Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sex, character, and hypocrisy

I know that I'm not exactly a model of restraint when it comes to holding my tongue about outrageous statements, but you'll have to take my word for it that I really tried with this one.

It was only after about the tenth time I saw a screencap of a woman's Twitter post, along with people sharing it and saying "fuck yeah!" and high-fiving each other that it pushed me over the edge.  Here's the image:

The layers of "I Don't Get It" here are so numerous that I don't know where to start.  But I'll try.  In no particular order:
  • The fact is, it's the conservatives who, as a group, are extremely concerned with what people do with their naughty bits.  (Yes, I know.  "Not all conservatives."  Look at the voting records of Republicans with regards to LGBTQ equity, and afterwards we'll talk.)
  • The issue isn't that he had sex.  The issue isn't even that he had sex with several women while he was married to several other women.  The issue is that he lied about it (repeatedly), paid these women off and then denied it, and this for some reason hasn't lost him one iota of support from the "family values" faction, which is more and more seeming not so much about "family values" as about "we'd make a deal with the devil if he got us what we want."
  • These same people who are (1) defending Trump, and (2) lambasting the folks who dare to criticize Dear Leader, are by and large the ones who had a two-year case of the vapors surrounding the revelation that Bill Clinton got a blowjob from Monica Lewinsky.  Or do rules of moral conduct only apply to Democrats?  (Nota bene: I am not defending Bill Clinton.  He not only cheated on his wife, he used his position of power to seduce an intern.  It was the behavior of an asshole, pure and simple.  That said, if you blast Bill Clinton and defend Donald Trump -- who did the same thing, only more often -- you are a hypocrite.)
  • No, Trump wasn't elected to be America's pastor, although given how he's characterized by the Religious Right, he might as well have been.  But how elected officials act in their private life -- whether they act with honesty and decency, whether they admit it when they screw up and try to make amends insofar as it's possible, and how their words line up with their actions -- are all indications of who they are as people.  And if you're telling me that's not important, you're wrong.  People who will lie, cheat, betray, and defraud in their private lives are highly unlikely to turn into saints after the ballots are counted.  Character does matter.  Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, or any other position on the political spectrum.
So the fact is, all of this does have to do with his presidency.  Which is obvious if you consider how Fox News, Sean Hannity, and the other Trump apologists would have reacted if President Obama had done 1% of what Trump has done, and thus far, gotten away with.  When prior to the election, Trump bragged that he could shoot someone in plain sight on 5th Avenue and not lose a single supporter, I thought at the time he was just engaging in his typical hyperbole.

Now, I see that it's the literal truth.

Look, I know we all tend to give politicians we like a bye on questionable behavior.  For one thing, the sunk-cost fallacy pushes us to stick with someone when we've put a lot of our time, effort, money, and emotional energy into seeing him or her elected.  But this goes way beyond sunk-cost.  This amounts to a significant subset of Americans -- 39%, by the latest polls -- who look at the mounting scandals, accusations, and unethical (if not illegal) behavior, and shrug their shoulders.

Or disbelieve it.  Or don't even hear about it.  (Speaking of Fox News.)

So don't start with me that this is about liberals suddenly turning into prudes, or how these allegations have nothing to do with Trump's presidency.  And if you really think that "Jordan Rachel" made a good point in her now-viral tweet, you're being disingenuous at best, and a willful hypocrite at worst.


This week's featured book on Skeptophilia should be in every good skeptic's library: Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things.  It's a no-holds-barred assault against goofy thinking, taking on such counterfactual beliefs as psychic phenomena, creationism, past-life regression, and Holocaust denial.  Shermer, the founder of Skeptic magazine, is a true crusader, and his book is a must-read.  You can buy it at the link below!


  1. You should write a skeptophila book!

  2. This is very well-said, Gordon. Think of how scandalous it was for the right every time Michelle Obama wore a dress without sleeves.