The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate

806-fatiguesWhy does it matter that Rebecca Watson, founder of Skepchick, and Amy Roth, of Surlyramics, got unfairly ‘booted’ from Dragon*Con, yesterday? Actually, why does it matter that this isn’t even true, and that they packed up and left on their own? After all, the organized promotion of science and skepticism seems to be going on fine without the Skepchick brand (who seem to have denounced every major skeptic org or conference by now), and plenty of hardworking skeptical activists, writers, researchers, and entertainers are going about their business, their work more deserving of attention than the latest Skepchick manufactroversy.

I think it matters, though not nearly as much as doing actual skeptical outreach, to point out the crumbling foundation of the Skepchick organisation, which used to be built on women promoting skepticism. They no longer focus on skepticism, or even women’s rights. Their model, now, is creating controversy where none exists, to boost traffic and increase sales.

All you need to do to notice the official Skepchick story isn’t completely credible is to compare the blog post of the incident with the tweets of the incident. But I wanted to hear from people who were actually there, and so, sent out a few texts and emails.

Turns out, Amy and Rebecca were not only well aware of the rule they were breaking (selling merchandise which wasn’t make exclusively by/for your fan table, in this case, Skepchick), but continued to attempt to skirt the rule, completely aware of what they were doing.

After setting up their table in Skeptrack, having complained about being placed near Skeptic and JREF tables, Amy was told by a friend from the Spacetrack that they had been warned by administrators about selling unrelated merchandise. Amy makes her Surlyramic brand jewelry for their specific organization, as a fundraiser; something she has done in the past for many other orgs (this is why her products aren’t considered exclusive to Skepchick, since Amy’s “Surlies” are an independent brand).

Amy then moved her wares to a table in Spacetrack, after discussing the rule, and deciding her jewelry might look more relevant in that area. This is an obvious attempt to skirt a rule she was clearly made aware of.

The main point of the fan table rules (which are free, btw) that Rebecca and Amy seem to be missing, is that they ARE NOT merchandise tables; they are free promotional tables for your club. They allow you to sell products that were made exclusively by or for your club. If you run a business (like Amy’s Surlyramics or Rebecca’s Skeptical Robot brands) then you’re required to sell your wares in the proper area, at a merch table, which you pay for.

It’s also quite unlikely that Rebecca and Amy were treated “like garbage”, or at least for no reason; from those who were operating a nearby fan table, the fan table staff were helpful and kind. It’s not unreasonable that a staffer would start to become less friendly when dealing with table operators that continue to break the rules, despite being warned multiple times. Conversely, Amy was heard saying “Well, I’m not sitting next to these idiots” while they moved their wares from Skeptrack to Spacetrack (a remark obviously meant for the various skeptic orgs they were surrounded by).

This attitude may be surprising to those who haven’t had first hand encounters with Watson or Roth. They are cold, unwelcoming, cliquish people. But these attitudes might be put up with if these women had any regard for promoting skepticism. Their obvious distaste for even being near other skeptic orgs, how willing they were to move their table in favour of sales, and how quickly they rage-quit the conference after finally being told to remove their wares that broke the rules, makes it clear they have no interest in promoting skepticism and more interest in promoting themselves and their wares.

This tablegate is just another example of Skepchicks continued disinterest in skepticism. The Skeptrack is a labour of love, with many guests attending, at their own expense, because they value the opportunity to do outreach. Conversely, Rebecca conveys an attitude that she is doing Dragon*Con a favour by attending and performing for free (ignoring the fact that Dragon*Con has literally hundreds of other guests who are far more well known and draw far larger crowds).

I have essentially paid hundreds of dollars to perform for free for a for-profit organization, whose representative berated me.

That’s a big deal, especially for someone like me who lives on a blogger’s salary.”

(Her bold)

Skepchick wasn’t “booted” from Dragon*Con. They were asked to remove products not related to Skepchick. They chose to pack up and leave, likely because most of their products are Surlyramics and Skepticial Robot. They then chose concoct a story that they were unfairly kicked out of the convention because of a rule they weren’t aware of. A complete fabrication.

I believe this: it matters that they lie. It matters that they pretend to be interested in skeptical outreach, but simply use the community for their own personal gain, all the while being divisive and hostile towards nearly all skeptic organizations. I think there’s value in continuing to point out their bullshit.

77 Responses

  1. Lone_Deranger_ Says:

    The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate –

  2. elronxenu Says:

    Yet another volley in @saramayhew vendetta against @rebeccawatson [25 tweet on #tablegate who is making controversy?]

  3. GraniteBench Says:

    RT @hanscs: Just an embarrassment to us all -> The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate – #AtheismPlus #FTBullies #S…

  4. GraniteBench Says:

    RT @stumpymccripple: ” I think there’s value in continuing to point out their bullshit”. Yes. @saramayhew: The Credibility of Skepchicks – …

  5. SabrinaLianne Says:

    So @RebeccaWatson is at is again with total fabrication of events >> The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate –

  6. GraniteBench Says:

    RT @SabrinaLianne: So @RebeccaWatson is at is again with total fabrication of events >> The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate – http://t…

  7. clownshoe Says:

    RT @SabrinaLianne: So @RebeccaWatson is at is again with total fabrication of events >> The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate – http://t…

  8. vjack Says:

    The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate #tablegate via @saramayhew

  9. uzh77 Says:

    RT @vjack: The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate #tablegate via @saramayhew

  10. AmandaDevaus Says:

    RT @vjack: The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate #tablegate via @saramayhew

  11. Integralmathyt Says:

    The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate –

  12. PwnySlaystation Says:

    RT @Integralmathyt: The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate –

  13. KingKool Says:

    RT @Integralmathyt: The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate –

  14. Neil Says:

    The biggest stain on the skeptic community is how far a group of manipulative hucksters has gotten on nothing but rumor-mongering and a bullshit act of “righteous outrage”.

    These people and those who swallow their bullshit are doing much more to keep people, including women, away from skepticism than anything else. Every time I try to explain the internet drama to any of my friends, they can’t understand why anyone puts up with it.

  15. TheFinalPope Says:

    @SecuLawyer Here’s a link to one of the better explanations

  16. Caprickah Says:

    The Credibility of Skepchicks: Tablegate – #DragonCon

  17. kainedamo Says:

    The real Rebecca Watson It’s all about the money, baby! #atheism #atheists #feminists #skepticism @rebeccawatson

  18. Cian Seoige Says:

    great post … even their fans will surely start to wince at their never ending self-pitying.
    They have been given enough rope and they slowly and thoroughly hanging themselves

  19. whatdivawants Says:

    Rules are rules (related to previous tweet):

  20. Is AA calling Moglia a liar? | Avant Garde Says:

    […] a curious timing. Just after tablegate exploded in their face, the so-called Skepchicks are starting a ‘new’ drama… with something that […]

  21. Danny Haworth Says:

    Watson unwittingly betrays herself in the statement from her post:
    “Derek Colanduno came over and pulled Amy aside as I was helping a customer.”

    A customer. Non-profit organizations have donors, not customers. Clearly commerce was happening here.

  22. Robert W Edwards Says:

    I’m sorry, always late to the party.

    Good article.
    Good blog.
    Told everyone to read it. But I’m so late, likely they already have.
    Thanks for this, btw.

  23. Anton A. Hill Says:

    Hi Sara,

    I’ve been doing a bit of DragonCon/SkepChick research and happened upon this. Nicely put. Thanks for keeping it real.



  24. Alison Smith and Rebecca Watson: Partying with Skepchicks Rule 5 | Batshit Crazy News Says:

    […] bother waste a weekend attending a conference on atheism and skeptical stuff. And then there is Tablegate at DragonCon controversy involving Rebecca Watson. Not that many people would care, but it is interesting how Rebecca Wilson […]

  25. Simon Says:

    This and the thunder foot nonsense has made me wary of attending any cons less I run into radfem types or other scam artists

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