An Exposé of the Dishonesty and Hypocrisy of Jeff Lowder

I must keep this short, so I want to say from the outset that Jeff Lowder is a valued atheist intellectual, even if I'm right about everything I write below. I am most grateful that he used his B.A. degree in computer science to co-create Internet Infidels, a huge repository of scholarly essays debating the merits of religious propositions. But Jeff Lowder and I have had a series of fights, which I wrote about previously in An Open Letter to Jeffery Jay Lowder. Anyone interested should read that post. We made a bit of a truce for a time then it started bursting out in the last few months. It came to a head with something he posted on his popular blog. [Click on the above image]. He wrote a post titled "Loftus Says I'm not Making an Impact." After a day he deleted it when I called him out on it. Then he apologized. Them's the facts. Lowder says it was an honest mistake. I don't believe that for a minute. I'm sure his fan boys do. Cognitive bias theory predicts they would too. So let me explain.

Think about what would it take for Lowder to write that post in the first place. As he was writing it, did he really think I thought that of him, that he "was not making an impact"? Who in their right mind would claim such a thing? Not me, that's for sure. So Lowder has a choice. He either lied about me or he is clueless. Take the first horn and he's dishonest. Take the second horn and it's unbecoming of the intelligence of the title "philosopher" that he calls himself (which I claim he shouldn't do, since it makes him look bad). In my opinion it's pretty clear Lowder was belittling me with the title of that post, demeaning me, making me appear stupid and ignorant. So his apology is not accepted.

Some would ask why this is a problem. It's because he has a very big readership. He posts something then hundreds and even thousands of people read it and go away. Most of them don't come back to find the post deleted, or see the apology on his twitter feed. What they are led to think by Lowder's dishonesty is that I'm a pompous asshole. That impression sticks with them. You can see this in a capture of not just his readers, but the numbers of people who shared a recent post of his.

Lowder does this too many times. He had posted about the worst atheist debaters and listed my name there. Get that? It was a list of "worst atheist debaters." And he linked to my debate with Dinesh D'Souza, and now with David Wood. Singling out my debate with Wood, Lowder said my problem "is a complete lack of skill at oral debate." Wait just a minute, where is there any objective balance at all here? I have had five debates. How did I do in the others Jeff? I had said on Twitter I didn't have time to prepare. Lowder never mentioned that. You see I had a book deadline on March 31st which I barely made, then went on a planned vacation, arriving back just two days before that debate with Wood. And concerning my debate with Wood, Lowder NEVER said anything about the substance of what I said. Is that acceptable, to completely ignore the substance of what was said? Again, I have participated in five debates, not two. And Lowder hypocritically picks out two and says I'm the worst atheist debater, and that my problem "is a complete lack of skill at oral debate." Tell us what you really think Lowder. Oh, but he has, and it's in another post of his. Lowder proclaimed he is one of the best atheist debaters, even though up until he claimed this of himself, he had only participated in one public debate. Yeah, that's a good sampling of evidence for all to see. To gain a perspective on what he has done with these two posts of the best and worst debaters look at my post on the ten worst atheist books. If you want to see what was wrong about him doing this as unbecoming of the intelligence of the "philosopher" he claims to be, then read it. Read it now! It wasn't until I called Lowder out on both posts for fraud that he changed the titles. Now they are about the best and worst atheist performances. It's as if Lowder needs someone around him like me to keep him an honest human being. Why can't he just be honest from the start?

I remember offering Lowder an olive branch by asking him if he'd want to write a blurb for my anthology, Christianity is not Great, so I send him the files. He said he was working on several projects and was probably too busy to do so. Okay, I thought. That's fair. Then as the deadline approached I emailed him a second time. This time I appealed to his selfish side. I said I already had enough blurbs and didn't need one from him, but that I still wanted it if possible. I said I was doing him a favor and that he should grab the opportunity, that it would help get his name out there, along with his co-edited book on the resurrection. I sent that email in the morning. By evening he sent me his blurb. I thought it was extremely odd to get such a quick turnaround. Did he even read it? I doubted it. I doubt it now even more. One reason I don't think so is because he still doesn't know if Christianity causes more harm than good. Well that book should have settled the question, at least to some large degree with regard to Christaintiy. And if it doesn't, it doesn't matter. For as I wrote in the first chapter:
For even if the Christian faith has been better overall for the world, the harm it causes still needs to be explained rather than explained away. For example, we wouldn’t consider someone to be a good person if after saving a child from a burning vehicle he subsequently kicked that child in the teeth. Saving the child’s life would be considered the greater deed and better for the child overall. But that good deed would never exonerate such a person from the crime of kicking the child in the teeth afterward. We would still demand an explanation for why he kicked the child in the teeth.
Not only is Lowder dishonest. He's also a hypocrite. He's on record as saying this:
Anyone who follows my Twitter account ( knows that I consistently criticize atheists when I think they are being rude or straw manning theists or theistic arguments. My tweets are a matter of public record and speak for themselves. Along the same lines, my comments at my own blog are also a matter of public record and also speak for themselves. Anyone who cares about the truth can check this out for themselves and see that I do, in fact, have a major problem with atheists who are rude to Christians (or anyone else). LINK.
There are a number of things wrong with what he said here. First of all, we see his arrogance. He thinks of himself as the go to guy for criticizing anyone who is rude on both sides. Well, who died and made him king? And why should he care? The reason folks, I suggest, is because this is what non-credentialed people do in order to gain respect. And they need to find bad boys on their own side to attack so they can appear fair and objective. In other words, he must find people to attack on his side, for if he doesn't then his promise rings hollow and he isn't to be seen as fair and objective. It's like someone saying "Hey, look at me everyone. I'm different, better than others. I am the self-appointed school hall monitor, tattle-telling on anyone who steps out of line." Second of all, this makes him out to be as much of a bully as the people he goes after. The reason is because he has a popular blog, much popular than others, not because of his efforts alone, but by virtue of being at Patheos. As I've recounted above he is bullying me. He kills two birds in one stone in attacking me, for it makes him look good and also makes me look bad. What he didn't expect was that he picked on the wrong guy. I'll fight back. Third of all, Lowder's self-appointed thought police actions take a stance on ridicule, which I have defended rigorously. I reserve the right to ridicule my opponents. There are some stupid Christian pseudo-intellectuals I'll blast from time to time (and they're all pseudo-intellectuals). He doesn't like me saying this. Well, get over it. Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. You can do as you wish Lowder. That's granted. But if you continue doing this I just may continue doing THIS. Your choice.

Lowder has been obnoxious to Jerry Coyne, who simply banned him. He's been whining about that since. Dr. Coyne is so important and so far above Lowder that he can simply ignore him. So can Dawkins. So can Peter Boghossian. And they do. Me? Unfortunately I care, and Lowder knows this. I care deeply, passionately, about changing the religious landscape. I do so precisely because I think faith is irrational and harmful. That's an intellectual difference between Lowder and myself, as is the use of ridicule and the value of the philosophy of religion. But those differences should not spill over into the kinds of attacks he has thrown at me in a passive-aggressive manner for self-promotion like he has, appearing to be nice while stabbing me in the back for his own self-promotional goals. I don't take kindly to that. It isn't that I am thinned skinned. Hell, don't readers know how often people criticize me and I don't respond? Plenty of times. I don't like being told what to do, that's for sure. However, the last thing one could say about me is that I'm thin-skinned. I play pool in places where there are some really tough guys. You have to be tough not to get walked on. I can take what's thrown at me. But if you throw it, the question is whether you take it back, and passive-aggressive behavior is just as fair game as pure aggression. The thing is, I ridicule the deserving. If Lowder wants to get involved and stand in my way he'll get ridiculed too. It was his choice and still is. Can he take it? If not, don't complain.

Now for his hypocrisy. Lowder linked to a "Stupid Atheist Meme" that Ed Brayton wrote about. Now if you say a popular atheist meme is stupid that makes you appear smarter than others, and Lowder wants to feign he is smarter and more important than he really is. The problem is that Ed Brayton and PZ Myers are the the most obnoxious and self-absorbed atheists on the planet, who lack a good understanding of theology and argue via cussing. The best way to convince people, according to their playbook, is to say "fuck you" this and "fuck you" that, or "you're insane" if you disagree, or end a post with with the word "Bullshit!" They do that. Yeah, those things legitimately substitute as an argument, right! Anyone who sees Ed's Facebook page doesn't need convinced of this. And PZ? Even Atheist Ireland has dissociated itself from him. Lowder says he takes rude atheists to task. But he never takes them to task. In one post in criticism of PZ, Lowder said, "I respectfully submit.." Lowder doesn't use that phrase when criticizing me. My rhetoric is benign compared to those two. Why isn't Lowder being consistent and fair? Because he's a hypocrite. I wrote a really cool and deserving satire of this right here. Lowder doesn't like it. I get that. But don't suppose for a moment that you can say the things he has said about me, false things, dishonest things, hypocritical things, and get away with it.

I dread writing another post on this, but I'll write at least one more, on why this matters.


[Edit] On further reflection I'm not going to write the third post about Lowder, even though I have a lot more to say. I regard him as a partially dishonest, hypocritical, divisive, self-absorbed, non-academically-credentialed ladder-climber who picks on me because he's jealous of me (what he's jealous about escapes me because we're supposed to be on the same team, except that he claims he's on no one's team).

If I were to write the final post in this series, explaining why it all matters, I would say Lowder's behavior matters because honesty matters. If he cannot be honest with me then we should double-check other things he says. It matters because he portrays himself one way and acts another. It matters because he's trying to diminish my work even though he cannot argue against it (with every dispute we've had he's shown himself to be ignorant, not just about his conclusion, but also how he argues for his conclusion). It matters because he's successfully managed to appear important, and an influencer, and he's trying to influence people away from my works. It matters because he has discouraged me. It matters because responding to him is a distraction from my goals.