In a recent blog post, entitled “Coming Out Poly + A Change of Life Venue”, the esteemed Dr. Richard Carrier PhD, discusses his “coming out” as polyamorous, an “orientation” that he just discovered at the young age of 47.
At the end of his piece, he describes his newfound decision to become a swinger as a “sexual orientation”:
There is a lot that needs to be said about this. If all parties in a relationship choose to be polyamorous and are honest with each other about it, it is their own business and is not something that people should pass judgment on. However, this is clearly not the case with Carrier. Carrier claims that after 17 years of marriage, he cheated on his wife multiple times, for reasons that he won’t disclose. In the midst of his infidelity, he suddenly “discovered” (as a middle aged man) that he was polyamorous. Even though his wife attempted to make the marriage work by allowing him to see other women under the guise of an “open marriage”, Carrier still decided to kick her to the curb. So in Carrier’s view, his affairs were not a mistake, but rather a fun new “lifestyle choice” that he will pursue, regardless of the past commitment to his wife.
What is even more despicable about Carrier’s behavior toward his wife is the fact that she supported him financially. In a blog post from a little more than a year ago entitled “Support My Work With Your Christmas Shopping”, Carrier wrote:
$15000 a year is poverty level income, especially in the Bay Area, where Carrier resides. The only reason he has been able to live a comfortable lifestyle while blogging and writing obscure books is due to his wife’s financial support. The reason that he could afford to invest his time in getting graduate degrees from Columbia in subjects that will never land him a decent paying job is due to the support of his wife. The reason he was able to travel around the country for low paying speaking engagements instead of having to get a real job is due to his wife’s financial support. And how does he repay his wife for the support she has given him? He cheats on her, waits until he is making enough money where he no longer needs her income, and kicks her to the curb. He even attempts to use her financial support as a reason to rationalize his infidelity. From the comments of his “Coming Out Poly” post, we find this gem:
The worst thing about this situation is about how shameless and unapologetic he is about his actions. Carrier offers no remorse or regret for what he is done. He simply strikes it up to a “sexual orientation” that he can’t control. I haven’t seen such lame excuses for infidelity since Newt Gingrich claimed that he cheated on an ex-wife because he loved his country so much. Additionally, Carrier constantly hypes his credentials as a feminist ally. He also goes to great lengths to lecture other atheists about their supposed need to conduct themselves more honesty, ethically, and with more compassion. Where type of ethics, are demonstrated by someone that uses a spouse for financial support, cheats on her, and kicks her to the curb? Where is the honesty in how he dealt with her? His refusal to even acknowledge his wrongdoing and his constant rationalizations show a complete lack of compassion, empathy and integrity. Despite his books and lectures on secular ethics, it certainly appears that Carrier himself has trouble behaving ethically.
An explanation of strange statements from the past?
Dr. Carrier’s new admission that his libido is as vast as his ego sheds light on previous statements that he has made in his blog. Carrier portrays himself as a professional academic type, and his blog often consists of verbose discussions of philosophical and historical topics. However, Carrier has occasionally made creepy posts about bizarre sexual topics that seem out of place for a blog focused on philosophy. Examples of this include a philosophical discussion regarding gangbangs, a post that briefly discusses the artistic value of “throat-gagging” and “facial cumshots” in pornography, and another post where Carrier laments the lack of response he received from appearing in erotic art (the erotic picture is included in the post for those interested),
Carrier’s recent revelations also help make sense of his previous obsession with talking about sex at atheist conferences, and may provide clues about the behavior of Carrier and the clique that he associates with. After his admission in the “Coming Out Poly” post that he had been involved in numerous polyamorous relationships. He also adds the following comment, which indicates that many of his relationships were with people who were also cheating on their spouses:
A question that immediately comes to mind is whether Carrier was engaging in this behavior at atheist conferences. Normally that question would be irrelevant, but Carrier has repeatedly lectured others about their behavior at those same conferences. If Carrier was condemning others like Michael Shermer for “skirt-chasing” at conferences, then his engaging in that same behavior would be extremely hypocritical. In light of his recent revelations, a look at his past blog posts indicates a high likelihood that he was engaging in such behavior.
On August 13, 2013, Carrier posted this piece entitled “Our Mythical Campaign against Sex”. It is notable that this piece was written less than two years ago, which would mean it was written after he claims that he was in an “open marriage” and engaging in polyamorous relationships. It is also notable that this piece was modified sometime after the posting to reflect his newfound polyamorous status. I will be using screencaps from the earliest capture on The Wayback Machine. In this piece, Carrier writes:
Carrier is actually claiming here that there is a thriving “swinging” and sex party scene at atheist conferences. He also claims that the people doing this are his friends and that they are all supports of Atheism +. He continues:
Here he implies that those who dislike Atheism+ do so out of jealousy, because they are not invited to sex parties. He then continues:
Here he claims that he is often invited to those sex parties, but declines because he is “not poly”. With his current admission that he was cheating on his wife for more than two years, is it possible to believe this claim that he “politely declined”? It is also notable that this is the section of the post that he later altered, adding [at the time of this writing} after “not poly”. He then goes on to claim that “swingers” and polyamorous people are somehow more ethical than monogamous people. This fits Carriers pattern of rationalizing his actions that was demonstrated in his “Coming out Poly” post. It certainly appears that Carrier may have started rationalizing and downplaying his marital infidelity with that blogpost. Carrier continues:
Here he reiterates his commitment to sex parties at atheist events. The only caveat that he adds is that he wants people to have their sex parties “ethically”. Apparently being truthful with his spouse and honoring his marriage vows was not part of the system of ethics that he wished to use. He then goes on to express his opposition to policies barring conference speakers from having sex with conference attendees. While this would seem like an odd subject for a married conference speaker to be so concerned about, he devotes a lot of space to address it, and links to other separate articles that he has written on the subject. Carrier writes:
Just like his claim of declining invitations to sex parties, Carrier states that he declined to sleep with students when he was a speaker at SSA events because he was married and not polyamorous. Despite that, he voiced strong objections to the SSA policy and claimed that the policy itself was unfair and discriminatory to polyamorous speakers. Of course after his recent revelations, we now know that Carrier had qualms about marital infidelity at the time that this article was written, and he also considered himself “polyamorous: at that time. Carrier’s statements certainly indicate that it is a possibility that some of his extramarital affairs may have taken place when he was speaking at SSA conferences. To further paint the picture of rampant hookups between conference speakers and attendees, Carrier links to the following cringe-inducing comments from PZ Myers, where Myers tells of the women who offer themselves sexually at conferences:
Carrier’s and Myers’ descriptions make atheist conferences seem like a cross between a swingers convention and a Playboy Mansion party(with less photogenic people).I have never attended (nor do I plan to attend) any atheist conferences), so I have no idea if Carrier’s and Myers’ description of rampant orgies and sex parties is true. If they are true though, wouldn’t that be a priority issue to address if they were truly concerned about making atheist conferences a more comfortable environment for women? If this is the type of activity happening at these conferences, why were Carrier and his clique so concerned about one incident where a person asked a person at a convention to coffee in an elevator?
Criticizing others for the same behavior
From Carrier’s own admissions, he has been unfaithful to his wife for many years, and has had numerous extramarital affairs. Carrier’s past blog posts also indicate that he likely had many of these affairs at atheist conferences. Furthermore, Carrier claimed the existence of a vibrant “swinger”/sex-party scene at atheist conferences, which he stated his enthusiastic approval of. Given these statements by Carrier, one would assume that Carrier would have no problem with a speaker who went to conferences and picked up women, even if that speaker was married. However, that is not the case at all.
On August 22, 2013, (just nine days after posting “Our Mythical Campaign against Sex”), Carrier posted a piece called “Michael Shermer: Rapist or Sleaze?(Unless Box Checked for Other)”. The piece discussed the extremely dubious rape accusation made on PZ Myers’ blog against Michael Shermer. In the piece, Carrier attempts to make a pseudointellectual analysis of the “evidence” for this allegation. Addressing all that is wrong in that piece goes far beyond the scope of this article. What is relevant is how, in that very article, Carrier chastises Shermer for womanizing, and then implies that extramarital affairs make it more likely that he committed rape. Carrier writes:
Carrier’s hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness are absolutely astounding. Carrier has admitted to multiple extramarital affairs, and admitted that many of them were with people who were also married. Furthermore, by his own admission, Carrier was engaging in that behavior at the time that he wrote this article! Carrier implies that extramarital affairs make a person more likely to be a rapist, but gives no reasoning to support that claim. Do Carrier’s affairs mean that he is likely to be a rapist as well? By associating extramarital affairs with rape, was Carrier trying to tell us something about himself? In the same article, Carrier devotes several paragraphs to criticizing Shermer for picking up women when alcohol was being served and consumed freely. Perhaps the issue of alcohol consumption is why Carrier feels that his criticisms of Shermer’s behavior would not apply to his own behavior. Perhaps Carrier only objects to drunken “skirt-chasing”. The question that should be asked is: does Richard Carrier abstain from alcohol at these events so as to avoid the same situations that Shermer puts himself in? Let’s look at his blog to find out.
Carrier has an entire post devoted to discussing his love of Scotch. In the same post he discusses the fun of getting extremely drunk, discusses the lack of negative effects of consuming alcohol, and gives his advice for preventing hangovers after consuming large amounts of alcohol. Carrier also discusses drinking at atheist events and speaking engagements. Carrier promotes his appearances at numerous “Skeptics in a Pub” type events like this one, where he promises that “Much drinking will ensue”. He also talks about drinking at atheist conferences, such as in this post where he states “I will of course be speaking and drinking at Skepticon”. The best insight about his philosophy on drinking at atheist/skeptic events comes from his official website, from the page “Booking Dr. Carrier”:
It is obvious that Carrier has no problem with drinking and partying himself at these events. Why does he apply the double standard to Michael Shermer?
Carrier has also blasted the atheist community as a whole for making women feel uncomfortable at atheist events. In this piece entitled “On Sexual Harassment”, Carrier writes:
It seems rather odd that a fellow who travels to atheist meetings in order to pick up mistresses, a man that vigorously opposes policies barring speakers from sleeping with attendees, and who describes a conference scene consisting of orgies and BDSM parties (that he enthusiastically approves of!) would be all that concerned about women being made uncomfortable by sexual advances or behavior. If he was truly concerned with this type of behavior, perhaps he should have start with changing his own behavior, and letting his other polyamorous peers follow his example.
Going against everything he claims to stand for
Carrier often discusses ethics in his philosophy articles, and even in his non-philosophy work, he often uses his platform to lecture others on how they ought to behave. It appears in the case of his recent “coming out” as polyamorous, Carrier has violated many of the ethical principles that he has preached. People often make mistakes or simply do things that they know are unethical, so it is not unusual for a person to fail to live up to the ethical standards that they advocate. In Carrier’s case, the lack of apology and apparent lack of remorse indicates that he may not feel that he done anything unethical at all. Was Carrier’s behavior unethical by his own standards?
Carrier has stated that it is an objective moral fact that lying is wrong. He is justified this claim by claiming that society requires trust to build useful social institutions like marriage. From an interview by Daniel Fincke:
In a post about Atheism+, Carrier lists compassion and personal integrity as core values. He writes:
On his “Booking Dr.Carrier” page, Carrier states that he will not speak at events for organizations that do not endorse the values of compassion and integrity. He writes:
Carrier’s practice of polyamory presents no ethical issues in and of itself. However, his behavior towards his wife in this situation certainly violates his stated ethical values, particularly those of integrity and compassion. His extramarital affairs and lying to his wife are an obvious integrity issue, but his refusal to own up to his mistakes or take responsibility for his actions also reflects poorly upon his personal integrity. He also has shown little compassion. He did not care that his wife supported him financially, in fact, he use that as a justification for his actions. Not only did he simply use her financially, but he has humiliated her in a very public fashion through his almost gleeful public announcement of his cheating. These are not the actions of a person who is compassionate.
Carrier claims to be a feminist ally. If this is the way that he treats a woman who loved him and supported him for 20 years, how is he going to treat his other “allies” and friends? Richard Carrier has become the Hugo Schwyzer of atheism.
Why would anyone listen to this man?
Dr. Richard Carrier has become an embarrassment to the atheist community. He has violated the ethical principles that he preaches to others, and worse, he has been completely unapologetic and shameless about his actions. He has also described his creepy desires to turn atheist events into his own personal swingers clubs. He has been the ultimate hypocrite, criticizing others for the same behavior that he practices himself. Carrier is so far gone on his personal ethics that he is in no position to lecture others on how to behave. Whenever tries to condemn other atheists or tell them how they ought to act, he should be ignored. Anyone attending events where Dr. Carrier is present would also be well advised to keep him away from their spouse or significant other.