Weirdo Infiltration

8 Aug
Melissa Lee (a.k.a. LilaMae)

by Melissa Lee (a.k.a. LilaMae)

I decided I’m not beating around the bush when it comes to this topic. But then, when do I ever?

So I and I’m sure many others in the skeptical/humanist/atheist/freethinkers community have noticed an interesting phenomenon that occurs from time to time during event meetups. Sometimes certain, shall we say, “eccentric” types misconstrue the term “Skeptics” or “Freethinkers” to mean something different entirely. Oh what the hell – we sometimes get conspiracy theorist whack jobs who fervently believe the opposite of everything we stand for. It’s ironic but it happens all the frakking time.

I was just at one such event in which a real “live one” was present. Within just a few minutes of introducing himself it was clear this person was not a “freethinker” in the way we would use the term. No. He was a full blown nut job who espoused some truly wild conspiracy theories, pseudo-scientific beliefs, and even paranoid delusions. We know this because – as is usually the case – he wasn’t shy about sharing his information with total strangers. He was also rabidly xenophobic, sexist, and fervently racist. Yes, he had the cuddly approachability of a wolverine. Lucky us.

It’s fascinating that in the mind of a paranoid delusional psychotic person (sorry, I’m not a doctor but I’m willing to bet) they are the only ones who are “enlightened” or who “get it”  or can see “the truth”, so they think they are the real skeptics or freethinkers. Weird.

So anyway, now this person has signed up for one of my group’s upcoming events. And I’m sure, just like the other group’s event, he will end up making everyone feel uncomfortable and nervous and may even make new people consider not returning. So, as the group’s leader I feel like I should do something. But what? I’m seriously afraid of aggravating anyone mentally unstable. Just a polite “We’d rather you didn’t return.” might be enough to incite this madman to do who knows what.

Any advice?

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9 Responses to “Weirdo Infiltration”

  1. Diogenes of Sinope (@TheDudeDiogenes) August 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Anyway to contact the other meet-up members and change the time or location without alerting the creeper?

    • sunnyskeptic August 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

      Aw, that would be mean! lol. I think we need to just accept that if we’re organizing meet ups, there’s always going to be at least ‘one of those’ and just be glad that not everyone’s like that. 🙂

  2. Bjorn Watland August 8, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    Good luck. I was never able to keep these people away, however, I never addressed them and everyone either got used to these people, or simply ignored them. From time to time, it was interesting to have someone in the group who didn’t nod their head simultaneously along with everyone else because it gave people a chance to argue their point, even if it was arguing against taking all of the immigrants, putting them in colonies and sterilizing their women.

  3. sunnyskeptic August 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Lol!!! One person said to me privately this weekend “You know, it might be nice if you, as an organizer type, could just pull some people aside and say ‘You need to leave now…'”… 🙂 I don’t really know what to do about these kind of people- I don’t want to hurt feelings, but I also don’t want to alienate the group. This has also happened in one of my Facebook groups, just an online group. It’s weird how much one person can throw stuff off, too.

  4. Bjorn Watland August 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    I should also clarify that this is in reference to people who are beyond weird, even for the strange group of people I hang around. This does not apply to people who simply disagree with the status quo on any particular issue.

  5. The Secular Buddhist August 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    You should let you former reserve cop friend deal when he shows.

  6. Mully410 August 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    We should be patient and hopefully they’ll learn something. Ad hominem, labels and name calling are not appropriate.

    I’d like to try being more specific with topics for our meetups. I’d like someone to volunteer each month to present some information on a topic related to how to be a better critical thinker. (e.g. logical fallacies) I’m thinking a 10-15 minute preamble to the meet-up so we have something to talk about. Perhaps if we start with a topic and try to hold to it, it will be easier for people to redirect the conversation at their table. “That’s interesting what you are saying about your (insert topic) but this month’s meetup is focusing on….what do you think about that topic?”

    • Melissa Lee August 9, 2011 at 11:49 am #

      Craig, I’m not trying to be mean or make fun of someone for kicks. We’re talking about someone who is – and witnesses can attest to this – clearly mentally unbalanced and potentially dangerous. But don’t worry, you’ll probably get the chance to meet him yourself. You’re welcome to take the opportunity to help him learn. Several have already tried. You might want to ask Todd Torkelson or Jack Caravela how that went.

    • Melissa Lee August 9, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      Ok yes that was kinda bitchy & rude. Sorry. I’m having a bad day.

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