The Great 2020 Atty Mystery

Earlier, I noted that the Jesus Mythicist of 2020 award could turn out to be most entertaining.  Instead, It has become the most mysterious.  First, it’s pretty obvious that the award was designed for Carrier.  But then comes the mystery – he wasn’t even nominated for the award.  Four other obscure atheists with their own personal, fringe crackpot notions about what happen are instead nominated.

Now, is there any one out there believes Richard Carrier is not the type of person who would nominate himself?  Anyone?  I would have thought he sent his nomination in moments after the window opened.  And then, to make sure, he would get women from his harem to nominate him.  Perhaps he would get his two fans to nominate him also.  But not even a nomination?  

Why is that?



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45 Responses to The Great 2020 Atty Mystery

  1. unclesporkums says:

    Damage Control? Relating to the Chunk’s “leg stroking” incident? Given how Carrier also tends to use these conferences as venues to literally pimp himself and the organizers’ mealy-mouth warning for his fellow God-Haters to “behave”.

  2. Dhay says:

    Nor did anybody nominate Raphael Lataster — the Robin to Richard Carrier’s Batman.

    I think that we can rule out that the organisers quietly vetoed Carrier nominations; they accepted the nomination of fellow miscreant David Silverman for ‘Atheist of the Year’ and also for ‘Atheist Author 2020’ so they should have felt no moral difficulty in accepting nominations for Carrier.

    While there was nothing on the website to say that nominees must even be informed they would be nominated, let alone their permission sought, I note that it was stipulated that nominees would need to have an internet connection to enable an interview — my guess is, to record a video, either as an introduction to each nominee on Banquet night or as an introduction to (or post-announcement celebration of) the winners; if any nominee said no to that, it’s presumably no to the nomination also.

    My main suspicion is that Carrier has been as financially straitened as the victims of his long-running legal case have been, and simply cannot afford to travel to the UK. Although the only remnant of evidence that he was once expected to play a prominent part in the Attys is his face’s continuing presence in the banner video to “Cookie Policy”, the other evidence disappeared early on — he stopped being someone who obviously was soon after he abandoned that case and all hope of millions in damages. He’s a guy who, for years, has traveled to events by car, selling books and publicising himself at pubmeets on the way and dossing down where he can; he’s not a wealthy man able to afford a flight unless paid for: there’s 25 Atty award nominees and some from far-flung places, and I really cannot see the organisers paying traveling and hotel expenses for them all.


    Update on discounts — surely a sign of desperation to get bottoms on seats: two video interviews of attending comedians were posted on Atty Facebook yesterday, hours apart. The “reward” for watching the first was just £20 off of the Banquet price, extended in the second video to £20 off of the Banquet OR £50 off of the price of Banquet plus Convention.

    That looks like either a first-time blunder — believable from these organisers — or — also readily believable — a scramble.

  3. ” I would have thought he sent his nomination in moments after the window opened. And then, to make sure, he would get women from his harem to nominate him. Perhaps he would get his two fans to nominate him also. But not even a nomination?

    Why is that?”

    yep, you with your desperate need for attention would think this wouldn’t you. Such the projection michael, we know you’d nominate yourself for TrueChristian(tm).

    And “harem”? Gosh, are you so jealous so you have to lie? Tsk.

  4. unclesporkums says:

    Yep, just as desperate as we thought, And by “attendees”, they apparently mean the ones who can afford to show up..

  5. Kevin says:

    Uh oh, found one of Carrier’s two fans.

  6. Dhay says:

    clubschadenfreude > And “harem”? Gosh, are you so jealous so you have to lie? Tsk.

    Richard Carrier has a history of polyamory — he’s been very open about that — and also has a history of using conferences as an opportunity to hook up with like-minded females. I don’t think there’ll literally be a walled garden guarded by eunuchs involved, but as a figurative expression “harem” expresses it nicely.

  7. Is this Alex O’Connor fellow worth taking seriously?

  8. Dhay says:

    > Four other obscure atheists with their own personal, fringe crackpot notions…

    I see that Richard Carrier has a new book in preparation, “Jesus from Outer Space: What the Earliest Christians Really Believed about Christ”

    Crackpot though the others undoubtedly are, a Jesus from outer space definitely counts as an “own personal, fringe crackpot notion.”

    Carrier and his publisher have evidently realised that click-bait titles and click-bait content sell. I see Erich von Däniken’s “Chariots of the Gods?” series of books sold a claimed 63 million copies, so a title like “Jesus from Outer Space” is presumably chosen to sell well to the same audience as would lap up von Däniken’s output.

  9. Dhay says:

    The Amazon blurb for Richard Carrier’s coming book finishes:

    What exactly was the original belief about Jesus, and how did this belief change over time? Noted historian Richard Carrier summarizes for a popular audience the scholarly research on these and related questions, revealing in turn how modern attempts to conceal, misrepresent, or avoid the actual evidence call into question the entire field of Jesus studies.
    [My emboldening.]

    The parallels with Erich von Däniken and his books is very plain, here. A feature of von Däniken’s books that I remember clearly is him bleating that the world’s archaeologists were — every last one of them — trying to suppress the obvious truth that he — he alone — knew and which he had to present to the public in popular books because archaeologists and scholars, stuck in their blind unwillingness to adopt reason and rationality, ignored him.

    Paraphrasing, von Däniken bleats: “Noted archaeologist Erich von Däniken summarizes for a popular audience the scholarly research on these and related questions, revealing in turn how modern attempts to conceal, misrepresent, or avoid the actual evidence call into question the entire field of archaeology.”

    The parallel with Erich von Däniken, his fringe crackpot books and his claim that the establishment is totally irrationally and unreasonably suppressing his ideas — which are plain and obvious truth — is very plain.

  10. I think part of Richard Carrier, PhD’s problem is that he can’t accept the existence of a higher or wiser being than Richard Carrier, PhD.

  11. Doug Peters says:

    “His atheism was an intellectual tantrum upon the discovery that he was not God.” 😉

  12. nsr says:

    What is that a quote from?

  13. Dhay says:

    Looking up the un-nominated Jesus Mythicist Raphael Lataster to see what he’s doing nowadays, I was surprised to find he’s a Jesus Mythicist who won’t debate Jesus Mythicism — or not with a Christian, at any rate:

    Raphael Lataster, 11 February 2020

    It was brought to my attention that I was mentioned as having declined an appearance on the Unbelievable podcast recently. In the era of fake news I thought I better explain what ‘really’ happened. They offered me a debate with a budding Christian apologist on Jesus’ historicity. I explicitly state that I do not debate that topic, especially with Christians, as I frame it as a debate among atheists. I offered a Jesus resurrection or existence of God debate, which is infinitely more useful, and they were not interested.
    [Emphasis added – Dhay]

    He’s got his PhD, but not a proper job; he has lectured (as a “casual”, he says) at the University of Sydney and at other institutions, but:

    Raphael Lataster, 17 March 2020

    This corona business is tough. Within 24h all of my courses (I’m a casual) were cancelled or moved, and I felt compelled to turn down my first proper job offer (international). On the plus side, I’ve still got toilet paper…

    He’s also got a couple of Jesus Mythicist monographs published, albeit their list price to buy is so prohibitively expensive he complains he can’t afford to buy his own latest; so I don’t suppose anyone else will, either.

    The executive summary is that for all that he’s got a PhD in ‘Studies in Religion’, Lataster is a nobody going nowhere.

  14. unclesporkums says:

    Well, there’s a surprise..

  15. Dhay says:

    There’s another atheist and anti-theist event that’s a mystery, and that’s the mysteriously missing Reason Rally 2020. There was one in 2012, one again in 2016; you’d reasonably expect another in 2020 and the same preceding year-long flurry of Facebook and Twitter activity as in 2016.

    On both Facebook and Twitter the last relevant announcement was on 22 July 2017, when it was stated on Facebook that “…The time has come for us to close up shop and wind down our operations. In the next few days, we will be taking down both the Reason Rally store and image websites….”

    One hurricane disaster appeal for funds followed, a month later, then zilch, nada, nothing — nothing until the 17 March 2020 announcement (to those who needed the implicit to be explicit) that: “Notice: There will be no Reason Rally in 2020. Thank you for your past support. Please stay healthy and safe out there.”

    Had a Reason Rally 2020 been organised, it would of course have had to have been cancelled by now because of Covid-19; but it was never organised. Looks like Reason Rally 2016 was such a flop it was pointless trying to organise another.

  16. Dhay says:

    Although you will still find the revised date of 24/25 October 2020 on other pages, the Atty Home page no longer announces that weekend but instead says:

    The new date is to be notified

    We’ll see in due course whether this Anti-Theist event happens annually as originally envisaged — or even just a second time — or even a first time.

  17. unclesporkums says:

    Especially with the projected long-term duration the virus is said to take. Wouldn’t be surprised if they simply never referred to it again.

  18. RobertM says:

    Unclesporkums: “Wouldn’t be surprised if they simply never referred to it again.“

    What are the odds they (he?) just quietly call it off, but hold onto peoples’ money indefinitely?

  19. Dhay says:

    There is nothing about refunds on the Policies page.

  20. Has the great atheist convention cash cow been milked dry already?

  21. Dhay says:

    Wondering who had replaced the twice disgraced, twice sacked David Silverman at the AAI (who’s nonetheless a nominee for Atty ‘Atheist of the Year’ **, I find his replacement is another Atty ‘Atheist of the Year’ nominee, Michael Sherlock.

    ( ** Silverman is also a nominee for Atty ‘Atheist Author’.)

    In between, two “co-Executive Directors” shared the post on a temporary basis. Also, a kerfuffle arose with accusations that a Board member had misused $60,000 of Google Ads funding money to his own advantage by directing the resulting traffic primarily to the posts of the most active and popular AAI blogger, the Board member himself. Sherlock investigated, found that person entirely without fault, and found the two co-Executive Directors, who had urged that person should be sacked then both resigned when he wasn’t, to have acted improperly. One way and other, there’s been some questionable management at AAI.


    So who is this unknown-to-me Sherlock? Apart from now being the AAI Executive Director he’s the author of a book, “The Gospel of Atheism and Freethought: according to Sherlock”, which was published mid-2014 and which in the nearly six years since has attracted just 24 Amazon reviews, the last one in early 2017; like the books and messages of all of those other Atty nominees who have written books – add in both Atty event organisers – Sherlock’s book and message have been damned by faint interest.

    Like Silverman, Sherlock is a Jesus mythicist **: this earns him a long, mostly favourable review from the infamously awful Jesus mythicist – even Richard Carrier strongly deprecates her ideas and arguments – “Acharya S” (there’s a world of pretension in that self-designation, “Acharya”) aka DM Murdock; Murdock reveals that large parts of the book are written as “wisdom bites”, or “verses” – that’s what you and I recognise as memes, so evidently he was aiming at the bottom-feeding level of readership, at those with that level of intelligence that considers memes to be devastating arguments.

    ( ** Sherlock didn’t get nominated for Atty ‘Jesus Mythicist of 2020’. Given the poor standard of the opposition, I wonder how just bad his mythicism can be.)


    Here’s one of those Sherlock memes (except the original SHOUTED in block capitals):

    “Religion – Psychological Virus

    Religion is a psychological virus; it is contracted and spread via social interaction and attacks the cognitive immune system, known as our reason. The only way to cure this virus is to administer large doses of knowledge into the affected region, but even then, if the virus has fed on its host for an extended period of time, there may be no cure.

    This is fantasy throughout, not reason and evidence; it’s certainly not science and evidence; indeed, I observe that referring to religion as a virus is a sure sign that the referrer is an anti-religious bigot.

    Sherlock lists as a qualification, “MA, Religion”, but:

    sherlockmichael @sherlockmichael · May 12 [2020]
    You are standing on a train station platform and you hear a religious person yell one of the two following phrases. Which one makes you run and duck for cover out of fear? Why?
    Buddha is great!
    Allahu Akbar!

    I’m sure I knew even as a schoolboy, from RE lessons and from general knowledge, that the likelihood of a Buddhist shouting “Buddha is great” is vanishingly small. Has Sherlock not even a schoolboy’s understanding of the major religions!

    That ignorance – pig-ignorance, too – is displayed in another recent tweet:

    sherlockmichael @sherlockmichael May 18
    #Jesus instructed his followers to love their enemies and hate their own families.
    Was this cunt on drugs?

    That’s not thoughtful exegesis. That’s crude propagandist distortion, expressed as hate.

    There’s much, much more like these examples: Sherlock spews his pig-ignorant hatred in the majority of the tweets on both his own Twitter account and that of AAI.


    What are the AAI Board’s objectives, that they should hire such a man? They are:

    AAI is a global federation of atheist groups and individuals committed to educating its members and the public about atheism and critical thinking, and to supporting atheists around the world who are discriminated against and criminalized.

    Between those objectives, both of them, and their hiring an Executive Officer who is a crude and ignorant anti-religious propagandist, a bigot and a hater, there is a mis-match.

  22. Dhay says:

    Michael Sherlock, Atty ‘Atheist of the Year’ nominee, on Twitter:

    sherlockmichael @sherlockmichael · May 12
    God is the comforting lie theists tell themselves to psychologically manage the terrifying truth of their mortality.

    Sam Harris has said something very closely similar, Sherlock is hardly original. Both present it as 100% true, neither qualifies it in the slightest, neither recognises that there are Christians (like me) who are not terrified of their mortality, who are unperturbed by the idea of death being like a sleep or a nothingness, who perceive nothing to be terrified about and no need for self-deception to, er, manage.

    Presumably their claim is a comforting lie that Sherlock, Harris and those who agree with them tell themselves to psychologically manage the terrifying truth that most Christians are steadfast in disregarding Sherlock, Harris and anti-theist propaganda.

    As so often with memes, this meme can be turned around to become “friendly fire”, and then becomes particularly relevant to those who have rejected Christianity and other Abrahamic religions because they cannot cope with the idea of sin and judgment. Let’s see what that reversed meme looks like — in the obligatory block capitals, of course:


  23. unclesporkums says:

    He may as well have been one of the hateheist commenters here given what he spews. Freethought=Newthought,

  24. unclesporkums says:

    Or Newspeak rather, but so many are attracted to New Age woo, that it might as well be Newthought.

  25. It’s unfortunate that the social media age has led people whose level of knowledge and whose opinion of their own level of knowledge are in inverse proportion to believe that the whole world needs to be exposed to their stream of consciousness.

  26. Dhay says:

    The Atty Facebook page bears an upbeat message with currently no fewer than two ‘likes’:

    Anti-Theist International . 26 April
    Covid 19 uncertainty continues to plague all of us.
    Rest assured that we plan to go ahead with the Anti-theism Convention as soon as possible.
    And we intend it to be better than ever…

    It surely cannot be difficult for it to be “better than ever”. I’ve lost track of all the scathing comments I’ve been able to make about the shambles.


    This year, if the 2020 event happens in 2020 or ever, the Atty anti-theist great being commemorated and eulogised — “Who will be the next?”, “14:00 A Tribute to Christopher Hitchens” — is Hitchens. The next event’s hero of those glory days of yesteryear is going to be the science populariser Carl Sagan. (The Atty organiser, John Richards, describes himself as: “John is an ex-science teacher who can’t stop!”, so quite possibly Sagan was more Richards’ hero than Hitchens was.)

    In his 26 May 2020 “Psychologists don’t really believe that, do they?” PZ Myers has just pitched into the “triune brain nonsense” biological pseudoscience about the brain and its evolution to be found in many psychology textbooks — and also promoted in a book by Sagan:

    To investigate the scope of the problem, we sampled 20 introductory psychology textbooks published between 2009 and 2017. Of the 14 that mention brain evolution, 86% contained at least one inaccuracy along the lines described above. Said differently, only 2 of the field’s current introductory textbooks describe brain evolution in a way that represents the consensus shared among comparative neurobiologists. [Link to paper.]

    Not to blame only psychologists, they also point out that Carl Sagan popularized the idea further in The Dragons of Eden. I hate to puncture the warm happy glow Sagan’s name brings to many of us, me included, but that was a bad book. Don’t ask an astronomer to explain brain evolution and consciousness, ever. I’m looking at you, Neil.
    [Emphasis Myers’.]

    There’s a lesson here for all of us, but especially for those who — like Richards, if I understand him right — elevate and adulate the following of Science and Reason (which, for some reason is always initial-capitalised (which is useful for distinguishing it from actual science and reason)): whose Science and Reason is that? — when a scientist holds forth on a subject outside of their field (or even just outside of their speciality), what they expound is likely to be ill-informed and possibly be wrong, or be pseudoscience. As here.

  27. Dhay says:

    Breaking News
    COVID-19 has forced the postponement of this event
    The new date is provisionally April 2021

    April 2021: no great surprise.

  28. Dhay says:

    More kerfuffle and bad management at CEO and Board level at Atheist Alliance International – see my previous long response dated May 22, 2020 at 8:12 am – centring this time around their recently appointed foul-mouthed and pig-ignorant CEO, Michael Sherlock:

    Whilst AAI expects to encounter controversy in the public sphere, it is our strict policy to treat everyone with respect. Our job is to attack bad ideas or behaviors but not to attack people and certainly never to resort to personal insults. The committee found that Michael [Sherlock] fell short of these ideals in this exchange. Specifically,

    1. In the Tweet that triggered this incident, Michael referred to religion as “a retarded relic”. Kaitlyn followed up by politely asking him to reconsider the use of the word “retarded”. This exchange escalated into an argument. The committee found that Michael used the word without intending any disrespect or offense to anyone. However, this word has a history of being used to make fun of people with learning disabilities and that has made it a word that upsets many people, consequently using the word is insensitive. The most appropriate action would have been for Michael to have apologized for any offense caused. Instead, he launched into an argument to justify using the word.

    2. This argument culminated in Michael referring to Kaitlyn using a completely unacceptable profanity. The committee found there was no excuse for insulting Kaitlyn and no excuse for using that particular word.

    … … in view of the seriousness of this incident, the committee determined that:

    1. Michael will be suspended from all AAI duties for a period of one month without pay.

    2. A Final Warning will be posted to Michael’s employment record immediately and remain for a period of two years. This means any future repetition of such behavior within this period will constitute grounds for dismissal.

    This strong disciplinary action was not exactly unforced: reading Hemant Mehta’s two blog posts on the subject, it looks like it was taken under pressure of the resignation ** of three advisory board members, the Atheist Foundation of Australia pointedly pulling out of affiliating to AAI and (ouch, ouch, ouch!) the incensed Mehta, pulling no punches against both Sherlock and AAI, strongly urging his readership to defund AAI.

    ( ** I note you don’t resign when your grievances are being listened to and acted on, you resign because they aren’t, as a forcing action!)


    Sherlock, I’ll remind you, is a nominee for the Atty ‘Atheist of the Year’ award. Go figure it’s worth.


    But that’s just the immediate background. The longer background is that this incident has simply been his stepping beyond atheist boundaries and finally causing outrage; but Sherlock’s tweets on behalf of AAI have been consistently foul-mouthed and crude, his sanctioned behaviour continuing unchanged his behaviour over the months since his appointment; so I’d like to pont out the double-standards being used by AAI and being used by all of the atheists involved.

    > 1. In the Tweet that triggered this incident, Michael referred to religion as “a retarded relic”.

    The complaint was not that Sherlock insulted religion as “retarded”, in context plainly referring (as Mehta pointed out) to what is more politely termed “learning difficulties” – all involved seem absolutely fine with the principle and practice of insulting religion – but that Sherlock insulted people with learning difficulties by referring to them as retarded.
    Use of a term derogatory of Christians and other religious people: wholly acceptable.
    Use of a term – that same term – derogatory of people with learning difficulties: wholly unacceptable.

    > Our job is to attack bad ideas or behaviors but not to attack people and certainly never to resort to personal insults.

    Religion is not something that can be (mentally) retarded, it cannot possibly have learning difficulties. Sherlock’s target to attack and insult was religious people.

    > 2. This argument culminated in Michael referring to Kaitlyn using a completely unacceptable profanity.

    Sherlock’s referring to a fellow atheist as a “cunt” is completely unacceptable.
    In a recent tweet Sherlock referred to Jesus as a “cunt”…

    sherlockmichael @sherlockmichael May 18
    #Jesus instructed his followers to love their enemies and hate their own families.
    Was this cunt on drugs?

    … and this insult to Jesus, presumably also intended as an insult to Christians following said instruction, is completely acceptable.

    They have an anything-whatsoever-goes standard of what’s acceptable speech and behaviour when it’s Christians and religious people, a very, very different standard – snowflake, even – when applied to atheists.

  29. Dhay says:

    Above, I reported that Michael Sherlock had, as new CEO of AAI, investigated that a Board member had misused $60,000 of Google Ads funding money to his own advantage by directing the resulting traffic primarily to the posts of the most active and popular AAI blogger, the Board member himself.

    Though Sherlock exonerated that un-named Board Member, the two temporary co-Executive Directors covering the gap between permanent CEOs had urged that person should be sacked; then both resigned when he wasn’t. That’s strong condemnation indeed from the two temporary bosses.

    So who was the “most active and popular AAI blogger” and Board Member that Sherlock referred to? It doesn’t help that AAI has two blogs, so which blog, which blogger?

    The one at has a wide range of authors, none of them predominating, so it’s not that.

    The other official AAI blog, at, is totally dominated (bar guest posts) by AAI’s Publications Director … yes, the Atty Awards’ own John Richards is in the spotlight as most probably the alleged miscreant.

  30. Dhay says:

    I have just watched a YouTube video in which atheists criticise the Anti-Theism International Conference and Atty Awards. It adds a bit extra to my own many comments in several threads now about the cringeworthiness of the organisers and their ineptitude, but not a lot.

    Bits I found interesting news are at 24:40, where the narrator reveals John Richards’ 13 January 2020 message to David Worley — the podcaster whose interview of the drunken and misogynisic Lance Gregorchuk opened up A-TI to controversy and ridicule — which says:

    You may not be surprise to hear that I’m not prepared to accept your nomination for an award until you have given me a fair hearing. That’s what we call ‘balance’ in broadcasting…

    “Anti-Theism International: Adventures in Creeper Con”
    (Published 10 March 2020, so not fully up to date.)

    In short, Richards has vetoed Worley’s nomination — unless and until Worley gives Richards the right-of-reply interview Richards feels entitled to, but which he’s not going to get. The nominations web page includes “Staff of A-TI are barred from entering, nominating and voting in this competition”, a limitation which evidently does not extend to barring said staff (namely himself) from vetoing nominations or from then keeping the exercised veto secret. That’s dishonest.

    The narrator is then scathing about David Silverman’s nomination as ‘Atheist of the Year’ and ‘Atheist Author’ when he’s not done anything at all noteworthy for a number of years; though I observe, aren’t nearly all the Atty Award nominees like that! Compare and contrast: the miscreant Silverman is up for ‘Atheist of the Year’, but Worley is (in Worley’s own words) “too deplorable to be nominated.”

    Another bit is at 28:40, where it is revealed that Jim Hall, nominee for ‘Atheist Podcaster’, has also joined the likes of Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra, … Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all … in asking (sometime before 10 March 2020) to be removed from the nominations list. He’s still listed. One can’t get on, one can’t get off.

    Even The High Chaparral is not so much a cowboy outfit as is A-TI.

  31. Dhay says:

    In Hemant Mehta’s 31 August 2020 post entitled “Here’s How We’re Responsibly Fundraising for At-Risk Humanists Around the World” the “we” is Humanists International; it’s a guest post by Gary McLelland, CEO of Humanists International.

    It’s a long post, at 1,562 words, whereas if the post’s real subject was what the title seems to say it is, it could be as short as these 26 words (lifted from HI’s website):

    The vast majority of our case work is confidential, and likely to remain so, to respect the individuals’ privacy, and also for their security and protection.

    But the title indicates the least part of the story, that HI behaves responsibly: the main part reveals that there is an international atheist organisation which behaves very irresponsibly and puts the individuals fundraised for in danger; that back in December HI tried (directly and discreetly) to point out to that organisation that their fundraising for an individual was unethical and irresponsible, and why so, achieving success and cessation of that irresponsibility; but though the organisation stopped supporting that individual (and removed its advertising for donations) when HI made representations to the organisation’s Board – evidently the CEO at the time chose to disregard HI’s representations and the matter had to be raised at the level above, at Board level – HI’s representations are once again being disregarded and the irresponsible, dangerous behaviour has started anew.

    This explains the post: “in recent weeks, we [HI] have been contacted by a range of members and supporters who have supported some of the fundraising initiatives mentioned above — the ones we believe are unsuitable — and they have been asking us why we didn’t warn them of our concerns”; HI has finally gone public, using Mehta’s Friendly Atheist website as the means to reach and educate atheists in general.

    I’d say HI has had little success doing that, probably because they were reticent to spell out which is the offending organisation. Often, Friendly Atheist posts attract hundreds of comments: of the mere ten comments (plus HI’s reply comment clarifying its policy on persecuted Uighurs) on the HI opening post, not one of Mehta’s Morons has demonstrated they have understood what the post is about – most seem to have word-associated that the word “national” is sort of similar to “international” (yes, that stupid) and bolted off, follow-my-leader, down the rabbit hole of deprecating the right-wing (or reich-wing) and nationalism. Idiots. (These are the people Richard Dawkins urged to call themselves “Brights”; these are the people targeted to attend Reason Rallies themed on ‘Science and Reason’; best start with basic reading comprehension, first.)

    But it’s not difficult to identify the offending organisation: it’s international, it’s atheist, and, oddly, it’s supporting or “supporting” not an atheist or ex-Muslim but a devout Muslim:

    To our shock and surprise, it seems like this organization might be doing it again. There is now a public campaign and fundraiser for a Muslim individual convicted of blasphemy in Nigeria. Given that the individual is being held incommunicado and international agencies have not been able to contact him, nor his family or lawyers, we know that the organization has not obtained consent or agreement beforehand and continue to publicly campaign on the issue despite several warnings from us about the potential danger.

    It’s also an unforced error given that larger and more experienced organizations are already involved. [Emphasis original – Dhay.]

    This approach is dangerous. We are dealing with real human lives. While we understand the power of individual cases in campaigning and storytelling, an ethical approach to work with persecuted individuals has to include consent. It simply must.

    Ah, yes, a quick look at its website tells me its obviously Atheist Alliance International: the Muslim is Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a singer whose blasphemy was his recording a song that praised Imam Ibrahim Inyass above Muhammad. (In my opinion, mine, based on that rather bare description, there’s a thin case for blasphemy but no case at all that Sharif-Aminu is other than a devout Muslim devoted to a local Muslim spiritual leader.)

    Who are the larger and more experienced organisations?:

    A chorus of condemnation has rained down on Kano State from Amnesty International, The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and many others.

    It’s extraordinary that AAI should be intervening. Sharif-Aminu hasn’t consented to it. AAI’s aims as demonstrated by what they actually do are two-fold: to raise money on behalf of (individual) persecuted atheists worldwide; to utterly vilify religion and religious people, with especial emphasis on vilifying Islam and Muslims; openly, and in-your-face. Why, then, should Sharif-Aminu be supposed to be anything other than opposed to AAI. Why, then, should Muslim authorities be expected to react to AAI with other than opposition, anger, hatred and spite – a reaction which might likely cost Sharif-Aminu the life the larger and more experienced organisations are striving to save.

    Some people may wonder why we are intervening in this case. We are known for helping atheists at risk but Mr. Sharif-Aminu is a Muslim. The reason is simple, blasphemy laws are a foul stain on human-kind.

    Ah, there you have it, AAI’s CEO Michael Sherlock has a bee in his bonnet about blasphemy laws and penalties: if there’s a blasphemy law to fight his AAI little minnow organisation will charge in, irrespective of the alleged blasphemer’s wishes and best interests, irrespective of the harm it will do the efforts of larger and more experienced organisations, irrespective of the harm it will do to (here) Sharif-Aminu’s chances of retrial or pardon.

    AAI’s is sending a strong ‘up-yours’ to the Nigerian judiciary, likely to be met with a strong ‘up-yours’ back, it’s counter-productive. So what’s the purpose? I think HI got it right when they wrote “we understand the power of individual cases in campaigning and storytelling”, the story here being how horrible Muslims are (and Islam is) and how wonderful AAI is. Nice story, pity about what telling the story will do to Sharif-Aminu’s chances of retrial or pardon. Telling the story is unethical, is uncaring, is callous.


    I’ve put this here in this thread – there’s no very obvious candidate thread – because of the link with the Atty awards:

    Atty organiser John Richards is not just an Atheist Alliance International employee in the role of Publications Director but also an AAI Board member, with oversight of AAI’s policy and practice and CEOs.

    AAI’s recently sacked CEO David Silverman is an Atty ‘Atheist of the Year’ nominee.

    AAI’s current if recently disciplined and threatened-with-sacking CEO Michael “Cunt” Sherlock is an Atty ‘Atheist of the Year’ nominee.

  32. Dhay says:

    Above > Not to blame only psychologists, they also point out that Carl Sagan popularized the idea further in The Dragons of Eden. I hate to puncture the warm happy glow Sagan’s name brings to many of us, me included, but that was a bad book. Don’t ask an astronomer to explain brain evolution and consciousness, ever. I’m looking at you, Neil.
    [Emphasis Myers’.]

    There’s a lesson here for all of us, but especially for those who — like Richards, if I understand him right — elevate and adulate the following of Science and Reason … — when a scientist holds forth on a subject outside of their field (or even just outside of their speciality), what they expound is likely to be ill-informed and possibly be wrong, or be pseudoscience. As here.

    Christopher Hitchins is the hero of the 2020 2021 Atty Conference and Awards, Sagan prospectively the hero of the following Atty event, if any.

    Looks like Sagan is as bad at history as he is at biology; and as likely to shoot his mouth off, confidently but erroneously, on history as he is on biology; here’s Spencer Alexander McDaniel:

    In our society we revere scientists far more than we revere historians. Consequently, people are often more willing to listen to what scientists say about history than what historians say about history. Unfortunately, often times, when scientists try to speak or write about history, they make glaring mistakes.

    For instance, I have already written extensively about how the 1980 television miniseries Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, written and presented by the astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, promoted all sorts of [Link] egregious misconceptions about the Neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia and about the supposed destruction of the Library of Alexandria [Link].

    Sagan was knowledgeable about astronomy and astrophysics, I gather, but was evidently shoddily ignorant on other subjects.

    Typical anti-theist New Atheist hero, then.

  33. SavedByGrace says:

    Nye, I’m looking at you.

  34. There is a typical humanist assumption that scientific and technological progress must automatically entail that humanity is progressing at an equal rate in all other areas of human society, particularly in ethics.

    I suspect this is why scientists are seen by the less educated as infallible polymaths qualified to speak on any and every subject under the sun.

  35. Dhay says:

    PZ Myers’ 15 March 2021 post entitled “Oh, go away, John Richards” tells his readers that Richards — one of the two utterly inept organisers of the shambles that was the postponed Atty Awards, perhaps permanently postponed — has resigned from Atheist Alliance International:

    …John Richards, their editor, resigned in January.

    So why am I getting spam email from John Richards, who is starting a new atheist organization? Did he walk off with their mailing list? Add another strike to their list of unethical slovenliness.

    No, I’m not going to tell you what Richards’ new venture is. I hope it dies. And rots. And leaves an ugly stain on his carpet.

    At first sight this appeared unlikely, because Richards posted on the “Secular World: by Atheist Alliance International” blog as recently as yesterday, and without dropping that blog sub-title; nor has he announced his resignation there.

    But a comparison of the AAI’s 30 November 2020 last archived “Who We Are” page, showing Richards identified and blurbed as Publications Director, and the current page which is absent any mention of Richards in any capacity, tells me Myers is correct.

    Walking off with a mailing list is not just unethical, it’s illegal under the UK’s Data Protection Act 2018 GDPR and the EU’s GDPR data protection regulations (which explicitly ban export of data to countries not conforming to GDPR standards or better.) It’s illegal.

  36. Dhay says:

    ^ > At first sight this appeared unlikely, because Richards posted on the “Secular World: by Atheist Alliance International” blog as recently as yesterday…[ie 15 March 2021]

    Interestingly, that post has now disappeared. Although John Richards was posting nearly every day until mid-February, with seldom a day missed, his posts stopped on 14 February 2021.

    That’s additional evidence, then that Richards has left AAI: he’s not just no longer listed on the AAI website as their Publications Director, he’s also stopped working producing the “Secular World” blog.

    Again, I have to register surprise: as recently as 26 January 2021, in a post about how AAI staff have to conform to AAI organisational standards when in office (but not once they have left) Richards declared:

    I’m sure you know, dear reader that, when you belong to an organisation, the way you conduct yourself has to match the values and principles of that organisation. … if I were to use this blog to alienate a large section of my audience and lose us friends, I would not be surprised if I were to be disciplined or sacked….

    Fortunately for me, my style and views merge closely with that of the whole Board of Directors.

    Hmmm. No press release from AAI, no further clue from PZ Myers, no declaration from Richards. No doubt all will become clear in due course.

  37. TFBW says:

    The world waits with bated breath to see the next page in the unfolding drama that is AAI. Meanwhile, has degenerated into an “under construction” placeholder.

  38. It’s hilarious the way atheist activists can develop such an unquenchable hatred for each other as a result of fairly minor disagreements or infractions escalating into something far more serious, simply because their ideological framework has no concept of self-sacrificial forgiveness or reconciliation.

  39. Dhay says:

    Above, I strongly opined that the anti-theist, Islam-hating AAI with its anti-theist, Islam-hating Board and its (succession of) anti-theist, Islam-hating CEOs is the least likely organisation to be able to help someone arrested and charged with the capital crime of blasphemy. The accused’s association with AAI — and sometimes it’s an involuntary association with AAI, where AAI staff have arrogated the “right” to step in and associate themselves with the accused and the accused with AAI — is likely to prove not helpful, but deadly.

    Contrast recent AAI CEOs with Amnesty International’s latest Secretary General. If you were accused of blaspheming, who would you rather have rooting for you, Dr Agnès Callamard of AI or Michael “Cunt” Sherlock?


    Sherlock was recently disciplined, then more recently dismissed, but we can be fairly sure that the next CEO appointed will be in the same mould because the Board appointing the new CEO is the same Board (bar John Richards jumping ship) and although AAI has a new Advisory Board it was Sherlock’s idea and the Board that appointed them, so if the Advisory Board has any influence — they are prominent atheist names who will probably do little but add glamour to AAI to attract more donations — it’ll be influence towards more of the same.

  40. Dhay says:

    nihilist2christian > I think part of Richard Carrier, PhD’s problem is that he can’t accept the existence of a higher or wiser being than Richard Carrier, PhD.

    Well spotted. Up to now his several books have declared on their fronts that they been authored by “Richard Carrier” (bar one with a middle C. initial.) The latest, the hilariously titled “Jesus from Outer Space: What the Earliest Christians Really Believed about Christ” declares prominently that it is authored by “Richard Carrier, PhD”.

  41. Dhay says:

    Looking to see what John Richards, Atty organiser, is doing now he has left his Atheist Alliance International role as Publications Director and now that his old Secular World — by AAI blog has vanished without trace — yes, a prolifically blogged blog shut down without trace, presumably the blog, its contents and its sole author, Richards, have been thereby disowned by AAI? — I find this enigmatic entry on his Twitter account:

    John@TheJohnRichards · Apr 7
    You can choose to believe an inference or not, but a conclusion is beyond disbelief.

    His readers are no doubt meant to infer that this is some some of deep wisdom, but I conclude it’s nonsense, that it’s bullshitting bollocks.

    Which conclusion, by his very own testimony confirms, is beyond disbelief.

  42. Dhay says:

    The Atty awards, it seems to me, are about awarding and rewarding anti-theist celebrity. With that thought in mind I was struck by something Massimo Pigliucci wrote about the skeptic and atheist movements:

    The Harris-Chomsky exchange, in my mind, summarizes a lot of what I find unpleasant about SAM [the skeptic and atheist movements]: a community who worships celebrities who are often intellectual dilettantes, or at the very least have a tendency to talk about things of which they manifestly know very little; an ugly undertone of in-your-face confrontation and I’m-smarter-than-you-because-I-agree-with [insert your favorite New Atheist or equivalent]; loud proclamations about following reason and evidence wherever they may lead, accompanied by a degree of groupthink and unwillingness to change one’s mind that is trumped only by religious fundamentalists; and, lately, a willingness to engage in public shaming and other vicious social networking practices any time someone says something that doesn’t fit our own opinions, all the while of course claiming to protect “free speech” at all costs.

    Pigliucci savages not only Harris: directly and indirectly, he savages the whole of the skeptic and atheist movements, followers and leaders alike.


    Though he wrote that in 2015, Pigliucci’s savaging comments look applicable to the organisers of the Anti-Theist International’s ‘Atty’ awards, to the nominees, to the celebrity guests and to the celebrity-worshiping attendees.

    (No, it’s still, “This website is currently under construction. Check back soon!”, so don’t hold your breath; this thread could yet be resurrected as “The Great 2027 Atty Mystery”.)


    In view of the recent in-fighting, where every prominent New atheist seems to be slagging off every other and with every major atheist, anti-theist and humanist organisation joining in, and where said organisations’ leaders and staff are themselves busily sacking, being sacked or resigning acrimoniously, it’s evident that Pigliucci’s comments are quite as applicable now as then.

    Or more so.

  43. Dhay says:

    John Richards’ current Pinned Tweet — ie he’s proud of it and is boasting his wisdom — is:

    Pinned Tweet
    John @TheJohnRichards
    Replying to @JMcLatchie_
    Believing is an energy consuming activity. Incontrovertible propositions require no consideration. Nobody wonders what might happen if they jump from a height. The possibility of not falling is beyond disbelief. We only engage the belief engine for dubious propositions. 1
    2:09 AM · May 22, 2021·Twitter for iPhone

    Not a philosopher, then.

    Indeed, he’s not even someone with basic knowledge of scientific trivia, an ignorance which is odd in a former science teacher who proclaims he’s still enthusiastically advocating Science: does he not know of weightlessness in high orbit? has he never calculated gravity (zero) at the centre of the Earth?

    Richards plainly has no trouble engaging his belief engine; instead, he has difficulty engaging his disbelief engine, his critical faculties.

    Richards was replying to “Jonathan McLatchie, Christian writer, International speaker, debater, broadcaster & Apologist | Assistant Professor of Biology”, who had tweeted to Richards:

    Jonathan McLatchie @JMcLatchie, May 21
    If you have constructed an epistemology that does not allow for you to find out that you are wrong, that is a problem.

    Which could serve, repeated, as an apt reply to Richards’ “gotcha” tweet: Richards plainly hasn’t considered the obvious ways in which he might be wrong, plainly hasn’t even considered he even could be wrong, his “it’s obvious, innit!” type reply leaves no possibility — implicitly declares there’s no possibility — that he might be wrong. Yep, Richards’ reply begs the criticism it replies to.

  44. Dhay says:

    Reference that last response, six months later there has been nothing more from John Richards; that Tweet was his last.

    Looking further afield, the dedicated Atty (Anti-Theist International) website, still “under [re-]construction” on 30 August 2021 (says the ‘Wayback’ archive), is gone:

    We can’t connect to the server at

    Was there an announcement on the Atty Facebook page to say that the Conference and Awards have been cancelled for good, and that all ticket prices (of up to £799) would be refunded?:

    This content isn’t available at the moment
    When this happens, it’s usually because the owner only shared it with a small group of people or changed who can see it, or it’s been deleted.

    No, instead of being up-front honest and open, Richards has shut down the Atty Facebook page. The implicit message is, Go guess what’s happened, suckers!

    I’d say the saga of the Attys has finished as it opened, seedily and shoddily.

  45. Dhay says:

    OnlySky blogger Barry Purcell’s 17 November 2022 post entitled and subtitled, “Atheist Alliance International loses status: Another blow for international organized atheism” highlights how appallingly badly run Atheist Alliance International is:

    For years, AAI boasted (correctly) that they were the only atheist organization with consultative status at the United Nations and the Council of Europe (CoE). In August, the AAI lost participatory status at the CoE because they made no submissions in the last four years.

    Looks like their ship is dead in the water going nowhere, and now cast adrift. Is the AAI any more active at the UN?:

    They still have consultative status at the UN where they have made no meaningful submissions in the last four years.

    And they could stripped of UN advisor status because:

    Another wrinkle is a condition for special consultative status at the UN: an organization “must have a democratic decision-making mechanism”. The Council of Europe similarly demands of its members with participatory status “a democratic structure and governance”. The democratic nature of AAI has been controversial since a problematic AGM they held 2018. Many former AAI affiliates strongly feel that a few officers “unlawfully hijacked” the organization at this “very undemocratic” AGM.


    And the rot runs deep high:

    Brian Kernick, the current president of AAI (they’ve burned through four so far this year), did not respond to a request for comment. In fact, as far as I am aware, he has not made any public comment of any kind since he become president in July.

    Looks like the AAI has unstable, rapidly-changing leadership, amounting in practice to absence of leadership.

    Jump on a few days to a second blog post by Purcell, in which, in his 23 November 2022, “AAI and hope and me: A forensic analysis of our relationship”, he discloses his history of strong disagreement with AAI leadership over a period and records his main criticisms. Here’s a representative nibble from it:

    A year passed, full of more AAI incompetence and disarray. I wrote some more blog posts and tweeted some more criticism. I was also a guest on several different atheist podcasts to talk about the rolling catastrophe of AAI. Some of it had serious implications for atheists all over the world but some of it was just hilarious. At one point, FTP discovered internal AAI correspondence where the Treasurer, Fotis Frangopoulos, referred to Irish critics as “leprecunts”.

    Looks like Michael “Cunt” Sherlock was chosen because his style fitted in.

    As I intend to write more articles about the abjectly avoidable slide into irrelevance of Atheist Alliance International (AAI), this article is that disclaimer. I promise most of my articles will be shorter.

    Purcell evidently intends to write a series of posts slamming the AAI leadership. When he does, the posts will appear at:

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