The Friendly Atheist and Lawrence Krauss

There was an interesting excerpt from the Buzzfeed article:

A few allegations about Krauss made their way onto skeptic blogs, but were quickly taken down in fear of legal action. So for years, these stories have stayed inside whisper networks in skepticism and physics.

It gets even more interesting when you consider something atheist activist Ed Brayton wrote:

Buzzfeed has a long and detailed article that makes a compelling case against Lawrence Krauss as a serial sexual harasser, something for which he has long had a reputation for being in the atheist community. It isn’t a he said/she said, it’s a he said/a whole bunch of shes said, along with a bunch of witnesses to it in situations over the course of years and years.

In fact, multiple members of the atheist movement are claiming it was an “open secret.”

So let’s get this straight.  Krauss has long had a reputation of being a “serial sexual harasser” in the atheist community and his behavior was well known in the skeptic whisper network.  In other words, large portions of the Buzzfeed article were probably not news to most of the prominent atheist activists.

Now, does anyone seriously believe that activist Hemant Mehta did not also know of this reputation and was completely unaware of any of these whispers?  That’s not believable.  Mehta is deeply plugged into the atheist/skeptic community as one of their lead activists.  We would expect him to spend much of his time communicating, networking, and coordinating with his fellow atheist activists.  It is, after all, his fulltime job.

Since it is quite likely Mehta knew of Krauss’s reputation with atheist women, how does he explain his long history of promoting Krauss on his popular blog?

If you go to his page and search his blog with ‘Lawrence Krauss,’ you’ll get page after page after page of hits.  I stopped looking after a dozen pages, so I’m not sure just how many there are, but here are some examples of Mehta’s glowing blog post titles:

  • Watch Lawrence Krauss Answer a Bunch of Questions About Science and the Universe
  • Krauss Talks About How To Become a Better Critical Thinker
  • Lawrence Krauss: We’re Teaching Science the Wrong Way
  •  Lawrence Krauss on Cosmic Natural Selection: Why the Universe Isn’t Fine-Tuned for Our Benefit
  • Lawrence Krauss on Finding Purpose: “Life Is More Precious Because It’s Temporary and Accidental”
  • A Third Compilation of Lawrence Krauss’ Best Arguments and Retorts
  • Lawrence Krauss: Let’s Put an Atheist on the Supreme Court
  • No One Should Get a Free Pass Because of Their Beliefs, Says Lawrence Krauss
  • Another Compilation of Lawrence Krauss’ Best Arguments and Retorts

So it looks like Mehta was actively promoting someone who he likely knew to have such a bad reputation with women in the atheist movement.

Now think of Mehta, having long been aware of many of these accusations while promoting Krauss, now writing:

For someone who is famous (at least in certain circles) to not understand all that seems incredibly ignorant — especially today. There’s also a power dynamic at work, where women didn’t want to rebuff Krauss because they either worked for an organization he was connected to or didn’t want to jeopardize their own careers. Even if Krauss would never hurt them intentionally, that’s a very real concern for women. The incidents may have occurred a long time ago, but it shouldn’t take #MeToo or recent articles about men behaving badly to realize that this kind of behavior is wrong.

Why didn’t he follow his own instructions?

If there’s any simple takeaway from this, though, it’s that people who organize events and invite someone like Krauss as a way to draw a like-minded crowd should consider looking elsewhere. There are plenty of people who can advocate for a scientific, rational outlook who don’t have any of these incidents on their resume.

By promoting Krauss all these years, Mehta failed to look elsewhere.  And when he promoted Krauss so often with his popular atheist blog, wasn’t he enabling the people who organized events and invited someone like Krauss?  They invited him because he was popular among atheists and people like Mehta helped him to become more popular among the atheists.  And the event organizers wanted a popular speaker in order to sell tickets.  Kind of like promoting a popular atheist leader on your blog in get more hits (and money).

Look, is Mehta truly sincere when he calls out Lawrence Krauss?   If so, why does his blog still promote Krauss?  Why not follow in the footsteps of his fellow activist:

Why doesn’t Mehta do likewise and go back and delete the blog postings that promote Krauss?

This entry was posted in atheist activism, Lawrence Krauss, New Atheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Friendly Atheist and Lawrence Krauss

  1. TFBW says:

    Why doesn’t Mehta do likewise and go back and delete the blog postings that promote Krauss?

    Indeed, this is how the Ministry of Truth is supposed to work: de-platform, ostracise, and erase from history. Harvey Weinstein? Never heard of him.

    Mehta is just holding position in the middle of the herd here; going along with the mob.

  2. Michael says:

    ‘Why doesn’t Mehta do likewise and go back and delete the blog postings that promote Krauss?’

    Dunno, really. The ‘skeptic’ community hasn’t really been approaching this situation with rationalism or skepticism. I think an Inquisition is in order, so that a semblance of due process might be restored for the accused.

  3. Leppert says:

    “Why doesn’t Mehta do likewise and go back and delete the blog postings that promote Krauss?”

    It seems to me the answer is found in the sentence preceding the excerpt you gave: “No one’s suggesting Krauss shouldn’t be writing books about science or speaking out against the harms of religion. If there’s any simple takeaway…” Even given Krauss’ current “disinvited” state, I think few would object to someone writing about Krauss’ views on cosmology, science, religion, etc., and of course the same goes for such writings from the past. The disinvitation applies to speaking engagements and such that suggest personal endorsement of Krauss as a figurehead. Selfies with Krauss on social media are also like personal endorsements, which are naturally dropped. Krauss’ ideas on cosmology, science, religion, etc. aren’t.

    The Medium article is an impressive compilation of reactions from the atheist/skeptic community, all against Krauss, as expected. I still don’t see any significant pro-Krauss faction emerging to battle with everyone else, as you promised there would be. So, no “war”, as expected.

  4. TFBW says:

    @Leppert: I see that in your view, Krauss has already been tried, convicted, and quietly bundled off somewhere where nobody has to be seen with him. Interesting. However, as for your “no war, as expected” remark, you’re being way, way, way too hasty. We have yet to see this drama unfold in all its potential train-wreck glory. Dawkins and Krauss have an Australia/New Zealand tour planned for May, and tickets are still being sold even as I type. I really don’t see Dawkins disinviting Krauss, do you? And will the RDF stand by its namesake in this decision?

    Oh no, this is far from over.

  5. Kevin says:

    This also ignores the comment sections of all these articles in which there are numerous atheists trashing the women and Buzzfeed and defending Krauss. Indeed, the war is heating up.

  6. Michael says:

    It seems to me the answer is found in the sentence preceding the excerpt you gave: “No one’s suggesting Krauss shouldn’t be writing books about science or speaking out against the harms of religion. If there’s any simple takeaway…” Even given Krauss’ current “disinvited” state, I think few would object to someone writing about Krauss’ views on cosmology, science, religion, etc., and of course the same goes for such writings from the past. The disinvitation applies to speaking engagements and such that suggest personal endorsement of Krauss as a figurehead. Selfies with Krauss on social media are also like personal endorsements, which are naturally dropped. Krauss’ ideas on cosmology, science, religion, etc. aren’t.

    I don’t think that works.

    1. Krauss can continue to write and speak all he wants without having Mehta promote him on The Friendly Atheist.

    2. Mehta doesn’t write about Krauss’s views. He typically posts a video of Krauss and adds a few sentences. The blog posts are more like commercials than any type of analysis.

    3. It fails to deal with the “look elsewhere” advice. It’s not like Krauss has these unusual and interesting takes on something. He is typically spouting New Atheist talking points – “Life Is More Precious Because It’s Temporary and Accidental” or “No One Should Get a Free Pass Because of Their Beliefs.” When it comes to New Atheism, someone like Krauss is dime a dozen.

    I see no good reason why Mehta needs to promote Krauss.

    The Medium article is an impressive compilation of reactions from the atheist/skeptic community, all against Krauss, as expected. I still don’t see any significant pro-Krauss faction emerging to battle with everyone else, as you promised there would be. So, no “war”, as expected.

    But that list doesn’t strike me as some random sample of atheist activists. Every name I recognize comes from the social justice side of the divide. And there isn’t anyone from Dawkins/Krauss/Harris side of the divide. In other words, the war makes sense of the list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.