I’d like to introduce myself here. I’m Pete, but recently you may have also known me by my temporary Twitter name @atheism_plus
I created this account shortly after the original Atheism+ impersonator, @atheismplus, outed him/herself. My purpose was to create a more subtle parody of this new movement, which I feel takes itself far too seriously. I tried mostly to let absurdity speak for itself; to tweet the writings of important people in the new “A+” movement, along with a sarcastic comment. These comments were readily interpreted as sincere by both proponents and opponents of Atheism+, and not even the founder of Athiesm+ Jen McCreight was able to positively identify me as an impostor. Although I specifically stated I was not an official voice of the movement, I was able to gain nearly 300 followers in a few days.
This is an illustration of Poe’s Law, which states that “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” When I finally revealed myself, some proponents of Atheism+ claimed that my account did not qualify for this, on the basis that what I said as a supposed Atheism+ fan was actually correct. I’m confused by this allegation, as this surely makes it an excellent Poe? In any case, anybody claiming this would be put in the position of defending the ridiculous statements I made as @atheism_plus.
Once I revealed myself, the flurry of blocks I got caused twitter to identify the account as spam, and it has been suspended until an appeal is accepted. This means that the farewell message I left to Atheism+ has not been read by many people. For this reason, I repeat my final tweets as that account here:
1. Yes, as some suspected but none apparently confirmed, I am a parody account. Sorry for deceiving people
2. I have some parting words for the
#atheismplus movement though…
3. @jennifurret disowned me, but was unable to definitively out me. The fact the founder of
#atheismplus could not spot a Poe is worrying.
4. I like A+ people I’ve met through this account; you seem like decent folks. So are most of your enemies BTW
5. If [Richard] Carriers comments don’t cause a schism in A+, something will. Movements built around mutual agreement always fragment.
6. Don’t be so quick to brand people trolls and block them. Sometimes you’ve got to hear things you don’t want to hear.
7. Richard Carrier has (temporarily?) lost the plot. Disregard him.
8. I was able to Poe
#atheismplus easily mostly by pointing to what A+ people wrote (esp. Richard Carrier), and adding a simply comment.
9. Most of the people you call bigots likely believe the same principles as you do. You don’t own things like ‘social justice’
10. You are not moral paragons. You are as weak and flawed as the rest of humanity, so don’t be so quick to judge or label us.
11. A splinter faction is not the answer. You will just end up in a pointless circlejerk and further isolate yourselves.
12. The response to a world short on kindness is not an exclusive club, and being mean to anybody who doesn’t want to join it
Although I’m sure not many will believe me, I didn’t do this to be malicious. I ridiculed an ideology that frankly deserves ridicule, but I honestly believe most of the people taken in by it are good. Who wouldn’t want to fight for social justice? Who wouldn’t want to use reason and critical thinking? The problem with those who have fallen into the Atheism+ trap is not their belief in these values, it is their belief that others lack them, simply because they disagree on details and interpretation.
None of the connected communities of atheism, humanism, secularism or skepticism need Atheism+. What we need to do is have a proper discussion that doesn’t involve tribes, labels, test of ideological correctness and people pretending to be unassailable moral authorities (like PZ Myers laying down what qualifies someone as a ‘decent human being’, for instance.) I distanced myself from organised skepticism some time ago but recent events, where people previously on the fence regarding the insanity of certain members of the community have finally decided to speak out, have made me reconsider.
I’d like to be able to have useful discussions with people. Even those who have signed up with the madness that is Atheism+. Yes, I mocked your ideas – but that doesn’t mean I am personally your enemy, even if you consider me such.