This “shut up and listen” nonsense is getting tiresome.
This is what PZ said:
So my internal conversation when I’m feeling that way is “OK, that was a bit weird. Shut up. Think about it. Do they have good reason to think that way? Maybe I should consider where they’re coming from more.” My plan is to listen and learn here.
It’s perfectly clear that PZ is saying shut up and listen to what’s being said, have a think about it and then respond. Don’t interrupt, don’t talk over people, don’t trust your immediate gut feeling. It;s entirely possible that by listening you’ll find out that your gut reaction was wrong or at least worth re-evaluating.
PZ is not saying that you should never argue with minorities. He’s saying that it’s good practice to listen to them first. Surprisingly many people don’t do this. Surprisingly many skeptics don’t do it, which is strange. My own reactions were the first thing learned to be skeptical about, they are what led me to skepticism in the first place. I read a lot of pop-science books when I was a kid. Some of them were woo masquerading as science and I wasn’t sure what to believe. My immediate reaction to what I read was not a good indicator of what turned out to be true. Isn’t that what skepticism is? Isn’t that all PZ is saying?
But this is what Ron Lindsay and others took from that message:
But it’s the second misapplication of the concept of privilege that troubles me most. I’m talking about the situation where the concept of privilege is used to try to silence others, as a justification for saying, “shut up and listen.” Shut up, because you’re a man and you cannot possibly know what it’s like to experience x, y, and z, and anything you say is bound to be mistaken in some way, but, of course, you’re too blinded by your privilege even to realize that.
Relax, Ron. Nobody is trying to shut you up. Nobody is likely to succeed if they tried. But people have been shut up. You know who? Members of minorities with communities who are bullied into silence or ignored or constantly interrupted and shouted down or who have to work harder than majority members to get to the same place or who have to pretend that an unfair situation or position is not.
THAT is why we ought to shut up and listen. When we’ve done that, we might have changed our opinions a little. We might still have some points to make and we should make them. But then we should listen to the answers too. We might never agree, but we’ve given it every chance.
Isn’t that the least we can do? Isn’t it the most human and skeptical thing we can do?
I’m not saying we should give every opinion equal weight. This whole issue is about members of (in this case) the skeptical/atheist community who are interested in applying skeptical tools to the issues they care about or about examining those issues in the light of atheism or religion. There is no possible negative consequence of listening. The worst that can happen is that we disagree and go back to whatever we were doing. So shut up and listen.