Social Diversity

This is a guest post by Stef McGraw. She is a junior at the University of Northern Iowa and member of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers (UNIFI).

We talk a lot about diversifying the secular movement, which I think is great. We need more women, people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, a variety of ages, etc. However, there is one aspect that is rarely discussed that I feel is critical to making atheism more mainstream; I’ll call this “social diversity.”

This past weekend at the Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference, I couldn’t help but notice that while we were talking about being a more inclusive movement, we were strikingly homogenous in a way that went beyond race and gender; the group was mostly made up of self-described “nerds.” This concept really took grasp when multiple talks referenced internet memes and Reddit, such as David Silverman’s where he placed an example of his “Are You Serious Face” meme on each slide, which the audience loved.

I include myself in the category of “nerd.” I enjoy internet memes, nit-picky arguments, and for no real reason have over ninety digits of pi memorized. But as I was watching the talks like Silverman’s over the weekend that included meme references, I thought about what the average person would think. Would they understand them? If they did, would they even find them funny? And, most importantly, would they feel socially excluded by not feeling part of the culture we’ve created?

My intent in bringing this up isn’t to say that we should quit the internet memes and Reddit references entirely; I just think we should strive to do a better job of making people who identify with mainstream culture feel more included. The atheist movement should be a place for secularists from a variety of social circles and experiences to come together, not simply for nerds who are secular.

Why is this important? Obviously, we want more people involved in our movement. There is power in numbers. If someone attended the conference this past weekend, we want to keep them involved and not have them feel like they don’t belong. Just as importantly, we want to attract new people. If impression we give off is that most of our spare time is spent playing Minecraft and arguing on Reddit, those who don’t enjoy those things may not feel like they could find community in our movement, and therefore not feel compelled to join.

I thought Tony Pinn, who spoke about attracting African-American students to our campus groups, did a good job of appealing to those outside of nerd culture. During his talk, he used Tupac lyrics as an example of humanism, and then asked if anyone in the audience liked hip-hop. I found myself surprised that a speaker referenced that type of music at an atheist conference, but realized that it shouldn’t be that way. Though I wasn’t part of the handful of students who raised their hands, I really liked that he reached out to those who maybe didn’t fit the atheist stereotype, but were nonetheless still secular students.

Our goal is for atheism to eventually become mainstream, and I think we are disallowing possible growth as a movement by not being as socially diverse. This is not necessarily anyone’s fault. The secular student movement has attracted people who haven’t always fit in themselves, and I think it’s great that there’s now a thriving community for people who fit into that category. However, if we aren’t conscientious of the interests of those who don’t identify with nerd culture, we risk shutting ourselves off to many intelligent people who just so happen to prefer their college dance team to Dungeons and Dragons.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Ashley Stephens

    Well, how do I get involved?

    I’m out of college now, but let’s just say attending freethinker conferences wasn’t a hot topic around the sorority house.

    That said – I want to be a part of making atheism mainstream. I’m definitely “out”. My friends are fully aware of my freethinking ways. I’m just not sure where I fit in. Certainly not a conference full of 19 year old boys. Where does a young, professional female go? I don’t see heathen happy hours happening all over town (but if anyone else lives in the DC area, this could be fun).

    • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.friel Aaron Friel

      “Skeptics in the Pub” is a phenomena that’s catching on all over, with casual meet-ups and discussions about freethought and humanism and all the other ‘isms and ‘ists. The Center for Inquiry also has a Washington, D.C. branch and hosts Drinking Skeptically. You can find (unofficial) information on that here: http://www.meetup.com/CFI-DC-Drinking-Skeptically/events/16996049/ and I think you can find more by just contacting the CFI. 

      Good luck finding events to go to and discuss your ideas. The only other advice I’d have is, if there’s not a group out there that fits you well, start one! There’s a huge amount of wisdom in the skeptical movement and a lot of people you can talk to about how to organize events. Contacting the Center for Inquiry is just one place you can start.

    • Melody Hensley

      Hi Ashley,

      I am the executive director of the Center for Inquiry DC, a community for atheists, agnostics, and skeptics in the DC area. We also happen to be one of the most active groups in the country. In the last year we have had prestigious speakers like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, and many more. We also have lots of social programming. To see our list of events, please visit our site: http//www.centerforinquiry.net/dc
      I hope to see you at an upcoming event. 

      Best,

      Melody Hensley

    • mkb

      Ashley, In addition to CFI-DC you should look at other members of the Washington DC Coalition of Reason, http://unitedcor.org/washington/page/groups-0.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dj-Nash/100000103380335 D.j. Nash

    Excellent points as always.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Good post.

    College SSA can work to bring in college students that don’t self-identify with “nerd culture”.

    High-school SSA can work to bring in high-school students that not only don’t self-identify with “nerd culture” but who don’t even plan on going to college. 

    There is a lot of opportunity for growth.

  • Tufty

    I prefer talking about what we SHOULD do as a movement to be more diverse, not what we SHOULDN’T do. If we focus too much on the shouldn’t then we run the risk of becoming more homogeneous in the name of being more diverse. Which is absurd.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe we should encourage more professional, impersonal presentations.
      Maybe we should encourage more emphasis on diverse thought and unique experiences, and just see what ideas get responses.

      • Doug Shaw

        I can see it very hard for a non-nerd to give an Atheist presentation.

        Here’s my example.  We have some mega-popular, beloved pro-basketball player, who gives a fortune to charity and rescues kittens, who is an Atheist.  His “coming out” would be wonderful, right?  In a society where a president could say, “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.” without repercussion, how wonderful it would be for some beloved sports figure to say, “I don’t believe in God” to a bunch of basketball fans.

        So we have him give a talk and he says, “I don’t believe in God.”  Now what?  That’s the thing.  If you believe in biorhythms, you automatically have a bunch of stuff to talk about.  But non-belief?  Quick – give me an hour talk on what it is like not to think that the moon is made of green cheese.  Most people couldn’t.

        …except nerds.  Because we wouldn’t stop at “I do not believe the moon is made of green cheese.”  Some of us would go on to talk about what the moon IS made of, and how we know.  (Nerdy)  Some of us would go on to talk about not believing things that are unproven (Nerdy)  Some of us would review the green-cheese literature, explain how the rumor got started, and debunk it (Nerdy)

        I don’t know what the answer is.  Maybe it is as simple as having our hypothetical basketball star come up and give a talk about basketball and his charities, and kitten rescuing.  And then atheist basketball fans (and some Theistic ones who just love this guy) would come to the talk, and conclude “Hey, Atheists aren’t so bad.”

        I think I’m agreeing with you, statueofMike.

        • Anonymous

          Oh yeah. Imagine my suprise when I discovered a Martial Arts tv show host Joe Rogan bashing organized religion on youtube.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSfnx1X6rwc

          Unfortunately, we’re bad at predicting the abilities of those we aren’t familiar with. Sure, Basketball Star may not have much to say about the composition of the moon, but there are plenty of other aspects of non-belief that he can talk about. How does religion affect a career in the spotlight, etc…

          Anyone helped by non-belief has something to say.

        • ValerieMcGraw

          I don’t think showing intelligence has to be considered “nerdy”. It’s one thing to talk about science, psychology, literature, etc. during a presentation or discussion involving secularism, but using what has become “nerd culture” is a bit different. 
          Referencing video games and internet memes doesn’t really show intelligence; these things just tend to be liked by intelligent or “nerdy” people, which is why they have become part of “nerd culture”. 
          I doubt that anyone expects discussions of secular ideas to shy away from logic and science; these are concepts that can be made accessible to nearly anyone. They are essential ideas surrounding secularism, but internet memes are not. When this “nerd culture” is so heavily referenced among the secular community, it can be alienating to those who are not a  part of it. I don’t think anyone feels alienated by science or logic.

          • JonH

            I know lots of people alienated by science and logic. Sure, they can be made accessible to nearly anyone, but that doesn’t mean that many people are all that interested in it. Just look at Christianity to see what really appeals to the broad demographics, apologetics and Christian philosophy are small fries compared to completely emotional appeals and the whole social club and identity side of things.

          • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

            I think you’re underestimating how mainstream video games and the internet are nowadays.

            And unfortunately, you’re also underestimating how alienating science and logic can be. Getting people to pay attention to LOLcats is much easier than to science, in my experience.

    • Anonymous

      We should talk about what we shouldn’t talk about.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    I think getting non-nerds in a college group might be difficult, since nearly everyone in college is some sort of nerd.  Not all of them are the same kind of nerd though.  Some nerds hate internet memes (me!); some like hip hop.

    But I know what you mean.  In my experience, college secular groups tend to be populated with the extremes.  They also tend to have very strong, dominating personalities.  Sometimes I wonder if the solution is as simple as good moderation, or small discussion groups.  That way, everyone can contribute, rather than just a few know-it-all nerds.  I don’t know if it works at all though, since I was never able to implement these things in my old group.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve often noticed that Atheist groups tend to embrace nerd culture. Due to the nature of being an atheist (Logic/Rationality/Science)  it might be impossible to escape some of it, but when John Stewart makes internet meme references (or starts) them, we’re starting to slowly see a shift in culture. Not everyone is up on the memes, and I think sometimes its fine to toss them in… Jen McWright in one of her talks said “Don’t zerg the new girl” and it worked, those who knew what that meant probably were at risk of doing so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/GooBallin Goo Ball

      I’d argue that many Atheists aren’t logical, rational, or have an interest in science. Of course, I’d also argue the same for nerds.

  • Joe Enabnit

    Implying internet memes aren’t mainstream.

    http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ksvoxjVwSV1qzxyl1o1_500.jpg

    • http://sprengdentag.wordpress.com/ lost control

      Darn, I’m so annoyed by cats. They’re overused.

      (“whatever happened to individuality and originality?”, mumbles the somewhat gothic atheist while the mind wanders off to festival impressions)

      :p

  • Marc Barnhill

    Great take on a vitally important concern, Stef. I’d underscore what Tony Pinn clearly already knows: that attracting and *retaining* a diverse population also depends on not assuming a lack of diversity among those already in the room. Though underrepresented for sure, many marginalized groups do have a presence in our movements, and that presence needs to be acknowledged and nurtured if we want to encourage further diversity. These members need to stand up and be recognized — and the rest of us need to make it worth their while to do so.

  • gsw

    I watch the video again – and I still don’t get it – why, when he said the tides couldn’t be explained didn’t he just answer: “It’s the moon stupid”?

  • Philosofrenzy

    Excellent points.  It reminds me of a recent pet peeve of mine: naming logical fallacies.

    As a philosophy graduate, with an emphasis on logic, it’s not that I have a problem with logic–on the contrary.  But busting out latin phrases describing someone’s errors in logic is 100% nerdy, and totally fails to convince the person that your approach is one that they want to embrace.Besides being counter-productive, it also has a way of causing people to memorize them as ‘argument ammunition’ rather than as a way of understanding why this or that path between premises can’t lead this the desired conclusion.

    • Anonymous

      I agree! It’s more helpful to the person you are “shooting at” if you can explain the instance of the fallacy anyway.

      In a heated exchange, it would be more demanding on the concentration to articulate an identified logical problem. Hopefully those listening will appreciate it.

      I constantly have to tell myself to avoid sarcasm and quick responses… when something makes sense to you only in the language in your brain, it’s easy to relish it and move on. But sometimes you find that by interpreting it in a way others more easily understand shows your own inconsistencies instead. It can be a healthy rigor.

      • Philosofrenzy

        To both of these responses:  exactly. :)

        For better or worse, when we’re feeling defensive, we have a habit of filtering out things we don’t understand as ‘nonsense.’  We don’t tend to think “hmm, the person disagreeing with me said something I don’t understand, he’s probably right.”  So there’s really no point in using jargon to refute the position of someone who isn’t comfortable with that jargon.

        I would, however, say that sometimes logical fallacies are trotted out out of laziness or habit more than out of any malice on the part of the person: they’ve been trained to think this way, and when they see the fault in the person’s argument, they blurt something out reflexively.  It doesn’t make it *right*, of course, but I suppose I’m saying that there’s no need to assume dickishness with a lack of social graces is an adequate explanation.

        In any case: “In a heated exchange, it would be more demanding on the concentration to articulate an identified logical problem. Hopefully those listening will appreciate it.”  Yes, yes, and more yes!  
        When I take the time to carefully go over the argument with the person, to ensure that I’ve understood their position, and then show where the chain of reasoning is broken, it almost always results in fruitful discussions; but yes, it takes a lot of time and effort.  The lesson?  Don’t bother trying to refute someone’s position unless you are prepared for the work required to do it well, and courteously.

        • Anonymous

          I saw the video of Bill Nye calmly explaining lunar volcanoes on Fox, and it inspired me to user more patience when arguing with someone I didn’t like.

          After taking the time to continuously guide and answer questions,  I realized a new broken “chain of reasoning:”

          The person I was arguing with refused to acknowledge the conventional english definition of the word “faith” (which I believe is apprx “belief without evidence”) and replace it with some other mysical concept involving magic.

          It seemed like the entire discussion was an exercise in wasting my time. When someone misunderstands how you use the word “is,” it is difficult to keep phrases like “you dull moron” from slipping out of you against your will…

    • Doug Shaw

      “But busting out latin phrases describing someone’s errors in logic is 100% nerdy, and totally fails to convince the person that your approach is one that they want to embrace.”  Actually – I wouldn’t say it is nerdy – I would say it is 100% dick-like.

      If the person you are talking to does NOT know what “Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc”  means, then you aren’t speaking to communicate, you are either showing off (dick!) or trying to “win” by intimidating the other person, rather than on the strength of your arguments (dick!) or you are just trying to be a dick.

      If the person you are talking to DOES know what “Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc” means, then they you may just be misunderstanding their argument and assuming that they are stupid (dick!) or they are actually making a logical error, and you are pointing it out in the most aggressive way possible (dick!) in order to try to embarrass them (dick!).

      And of course it really annoys me when someone does it who either doesn’t understand what the particular fallacy he cited really means, or didn’t understand my argument, and just assumed I was an idiot. (dick!!)

      When I discuss things with people, and someone makes a logical fallacy, I won’t say things that are common in my circle like “ad hominem” or “that’s the converse of what you just asserted” or “false dichotomy” or “Rashomon” unless I know that the person I’m talking to is on the same page.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  And of course if we are on the same page, then everyone is free to drop a “correlation-causation” without anybody taking offense.

      Does this mean there are some people with whom I can’t really discuss religion and politics?  Yes.

  • Philosofrenzy

    Wow I should have edited that before posting.  Shame on me. :

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    I agree on wanting to reach out to people with other interests. On the other hand, skepticism and science are inherently a little geeky or nerdy (in the sense of wanting to pursue certain intellectual interests), and secularism is also inherently non-conforming (in our current society). If we’re going to spread skepticism and secularism, we’re going to have to spread that kind of geekiness along with it.

    Also, in-jokes like David Silverman’s “Are you serious”-face are an important part of what ties groups together. Therefore, I don’t think you should tone those down for the sake of new-comers. What you need to do is don’t judge people for not getting the joke, and to always be willing to share the joke with the new-comers. Sharing in-jokes actually can be a powerful way of welcoming people into your group.

  • Anonymous

    There must be some aspect in encouraging diverse thoughts that can play to our strength here, as well. Where a cult would stifle opinions and questions, we need to provoke them.

  • pureone

    Not a new thought. It’s been mentioned before that reaching the normal population, people who don’t know science, rules of logic, all the nerdy “smart” stuff  (college or anywhere) should be an aim. Matt D. from The Atheist Experience/ACA has been brought up as someone who is able to discuss things in a layperson fashion.

  • altarego

    I think this an excellent and relevant post. Recently, I went to a skeptics meeting in my city, and it was my first time going. There were a lot of computer programmers… A LOT. And I, the psych person, kind of felt like I didn’t have anything to talk about. There was also a middle-aged stay-at-home-mom there who only had a high school diploma, and she commented to me that atheism did not require a college degree.

    This isn’t to make it all about me; it’s just to say that this “social diversity” thing is very relevant. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001968716330 Harmony Seeker

    What is up with people lately trying to tell people in the freethought community what they should do or say?  Are we the “freethought” community or fundamentalists who censor what we don’t agree with? Yes the community should be more welcoming. However, if people don’t want to socialize with nerds they are jerks.  Who needs them?

    • Philosofrenzy

      There’s a difference between telling someone what they should think (or say) and discussing how best to say something–or just how best to behave, so as to encourage the most positive possible reception of your message.

      As a somewhat silly example: your spelling and punctuation are excellent.  I assume that you don’t hold, against those who instructed you, their draconian enforcement of the rules of written communication.  They instructed you in how to speak (and, by extension, to think) not what to say.

      But as a question: what, specifically, do you object to in this post?  

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001968716330 Harmony Seeker

        I do agree that the secular community could use more  diversity socially, racially, sexually, etc.  However, I spent my school days feeling embarrassed about being intelligent, because it was socially unpopular at the school I went to.  I am now an unapologetic nerd, brain, geek…(but not a dork)

        I think you will find that a lot of people you think of as “cool” are closet nerds.  I enjoy having an intelligent conversation, and I  find that this happens more at the gatherings than usual. So, that is something I enjoy, and would like more of not less.

        • Philosofrenzy

          There’s little I enjoy more than an intelligent discussion; but I don’t equate having an intelligent discussion with having a discussion full of references to nerdy jokes, and internet memes.
          For better or worse, I agree with Stef McGraw: wrapping skeptical events up in nerd culture lowers the bar of entry for a lot of people–meaning fewer people with whom we can have those enlightening, intelligent discussions.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001968716330 Harmony Seeker

            To each his own.  However, I don’t believe that nerd culture lovers are barring entry to anyone.  If the conversation is too sophomoric for your tastes you are welcome to wander until you find one more to your liking in the group. I have been to many of these gatherings, and I can tell you from experience that there is no dearth of intelligent conversation.  You can set the bar too high for other people to meet your subjective expectations.

    • Philosofrenzy

      There’s a difference between telling someone what they should think (or say) and discussing how best to say something–or just how best to behave, so as to encourage the most positive possible reception of your message.

      As a somewhat silly example: your spelling and punctuation are excellent.  I assume that you don’t hold, against those who instructed you, their draconian enforcement of the rules of written communication.  They instructed you in how to speak (and, by extension, to think) not what to say.

      But as a question: what, specifically, do you object to in this post?  

  • Annie

    Thanks for the post.  This is why I think the billboard and bus ad campaigns are so important.  It seems to me that the university secular organizations do a great job of bringing awareness to their campuses, but it’s often difficult to locate an organization for people who have graduated, or never went to college. The ads bring awareness to anyone who may drive past it, or sit at a bus stop… and has a farther reach (in terms of social diversity) than a university organization.  I hope, as these ads become more and more common, atheist/humanist groups will receive less hassles when trying to rent ad space.

  • Cass Morrison

    As much as it’s a nerd community to me it feels like a youth oriented community (yes I know students) that is pretty exclusive of anyone not going to university. Do you feel your group is welcoming to nerds who work at the university (there are many in the same age group as students)? Perhaps getting them involved would help widen your appeal and provide venues for people like Ashley.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Great post. As a former military person, security specialist and private soldier, I find myself the “odd man out” in most exchanges with other atheists online. I find that many of my fellow secularists see  atheism as an extreme left-wing, nerds only club. I feel I’ve got a lot to offer, especially since I was raised both Muslim and Catholic and am multi-ethnic (American and Lebanese), yet it seems there is very little interest in anything outside the white bread middle-class liberal nerd experience. Very frustrating and lonely at times.

    • Anonymous

      You are not alone.  There are lots of military and former military folks who have joined secular orgs like the MAAF and others.  Check out the Texas Freethought Convention in Texas.  They are very open to the military and political diversity. 

      Part of what the TFC is trying to do is show the myth that all or most Atheists are liberals, when in fact we have no numbers to prove that AND it’s a false dichotomy to say people are right or left wing, since most of us have political views that are all over the spectrum.   I know of many atheists who are Republican, Libertarians etc who are in a DEEP closet because even their fellow atheists reject them.

      • Charon

        Honestly, there’s a reason for the rejection. It’s because in the modern US, conservatism is – broadly speaking – a very anti-intellectual, anti-fact, anti-science ideology. There are a lot of moral decisions involved in political ideology, and as atheists we do know that there’s no big book where all correct morals are laid out, but there are a lot of fact-based elements that aren’t moral questions as well.

        Atheists in the US tend to be skeptical, thoughtful, and science-based. This doesn’t fit well with most conservative positions.

        Note: I know there are a tiny number of conservatives who aren’t like this. The EPA was created by a Republican president, after all. But the Republican party has gone so far right in the past few decades, Nixon, Eisenhower, and other moderate Republicans of years past would clearly qualify as Democrats these days. Obama takes a lot of positions rightward of those two. The US right these days is dominated by frankly crazy people, and those who aren’t crazy – like David Frum, maybe – don’t have much power or say.

    • Gribblethemunchkin

      I’m guessing that you are American. When ever i see extreme left wing written somewhere and not applied to active communists, i have to giggle.

      As far as i’m aware, most atheist/secular types don’t believe in the abolition of private property, communism, revolutionary socialism or anarchism. Although conversely, most anarchists, communists and revolutionary socialist are indeed atheists.

      What i suspect you mean by extreme left wing are actually very moderate democratic-socialist positions (yes i said the S word) such as healthcare free at the point of use (like every first world nation bar the USA), social safety nets, fair tax rates, etc.

      I totally agree about the nerdy though, but i think this stems largely from our use of the internet as a primary organisational tool, our backgrounds in science, our interest in thinking about thinking (i.e. skepticism) and the fact that our organisation is inherently based on intellectual themes. I don’t see it as something we really CAN get away from, nor do i see it as something we should get away from.

  • Anonymous

    I would seriously consider going to the Texas Freethought Convention this year.  It’s in Houston.  TFC is all about pimping diversity since its inception.  Part of the goal is to get this movement into the mainstream by bringing in more mainstream entertainment and VIPs.  It’s not easy.  There is some resistance to making the movement more mainstream, but that will eventually go away. 

    Nerds and academics are fine and necessary, but we need to grow from there and bring in a larger crowd.  Most of the atheists, skeptics, agnostics and humanists who are out there are still in the closet by the millions.  They’re average and normal people who don’t identify with our current movement but they can, and will once we keep branching out and doing things that also reach out to the general population. 

  • Charon

    Depends on what you want out of your “atheist community”. I wander around atheist websites largely for intellectual stimulation and humor at the expense of silly religious people and tasty babies. I’m not a member of any real-life atheist groups, because I simply don’t care about that. I’ve never been religious, and I’ve never been a part of any “church community”, so I don’t need any “atheist community” either.

    If your group is large enough, you can try to be all things to all people by having smaller subgroups. But I don’t see that for atheists at this point. So maybe some groups will argue about epistemology and ontology, and others will just go hiking on Sunday morning. But trying to appeal to everyone is always doomed to fail.

    What I think would be really helpful is to have an atheist version of important ceremonies that people get at churches, particularly weddings and funerals. There’s a reason a lot of people in Denmark still use the Lutheran church for those things, despite most of the country being atheist. But there’s no way the small and argumentative US atheist community is going to create anything like this any time soon.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      Um, sure they will, or at least some will. For example, a lady I know from my local group: http://www.mnlifecelebrations.com/ . She’s secular humanist, atheist, and very busy with weddings this summer. 

      Or there’s James Croft, who’s site aims, in part, to “provide Humanists with narratives, practices, artwork and rituals – symbolic resources – that help them build community and enact their values in the world.” http://www.templeofthefuture.net/faq

      I have no doubt there are others out there.

  • Melody Hensley

    Stef, did you read my Twitter update the other day? I tweeted, “Too much pressure to be geeky or nerdy in the skeptic community. Can’t I just be skeptical without all of the baggage?” I couldn’t agree with your post more. I certainly don’t identify with mainstream culture, but I wouldn’t call myself a nerd either. 

  • http://antigold.myopenid.com/ Jude

    I don’t like “movements” with “goals” of conversion.  That’s why I’m not a Christian.

    • Anonymous

      That’s funny. I’m not a Christian because Christianity is false. 

  • Anonymous

    Nice post. You know, the more I think about it the more I’m convinced I’m not interested in “atheist community” so much. What I want is a fully “Humanist Community”, and to build those I’m convinced we have to reach WAY beyond out normal groups of self-identified atheists, skeptics and Humanists (given there are so very few of those). I think we should look to recruit the nonreligious who don’t necessarily think of themselves as atheists, the spiritual but not religious crowd, and even liberal religious folks who share our ethical values but don’t have a congregational home.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      Well put.

  • http://silveroutlinedwindow.wordpress.com/ Shannon

    I have become “nerdier” because of my husband. He keeps me in the nerd loop and I’ve learned a lot. I don’t think you have to be one or the other. My husband enjoys D&D and all that jazz. I’ve come to like some of it – still, playing D&D isn’t my thang – but I’d go to comic-con just to wear a costume :) 

    I do read some fashion magazines and I wear very (ridiculously) high heels and I watch videos on how to do a great smoky eye makeup. I also read tons of non-fiction, visit the library often, watch extraordinary comic based movies, love Mythbusters… etc etc etc. I don’t fit into any one “label” or “category”. Just like people don’t know me based on my hair color or my atheism, people do not know me because of my high heels or eye-makeup. 

    I know we all like to “categorize” or “label” ourselves and others… it’s soothing and makes things easier to explain.

    Perhaps we could work towards being a group of people educating each other and learning about each other instead of placing a “label” on ourselves. Or!!!! we could redefine what those words mean by being our total selves.

    Easier said than done – but I believe in us ;)

  • Old Atheist

    All atheisms are not alike. Go to atheist meetings and you’ll find a fews who share your major views.  You’ll find lots more that think your major views are stupid or evil, especially if you are somewhat socially conservative or leftist economically.  Many atheist groups mostly express politically liberal stances and don’t want competing views expressed.  Atheism will eventually develop different style groups for different personalities and life stances – denominations if you will.  Why?  Because we all have other important beliefs aside from atheism.


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