more) has hers set to per creation, which makes sense for an artist. She posts plenty of free stuff, though. And Gleb could easily post links to the podcasts as free content, too.

    I’ve only done one podcast so far, but I posted a free link to it in my Patreon. My patrons saw it, as well.

    As someone who signed the Pro-Truth pledge — and even wrote a post about it — I have to say I’m extremely disappointed in Gleb’s violation of it.

  6. “Overwhelmingly, those who chimed in agreed that Tsipursky’s behavior was unethical and downright shady.”

    Was that based on an objective ethical standard or a subjective ethical standard?

    1. It sounds like the writer is referring to a consensus view. Whether that consensus reflects an ethical judgement made by individual respondents via “objective” or “subjective” criteria, is less salient, I’d say, than the fact that the consensus exists.

  7. This is why my web curated and edited science and math blogs are non-sponsored. When people create content, the web should redirect traffic to the source. I have foregone revenue for the sake of honest sourcing. I treat my blog like an enhanced link dump because I use the content of others so frequently

    Patheos is sponsored and lots of people post content here that isn’t theirs. Perhaps there is a difference because it’s sponsored?

      1. I’m referring to news links, embedded YouTube videos and editorial content, etc. from other sites on the net. This is done routinely on Patheos and across the web in general. Source credit is always given, so I never questioned it.

        I’m not necessarily defending Gleb, but I’m trying to understand when the line is crossed. The Patreon example is obvious, but Patheos has advertising that generates revenue as well.

        If the content is revenue generating once it is reshared, then perhaps the traffic to the original site suffers? Is that the difference with Patreon? I’m just asking…

        1. Links back to original content don’t hurt the originator; they help them get more traffic.

          Embedded videos work the same way. Any ads on the video that benefit the owner still play and generate revenue.

          If others on Patheos are copy/pasting content from other sites, that would be an IP violation unless permission is granted.

          The biggest difference is that posting content on Patheos only generates ad revenue if people visit. Posting a link to someone else’s content on Patreon and monetizing it will charge patrons for that content whether they visit, are interested in it, or not. And he’s getting the money, not the content owner.

  8. Can you please clarify why you commented that I am “hiding behind mental illness,” along with a link to this blog, in response to this public post I made on my Facebook wall? https://www.facebook.com/glebtsipursky/posts/10154781302346088?pnref=story

    To quote that post:

    “I’m facing a lot of anxiety now because as the impact of my activities and reputation grows bigger, and especially as I go into politics-related activities, more people are spreading slander and rumors about me. I haven’t had to deal with this sort of stuff before, and given my mental illness – an anxiety disorder – I’m really struggling to manage. Support is appreciated, but questions about the slander is not, since discussions of it result in triggering and anxiety for me and are quite costly. The only exception is if you know the issues involved and specifically want to address it because you are concerned for some reason about your perception of my activities – I can then discuss it, at a significant cost of emotional pain to myself.
    .
    FYI, to preserve my mental health and capacity to advance the pro-truth activism I’m doing, I’m also announcing an official policy of blocking people without warning and deleting comments that are slanderous toward me and my activities. I deliberately keep my FB mainly open, and there are people who try to abuse that. I have tolerated them long enough, and now need to act to preserve my mental health if I can hope to succeed in the long term.”

    I had previously unfriended and blocked you on Facebook (unfortunately, Facebook’s functionality apparently allows people who are blocked to comment on public posts). I have below indicated I perceived your post as spreading lies. Naturally, I deleted your comment immediately upon seeing it. So why did you post it?

    1. Hi there Gleb… why would you delete my comment and then ask me here why I wrote it, 3 days later? Why not just respond to it on your wall? Is it because you don’t want your FB supporters to see why you’re being criticized? Are you that afraid of transparency? Looks like it. Instead, you’d rather post about how people are “attacking” you with “slander” and “rumors.” Dude, when someone presents information about your behavior and provides evidence, it’s not slander or rumors. It’s the truth. Just add those to the list of words you don’t understand the meaning of. I realize you are trying to play the victim here, as you do whenever someone confronts you with your unethical behavior. But know this: That shit doesn’t work with me, and you’re not fooling any of the bloggers, podcasters, and activists who have also weighed in on this.

      You’ve accused me of spreading lies about your unethical behavior, yet you refuse to inform me where I’ve said anything untruthful. I’ve offered to correct any inconsistencies if you’d like to bring them to my attention (as any ethical blogger or journalist would), but you won’t. Instead, you just make vague blanket statements, issue childish challenges, and then refuse to engage. Fuck that. Lay your cards out if you have any or walk away knowing you’re being exposed for the fraud that you appear to be.

      Your public Facebook post was written to suggest that you were being unfairly and inaccurately criticized, and that those attacks were due to your “politics-related activities.” You know very well that your message is not what’s being criticized. It’s your actions. But anything you can do to make it sound like you’re the victim and vilify your critics, right? Here’s what I posted on your wall in response, verbatim. I took a screen shot after I posted it because I knew you’d delete it. Upon reading it, I’m not sure how any rational person would have a question about “why” I posted it, given all of our previous interactions and your penchant for playing the victim:

      “Must be nice to scam money from people, violate intellectual property rights, misrepresent yourself as someone who fights for truth, and then play the victim when someone accurately calls you out for being untruthful and unethical. Mental illness is not something to hide behind to avoid criticism. By doing so, you insult those who live with mental illness, cope with it, and live their lives honestly and ethically. If you want to be a public figure, you’re going to need to face criticism, not run from it. Go ahead and block this profile too. I’m only posting so your supporters can be informed of the truth, not your skewed version peppered with the misuse of “slander.”

  9. I don’t go to Patreon or Facebook because of my evolving paranoia about having my credit cards online and the insidious influence of social media on human behavior.

    The amount of time I have to invest in secular infighting is very low. I learned that back when we still had atheist list servs. It’s getting tl;dr , just like my post probably will be for this type of blog.

    Seriously.

    I’m probably old enough to be your dad…. I just want to understand what happened without wondering about who deleted who’s comments. I only commented because I’m curious about the ethical issues surrounding monetized content and want to learn from your alleged mistakes, assuming mistakes were made. I have no dog in this fight.

    The only complaint that I have so far is that the alleged crime isn’t documented clearly and concisely enough for all who aren’t already knowledgeable about the byzantine relationships of organizations on the Secular Web to understand what part of what is true.

    Without this knowledge. I can’t read your explanation, Kevin’s explanation or Jeff Kaufmann’s indictment without feeling like I am trying to follow a Chewbacca defense or a Gish Gallop. I’m realizing that the time investment would be too great to make sense of it. I make my living in Meat World, and Infighting in the online atheist community generates the same bemusement I get listening to a playground full of angry Kindergarteners. Probably with the same bemusement that some bloggers have toward their Disqus commenters….they don’t care as long as we swallow the clickbait.

    My aunt used to monitor the recess playground at her local elementary school, and growing up I would always laugh at how the tales of schoolyard drama required her to know the names of obscure candy brands, the status of many friendships, the relative social status of scores of Kindergartners and their evolution over time, not only by the hour, but over multiple years.

    She has sadly spent her retirement going in and out of mental institutions.

    At age 40, she only had a few dozen kids at recess, and in her 60s, her aging brain lost its ability to cope with staff and budget cuts, the growing number of kids, their relationships, their electronic devices, their relative tendencies toward mendacity and honesty, their social status and their ability to understand and repeat facts.

    The poor woman is only 20 years older than I am, and while I have a graduate degree in neuroscience and arguably make a very good living at it, I’m envious of the kind of intellectual prowess she required to manage that kind of complex data in real time. It certainly exceeds my own capabilities.. I earn more in a month than she earned in a year. I always felt she was woefully underpaid.

    I found her tales interesting because I am studying the statistical methods behind applied Algebraic Spectral Graph Theory for a future project: understanding how the number of edges and nodes required for the brain to get an accurate understanding of evolving social structure would be a thesis worthy of the world’s best Ergodic theorists. I’m starting to view infighting on the secular web in the same way.

    As a consumer of info from the Secular Web, I feel obligated to understand it better than I do, which is the only reason I commented.

    This is my full analysis of the situation:

    I didn’t like Kaufmann’s explanation on EA because you had to know all the abbreviations, jargon and people involved to know if a given set of accusations have validity. Since I’m not an atheist blogger, I’m averse to getting sucked into the minutiae of atheist infighting over money….the Secular community has bigger battles in 2017 than sock puppets and the flow of Internet ducats to various content providers.

    I think Patreon (and Patheos) is being unprofessional and irresponsible by letting this type of argument explode between two of its revenue producing bloggers, and not clarifying who is telling the truth about deleted comments.

    A lot of commenters are becoming disillusioned with the profit driven policies of Patheos and of monetized social media in general. It seems Patheos cares very little about educating their audiences anymore and fostering productive dialog. Screw ’em….it was fun while it lasted.

    Surely Disqus has forensic capabilities. I also think it’s unethical to delete comments without an explanation of the comment policy so that the entire secular community can benefit. If I have the time and energy, I would prefer to follow controversies like this on a forum that doesn’t allow deleted comments.

    A fair trial involving someone’s reputation and honor should *always* allow the accused to respond directly to *each* of the charges in a manner that is easily discoverable and refutable so that everyone watching can decide for themselves. If there is mendacity or misunderstanding, the explanation should be clear… this has been the rule since the time of Socrates, whose fatigue with the hypocrisy of Athens is why so many philosophers are obsessed with the motivations behind his famous suicide. I’d gladly off myself too if so much bickering over truth only obscures the truth itself.

    My time is valuable, and I hope all of yours is as well. Not finding an adult way to resolve these teapot sized tempests just alienates the part of our community that helps pay your bills with their clicks. I will probably just stop listening to both InIn and SV until the bickering stops, however long that takes. That was always the approach my aunt used on the playground to preserve her own sanity.

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